Category Archives: Courage

Gifts of Fatherhood

At a recent family party, I was thoroughly entertained by 2 year old, Joey*. Joey is always thinking, and his little legs work even faster than his imagination. With a pool, trampoline, and several cousins around, there was lots for little Joey to do…. luckily, Joey’s dad, Brian*, was always there…. watching, protecting and teaching his darling little boy.

You see, Brian was quite a bit like Joey when he was young. Always thinking, always moving. He knows what is in his little son’s mind because he used to think the exact, same, imaginative things! So, when Joey starts heading for the deep end of the pool with a rock in his right hand and a towel in the other, Brian easily foresees a scene where the rock gets thrown, the towel gets wet, and Joey ends up with a scar across his forehead….. luckily, Brian can still move faster than his son and another crisis is successfully avoided.

The only real crisis occurred at the end of the day when Joey was determined to head to the pool instead of the car. In full meltdown mode, Joey asserted that he wanted to stay and he made a mad dash to the pool. Brian’s strong arms quickly scooped Joey up and carried him to the mini-van where the little boy soon fell asleep.

Joey’s antics were entertaining to say the least. I left the party with a great respect for Brian and his endless dedication to teach and protect his little boy.

Oftentimes, children don’t want the help of their fathers. They want to adventure off on their own and experience life on their own terms. They have little understanding of the natural consequences that follow certain actions and they interpret dad’s laws as “unfair” or “mean”.

Just as there are natural consequences to Joey’s rock hitting a swimmer’s head, there are natural consequences…. good and bad…. to all that we do.

The laws and commandments that our Heavenly Father provides will lead His children to good consequences while helping us avoid the bad. Just as Brian can’t change the law of gravity in order to avoid injury from Joey’s rock, Heavenly Father is bound to obey the same natural laws that He teaches us to obey.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” [D&C 130:20–21]

I am sure that there are some who imagine that we have a vengeful Heavenly Father who writes laws for the sole purpose of stumping our ability to receive a perfect score on this test of life. Sometimes it’s hard to take our little corner of understanding and get a clear picture of what our Father in Heaven has in store for us. We tend to be like Joey and lash out against a father who wants to protect us from the natural consequences that come from falling into the deep end of the pool.

Why do we not trust our Heavenly Father and follow all of His laws with exactness? Surely the laws that He shares with us will bring good consequences and result in joy. Why do we think that freedom comes by running away from our Father?

President Gordon B. Hinkley taught, “True freedom lies in obedience to the counsels of God. It was said of old that “the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light.” (Prov. 6:23.) The gospel is not a philosophy of repression, as so many regard it. It is a plan of freedom that gives discipline to appetite and direction to behavior. Its fruits are sweet and its rewards are liberal.…

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1.)

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor. 3:17.)

One of the greatest blessings that the Lord has given His sons to help them understand the love and wisdom of our Father in Heaven, is the opportunity to be an earthly father. There is no other way to learn the depths of love, sorrow, joy, and concern than becoming a parent. From the moment your child is born, you feel an instant love and connection that binds you forever. Watching your child struggle with an illness will bring you greater worry, concern and humility that you have ever experienced before becoming a parent. Likewise, in watching your child overcome adversity, you will experience joy and gratitude that is far greater than anything the world can offer. These are the gifts that come from fatherhood.

As fathers experience life through their child’s eyes, they can get a better sense of how our Father in Heaven sees His children. They better understand His love and His desire to see us obtain all that He has. This is why fathers work so hard to provide and protect their children. This is why they take their job of presiding very seriously. Fathers know what is at stake if they fail to teach their children of the natural consequences that follow every action.

So, here’s to Brian, and other fathers around the world. May they find the strength to keep saving their children from the deep end of the pool and falling rocks. May they continue teaching right from wrong. And warn against things like excessive debt, poor eating habits, improper dating, laziness, too much screen time, etc., etc., etc.,…. not because they want to be mean, but because they have the perspective to see the natural consequences that follow each action. We thank you!

Happy Father’s Day!

