Monday, October 28, 2013

"Boo"tiful Nauvoo

This weekend we went to Nauvoo, Illinois. Nauvoo was the last settlement the Mormon pioneers had before they were driven out by persecution and migrated to the Salt Lake Valley. It is a really interesting town because many of the original houses and buildings have been restored or rebuilt by the LDS and Community of Christ churches, including the Nauvoo temple. Today Nauvoo is an incredible historic village staffed by dozens of missionaries who dress up and reenact what life would have been like in  Nauvoo when Joseph Smith and the saints lived there. If you ever get the chance to visit I would highly recommend it!

In fact, it will be eight years this February that Jon and I went to Nauvoo on our honeymoon. Yes, I said Nauvoo in FEBRUARY!  Jon spent a semester in Nauvoo when he was at BYU, studying early LDS church history and American history. He loves everything about Nauvoo. So when he was choosing where he wanted to take me for our honeymoon he couldn't think of a place he wanted to share with me more than Nauvoo. He kept our destination a surprise until a day or two before the wedding when I begged him to tell me so I would know what to pack. A swimsuit? Skis? Nope... I was going to need a hot water bottle and wool socks! I will admit that when Jon told me were going to freezing cold middle-of-nowhere Illinois on our honeymoon that I was a bit dissapointed. I had been thinking of some place W-A-R-M. Yet then when I realized how special Nauvoo was to Jon I warmed up to the idea. And really it turned out to be a wonderful place to go on our honeymoon. One day we spent the WHOLE day in the temple, working our way up from baptisms on the bottom all the way to sealings on the top. The missionaries in the temple were really cute about us. They kept twittering about how were "the newlyweds". There really wasn't any better way to spend the first few days of our marriage than being surrounded by droves of happily married missionary couples.

So, Nauvoo is a special place for us.

This weekend it was really sweet to go back to the place where we started our marriage with four little ones in tow. It really made Jon and I realize how far we have come, and all that we have gone through together, the last several years.


It was also fun to go to Nauvoo this time of year because it isn't very crowed and the leaves on the trees are beautiful. Nauvoo also does a great Halloween celebration they call "Boo"tiful Nauvoo. For years I have heard Jon talk about how much fun Halloween is in Nauvoo. So this year, since we were just a few hours away, we decided to take the kids. They lined the main street in Nauvoo with over 500 pumpkins and had a wonderful "pumpkin walk" up and down the street, with food vendors and trick or treating. The town really came out for it and everyone was dressed up in costumes. Asher was really looking forward to the goblin parade, which ended up being a parade of anyone who wanted to marching down the street in their costumes. Some people really went all out! It was very small townish and very fun.


Loved the empty tomb pumpkin! Though it turns out that this visitor's center should be renamed the "anti-Mormon" visitor's center. Ack!
The kids were excited to get dressed up in their costumes. Abe is going as a mouse this year (re-cycled from last year), Rose is going a gypsy (because they wear lots of  jewelry) and Asher is going as a Jedi (because they carry light-sabers... or in this case pointy sticks).




We had a great time in Nauvoo and got really excited for Halloween. I hope you have a great Halloween this week (if you live in the US) and that you don't forget to celebrate it the very best way-- by honoring the dead. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spending Time in the Scriptures Every Day


In college I had a Bishop who was one of the most spiritually in-tune people I have ever met. He taught us to love the scriptures through his own example. Every morning he would get up at 4 AM to study and pray for an hour. He did this no matter where he was, no matter what time he had gone to bed the night before or what he had to do that day. He always made time for scripture study. I asked him once about it and after a long moment of silence he asked me this, "Heather, what if you knew that the reward for reading your scriptures for 5,000 hours was to see the Savior's face in the flesh? Wouldn't you get up at 4 AM every day too?" 

His words pierced my soul and I realized that if I wanted certain answers or certain spiritual experiences I must put in the work required to get them. I am nowhere near the devotion of my college bishop (yet) but for the last several years I have been consistent about studying my scriptures. Usually I have done my study while my children take their afternoon naps. This has usually been the best time for me because I am awake, alert, and usually have at least an hour of quiet and uninterrupted time. I always make it a point to do my scripture study first thing after I put them down for a nap, before I wash the dishes, before I check my email or change over the laundry. If I don't do it first then I know I will get distracted. For the last five years this pattern has worked for me and I have learned to love-- and devour-- the scriptures.

