Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Lucky Winners Are...

Before I announce the winners of the giveaway I wanted to share the results of my question "Who is your favorite woman in the scriptures." I LOVED reading your responses. Here are the women who made the list and the number of women who listed her as their favorite:

Mary, mother of Christ-- 14
Eve- 6
Sariah- 5
Hannah- 4
Ruth- 3
Jael- 2
Esther- 2
Abish- 2
Great woman of Shunem (2 Kings 4)- 1
Naomi- 1
Woman with the issue of blood- 1
Emma Smith- 1
Rachel-1
Sarah- 1
Nephi's wife- 1
Martha- 1
Elisabeth- 1

I think I'd have to add my vote to Eve. I love all the women in the scriptures, but I can't wait untll the day I get to meet Eve. I'd give anything to sit down and hear her version of what happened in the garden :)

Okay and now onto the winners... drum roll please....

The Grand Prize winner of Maren Scott's "My Beloved Son"



is Ashlee at Everyday Love

First Prize winner of Flor Lario's "Nativity Star"



is Sus
(Sus, I don't have an email or web address for you so PLEASE email me heatherlady at gmail.com with your information SOON so I can get you your prize)


Second Prize winner of the vinyl art from iTwaddle is



Jocelyn Christensen of "We Talk of Christ, We Preach of Christ"

and the third prize winner of the $15 dollar gift certificate to Our Happy Home



is RGG of "The 72 Hour Rule"

Congrats to these lucky winners and thanks to the wonderful artists who were generous enough to share their work!

I so wish I had more gifts to give the rest of you but know I am sending you my love, which is almost as good as a piece of art work ;)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Memorizing the Proclamation on the Family

Three years ago, when I was pregnant with our first baby, my husband and I decided to memorize "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". We decided to have a race and whoever memorized the whole thing first—word perfect-- would be treated to the restaurant of their choice. It wasn’t such an easy task, the document is 10 paragraphs long, and we both carried copies of the Proclamation around with us and reviewed it like crazy people. My husband stuck his copy in a Ziploc bag and stuck it to the wall while he showered and I recited it as I ate my breakfast, taking bites in between each line. The pressure really started to build as we heard each other reciting more and more of it until one night, about two weeks after we set our goal, we both declared at the same time that we had it memorized. It was a tie... so we compromised on dinner.



After all our work we were worried we were going to forget it. So we decided that we would recite the full Proclamation every Monday night, our family night. We couldn’t agree on how to recite it, I wanted to do take turns reciting every other paragraph and my husband wanted to do it in unison, so we decided to alternate and do it “my way” one week and “his way” the next. At first it was slow and we still needed a lot of help, but now, three years after we started, it rolls off our tongues fluently. It has become one of our most cherished family traditions and even if we aren’t home on Monday nights we still make it a point to recite the proclamation together in the car or when we get a quiet minute.

Our children are still too young to have the Proclamation memorized but we hope that by hearing it repeated every week, and by working on it with them little by little, that they will have the message emblazoned on their souls. In this world of conflicting messages I can’t think of anything more important for my children to understand than that they are children of God, that they each have divine missions on earth, and that their gender is a characteristic of their eternal souls. I hope that by constantly hearing and repeating the words of the Proclamation, and seeing us implement them in our own family, that they will develop a strong testimony of the doctrine of the family and have faith in their own ability to form a family when the time comes.

It has been amazing how memorizing the Proclamation and reciting it often has strengthened and fortified our marriage and our little family. Often times when we are faced with difficult problems or questions words and paragraphs from the Proclamation coming flowing into our minds. It seems like there hasn’t yet been a question or a problem we’ve faced as a married couple or as parents that we haven’t been able to answer by the words of the Proclamation. It is a constant source of power and direction to us as we face the challenge of raising a family in an increasingly wicked world.

Last Thursday, the 23rd, was the 15th anniversary, of “The Family: A Proclamation to theWorld” and I just want to bear you all my testimony that I know that the family is not only the fundamental unit of society, but that it is also the fundamental unit of God’s kingdom. There is no other organization in the world with as much potential for peace, joy, and goodness as the righteous family. The way to build God’s kingdom is to build families-- past, present and future. I know that from the center of my soul.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Satan Hates Mothers

Can you guess who this baby is?



I'll give you a hint.

