Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Calling All International Readers

I have a special favor to ask of my international (aka. outside of the US) readers.

For the last few months I've been feeling prompted to do a series about Latter-day Saint women from around the world and how the gospel is growing in their countries. I received and email a few months ago from a reader in Finland talking about how since the dedication of the temple there they have seen increased interest and respect for the church. Her email reminded me that there are now more members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints outside of the US than there are inside and I couldn't help but think about how different LDS women's experiences must be all over the world. Call me nosy, but I would love to get a little glimpse into your lives!

I know that there is a great big handful of you from the UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Philippines, India, Brazil, and other exotic places that read my blog. What I'd like to ask is that if you live outside of the US, even if you aren't a "native" of that country, if you'd consider answering some of the questions I will send to you and/or writing a guest post for my blog about what the spiritual climate is in your country, how the Church is growing, and your experiences as an LDS woman. PLEASE don't be let the language barrier stop you. I am a good editor and don't mind touching up the grammar and spelling or helping you in any way you need. I'm not planning on doing the posts for awhile (probably not till after the baby comes) so you'd have plenty of time to put something together... and it doesn't have to be long.

If you are interested either leave me a comment or email me (heatherlady at gmail.com) with which country you are from and your email address and I will contact you soon.

Thanks! I can't wait to hear from you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

All Violence is Violence Against Women


I have always been really sensitive to violence. When I was young it wasn't uncommon for me to run to my room sobbing because of things I'd seen in a movie or on TV. Even now when I read or see something violent it stays with me for days, clinging to my mind, and eating away at parts of my heart. There is nothing enjoyable to me in violence, even when I know it is "pretend". I thought that as I got older I would get thicker skin and that violence wouldn't bother me so much. I haven't. In fact, I think that my ability to watch any sort of violence has grown increasingly less... especially since I've become a mother.

In college I worked for the Women's Research Institute at BYU for four years helping a professor research peace education programs and women's involvement in peace. It was amazing to me to discover that many of the world's largest peace movements and education programs were started and are run by women, specifically mothers. I've pondered on this a lot the last few years and I've realized the reason that women through out the world are so active in peace movements is because women understand the true value of human life.

If you were to intentionally destroy the Mona Lisa you'd in essence be destroying a part of Leonardo da Vinci. You'd be erasing forever the strokes his hand painted, the workings of his mind, part of his history, and his vision for the world. In a similar way every time a human life is destroyed it destroys a part of the woman who created that life. Just like the artist is the only one who can comprehend the true value of his masterpiece. So does a woman truly comprehend the full value of human life. She has given parts of herself to create it, she shed her blood to bring it to the light, she feed it and nurtured it with her body, and she invested years of her life teaching, training, loving, and shaping it.

Human life is woman's masterpiece.

The degree to which we honor and protect a masterpiece shows the value we give to the master who created it. For example, the Mona Lisa hangs in a beautiful museum, encased in glass and protective coverings, and surrounded by guards who are dedicated to its preservation. We go to a lot of effort to preserve that painting because we know that it is "one of a kind" and that it is irreplaceable. If anything was to happen to it the world would mourn deeply, not only because we'd have lost something of unique value, but because we'd have lost a part of the artist who created it. In the same way the way we honor and protect human life shows the value we give to those who created it. President Thomas S. Monson has said,
"One cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one." (From "Behold Thy Mother")
Women are co-creators with God and a society that is seeped in or accepting of violence-- real or pretend-- is one that at its core does not value or honor women... or God.

I realize that because we live in a wicked world that we may not be able to escape war in our day and age but I'd like to think that we could be raising our children to value and appreciate the true value of all human life. When World War I began Emmeline B. Wells, then serving as the General Relief Society President, was concerned about how war would affect the women and the homes of the sisters. She counseled them,
"... guard your little ones; do not permit them to imbibe the spirit of intolerance or hatred to any nation or to any people; keep firearms out of their hands, do not allow them to play at war nor to find amusement in imitating death in battle... Teach the peaceable things of the kingdom [and] look after the needy more diligently than ever." (Daughters in My Kingdom, page 64).
The amount of violence we tolerate, accept, and perpetuate in our society today scares me. It breaks my heart to watch the news and see the way in which human life is so carelessly disposed of and makes me nervous for the future of women in the world. In a similar way my heart aches to my core when I see young men playing violent video games or young women enjoying violent movies. How can destroying life-- even in jest-- ever be considered fun?

