Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Honoring the Dead


On October 3, 1918 President Joseph F. Smith received his glorious vision of the spirit world-- the world we go to when we die-- and Jesus Christ's visit to it during the three days his body was in the tomb. He said that as he pondered the Spirit of the Lord had rested upon him and,

"... I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great. And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just... I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand. They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death.

...While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;
...And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.

On October 4th, 1918, in his opening remarks at General Conference Joseph F. Smith shared the vision he had received:

"...And the saints rejoiced in their redemption, and bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell. Their countenances shone, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them, and they sang praises unto his holy name.

 ....And so it was made known among the dead, both small and great, the unrighteous as well as the faithful, that redemption had been wrought through the sacrifice of the Son of God upon the cross.

On October 31st, 1918 his vision was submitted to the counselors in the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, and the Patriarch, and it was unanimously accepted by them.

 "..The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, And after they have paid the penatly of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.

...Thus was the vision of the redemption of the dead revealed to me, and I bear record, and I know that this record is true, through the blessing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, even so. Amen. "

Halloween, celebrated in the US on October 31st,  is thought to originate from the celebration of All Saints Day (or All Hallows) the day in which people prayed for the  recently deceased souls in purgatory, those who had not yet reached Heaven. The night before All Saints Day (All Hallows Eve) was the night when those souls ran loose upon the earth before they moved on to the next world. 


How interesting that the prophet's vision of Christ delivering the waiting souls in the spirit world was accepted as scripture on Halloween. 


Coincidence? 

Probably.

Regardless, this Halloween I celebrated by going to the temple and doing proxy work for the dead, so that perhaps just a few more of those departed souls could be loosed from their chains. 

Oh, and toting around these to scare off any extra belligerent souls.


Though I don't think that this one would scare a mouse.



 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Five Things for Friday, 49th Edition

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It snowed!

At least in my neck of the woods, it did.

A few weekends ago we cleaned out our garage ( which consisted mostly of shoving un-packed boxes into the loft space) so that we could park our cars in there. This is the first time in my entire life that I have ever parked my car in a garage. When I lived at home my parents got the garage and I parked my old car out on the street. At college I never lived in a place fancy enough to have covered parking and all the houses Jon and I have lived in since we have been married haven't had a garage. So this house has been our first garage! I still am not convinced that a garage is really worth all the space it takes up (it seems like just a big place to store extra stuff that we should really just get rid of) but I will admit that on snowy mornings it has been SO wonderful not to have to scrape ice and snow off the car.

I could get use to that.

The kids love the garage because of the garage door opener. They think it is the best toy in the whole house. Actually, on Rose's birthday Jon re-furbished a little bike for Rose and instead of wrapping it he hid it in the garage. He wrapped the garage door opener up for her thinking she would open it, go down and open the garage door, and find the bike. When she opened the present and saw the garage door opener she got the BIGGEST smile on her face and said, "Oh, Dad my very own! This is my very own?" She didn't quite get the idea of the treasure hunt and thought that Dad had just given her "her very own" garage door opener. She was thrilled and for about a week we couldn't tear it away from her. It wasn't till it finally ran out of batteries (from constantly opening and closing that blasted door) that we were able to reclaim it.

Somehow we have been able to convince her that we all need to share it, but I still think that was by far her favorite birthday gift!


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Speaking of birthdays this little nursling is going to turn ONE in a few weeks.


Abe with his great-grandma
This year has gone by so fast. It literally feels like I just had him and I swear that he is much, much too little to be a year old. When I look at pictures of Asher and Rose it seems like they were much bigger and older than he is at a year. But then I look at the pictures closer and realize that Abe is wearing the exact same outfits that Asher wore at the same age and doing close to the same things.

It has made me realize that perhaps I really pushed Asher too much when he was little (and that perhaps maybe I still do). I wanted him to grow up and move onto the next "phase" because it was exciting and challenging, but with Abe I feel like I just want him to stay little for awhile longer. Maybe that is because I know how fast they grow up once they start walking and talking!

He hasn't started walking yet, and really isn't interested in it yet. Mostly he just loves to climb things, especially the stairs. Every time he sees them he makes a dash for them and climbs them before I even know what has happened! I have been trying to teach him how to go down the stairs on his tummy (thus making the whole process much safer) but he is terrified of the idea. He usually clings to the carpet with both of his hands and screams whenever I try to teach him. I am just hoping he figures it out soon, because he sure makes me nervous.

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 I know General Conference is way over, but I just loved this this video. It made me smile.



I apologize in advance if the song gets stuck in your head!

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Rose had a cute moment this week. We were at the store and she had to go the bathroom. I helped her get situated in the stall and then went out to wait until she was done. As soon as I closed the stall door she started singing to herself, "When my mother calls me, quickly I'll obey". She learned that song in nursery a few weeks ago and has been singing it non-stop ever since. The lady in the stall next to her came out laughing and smiling. As she washed her hands and listened to Rose sing she turned to me and said, "That is just about the cutest thing I have ever heard in my life." Sometimes it is wonderful to have other people remind me that my kids are cute. I think that I get so use to their quirky ways that they can just seem more annoying than anything... so thank you to the lady washing her hands... for the reminder.


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 I realized this year why the grocery stores put out Halloween candy so early. You buy it, thinking that you are ahead of the game and getting prepared for trick-or-treating way in advance. When the reality is that you buy it and then eat it all before Halloween and have to go back and buy some more. But of course I am not saying this from experience or anything like that....

Have a wonderful weekend and a Spooky Halloween!

