Author Archives: Jan Tolman

About Jan Tolman

Jan Tolman is a wife, mother of six, and grandmother of seven. She is a writer, as well as speaker, on the history of the Relief Society at www.ldswomenofgod.com. Several articles, written by her on Relief Society history, have been published in the Deseret News. She has taught Institute and served as a docent at the Church History Museum. She urges everyone to learn something new about Church History, and especially about the incredible women of LDS faith.

We Talk About the Work of God

We talk about the work of God, but what exactly are we doing about it? Below is a list from Robert L. Simpson, who spoke on “These Four Things.”  He didn’t just talk about the work of God, he asked us to remember our vow when we promised we would actually perform the work necessary to bring salvation to all of Heavenly Father’s children.

 

First, the obligation to prepare one’s self and one’s immediate family for the presence of the Lord;

He explains how important it is to take care of one’s own spirituality first. We have to complete our own ordinances first. We have to know and understand the doctrines of Jesus Christ’s saving gospel first. We have to commit to righteous living first if we are ever to convince anyone else.

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We Need Heroes Close By

lds.realherostore.com

 

This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Priesthood session of April 1976.

I take the title of this post, “We Need Heroes Close By,” from President Spencer W. Kimball’s talk, entitled, “Boys Need Heroes Close By.” The truth is that both boys and girls need to have heroes they can depend on for righteous, kind, and beneficial guidance. The world has none to offer.

What I find interesting in President Kimball’s talk is his bold assertion that boys need to see their fathers treat women with respect. Likewise, girls need to see their fathers treat women with respect. In fact, mothers need to be seen treating men with respect as well. This whole world lacks in respect for the divine role of husband, wife, father, and mother. Unfortunately, our society has become almost abhorrent to this idea of family love, honor, and respect. Speaking as a prophet, he said, 

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We Can Be Completely Healed From Spiritual Crocodiles

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey.

In this session of conference, we get to catch up with probably one of the most well-known talks ever given: Spiritual Crocodiles. Likely, you or your children saw this video many times in Seminary. It is well-known, and always worth spending some time talking about why its message is so important.

Incidentally, in this talk, Boyd K. Packer wasn’t kidding when he said he knew about the many birds of our world. He was an exceptional artist and he specialized in bird carvings.

Detail from President Boyd K. Packer’s 1991 woodcarving “Broad-Tailed Hummingbird with Indian Paintbrush.” Photo by Jason Swensen.

 

And with this extra knowledge, he admitted to still being skeptical, at the time, of those who knew additional knowledge concerning life and death.

Likening this knowledge to the prophet, who is most concerned about our spiritual safety and salvation is easy, and easily ignored. Sometimes, the best teacher is Hindsight. Unfortunately, we are in a spiritual life and death battle and Hindsight can be a whirlpool we may never escape from.

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Family History: Does Your Garden Grow?

This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Saturday morning session of April 1976.

What in the world does Family History have to do with a garden?

The lightbulb of enlightenment went off in my head with this week’s general conference reading, and my understanding has just been illuminated; now I share it with you.  

Do you remember all the years our prophets have talked about growing a garden and beautifying our yards and homes? For years, every General Conference, it was specifically Pres. Kimball who would spend quite a bit of time talking about gardening–of all things. Well, I think I just figured out why.

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Robert D. Hales: Disciples Who Sacrifice

Robert D. Hales has been in poor health for many years, yet he keeps bouncing back and giving us sweet, sustaining, powerful talks. I bet he wishes he could move on, but this is his willing sacrifice, as a true disciple of the Lord, to endure to the very end.

We don’t talk about sacrifice much these days. There are simply too many ways to avoid it now. But God requires sacrifice from each one of us in order to enter His kingdom. I think Elder Hales was gently reminding us of this when he made these statements:

 

“There were many who claimed to be righteous in one or another aspect of their lives. They practiced what I have called selective obedience.”

“Faith is a catalyst. Without works, without virtuous living, our faith is without power to activate discipleship.”

“Now is the time to recommit ourselves to being His disciples with all diligence.”

 

I have often thought of the contrast between Jesus Christ’s purpose in life to my own. How did He stay focused on His mission without getting sidetracked repeatedly? How did He not want to have, or do, anything that was His very own? How did He always think “my Father’s will” before “my will” in everything He did?

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Welfare: Living The Royal Law

This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Sunday morning Welfare session of October 1975.