I think that there is more of a need today than in Sister Wells' time for us to "teach the peaceable things of the kingdom" in our homes and in our societies. Just imagine the power that would come if women were united in their dedication to the sanctity of life and to peace; and imagine what sort of world we would have if MEN were just as dedicated to life and peace.

Because when it comes right down to it... all violence is violence against women.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Five Things For Friday, 21st Edition

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Last fall we didn't have time to carve pumpkins and so I ended up just throwing one of them out in our garden. In the spring all of the seeds from that pumpkin took root and I had HUNDREDS of little pumpkin plants all over my garden. I transplanted about 20 of the little pumpkins and planted them at my husband's uncle's house (he had lots of room for them). They did really well and all summer I have been excited to have some pumpkins for Halloween. Well, a few days ago we went and harvested all them and I was shocked to discover that we ended up with 74 pumpkins... all from that one pumpkin I threw out in the garden! It made me realize that when God promised Abraham that his posterity would be as numerous as the sands of the sea, that He wasn't joking. If my one little pumpkin can produce that many new little pumpkins from only 20 seeds just imagine how many pumpkins I would have gotten if I'd transplanted ALL of the seedlings I pulled out of my garden! That would be quite the pumpkin posterity.

-2-

Speaking of posterity... when I was pregnant for the the fist time I remember that towards the end of my pregnancy my midwife asked me, "Do you have room for this baby?" I thought it was a strange question and didn't know how to respond. She clarified by asking, "Have you taken the time to make space in your home and in your heart for this baby?" Even though the question was asked years ago I've been thinking about it again this pregnancy. I've been so busy taking care of the needs of two other demanding children that, if it wasn't for the fact that this baby likes to kick my kidneys, I'm afraid that I'd forget all about him/her. Last week I actually had a bit of an emotional breakdown and I realized that I needed to make room-- physically and emotionally-- for this baby. So I've been making time each night to have little "chats" with my baby and I've discovered that there is a very beautiful and powerful spirit dwelling within me-- who is very prepared to come to this earth. I also I spent all last Saturday setting up the baby's bed, pulling out and washing all the newborn clothes, and re-painting an old dresser to put the baby's things in. The dresser turned out beautiful (if I do say so myself) and it is amazing how knowing that I have a physical space for this baby has really eased my fears. Now every time that I walk past the baby's little bed I feel a sweet assurance sweep over me that, "YES" there is room here for you little one... in my house and in my heart.

-3-


Oh, I have so much to say about this cartoon... it touches on something close to my heart... and there will probably be a whole post on it soon. What these three women-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee (both from Liberia) and Tawakkul Karman (from Afghanistan)-- have done to bring peace to their nations is awe inspiring. PBS just broadcast a documentary entitled "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" which highlights the struggle in Liberia and the role that women played in bringing about that peace (watch the trailer here). Seeing what these women did is incredible and just reminds me of the unique potential that women have to create peace. There have only been 12 other women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize since it was first awarded in 1901 and so I can't help but think that it is about time that more women were recognized for their work and dedication to the sanctity of life. Woohoo! Like I said... more on this later.

-4-

My dad sent me this video and it really boggled my mind to think that the technology is out there to do things like this! Some of it seems so crazy. Yet, I remember having a conversation a few years ago about how crazy it would be to be able to have the Internet on your phone and now that is almost standard issue. Things that were "Science Fiction" just 10 years ago are now all over the place and I don't doubt that in the near future our world will include a lot of these sort of gadgets. It still just seems sort of crazy.


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We launched the new website for our book "The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth" this week! In addition to having excerpts and information about the book we have also moved our blog over there as well. If you were subscribed to the old blog please make sure you update your feed so that you get our new posts. We are starting a new format with our blog and each of the authors is going to do a guest post each month, as well as schedule guest posts and post birth stories. We will also be posting stories and essays we received but were unable to put in the book due to space constraints. It should be pretty wonderful. This week it was my turn to do the post and to introduce myself I wrote a little about my journey to motherhood and how I got interested in natural birth, home birth and doula work. I hope you'll take the time to jump over and read it... especially if you are new to my blog.