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, October 24, 2012

A Photographic Tribute to Biblical Women {Giveaway!}

Several weeks ago April Craig contacted me to share with me the beautiful project she was working on, because she thought I'd be interested in it. 

Which I was. 

April is a talented photographer and has spent the last few years putting together a collection of photographs of different Biblical women. Here is what she told me: 


Last year, after losing my mother, my heart turn to sentiment. Everything important to me took on greater value, especially my relationships within my family. As I pondered my mother’s life and read from her journals, a desire grew in me to leave something of importance to my children. My mother had an intense love of the scriptures. She taught seminary for years and expressed her love of the scriptures beautifully in the writings of her journals. As a photographer, my creativity is expressed through pictures. I wanted to share with them this amazing legacy my mother had given to me. I thought to myself, what better way to pay tribute to this legacy than to capture in photography those things that were most precious to my mother. Images and ideas began to flood my mind and the book came together quickly.
The experiences I had while creating this book were amazing. In the beginning, I pulled models for each page from my circle of church friends which mostly consisted of LDS children and youth. However, as time past, I began to pull models from the community. By the time the book was complete there were 6 different religions represented in the models. How wonderful it was to share this experience with so many faithful youth from so many different faiths. I was continually touched and strengthened by the beautiful spirit the children and youth brought into my studio.
This project, although originally intended to inspire my own children to read the scriptures, has turned into something that I hope will inspire many to draw closer to Christ through their scripture study.

April sent me a copy of her book and I was very impressed and touched by some of her art work. I was especially touched by her photo of Sarah and Isaac, and can safely say that this is one of my all time favorite depictions of Sarah... EVER. It just makes the miracle of her conception so profound.


Some of April's photographs are meant to be realistic (ie. the models are about the age that the real woman would have been) and others are more interpretive (ie. using a child or a teenager to portray a woman), but all of them tell beautiful stories. Each page of the book has a different story of a woman from the Bible, along with the scripture reference and a brief summary of the story. It really isn't a book to teach you about each woman, but rather a way to get you familiar with the stories and prompt you to open your scriptures and read their story. 

This is a book that  has gone in our church bag and it has been a fantastic way to start teaching my kids about the stories of the women in the scriptures. The only thing I wish was that the book was a bit bigger because I feel like some of the art work gets "squished out" by the words on the page. The pictures are so beautiful it would be nice to see them alone. But my kids didn't really care about that, they loved it. And I love it that they are learning the stories. 

Here are two more of my favorite pictures from the book: 

"Daughter of God" 


and "Miriam with Moses" 





Aren't they beautiful?  I love all the tiny babies. She said her youngest model was 8 days old! 

April has offered to give away a copy of her book to one of my readers! If you would like to enter to win please do one or all of the following (each one you do will get you an extra entry). Leave me a comment letting me know which ones you do. 

1. Take a peek at the inside of the book by going here and clicking on "Take a look inside". Leave me comment letting me know which picture you liked the best. 

2. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or on your own blog. 

3. Visit April's website and share her book on Pinterest by clicking on the "Pin it" button below. 

Best wishes! The giveaway will close on Monday, October 29th @ Midnight. 


Monday, October 22, 2012

The More you Give, the More you Receive

This story by a pioneer woman named Hannah Cornaby has been on my mind a lot the last few months. In her personal history Hannah wrote:
"One morning having, as usual, attended to family prayer, in which, with greater significance than is often used, we asked, "Give us this day our daily bread," and having eaten a rather scanty breakfast--every morsel we had in the house-- Edith was wondering what we should have for dinner  and why Pa had not sent us some fish. I too was anxious, not having heard from Provo for some days; so telling my darling I would go and see if Sister Ellen Jackson (whose husband was also one of the fishing party) had heard any news, I started off. Sister Jackson had not heard from the fishery but was quite cheerful, telling me how well her garden was growing, adding that the radishes were fit for use, and insisting that I must have some. It was good to see something to eat; and quite pleased, I bade her good morning. I passed on my way to the house of Brother Charles Gray, and Sister Gray asked me where I had gotten such fine radishes. I told her and offered to divide them with her, to which she agreed, providing I would take in exchange some lettuce and cress, of which she had plenty. She filled a pan with these, and I hurried away thinking how pleased my children would be, if only we had some bread to eat with them.

As I was passing Brother Simons Baker's house, Sister Baker saw me and invited me in. I told her I had left my children and could not stay long. She then asked me where I had gotten such nice green stuff, and when I told her and offered her some, she replied, "If I could exchange some for butter, I would be glad." She then gave me a nice piece of fresh butter, which had just come from their dairy on the Jordan, and also a large slice of cheese. If I only had bread, I thought, how good these would be! Just then my eyes rested upon a large vessel full of broken bread. Sister Baker, seeing I had noticed it, told me its history. It had been sent the day before, in a sack, to the canyon where her husband had a number of men working. On the way it had fallen from the wagon and been crushed under the wheel. She did not know what to do with it, remarking that she would offer me some of it but feared I would feel insulted, although she assured me it was perfectly clean. I accepted her offer, and after filling a large pan, she sent her daughter home with me to carry it. 

The children were watching for my return, and when they saw the bread, they clapped their hands with delight. Bread, butter, cheese, radishes, lettuce and cress! What a dinner we had that day!  Elijah never enjoyed the dinner the ravens brought him more than I did that meal; nor did he more fully understand that a kind providence had furnished it."
by Hannah Cornaby, from "Remarkable Stories from the Lives of Latter-day Saint Women" compiled by Leon R. Hartshorn, "What a Dinner We had that Day!", pg. 25. 

Can I tell you what impresses me the most about this story?