Germany

World War II

Funny black mustache

It is Adolf Hitler as a baby.

The first time I saw this picture I was astonished. He looks cute, really cute. In fact at this point in his life he could have been just like my little baby... he was pure, innocent and had all the potential for good. You' d never guess by looking at this picture that this baby would turn out to me one of the most evil and twisted men of the 20th century.

I've been thinking a lot about this picture the last few weeks, ever since I started writing my post on the concubine in Judges 19. It really surprised me as I was writing her post the incredible amount of sorrow I felt, not only for her, but also for the men who raped her. My heart ached as I wondered, "What does it do to a man's soul to do those sort of things to another person?"

As I watched the video about the rapes in Congo I felt the same sorrow and my heart broke as I remember that each one of those men were the sons of other women. I remembered that for each of those rapists there was a woman who had carried that man within her, who had shed her blood giving him birth, who had nursed him at her breast and who had loved, and who probably still loved, him... and there he was doing those sort of things to another woman.

Sometimes the wickedness of the world overwhelms me. I can't bear the grief I feel as I witness the suffering of God's daughters on this earth. The darkness seems impenetrable. Yet I see a fire of hope in the story (told in the video about Congo) of the young woman who was rapped in front of her family, kidnapped, and forced to be a sex slave for soldiers. When she finally escaped months later she found she was pregnant with a child of one of her rapists. After telling her story the video later shows this same young woman nursing a little daughter, the child of her rapist, as she participated in a literacy class. I couldn't help but cry as I watched this woman nurse. It awed me that, even though that child had been conceived in the most horrible way imaginable, this woman was still willing and ready to welcome that precious spirit into the world and to give it her love. What a testament that is to me of the power of women and of our great capacity for love.

It is for this reason, our divine ability to love and sacrifice, that Satan hates women-- especially mothers. He has never had a mother and he will never have one. No woman will ever shed her blood to create him a mortal body and because of that he is eternally damned.. stopped in his progression.... dead. All his tools are aimed in one direction... at women... at mothers... if he knows if he can bring us down, if he can stop us conceiving, bearing, and loving God's children then he gains power.

Hitler's baby picture reminds me to never underestimate the importance of my role as a mother and to never stop loving these souls who have been entrusted to me -- even on those days when my two-year-old has orchestrated a peanut butter/Lego/book/car holocaust in my front room and violated mandates of the Geneva Convention on his little sister.

Satan, I'm just telling you now. No matter how hard things get, no matter what bad choices these children may make, no matter what we go through...

...I'm never going to stop loving... ever.

I knew you'd hate that.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Celebrating My "Blog-iversary" with INCREDIBLE prizes!

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of the day I started this blog.

I remember how excited and nervous I was when I posted my first post about the Widow of Zarephath and how giddy it made me to get comments on it. I guess things haven't changed too much since then because I still get nervous when I post something and I still get giddy with comments... maybe even more so now.

What a wonderful two years it has been for me. I feel like I have grown so much in my testimony of Jesus Christ and in the divinity of women. It is becoming clearer to me just how much God really does love and respect women. In addition I have made so many wonderful friends, "met" amazing people, and learned so much from your wonderful insights. Thank you so much for reading this blog. I can't tell you how much it means to me. You have enriched my life in a way that is indescribable. May God bless each of you!

Now for the good part-- through the generosity of some very talented women-- I have the great joy of giving away some AMAZING prizes in celebration of my blog-iversary. I wish I could give each one of you something but there a few different prizes so you have a good chance of winning something. Here they are:

Grand Prize



The lucky winner of the Grand Prize will get a 20x24 custom, professionally giclee print on canvas of Maren Scott's painting "My Beloved Son" worth over a $150. Here is some of the information Maren sent me about her painting,
"On the first "frame" in the painting that looks like carved wood there are pomegranates. Golden pomegranates adorned the hems of the robes of the high priests who served in the temple, along with small bells. Also the pomegranates are symbolic of fertility and blessing. The second carved row is taken from a fragment from the palace of Herod. The white "marble" corner stones are a design from a first century ossuary or bone box, these were used to collect the bones after a corpse has decayed and re-bury them. These boxes where then placed again in niches in a family tomb. The ossuary design is symbolic of death and resurrection. The stone surround is that Christ is the firm foundation, the cross in the stone work behind Mary and the Child is the future torment. Even fabric of Mary's tunic is accurate, it is from a fragment of a first century textile found in the Judean desert."
Are you excited about this yet? I really wish this wasn't my blog so I could win it. I've fallen in love with this painting! Maren does beautiful work and you can see more of it at her Etsy shop, her blog www.marenscott.blogspot.com, or at her vintage Esty store. She does custom prints of this painting and you can go here to order one.

