As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a sacred duty to God to stand as witnesses for marriage and the family as ordained of God. However, some are speaking about same-sex marriage and relationships as though these are the right choice (and even a good choice) for our loved ones. When they do this, they encourage people to abandon the straight and narrow path and their covenants for the artful guise of something temporary that will not last. For some, it may be much easier to carve out a way to appear tolerant and compassionate in the eyes of the world and, by so doing, deflect the persecution and condemnation of associates and friends. However, adopting the compassion label in order to make something spiritually destructive appear benign, spares only ourselves at the expense of those in spiritual peril.
I recently attended a religion and faith conference at Harvard Divinity School, where I heard Dr. Laurel Thatcher-Ulrich define frontiers as a place where two cultures merge and create tension. Pioneers, she said, are the people who forge a new path out of this cultural blending.
Over the last four years, I have felt like one of the pioneers described by Dr. Ulrich. In 2013, I packed up my stuff and moved from Salt Lake City, UT, to Washington, D.C., to begin a JD/MBA program at Georgetown University. Every single day since that move I have stood on my own personal frontier as my religious and cultural heritage began to merge with my academic training, often creating conflict as the leanings of my professors and classmates clashed with prophetic guidance from Church leaders. Through this merging and clashing process, I have had to forge my own pioneer path by deciding how to combine my faith and trust in the Prophet with the academic and social expansion of my worldview. This is not an easy task. Looking back over my time at Georgetown, I have often reflected on what it means to be a pioneer both socially and in the classroom. Continue reading
This week we celebrate Independence Day. It’s known for BBQs and fireworks but is really so much more. The Declaration of Independence – the signing of which we celebrate on this holiday – was divinely inspired! The men who wrote and signed it were honorable men chosen by God. The events leading up to it were prophesied of in the Book of Mormon, and latter-day prophets have affirmed these truths.
In the April 1898 General Conference, President Wilford Woodruff said, “Those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men.” In this same address he went on to describe how the signers of the Declaration, along with George Washington and others, appeared to him and insisted that their temple ordinances be completed, which they immediately were. President Woodruff stated, “Would those spirits have called upon me, as an Elder in Israel, to perform that work if they had not been noble spirits before God? They would not.”
This is simply marvelous to me. We are living in a country whose founding documents were inspired by our Father in Heaven. The Founders were such noble spirits that they were allowed to appear to a prophet of God and personally request their temple ordinances be done. This can only mean that there is a divine purpose for the United States of America, and we, as citizens, play an important role. It is our responsibility to preserve the freedom Heavenly Father established here, just as it is our responsibility to help spread the gospel that He restored here.
Hey, I’m judging …
… the immodest dress of that newly-endowed bride.
(Now that I’ve got your attention, allow me to explain.)
You make judgments. I make judgments. We all judge. We’re supposed to. And in my opinion, this “don’t judge me” philosophy has gone a little off the rails.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’ve always known this to be true in my life. Being away from my family for 18 months to serve a full-time mission for the Church reminded me of how much I love my family. I learned to love them even more while being away for such a long period of time. One of my most memorable moments was when I was coming down the escalator in the Salt Lake City airport searching for my family among many strangers. Once I saw their beaming faces I ran toward them. The first person I hugged was my dad. I was so overcome with emotion that I began to cry. I had not been in his arms for 548 days.
My dad is the one who always gave me the advice that I needed to hear in my life. He called me “baby girl,” and he still does because I am the youngest girl in my family. He is kind and loving towards others. He has been the perfect example and mentor that I needed throughout my childhood and adult life. Throughout my mission, I received an email from him every week without fail and he always told me what I needed to hear. All of these experiences have made me reflect on what life would be like without this great man in my life. Continue reading
Back in the 60s and 70s girls that went on missions were considered misfits. Surely something was wrong with them, or they would have been married by the time they were twenty-one. Young women were encouraged to put marriage first, knowing that it was their highest priority. The few of us who did go on missions were cautious about telling people that we were returned missionaries because it might be a black mark on our resume.
But lots and lots of women who married young wanted to serve missions, and they and their husbands committed to serving together later in life. Then, about twenty years ago, the General Authorities began encouraging couples to consider senior missions. In 2010, President Monson pleaded, “We need many, many more senior couples,” and in 2011, Elder Holland exclaimed, “We need thousands of more couples serving in the missions of the Church.”
So all of those wonderful, faithful sisters who had put marriage first began to prepare for their long- awaited missions. But they didn’t know exactly what to expect. It was my own senior missions that led me to consider how I might be able to support senior missionary couples. Continue reading
Long before we accepted our temporal existence, we knew the journey would not be easy and that we would be tried over and over again to prove our worthiness for Eternal Life. Every one of us knew what we would personally have to work through, and yet, we all accepted. Often times, it’s hard to grasp that concept as we face trials that seem overwhelmingly impossible to conquer while only being able to see the earthly perspective.