The fact that even though she had a house full of hungry children waiting for her, and she knew she had nothing to feed them, she offered to divide those radishes with her friend. Her neighbors had no idea she had nothing to eat (or I am sure they would not have taken her food) but she consistently offered what little she had to them... even though they had more than she did.

If she hadn't offered to share those radishes, she would never have gotten the lettuce and cress, and if she hadn't offered to share the lettuce and cress she wouldn't have gotten the butter, the cheese or the bread. I can't stop thinking about how even in her extreme poverty she gave freely, with a generous heart, and because she did that... she went home with arms overflowing with food.

Hannah Cornaby understood the beautiful lesson that I feel the Lord has been trying to teach me, over and over and over again...

That the more you give, the more you receive. 

It doesn't matter how much money, food, time, energy or health you have. It doesn't matter if you are (or feel) wealthy or poor, the principle is always the same:

When you have you give generously

and when you have not you give generously; 

don't worry about the math

 the Lord will take care of the rest. 

 Why is that such a hard lesson for me to learn?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Five Things for Friday, Daily Routine Edition

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I have really loved, and very much appreciated, reading other women's posts about their daily schedules. It has motivated me to be a bit more organized in my own life and reassured me that the chaos of my day is perfectly normal. I have come to realize that having a good, or at least predictable, routine is the life blood of being a happy stay-at-home parent. So I thought I'd share what a "typical" day looks like around my house.

But first I just have to show you what is now on the shelves (in the parenting section) at Deseret Book!


I went down a week or two ago to see if it was there. I am sure the cashier thought I was a crazy lady, trying to take a picture of the shelf with a wiggly baby in my arms. But Yippee!!!! They should be in all Deseret Book stores, so if you need one for a gift you can just go down and get one. If they don't have it make sure you request it, because they should have it.

-2-

Okay, now for the daily routine! I realized my life really only has routine until after lunch, and after that things usually are random until Jon gets home from work. So I will just share my morning routine.

6:00 AM

My alarm goes off and I try to sneak out of bed without waking any of the boys in my bed. Most days Jon gets up at 5:30 AM to read his scriptures but Abe always seems to end up in bed with us, mostly because I always fall asleep nursing him, and lately Asher has been climbing in bed with us because, "It is just soooo cozy." Thank heavens for king sized beds!

If I manage to sneak away without waking anyone I go down stairs to meditate and say my morning prayers. If someone has woken up I usually drop them off with Jon or take them down stairs with me to play or crawl around while I pray. I have really discovered a wonderful way of preparing for and saying my prayers and have been doing it for the last few months. It has really impacted my life in a powerful way and it deserves its own post--- so I will write more about it later.

6:30 AM

I go back upstairs and have Family Devotional with Jon and the kids. I wrote a bit more about what we do in this post, and some of those things are still working for us while others have fallen by the wayside. It seems like we constantly have to change the way we do family scripture study. Things only seem to work for a week or so and then they fall apart again. Right now we are experimenting with each person having a day to be in charge of the devotional, they choose people to say the prayers, choose the song, and then tell or read us a scripture or a scripture story. It works about 3 days out of 7 which, in our book, is a success! I am sure that in a few weeks we will be on to some new approach-- so any ideas would be appreciate. 

7AM

Breakfast. Sometimes this happens before Family Devotional, depending on how whinny the kids are or how long they have been up that morning. I usually try to cook something for breakfast, mostly because I have acquired a dislike for cereal in my old age. A few months ago I started experimenting with lots of new breakfast dishes and most of them were total flops, but I did find several that I really liked. Usually we have one of the following:

Pancakes
Hootenannny Panacakes
Waffles
Eggs
Eggs with sausage
Breakfast Burritos (basically eggs and sausage in a tortilla, with cheese)
Muffins
Oatmeal
Baked Oatmeal (my new favorite)
Crepes
Ebelskivers
French toast

Asher has gotten really good at making and cooking pancakes by himself and so we have those alot, mostly because I don't have to make them.  Here he is cooking them



After I took this picture of him  I realized I needed to capture the whole feel of the morning. So I backed up and took a picture of Rose sitting in the fridge. I think she was trying to get the juice out...and got distracted?


And Abe in his favorite place in the house. He loves to climb in the dishwasher and splash in the water... and I usually let him because it keeps him happy.


After breakfast Jon leaves and then the real fun starts.

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7:30 AM

I help Asher and Rose get dressed and then they do "1, 2, 3" while I take a shower (with Abe) and get ready.

"1, 2, 3" stands for:

#1-- Get dressed and brush your teeth,
#2-- Make your bed and pick up your room and
#3- Say your personal prayers.

I got this idea from the Mormon Channel interview with Julie Beck about motherhood. She said that when she was young her mother would always ask them if they had done "1, 2, 3, 4" (4 is scripture study) and they always knew what she was talking about. I thought that this was a clever and easy way for my kids to keep track of what they need to do in the morning, without me having to nag them about it. So far it has been working!

8:00 AM

After I am ready and the kids have done (or at least attempted to do) "1, 2, 3," then we start on chores. I  really don't enjoy housework, at all, and I realized awhile ago that if it was ever going to get done it was going to have to be a family effort.

When we moved into our new house, which is bigger than our last one, I realized that I needed a chore chart to motivate and keep the kids on task. I scoured the Intenet looking for one that would work for us and I couldn't find anything that was just right. So I took bits and pieces of ideas that I liked and put them together into this! Ta da!


I had this cute canvas fabric in my scap box and so I took some plastic sheeting and sewed four strips on to it. Then I sewed five columns down the middle so that each row has five pockets.