1st Prize



The first prize winner will get a print mounted on wood (8 x 12 inches x 1/2 inch thick) of Flor Larios' "Nativity Star". To see the actual one she will send click here. Here is what Flor told me about her painting:
"To create this collage I used a high quality print of my original painting "Nativity Star". Mixed media techniques using acrylics, pastels, gold leaf ink, vintage mica flakes, and stains for the background. Decorated with small designs created with a wood burner. It has a beautiful antique rustic finish with tiny crackles. It comes with a wall hanger on the back. Signed and dated on the back by me, Flor Larios 2010."
Flor does amazingly beautiful work and you can see more of it at her Etsy store, her facebook page and her blog Flor Larios Art.

You should go over and see my other favorite painting by her and some of her Frida Kahlo paintings... I think they are even better than Frida Kahlo's :)

2nd Prize




The second place winner will get this beautiful vinyl wall art from from iTwaddle.
"Our vinyl lettering is adhesive pre-spaced lettering that can quickly and easily be placed on walls, boards, cars, glass, clocks, mirrors, plates... the possibilities are endless! Our rub-on wall lettering is easy to apply and just as easy to remove. It looks as if it was professionally painted on and its washable! We have pre-made layouts and we do custom-made layouts."
I was so impressed with her vinyls. She has some really cute ones! Visit her Etsy store here to see more.

3rd Prize



The third place winner will get a $15 gift certificate to Our Happy Home.

She makes these beautiful mini fabric covered Books of Mormon ( 3.5" X 5") that have a magnetic flap. They are the perfect size to throw in your purse, diaper bag, pocket or back pack or when you travel. They each have a coordinating ribbon book mark with handmade fabric covered buttons or cute brads to hold it in place. Custom designs are available.

I am so excited about these little Books of Mormon. I am telling my husband to get me one for Christmas-- it would be the PERFECT stocking stuffer, especially for us scripture nerds!

How to Win

You can do one, two, or all of the following-- each one will give you an entry into the giveaway.

#1- Leave a comment on this post telling me who your favorite woman in the scriptures is and why.

#2- If you are taking the Women in the Scriptures challenge, leave me a comment on this post and let me know how it is going, and I'll give you an extra entry.

#3- Become a "follower" (on the right hand side bar) of this blog and leave me a comment letting me know that you did. If you already are a follower let me know and you can have an entry.

#4- Join the Women in the Scriptures facebook page and leave me a comment letting me know that you did. If you already are one the facebook page let me know and you can have an entry.

#5- Mention this giveaway and link to this post on your blog, facebook, or twitter. Let me know which ones you linked to (you can do all three) and you can have an extra entry for each.

There... that gives you 7 chances to win one of these wonderful prizes!

I am going to let the giveaway run till September 28th at 11:00 PM. I'll announce the winners on my blog and on the facebook page on September 29th.

Best wishes and thank you again for your love, your support, and your comments!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Concubine in Judges 19

I think this is the most horrible story in the entire Bible but I feel that it is really important to talk about this woman and all the women like her in the world today. Please be forewarned that this post contains some graphic material and is not appropriate for young readers.

Judges 19 by Mario Moore

Judges 19

Background:

After the capture and death of Samson by the Philistines Israel was without a judge. There was no one to unite the tribes of Israel and in Judges 17:6 it says that "...every man did that which was right in his own eyes." This meant that there was no law, no accountability, and that wickedness was rampant. The book of Judges is filled with examples of how women suffered because there was no structure to protect them.

