Thursday, September 27, 2012

Daughters of Zelophehad: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah & Tirzah


 
"The Daughters of Zelophehad" by Elspeth Young  


Numbers 26: 33, Numbers 27: 1-11, Numbers 36: 2-12, Joshua 17:3-6, 1 Chronicles 7:15

Background:

After Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt and they had wandered in the wilderness for a significant time,  the Lord commanded Moses and Eleazar to, "take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward" (Num. 26:2). This census was done in order to know how many men they had to go to war as well as to help them divide up inheritances in the promised land once they obtained it. Moses and Eleazar numbered every tribe and found that the total number of men over the age of twenty (excluding the Levites who would not receive an inheritance) was 601,730 (Numb. 26) . During this numbering it was noted that one of the heirs of the tribe of Manasseh, Zeolophehad, had no sons but five daughters... Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah & Tirzah (Numb. 26:33).

Facts About Them: 

  •  Their father's name was Zelophehad who was,  "the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph" (Num. 27:1). We don't know who their mother was but we do know a little about their great-grandmother and great-great grandmother. Their great-grandmother was a woman named Maacah who was of the tribe of Benjamin, the sister to Huppim and Shuppim, the wife of Machir, and the mother of Gilead (1 Chr. 7:15). Their great-great grandmother was a woman we know only as  Manasseh's "concubine the Aramitess" and the mother of Machir (1 Chr. 7:14). 
  • After their father died in the wilderness these five young women approached Moses, Eleazar the high priest, the princes, and the whole congregation of Israel to petition on their father's behalf. They explained that their father had died in the wilderness-- taking the time to clarify that he had not been among the company of Korah who had been killed by the Lord when they tried to take the priesthood upon themselves without the proper authority (Numbers 16).  Since they had no brothers they were afraid that their father's name and inheritance would be lost forever. They said, "Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son?" and then requested, " Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father." (Numb. 27:4) 
  • On hearing their request Moses "brought their cause before the Lord" (Numb. 27:5). In return the Lord told him, "The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them." (Numb. 27: 7) 
  • Furthermore, the Lord created a new "statute of judgment"  for Israel saying, "And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter. And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren." (Num. 27: 8-9)  
  • Some time after Moses received this revelation from the Lord the chief fathers of the tribe of Manasseh approached him with a concern. They were concerned about what would happen to the daughter's inheritances once they married and joined the tribe of their husbands. They said, "And if they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall it be taken from the lot of our inheritance" (Numb. 36: 3). 
  • They were especially concerned that when the Jubilee year came around that the land which was intended as an inheritance for Manaseah would be permanently lost to another tribe (Numb. 36:4). This was because the Lord had commanded that every 50th year (the Jubilee year) that all land that had exchanged hands be reverted to the family to which it had belonged to before the transaction (Lev. 25:11).  
  • Moses again took the problem to the Lord and announced that, "The tribe of the sons of Joseph hath said well" (Numb. 36:5). He explained that the solution the Lord had given him was that the daughters of Zelophehad should, "... marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry. So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers" (Numb. 36: 6-7). He also commanded that any daughter who inherited from her father was obligated to choose a husband from among her same tribe so that the inheritance would stay within the tribe.  
  • The daughters of Zelophehad obeyed Moses' counsel and they each married their cousins so that, "their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father" (Numb. 36:10-12) 
  •  When the time came for Joshua to divide up the land into inheritances for each tribe the daughters of Zelophehad again approached Eleazar the high priest,  Joshua, and the princes and reminded them that the Lord had commanded Moses to give them "an inheritance among our brethren" (Joshua 17:4). Accordingly Joshua gave each daughter two portions of land (making a total of 10 portions) because their father was the first born son and thus entitled to a double portion (Joshua 17: 5-6). Their inheritance was, " beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan... and the rest of Manasseh’s sons had the land of Gilead." (Josh. 17:5). 

Speculations About Them:
  •  We don't know how old these young women were, but they were probably fairly young  because at the time they approached Moses they were unmarried. Women in Old Testament times usually married around 14 or 15 and so it is probable that the oldest daughter was around that age or younger. It is also likely that they had been born while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness. 
  • According to Jewish tradition these daughters did not expect to receive an inheritance from their father after he died. Yet then, as James R. Barker writes in "Women's Rights in Old Testament Times", "... one day after their father’s death, according to Jewish tradition, Moses was discussing levirate marriage within the daughters’ hearing. It occurred to them that if a childless widow could preserve her husband’s name through an heir provided by levirate marriage, an heir who would inherit the deceased husband’s lands, justice demanded that a way be found to preserve the name of an honorable man who had only daughters. If daughters could inherit those lands, they could thus perpetuate his name and thereby honor him. They faced an additional incentive, for as a firstborn son, Zelophehad would have himself received a double portion from his father." (Source) 
  • Perhaps the reason the chiefs of Manasseh approached Moses with their concern about what would happen to the daughter of Zelophehad's inheritances when they married was because one of them was approaching marriageable age. It is intriguing to think that maybe one of the older sisters wanted to be married to a man from another tribe and that is what sparked all the concern over where their inheritance would go when they got married. If that was the case then it makes the fact that all the daughters married men within their own tribes more meaningful... it showed they would follow the prophet and the Lord even when it was hard. Then again maybe this wasn't even an issue and the chief's concerns were because they were just thinking ahead.   