My kids can't read yet so I found pictures of the chores I wanted them to do and printed them off on cards that I then laminated. Every morning before breakfast I choose the jobs that I feel need to be done that day and set them aside. Then when it is time to do chores  I turn them all over so they can't see what the jobs are and they take turns picking cards.  Some days each child just does two or three jobs but this day they did all four. For example this day Asher's jobs were to clear and wash the table, clean the upstairs toilet, clean the stove and unload the dishwasher. Rose's jobs were to pick up the toys, clear off and wipe the kitchen counter, clean the downstairs bathroom sink, and vacuum the dining room. Abe, well, he doesn't have any... yet.

I usually only give myself one or two jobs (things that I know really need to get done) because the kids usually need my help to do their jobs. There are some jobs that they are really good at doing (Asher is actually a fantastic toilet cleaner :) but for most of them they still need help and supervision. My hope is that if we keep this up long enough that in a few years they will be able to do all the jobs without any of my help, which would be fantastic because then I would hardly have to do any of the jobs!

After the kids are done with the jobs they turn the cards over in the pocket and there is a number on the back saying how many "beans" the completed job earns. Like so...


We have two pint-sized mason jars on our counter and whenever the kids do their chores and "1,2, 3" they get beans (usually pinto) to put in their jar. So on this day Asher earned 5 beans for his chores and 3 for doing "1,2,3" and Rose earned 4 for her chores and 3 for doing "1, 2, 3".  Jon and I also try to give the kids beans when we seem them being kind, good or obedient. When the jar is filled to the top then they get to go to the store and choose a toy. Usually it takes them five or six months to get the jar filled.

Here are Rose and Asher working on unloading the dishwasher. I have put all our dishes down on lower shelves so that they can put them away by themselves. It has been really wonderful because they not only put things away but they can also get everything out to set the table.  The only hitch is that Abe has just learned how to open cupboards... so this situation might have the be re-thought-out soon.




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9:00 AM

After chores I put Abe down for his nap and the kids and I "do school". The house we are renting has a great big basement and I have set it up to be our school room.  My kids are still too young for any formal school and so our routine is fairly laid back and some days we skip it all together.  Doing "school" is really more  for me because it gives more routine to our day and forces me to come up with activities and lessons to teach my kids. The kids really love it and if we skip it for a day or two they always remind me that "we need to do school mom!"

We usually start school by saying the pledge of allegiance and then charting the weather and date on our calender. Then we work on repeating the scripture that we are memorizing that month and sing the song for the month. Last month I focused on teaching them honesty, this month we are working on obedience, and next month we will do humility. So far my virtue lessons have been going really well and I feel like my kids are internalizing some of the key concepts I want them to learn, so that is really fun.

After the scripture and song I usually tell them a scripture story that goes along with our virtue theme or read them a story book that goes with the theme. Sometimes I have activities to go along with these, but not always. I am working on a post to share what I put together (and what worked) for my honesty lessons, and plan on sharing the other virtue lessons throughout the year.

After our lesson then we have "free time" where the kids can choose any of the school activities they want to work on.

Asher and Rose working during "Free Time", Abe woke up and it looks like he chose the dust pan :) 
I have been researching lots of educational philosophies the last few years and the one that has spoken to my heart the strongest is the Montessori Method. I really love the principles it is based upon and it fits well with my style of teaching and learning. Traditionally in a Montessori classroom the teacher lays out activities and places them on shelves (shelves for language, math, cultural, science, art, etc... ) and then the children are free to choose which work they are interested in at the time. I have been working hard the last few months to get some basic activities out on our shelves in our school room and I feel like we have a pretty good assortment. Asher usually always chooses to play with play dough or other art supplies during free time, while Rose is usually much more interested in whatever new activity I have put out on the shelf. Abe usually wakes up by now and crawls around sabotaging everyone else's work.
Rose and Asher building with the "red rods" designed to teach measurement
I am going to be very honest here and say that the two pictures I have posted above, where it looks my kids are working blissfully together is VERY deceptive. These are just about the only two pictures I have of them sitting still and working together, and in the one above right after I took this picture Asher whacked Rose with one of the red rods... so don't be decieved. Sometimes our school ends in utter chaos and tears... usually mine... sometimes things go really well and I feel like a super mom, but most of the time it is just somewhere in between.

I figure that the most important part is that we are together and learning. Right?

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11:00 AM

After we are done with "school" we usually have a snack and the kids play, or we go run errands , until lunch.

12:00 PM

We have lunch. Which 9 times out of 10 is either peanut butter and jelly, ramen noodles, quesadillas or rice with cream of chicken soup (we call it "goop").

1:00 PM

After lunch we have naps for Abe and Rose and "quiet time" for Asher. Asher won't take naps any more (even though I think he still needs one) and so he usually just "reads" books (or plays the ipad if I am desperate) for about 45 minutes while I read my scriptures. For the last several years I have alway made it a habit to read my scriptures FIRST THING after my kids went down for their naps. It has been the best way for me to schedule in my scripture study. I am not ready to let go of that time yet and so I am trying to teach Asher ( and soon Rose) to have some quiet time of their own so that I can do my scripture study. Some days it is a battle and other days it is just fine... hopefully eventually I will have them trained!

After Asher is done with quiet time he and I go down to the basement and he usually watches a movie until Rose wakes up and I usually blog or do a project.

2:30 PM

Once the kids all wake up again my day has no sort of routine. Some days we run errands or go visiting and other times we just try to kill time until Dad gets home at 6 PM.

And that is about it! Exciting huh?

I'd love to hear about your daily routine. If you have a post where you have written about it you can link it up below or just share your own Five Things for Friday post!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The President's Ward?