But... the rhythm of my life has changed.

My oldest two no longer take naps and my babies seem to have opposite napping schedules-- when one is asleep the other is awake. I have tried instituting "quiet time" every day where the younger two nap (hopefully) and the older two play in their rooms by themselves for an hour. Some days it works and other days it  falls apart in pieces. I have found myself getting frustrated that this coveted nap time (aka. "me time") is not as consistent or quiet as it use to be.

So, I have found myself adopting a new scripture study philosophy which comes from my hero, Julie Beck. She said,
 "Many answers to difficult questions are found by reading the scriptures because the scriptures are an aid to revelation.  Insight found in scripture accumulates over time, so it is important to spend some time in the scriptures every day." (Source)

That last little phrase has become my new scripture study mantra:

Spend SOME time in the scriptures EVERY day.  

Spiritual knowledge accumulates little by little, distilling upon your soul like dew from heaven. It is much more valuable to spend a little time in the scriptures every day than it is to spend lots of time in the scriptures once in awhile. Sort of the difference between accumulating your food storage  little by little every week so that you are prepared, versus racing to the store when a tornado warning comes and stockpiling it all at once. With the first way you can live in a state of peace and security knowing your are prepared, while with the second one you are always afraid that some major catastrophe will take you by surprise.

So, no matter how crazy or hectic my days are, I am trying hard to make sure that I have dipped into the scriptures-- for some amount of time-- everyday. Some days this means that I read two verses and call it good,  other days I have a spiritual feast and study for hours, and most days are somewhere in between. The important thing is that I am opening my scriptures every day and showing God I am willing to learn and to receive.

So what works for you? How have you made time to do your scriptures study daily?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ROCKIN' THEIR BABIES {giveaway}



Today I am excited to share the music of Marie Pearson Tarbet. I was put in contact with Marie several months ago and was so touched by the message and the beauty of her songs. Today I want to share with you two of her songs  "Rockin' Their Babies" and the "The Gift". Both of these songs make me cry when I listen to them (so get your tissues).  In fact, as I was typing this post my husband came in to see if I was okay because he'd heard me sobbing.

Yes, I am okay. Just deeply touched.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, and don't forget to the enter the giveaway!





STORY BEHIND ROCKIN’ THEIR BABIES

My oldest daughter came home from 2nd grade one day excited about the “ancestor dolls” they would be making at our public school.  She had to make a paper doll dressed like one of her ancestors and tell the story about that person.  My mind immediately jumped to the stories I had heard growing up—a great great grandfather in the Mormon Battalion, another ancestor was a young boy who knew Joseph Smith.  In the midst of these stories my daughter interrupted me and said, “no no no, it has to be about a girl ancestor.”  This made me stop because I was having a hard time remembering any great heroic stories about my female ancestors and realized I didn’t know enough about them.  After doing some research we settled upon her great great great grandmother who died in childbirth in Nauvoo, leaving her other two young sons.  But there wasn’t much written about her sacrifice.  For months I thought about her as well as all the modern mothers.  Reflecting on all the toddler noses we wipe, and messes we clean and kids we rock and tears we wipe—and no one knows about it!  “Where’s the notoriety?” I thought.  “These women will never be in the history books!”  But then I came to the conclusion that although we are not in the history books, these mothers have all truly made history, and that the recorded story of our society and church would have turned out vastly different without these women.  I realized that God knows about all the sacrifices we make and especially all the women who made the ultimate sacrifice dying while giving birth to another life.  Yes, our contributions are often more private than public, but that’s OK. We are definitely in heaven’s history book, and that’s a pretty important book.



STORY BEHIND THE GIFT
About 6 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was shocked because I thought this should only happen to older women and definitely not to me.  My three kids were still in elementary school.  After the initial diagnosis I felt kind of like an onion with lots of lots of layers that keep peeling off.  I had been so busy running here and there, doing the this and that of things I felt were so important. Suddenly all those layers of my life kept peeling off and peeling off until I was left with just the core of myself.  I realized that only one thing mattered to me anymore and that was that I wanted to live—but NOT just to live so I could go out and do all the things I wanted to do.  I wanted to live so I could be there for my three beautiful children and husband.  Family.  That was it. For me, I came to the conclusion that living is not the greatest gift, but being able to live so I could serve those I love is the greatest gift.  This youtube video features pictures from my family and others friends I have that are cancer survivors.  Celebrate your reasons to live!