My Thoughts:

There are so many thing I love about this story. Yet I think one of the most important parts of their story is the phrase, "Moses brought their cause before the Lord (Numb. 27:5)." These five sisters felt, or perhaps merely recognized, that something in their society and within their worship was unjust.  They recognized that there was room for improvement and that their cultural practices were not in harmony with what they had been taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet these daughters recognized that something like a spiritual inheritance was not something that they would receive from Moses but rather from God. So in a real show of maturity, spiritual understanding and bravery these five sisters approached the prophet of the church, the high priest of the temple, and the princes of the tribes of Israel with their concern. They didn't demand that there be change, they didn't agitate others together to support their cause, try to change it by degrees, or make it happen by a show of will or force. They simply brought their concern to the Lord, through the channels He had authorized, and awaited the Lord's decision.

It is interesting that in approaching Moses with their concern these daughters were quick to point out that their father had died in the wilderness and that he hadn't been associated with the rebellion of Korah (Numbers 16). Several years earlier Korah, a Levite, and Dathan and Abiram, of the tribe of Reuben felt that Moses and Aaron had taken "too much upon you... wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord (Numb 16:3)." They especially felt that it was unfair that Moses held the high priesthood and that they could not. They designed to take it by force and by popular agreement and gathered together "...two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown (Numb. 16:2)" and approached Moses with their demand. Upon hearing this Moses lamented,


"Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel... and seek ye the priesthood also? For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the Lord: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him? (Numb. 16: 9-11)"
As a result of Korah's uprising the Lord caused the earth to open up and swallow the men who had rebelled as well as their tents, wives and children. When the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron saying "Ye have killed the people of the Lord (Numb. 16:41)" they became afflicted with a plague that killed 14,700 additional people before it was over.

This is the story that the daughters of Zelophehad were citing when they approached Moses; almost as if they were saying, "We are not trying to ask for that which we should not, but we would like you to consider our righteous concern." They had come with a righteous desire, one that sprung from concern about their father's name rather than their own status, and were willing to abide by what the Lord's command was. I think their pure intent is evident when later, when the question about what would happen to the inheritance when they married came up, these daughters were willing to abide by the word of the Lord and married within their own tribe. These daughters weren't seeking after status, glory or position they simply wanted to know where they belonged in the Lord's kingdom.

As a result of their inquiry Moses took their  concern before the Lord and the Lord told him "The daughters of Zelophehad speak right" (Num. 27:7) and the tradition that daughters could not inherit was changed. This was probably not the first time that a man had died without sons to inherit, but it was the first time that righteous women had the faith and courage to use the proper channels to petition the Lord. It is significant to me that because they approached Moses about their concern, instead of taking the approach Korah did to rally popular support for their cause, they opened up the way for the Lord to give the children of Israel important new revelation concerning the place of women in God's plan. If they had taken any other route then perhaps the Lord would not have been able to bestow so great  a blessing upon them as He did.

I think this story is valuable to study because sometimes in our families, congregations and societies we have cultural rules and traditions that are not in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ. In many cultures around the world (the US included) there are often cultural traditions that are unfair or detrimental to women and families and which should be abandoned or changed in order to live a "higher" or "gospel culture." In his address "The Gospel Culture" Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained:



"... gospel culture comes from the plan of salvation, the commandments of God, and the teachings of the living prophets. It guides us in the way we raise our families and live our individual lives. The principles stated in the proclamation on the family are a beautiful expression of this gospel culture.
To help its members all over the world, the Church teaches us to give up any personal or family traditions or practices that are contrary to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ and to this gospel culture. In this we heed the warning of the Apostle Paul, who said that we should not let anyone “spoil [us] through philosophy … after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
When it comes to giving up false traditions and cultures, we praise our younger people for their flexibility and progress, and we appeal to our older members to put away traditions and cultural or tribal practices that lead them away from the path of growth and progress. We ask all to climb to the higher ground of the gospel culture, to practices and traditions that are rooted in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ."
Yet I think it is important to note that as we go about becoming more of a Zion-like people we need to be careful that we don't fall into the pattern of men like Korah, trying to affect change through force or popular opinion. Instead true, lasting change comes when, like the Daughters of Zelophehad, we faithfully approach the Lord with concerns and a willingness to follow whatever course He has for us


Because as Elder Boyd K. Packer taught,


“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior” (Boyd K. Packer, “Do Not Fear,”Ensign, May 2004, 77).
When we, and those around us, better come to understand the doctrines of the Gospel of Christ it changes our souls in a powerful way. Our behavior and our perspective on life becomes more in harmony with God... and that spills over into every aspect of our lives. 