Not long ago I read an article in The Washington Post entitled "D.C. Third Ward Mormons Welcome Romney, even though most are democrats." The post made me smile because for the last several months, ever since Mitt Romney announced his candidacy, I have been thinking about this ward... a lot.

About six years ago, when Mitt Romney was making his first attempt for the Republican presidential nomination I was in Washington D.C. with a school group. In our group was a girl whose father was serving as a chief of staff to one of President Bush's cabinet members and when Sunday rolled around we left their apartment, which was close to Capitol Hill, and made our way to the LDS chapel where her parents attended. It was a cold day and as we walked towards the church I became a bit alarmed as the streets got progressively less affluent and increasingly more "rough". I was certain that these weren't neighborhoods I would usually wander around by myself. I was glad my friend knew where we were going. I was a bit relieved when we finally reached the church door step.

The church was not a traditional LDS church building (though they will soon be getting a new building) and I will never forget the welcome I received when I walked through that church door. A big African man, with the most contagious smile I'd ever seen, grabbed my hand with both of his and said in a booming voice, "Welcome sister to the true Church of Jesus Christ, we are so happy to have you here today!"  His sincere greeting melted my heart and as I proceeded down the hall, which was lined on both sides by at least four sets of missionaries who all shook my hand, I was stunned. I can easily say that I have never felt so welcome, so quickly, in any other congregation I have ever attended.

After this welcome I  stumbled into the chapel with the other kids in my group and sat down, feeling welcome but a bit out of place. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unique in the fact that members don't get to choose which congregation (called "wards") that they attend. Ward assignments are given by geographical area and members are not (usually) allowed to consistently attend a ward outside of their assigned one. I have lived in several areas where this rule has resulted in some very economic, social, and ethnic diversity. Yet as I sat on that Washington D.C. Third Ward pew and glanced around me I  marveled at the incredible diversity of the ward. Next to me was my friend's parents-- white and obviously well off,  behind me were several young mothers with their little children-- black and obviously very poor, the bishopric on the stand was comprised of three men with three different skin colors, and in front of the sacrament table there was the most unusual mix of deacons I had ever seen in my life-- white and black, Asian and Latino, poor and wealthy, privileged and impoverished,  young and old. As the reporter said in The Washington Post article,
"The ward is known in the area for its unusual demographics and high-energy warmth. Up to half of the congregation is nonwhite, including a large, Spanish-speaking population and converts from French-speaking Africa... its roughly 200 congregants are drawn largely from Northeast Washington and have included deported immigrants, a teen shot dead in gang violence, refugees from African wars, and youths who depend on the church for meals, tutoring for class and support to pay for Boy Scout camp."
That day as I sat in that chapel, surrounded by such an incredible mix of people, I remember thinking, "Wow, if Mitt Romney gets the nomination he might become president.. and this would be his ward."

And with that thought came a warm rush of the spirit that nearly brought me to tears.

Not because I really feel any great love or support for Mitt Romney but because I not only felt, but saw before my eyes, what the apostle Peter understood,

"Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34)

I realized at that moment one of the most beautiful truths that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ offers-- that all men and women have equal status and privilege in the eyes of God. He doesn't care if you are a prostitute, a drug dealer, a refugee, a Senator or even the President of the United States-- your worth in His eyes is the same.

I can't help but feel that is the message that the reporter from The Washington Post missed. That the real story here isn't the fact that lots of the members of the ward are Democrats, but that if  Mitt Romney did get elected he would be worshiping among people from every imaginable walk of life. And that, most importantly, in the eyes of God the President of the United States (arguably  the most powerful person in the world) would have no greater privilege or importance to Him than the poor, struggling single mother sitting on the back row.

"... and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God... " (2 Nephi 26:33). 

And, regardless of who wins the election this November, that is a beautiful lesson.  


Just as an end note, please don't take this post as an endorsement for Mitt Romney. I don't consider myself to be a Republican or a Democrat... I am somewhere in between. I voted for Obama last election, but I am undecided who I will vote for this election, though I am leaning a bit more to the right this time :) Please keep your comments kind and considerate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tryphena and Tryphosa

I thought that in celebration of the recent change in age requirement for LDS missionaries that I would post on two of the earliest women missionaries we know of. 


Romans 16:12

Background: About  55 and 56 A.D.

Paul's epistle to the Romans was written from Corinth.  The Bible Dictionary explains,
" Paul was then contemplating a visit to Jerusalem, which was certain to be dangerous (Rom. 15:31). If he escaped with his life he hoped afterwards to visit Rome. The letter was meant in part to prepare the Church there to receive him when he came. It may also be regarded as containing a statement of those doctrines which had been in dispute with the Judaizing Christians, and which Paul now regarded as finally established." 
Paul sent his letter to the church at Rome by way of a woman named Phoebe, "which is a servant of the church" (Rom. 16:1) and commended them to receive her. At the close of his epistle Paul extended personal greetings to many of his friends and "co-workers" in Christ who lived, or had fled, to Rome.

Facts About Them:

  • Paul included them, in his epistle to the early Christians living in Rome, among those he extended a personal greeting too. 
  • After greeting Herodian and the household (JST changes it to "church") of Narcissus (Rom. 16:11) Paul then wrote, "Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord" (Romans 16:12). 
  • The word translated as "labor" in Romans 16:12 is derived from a Greek verb meaning “to work hard." (source)
  • Their names are derived from the same Greek word and mean "dainty, delicate, or luxurious."

