Friday, June 29, 2012

Five Things for Friday, 43rd Edition


-1-

I have been feeling really home sick lately. I know we moved more than a month ago but I really miss my house, my neighbors, my ward, my grocery store, my apriocot tree (which would be overflowing right now), my shower, my yard, my chickens. Pretty much everything. It is hard to get use to a new city and a new house. Though I am sure I will, eventually. I feel like I am a really adaptable person and can be happy just about anywhere---  if you give me enough time.

The last few weeks though I have really been missing having chickens. I didn't realize how much we ate eggs. We got about 6 a day and we usually used them all.  I now need to buy 3 dozen eggs from the store to keep up with our egg habit! And it is hard to buy store bought eggs now. Fresh eggs are so much better. I didn't realize how different they are until we didn't have them any more. Store bought eggs don't even look or taste close to what a fresh egg does. We were spoiled. Sigh.

As I was pining away for my chickens I read this really funny post by one of the women I blog stalk. The end had me laughing so hard I was almost in tears. Oh, roosters...

-2-


One of my readers brought it to my attention that my "Women in the Scripture Challenge" button (that is on the sidebar of my blog) wasn't working. She was good enough to find the problem with the code (one additonal /) and I was able to fix it fairly easily. If you have the button on your blog I would highly suggest updating it to the new one, found here, as the old one will just take you to a blank page.Here is the new one for easy access.

Women in the Scriptures









Also, I didn't notice it when my blog was re-designed a few months ago (for which I am so grateful) but Misty created a beautiful button for those of you who have completed the Women in the Scriptures Challenge (the full or the half challenge). If you have finished you are welcome to take it. It was a fun treasure to discover. I didn't know that she had done that. Thanks Misty!








Women in the Scriptures










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Rose is quite the little chatter box. Her vocabulary has exploded the last few months and she surprises me all the time with long stories and narratives. She is still trying to figure out the ins and outs of the English language and it is really cute. Lately she has been saying "they" instead of "them". Like, "Mom, here are my shoes. Will you put they on me" or " Crackers! Mom, I want they." I really love it.

Asher and Rose also started telling me that they want to eat their banana's "like a monkey". Which means they want it with the peel only pulled half down. Then they usually make monkey sounds and jump around... which is just an added bonus. Wild kids.

-4-

Our book launch party went great. It was so fun to get to meet more of you and get to spend more time with these amazing women (we missed you Sheridan!).







And signing books in a very professional manner :)

 

So now I guess our book is officially launched! Woo hoo!  I will be excited to see where the current takes us from here.

-5-

Any suggestions for good summer foods. Turns out that everything I like to cook requires I heat up the stove and the oven. With temparatures pushing the 100s around here that is really not a good idea.  I am getting bored of having hoagie sandwiches, spinach salad, and cold cereal for dinner-- not all at the same time mind you :)  I'd love to hear your favorite--cold-- summer recipies!

Please.

Pretty Please.

I am getting desperate.

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


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Devout, Honorable, and Chief Women of the Jews and Greeks

Sarah from "Shelves in My Mind" sent me an email a few weeks ago with her thoughts about the Great and Honorable Women she had come across in her reading of Acts. I thought she had some great ideas and asked if she would write it up for a guest post. So today I am excited to share her thoughts!

Acts 13:50

But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.

Acts 17:4, 12

And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

Francois-Joseph Navez
Women Spinning in Fondi
1845

When I recently read these verses, it immediately struck me that the devout and chief women in both communities – Jewish and Greek – were looked up to by others for their honourable characters.

This is an interesting contrast: the Jewish women, who were “devout and honourable”, were called upon by their neighbours and friends to expel an Apostle of God from “their coasts”. The influence of these women was considerable – they were able to turn the entire surrounding area against the Apostles.

Likewise, it was the “devout”, “chief” and “honourable women” of the Greeks that welcomed these same Apostles into their lives with open arms. The influence of these women was also considerable – “many of them believed”, both men and women.

When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Antioch, they preached the gospel in the synagogue and were well received at first. Both Jews and “religious proselytes” (Gentile converts to Judaism) were touched by their words and at the end of the day they didn't even want them to stop preaching. By the next morning, word had spread among the people and nearly the entire city gathered to hear the words of Paul and Barnabas.

This sudden popularity racked the Jewish leaders with envy and they became determined to keep hold of their status; they began attacking Paul and Barnabas, first by speaking out against them, then by contradicting them, and finally by blasphemy, or preaching false doctrine and denying the witness of the Holy Ghost.

Their efforts failed, and not only did many people believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but the words of Paul and Barnabas were spread throughout the region.

It was only when the “devout and honourable women” were called upon, alongside the chief men of the city, did the Jews succeed in persecuting the Apostles enough to remove them from their city and the entire surrounding area.

On a later journey, Paul and another companion, Silas, were preaching in a synagogue in Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia. They were there for several weeks, and a great multitude of the Greeks believed their words.

Once more, the Jewish leaders were stirred up in envy. They managed to get a group of extremely wicked men together and “set all the city on an uproar.” It seemed that the situation was very serious, and the disciples were forced to smuggle the Apostles out of the city by night, to nearby Berea. Here the people were “more noble” and searched the scriptures themselves in order to find the truth in Paul's words. Again, the “honourable women” believed, and many people were converted.

There is one key difference in these two experiences. In both accounts the Apostles preached in the city synagogues, as was customary, and many people believed. The Jewish leaders were stirred up in envy of the large crowds gathering to hear Paul's words, and did everything in their power to get them out of the synagogues and surrounding lands.

Yet it was only when the “devout and honourable women” were called upon to influence the people, that the Jewish leaders were successful in expelling the Apostles from Antioch and the lands around: “their coasts.”

Yet when Paul and Silas were forced to flee Thessalonica, they had the support of the people in the nearby town of Berea and managed to continue preaching the gospel to many more people. The women in these towns believed, and the missionary work was able to progress with much success.

I believe it is no accident that Paul's missionary work was vastly more successful when the women believed in and supported his efforts. George Albert Smith, 8th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, encouraged the Relief Society sisters to “make [their] influence felt.” He asked for women to “be as anchors in the community in which you live that others may be drawn to you and feel secure.... It is our duty to set the example.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “We believe that the Church simply will not accomplish what it must without your faith and faithfulness, your innate tendency to put the well-being of others ahead of your own, and your spiritual strength and tenacity.”