Also, if you are interested in doing a guest post or would like to share your birth story on The Gift of Giving Life blog please let me know!

Wow, this was sort of a birth-filled post, guess you know what's been on my mind! Hope you have a great weekend!

If you want to link to your own "Five Things for Friday" post you can use the tool below to add your link. 1) Please link to the URL of your blog post and not your main blog and 2) Please include a link back here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Holy is the Sabbath Day?

Originally posted October 19, 2009

I am really proud of my husband.

He spent all of last semester working on a design competition with several other students at his University. The project wasn't for any of his classes, it was something he took on in addition to his regular school work and his graduate research. He and his teammates worked really hard on their project and as a result they won the State design competition and got to go to Florida to compete in the National competition--- all expenses paid. He was thrilled.

A few months later I checked "Chariots of Fire" out from the library and Jon and I watched it one Friday evening. The movie is about Eric Liddell, the "Flying Scotsman", who refused to run the 100 meter dash (the one everyone thought he would win) in the 1924 Paris Olympics because it was scheduled on Sunday. Liddell was a committed Christian and refused to run on the Sabbath despite the pressure he got to do so. Instead he ran the 400 meter, one of his worst events. Right before he ran it one of his American competitors came up and put a paper in his hand with 1 Samuel 2:30 on it which said, "Those who honor me, I will honor". He ran with that paper in his hand and... well... I won't ruin the ending for you.


This story really impressed Jon and I and made us re-evaluate our dedication to our own beliefs and faith. Would we have been able to do what Liddell did?

Then just a few days after we watched the movie, Jon was looking up the schedule for the conference he was going to attend to find out when he would be presenting his design... it was scheduled for Sunday.

He turned to me and said, "Heather, I can't do it. I really can't present on Sunday."

Me, being the supportive and righteous wife that I am, said, "Well, why not! God won't mind this one time. You've worked so hard and you deserve to do this."

But he stuck to what he felt was right. He told his teammates (all of them are also Mormons) that he couldn't present on Sunday. They were understanding and said that they would present for him. But they felt that since he had put so much work in to it that he still deserved to attend the conference. So we went to Florida and he didn't present on Sunday, instead we went to visit his aunt and uncle. I kept hoping that maybe because he had made such a big sacrifice that God would bless his team and they would win.... didn't happen... but they still did a really good job. Later Jon had the opportunity to meet the president of the organization and told her that next year they shouldn't have the student competitions on Sunday. She said she'd think about it.

I really admire my husband's decision to keep the Sabbath day holy because, if the truth be known, if I had been in his position... I would have presented on Sunday.

It makes me feel sort of bad to admit this, but I probably would not have given the fact that the presentation was on Sunday a second thought. I would have easily justified it... I'm on vacation... I've worked so hard... It isn't that big of a deal... God won't mind this one time... Everyone else is going to do it and they are Mormons too.

But watching my husband stand his ground, especially when all the others on his team were of the same faith, really made me re-evaluate my feeling about the Sabbath day.

Do I really understand why God ask us to keep the Sabbath day holy?

How "holy" does he expect us to keep it? Is it up for personal interpretation?

How do you stand up for what is right, when everyone else is of the same faith as you, without sounding "self righteous"?

These are the questions that have been floating around in my mind, and I am still searching for answers.

What do you think? Would you have presented?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Five Things For Friday, 20th Edition

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My kids are so excited about Halloween. This is the first year that they have been old enough to understand what it is all about and they can hardly wait. I don't know what got them so excited about it but for the last month Asher has been asking me (at least 4 or 5 times a day) if it is Halloween yet. I finally had to make him a paper chain counting down the days so that he could see we still have quite awhile. He also really wants me to finish his Halloween costume (he wants to be a pirate and Rose wants to be a bat) and several days ago informed me, "Mom, I'll watch Rosie and we will be really good and you sew my pirate hat right now." I wish the being really good part would happen so that I could get them done. But maybe I shouldn't get them done too soon or they will be worn to pieces before Halloween even gets here!

