As I sat in the congregation of the Conference Center, waiting for the women’s general session of General Conference to start, I was overwhelmed with the Spirit and with gratitude. My friend from Mormon Women Stand, Kathryn Skaggs, came from out of state to attend and offered tickets to me and my daughter. It was a wonderful time to finally meet her face to face and to bask in the counsel we were about to receive from Church leaders. I was amazed at how beautiful the pink flowers were and the pink and red lights illuminating the area behind the angelic choir. I was humbled as I watched scores of women and girls of all ages gather together for this historic meeting, in such a beautiful building. I knew in my heart we were all in for a magnificent feast and I was not disappointed.
The choir sang and I was overcome by the love that I felt for my beautiful daughter who I have known for her entire life, and also for my new friend, Kathryn, after having met her just moments earlier. As the choir sang, “I am a Child of God” and “Love One Another,” I could not keep the tears from falling. Surrounded by faithful and radiating women and girls, Daughters of the Most High God, I felt love for them. One by one, the speakers touched my spirit and even pricked my heart. I felt myself being gently called to repentance while simultaneously being inspired and lifted with new ideas and generous thoughts. I knew that the words I was hearing were inspired and I knew they were true. Each testimony, each video, each song, pierced my soul. Continue reading →
At the recent Church History Symposium, historians expressed hope that every sister, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would have these two books in their bookshelves: Daughters in My Kingdom and The First Fifty Years of Relief Society. These books “give roots” to our Relief Society. And as Kate Holbrook (one of the chief editors) said, “To understand where you are today, it’s important to understand where we’ve been before.”
Where Daughters in My Kingdom is a beautiful, simplified, as well as inspired volume of history, The First Fifty Years of Relief Society is a scholarly tome filled with original documents, letters, and journal entries. But, don’t let that scare you! These two books, used together, will serve as an incredible resource for women who desire to know how God works with his daughters, what He expects us to do, and just how much He cherishes each one. Continue reading →
Want a stronger testimony? You might try to simplify things by just living the basic doctrines of the gospel.
I remember the first time I felt like I was in over my head. I had just graduated high school and the bishop of our congregation, or “ward,” had invited me in to his office during Church. As we chatted about my plans for college and other things, he asked if I would accept a “calling,” or in other words, a church assignment. I was expecting him to ask if I would be the ward chorister or something. But instead, he asked me if I would accept the assignment to be the teacher of a group of teenage girls, or “Young Women,” in our congregation.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when a girl graduates from High School or turns 18, she stops attending the teenage girls’ classes, and attends the women’s class, the “Relief Society,” in the ward. I had been really looking forward to attending the women’s classes.
Here Am I, Don’t Send Me!
I was surprised, to say the least. Though I had already graduated, I was still seventeen, which meant that there could technically be a Young Woman in the group of girls who was older than I—the teacher—was. I felt very young and unprepared. I had never taught before. And to make things potentially even more strange, because I had just left the Young Women program, that meant that I was now expected to “teach” the peers and friends I had been in the program with for years! I felt very uncomfortable giving any kind of counsel in such a formal setting to girls that I loved to chat and hang out with. Would they think I was coming off as “holier than thou?” Would it change my friendships? Continue reading →
Many don’t understand the majesty of which the Relief Society organization was founded. Over the years, we have lost the significance of the Relief Society. We have forgotten that we were organized “under the priesthood, after the pattern of the priesthood.” That gives us a power unlike any other women’s organization in the world. What exactly does under the priesthood, after the pattern of the priesthood mean? Continue reading →
Have you ever felt left out at church, like you don’t fit into your ward, or that even as an adult, you are still not one of the “cool kids”? Have you felt like your ward does not need you and that maybe people in your ward feel like they would be better off without you there? If you have, you are not alone.
I have had the opportunity to live in many wards in various geographical locations in Canada and the United States. In every ward, there have been at least some people who feel left out and not a part of the ward culture, and in some wards, there have been many people who have felt that way. Sometimes, I have felt that way myself.
Feeling unwanted, unneeded, or even an outcast in our wards causes heartache. Sometimes, we may be causing our own isolation. For me, there have been times when I felt rejected by members of my ward and essentially isolated myself by sitting alone in the corner, not talking to anyone and not attending the activities. But most of the time, I think sisters feel isolated because the general population of the ward is not willing to open up and let other people into their inner circles. Some wards and some Relief Societies do have cliques.
If you happen to be a feminist outside of the Mormon faith, it’s very likely that you believe one of the strongest critiques levied against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon): that its theology wreaks with gender inequality and the membership dominated by a chauvinistic male hierarchy – the priesthood. I’ll even go one further… I bet the original source of that misguided understanding is a Mormon feminist.
The reason I can say that with such confidence (and no ill-will intended, just a fact) is that the majority of LDS women do not share that misperception or experience; I am among that majority. Not that we don’t see room for improvement in general male/female interaction within the Church, subject to human weakness – we do. But, we don’t confuse occasional abuses with doctrinal teachings — the expectation. Important distinction.