As alluring as it can seem to jump on the bandwagon of the world's approach to enforce and lobby change-- nothing is as powerful as the Lord's way. The Lord focuses on changing people from the inside out, changing their basic desires and perspectives on the world so that they want what He wants and sees what He sees. That sort of change is one that endures... through generations... and is truly the only type of change that matters.

Questions to Think About:
  • What does it mean to you to know that in God's Kingdom both men and and women are equal heirs? How does that knowledge change the way you live your life? 
  • What cultural or family traditions to you have that you need to give up in order to better live the gospel of Jesus Christ? 
  • What does this story teach us about how we should approach the Lord and church leaders about our concerns over doctrine or cultural traditions?
  • Throughout history the Bible has often been held up as the standard for what is and isn't allowable behavior for men and women in a society. How do you think that these young women's story has affected women's right to inherit property and land throughout history?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Personal Ponderings {4th Blog-iversary Giveaway}

I am really excited about the last giveaway I have for my 4th Blog-iversary celebration! If you haven't entered the other three giveaways you still can until Sept. 28th! 

When I was at the LDS Booksellers Convention I met a beautiful woman named Michelle who owns a company called Personal Ponderings that makes and sells scripture, literary, and personal journals. It didn't take long for me to know that we needed to connect. We had a really good talk about scripture journals (among many other things) and then Michelle gave me one of her scripture journals to try out and review.




Each Personal Ponderings journal is a seven ringed scripture-sized binder. It comes with insert paper and A-Z tabs to organize scripture study and notes. It has several blank tabs where you can file things like quotes, blessings, personal revelations, talks, etc... In my opinion though the best part of the journal though is that it has a  FREE Travel Companion journal. This is a thin journal that just has a pad of insert paper in it. You can stick it in your purse or bag and carry it with you all the time to record thoughts at church, lectures, or whenever (no more writing notes on the back of programs!) Then you go home and take the pages you wrote on out and file them in the big journal.

Brilliant.

I wasn't quite sure how I'd feel about using a different type of scripture journal because I feel like I already have a really good scripture study routine down. I figured I'd give it a try. Here is an example of what the journal and the travel companion look like open.



Honestly, I am not sure that I will use this for my scripture study (because I already love what I have going on) but  it has already become the place where I store thoughts and revelations I receive outside of scripture study. Which, until I had this journal, wasn't even something I realized I needed. I have been using it to write down the revelation I get during my personal prayers, thoughts I have at church, in the car, in the middle of the night, or any thing else I don't want to forget. It has been so helpful to have a place to keep them... and even better, a place to organize them so I can find... and use them... again.

The only complaint I have had about it so far is that one of my kids threw the travel journal and the cardboard on the back of the insert pad came off, which makes it harder to get it to stay in.... but it still works and when I buy a new insert ($5) hopefully it won't get thrown.

These journals are wonderful and if you are looking for a good scripture journal, this would be perfect.

Today Michelle is giving away a free scripture journal and travel companion to a lucky reader. If you'd like to enter please do at least one of the following:
  1. Share Personal Ponderings website on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or you blog
  2. "Like" Personal Ponderings on Facebook
  3. Leave me a comment telling me your best scripture study tip
  4. Share one of your favorite posts from MY blog on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or your blog
Please leave me a comment letting me know which ones you did. 

The Giveaway will be open until Sept. 28th at 12:00 PM! Best wishes. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

ModestPop {4th Blog-iversary Giveaway}

Happy 4th Blog-iversary to me! Today I have another great giveaway in celebration. All the other giveaways are still open until the 28th, so make sure you check them out as well.

Several weeks ago Shaylee Ann who blogs at Mother {at} Heart contacted me to let me know that she had started working with a new online clothing company called ModestPop.com.
ModestPop.com offers modest, stylish, and affordable clothing. Dress nice, without the price!  All items will be $15.00 or less, and there are  new deals daily (like last week they had buy 2 shirts and get a free skirt!) Every item will only be in the shop for 24 hours, or until purchased. 
 The company is just getting started and she wanted to know if I'd like to review one of their products on my blog.

Free clothes?

Yes, please.