Facts about her:
  • She was the concubine of Levite who dwelt in Ephraim (vs. 1) ;
  • She "played the whore" against her husband and left him. She went to back to her father's house in Beth-lehem-Judah. She was there for four months before her husband came looking for her "to speak friendly unto her and bring her again" (vs. 2);
  • When her husband showed up her father rejoiced to see him and encouraged him to stay for three days. When the Levite wanted to leave with his concubine the father convinced him to stay another night and "let thine heart be merry". The father tried to convince them to stay another night but the Levite insisted on leaving even though it was getting really late in the day (vs. 3-9);
  • She traveled with the Levite to the city of Gibeah, which belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. They got there after dark and there was no place for them to stay. They were sitting on the road when an old man saw them and invited them to stay with him that night (vs.10-21);
  • While the old man and the Levite were "making their hearts merry" the sons of Belial (belial mean "wicked" or "worthless") came to the door and demanded that the old man "Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him", meaning they wanted to rape him (vs.22);
  • The old man tried to convince them to not do something so wicked and instead offered his daughter, who was a maiden, and the Levite's concubine to them instead. When the sons of Belial refused the Levite took his concubine and gave her to them (vs. 23-25);
  • The sons of Belial took her and "... and knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring they let her go. Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light. And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold. And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place." (vs. 25-28)
  • The Levite then took her dead body back home and cuts it into twelve pieces. He sent each piece to the different tribes of Israel as a testament to the Benjaminites wickedness (vs.29);
  • When the children of Israel saw and heard what had happened to her they said, " There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day." (vs.30)
  • Urged on by the Levite the children of Israel revenge her death by banding together and fighting the Benjaminites-- over 65,000 men die in the battle (Judges 20).
Speculations about her:
  • The word translated as "played the whore" in this chapter is the Hebrew word zanah. This word has the primary meaning of being a harlot. However, according to Koehler-Baumgartner, Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros the word also can mean “to be angry, hateful” or to “feel repugnant against.”source Some scholars have wondered why, if the concubine had indeed committed adultery, her father would have welcomed her back home seeing as honor killings were common and adultery was usually punished by stoning. It also seems strange in this culture that the Levite would come to "speak friendly to her" and want her back after she had committed adultery. In view of these paradoxes some scholars think that a better translation would be his concubine became angry with  him.
  • It is also ironic to me that in verse 3 we read that the Levite went "to speak friendly unto her" but that he deals mostly with her father. In fact the only words we ever hear him speak to her are when she is laying dead on the threshold and he tells her,"Up, and let us be going." I can't help but think things would have been much different in this story if he had actually taken the time to talk to her in the first place instead of treating her like a piece of property.
My Thoughts:

Not long ago I was reading Carol Lynn Pearson's play "Mother Wove the Morning" and when I got to the vignette about Judges 19 I broke out into uncontrollable sobs. They racked my whole body and for ten minutes I couldn't stop. It wasn't the first time I've cried over this story but reading it again, now that I have my own little girl, just drove home the nail deeper into my heart.

I hate this story.

I wish it had never happened.

Yet it did

and it is still happening... every day.

Only a few days ago I was listening to NPR while making dinner and heard a story that turned my stomach. They were talking about the Democratic Republic of Congo and how rape is being used as a weapon of war there. So many women have been raped, mutilated, and abused in Congo that it is now being called "The War Against Women." They estimate that millions of women and girls have been raped, usually gang raped, and that this violence is still on the rise. Just a month ago the news reported that 200 women and 4 baby boys (ages one month, six months, a year and 18 months) were raped within miles of an U.N. peacekeeping base:
"...There was no fighting and no deaths, Cragin said, just "lots of pillaging and the systematic raping of women." Many women said they were raped in their homes in front of their children and husbands, and many said they were raped repeatedly by three to six men," Cragin said. Others were dragged into the nearby forest. "We keep going back and identifying more and more cases," he said. "Many of the women are returning from the forest naked, with no clothes." He said that by the time they got help it was too late to administer medication against AIDS and contraception to all but three of the survivors."

If you are brave enough this 60 Minutes interview is a powerful and heartbreaking glimpse into what some of our sisters around the world are suffering.


I've really struggled to make heads or tails out of all this suffering but it seems so pointless, brutal, and without meaning. How can there be anything good to learn from such wickedness? How can God stand it?

As I've thought and prayed about this concubine's story, and the stories of all the women like her in the world, one thought keeps coming to my mind...

When men are wicked, women suffer.