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This week I had someone contact me about Christmas programs. She was wondering if I had written or knew of any programs featuring women from the scriptures that might be appropriate for their Christmas party. The only program I am familiar with is "The Women Who Knew Jesus" script. I've seen it performed before and it is beautiful. It highlights six women from the scriptures, several of whom we don't know anything about at all like Mary's Mother and the Inn Keeper's Wife, and it is powerful... not to mention easy to perform. I thought I'd pass the link along in case there are other of you who are looking for programs for Christmas parties. If you happen to know of any other scripts featuring women from the scriptures PLEASE let me know. There is a shortage of them, which I guess means that someday I will have to write one!

-3-

About a year ago I wrote a guest post for our Gift of Giving Life blog about how midwifery used to be a calling in the LDS church and how women used to be called by General Authorities to be midwives and were set apart for life. There is going to be an expanded version in "The Gift of Giving Life" book but this post gives the basics and it is really interesting information if you've never heard it before.

Anyway, I was excited to discover that my post has inspired a new website called "Birthing in Zion". The organizer of the website said that after reading my post she was inspired to create a directory of LDS birth providers (OBs, midwives, doulas, child birth educators, etc...) all over the world. Her hope is that eventually there will be a listing for every stake in the church and that women will be able to find care providers that share their beliefs and see birth as an innately spiritual experience. I am really excited about this and can't wait to see where it goes. In about a week they already have 269 "likes" on their Facebook page and the directory should be posted on their new website soon. If you are LDS and provide birth services make sure you send in your information to them. This is going to be a great resource!


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Question. When do you find time to say your morning prayers? I am really struggling with finding time to pray and am just wondering what works for everyone else. Saying them right when I wake up doesn't work for me because I am usually awakened way too early by little ragamuffins and my mornings are always so busy. I'd LOVE to hear any suggestions.

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This year is the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. In honor of this anniversary BYUtv is going to be broadcasting a 3-part series called "Fires of Faith: The Coming Forth of the King James Bible" which documents the lives of the men and women Linkwho sacrificed to preserve the Bible. The first episode airs on October 16th at 6 PM. I am really excited to watch this. We don't have BYUtv but I am hoping that we will be able to watch it online. If not I'll just have to have someone record it for me.



Also, I was really impressed by this post which gives ideas about to teach your children the basics of the Reformation. Forget teaching the kids... I need to learn this myself! It is sad to me that this part of history was left out of my High School education! I don't really know much about this at all and am excited to learn more.

That is it! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

If you want to link to your own "Five Things for Friday" post you can use the tool below to add your link. 1) Please link to the URL of your blog post and not your main blog and 2) Please include a link back here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is it Harder to Be a Boy or a Girl?

My little boy has really been into "dress up". Every day he comes downstairs in a new outfit and has a new identity. Some days he is a train engineer, a robot, a spaceman, a pirate, and for awhile a witch... complete with the witch hat and dress.

The first day he wore the witch dress he asked me, "Mom, am I a girl?"

"No, you are a boy."


"Are witches boys?"


"No they are girls, boy witches are called warlocks."

"Oh, well I am going to be a witch."

After that he wore his witch dress around non-stop for a good two or three weeks. To him it was all make-believe and deep inside it made me proud that my little boy valued girls (or witches) enough to put them on par with things like train engineers and pirates... which are pretty important at our house! He hasn't yet been taught that being like a girl is somehow inferior to being like a boy and that that boys shouldn't act like girls. To him boys and girls are equal in value... and there is just as much worth in being a pirate as their is in being a witch. I love that and I hope he doesn't loose it as he gets older.



Yet despite how much I enjoyed watching him play around in his witch dress I found that when it came time to take him to the grocery store I hesitated. I'd had no problem taking a train engineer, a pirate or a robot to the store but something in me balked at the idea of taking him, in his frilly dress, out in public.

My reaction bothered me.

