Beth Green, a young mother from Spring, Texas, recently shared her story of evacuating during Hurricane Harvey with her husband and young children in tow. Here, she shares her faith, struggles and uncertainty in a very candid manner–all via text with Deseret News reporter Tad Walch.
The neighborly kindness shown to her family was reminiscent of a talk by President Henry B. Eyring titled “Opportunities to do Good“. He taught:
Because the Lord hears their cries and feels your deep compassion for them, He has from the beginning of time provided ways for His disciples to help. He has invited His children to consecrate their time, their means, and themselves to join with Him in serving others. … Wherever you live, you have seen that miracle of sympathy turned to unselfish action. … We feel compassion, and we know how to act in the Lord’s way to help.
Beth likewise described how entire neighborhoods come together to help in times of disaster and flooding:
Everyone in the neighborhood comes together to help. Sheridan says the only times you meet your neighbors are Halloween and natural disasters. We don’t know most of the people on our street except our uphill neighbors, who are amazing. But everyone came down the street to check on us and tell us we could come to their house if the water got deep.
Our downhill neighbor showed up on our porch yesterday afternoon with her cats when her house started to get water in. When we moved up to the uphill neighbors’, she came with us. The uphill neighbors fed us dinner and gave us beds. I couldn’t sleep because of the storm and my baby and neither could the downhill neighbor who had just lost her house. She took the baby from me and rocked him from 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. so I could sleep a little.
I’ve only had like maybe three brief conversations with this woman before in my life.
With thoughts of the flood in Biblical times and the sign that God gave to His people on her mind, this mother shared her experience of evacuating on the Sabbath:
It suddenly occurred to me it was the Sabbath. No church and it hadn’t been a day of peace and rest but rather work and stress. But we had been checked on and helped by family and friends near and far and total strangers. It felt like a holy day. I got behind my TV cabinet to unplug all the cords and found a picture my daughter had drawn that must have fallen back their months ago. It was a rainbow. I don’t know what the next week or months hold for our little family, but I feel like that rainbow was telling me we are going to get through this. We are feeling lots of love right now and still hope.
Last month we celebrated Pioneer Day. The monumental courage and commitment of those early Saints has always impressed me, and I have been trying diligently to channel my inner pioneer spirit. I want to take the legacy of faith they passed down and carry it forward because we have a work to do in our time just as they did in theirs.
The world we live in is a mess. Many people want to turn off the news for good, and who can blame them? Our society is turning away from God and insisting that absolute truth does not exist. We are changing the definition of the sacred institutions of marriage and family. We see terrorism, political corruption, human trafficking, creeping socialism, threats to religious freedom, nations on the verge of war – and the list goes on. Paul warned that “in the last days, perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1). Times are now perilous, indeed! How do we keep from being overwhelmed with all the evil that we face?
One of the first answers that comes to mind is to live our lives according to the commandments so that we can qualify for the guidance of the Holy Ghost in all that we do. That is definitely necessary, but we need to take it a step further. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world” (BYU Devotional, 9/17/96, emphasis added).
How do we contribute good to the world? Certainly, we start in our own homes. We MUST teach our children the principles of the gospel and give them a firm foundation centered in Jesus Christ. We cannot rely on others to do the teaching for us. Sheri Dew said, “We no longer have the luxury of spending our energy on anything that does not lead us and our families to Christ. . . In the days ahead, a casual commitment to Christ will not carry us through” (October 1999 General Conference). What strong counsel! Continue reading →
Part of living in the last days is that evil and wickedness are abundant, cunning, and overwhelming. We must choose righteousness over wickedness; but many find themselves in the middle because they haven’t chosen yet, they are confused, or they have been tricked into thinking that the middle is righteousness. When we choose righteousness we are taking our first steps to overcoming the wickedness that surrounds us, in other words we are overcoming the world.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
What does Christ mean when he said that he had overcome the world? Christ’s entire mission was to overcome the world – the natural man, temptations, sin, etc. – so that we could have the possibility of returning to our Heavenly Father. Jesus was baptised, so we must as well. Jesus introduced the sacrament, and so we partake weekly. Jesus performed the Atonement, so that we may be forgiven of our sins when we repent. Jesus was resurrected three days after his death, and so we will be able to be resurrected as well. Jesus overcame the world, and so we must, in our own way as well:
“For verily I say unto you, I will that ye should overcome the world; wherefore I will have compassion upon you.” (D&C 64:2)
Jesus Christ overcame the world, but he was perfect. How are we, fallible natural men and women supposed to overcome the world? In the April 2017 general conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen taught us four ways to do so.