The example of the people of Berea stands out to me as the main reason why the Greek women were so receptive to the Spirit; not only did they listen to the words of Paul, but they studied the scriptures and received a testimony of their own.

Our modern times aren't all that different to Paul's. Righteousness is shouted down at every opportunity; without the foundation of a strong testimony, rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ, our influence won't necessarily be used for good.

I love Elder Ballard's phrase, “spiritual strength and tenacity.” A persistent determination in the face of social pressure is required in order to stand for truth and righteousness. By following the example of these early Christian converts, we too can become devout and honourable. 

=====================================================
Sarah is an American, married to an Englishman, with three daughters and one son. Her interests include quilting, gardening, green smoothies, sci-fi, rollerskating and window shopping. She can be found at her blog, Shelves in my Mind, where she rambles about many, many things.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Conference Accomplished!

Wow.

I did it.

Saturday I successfully pulled off three different presentations ( two 90 minute ones and one 45 minute one) at the LDS Holistic Living Conference!

I feel really good about how they went. I gave it my all and I had the Spirit with me... and in the end that is really all that matters because He is the only teacher who really counts.

Robyn captured some great moments from my first class, "Women's Spiritual Gifts". 


I look very patriotic in this picture!

Here women are coming up to the board to put sticky notes with the names of women they know (including themselves) who have different spiritual gifts

The finished board-- and me doing something funky with my hands!

At the end of the class we did a "mother's blessing"  for the one pregnant woman in the class. I gave everyone a bead and they wrote her a note with a thought about womanhood or a wish/blessing for her birth. Some of them had a chance to read them to her and there weren't many dry eyes in the room. It was so sweet. Yet, the incredible part was that the night before the conference I told Sheridan that I really hoped the Lord would send a mother to my class who needed that blessing. So we prayed that God would inspire the right woman to come. I was a bit dissapointed when I started my class and there were not any obviously pregnant women in it. I hoped that maybe there was a new mother who might be willing to step up. Yet about half way through my presentation a woman came who had a big, beautiful pregnant belly and who was gracious enough to be the recipient of the mother's blessing. After the class I found out that she was one of my blog readers and that we had  corresponded at least a dozen times in the last few years.  She lives in Nevada,  but late Friday night she felt inspired that she should come to the conference. So she got up at 3 AM, drove to the conference by herself, and got there just in time for my class and the mother's blessing. It was nothing short of a miracle and was another testament to me that God hears and answers our prayers-- especially when there are people who are willing to follow to his promptings!

Teaching was incredible but the best part of the conference was getting to finally have all of The Gift of Giving Life authors in one spot. It was incredible. We couldn't get enough of being together (luckily we will have more at the Book Launch Party on Tuesday!). These are some of my favorite people in the world. We have become so close (emotionally and spiritually) the last few years that we feel like sisters. I will be forever grateful that the Lord brought us all together!


Robyn Allgood, Me, Sheridan Ripley, Felice Austin and Lani Axman-- all together!

Everyone except Sheridan

Felice and Sheridan "manning" the booth

Our booth went really well. We sold a lot of books-- way more than I was expecting. We almost didn't have enough. So that was great.

I really should have got a picture of when I had to leave Jon and Felice's boyfriend alone at the booth to go change Abe's diaper. They handled it great. If there are any two men in the world who could advocate and "sell" the spirituality of birth it is them! What fantastic men.

I also got to meet many of my blog readers and that was wonderful! It makes such a difference to have a real face to put to a name on a blogger profile. Thank you for coming up and introducing yourselves. I apologize if I didn't get to talk to you as much as I would have liked. Turns out that three presentations takes a lot of work to set up and to do. By the end of the day I felt like my brain was a bit mushy. So sorry if you talked to me then.

Abe was a trooper.  He got passed around to Jon,  "the girls",  my mother-in-law, and random strangers for most of the conference. He did great but I think we were all exhausted by the end of the day.

Thank you to everyone who helped Saturday be such a success. I can't wait to see you all again at the conference next year!

And I will be excited to meet some more of you at tomorrow's book launch party!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Five Things for Friday, 42nd Edition

-1-

 On Tuesday one of my friends invited me to go to a "Disney Days" that one of the radio stations was hosting. We thought that there were going to be Disney characters and such, but there wasn't. We were disappointed but the kids still had fun. Mostly because they had a huge Disney princess bouncy castle to jump in (it looked like this one).  Rose wouldn't go in but Asher really loved it. His second time through Rose and I were watching him jump when all of a sudden the whole castle began to deflate... fast. The top collapsed in, the floor sunk to ground, the walls caved in, and the kids started to scream. The guy running the bouncy house just stared dumbly at it as it sunk to the ground. I started to freak out. I abandoned Abe in the stroller and rushed over to the mesh window that was rapidly sinking to the ground under the weight of the castle. There were about 5 or 6 little kids, including Asher, with their faces pressed up against the mesh screaming. It was awful. I felt so helpless. I tried to lift the window up enough to keep the kids from being squashed by the rest of the castle (man those things are huge!) and tried to calm them down as much as I could. There were terrified kids crawling over inside and I was sure that someone was going to get trampled. And poor little Asher was screaming for me to get him out and I couldn't do a thing!

It was a bit of nightmare and it re-awoke every nightmare I have ever had about being trapped somewhere with my kids (like in a submerged car) and not being able to get them out. Finally the guy in charge was able to find the crawl hole and get all the kids out of the house safely, but not until the whole castle had totally collapsed to the ground. It was sort of traumatic, for Asher and I. Though much to my amazement he did go back in a few more times after they got it blown back up. I think that He was really proud of himself  because he keeps telling me, "Mom, I am really brave." Much braver than his mom, that is for sure! 

-2-

One of my dear friends just published  the book that she has been working on for the last few years. I know how much work writing a book is and so I am so proud of her! It turned out beautifully. It is called "Wise Childbearing: What You'll Want to Know as you Make your Birth Choices."