If Rose, my little girl, had been dressed up like a pirate, a basketball player, or something else traditionally "boyish" I wouldn't have hesitated taking her to the store. It would have just been cute. Yet I worried that in taking Asher to the store in a dress might attract criticism or embarrassment and I didn't want to chance it. So I had him take the dress off before we left.

I've been thinking a lot about this and it has made me realize that our gender expectations are much more constrained and defined for boys than they are for girls. It is alright in our society for a little girl who doesn't like "girly" things to choose an alternative identity and be a "Tom Boy". She can dress like a boy, like sports, and do other things that are traditionally " boyish" and not be socially criticized for them or have her femininity called into question. Yet for a boy it is a different story. If he doesn't like things that are traditionally "boyish" , or doesn't excel at them, he doesn't have much of an alternative. He can't become a "Tom Girl" and dress like a girl, play with princesses and dolls and do other traditionally "girly" activities without being socially criticized for them or having his masculinity challenged... often in very harsh ways.

I realize that in a world where homosexuality is rampant and where gender is seen as a personal preference that it is very important to teach children how to honor and love their divine nature as a son or a daughter of God. It is something crucial to their eternal development and they should learn to love and value it at a young age. Yet, I think that we are too harsh on our boys when it comes to gender expectations. We expect them to all fit into a certain, very rigid, mold of masculinity and if they don't fit into it they experience criticism and social pressure... most often from other boys and men. I think that because of this many boys who don't fit into the ordinary mold of masculinity end up assuming that something must be "wrong" with them or feel like they need to seek an "alternative" lifestyle in order to fit in.

Granted, I hope my son isn't still wearing dresses (or witch hats) when he is 25-years-old but I hope that he still remember that it is alright for boys to exhibit "feminine" qualities just as much as it is for girls to exhibit "masculine" qualities. Christ was the ultimate example of this. He embodied traits that are traditionally seen as "feminine"-- compassion, love, tenderness, mercy, long suffering, patience-- and yet He was the greatest of men. He is the ultimate role model of masculinity and the one I'd like my son to pattern His life after.

Yet I think that our world is a hard place for a boy... maybe more so than for a girl. What do you think? Is it harder in today's world to be a boy or to be a girl? Why?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Peninnah



1 Samuel 1: 2-7

Facts About Her:
  • She was married to Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite (vs.2);
  • She was a polygamous wife and shared her husband with Hannah (the mother of the prophet Samuel) (vs. 2);
  • She had children, sons and daughters, while Hannah had none (vs. 2, 4);
  • Every year when Elkanah took his family to offer sacrifices at the Tabernacle in Shiloh he gave Penninah's sons and daughters "portions" and also gave Hannah a "worthy portion" (vs. 4);
  • In speaking of Hannah 1 Samuel 1:6-7 states that "... her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat." The word "adversary" that is used in this verse is the Hebrew word " tsarah" and is used here to connote a female enemy (source). Peninnah was Hannah's "adversary" and made her feel so worthless because she didn't have children that Hannah stopped eating, wept constantly and was “in bitterness of soul.” If fact the Hebrew word that is used to describe Hannah's weeping is " bakah" which implies lamenting and wailing as though for the dead. (source)
Speculations About Her:
  • Because Peninnah's name is listed after Hannah's name in the account it is reasonable to assume that Hannah was Elkanah's first wife and that Peninnah was his second wife. As the first wife Hannah would have held a position of leadership and authority over the women, including Peninnah. It could have been that the reason Peninnah provoked Hannah was because she resented Hannah's authority and tried to usurp her by claiming that, because she had children and Hannah had none, she should have more power and authority in the household. It is also quite clear from the account that Elkenah had a deep love for Hannah and Peninnah may have felt threatened by that love. No matter what their situation was it sure sounds like they had quite the domestic nightmare on their hands!
  • Every year when Elkanah took his wives and family to Shiloh (where the Tabernacle was located) they offered peace offerings. Peace offerings were given as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise and were often presented for some special blessing or vow. A peace offering had to be a bull or a ram and after the fat, kidneys, and other parts were burned, the priest was given the breast and right shoulder. The rest of the animal was given back to the offerer to be eaten in a special feast of thanksgiving. It appears that when he offered peace offerings that Elkanah gave portions of the meat to each of Peninnah's children. Hannah also received a "worthy" portion which meant that she either got more than the others or that it was a better portion. This may have been because of her status as head wife or because of Elkanah’s love for her. No doubt that it was just another source of contention between Peninnah and Hannah. (Source)
My Thoughts:

Women often make hasty or unfair judgments about each other when it comes to childbearing. This proclivity to judge is not something that that is unique to modern women and Peninnah and Hannah's story can teach us two important lessons about how we can become more understanding of each other's situations and support and love one another whether we have children or not.