I greatly appreciate section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord straight up exposes the tendency of every man, when given authority, to use unrighteous dominion in its administration. He also warned that to do so would be the end of a man’s priesthood power. Sadly, the natural man, in so many ways, chooses to ignore this admonition, and the tender hearts of the Lord’s daughters are the frequent recipients of such ignorance. However, this is not the way the Lord intended it to be, but rather, knowing full well this was going to be a problem, called it out. Continue reading →
We’re coming into one of my favorite times of the year. Not only is it autumn, but it’s also one of the best seasons in the LDS community. It’s General Conference season. We’ll hear inspiring messages from a member of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and members of the general presidencies of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary organizations. But this year, instead of just watching the General Conference, I’d like to take it a step further. Continue reading →
As sisters in the covenant, we share a bond like no other. A few years back I was assigned to visit teach a sister who is deaf. She lived in a small bedroom in her sister’s home. While see was free to use the entire house, she preferred to spend her days in her room. She loved birds, so her sister placed a humming bird feeder outside her bedroom window. This sweet lady told us that she had seen 17 different varieties of humming birds outside her window. She had a little dog that sat with her on her bed all day. She had some health problems, but she was cheerful and pleasant. Pretty much everything she needed was within reach of her bed.
While communicating with this sister was difficult, my companion knew just enough sign language to find out if she needed anything. She told us that she loved to read the scriptures, but that she missed having the Ensign in her home, and she couldn’t afford to get a subscription. She asked if we could provide used copies of the Ensign for her to read. I was touched that this lovely sister with so little means, living in such a tiny little room, would only ask for old copies of the Ensign. She could have asked for so much—yet she asked for so little. I went home and ordered a subscription to the Ensign for her.
I would have liked to have gotten to know this sister better, but shortly after we were assigned to visit her, she moved from our ward. I’ve thought about her and wondered how she is doing. She taught me a valuable lesson in how to be cheerful in our circumstances and grateful for our blessings. Continue reading →
The Relief Society Declaration says that we are women who delight in service and good works. I am truly blessed that I have had such good role models of service in my life—men and women. My parents were always doing things for others.
My mother was a leader in a youth organization for years, and later served on the organization’s Board. Mom was a great seamstress and made a lot of our clothes. I remember one summer she took the sewing machine up to our family’s cabin in the mountains. She set it on a huge rock underneath a big pine tree, and strung a long cord through the window to plug it in. She made all my school clothes that summer—fighting the curiosity of the Blue Jays and the chipmunks that wanted to dive bomb all the bright red and orange fabric. I hope Mom knew how much I appreciated her and loved her for that act of service.
Dad was always doing something for a neighbor or a friend in need. I remember the summer my grandfather (Pa) retired and didn’t know what to do with his free time. Pa decided that he and Dad should build a rock wall that Dad had dreamed about for a while. Dad was a salesman who worked solely on commission, and he really couldn’t afford to take time off work to build this rock wall. He did it anyway—not because he really needed the wall built, but because Pa needed to do it to keep busy.
I remember Dad setting up flood lights around his lilac bushes one spring to keep them from freezing so that my sister would have lilacs for her wedding. He babied those lilacs for days trying to save them. He and mom cut some of them and put them in buckets in the house to try and save some in case the ones left on the bushes froze. Between the two of them, my sister had lilacs for her wedding.
Many others have been examples of service to me. I’ve watched friends serve their families and members of the community for many years.
No one has made a better impact on me of the importance of service than my husband. He has quietly given service all his life. He never asks for anything in return; never needs a pat on the back. Even now that he is retired, he continues to serve. He regularly mows lawns for family members who are struggling to get everything done while raising their children and serving in their respective church callings. He pruned bushes at the church for a long time. He still does it occasionally, but at 71 years old, I now encourage him to let some of the younger people take care of that.
As I have watched both the men and women in my life serve others, I have grown to love serving others myself. Service isn’t something that is gender specific; it is a Christ-like attribute. We can all give service—and we all have specific talents to give.
It took me a long time to figure out what kind of talents I have. It was silly, really. I spent too much time comparing myself to others to realize that not all of us are musicians or artists. We don’t all have college degrees. We aren’t all teachers. I spent so much time looking at all the wonderful talent surrounding me that I was blinded to my own unique talents. Now that I’ve sorted it all out, I use those talents to serve others.
As I have watched my husband’s quiet service over the years, I have often thought about how it brings out the best in him. It also brings out the best in our family as we have learned to serve beside him. He taught our children how to quietly go about the business of good works. As Elder Cuthbert said, I’ve watched service refine and purify him.
This example of good works from him (as well as many others) makes me want to serve in a similar manner. It isn’t just the service that impresses me; it is the nature and genuineness of the giver of that service. Christ didn’t heal the sick and then say, “What do I get out of it?” He gave with no thought of His own reward.
As sisters in Zion, we should delight in service and good works. There is a lot of work to do around us. No matter what your individual situation is, there is always someone who is in greater need than yourself. We all are in need of something—just not all the same things. It’s just a matter of keeping our eyes open to the need around us and then finding ways to use our individual talents to help.
I’ve spent some time observing what’s been happening on Mormon Women Stand since its inception. I admit that Kathryn Skaggs dragged me into this project kicking and screaming, as I didn’t think I had the skills necessary for what she was asking me to do. I’ve learned a lot since then—not the necessary skills—still working on that, but I’ve learned a few things about myself, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and sisterhood. I’ve learned a boatload about sisters in Zion. Continue reading →