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:16-19)
Jesus loves us, and as we learn about and feel that love, we grow to love him. “Perfect love casteth out fear.” When we love Jesus, we will have the courage to follow Him, and make righteous decisions, even when the world is taunting and screaming at us to do the opposite. Elder Andersen said that this love is not a one event thing, but a lifelong process. It starts with learning how to pray, singing songs about Jesus, hearing and reading the stories about Jesus, developing a relationship with Him, and putting all that we have learned to action.
Accountability to God
Elder Andersen described the difference between those who do not want to be accountable to God, and those who know that we are:
“Those overcoming the world know that they will be accountable to their Heavenly Father. Sincerely changing and repenting of sins is no longer restraining but liberating, as ‘sins [of] scarlet…[become] white as snow.’
Those of the world have difficulty with accountability to God – like a child who parties in his parents’ home while they are out of town, enjoying the ruckus, refusing to think about the consequences when the parents return 24 hours later.”
When I was younger, I attended an activity wearing an inappropriate outfit, my mom found out and disciplined me the next day. In frustration I said, “Why can’t you just let me do what I want, and God can punish me later?!” Her response still touches my heart, “Because I am your mother, and God entrusted me to teach you what is right and to lead you back to Him.” The natural man argues that earthly consequences shouldn’t exist, that they infringe on our agency; but our accountability to God must begin here on earth. We cannot wait until later.
How do we show accountability to God here on earth?
Keeping the commandments
Keeping our baptismal and temple covenants
Staying faithful to our eternal companions
Taking the sacrament each week.
Repenting of our sins
The list goes on…
In chapter 23 of the book of Matthew Jesus describes the Pharisees as being worldly. He explains that their motivation for their works is to be seen and praised by others. Jesus says that this is not the way to live and in verses 10 and 11 says:
“Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:10-11)
We are to serve others, not expect others to serve us. We are to serve others for love of them and Christ, not for the praise of the world. Elder Andersen gave some examples of selflessness that we should all embody:
“The happiness of our spouse is more important than our own pleasure. Helping our children to love God and keep His commandments is a primary priority. We willingly share our material blessings through tithing, fast offerings, and giving to those in need.”
Safety in the Prophets
In choosing to follow the Savior, we will be ridiculed by the world, we will be hated by the world, and we will be ignored. But if we focus on our connection with God, and following the guidance from His chosen prophets, we will find safety in this world. The teachings of our prophets – both ancient and modern – are inspired by God, and are literally a road map back to our Heavenly Father. Of course there is safety and blessings in following their counsel! When I follow the teachings of the prophets, I feel the Holy Ghost tell me that I made the right choice. He will do the same for you.
So what does overcoming the world accomplish? According to Elder Andersen, “greater peace in this life and a greater assurance of your eternal destiny.” What a blessing to have greater peace in this life! The scriptures expand on what that eternal destiny is. When we overcome the world we will be clothed in white in the eternities, our names will remain in the book of life, and Jesus will acknowledge us before our Father. (Revelation 3:5) When we overcome the world we will have a part in the first resurrection. (D&C 76:64) When we overcome the world we will gain eternal life. (Revelation 2) When we overcome the world we will live with God. (Revelation 3:12)
Trying to overcome the world may seem daunting at first, but I testify that if we follow the advice that Elder Andersen has given us, we will succeed. When we love Jesus Christ, accept our accountability to God, become selfless, and look to our prophets, we will have the strength and ability to overcome the world.
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.
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.”
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 →
There is no question there is an attack on the family. Just scan the headlines of any news outlet and you’ll find startling evidence of the strategic ways the adversary is trying to destroy this most beautiful and basic of human relationships.