First, in Old Testament times women who were unable to bear children were viewed to be “cursed” or “afflicted” by God. In view of this one can imagine that Hannah must have been desperate for a child, not only to fulfill her maternal longings, but to assure herself that she wasn't hated or forgotten by God. Then on top of her longing she had to deal with the added challenge of Peninnah, who
provoked her so much and made her feel so worthless because she didn't have children that Hannah wept as though she was dead. Probably much of Peninnah's self-worth was tied to the fact that she had children and she allowed that pride to make her unkind and judgmental to Hannah. Her judgments and actions seem harsh and unfair, especially when we know that Hannah had no control over her situation.

Yet how many of us have behaved like Peninnah at some point in our lives?

Have we made unfair or harsh judgments about women who don’t have children, women who have too many children, women whose children are spaced too close together, or too far apart? Have we intentionally or unintentionally said things to make another woman “fret” or weep “in bitterness of soul” because we don’t really understand what she is going through? Do we let our own insecurities or fears keep us from showing love and compassion at a time when another woman needs it the most? It is truly impossible for us to truly understand another person’s circumstances, even when we feel they are similar to our own, and it is always best to err on the side of compassion and love rather than judgement and condemnation.


Second, it is interesting to note that in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was used by the church in Christ’s time, it doesn’t mention anything about Peninnah “provoking Hannah sore”. We don’t know which translation is correct but it makes for an interesting conversation either way. On one hand Peninnah may have taunted Hannah and made her feel inadequate as a woman and a wife because she didn’t have children. Yet on the other hand Peninnah may not have provoked Hannah at all, meaning that Hannah’s feelings of inadequacy as a mother and a woman were her own perceptions of the situation. In her mind she may have decided that Peninnah was judging her and looking down on her because she didn’t have children when in fact Peninnah wasn’t doing anything of the sort.

How many of us have behaved like a Hannah at some point in our lives?

Have we allowed our own assumptions and our own judgments of other people cloud our perceptions? Have we made ourselves miserable worrying about what other people think of us when, in reality, they really don’t care as much as we think they do? We can't just assume that people are judging us because they may not be at all. We need to give people the benefit of the doubt and err on the side of having more faith in people's kindness and love rather than assume the worst.

Truly the most important thing is to remember is that God is the giver of all life and it is He and He alone who is in control of when children enter this world.He has different plans for each of us and each of us will have very different mortal experiences. We should never let our own insecurities or our own perceptions of things cloud our judgement and make us unkind or unfair to one another. Even though we think we may understand another woman's situation we can't look on her heart like the Lord can. All we can really do is support her-- whether she has 13 children or no children-- and let her know she is loved. When it comes to matters of childbearing it is best to let the Lord be the only judge.

Questions to Think About:
  • Why are women so quick to judge each other unkindly and “provoke each other sore”, especially in relation to the experiences of child bearing, pregnancy, labor and mothering?
  • When have you felt like a "Peninnah" ? When have you felt like a "Hannah"? How did each experience make you feel? What did you learn?
  • What can women with children do to show their love and support for women without children? And in reverse, what can women without children do to show their love and support for women who have children?
  • How do you think Peninnah's and Hannah's relationship changed after Hannah bore Samuel and her other children? Do you imagine it got better or worse?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Five Things For Friday, 19th Edition

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I am 33 weeks pregnant this week. I can't believe that in little less than two months (hopefully) I will be holding this baby in my arms. It makes me so excited! I am having mixed feelings about this pregnancy ending though. One one side I am super ready NOT to be pregnant any more. I've officially entered the "I feel as big as a whale and I can't buckle my shoes or shave my legs" stage of pregnancy and I forgot how hard it is. I think God makes pregnant women as uncomfortable as possible the last month so that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get the baby out! Yet on the other hand I really love feeling this little person move and kick inside of me. I feel a beautiful sense of oneness and wholeness with this child nestled below my heart and I know I will miss it when he/she is born. I always do. Also, part of me worries about how I am going to be able to handle another child when I feel like I can barely keep track of the two I have right now. I just have to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing in sending me this little spirit and that He will give me the strength and ability I need to be at least a semi-decent mom once it is here!