 
Full of information for people of all backgrounds, faiths, needs, and desires. This book is all about choice. Birth and parenting doesn’t have to be done in just one cookie-cutter way. No one else is exactly like you. Why should we all have to do it one way because it is easier for someone else. It can be your own way! Full of the resources to help you to intelligently mold your own wishes. 
Jennetta is trying to get it to be best seller on Amazon (she is getting impressively close) and so in the next few days she is giving some good incentives to buy her book. One of them is a collection of audio interviews she did with a wide variety of birth and parenting professionals. I was really impressed by the people she interviewed! For some reason she called me and asked to interview me as the "spiritual preparation expert', which I was happy to pretend to be. I am finding that I kind of like being interviewed... as long as I don't sound too idiotic. I felt really good about our interview so hopefully it is helpful to someone. My interview is included in the group of audios and so if that isn't enough of a reason to buy her book I don't know what is ;)


-3-


I had a bit of a break through as a mother last night. Since Abraham has been born I have really been struggling to balance the needs of all my children. I feel like I am constantly bombarded with demands, needs, and problems and that I spend my life is "crisis control" mode. Rose especially has had a hard time with not getting as much attention  as she would like-- which in all honesty would probably be having everyone's full attention on her every moment of the day. She is the girl who when we kneel to say family prayers usually announces, "Come, come kneel by the princess." Anyway, I digress.

While I love my children, it has been really hard for me to enjoy being with them (there I said it, my bad mom confession) and by about 4 o'clock on most days I start questioning the wisdom of my chosen career path. I remember before Abe was born having lots of moments where I was just overcome with a powerful love for Asher and Rose. Yet in the last 7 months I have been really struggling to feel anything except annoyance, frustration, and impatience with them. It has been rough and I have been praying for God to soften my heart and for me to be able truly enjoy them; not just surviving until bedtime. Well the other night, after spending 2 tantrum packed hours trying to get Rose to bed, I finally gave up and let her come out and help me in the kitchen. She helped me cut cherries for our cherry rhubarb jam (which turned out so yummy) and then we laid on her bed and she told me stories about her day.

And as I looked at her my heart just melted to pieces and I felt that powerful love wash over me. It made me want to cry and a little voice reminded me that God loves His children unconditionally. If I want to love like He loves I can't base my love on what my children do or don't do. It is my choice to love.

That was a big moment for me and even though today was still crazy (and I made lots of mistakes) I had a heart full of love.

Turns out it really helps in you just laugh more instead of yell more.

Too bad it has taken me so long to figure that out.

-4-

I am guessing that someone is going to want my recipe for cherry rhubarb jam and so... just in case you were going to ask.. here it is. I sort of made up my own recipe from ones I found online and the one in the package of pectin. It turned out a bit more runny than normal jam (more like a jelly) but I kind of like it that way. We are planning of having crepes this week and eating it on top of them!

8 cups Queen Ann or Bing cherries, stems and pits removed - I added a can of cherry pie filling because I didn't have enough cherries
5 1/2 c rhubarb, sliced into 1/4 inch discs
2 cups sugar

Cut cherries in half.  In a large bowl, mix cut rhubarb, cherries, and sugar.  Cover and let sit on counter for a couple of hours or until the mixture is syrupy.  If you want to let it sit overnight, store in the refrigerator.
Pour the fruit and sugar mixture into a large pot. Add:

1/4 c lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla 
2 cups water

Bring to a boil.  Press the fruit with  a potato masher to help it break down. Cook, stirring frequently until the fruit gets very soft about 10- 15 minutes.  Bring to a rolling boil and stir in:

1 package pectin (added to sugar beforehand)
6 cups of sugar (if you used low-sugar you might be able to reduce this amount)

Bring to a boil and boil at  rolling boil for 4 minutes.
Use a ladle to pour hot jam into sterile jars 1/2 pint jars leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.  Wipe rims clean and top with a new lid and ring.  Process in a boiling water for 10 minutes.

Eat. 


-5-

Just a reminder about the Book Launch Party for my book "The Gift of Giving Life" this Tuesday, June 26th 

Come and enjoy the connection and love and food at our official but casual book launch party.

From 6:00-9:00 pm in down town Salt Lake City at the Belvedere Grand Party Room. 
29 S. State Street in Salt Lake City directly across from the mall. 
You can park on the street or at the mall for $1.

Come and go as you please. The authors will do a short presentation and Q&A at 7:30. p.m. Free for everyone. Book may or may not be available for sale (depends if we run out on Saturday). But if you have one we will sign it!

If you feel like meeting us or listening to us tell the birth story of our book, or just eating food with good peeps, come.

Children welcome. 

I would LOVE to have you come. It should be a lot fun.

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Glimpse of Heaven: Book Review and Giveaway!


Several months ago I was contacted by one of my readers and asked if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing her mother's new book. I have never been one to turn down a free book and so I happily said I'd read it.  A few days later I got the book "A Glimpse of Heaven: One Woman's Life-Altering Visit with God" by Joanna Oblander in the mail. I will admit that when I saw the title I was a bit skeptical.  Near death experience books have always seemed a bit kooky to me, but I figured I'd give it a try. It arrived the day before we left on our family vacation to Oregon and so I stuck it in my purse intending to read it on the trip. My in-laws were kind enough to sit by and entertain my kiddos on the airplane and so I found myself with two hours of uninterrupted reading time, in which I --surprisingly--  devoured this book. About an hour in to the trip Jon gave up trying to talk to me all together because I wasn't listening to a thing he said. The book isn't long, only a 110 pages, but as I read Joanna's beautiful message I felt my heart changing.

Joanna's book starts off with her sharing hard time in her life. Even though she was a happily married wife, the mother of six children, fulfilled as a woman, and active in the church she had been suffering with severe headaches and depression for so long, with no relief in sight, that she was planning on committing suicide. Joanna writes:

" I didn't make any requests for help that night. I was certain I was beyond help. I calmly explained to God that He knew and I knew that I had given my fight everything I had. I told God that I was done and that I had nothing more to give. I apologized for not being able to do better. I thanked Him for the good things He had blessed me with. Then, I told Him that I could not endure the pain any longer and that if He chose to send me to hell that would be okay-- I knew with certainty that hell could not be worse than what I was currently suffering. I explained that I would be ending my life the following day and from there what happened to me would be in His hand. I then crawled back into bed and cried myself to sleep." (pg.2)

That night Joanna recounts that she had a vision and felt her spirit actually leave her body. She was taken back to the pre-mortal world, the world we lived in before we were born, and saw the spirits who were being prepared to come to earth and what they were being taught. She saw Heavenly Father and had "the veil" removed from her eyes. She writes, 

"... with the veil removed from my mind, I realized that the veil that is placed over our memories of our premortal lives is more like a wall of armoured steel... As I looked at Him, I was amazed at how familiar I was with His face... only a powerful block could keep me from remembering this Being whom I knew so well, loved so much, and had been so devoted to." (Pg, 5, 6)

As her visions continues Joanna talks about how she was able to see herself and her husband and how they sat down with Heavenly Father and, even though it overwhelmed them, accepted the mission He had for them on earth-- with all its challenges. Most importantly though she got a glimpse of who she really was. She writes,

"Once the blocks were removed from my memory,  I was a completely different person. Gone were my insecurities and doubts. (Gone was my depression). Eternal truth and God's love dominated that realm. As a result, my confidence was supreme. I struggle to find the words that can even being to describe what it felt like to be me in that sphere of existence. My entire being was infused with love and  gratitude and devotion to God... Being allowed to know my strengths and my abilities again was the most wonderful reunion I have ever experienced, and the reunion was with the real me." (pg. 5)

Her vision continued on and she had some other really beautiful experiences, but I will make you read the book to get those!  When she woke up from her vision her depression was not gone but she had the strength to keep going. Eventually Joanna shares how she was able to find the cause of her headaches and find adequate treatment for her depression.