Speculations About Them: 

  • Considering that Paul mentions these two women together it is likely that they were sisters. And seeing that their names are so similar scholars speculate that they may have been twins. 
  • Their names indicate that they may have been high class Roman citizens. These would have been uncommon names for anyone but a wealthy Roman citizen to give their daughters. It may have been that their parents named them "dainty and delicate" to express the ideal they wished them to embrace. 

My Thoughts:

We don't have much about Tryphena and Tryphosa but the fact that their names are even mentioned by Paul and that he calls them "hard workers" in the work of the Lord is significant. The first thing it teaches us is that in the early Christian church women were active and involved in the missionary work of the church. Their help was central to the spreading of the gospel and they worked along side men to help build Christ's church. They may not have been set apart or even had formal "calls" but there is much evidence in the scriptures that both men and women (and even husband/wife pairs) were active in teaching and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.  It is even fun that because these two women's names are linked together one could almost envision them being "mission companions"-- two "hard workers" for Christ! I would love one day to know more about what specific sort of work these women were engaged in and why they were special to Paul.

We really don't know very much about most of the people Paul mentions in Romans 16 but I think is significant that among the people Paul greets in his epistle are several who have names that were common slave names of the day-- Persis (a common female slave name), Ampliatus and Hermes (common male slave names), and Herodion ( a common male name for a slave belonging to the house of Herod) (source). It is remarkable to think about Tryphena and Tryphosa, who were most likely from a wealthy Roman family, working and worshiping along side men and women who had been or still were slaves. Class distinctions were strict in Roman society and it would have been considered degrading or humiliating for women of high rank to associate with lower classes... not to mention slaves. Seeing their names listed along side those who, for all we know, were  slaves of the lowest rank is just a beautiful testament to the truth found in Galatians 3:28:
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" 
It impresses me to think  that these women may have given up a life of luxury, wealth and security to follow Jesus Christ. How remarkable to think that they put aside their desire for things of this world and instead had focused on working hard to lay up treasures in heaven-- for themselves and for others. They had been converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and had a deep desire to share it; and they didn't let things like cultural or class distinctions keep them from loving and serving all of their brother and sisters. In that sense these women remind me much of the young men and women who serve as missionaries for Christ around the world. The thousands of youth who willingly set aside their own worldly desires and aspirations to bring souls into the Kingdom of God. How glorious to think that they are involved in the exact same work that was started, thousand of years ago, by those early disciples of Christ!

Tryphea and Tryphosa would be proud.

Questions to Think About:
  • What do you imagine these women gave up in order to become followers of Jesus? What would you sacrifice for Christ? 
  • What is significant about the fact that out of the 29 people Paul greets in his epistle to the church in Rome that 10 of them are women? 
  • Immediately after Paul "salutes" Tryphena and Tryphosa he salutes Persis, "who laboured much in the Lord." Why do you think that Paul uses the verb "laboured" instead of "labors" to describe her service? 
  • What lessons do these women's story have to teach women of today? How can their story apply to your life? 

Side note: If you would like to read more about the women (and men) mentioned by Paul in Romans 16 this is a fantastic essay

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Called to the Work! Is it Bad if I Feel Jealous?

I know I am not the only one whose jawed dropped wide open during the Saturday morning session of General Conference when President Monson announced that they were lowering the missionary age from 19 years-old to 18- years-old for men and from 21 years-old to 19 years-old for women.

I was totally taken back with the announcement and I think I was in shock for the first little while. I couldn't help but feel that while this age change certainly affects young men's plans it changes everything for the young women. I don't think that there will be tons more young men serving missions because of the change but there are going to be thousands of young women who will.


As I talked about it with my friend later she told me that both she and her sister started to cry when they heard the announcement. She said that she was crying because she had served a mission and was so happy  that now so many more young women would have that incredible experience. When she turned to her sister though she saw that she was crying different tears.

"I would have gone," was what she choked out.

When I heard my friend's story I completely understood her sister's tears. I have been SO excited about the new missionary age for women. It opens up the opportunity for so, so, so many more young women to go on missions and that is really exciting. Yet, I can't help but feel a bit jealous of them.

Is that bad of me?

When I was 20 years-old, soon to turn to 21, I really wanted to go on a mission. I had been planning on it but then I started dating my husband, Jon, and that changed everything. I told myself that I could have both and that Jon would just have to wait for me until I got back. Then one night I had a dream (and   weirdly enough my roommate's boyfriend had the exact same one) where I went on my mission and when I got back Jon had married someone else. I woke up sobbing and I knew what I was suppose to do.

Yet, even though Jon and I had been dating seriously for several months we hadn't really ever talked about getting married. He had tried... once... and it went over really poorly because I was terrified of the idea. I figured that him asking me to marry him anytime soon wasn't in the picture. So I knelt down and gave God my "ultimatum" telling Him that "if Jon asks me to marry him this week then I will, if not I am going on a mission."

I was 90% certain I was going on a mission.

Then, surprisingly, that week Jon asked me to marry him. When he was down on one knee holding up a ring box the thought that went through my head was, "Yes, No, Should I say Yes or should I say No?" I hesitated long enough that he got the most terrified look on his face (poor guy) before I finally said, "Yes!"

Once I said that "Yes" I had the spirit wash over me in a wave and it made me sob. I knew that I had made the right choice.

And I have never doubted it since.

But when I heard the announcement on Saturday part of me was a bit sad that I missed out on the experience of serving a full-time mission. There is a part of me that is crying, like my friend's sister, "But I would have gone, Lord, I would have gone."

And those tears are bitter sweet.

Then, on the other hand I am thrilled... beyond thrilled... that now so many young women (including my daughter) won't have to choose between marriage and a mission.  They can have both.