How do we counteract all of these attempts to redefine the traditional family out of existence? The Family: A Proclamation to the World tells us: “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”
We start right where we are: in our own homes, in our schools, in our communities. We teach the truths, live the truths, taught in the Proclamation. Our examples will speak louder than any words we might say but at times words are necessary to defend truth. If we have our examples to back up our words others are more likely to listen. Continue reading →
“The troubles of the world may largely be laid at the doors of those who are neither hot nor cold; who always follow the line of least resistance; whose timid hearts flutter at taking sides for truth.
As in the great Council in the heavens, so in the Church of Christ on earth, there can be no neutrality. We are, or we are not, on the side of the Lord.”
– John A. Widtsoe, Conference Report, April 1941, p. 117
This quote by Elder Widtsoe is one of my favorites. He perfectly sums up the fact that in these Last Days there can be no fence-sitters. “We are, or we are not, on the side of the Lord.” It is obvious that Satan’s influence is strikingly powerful in the world. Assuming we have the desire to take a stand, where do we even begin? It can be overwhelming. About four years ago I had an issue that I wanted to become involved in; however, I felt completely inadequate. I was just a mom with no important title and little college education. How could I possibly make a difference? A dear friend shared with me this quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, He will increase our capability.” With this reassurance, I decided to dive in.
The issue bothering me was education. I saw some trends that were concerning to me and I was able to join with like-minded people to try and make a difference in our area. Talk about being thrown out of my comfort zone! It was a whirlwind of new experiences, from community presentations to media interviews to legislative efforts. It was the first time in my life I had really taken a public stand on anything, and it turned out to be an incredible growing experience. I did things I never thought I could do, and I felt the direct influence of the Holy Ghost as I was able to write and say what was needed at times when my shy, introverted self would normally come up empty. Continue reading →
Stand for virtue. Exemplify virtue. Change the world.
These words were highlighted in a recent fireside for Relief Society women in which Sister Elaine Dalton, former General President of the Young Women for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke. In the fireside, she issued another call for a return to virtue, just as she has done for over 11 years:
“There has never been a time like this,” she said. “I’ve never seen the opposition be greater, but I’ve never seen the opportunities be greater, and as my husband and I sit up here looking out at you, there is so much hope because you really are the change-the-world generation. You’re the ones who will change the world.
“You are the ones who have been spoken of by prophets, seers and revelators all through the scriptures. You’re the ones who have been prophesied about. You are the ones who will lead the world and who will lead the women of the world because you are ‘different in happy ways,’” she said, referencing a quote by former LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball.
Sister Dalton told of a trip last month to New York City, where she and her husband found themselves driving through the city during the Women’s March.
“We were in a cab, and as I watched those women marching and yelling, and should I say, behaving anything but ladylike and using language that was very unbefitting of daughters of God,” Sister Dalton said. “As I watched all of that take place, my heart just sunk and I thought to myself, ‘What would happen if all those women were marching and calling to the world for a return to virtue?’”
Women have the power to do–what?–you ask? Elder David A. Bednar says we all have the power to act. We have the power to do whatever is necessary to bring ourselves to the feet of our Savior. It doesn’t work the other way around–Jesus may look in on us from time to time, but He is really waiting for us to come unto Him. Yes, taking that walk, lifting that finger, moving our lips, and even plucking that fruit off the tree.
When it comes to Relief Society, we sisters can do a whole lot more than what we’re doing. We have a destiny that is greater than any sharp-tongued detractor can wield. We have God on our side because we have stepped up to stand next to Him. Let me show you what I mean.
Women Have the Power to Act in Our Communities
Jesus Christ needs women who will stand up for moral values and for truth. Too often we’ll hear only the voices who whine and complain while those of us who have testimonies cower in the corner. Not anymore! Elder Bednar points out, “We often testify of what we know to be true, but perhaps the more relevant question for each of us is whether we believe what we know.”(1) If we believe it, we can’t be afraid to show it in our communities, in the blog world, or whenever truth is challenged.
That means we have to study things out and be ready to share the truth we have studied and are prepared to testify of. As women in the gospel, we need to be “courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. … Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.” (2)Continue reading →