In addition to the vision of the pre-mortal world Joanna also shares some of the powerful spiritual experiences she has had throughout her life including a vision of her children before they were born and several incredible revelations about a little boy that the Lord told her she needed to find and adopt. Her story is absolutely incredible and is such a testament to power of prayer and personal revelation.

As I read about her experiences I felt the spirit so strongly. I've had a few experiences in my life where I have got the faintest glimpse of who I was-- who I am-- and what I am capable of. Those experiences have changed everything and I yearn for more. Reading about Joanna's vision was like drinking a cold glass of water, filling my body and spirit with nourishment and joy. When, at the end of the plane ride, I stuck the book back in my purse I felt a new determination to improve my prayers, follow the guideance I get from the spirit, and to love people more freely. I looked around the plane and felt so much love for everyone-- I am pretty sure I had an idiotic smile on my face-- but Joanna's book had reminded me just how much God loves all of us, no matter what our flaws. 

As I was reading the book there were a few questions that I really wanted to ask Joanna, so I emailed her them and she was kind enough to answer them. Here are my questions and her responses:

Heather:  I was very moved by your account of the vision you and your husband had of your unborn children early in your marriage. In it you said you saw four spirits and so you knew that when your fourth was born that she was going to be your last baby. I have always wondered if the Lord has an "assigned" number of children that He will send to us if we are willing to accept them and so I am wondering if after the fourth you felt prompted to take measures to prevent more children coming or if you didn't take any measures to prevent. Did the Lord just not send you any more children? 

Joanna: When my last was born (girl) we did not do anything to prevent another baby - another one just didn't come (which did not surprise me at all - given that due to female issues I should not have been able to have any children).  I still consider each of my first four children a miracle in their own right even though the guy upstairs is clearly in charge when it comes to the size of my family!


Heather:  I was impressed with what an incredible prayer you are and your ability to receive personal revelation. My personal prayers are really suffering lately and I so I would love to hear more about how you made your prayers more powerful and personal-- especially when you were young and had little children. It seems like I can never find a place or a time to be alone enough to say good prayers! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Joanna: I don't know that I really learned to be an "incredible prayer" until certain situations called for it. My youngest of the first four was approximately seven years old when I was told to find Andrew (her adopted son). The shooting a Margaret Leary and my search for Andrew really taught me a lot about prayer. As you might have guessed - prayer is all important to me now. It was important when I was a young mom too but I understand its power now in a way that I didn't when my children were young. Andrew is now 17 and Dina 22 and my oldest daughter (child) Melissa is 33 so I am definitely not a young mother any longer! 

I would have to say that prayer is a very personal thing. I often use my car as I commute with the radio off. Finding quiet time with my thoughts - like washing dishes is important because listening for answers to prayers is so important. Although I know that it is a struggle with little ones - meditation time and diligent study of the scriptures, the Ensign and other church publications have been really important for me. Just always remember that Heavenly Father is completely aware of you and knows the struggles you have with little ones. I ask a lot of Heavenly Father now - in ways that are different than how I used to ask. I really try to allow the spirit to guide my prayers so that I am asking for the very things that Heavenly Father knows I need and that I am asking for the very things He wants to give me. It is a learned process but I can tell you that after a time, practice with allowing the spirit to guide your prayers can be powerful and educational at the same time.

Heather: How or when did you feel prompted to write this book. Was it your idea or someone elses? I would love to hear more about how this book came to be. 

Joanna: I was commanded by Heavenly Father to write my book..and that heavenly command was a real test for me as I really did not want to write this book as I knew that it would require that I reveal a lot of personal things. I also thought that there was a real chance that scorners would step forward with less than kind words but so far, that has not been my experience. I have been blessed thus far in that the spirit has communicated to members and non members alike the truth of those things that I share in my book. It has actually been a sweet experience (not what I anticipated at all) in that many have come forward and let me know of how my book has been able to help them and increase their understanding.

Joanna's book is a real treasure and I promise that reading it will help you get a glimpse of your divine nature and remind you about who you really are. Her testimony and example are so powerful. This book is one that I will read again (which is why I am glad I have my very own copy) and share with others. If you want a nice-- easy-- fill- your- soul- summer read this is the perfect book.

And.... Joanna has offered to give away ONE copy of her book to one of my lucky readers!

If you would like to win a copy please leave me a comment letting me know which one of the following you have done (you do NOT have to leave a separate comment for each). You can do all of them or just one or two, each one will give you an extra chance at winning.

1. Visit Joanna's website "A Glimpse of Heaven" and "like" her page on Facebook (the button is in the right sidebar).

2. Follow Joanna on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or subscribe to her blog feed (the buttons for those are also on the right sidebar).

3. Share this post (either on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or on your own blog)

4. Leave me a comment telling me a time when you have received a vision or when you have  received and acted on personal revelation from the Lord. 

The giveaway will end on Tuesday June 26th at Midnight. 

Best wishes! I hope you win because this book is awesome.

Monday, June 18, 2012

When you Feel like you are Falling Apart...

As I was working on one of the presentations that I am giving at the LDS Holistic Living Conference this weekend (you can still register!) I stumbled across this great statement on a Pinterest page. I had the perfect picture to go with it stashed away in my files and so I couldn't resist putting this together.

I am sure someone out there could make this so much more cutesy than me ( if you do I'd love to see it and share it) but I think it is such a good visual reminder about where we need to be investing our time and energy... especially when we start to feel like we are falling apart.