I am also thrilled at the prospect that now more young women will be able to through the temple sooner and receive their endowments. Just think about the power that that will bring to the Relief Society to have all those young women so ready and prepared for the work of Relief Society-- which is to work with the Elders to bring souls to Christ. I can't help but feel that this age change for women is God's way of giving young women a very powerful message that they are needed and invited to join in His great work. In fact I think that it is a bit of wake up call to ALL the women of the church, no matter what age, to remind us that we need to be more involved in the work of salvation and that God expects us to be using our resources and time to save souls.

I will say though that I think that keeping the age and the length of missionary service different for men and women is significant. I think that it is an important reminder that the priesthood responsibilities of men and women are different (read this, this and this) and that the Lord has given them different stewardships. Women  don't have the same administration responsibilities that men do and so if their life plan takes a different path, or they don't feel called to the work, that is perfectly fine. The Lord has different paths for each of His daughters. I just think that this age change makes it easier for more young women and young men to get the vision of how the Lord expects men and women to work together in their stewardships to move the Lord's work forward.... and that is exciting!

This announcement has put a little fire in my bones to be a better missionary and to better prepare my children (all of whom could now possibly be out, or just coming home, at the same time) for their missions. So, despite my desire to turn back the clock and join these young women going out I am thrilled and so excited about this call to the work.

What was your reaction to the announcement? How does this change things for you and the young men and women in your life? 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Five Things For Friday, 48th Edition

-1-

Phew! It has been a whirlwind past two weeks. My husband has had some trainings for work and since they were all here in Utah the kids and I went along with him. Last week the training was down in Vernal, Utah (South Eastern Utah) and this week the training was in Logan, Utah (Northern Utah), so I feel like we have driven the whole length of the State this week!


I had never been to Vernal, Utah and so I was really excited to go. Especially because going to Dinosaur National Monument has been on my "bucket list" since I was a little girl. I remember watching a "Reading Rainbow" episode where they went to the see the dinosaur bones, still preserved in the mountain, and I was fascinated. So needless to say, I was just as excited as the kids when we entered the quarry and saw walls full of REAL dinosaur bones. It was incredible.

This is a "log jam" of bones that washed down a river and were preserved
Asher giving a dinosaur impression

The kids and I touching REAL dinosaur bones

Dino children-- the skull behind Asher is a real dino skull

I think one of the things I was most impressed with was how huge the bones and the quarry wall were. They said there were bones from more than 1,500 dinosaurs in there! Yet I was even more impressed when I saw the diagram that is behind Rose in this picture. The white shows the original dinosaur quarry, which was discovered in 1909 and the red shows what is left of the original quarry. I guess over the last 100 years all the rock and bones in the white area was removed (most of it before 1940) and shipped to museums around the world. So many of the dinosaur skeletons that you see in museums came from this quarry in Vernal, Utah! I thought that was cool.






We camped out the night after Jon's training and I just fell in love with the area. The rocks in the National Monument were just incredible and I could...almost... understand why someone would want to study geology. It was enough to turn anyone into a rock hound.

Since school has started there was hardly anyone there and the peace and the solitude was so healing to my heart. The land is brimming full of ancient history-- from dinosaurs to the remnants of the ancient Fremont culture-- and it made me think alot about my place in the history of the world. 

Which by the way, I am wondering how other people of faith reconcile the existence of something like dinosaurs with the belief that God created the world in 7 stages of creation? I spent a lot of time wondering where and how  they fit in... and honestly they are a bit of mystery to me.

Asher and Rose making lizard faces  by some of the lizard petroglyphs left behind my the ancient Fremont people
 -2-

I am really excited about a new blog I am helping with called "With Real Intent." The blog is designed to be a space where faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (well, and I guess anyone else who is interested) can discuss pragmatic issues surrounding our LDS faith, with a focus on increasing personal faith, strengthening families, and effectively engaging in our communities.

 

The line-up of permabloggers is REALLY fantastic (go check them out) and I am a bit flattered that they asked me to contribute. The website launched last week and I have been so impressed with the content and posts. If you are looking for something a bit different than the ordinary "bloggernacle" fare I think you will really like this website. I would love to have you come join us and discuss our faith "with real intent." 


-3-

All summer Asher has been begging us to take him out to Antelope Island (the large island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake). He has been really into pirates and so when he realized that there was a real island not far from where we live he was captivated.  All summer we have been hearing him talk about "Cannibal Island" and later "Cantaloupe Island"and how he was going to sail there on a sail boat. There are very few trees on the island and so Jon and I told him that once it cooled down we would drive out there (there is land bridge) and see the island. As soon as we had our first cold day Asher reminded us of our promise and so last Saturday we drove out there.

I have lived in Utah for almost 10 years and this was my first time to the Great Salt Lake. Every time I had ever asked a Utahan to take me out there they always replied with, "Oh, you don't want to go out there. It is stinky and there are gross bugs." So I had never been till now.



I have decided that most Utahans just have a really bad attitude about the Great Salt Lake because it was beautiful. Granted, October is one of the best times to go out there because all the brine flies die, but I just think that most Utahans don't realize what a beautiful treasure the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island are. Jon and I have swam in the Dead Sea and swimming in the Great Salt Lake was just as fun in comparison-- I mean you can float with both your hands and your feet out of the water! It is awesome!  I wish that I had gotten more pictures, but my camera died not long after we got there. I guess you will just have to go out there and see for yourself if you are ever in Utah in the Fall or Spring!

Asher pretending to die of thirst on the Salt Flat



-4-

I just have to share this wonderful blog badge that Michael, the creator of "From the Dust" made for my blog.