I chose the "Aubrey Top" and have really liked it, in fact it was the shirt I was wearing on the day I had my emergency haircut. So we have bonded. Here is me wearing it after my hair cut.


I like that the shirt is super comfortable, the neckline is high without looking or feeling like a t-shirt (which I hate) and the bottom is long enough that I don't have to worry about my skin or garments showing when I bend over (also hate). The quality of the shirt was good-- I'd compare it to Old Navy quality-- and it held up in the wash really well.

Today ModestPop is giving away a free shirt to one of my lucky readers. The winner can choose from one of the six tops below: 



The Nicole Top (same one I have except in white)

Inline image 3
The Claire Top

Inline image 4
The Kendall Top

Inline image 5
The Lani Top

Inline image 6
The Savannah Top

Inline image 7
The Taylor Top

To enter the drawing you must do both of the following. Please leave me a comment letting me know which ones you did:

1. Visit the ModestPop website and leave me comment with the name of your favorite top (they have more than just what you see here)

For an additional entery you can:
3. Share your favorite post from MY blog on Faeebook, Twitter, Pinterest or on your blog
In addition all my readers will get a %10 off  any purchase, by using the code WOMENINTHESCRIPTURES when you check out. 

The giveaway will be open until September 28th @ 12:00 PM. Good luck! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From the Dust {4th Blog-iversary Giveaway!}

Another giveaway in celebration of my 4th Blog-iversary. ALL the giveaways will be open until Sept. 28th, so make sure you check them all out! 

Last month I mentioned how I attended the LDS Bookseller's Conference and how our booth was next  to some pretty amazing people. One of those amazing people was Michael Mercer who has created "From the Dust", a comic book series inspired by The Book of Mormon.


I will be the first to admit that when I saw Michael setting up his display at the conference I inwardly groaned. I was really skeptical about the idea of portraying Book of Mormon characters as cartoon animals, it seemed a bit sacrilegious to me, and I worried that it would focus on glamorizing the violence and conflict of The Book of Mormon. I feel like sometimes when the Book of Mormon story gets told in a pop culture kind of way it looses the spiritual aspect and focuses on how "cool" and "buff" the prophets were, instead of how they developed their souls as men of God. So I was really skeptical and honestly, I tried to avoid his booth for the first day of the conference (sorry, Michael!) because I didn't want to have to explain myself.

Then, because he is really such a nice person, I couldn't help myself and went over and saw his art work,  heard him share his story, and his vision... and I was hooked.

I think that he explains what he is all about the best. On his website he says:
From the Dust tells a story that has, as yet, never been told in a visual medium: the story of the Fall of the Israelite nation as recorded in the Hebrew Bible (aka, the Old Testament). It has never been told for good reason: it is among the world's greatest tragedies. Without the perspective of the Book of Mormon, its telling would be almost unbearably depressing. Nearly everyone dies and those that live are taken into captivity. But with the Book of Mormon account, this tragic tale of a nation's fall from grace transforms into an intriguing, hope-filled race to preserve a dying culture. It's a tale that ultimately ends in triumph, not tragedy.

From the Dust is not a missionary pamphlet. It is a story. It is a celebration of the power of the human spirit in the face of tremendous adversity...

...Our goal is to create a series of beautiful, entertaining, and educational comic books that families worldwide can enjoy and share with their friends. Our quality standards are the highest. Our scholarship is collegiate. Our storytelling is clean and powerful. This project entertains and educates people about the biggest story in the Hebrew Bible, the story that ultimately ended the book, so to speak. Read Michael's bio .
What Michael is still in the process of formulating the whole story (it is a big one) and is hoping to get the publicity,  support, and funds he needs to get this wonderful and art work and story out to families. He told me that he hopes that in addition to doing the comic books that he'd love for it to be a TV series or a movie one day.

Michael gave me a free "First Fan kit" at the convention and the moment my kids saw it they loved it. Asher especially loved the playing cards and he carried them around non-stop for a few days. I wish that I had gotten a picture of him with his cousins (5 and 3 year-old boys) bent over the cards re-telling the story of The Book of Mormon... with a few dragons thrown in. They spent a good hour playing with the cards and looking at the comic book. My cousin commented on how nice it was that  they were playing "Book of Mormon" rather than Transformers... which is what they usually play when they get together!

I think that my absolute favorite thing about this project is the beautiful way in which Michael has portrayed the women in the Book of Mormon. I LOVE his depiction of Sariah and the way he portrays her as a powerful mother and woman of God, she is a main character and a helpmeet in every way to Lehi. Michael takes the artistic liberty of adding in back stories to Lehi's family, like Nephi's first time hunting, Laman's first tantrum (illustrated below) and his interactions with his sisters. He has given me a few sneak peeks at his coming 'episodes" and I have really been impressed with his scriptural and historical knowledge.