Just so you know I take NO credit for this quote. I unabashedly swiped it off Pinterest, and have no clue to whom it should be credited. I just really love it!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Five Things For Friday, 41st Edition

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Summer is underway for us and so far it has been quite exciting. First there was Rose locking herself in our bedroom for 2 hours. For some reason the house we are renting had a mega super key lock on the bedroom door and Rose couldn't get it open. Finally my mother-in-law came over with a hack saw and sawed off the door knob to get her out-- turns out that works! Who needs the fire department when you have Jon's mom, she is super woman-- honestly. I think Rose actually enjoyed most of the experience. Asher slipped her toys and pictures under the door and when we opened the door she was trying on my high heels. When Dad got home she just told him " It was kina funny."


A few days later I got a knock on my door and opened to find our new neighbor across the street (who I met once before). He didn't say anything just babbled incoherently and then pointed across the street to where our old beat up truck had rolled out of our driveway, part way down the hill and crashed into his son's car... which happened to be a new Audi. Ugg-- why couldn't it have been any other type of car?! Our truck was in gear but I guess that as old as it is it needed the parking break on too. Appears  that living on a hill is going to take some getting used to. You can't  even tell that anything happened to it, which I guess is the joy of having old ugly beat up cars. The other car however is going to need a whole new side panel and door :(  It was an certainly interesting way to meet our  neighbors! 


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We are having a Book Launch Party for "The Gift of Giving Life" on  

Tuesday June 26th 
from 6-9 PM at 
the Belvedere 
( 29 S State Street in Salt Lake City). 

The authors of the book will be there and there will be refreshments. We are also putting together a little slide show and will have books for sale and to sign-- You could get one signed by all five of us! Maybe in like a million years that would be worth something :) It will be open house style so come for a little bit and say hello. I love getting to meet my readers in real life-- so if you have time and live in the area bring a friend (or hubby) and get some food!

If you haven't been following our virtual book tour stop by and take a look. We have gotten some wonderful feedback on the book. Also, there is a 10% off coupon that is only good until Father's Day!

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I have been so impressed with the way our Ward here has been friendshipping us. They have been amazing. In the first week and a half we were here the Bishopric and the Relief Society had come to visit, given us assignments to speak in church and had callings for us (teaching Sunday School). Either they don't have very many new move-ins here or they are just so on top of things!

And on top of that just look what showed up in my front yard this morning- to weed the flower beds, trim back the bushes and mow the yard.


These kids were participating in a youth conference and the house they had been assigned to didn't have enough work for all of them. My neighbor sent them over to help me! I was so touched and as Rose said, "Dat was neat Mom." Really neat.

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I went up to Idaho to visit my family last week and it was so much fun.We took the kids to the zoo and had a blast. Look at my beautiful sister-- they are so wonderful. Sometimes I don't know how I was so blessed to have them in my life! 

 






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Look who is working on crawling! He is just barely 7 months old and I have a feeling he is going to be taking off on his hands and knees in the next week or so. That is too young to be mobile! Asher and Rose didn't crawl till about 9 months. I just want him to stay a baby. It makes me a bit sad to see him grow up so fast. I apologize in advance for the silly "mommy voice"-- you never realize how dumb you sound till afterward!

video

He does this really funny push-up on his toes move. I've never seen a kid more happy with himself. 

Have a wonderful weekend and make sure to give your Dad's lots of love. They sure deserve it.

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, June 12, 2012

Abigail


The Meeting of David and Abigail, by Jacob Willemsz de Wet the Elder

1 Samuel 25:3- 43; 27:2; 30:5-18
2 Samuel 2:2, 3:3
1 Chronicles 3:1

Background:

Right before Abigail's story David and his men had been pursued all over the desert  by Saul and his army.  At one point David and his men found Saul asleep in a cave. David's men rejoiced saying, " Behold the day of which the Lord said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee." David approached Saul and cut off his skirt without awakening him. Yet after cutting off Saul's skirt David realized that he couldn't kill Saul and he ordered his men to leave the cave quietly. Outside the cave David raised his voice and called Saul to come out to hear him. He showed him the skirt and said, 
 "... yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there  The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee." neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it. (1 Sam 24:12-13).
Saul, realizing how close he had just come to death, repented and begged David not to kill him or his decedents when David became king (1 Sam 24:17). David promised and then returned to the wilderness with his men, where they became famished and in desperate need of provisions.

Facts About Her:
  • She was married to a very wealthy man named Nabal, of the house of Caleb, who was "churlish and evil in his doings" (1 Sam. 25:3);
  • The scriptures describe her as "a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance" (1 Sam. 25:3); 
  •  David, who was in Paran with his 400 men, heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep. In the past David and his men had protected Nabal's shepherds while they were watching their sheep. David's men were destitute at the time and David felt like he was entitled to share of Nabal's increase. He sent ten of his men up to Carmel to request a share of Nabal's harvest as recognition of  David's service to his men. Nabal flat out refused David's request and denied any obligation to David saying, "Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?" (1 Sam. 25: 10-11).
  • When David heard this he was irate and began to march with his men towards Carmel with the intent to kill "any that pisseth against the wall" (1 Sam. 25:22)  One of Nabal's servants who heard what was said to David's men, knowing that his life was in trouble, went to Abigail and said, "Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them." He told Abigail about how good David's men were to them in the fields and how they "were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep" and then he asked her what she was going to do saying, " Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him." (1 Sam 25:17).
  • When Abigail heard this she wasted no time and, without her husband's permission or knowledge, she took "two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs"  (1 Sam. 25: 18) and loaded them onto asses and rode out to meet David and his 400 men. 
  •  When she saw David she got down off of her donkey and bowed herself at his feet. She she asked David to spare the life of her husband and "upon me let this iniquity be." She also asked for permission to speak with him and tells him that if she had seen and heard the request of his men she would have given him what he had asked. She implored him to not shed blood and promised him that if he was merciful to Nabal, even though he had been wronged, that the Lord would deal mercifully with him.
  • She brought attention to the fact that David had just spared the life of Saul, a man who had done him much more harm and yet he was now ready to kill a whole household of men simply because his pride at been offended. She reminded him that if he was to hold back and instead allow the Lord to be Nabal's judge then, "...when the Lord shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel; That this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself..."( 1 Sam. 25: 30-31) 
  • She also asks David, "... when the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid." ( 1 Sam. 25:31) 
  • When David heard her words he exclaimed, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand." (1 Sam. 25:32-33)  He then accepted the offering that Abigail brought him and told her, "Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person." (1 Sam. 25:35)
  • David departed and Abigail returned home to find her husband having a feast and that his "heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken"  (1 Sam. 25:36).  She didn't tell him anything of what had happened that night, but waited till the next day.  When she told him what she had done "his heart died within him, and he became as a stone." (1 Sam. 25:37) Ten days later "...the Lord smote Nabal, that he died." (1 Sam. 25:38)
  • When David heard that Nabal was dead he sent messengers to Abigail asking her if she would be his wife. She accepted and she went to go live with him in the desert. She was his second or third wife. His first wife being Michal (the daughter of Saul) whom he married much earlier and his second (or third) wife being Ahinoam of Jezreel  whom he married around the same time he did Abigail.  (1 Sam. 25:39-43)
  •  While dwelling in Zilkag, David and his  men were away and the Amalekites attacked and burned  the city to the ground. They took captive all the women and children of David's camp including Abigail and Ahinoam of Jezreel. When David and his men returned they were devastated at their loss and the men wanted to stone David. The Amalekites had a three day start on them and they didn't think there was any way they could catch up with them. David prayed to the Lord to know what to do and the Lord told David, "Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all." (1 Sam. 30:8). David and 600 of his men pursued after them. They ran so hard that 200 hundred of the men were too faint to continue on, but David and 400 of his men miraculously caught up with the Amaelkites and were able to recover all that had been stolen, including Abigail and Ahinoam. (1 Sam. 30: 1-18)
  • She went with David when he went up to Hebron and was crowned King of Judah (2 Sam. 2:2);
  • She bore David his second son Daniel (1 Chronicles. 3:1),  who was also known as Chileab (2 Sam. 3:3);
Speculations About Her:

  • Her husband's name "Nabal" literally means " insensitive" and "churlish (ie. vulgar, rude)" and it sounds very similar to the word "fool" in Hebrew. Seeing as this is quite a harsh name it was most likely a nickname or what people called him behind his back (or maybe to his face). It may also have just been one of the many word plays that the Bible authors used to get the point of their story across. One can only imagine how Abigail must have felt being married to such a man. She would have been in a hard situation and she showed real strength of character and spirit by maintaining her spirituality, kindness, and wisdom while being in what must have been an abusive type of marriage.  
  • Abigail's name means "Father of Rejoicing", which is a strange meaning for a female name. Nancy W. Jensen suggested that, "Perhaps the word "Father" refers to "origin" or "Creator," so that her name might mean something like "reasons to rejoice originate with or are created by this person."  Knowing that Abigail is a type of Christ makes this name significant." (source)
  • Ahinoam of Jezrel's name is always listed before Abigail's name when David's wives are listed. This might indicate that she was married to David before Abigail and had higher status in the household as a result. Ahinoam also bore  David his first born son ( 2 Sam. 3:2), which would have given her more status than Abigail. 
  • The fact that Abigail's son Daniel is not mentioned in later scripture suggests that he may have died as a child (source). Being a childless would have greatly reduced Abigail's status and influence in David's household. It seems like she never had things very easy!
"A Lamp Unto my Feet" by Elspeth Young

My Thoughts:

Abigail is such a fun character in the Bible. This woman had spunk! She definitely didn't fit the mold for the average woman of her time.  There is so much to share about Abigail's story but there are few things I'd especially like to focus on:

Her Bravery and Courage

It is significant that when faced with a major crisis Nabal's servant turned to Abigail for advice and guidance. He showed complete faith in her ability to come up with a solution and enact it, without her husband's direction or permission. Abigail quickly came up with a solution and the scriptures say that she prepared  "two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs"  (1 Sam. 25: 18) as an offering to take to David and his men. This undertaking would have required a colossal amount of work. She didn't have a Costco to run down to and pick up enough food for 400 famished men. It is remarkable that she would be would have been able to, in haste, make all these preparations without her husband's knowledge.

Then in 1 Sam. 25:20 it says that  Abigail "...  rode on the ass, that she came down by the covert of the hill, and, behold, David and his men came down against her; and she met them." David was one of the most dangerous and feared men of his day. Riding out to meet him and 400 men as they "came down against" you was something I doubt very many men of the time would have done. Yet she showed enormous courage and "met them." She knew that she was doing what was right and was able to stand up to a man, feared though he was, who was making a wrong and violent choice and implore him to reconsider. What a woman!

It also says something about David that he listened to her and treated her, in every way, like an equal. Not only did he accept her peace offering but he followed her advice and praised her wisdom. I'd like to think that perhaps one of the reasons David later asked Abigail to be his wife was because he recognized in her a true equal-- in courage, in wisdom, and in faith.

Her Role as a Peacemaker and a Type of Christ

One of the most powerful aspect of Abigail's story is what it teaches us about forgiveness, mercy, and justice.  Abigail is a type of Christ, willingly to satisfy the demands of justice by taking upon herself the sins of another (in this case Nabal's) and offering to the wronged party (Daivd) mercy and forgiveness. Abigail had no obligation to take responsibility for Nabal's actions, yet she did it because she knew that his life and the life of many others was at stake. Furthermore she knew that if David continued on the course that he had determined, to kill "all that pisseth against the wall" he would be doing a great wrong and might lose his standing and privileges in the eyes of the Lord. Just like Christ she was motivated out of love and deep respect for all human life, no matter how wicked it happened to be.

 The reality of the story is that Nabal did deserve to be punished. He had acted cruelly and dishonestly and David may have been perfectly justified in seeking to punish him like he planned. Yet Abigail teaches us a beautiful lesson about trusting the Lord. She implored David to be merciful, asking him to trust that the Lord would deal justly with Nabal and that, eventually, he would get what he deserved. She reminded him that David had just dealt merciful with Saul, trusting that the Lord would sort things out, and that he should do the same with Nabal-- churlish and vile as he was. I can't help but feel that Abigail was speaking from experience here. I can only imagine how many times she may have been wished to be freed from her marriage to such an awful man. Yet as far as we know she never took any means to punish him, hurt him, or run away from him. Instead she did all she could to save his life, trusting that if she showed forth mercy and love that the Lord would hear her cries and deal justly with her and Nabal. It is significant to me though that before Abigail finishes speaking with David she asks him, "... when the Lord shall have dealt well with my lord, then remember thine handmaid." ( 1 Sam. 25:31) Simply asking him, that when he became King, not to forget an unhappy woman trapped in an awful marriage. When the Lord "smites" Nabal ten days later it is evidence that the Lord dealt justly with both David and Abigail-- hearing both of their supplications. What a blessing it must have been for Abigail, after being married to a man who was most likely abusive and cruel, to be married to David; a man she could look up to and who treated  her as an equal.