This may seem like an overly simple explanation for such an enormous problem but when you think about it there really isn't much more to it than that. Please don't misunderstand me and think I am trying to say that women are perfect, because they aren't and there are many wicked women. Yet when we look at some of the greatest reasons for women's suffering in the world-- war, rape, abuse, gender inequality, abortion, infanticide, pornography, prostitution, incest-- we see that a most of them stem from some sort of unrighteous dominion or wickedness on the part of men.

It is interesting to note that the story of the concubine in Judges 19 greatly parallels the story of Lot and his two daughters in Genesis 19, in which Lot invites two angels (the Hebrew word can also mean "messengers") to stay at his home. During the night the men of Sodom (where Lot is dwelling) come to his house demanding the two men and his daughters so they can rape them. In Joseph Smith translation of Genesis 19:8 it says that Lot said,

"Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, plead with my brethren that I may not bring them out unto you; and ye shall not do unto them as seemeth good in your eyes; For God will not justify his servant in this thing; wherefore, let me plead with my brethren, this once only, that unto these men ye do nothing, that they may have peace in my house; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof."
The men of Sodom were angry with Lot and tried to break down the door but the two angels of God protected Lot and "...they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door" (Genesis 19:11). Then they told Lot that God had commanded them to destroy Sodom because of its wickedness but that they would take Lot and his family to safety. Lot tried to warn his son-in-laws but they wouldn't listen and so it was only Lot, his wife, and his two daughters whom the angels lead out of the city and into safety (Genesis 19:23). Not long after they left Sodom was destroyed by fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24).

The circumstances of Lot's daughters and the story of the concubine in Judges 19 are pretty much the same, yet the outcome is completely different. The main difference between them is that Lot's daughters were surrounded by righteous men who protected them and valued their worth. The concubine on the other hand was surrounded by men who were not willing to protect her and valued their safety above hers. As her husband, a man professing to follow God, the Levite should have protected and valued his concubine's life and fulfilled the mandate given to husbands to "... love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25). If Christ had been been there that night in Judges 19 he would have acted just like the holy men in Lot's story. He would have protected her, he would have put her safety above his own, and if it had come down to it-- he would have sacrificed himself on her behalf. Christ is the ultimate husband.

***
The feminist in me hates to admit it, but I don't believe that any amount of "empowering women" in the world will ever change any of the suffering women face until men cease being wicked and live up to their foreordained stewardship. True, we could overturn the balance of power and place women in control and men underneath but that has been attempted before and it hasn't ever made women's lives any easier. Women usually just end up replacing men as the tyrants. We could also take the approach that women don't need men and that they are better off without them. Yet the truth is that women will always love and need men, that isn't going to change, so no matter how we try to arrange things differently the truth will always be...

As long as men are wicked... women will suffer.

This woman's story has helped me see that one of the most important things we can do to improve women's status in the world and to prevent more suffering is to bear, raise and support righteous boys and men who love women like Christ loves women. Imagine how different the world would be for women if all men loved their wives like Christ loves the church and fulfilled their duties as fathers, brothers, and sons with righteousness and exactness. That would be a world in which it would be safe to be a woman.

I believe that the most "feminist" act any one can do is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ for nothing will have more power or influence for good in the lives of women.

It really is as simple as that.

What We Can Learn From Her:
  • When men are wicked, women suffer;
  • Abuse is intolerable in the eyes of God;
  • The righteous family, where husband and wife are equal partners, is the greatest source of protection and empowerment for women there is. The break down of the traditional family and society where "...every man [does] that which [is] right in his own eyes" leaves women vulnerable and unprotected;
  • As women it is important that we strengthen, support and teach men and boys to be righteous and to follow God's laws. If not women will suffer;
  • The most "feminist" act you can do is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ for nothing else will improve the status and lives of women more than that.
  • At the end of this woman's story the author of Judges entreats the reader to "consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds." God does not expect us to be silent on such matters. He expects us to speak out, to stand up, and not ignore the profound suffering of his children on this earth, especially his daughters.
Questions to Think About:
  • How do you think this woman's story could help women who have been abused or raped? What sort of lessons do you see in her story and how do they apply to your life?
  • Why does God allow such wickedness? How does he stand to see his children hurt and kill one another? How does he stand the suffering of his children?
  • Where do we place the blame in this story? Is it on the concubine for being a harlot? Is it on the Levite for turning her over to the men? Is it on the men who gang raped her? Is it on the father for letting his daughter go with a man he knew she didn't want to be with?
  • How can you strengthen the men in your life to be righteous men of God? How can you teach them to be true husbands? To love women the way Christ loves women?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mothers and Careers: The Age Old Question