Marie Pearson Tarbet is one half of the brother/sister duo The Pearsons.  She and her brother Larry are singer songwriters with a style all their own! They’re known for their diverse songwriting, memorable melodies, and lyrics that offer a candid view into the soul. Marie is a 2 time breast cancer survivor and their song “The Gift” has been performed at Susan Koman Race For the Cure and multiple American Cancer society fundraisers throughout Southern California. You may hear Marie’s familiar voice on many national voice overs. She has also been a speaker at BYU women's conference and this spring Deseret Book will publish a book that includes one of her speeches.  Marie and her husband are the parents of three children and live in Southern California.

Giveaway!

Today Marie is giving TWO of my lucky  readers copies of BOTH her CDs "There She Goes" and "'Til It Storms". If you would like to enter the giveaway please do one (or all) of the following:

1. Leave me a comment telling me which song touched your heart the most and why.

2. Like The Pearsons on Facebook

3. Share one Marie's songs on Facebook, Twitter, your blog or any other social media site you can think of.

Please leave me a comment letting me know which ones you did. The giveaway will be open until Tuesday, October 22nd at Midnight.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Perks of Having a Rich Dad

I was eight months pregnant with Tabitha when the royals, William and Kate, had their royal baby. At the time I was nesting and trying to carve out a space in our house for the new baby. Babies don't really need very much, but the one thing I really needed was a new dresser to put the baby's clothes in. We were already short on dressers, only having two (and a half) dressers for five people, and I didn't know where I was going to squeeze in more clothes. I really wanted to buy one but we have been trying to stay on a strict budget and there was no extra money for a dresser. I'd been asking around if people had extra ones they wanted to get rid of and checking cragislist for free or very cheap ones, but nothing had come up. I decided to make do by just putting some of her clothes in a basket on my nightstand.

As I read the news about William and Kate's baby I couldn't help but be a little jealous. "It just isn't fair," I told myself, "I bet they have a dresser for their baby, probably even three or four. Why does my baby only get a basket?"  In that moment it seemed supremely unfair to me that I was not a princess and that I didn't have royally rich parents who could buy my baby whatever I wanted.

Then I remembered something that my beautiful friend Felice wrote on her blog:
 "Lately I have been realizing that I do have a rich dad--he owns the whole world. And when your dad is rich, you don't really have to worry. He can support me, but only if I let him."
There isn't anyone I know who is better at trusting the Lord than my friend Felice. She has taught me so much about turning your life over to the Lord and letting Him support you. So the truth of her words really resonated with my heart.

It is so easy to forget that, as a literal child of God, I really am a princess and I do have royally rich parents. In fact, their riches make the combined wealth of all the billionaires, nations, and stock markets in the world look like pocket change.

Felice's words reminded me that if I wanted-- or needed-- a dresser that all I had to do was ask my Dad for one and be patient.

So I asked. 

But nothing came.

Then two weeks after Tabitha was born Jon suggested we take a family drive to "the beach" ( a big sandbar by the river). I was still in the "wear PJs all day" stage of my postpartum recovery and so Jon wasn't expecting me to go. Yet, for some reason going sounded like a really good idea. So I changed out of my PJs, we loaded up the kids into the car, and headed out to the beach.





On the way home we drove past a house and there, out on the curb, was my dresser.  I screamed in joy and made Jon stop.  It was free and so we loaded it up right then and there and took it home.


It is sort of ugly, but it is in really good condition. A coat or two of paint and it will be exactly what I wanted.

I know that some people would just call this a happy coincidence or good luck... and perhaps it was.

Yet I can't help but feel that it was a gift from my Dad. A Dad who knows, perfectly, what I need and what I want. A Dad who controls the elements, determines the fate of nations, and holds the universe in the palm of His hands. A Dad who is capable of taking care of me, and providing for every desire of my heart, if I will only allow Him to. 
"Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?" Luke 12:27-28
I have been getting the dresser ready to paint and working on it is bringing me a lot of joy. It is a sweet reminder to me that God knows me and listens to my prayers. And if He listens to me about something as seemingly insignificant as an extra dresser, how much more does He listen when my needs are really significant?