I think that so often in life when we are mistreated by others we tend to be "Davids", jumping at the chance to punish people and rain down justice upon them. Just yesterday I saw this sort of tendency in myself. Someone had knowingly said something hurtful to me and my first reaction was to withhold my friendship until they said they were sorry or until they took steps to make it better.

Sometimes it is really hard for me to fathom but God is a PERFECT judge. He is all knowing and all seeing. He sees all the works His children do on this earth and understands perfectly their experiences and the intents of their hearts. With this perfect understanding He is able to mete out the perfect balance of justice and mercy.  So perfect that the scriptures promise us that, when each soul stands before God to be judged "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess" (Romans 14:11)  that He is perfectly merciful and perfectly just.

 Just think what power there would be if each of us were a little bit more like Abigail-- free with our mercy and our forgiveness-- and a little less like David-- revengeful and proud. The really hard part is letting go of our anger and our desire to punish and placing our hurt and grievances firmly in the Lord's hands-- and trust Him to deal justly and mercifully with it.

That can be scary and hard, and sometimes it feels like utter madness and chaos, but Abigail's story teaches us that if we turn it over to the  Lord-- He will never let us down.


Questions to Think About:

  • What does Abigial's story teach us about women who are in difficult marriages? Is it ever okay for a woman to make major decisions without her husband's knowledge or consent? 
  • How often do we try to take matters into our own hands and try to punish people who have wronged us? Is there a "Nabal" in your life whose judgment you need to turn over to the Lord and leave it in His hands?  
  • How do you think she felt about being a polygamous wife? Why would a woman willingly enter into a marriage like that? Maybe anything would have been better than Nabal? 
  • How is Abigail's situation and story similar to that of Bathsheba (one of David's later wives)? What do their stories teach us about the way we react to difficult situations?  
  • What do the young women and young men in your life have to learn from Abigail's story?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Five Things for Friday, 40th Edition

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 After writing my "Dwelling in a Tent" post a few weeks ago I remembered that I promised I would tell you the story about how Jon lived in a tent for a few month while we were engaged. It is a good one.

Jon and I got engaged in August while we were both going to school at BYU in Provo, Utah. One of Jon's friends was moving to Arizona for a job in September. Jon decided that instead of renewing his contract at the place he had been living for the last few years that he would do his friend a service and take over the rest of his contract in September. That meant that he didn't have anywhere to live for a month. He'd always wanted to live in a tent for an extended period of time and he figured that, since he was getting married soon, that this would be his very last chance to live that dream. The only problem was that at BYU all students must live in BYU approved housing (mostly to ensure that unmarried men and women aren't living together in the same apartments). So Jon actually went to the housing office and filled out the application for a housing exemption. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall  when Jon explained to the housing director that he wanted to live in a tent up Rock Canyon. Surprisingly enough they gave him permission for his tent arrangements fairly easily. They just told him that he couldn't run a brothel out of it and other than that it would be fine.

Now that he was legitimate he began riding his bike every night up Rock Canyon and pitching his tent. In the mornings he would ride his bike down to the school gym to go swimming-- and to take a shower. He had several lockers around campus where he would stash his stuff and his sister (who lived on campus) and I would often end up feeding him dinner. Needless to say, it was a strange arrangement. I am sure I am just about the only woman in Provo who in the evenings would drive her fiance up the canyon, give him a good night kiss, and then leave him there! But he was loving it,  and I figured that it was better for him to get the 'living in a tent bug" out of his system before we got married rather than after:)

The best part of the story though happened about October. I had just auditioned for a modern dance group at BYU and the audition went horrible-- like I went the wrong direction and knocked over two other people horrible. I had to go to work right after the audition and I was so upset about it that I was on the verge of tears. I didn't think I could talk to anyone without crying and so when I got to work I went straight to my office without talking to anyone and put my head on my desk. I had a window in my office and I noticed that people kept walking by to look in at me and that they would whisper and then look with concerned faces in my direction. I tried not to notice and just focused on working and not breaking down in tears. Eventually one of my co-workers timidly stuck her head in and asked, "Heather are you okay?"

"Yeah, sure. I'm fine."

(Long pause)

"Was that your fiance?" she asked in a tender voice.

"Huh?"

"The guy who was attacked by a bear this morning up Rock Canyon? Was it your fiance? "

I'd just talked to Jon minutes before on the phone and so I knew that it wasn't him, but I hadn't heard anything about there being bears up Rock Canyon! I quickly assured her that Jon was okay and a look of pure relief spread across her face. I guess that they had heard that morning about bear attack and they knew that Jon was living up there in his tent. The man who was attacked had a short three letter name and they couldn't remember how Jon spelled his name. Then when I came into work all flustered and upset they figured that it must have been him. Once we got things figured out it actually turned out to be fairly comical and made me forget all about my botched audition.

Yet after the news of the bear attack (and run in with some teenage hooligans) Jon decided that he had had enough of living in a tent. Yet his friend, who was suppose to move in September ended up not moving until the end of October. It was starting to get cold and Jon was starting to be tired of being homeless. When our student ward bishop found out Jon was sleeping in his car in the parking lot he gave him an official church calling "to come sleep in my basement." Jon said he would never turn down a calling and so he slept at the bishop's house a few days, until his friend's apartment opened up.

It was a wild time in our lives, but such a good one. We have so many good memories from being engaged and a lot of them revolve around Jon's hobo life style. Luckily I think that he got most of his tent living seeds sown and has been content with house dwelling ever since-- though he still is trying to convince me that I need to sleep in snow cave. I am not quite so sure about that one :)



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Asher has been really interested in whales lately and I have been trying to put together a collection of pictures and videos about whales for him. I would really love to find a program where I could embed the pictures and videos and he could look at them by himself, without me having to worry about him clicking onto other questionable videos. Any ideas about what might work? So far the only idea I've had is making a PowerPoint presentation, but that is more work than I really want to invest into this. Help?