 

*Names have been changed

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We Will Raise a Sin-Resistant Generation

Illustration by Annie Henrie

Raising a Sin-Resistant Generation in our era is not easy. So much of what is logical and true has been corrupted. Our children are left to sift through half-truths and confusing lines of reasoning to find their way in this world.

Covenant keeping mothers would love to remove all corruption from the path our children have to take, but we realize that we cannot do it alone. Gratefully, there have been three, recent General Conference talks from President Russell M. Nelson, Sister Bonnie Oscarson, and Sister Joy D. Jones that each lay out inspired directions that will help mothers raise their children as a Sin-Resistant Generation.

From President Nelson’s talk, we find this list (bullet points added):
1- “We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and
2- Who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world.
3- We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation;
4- Women who know how to receive personal revelation,
5- Who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment;
6- Women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families;
7- Women who teach fearlessly.”
8- “We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and
9- Who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.
10- We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms.
11- We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity.
12- We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.”

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More Holiness Give Me

Consider the story of the rich young man, as found in the Book of Mark:

“17 ¶ And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:17-22)

Sometimes I wonder, “Am I even as good as the rich young man?” I am neither rich, nor young, nor a man. I do not have wealthy possessions and I do not live in the time of the Savior. Yet I don’t think I have spent enough time in my life asking if I am keeping all the commandments and what more do I need to do. And if I asked would I do as bidden or go away sorrowing?

Repeatedly in our current culture, I hear the phrase, “You are enough.” The scriptures say things more like:

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48)

“O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.” (Mormon 9:27)

“12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” (Philippians 2:12-15)

There is work that I still need to do before I am enough. My salvation has not yet been worked out. I need to obey more. I need to repent more. I need to perfectly keep all my covenants. I need to gain knowledge. I need to despise not, doubt not, and hearken more. I need to live so as to always have the Holy Ghost with me as promised in the Sacrament prayer. I need to continually ask the question of the rich young man: “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” And then, unlike the rich young man, I must do as commanded.

If I want to receive eternal life, I cannot afford to waste away my days believing I am enough or that I have done enough. I must choose not to be satisfied with where I am today. To be satisfied is to stop progressing.

In my head, I often compare the phrase, “You are enough” to the hymn More Holiness Give Me. This is my desire.

More holiness give me,
More strivings within,
More patience in suff’ring,
More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior,
More sense of his care,
More joy in his service,
More purpose in prayer.

More gratitude give me,
More trust in the Lord,
More pride in his glory,
More hope in his word,
More tears for his sorrows,
More pain at his grief,
More meekness in trial,
More praise for relief.

More purity give me,
More strength to o’ercome,
More freedom from earth-stains,
More longing for home.
More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be,
More blessed and holy–
More, Savior, like thee.

(Hymns, 131, More Holiness Give Me, 1985)

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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President Nelson: Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives

In his April 2017 General Conference talk, titled, Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives, President Nelson teaches that if we want to know how to be healed and receive salvation we must learn about Jesus Christ and how to be like Him. To receive those promises, there are things we must do. In Doctrine and Covenants section 88, Christ counsels, “draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (D&C 88:63)

I love the word “diligently” in this scripture. Diligently means action marked by persevering, painstaking effort.

President Nelson is earnestly trying to lead us to Christ. He gave counsel in what we can do to seek Christ diligently.

Earlier in the year, President Nelson invited the young adults of the Church to diligently search the standard works for all of the words and works of Christ. He continued that theme during General Conference:

“Today I would like to speak about how we can draw into our lives the power of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

We begin by learning about Him. ‘It is impossible for [us] to be saved in ignorance. ’The more we know about the Savior’s ministry and mission—the more we understand His doctrine and what He did for us—the more we know that He can provide the power that we need for our lives.”

Elder Nelson points members of the Church to the scriptures. He said that he spent time reading the references about Jesus Christ from all of the subsections of the Topical Guide. He counsels us to do the same as well as to read the Living Christ.

Pointing us to the man, Jesus, President Nelson corrected word usage that has become common in the Church.

“It is doctrinally incomplete to speak of the Lord’s atoning sacrifice by shortcut phrases,” he said, “such as ‘the Atonement’ or ‘the enabling power of the Atonement’ or ‘applying the Atonement’ or ‘being strengthened by the Atonement.’”