Awhile ago I received an email with a question from Naomi, who I know through the translation work my husband does for General Conference. I asked her if I could post it here in hopes that other women (and men) would share their experiences and insights. Here is what she asked:
I am currently a working mother of two little ones, 3 and 4. And as such I often struggle with the concept that "fathers are ... responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families ... [and] mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children." The family proclamation also says that "...other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation" which is at the moment the case in my situation. But what if a woman chooses to be a mother AND have a career, not out of necessity? If the woman is not supposed "to provide the necessities of life" but rather to nurture her children, how does a woman reconcile desires for a higher education and a career? Or should she be discouraged to obtain higher education and a career?

As I am considering obtaining a master's degree with two small children at home/day care, while also being a working mother, I am not sure if maybe I am being a bit selfish by wanting to go for more education, or whether it would be a good example for my children to see that their mother values education? What is a woman to do? What are your thoughts? I'd be interested to know.

I really appreciate Naomi asking this question because I think it is such an important question for women to be thinking about and discussing. Personally I feel like I have a constant debate going on in my head about how involved to be in things outside of my home. I know I could use some more guidance. Yet before everyone else shares their thoughts I just want to share with you two stories of early Mormon women that have given me a lot of guidance as I've prayed and pondered about where God wants me to be spending my time, energy, and talents.

The first story is the story of Susa Gates Young who was a daughter of Brigham Young and is considered to be one of the most influential Mormon women in history. Carolyn W. D. Pearson wrote this about her in the book "Mormon Sisters":
"During her lifetime of seventy-seven years, she was a prolific writer, musician, genealogist, teacher, organizer, administrator, home economist, public speaker, researcher, traveler, suffragist, and Church worker as well as a wife and the mother of thirteen children... She corresponded with Tolstoy and took tea with Queen Victoria. Susan B. Anthony once offered her the post of secretary in the National Council of Women if she would give up her militant Mormonism; Susa declined....Married at sixteen, she was divorced at twenty-one. Only five of her thirteen children survived to adulthood. Despite a lifelong commitment to the Church she underwent a spiritual crisis in middle age... as an old woman she personally catalogued over 16,000 Young family names... she could no more be called a "typical Mormon woman" than her father could be called an "average Latter-day Saint."


This woman really did it all and left an incredible legacy. Yet despite all she accomplished she often quoted something her father, Brigham Young, had once told her:
"Daughter, use all your gifts to build up righteousness in the earth. Never use them to acquire name or fame. Never rob your home, nor your children. If you were to become the greatest woman in this world, and your name should be known in every land and clime, and you would fail in your duty as wife and mother, you would wake up on the morning of the first resurrection and find you had failed in everything; but anything you can do after you have satisfied the claims of husband and family will redound to your own honor and to the glory of God."
This counsel became the creed by which she lived her life. She knew that when she stood before God he wouldn't ask her about the societies she organized, the vote she helped secure for women, or the articles she had written-- he would ask her about the precious souls he had entrusted to her care and how she had fulfilled her duty to them. Even during the time in her life when she was a single mother and had to work to support herself she strove to do the work of the Lord, no matter where it took her, all while testifying that she considered "Mother" to be her most important title and home to be her most important responsibility.

****
The second story is of Dr. Ellis Shipp who was the second woman doctor in Utah. When she was in her late 20's, and the mother of three little boys under the age of 5, she was asked by Brigham Young if she would leave her family for 5+ years and go East to study to become a doctor. Her autobiography reveals a woman who was torn between wanting to fulfill her responsibility as a mother but who felt a burning calling from God to gain knowledge and skills that were desperately needed among the Later-day Saints. It is heartbreaking to read how she said goodbye to her three little sons, the youngest one was not even a year old yet, how she cried the whole long train trip to Philadelphia, and how for the next several years she longed to be with her children and her family more than anything else. Yet she knew that she was doing what the Lord wanted her to do and her story is filled with miracle after miracle about how the Lord provided a way for her to accomplish what he had sent her to do.