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I know Memorial Day was a  few weeks ago, but I wanted to share this experience because it was so sweet. Jon and I decided (or more accurately were prompted) last minute to go find the graves of my maternal grandparents. I knew which cemetery they were buried in but hadn't been to their graves since my grandmother's funeral, almost 10 years ago. Jon and I went to the directory at the cemetery and found where they were buried, and where my maternal great-grandparents were buried as well. We went to go see the grave of my great-grandparents first, because it was closer. We washed the grave and  put some flowers down and Jon asked me to tell a story about them.  I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about either one of them. It made me sad and reminded me that I really need to learn about the lives and stories of my ancestors. I don't ever want my children to stand by a grave and not know where they come from or who they are.

Asher was really tired by the time we got to the grave. At one point he stretched himself out on the tombstone and in a teasing voice, said " Look mom, I'm laying on your grandpa." Perhaps it was a little irreverent but it made us bust a gut laughing and I can't help but feel like my great-grandparents must have been laughing along with us.



 Later, when we went to my grandparents grave we ran into my uncle and his family, who I don't know very well. It was such a blessing because he was able to share stories about my grandparents and my great-grandparents that I'd never heard. We were able to reconnect and it felt so good. Now I have a bit of a fire in pants about doing my family history, I really want kids to know their ancestors!

I would love to know how you teach your children (or how your parents taught you) about their family history? What has worked?


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I just want to share with you an beautiful project that one of my friends is working on. It is a sweet children's book called "A Mother's Worth" by Susan Fierro Baig, which teaches about how a mother's worth isn't calculated by examining her bank account but that mothers get paid in love, not money. She sent me a rough draft of her book and it really is sweet (you can get a sneak peek here). I feel like it is such a good response to the conundrum I blogged about here and I would love see Susan's message and book get published. She is currently trying to raise enough money to self publish the book and buy the rights to the artwork. She has set up a great website where you can donate however much you can (even just $1 would be helpful)  to her project. If  you have a few extra dollars sitting around in your piggy bank this would be a noble cause to donate them to! Or in you don't have any money to contribute you could at least "like" her website on Facebook and get her message out there to those who have some moola :)

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The LDS Holistic Living Conference is less than a month a way! Are you going to be there? If not it still isn't too late to register! I am starting to get really excited about it. All "The Gift of Giving Life" authors are flying in to be there  (we will have a booth where you can buy the book), it will be the first time that all of us have met together in person! Several of us have met individually or in small groups but because we live all over the country we've never all gotten together before. I can't wait. These women have become some of my closest friends, and it is just incredible that we have been able to write a book together. Some days the miracle of it all just overwhelms me-- God truly works in mysterious ways.

Come hear me speak at the conference. It should be good. Though I have been having nightmares the last few weeks that I get up to teach and realize that I forgot to prepare anything, that no one shows up, and that I forget to wear a shirt. That would be bad, real bad but hopefully won't happen.

Thank you to all of you who have been hanging in there with the Five Things for Friday posts when I have been so behind in life. I appreciate it! 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, June 5, 2012

Women as Ambassadors of Peace

I am sorry it has been so quiet around here lately. We are all moved into our new rental house and I just barely got the Internet set up yesterday. The last few days I have been working on a post about one of my favorite women in the scriptures, Abigail (1 Samuel 25:3-43) and as I was writing it I realized that some of what I wanted to say I'd already written before in another post a few years ago on my family blog. I am going to re-post it here because a lot of the same ideas  show up in my Abigail piece. Though I did just barely add in the bit about the dove at the end :)

This was originally posted in March of 2009 

A few days (or was it weeks) ago I was making dinner and listening to NPR talk about Hillary Clinton's first trip over seas as Secretary of State for the United States. As I listened to Mrs. Clinton talk about her trip to Asia and her upcoming plans for creating peace in the Middle East I was struck with a profound thought! I realized that the last three Secretaries of State the US has had have been women (with the exception of Colin Powell's 4 year service). Madeline Albright, under the Clinton administration, was the first ever woman to hold the position of Secretary of State. Then came Colin Powell, who served under George W. Bush for his first term before resigning. He was replaced by Condeleeza Rice, the first black woman to hold that high of government office. And now we have another woman, Hillary Clinton, leading our diplomatic corps.

Why you ask do I think this is significant? Well I think it is significant because the Secretary of State leads the State Department which is responsible for handling all US foreign relations. The main purposes of the State Department are protecting US interest abroad and preventing conflict and wars through diplomacy and friendship. Basically, the State Department is the closest thing the US has to a Department of Peace (which several other industrialized countries have), aiming to prevent conflicts through non-violent methods. In my opinion the Secretary of State has one of the most important jobs in the US government and one of the hardest.

I think it is significant that three women have been chosen to be the US's ambassador of peace and friendship to the world. That in a time of war and unrest, we put our confidence in a woman to heal broken relationships, mend old wounds, and forge new friendships. The US might not be ready to have a woman president, but has great confidence in a woman's ability to create peace through non-violent means. I think that is significant. In my last two years of college I was an assistant to a professor who was studying women's involvement in peace and peace education for children. I did hours and hours of research on peace movements and programs around the world and it was amazing to me to see how many peace movements around the world are spearheaded by women-- especially mothers. Women from all parts of the world, those at war and those enjoying peace, have organized themselves to promote peace. There are many peace organizations led by men as well, but those tend to be big formal programs, whereas the women's programs were more small scale and grassroots. I think this is fascinating, because women almost always suffer the most from war and violence and have the most to loose. The artist is the only one who truly knows how much a masterpiece is worth, and if it is destroyed he is the one who grieves the most. A human life is a masterpiece and women are the artists, when life is destroyed women know the true cost.

So, despite whoever she is or what political decisions she makes, I think it is wonderful that we have a woman as our Secretary of State-- our ambassador for peace and non-violence. Also, think about what a wonderful example it is to other nations, especially those that don't give women basic human rights, that in the most difficult matters of diplomacy, negations and peace the US puts its trust in the capabilities of a woman. I wonder if when Madeline Albright blazed this path for women, some foreign leaders had a hard time "condescending" to sit down and negotiate political affairs with a woman? I wonder how the fact that the Secretary of State is a woman changes the style and feel of political talks, or if doesn't make a difference? I wonder.


Also I think it is unbelievably beautiful that Noah's dove who returned to the ark with the first olive branch, and which is the most universally recognized symbol of peace, was a "she". In Genesis 8:9-11 we read:
"But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;

And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth."

I find that tidbit of information to be so beautiful, and such a testament to the power that women have of creating peace-- even in a world sometimes feels like it is beyond hope.

How are the women in your sphere of influence creating a more peaceful world?