Remembering this has helped me learn to let go. To let go of my preconceived notions about what I need and what I want and to  trust God. It is sometimes scary and but I am-- slowly-- learning that He knows what I need better than I do.

And let me tell you, there are some real perks of having a rich Dad.

So don't be afraid to ask.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's Not About the Priesthood: What LDS Women Really Want

"And if thou wilt inquire, thou shalt know mysteries which are great and marvelous; therefore thou shalt exercise thy gift, that thou mayest find out mysteries"   D&C 6:11 


Last Saturday was the General Relief Society meeting for the LDS church. I was moved by each of the talks but the part of the meeting that really touched my soul was the end. The closing prayer was given by a member of the General Relief Society board. Usually I don't pay much attention to what is said in prayers (sad, but true) but the tone of her prayer was so heartfelt it caught my attention. Her last petition pierced my soul.
"Help us gain a greater understanding of our mission on this earth as thy daughters in these Later-days."
As she spoke those words my soul shouted, "Yes! Yes! Yes! That is the prayer of my heart too." 

It almost made me cry to think that here, in front of the whole world and in front of our almighty God, this sister was praying the prayer of my heart.

But I don't think it is just the prayer of my heart. I think it is the prayer of hundreds of thousands of LDS women around the world. As I have listened to women I have felt that many of us are hungry-- ravenously hungry-- for more understanding about who we are and what our mission is on the earth. It isn't that we are dissatisfied with our faith, it isn't that we feel unequal or left out, and it isn't that we want to be ordained to the priesthood. We are just ready for MORE.

More light. More understanding. More truth. 

I think this hunger is what is driving things like the Ordain Women movement and other religious feminist movements. They clamor for the priesthood thinking that it will fill the hungry void, but it won't.

Priesthood is something that is given to priests. A priest is a man. We are not priests.

We are priestesses, and what we really want is priestesshood.

In Daughters in My Kingdom it reads,  "As President Joseph Fielding Smith, the tenth President of the Church, stated, “It is within the privilege of the sisters of this Church to receive exaltation in the kingdom of God and receive authority and power as queens and priestesses.”

Also, Bathsheba W. Smith, the fourth general president of the Relief Society, who was present at the organization of the Relief Society taught that the Prophet Joseph Smith,  “wanted to make us, as the women were in Paul’s day, ‘A Kingdom of priestesses' ” Source

The truth is that the Lord has already given women a great place in His kingdom. He has given us priestesshood. The thing is we don't fully understand what it is that we have. We don't fully understand or comprehend our power.

Nor have we yet caught the vision of what the Lord really needs His daughters to be doing on this earth. As Julie Beck, the former president of the Relief Society, said, "What the Lord envisioned regarding... Relief Societies has not yet been fully utilized. Many... Relief Societies are at present much like sleeping giants waiting for you to breathe new life into them."Source  We have much knowledge and much direction, but we still don't fully understand the magnitude of who we are and what we are capable of.

And that is what we are hungering to know.
 
So how do we get it?

By protesting? By writing letters? Through agitation? By shows of solidarity and social media? 

I don't think so.

The sister who prayed in the General Relief Society meeting laid out in her prayer what it is we need to do if we want to gain more. She petitioned the Lord to, "Bless us with a greater desire to understand and keep our covenants, a greater desire to not only read but search the scriptures, to have the confidence to ask thee with greater intent and greater faith, knowing that an answer is sure." 

If we want more understanding we need to be using our energy to understand-- really understand-- and keep our baptismal and temple covenants. We need to be reading and studying our scriptures everyday, and we need to be asking God, with greater intent and greater faith, for more light and knowledge. Revelation only comes to those who ask.

Still, we need to remember that God knows what we need better than we do. Sometimes I think He laughs when we get worked up and ask Him for something that looks like this


When He is just waiting-- and wanting-- to give us this


He can fill our hunger, more abundantly than we ever dreamed, but it takes work on our part. To gain a greater understanding of our mission on this earth as daughters of God we must constantly be working to align our wills with the will of God. We must be willing to let go of what we think we need and what we think we want and let Him feed us.

The additional light and knowledge so many of us hunger and thirst after is coming-- to us as individuals and as a church--we just have to be ready to receive it.