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.

In Praise of Women

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

We live in a society where it is “uncool” to be ladylike, act like a lady, and especially think like one. But don’t we secretly long to see a man honor his role and a woman honor her role according to the way God created them? Neal A. Maxwell gave an inspiring talk, in praise of women, back in April 1978, that simply makes me happy to read. I like hearing praise for women being feminine women.

First, he states, “In the work of the Kingdom, men and women are not without each other, but do not envy each other, lest by reversals and renunciations of role we make a wasteland of both womanhood and manhood.”

Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened in our world today. We don’t praise the identifying roles of womanhood or manhood. We’ve meshed them all together and created a wasteland of the human spirit, all in the name of equality.

Well, this is where I turn to the scriptures to discover what a virtuous woman should be (Proverbs 31:10-31):

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. (Women are to be honored and praised for their womanhood.)

She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. (She tends animals and gardens and clearly works hard all the day long.)

She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. (A woman’s work is never done. Some of us have help, most of us do not, nevertheless, we all share in the load of providing for the comforts of the home.)

She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. (She makes important decisions and directs the welfare of her household, which extends into the community.)

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. (Her compassion knows no bounds; she takes care of all she can who are in need.)

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. (She provides for her household first, seeing that her children are dressed well and secure.)

She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. (Every woman has the right to see herself as royalty.)

She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. (She provides income through her talents and is responsible in that endeavor.)

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. (She is intelligent, wise, and kind.)

Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (Her children and husband recognize her worth and praise her as a woman of virtue.)

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. (Faith is more important to her than vanity and appearance.)

You might recognize this quote from Elder Maxwell’s talk:

“When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this.”

Of all of the great counterfeits and lies Satan has told, he can never erase the true worth of the women of God. Unfortunately, he has worked hard to mix the genders and their roles. But talks like this stand through the ages, in praise of women forever. It’s as though Elder Maxwell knew what we would face in our day; a prophecy of warning to not succumb to the destroyer. He states, “It is precisely because the daughters of Zion are so uncommon that the adversary will not leave them alone.” Indeed, Satan tries his best, but we will not fail God. We are His daughters and we know our royal destiny.

 

 

 

Scriptures: Meaning In Their Depth

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

The other day I was talking with a friend who was explaining to me her view of the world. She said she liked to be open and learn from whatever was “out there” and she opened her arms wide to show how open she was. I appreciated and understood what she was saying, but the thought came to me that I personally prefer to look deep. I further explained that I’m honestly not interested in what the world has to teach me anymore. People are free to believe what they want, but I have learned that for me I like what the scriptures teach as I find meaning in their depth.  

This week, we are covering the welfare session of the October 1977 General Conference. Pres. Kimball talks about consecration and what this principle asks of members of the church. He says,

“Consecration is the giving of one’s time, talents, and means to care for those in need–whether spiritually or temporally–and in building the Lord’s kingdom.”

We’ve all heard that definition most of our lives and it’s familiar to us. Earlier this year, in Sunday School, we all had a lesson on consecration. I remember hearing from a few different Gospel Doctrine teachers that they really didn’t know how to teach anything new in this lesson. However, at that time, we were all still learning how to use the new supplemental material offered in the manual. And it gives an interesting additional view of this principle and has spurred me to study it further. In the article called “The Law,” we learn a few more details.

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Catch the Vision of Come Follow Me

The guidelines of the new Come Follow Me program, state:

“In these latter days, God has restored the priesthood and organized priesthood quorums and the Relief Society to help accomplish His work (see Moses 1:39). So each Sunday when we gather in Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society meetings, we gather to discuss and plan how we will accomplish His work. That is why these meetings need to be more than classes. They are also opportunities to counsel about the work of salvation, learn together from the teachings of Church leaders about that work, and organize to accomplish it. These changes to our Sunday meetings will help us fulfill these purposes.”

The phrase that sticks out to me is “these meetings need to be more than classes.” If you’re like me, you’ve been a little frustrated with Sunday lessons for a while. I’ve heard from others that they are not feeling edified enough after a lesson. We all fall into ruts, but with this new schedule we can take on Elder Bednar’s challenge and catch the vision.

During the 2014 Mission President’s MTC training, Elder Bednar asked “if they as individuals and as a Church will choose to keep pace with the Lord’s hastening. Or will we insist on doing things the way they have always been done, or the ways we are accustomed to or comfortable with?” We all have a responsibility to prepare ourselves to follow the Lord in hastening the work.

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To Become Better People

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

In the closing session of October 1977 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball stood before the congregation and said,

“This has been a great conference and as each one of these wonderful sermons has been rendered I’ve listened with great attention, and I have made up my mind that I shall go home and be a greater man than I have ever been before.”