When she returned home after her years at school her youngest son didn't even recognize her. It took her several years to re-establish the relationships she once had with her children. Yet in the end Dr. Shipp's training was a huge blessing to the Mormon community; she trained hundreds of women in the skills of nursing and midwifery and saved thousands of lives. Her life wasn't easy but she always thanked God for the opportunities she had been given to serve her fellow men. Like Nephi in the Book of Mormon she had gone and done the things the Lord had commanded and in return God had prepared a way for her to be both a mother and a doctor.

***
The examples of these early Mormon women have really influenced and strengthened me the last few months. Lately I've had a raging debating going on in my heart and soul about going back to school to get an advanced degree. I've been pondering about it and praying about it but every time I ask God I always get the answer, "Not yet, I need you here with your children." I think perhaps the time will be right, some day, but I know for right now I need to stay where I am. In addition this quote from a talk Julie Beck gave last year also seems to play constantly through my head, she said:
"We see evidence all around us that the family is... becoming less important in all societies. We know that because marriage rates are declining, the age of marriage is rising, divorce rates are rising, and more than a fourth of all births are out of wedlock. We see lower birth rates, and they’re dropping every year worldwide... Many times a career is gaining importance over the family. We know, from our studies here at Church headquarters... that our youth are increasingly less confident in the institution of families. They're less confident in their ability to form a successful eternal family. Because they are less confident in families, they're placing more and more value on education and less and less importance on forming an eternal family."
I realize that for me-- it will be different for every woman-- being at home with my children is where the Lord needs me right now. This is a huge sacrifice for me but I feel that the Lord knows this and has blessed me, beyond my wildest dreams, for doing what he told me to do. For example, not long after my first child was born I felt prompted... no, commanded... to start this blog and it has proven to be such a blessing in my life. Through it he has opened up possibilities for me that I never even dreamed of. I can testify that when we we obey the Lord's commandments for us, whether it is staying at home like me or continuing your education and having a career like Dr. Ellis Shipp, he opens up the way and blesses us and our families.

So Naomi, I think what I am trying to say is that we need to pray about EVERY decision, no matter how small it seems, that takes us away from our children and our homes. For like Neal A. Maxwell said,
"The act of deserting home in order to shape society is like thoughtlessly removing crucial fingers from an imperiled dike in order to teach people to swim. "
If we are going to do something as critical as take our finger out of the dike, so to speak, then we need to know that the Lord had told us to do it and that He is watching over our "dike" while we do his work. We don't want to take our finger out for selfish reasons and then one day, as Brigham Young said, "...find you had failed in everything."

I want to bear my testimony that God has a different plan for every woman, every family, and every situation and if we ask God he will give us direct and powerful revelation. He knows the deepest desires of our heart and I promise that He will provide ways for us to do them... we just need to have the faith to listen and obey.

Now it is your turn... what are your thoughts and what has been your experience?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Divinely Appointed

"We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed."
- from The Family: A Proclamation to the World


Me after the birth of my daughter, little over a year ago.

I used to struggle with my body image. For most of my teenage years and early adult life loving and accepting my body was a huge challenge for me.

Yet all of that changed during the birth of my daughter. Her birth was a powerful and intense experience for me and during it I got a glimpse into eternity and realized the divinity of women and the sacredness of our bodies.

In the year since my daughter's birth I've come to see that the "means by which mortal life is created" is a four step process

... beginning with intimacy...

... followed by the miracle of conception...

... pregnancy...

... and culminating in the birth of a new human soul.

All four of these things-- intimacy, conception, pregnancy and birth-- are parts of the same process and each are necessary to create mortal life. All four parts of this process take place within a woman's body.

A woman's body IS the means by which mortal life is created and as such her body is divinely appointed.

As I've come to understand this beautiful part of the Proclamation on the Family it has complete changed my appreciation and understanding of my body. I see now that my body is literally a temple of God-- a place where spirits pass through the veil into this world, a place where God works incredible miracles.

Now when I look in the mirror instead of seeing faults I see a woman's whose body, regardless of its actually ability to give birth, has been divinely appointed to create, birth and nurse new life into existence.

I see that I am sacred.

I see that I am divine.

I see that I am a woman.

This post was written as part of the "Celebrate Family" celebration hosted by Chocolate on my Cranium and We Talk of Christ in honor of the 15th anniversary of the Proclamation on the Family. You should go over and find out ways that you can celebrate the family this month! What they are doing is amazing.