This is a scene where Saraiah comforts Laman (as a kitten) after a tantrum.  

I also really love his art work and I think his portrayals of Nephi and his brother are fun (he is still working on Nephi's sisters and the wife and daughters of Ishmael, but I can't wait to see them!)

Can you figure out who is who?







What Michael is doing is truly unique and I am really excited to see where this project takes him. If you'd like to help support his project and keep up to date on his progress you can follow his blog.

Today Michael is giving away 3 First Fan Kits (which includes the comic book, bookmarks, "From the Dust" character playing cards, beautiful art prints, and a poster) to my readers!

If you want to enter to win do the following, the first one is mandatory and the others will earn you extra entries. Please leave me a comment letting me know which ones you did:
  1. Like "From the Dust" on Facebook (mandatory)
  2. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter or your own blog
  3. Visit the "From the Dust" website and leave me a comment telling me what you like or don't like about this concept and product (Michael is still in process of formulating the story and the characters and so constructive (but kind) feedback is helpful).

  4. And for an extra entry:

    Share one of your favorite posts from MY blog on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest on your own blog.

    The giveaway will be open until September 28th at 12:00 PM. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Celebrating My 4th Blog-iversary! {Mormon Women Poster Giveaway}

This week is the 4th anniversary of the day I started this blog.

I started this blog because after Asher was born I felt really strongly that the Lord needed and wanted me to stay home with him. Being a stay-at-home mom wasn't ever in my life plan but I couldn't deny the message I had gotten from the Lord about what His plan was. The choice to not go back to work (or school) was a hard one for me and I made that no secret to the Lord. Yet every time I'd cry to Him about it He assured me that He had heard the desires of my heart and would provide a way for me to use my talents.

Then about six months after Asher was born I kept getting promptings to start this blog. I kept brushing them aside because I felt inadequate for the task, but they persisted and persisted. Until one day I sat down created this blog and wrote my first post about the Widow of Zarephath.

I didn't know it at the time but that post, and this blog, were the answer to my prayers. It was God's way of letting me know that knew the deepest desires of my heart and He would find a way for my voice to be heard. It has been such a testament to me that when we do what the Lord wants us to be doing, know matter how illogical or inconvenient it may seem, He blesses us beyond our wildest dreams... in ways we never imagined.

This blog has been such a blessing for me and I just want to thank each and everyone of you for your love and support.

It really means the world to me... besides it would be pretty boring to write a blog without you!

As a way to say thank you I am going to have some giveaways on my blog this week! I wish that I could give you each something but please know that even if you don't win, I still love you.

And so without further ado--- here is my first "blog-iversary" giveaway!

Several weeks ago my co-author Felice told me how she was excited that her fiance (now husband) was bringing some great art to their marriage. She said that one of her favorites was a picture he had that showed cameos of famous Mormon Women throughout history. They didn't have faces but you could still tell who they were. I hadn't seen the picture but then, a few days later, when Ashley posted a link on my blog I clicked over and discovered that she was the artist of the painting that Felice was talking about. I can see why she liked it so much!

I especially loved hearing Ashley's thoughts about the painting:


I was inspired to take up this project after I had painted a similar series of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency of the church. I didn’t feel right about offering a painting of fifteen men for people to put in their homes without a companion of equally influential and important women to put up alongside it. I felt like the men in the first painting would agree with me. As the idea for the Mormon women artwork formed I realized that there really wasn’t any resource or visual gathering of these women. It made me sad to think that in many Mormon households there are prominent photos and paintings of Mormon men, but rarely are we exposed to Mormon women. I thought a lot about myself as a youth, and even now, as a young mother in a new city, I wondered which women I could invite into my own life and hopefully the lives of others to bless, uplift and inspire.
I’ve found a new resolution to love myself while still expecting much of myself while reading the words of Chieko Okazaki; proof that our writing does make of difference through the example of Emmeline B. Wells; courage to make art about my religious convictions through Minerva Teichert; more reason to stick up for what I believe in through Esther Peterson; peace in working hard and moving forward the best way I know how through Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. I want the stories, the words, the faces of Mormon women to be in our lives.
I realize that the images on this work are by no means comprehensive. I want our Young Women to learn about these women at Wednesday night activities and camp, I want Remy to respect and love them and then in turn, I want us to love ourselves more because we know about them. I want these women to continue to teach me daily so I can better know how to teach others around me. I don’t want this artwork to simply be a tribute to these women, although it is partially that.
I want this artwork to celebrate that within the gospel there is a place for women who do grand and public things, but there is also a place for women who do equally important work that is quiet and may never be known publicly. I want the artwork to inspire Mormon women to be better, but also to realize that they are already probably better than they think they are. I want us to be able to celebrate collective accomplishments, both large and small. Perhaps the most important part of the painting is the space left to insert your own photograph.