This is the prophet of our church inviting us to become better people.

Next year, our Priesthood/Relief Society curriculum manual will be the General Conference talks we have just listened to. Why? In hopes that we will go home, study them, and become better people.

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Are We Haters or Forgivers?

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

(Sunday morning session, October 1977)

 

Our society today demands tolerance from everyone, however Elder Packer’s talk on The Balm of Gilead, I think, demands an even greater attribute. The Balm of Gilead is about forgiveness.

Do we really have too many haters around us? I believe none of us are true haters. We all just keep making mistakes because we’re human. The real problem is in the forgiving.

Elder Packer simply states: “Leave it alone.” By leaving it alone we don’t make things worse. We don’t let it fester and build up into some uncontrollable thing inside us. By leaving it alone, we don’t become haters. But we must become forgivers.

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The Difference is in Obedience to the Right Voice

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

 

Add to Faith, Virtue, Walter Rane

There are many voices that shout for our attention in the world, but there is only one voice worth listening to.

President N. Eldon Tanner spoke about “Obeying the Right Voice,” causing me to think about the voices I heed. He told story after story of those who listen to the wrong voices. Those voices always end in unhappiness.

For example, he talked about some prison inmates. One inmate, speaking to youth, said, “I’m 45 years old now and I know I’m never going to see the streets again. We’re all dying to get out and you guys are pounding on the doors, saying ‘Let us in.’” Prisons are full of people who listened to the wrong voices but wish now they had listened to the right one.

All of us are born with the Light of Christ. This is a quiet voice that tells us right from wrong. We all know the difference between the two choices. Voices call to us from all directions. Some are cunning, others are distracting. By listening to the Light of Christ within us, we can make choices that bring us happiness.

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A Special Moment of Our Own

 

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

Elder W. Grant Bangerter (Sis. Julie B. Beck’s father) spoke during this session (Saturday afternoon of October 1977) about “A Special Moment in Church History” for him. This special moment happened when it was confirmed to him that Spencer W. Kimball was indeed called of God as the prophet to lead His church.

I believe we must all have that special moment and we must all come to that same conversion.

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Wickedness is Happiness Said No One Ever

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

 

Alma said, “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). After Jesus Christ left the Nephites and Lamanites in the land Bountiful, His spirit remained in the hearts of the people for almost 200 years (see 4 Nephi). During this time, there was no contention and all were of one heart and mind. That means the first generation of witnesses remembered throughout their lives and taught it to the next generation who remembered throughout their lives. After that, Jesus Christ’s visit must not have been taught quite so much or remembered quite so vividly.

This past summer, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit Pompeii. Everyone knows the tragic story of how the volcano covered the entire city and it lay buried and petrified for several hundred years.

What we don’t realize is that Pompeii was a well-known port city. It’s miles away from the sea now, because of the ash, but in its day this port city had a very prominent Red-Light district.

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The Essence of the Gospel is Service

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

 

Balm of Gilead by Ann Adele Henrie

“The essence of the gospel is service.” So sayeth Sis. Bonnie L. Oscarson this past Oct. 2017 conference. She also raises these challenging questions:

  • What good does it do to save the world if we neglect the needs of those closest to us and those whom we love the most?
  • How much value is there in fixing the world if the people around us are falling apart and we don’t notice?

Challenging questions indeed! With so much turmoil in the world, sometimes it’s easier to just fall down and give up, exclaiming, “What in the world can I do?” Jesus Christ simply stated, “This is my gospel; … for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do” (3 Ne. 27:21). As we all know, Jesus Christ didn’t travel across the world to serve, do any big humanitarian service project, or juggle a hundred different obligations. His service was simple, sincere, and singular. And this is all that He asks of us. Starting in our own families.

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General Conference: Motivated to Implement and Apply

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.

 

Week after week, I sit at my computer reading and thinking about these General Conference addresses spoken long ago. I have loved reading through their messages, paying particular attention to the prophet’s words. After forty or so years, it’s easy to see prophecies fulfilled. In fact, that has become a personal joyful journey for me. So far, the prophets have always been right.

But I don’t need that kind of proof to know if what the prophet says is true. Whether it was forty years ago, or today, the spirit bears testimony to me instantly, and I am ready to respond. I feel motivated to implement and apply the principles that will lead toward assured happiness.

This week, we are covering the Welfare session of the April 1977 General Conference, where Sis. Barbara B. Smith said,

“All Church members, from kindergarten to high priests groups and all Relief Society sisters should be so plainly, accurately, and inspirationally taught that they will be motivated to implement applicable welfare principles and procedures in their personal lives and in their family and Church responsibilities.”

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