Finding hope seems unreachable, and joy is ever so distant. We are bombarded with anger, frustration, fear and sadness to name a few of the many emotions. We tend to feel sorry for ourselves and ask, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”
As we know, trials come in a vast variety of experiences and are all different and personal. Luckily for us, we know that our Heavenly Father loves us and even though we feel we have been faced with the impossible. We know he would never expect us to deal with something we could not overcome. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and most importantly, he trusts us to follow his plan. Continue reading
Just over a year ago, my life took a turn of events that I would never have expected. For the past 14 months, I have been given opportunities to play a more active part in defending the institution of the family. In retrospect, it all began when Elder Russell M. Nelson gave his talk “A Plea to My Sisters” in October 2015 General Conference. His words sunk deep into my soul, and I couldn’t hold back the tears. I made a commitment right then and there to do whatever was needed. However, I had no idea the need was urgent, and there was an opportunity right around the corner.
In January of 2016, I simply attended a school meeting at my children’s elementary school regarding changing government guidelines related to gender identity (transgender) and Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and its application in Alberta education. My husband and I had skimmed through the literature before the meeting, yet I had little idea what this was really about or how I would be involved. I convinced my husband to attend with me, as I wondered if his legal background could possibly be of help. When we got there, we found our school board alarmed and left scrambling to explain the new government guidelines to parents. Administration, board, parents and teachers were equally concerned with how these guidelines were being implemented so quickly and forcefully by our Minister of Education with threats of disbandment for those boards who did not comply. The concerns parents voiced generally circulated around the emotional health and safety of children. The most concerning fact for most was that they were bypassing parents completely, and putting children in a position where they could be counseled in isolation regarding sexual matters without parental notification or consent – and they were doing it by force. Through these policies, secrets were encouraged and applauded. My stomach was in knots. My discerning, motherly instincts kicked into high gear and I could see layers of problems with their ideas. I knew it was a direct threat to the parent/child bond, the risk of abuse, not to mention a direct threat to the psychological well-being of all children. In an effort to be what they called “safe and caring”, they were putting all children at risk. Something they called “The Guidelines for Best Practices” felt like an entirely worst practice ever and they were forcing school boards across the province to draft their policies from this document! Continue reading
I wish I could say I have some powerful, testimony-building experience of “standing,” but I don’t. I’m not an incredible wordsmith or talented debater like so many I know on social media who are able to eloquently and gracefully state facts and defend beliefs, but as I stopped to ask myself if and how I “stand,” I read something that President Russell M. Nelson stated in his 2015 General Conference address:
“Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.”
I stand when I defend my home against the adversary with regular Family Home Evening, regular temple attendance, dedicated Sabbath worship, daily prayer and scripture study, both personal and family. It is in these small and simple daily moments that I am trying to make important things happen, courageously defending morality and family, shepherding my little ones along the covenant path, striving to receive personal revelation, seeking to call down the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen my family, and trying to teach fearlessly. This is how I stand. Continue reading
It had not even been a month since I had completely uprooted my life and followed the direction of the Spirit to, in my opinion, a hopeless place. It seemed to me that my move could never yield the fruit that I desperately wanted. But I trusted Heavenly Father and luckily had long ago given up the idea that when something is right, it is not hard. I had faith in His ultimate plan for me, but struggled with His timing and, in this case, wisdom. It seemed that the righteous desires I wanted, and that He had told me through the Spirit I could have, were completely at odds with my new set of circumstances. I felt stuck, very stuck and I knew that something extraordinary would be required to change these circumstances. It reminded me of a poem quoted by President Monson:
“Father, where shall I work today?”
and my love flowed warm and free.
Then he pointed out a tiny spot
And said, “Tend that for me.”
I answered quickly, “Oh no, not that!
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done.
Not that little place for me.”
And the word he spoke, it was not stern; …
“Art thou working for them or for me?
Nazareth was a little place,
And so was Galiliee.”
(Meade MacGuire, “Father, Where Shall I Work Today?”)
During a conversation with my sister, I “came to myself” and remembered a few things. I remembered that Heavenly Father had directed me to this “tiny spot”, and that I had readily agreed to co-create this spot with Him. For whatever reason, this was to be where I was to stay for a season. I realized that He had already provided inspiration for how it needed to be tended, and reserved the right to provide more inspiration and plot twists as needed (not as a way to be mean or string me along, but to continue to facilitate my growth). I was struggling to find the meaning of this experience. My sister also reminded me of the words of a past priesthood blessing. The counsel was simple and straightforward, “Go to the temple often and do the work of your ancestors.” Mercifully, Heavenly Father had already planned for this portion of my life and had greater blessings in store than I could have imagined. Continue reading