Today Ashely is giving away, to one of my readers, a package of 25 6x8 postcards with the painting on front and quotes from some of the women on back. These are wonderful for relief society, young women's, or just to give out to friends and family.

If you'd like to enter the giveaway you can do one or all of the following (the more you do the more chances you have to win):

1. Visit Ashley's blog and download her FREE children's ebook (link is on the right sidebar).

2. Visit her etsy store and "like" it (button is one the bottom of the left sidebar)

3. Visit her Latterday Saint Temple etsy store and leave me a comment telling me which painting you like best.

and for additional entry:

4. Share your favorite post from MY blog on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or on your own blog.

Please leave me a comment letting me know which ones you do.

The Giveaway will end on Sept 28th at 12:00 PM. Best wishes!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Acclimated and Desensitized

About this time last year the air conditioning in our car went out.

Luckily though I only had to go a week driving in the heat before the weather started to turn cool. That one week was terrible (granted I was pregnant and hot already) and I remember thinking that there was no way that I could ever survive a summer without air conditioning. I was pretty sure I'd die.

Fast forward a few months and May rolls around.

The first blistering hot day, I went to turn on the air conditioning and remembered that it was still broken. I had a bit of a panic attack and told Jon that he had to fix it right away because I couldn't make it one more day without it. But we were right in the middle of selling our house, graduating, and moving and so the air conditioning got put on the back burner.

It was amazing that what at first seemed like such a necessity became not such a big deal. We got use to rolling down our windows and always being slightly uncomfortably hot. In fact, I knew that I had really gotten use to the heat when one day we took an hour and half drive in 100+ weather and we arrived at our destination without even breaking a sweat. It really wasn't until we took a trip and our rental car had air conditioning that I remembered what it felt like to be cool and I was shocked at how my body had adjusted to harsher circumstances and I barely noticed.


I had another similar experience as well this summer because when we first moved to the city we live in now I was horrified by the taste of the tap water. I have never been picky about how my water tastes (and have secretly mocked those who are) but the tap water here is awful-- it is always warm, tastes like chlorine, and leaves a slimy film in your mouth. I couldn't even gag it down for the first few months we lived here and coming from me... that is saying something.

Yet we have lived here for less than four months and already I hardly notice how bad the water is. I can drink a glass and, while it is still warm and not very good, it doesn't make me want to spit it out or vomit like it did before. 

I have been thinking a lot about these two experiences and how very easy it is to become acclimated and desensitized to things that you forget how awful and harmful they are.

Ever since the Colorado theater shooting several months ago I have been thinking about how scary it is that, as a society, we have tolerated and embraced violence to a point where we use it as entertainment. And even though we are starting to feel the widespread consequences of that mindset, we still tolerate and embrace the very things that hurt us.

For example, my freshman year of college I got in a heated discussion with one of my male friends (who I had a crush on at the time) about the ethics of playing violent video games. If I remember right our conversation went something like this:

Me: Why do you play games where you  shoot other human beings?

Him: It is just a game. It is fun.

Me: Doesn't that disturb you? That going through the motions of killing something is "fun" to you?

Him: Really, it is just pretend. It's not like I would ever do it in real life.

Me: I know you wouldn't but, if for some unexplained reason you found  yourself in a dark alley, hiding behind a dumpster, with a machine gun in your hand, and a "bad guy" walked past you....you'd know what to do right?

Him: I guess so. But give me a break... when would that ever happen? Besides a lot of the games I play we shoot aliens, bad aliens... not humans. They aren't even real. 

Me: But what if one day someone was able to convince you that Buddhists weren't real people. That they were bad, different, threatening... alien. What would be the difference then between your game and real life?

Him: You just way over react. It is just a game... you aren't held morally responsible for the choices you make when you play a  game. 

Me: But what if you are? What if pretend  really isn't "pretend" but that all this time you have been training your mind to think that  destroying life, even pretend life, is okay and normal... don't you think that affects your soul? What if one day it isn't "pretend", your mind, body and soul will already have been taught how to kill and hurt. 
At this point he got mad at me and walked off to his dorm... and he stopped walking home from class with me after that. Which was really okay with me because after that conversation all interest I'd had in him fizzled pretty quick.

Then about a year ago I got in just about the same discussion with my brother about violence in games, movies and books. The argument got (politely) hotter until finally we agreed that we should probably just agree to disagree.  My brother ended his argument with something like,  

"Heather, watching or playing violence doesn't make you violent. It isn't like after playing a video game you could just pick up a rifle and go around shooting people. It is a pretend world... not the real world. And the thoughts and feelings you have don't carry over into real life."