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I loved this idea by Dana about scripture journaling with her children. It had NEVER occurred to me to have my children keep their own scripture journals. I think my kids still might be a bit young for this but it is definitely something I want to do with them in the future. It took me years to figure out how to scripture journal effectively, but once I figured it out it improved my scripture study so much. I would love to give my kids a head start and teach them how to get the most out of their personal scripture study. Oh, and Dana's post also includes some links with suggestions about how to keep your own "grown-up" scripture journal as well.

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I've been sorting through my house the last week trying to de-clutter it in preparation for moving and I discovered one interesting fact about my house.

My children own more books than they do clothes or toys.

Honestly. I haven't quite decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It is a good thing because it means that my children have developed quite a love for books and reading at a young age. I snapped this shot of them the other day.



We had just gotten some new books and they delved into them right away. Asher even started "reading" some of them to Rose. Oh, how sweet they are in those rare moments when they aren't tackling or making each other scream. Yet the bad thing about all these books is that they are constantly scattered around my house and it is sort of driving me crazy. I really need a better way to arrange them and store them. Any suggestions from you experienced moms (or school teachers) about keeping the books under control?
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This video, made by Seth at The Seth Adam Smith blog, is so powerful. I have read this talk by Elder Neal A. Maxwell dozens of times before but hearing his voice speak the words, combined with beautiful pictures of women from the scriptures really touched me. Deeply. Okay, it made me sob all over my keyboard. It is such a beautiful testimony to womanhood and I hope that you will take a moment to watch it.



-5-

My husband has been gone on a business trip and so I've been flying solo the last few days. It has been hard. I didn't realize how much I would miss him. I've discovered that there are so many things that he does for me that I never even realized he did. For example, it got freezing cold very suddenly up here and I discovered that I have NO idea how to turn on the furnace. That is kind of sad. My brain is really only half complete without him. I understand now why death or divorce is so hard... it is really like loosing half of yourself. I just want to send all you single moms out there (or moms who are flying solo because of jobs or military deployment) my prayers and love. It isn't easy to be on your own, actually it is really, really hard. I just thought I'd acknowledge that... before I get off the computer to go put on some socks and another sweater.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

General Conference in a Whirl

All weekend I was excited to do a post on General Conference but then I started to get overwhelmed trying to figure out how to narrow it down to talk about one thing. There was so much good stuff. When I saw this list of questions over at Diapers and Divinity I thought it would be a good way to summarize things up. If you missed Conference or are unfamiliar with it you can read all the talks here.

Okay here I go...


1. Who were your three favorite speakers?

My husband always says that if you can still remember a talk by Wednesday then it means it was a good one. So, without looking at my notes the three talks I've been thinking about the most the last few days are Elder Neil L. Anderson's talk on the importance of bearing children, Sister Elaine S. Dalton's talk on the importance that fathers play in raising daughters, and Elder Matthew O. Richardson's (from the Sunday School Presidency) on learning to teach "by" the spirit.

2. Which talk spoke to you the most?

I was really touched by Sister Dalton's talk because the truth is that what women need more than anything else in this world is more righteous men who honor and respect their divine nature. It made me think of my post on the Concubine in Judges 19 and I am so glad that she had the courage to say what needed to be said.

3. What was your favorite Hymn and why did it move you?

I loved the seeing the children's choir sing! They were so sweet and had such an angelic sound.

4. Which speaker was the best dressed? (Come on, we can have a little fun.)

Elder Oaks had on a snazzy red and blue tie and I remember thinking to myself, "Hey, I think he wore that tie last time too." I don't know if he did but I guess he must have a style I recognize!