He continued by explain the problem with shortcut phrases, “These expressions,” he declared, “present a real risk of misdirecting faith by treating the event as if it had living existence and capabilities independent of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.”

Where do we go to receive a remission of sin? We go to the Savior, Himself. Christ declared:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

As a second witness to those words, President Nelson declared, “The Savior’s atoning sacrifice—the central act of all human history—is best understood and appreciated when we expressly and clearly connect it to Him.”

Seeking out all of the scriptures about the Savior is seeking diligently to know the Savior.

In addition to searching through the words and works of Christ in the scriptures, President Nelson continued his counsel us on how to diligently seek the Savior. He asked us to, “stand out, speak up, and be different from the people of the world”, “make sacred covenants and keep those covenants with precision”, “seek for ways to keep [ourselves] unspotted from the world so there will be nothing blocking [our] access to the Savior’s power,” and to reach up to the Savior in faith.

Diligently doing these things, Elder Nelson declares, will allow “His [Jesus Christ’s] power will flow into you.”

“And then,” he says, “you will understand the deep meaning of words we sing in the hymn ‘The Spirit of God’:

The Lord is extending the Saints’ understanding. …
The knowledge and power of God are expanding;
The veil o’er the earth is beginning to burst.”

President Nelson concluded that, “the gospel of Jesus Christ is filled with His power, which is available to every earnestly seeking daughter or son of God. It is my testimony that when we draw His power into our lives, both He and we will rejoice.”

 

 

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

Guest Stand: The Longing for a Father

FatherhoodMissing Him for 548 Days

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

The Bolder You Stand, the Stronger You Become

Mormon Women Stand Kathryn Skaggs

Taking a stand for righteousness is like exercising a muscle. The bolder you stand the stronger, or more confident, you become. If you’re anything like me, I don’t necessarily like to exercise, but I like the way regular exercise makes me feel physically, mentally and emotionally. I think standing for the gospel of Jesus Christ is very much the same. When you take a bold stand, it requires not only courage but perhaps most important faith.

One very important principle of faith is how its power increases with persistence.

Three years ago, on March 10, 2014, I founded Mormon Women Stand. At that time, I had just experienced standing alone as an independent blogger, on a topic that ruffled more than a few feathers (or perhaps froze them) – not only among some members but what I wrote garnered global attention; and still does. To say the backlash, both publicly and personally, was tremendous would be putting it lightly. However, I knew that the stand I took was right. I knew that to shrink would be to let the adversary win. I knew that the Lord, more than ever, needed faithful women to speak what needed to be said in order to stand for truth and righteousness, regardless of the consequences.

What I learned most, however, is that if women of covenant are to stand BOLDLY on issues that support the teachings and counsel of modern prophets and apostles, we must stand TOGETHER! Continue reading

Guest Post: Standing Boldly for the Family in Southern Alberta, Canada

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

Let’s Hear it for the Giants!

Mormon Women Stand is celebrating three years of standing strong for marriage, faith and family.  Today, I would like to take a little detour and give a shout out to all of the amazing men in our lives who do plenty of “standing” of their own.

President Nelson explained, “In the work of the Lord, we all learn one great lesson: Each of us stands tall on the shoulders of giants who preceded us.”  When good men work hard to become the giants on which the next generation will stand, they help support strong generations that can stand tall against the rising evil in this world.  It is usually by small as simple means that these giants and their powerful shoulders do this important work.

Over the years, I have seen my husband’s shoulders look gigantic when gently holding our tiny newborns, but they seemed to grow even stronger when holding his father as he took his last breath.  These same shoulders held his daughter tight as he whispered, “I love you, be good!” before she bravely left for a long 18 months.   And they were coated with mud when he worked long into the night rescuing everything from furniture to treasured family photos from neighborhood homes during the flood.  Year after year, my darling husband has kept his “shoulder to the wheel” as he meets his many, daily expectations.  He gladly takes upon himself the command to provide, preside and protect his family.  His family is blessed by his humble service. Continue reading