We ended our conversation and went downstairs to watch TV, we turned it on and the very first commercial we saw was this one.



After it was over we all just starred at the TV in disbelief and my brother turned to me and said,  

"Okay, I take it all back. You win."

There is a scripture from the end of The Book of Mormon that comes to mind. In Moroni 9, Moroni just finished describing to his son the horrors that he witnessed being committed by the Nephite men; men raping women prisoners, torturing them until they die, and them eating their raw flesh (I wrote about these women here). Then he wrote:
"... they have become strong in their perversion; and they are alike brutal, sparing none, neither old nor young; and they delight in everything save that which is good... .. and the suffering of our women and our children upon all the face of this land doth exceed everything; yea, tongue cannot tell, neither can it be written.... thou knowest that they are without principle, and past feeling...  Behold, my son, I cannot recommend them unto God lest he should smite me." (Moroni 9:19-20, emphasis added)
I am really fearful that because of our widespread cultural acceptance of violence we are creating a future generation who will be "past feeling" when it comes to the sanctity and value of human life.

I can't help but be especially disturbed that is mainly men who are entertaining themselves with violence (though women are closing the gap fast) because like Moroni laments... it is the women and the children who really suffer the consequences.

I think that we as a society are much more acclimated and desensitized to violence than we would even like to admit. We spend millions of dollar on books, movies, and video games that all make the destruction of human life seem glamorous, exciting and worst... normal.

It seems to me that we have been driving around so long in the heat that we have almost completely forgotten (or never even known) how nice it feels to be cool.

And we don't even notice how nasty the water is any more.

I think it is about time we just spit it out.

"Thoughts lead to acts, acts lead to habits, habits lead to character—and our character will determine our eternal destiny."  President Ezra Taft Benson (source)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Five Things for Friday, 47th Edition

-1-

I need some help from experienced (or not so experienced) quilters.

I really want to make Rose a twin sized quilt for her bed, but the challenge is that I want to make it out of my scrap material.

I have looked at different quilt patterns but I am feeling overwhelmed by all the choices. I was hoping that someone out there might have a good suggestion for how I can turn all of this

click the image to make it bigger
into something beautiful for Rose's bed. I just don't know where to start-- or if making something with all of this is even possible-- so if you have any suggestions it would be most helpful! 


-2-

Last week my beautiful friend and co-author, Felice, got sealed in the Los Angeles Temple to an amazing man!


There is no doubt in anyone's mind that God lead them to each other because their story is just remarkable... and they are uncannily so perfect for one another! Seeing them together was such a testament to me that God hears and answers our prayers, in ways we never expected and that He knows the deepest  desires of our hearts. If you have a moment you should read Felice and Rocky's love story... it is beautiful and a powerful reminder that you should never give up hope!

I didn't notice later that we all wore white shirts! Good karma.
All of the "book girls" (as we have started calling ourselves) were able to be there and it was such a beautiful day. They were sealed in one of the sealing rooms off of the Celestial Room and so all five of us were able to be in the Celestial room together, which was just about as heavenly as things get. The only thing that could have made it better was if Jon had been there with me... but he had to hold down the fort and watch the yahoos.


I can't even believe how much I love these ladies. If nothing else comes from our book than the fact I have these incredible women in my life... that would be enough.
 


-3-
Oh, and speaking of weddings. Rose inherited some new dress- up clothes last week from my step-sister and after she spend a good hour trying them all on, and taking them all off, and then putting them back on again, she decided that the "wedding gurl" was her favorite. 


This picture makes me just about want to die. I don't think she could get any more adorable. And I just can't help but think that in about 20 years this will be the perfect picture to include in the slide show for her wedding. Which I honestly, right now, I can't even being to fathom.


-4- 

Now that school has officially started again I have been trying (and not always succeeding) in having more structure in our day,  including trying to do regular "pre-school" with my kids. So far most days I put Abe down for his morning nap around 8:45 AM and then the kids and I say the Pledge of Allegiance (which by the way Asher almost said all by himself yesterday without any prompting), sing a primary song, and then read stories together. Not very elaborate, but (most days) it is really enjoyable. 

I mentioned before that I have been trying to put together a curriculum (that sounds much fancier than it really is) to teach my children different Christ-like attributes each month.  It is coming together little by little and I will most likely share it with you once I have it all together, and do a trial run. This month I decided to focus on honesty and so I have been adding in little virtue lessons into our daily routine as well. The picture below is of the kids playing in the spider web I made in our school room out of yarn. It was an object lesson to show how when you tell a lie it traps you and makes life harder than if you just tell the truth. They kids loved it, especially Abraham and it seemed like every time I turned around I had to untangle him from it!


We also made "cloud dough" this week, which turned out to be a lot of fun. Definitely an outside activity though!