5. Were there any topics that you felt like were repeated often? Any conference “themes”?

It is funny to me how everyone always feels like there was a totally different "theme" of Conference. It just goes to show how the Spirit teaches each of us differently. I would say that that the theme I heard this year was that even though the world is getting darker the Gospel is going to go forth at a marvelous speed and that we need to prepare ourselves for increased persecution but also increased blessings.

6. Share a few of your favorite quotes from any of the talks (paraphrasing is fine).

This quote that Barbara Thompson shared in her talk by Eliza R. Snow, "Let them [women] seek for wisdom instead of power and they will have all the power they have wisdom to exercise." Loved that.

Elder Anderson quoting Spencer W. Kimball when he asked "Where is your faith?". That phrase just resonated with my soul. I realized that in all aspects of my life I need to trust the Lord more and when I begin to get afraid or doubt ask myself "Heather where is your faith?!"

Elder Scott called the scriptures "Packets of Light" and I thought that was such a beautiful image.

7. Name something(s) that made you smile or laugh during conference.

I don't know if this counts but I was sure excited to see how many stories about women in the scriptures were mentioned! I usually keep track (because I'm nerdy) and some years there aren't any but this year there were a good handful. Not to mention that the story of Pharaoh's daughter (the one who rescued Moses) made it into TWO different talks. That has to be some sort of record.

8. Was there any evidence that your children paid attention?

Hmmm.... I don't know if I have any evidence. But Asher did start to get sick Saturday afternoon and he laid on the couch all through the last session so I think that means he HAD to have heard something!

Oh, wait! I think I do have evidence. Because later one when he saw a picture on the Internet a few days later of the President Obama and some of his advisers (dressed up in suits) he said "Oh, look Mom... Conference!" So I think he payed attention somewhat.

9. What doctrine did you learn as you listened to the choir(s) sing?

See #10

10. Did the music enhance your General Conference experience? How?

To be honest I used the music as "breaks" to take my kids to the bathroom (we are working on potty training), get them food, break up fights and keep them from tearing apart my in-laws house. So I didn't really give it my full attention but I appreciate the incredible spirit it brings. Conference would NOT be the same without the music!

11. What are some of your post-conference goals?

Elder Scott inspired me to start memorizing scriptures.

Elder Ballard inspired me to be more careful to call the church I belong to by its full name "The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints" and not just call it the "Mormon Church."

and I think my biggest goal is to make sure that over the next 6 months I go back and read and study all the conference talks again. I am bad about doing that and this time there were quite a few talks that I really need to go back and study more in depth.

Well... I guess that is it.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about General Conference! Which were your favorite talks? What did you think the "theme" of Conference was this year?

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Cover is Unveiled!




I am so excited to announce that we have a cover for our book! Yippee!

Isn't it pretty?

I am so excited about this because it means that we are getting so close to having this book done and out into the hands of women! Our publisher has pushed back the release date a few months but it is making progress and after two years of work it seems sort of surreal to even have it this far done... but so exciting!

We are starting pre-sales and so if you want to be one of the very first to get a copy (and get a 10% discount) you can reserve your copy by going here.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book here is a brief explanation of the book and its purpose:
The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth offers something that no other pregnancy book has before–a spiritual look at pregnancy and birth by and for LDS women and other women of faith. With inspiring birth stories and essays from dozens of real LDS women, scriptures, words of the prophets and other spiritual texts related to pregnancy and birth, The Gift of Giving Life if the essential pregnancy companion for every LDS woman.

The Gift of Giving Life does not advocate for any one type of birth or approach to prenatal care, rather it intends to unify our families and communities in regard to the sacredness of birth. We also aim to provide you with resources, information, and inspiration that you may not have had access to all in one place before.

Though we have written the book unabashedly for an LDS audience, we hope that birthing women, birth attendants and birth advocates of all faiths will find it useful and informative.
Also, I should also mention that ALL the money we make from the book will go towards publicizing the book and for future "Gift of Giving Life" projects we have in the works. As authors we don't really care about making money off of it but just want to help women rediscover an important part of their divine nature!