General Conference has changed much over the years. One such change has been the Welfare session, which used to be held in the early hours of Sunday morning, before the actual Sunday morning session. It was typically attended by both male and female leadership where temporal issues were addressed. This session was discontinued in the 1980s.

But because this week we are talking about welfare, I thought I would run through the fascinating history of this spiritual–though temporal–law. It was during the years of World War I, the Depression, and World War II that the church seriously focused on the welfare needs of its people. The Relief Society played an important role in its development.

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Visiting Teaching Message: The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood

This month, our Relief Society Visiting Teaching message has been on the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. Taking Sis. Burton’s challenge, I read and studied it and was really happy to learn some wonderful things.

Simply put, the oath and covenant of the priesthood (found in D&C 84:33-44) is a two-way promise; that when ALL faithful members willingly receive the priesthood (and all its responsibilities) Heavenly Father will, in turn, give us ALL that He hath. Read on to discover how this involves women.

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Hope Comes From Having a Desire For Personal Improvement

This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Sunday afternoon session of October 1975.

In closing the 1975 General Conference, Pres. Spencer W. Kimball stated some personal goals that he would go home to pursue:

“While sitting here, I have made up my mind that when I go home from this conference this night there are many, many areas in my life that I can perfect. I have made a mental list of them, and I expect to go to work as soon as we get through with conference.”

We too have recently concluded another wonderful conference where so many thoughts and ideas have run through our heads. Maybe you think, as I do, that hope comes from having a desire for personal improvement? First of all, I am humbled to hear a prophet say he has his own work to improve, and second, I am eager to learn so that I also might overcome my weaknesses in order to be a stronger servant of the Lord’s. That is where my hope is, that I can work toward being useful to the Lord as I work through my weaknesses.

In fact, that’s why I enjoy this General Conference Odyssey so much. What our prophets said 40, 150, 2000, 3500 years ago is always going to be self-improving and worth pondering. The Plan, set by our Heavenly Father, was set in motion to make us better people in order to fulfill the purposes of our creation. We work toward obedience and Jesus Christ carries us home; it’s that simple.

Some of the highlights of the 2017 conference reminded me that I need to practice certain behavior better. Sis. Bonnie H. Cordon quoted Amy Wright, who discovered a strange paradox. Continue reading

Standing By Our Personal Declarations

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey group. Each week we take a session of conference and share our thoughts and impressions about one or all of the talks given. It’s called Odyssey, because we started with 1971, and hope to continue until the present day (roughly 15 years in the future, by the time we catch up). Every Tuesday morning watch for a new General Conference Odyssey post here at Mormon Women Stand. This post covers the Sunday morning session of the October 1975 General Conference.

 

 

Back in 1975, L. Tom Perry gave a talk entitled For the Time Will Come When They Will Not Endure Sound Doctrine. And here we are, 42 years later. The time has certainly arrived. As a fairly new apostle, he was not only prophesying our day, he was showing us how to stand by our personal declarations.

 

A Nation Under God

Elder Perry explained how, along with several national religious leaders, he was invited to assist in planning the United States of America’s Bicentennial celebration. Gathering with his committee, all being religious leaders, he was alarmed when many of them were hesitant to declare this nation under God, as to not offend the atheists. They claimed, “After all, the atheist has a right to his belief, also.” In his talk, he shared with us his feelings:

 

“Of course, I completely agree that all men must have their right of free agency but I argued vigorously against locking up our own firm convictions just because they could not be accepted by everyone. The more we argued, the more the opposition united against us. We were not able to get ours or any other declaration out of committee.”

 

He returned home resolved to stand by two personal declarations: Continue reading

At The Pulpit: With Their Testimonies Intact

I had an opportunity to visit with Kate Holbrook and Jenny Reeder, the two editors of At the Pulpit. It was also my privilege to attend a formal reception in the Relief Society building where Virginia Pearce, Gladys Sitati, Elaine Jack, and Jutta Busche (whose talks are included in the book) spoke to us. There are 54 faithful voices in this new publication.

 

After reading the talks from this book, and listening to these women, a thought came to me that feels true:

 

Every one of us struggles with pain, disappointment, and suffering. But the purpose of life is how we get through it all. When we read how others succeeded–WITH THEIR TESTIMONIES INTACT–we march on, yearning to celebrate with them at the end of the path. Who knows that there isn’t a band of women beyond the veil offering help from heaven, inspiring these historians to find their stories, and offering us the strength they gained so that we too can be strengthened?

 

One of the questions I asked Jenny Reeder was what are some of the overall important messages of the book. She suggests four: Continue reading