I have also been trying to take the kids on a nature walk at least once a week. Which, as you read here, was really eventful this week!

-5-

I am so excited about the Mormon Women Project salon this weekend! Can't wait to see you there.

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.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Emergency Haircut

I took my kids on a nature walk today up the canyon.

We were having a really good time collecting rocks, caterpillars and leaves until Asher found the biggest leaf he'd ever seen and asked me to reach into the bush to get it. I had Abe on my back in a hiking backpack and so I bent down awkwardly to pull the leaf. As I started to come back up I realized that my hair was stuck and I couldn't move my head a single inch. I thought that maybe Abe had grabbed my hair and wasn't letting go, but it turned out that I had snagged my ponytail in a whole bunch of cockle burrs and I was stuck... really stuck. 


I pulled and I pulled but I couldn't get my hair untangled.  After about five minutes I was considering calling a friend to come up and cut me out when, with one final effort, I took both my hands and pried my head off of the bush.

Ouch, ouch, ouch.

I left behind a real nice brown nest for some lucky birds this spring. 

After getting out of the bush I had a head full of burrs and Asher and Rose thought it was really funny. Asher kindly tried to yank some of the burrs out of my hair... ouch! I have never had many burrs (at least 20) tangled that badly before in anything! I tried my best to pull out as many as I could but wow, they hurt... and each one took a big wad of my hair with it.
Me  trying to pull burrs out of my hair
Finally I loaded up the kids in the car and told them we were going to go get our hair cut. I called one of my best friends from high school, who happens to be a fantastic hair dresser,  and when she heard my story she burst out laughing and told me to come over right away.

On the way there Rose decided that she wanted to get her hair cut too. I was really excited about this because that little girl won't let me lay a finger on her hair. She insists on doing it herself (unless I can bribe her)  and so usually her hair is a wild mess. I have been gently trying to suggest to her that we could cut her hair, so that it wasn't so mess, but she just told me that  she likes messy hair.  So I was thrilled when she suggested a hair cut!

When I got to my friend's house she just laughed and said that she might be able to wash and brush the burrs out-- but that just sounded really painful to me-- so I told her to just cut all my hair off. I was pretty tired of it anyway and thought that now was as good a time as any for a big change.

Me right before the big cut



 A part of the snarled mess




I am really laid back about my hair and so I didn't really care what she did to it.... I just wanted the burrs out! She had to cut it short (and in an A-line) because the burrs were  high up on my head.  I wasn't planning on short hair anytime soon but I actually really love it. It makes me feel like a burden has been lifted and I really like that. 


Rose got her hair cut right after I did and it was so cute to see how intent she was on not wiggling.

 

Her hair cut turned out cute and she loves it that now we have matching hair.


Her very first hair cut!

So our nature walk turned out to be a very eventful, and unexpected, afternoon,

Mostly I am just really proud of myself because I didn't get frustrated and was able to laugh about it the whole time... except maybe for the "tearing my head out of the bush" part.

I won't lie... that really hurt.

What is your most memorable hair experience?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Women in the Scriptures Event You Won't Want to Miss it!

I am excited to announce that in two weeks I am going to be participating in a Women in the Scriptures panel hosted by the Mormon Women Project (you can read my interview with them here). I am really excited about this and hope that some of you will be able to come. It should be fantastic.

Here are the details: 

Join us for a Mormon Women Project Salon - Provo, UT

Saturday September 15th, 7:00 - 9:00pm 

 Featuring Camille Fronk Olsen, Ann Madsen and Heather Farrell

"Our Relationship With Women in the Scriptures"

C. Jane Kendrick's Home
1170 Birch Lane, Provo, UT 84604


Come enjoy a small group fundraiser for the Mormon Women Project.  Our evening will feature a panel discussion with BYU professors and authors Camille Fronk Olsen and Ann Madsen, as well as Heather Farrell of the blog Women in the Scriptures. You will have time to ask questions about what you hear and also enjoy a  light summer dessert. Come and bring your friends for a great night out! Suggested donation is $20.00 that can be paid in advance here or at the door. Read bios here.

I am really excited about this opportunity. I love any chance I get to share my testimony about the women in the scriptures and women's place in the gospel. Yet, I do have to admit that I am super intimidated about sitting on a panel with Camille Fronk Olsen and Ann Madsen. When I got the final email telling me who I'd be speaking with I started singing "One of these things just ain't like the others"  and my husband laughed and reassured me that even though I am not a scholar of ancient scripture I still have a valuable perspective to contribute. I feel confident about that but it is still intimidating to sit down with some of my heroes... um... heroines.

It should be a wonderful event and I know I am really looking forward to hearing new perspectives. Seating is limited so if you want to reserve your spot you can register here.

Can't wait to see you there!