Isn't that great! You are welcome to use it for whatever you want (you would just need to link it to my website if you wanted it to be a link back here). If you go to his blog you can see another one he made for my blog too. He also has a plain one that you could use for whatever you want.



I mentioned before how much I love his depiction of Saraih and so I was captivated by this beautiful piece of art work he made for me!

 
 I would very much recommend watching the video he posted of him speed painting it and talking about some of Saraiah's history -- it is fascinating, the painting and the history!

-5-

My little nursling is getting so big. It sort of breaks my heart that he isn't a little baby any more. I just had to capture one of my favorite things he does lately. Whenever Asher and Rose go out to play I try to leave the door open so I can hear them. He always crawls over to the door by where they are playing and pulls himself up to watch. He will spend 10-20 minutes just watching and "talking" to them through the screen. It is so adorable how much he looks up to his brother and sister.  It won't be long before he is out there running around with them!



And just one more, because they are so cute. And yes, that is how Rose smiles. now a days... werid I know, but it is what it is! 



 Have a wonderful weekend and a great General Conference!

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, October 1, 2012

Okay, I Think I like Sister Burton

Three years ago, about this same time of year, I wrote this post. In it I said :


"I love the image of our glorious Mother Eve receiving the Savior as He visits the spirit world with hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of her daughters standing behind her, ready and excited to receive the fullness of the gospel. Women who, even though we don't have their names, lived lives that put them on the same standing before God as the men who were in the congregation, great and righteous men like: Adam, Abel, Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Elias, Malachi, Elijah and the prophets of the Book of Mormon (D&C 138: 40-49) .
How I would love to get a glimpse of those women, to learn their names, to know their stories and to hear their testimonies of the Lord Jesus Christ... I look forward to the time when Christ will come for the second time and Eve will once again stand before God with ALL her faithful daughters and present them to the Savior. That will be one meeting I hope I get to be a part of!"

Then a few days later, after the general Relief Society Meeting, I wrote this post. In it I said


"Last week I wrote about Eve and her faithful daughters and I remarked that I would LOVE to get a glimpse of these women. Well, God answers the prayers of our heart because during the broadcast I got that glimpse.

Imagine this place


the Conference Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, filled to capacity with over 21,333 righteous women (and millions more in meeting houses around the world) standing and singing "How Firm a Foundation". Especially imagine them singing at the top of their lungs with tears streaming down their face (I'm sure I wasn't the only one crying) the last verse of the song,
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes:
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never - no, never, no, never forsake!
As I stood in my meeting house, more than 100 miles away from the Conference Center, and sang this hymn my mind was filled with images of women all over the world standing along side me and singing their devotion to Jesus Christ. I felt such a connection to these women and to the women on the other side of the veil whom I felt were standing with us. I realized that I was only one in the army of millions of faithful women-- past, present and future--whose testimonies of the gospel burn strong in their hearts and who are ready and willing to do all that God asks of them. I know that even though we are so far apart we are all bound together as sisters through the gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter where or when we live or have lived we are all the daughters of Eve-- glorious, faithful and strong. I am so grateful that God answered my prayer and granted me what I wanted... a glimpse."

Well on Saturday night I got that glimpse... again.

During the opening hymn of the General Relief Society Meeting as I stood shoulder to shoulder with women I love and sang:

Fear not, though the enemy deride;
Courage, for the Lord is on our side.
We will heed not what the wicked may say,
But the Lord alone we will obey.
("Let Us all Press On", read and hear it here)

I felt the power and majesty of all the righteous women of God-- on this side of the veil and beyond-- and I was humbled. 

We are simply glorious. 

And I saw that we haven't even begun to realize our power. 

I will freely admit that I was nervous about this General Relief Society Meeting. I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to love or respect the new President, Sister Linda B. Burton like I had the former president, Sister Julie B. Beck. In fact, I'd pretty much convinced myself that she was going to fall flat on her face in comparison... not so Christ-like... but it was how I felt. I didn't realize it until later, but I had a bit of an agenda about what I wanted her to say and I went into the meeting with a, "Okay, lets see how good you are. Let's see if you say this..." mentality. 

Once again... not very Christ like

And certainly not a good mindset in which to receive personal revelation. 

Yet after my sweet experience during the opening song my heart was softened, and when Sister Burton got up to speak I felt a wave of love for her wash over me. Not only that, but I also felt the "mantle" of her presidency fall upon her, much like I saw the mantle of prophecy fall upon President Thomas S. Monson the first time he spoke after being sustained as the Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

I realized that, even though I still love and miss Sister Beck, that Sister Burton has been called by God to lead His women and to carry the work we have to do on this earth forward. I loved listening to her talk and saw that she is a powerful woman of God, who knows, sees, and understands. I am excited that God has chosen her to lead the women of His church and the world (if they will listen) and can't wait to see what He has in store for us. 

I was also very impressed with her counselors, even though I was inclined not to be because of my bad attitude. I found that I loved Carole M. Stephens' talk about "awakening" to our spiritual duties, there was a lot of deep ideas in there that I can't wait to go back and read closer. And Linda S. Reeves' experiences and thoughts brought me to tears and opened up a beautiful new train of thought in my mind about Mary, Martha, Jesus and Lazarus which is sure to turn into a post one of these days. After her talk I went back and studied that story and wow, there is a lot of powerful stuff in there! 

It got me really excited for General Conference! I have been fasting and praying hard the last few weeks that my heart will be soft and open enough to hear and understand the messages God wants me to understand. If you haven't watched it before it would be well worth  a few hours of your time... I promise. 

Come listen to living prophets 

What did you like most about the General Relief Society Meeting on Saturday?