Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why You Won't Want to Miss the General Women's Meeting this Weekend

I am so excited for the FIRST ever General Woman's Meeting this Saturday. For the first time women from the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary will all be meeting together for the first session of General Conference.

It is going to be a historic meeting!

When I heard that that they were going to change the meeting to include all women (ages 8 and older) it made me so happy. About a year ago I was asked to give a presentation on women in the scriptures to a group of Young Women. As I was praying about what I should speak to them about it really struck me that these young women needed to know that they were already  a part of Relief Society. I felt really strongly that they needed to know that Young Women's was NOT something separate from Relief Society but that it was preparing them to assume the responsibilities that God expected them to perform as members of the  Relief Society. I also felt that they needed to know that  the Relief Society-- like the priesthood quorums of the church-- was an ancient organization.

As I have been studying the New Testament I have realized that we have lots of evidences that when Christ organized his church on the earth he also organized the women-- an ancient Relief Society-- whose purpose was to develop holy women and to help bring forth the great priesthood mission of the earth. In fact, the prophet Joseph Smith taught that,
“The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized.” (Sarah Granger Kimball, “Auto-biography,” Woman’s Exponent, Sept. 1, 1883, p. 51.) 
Sister Eliza R. Snow, the second president of the Relief Society, repeated this teaching when she said,
  “Although the name may be of modern date, the institution is of ancient origin. We were told by our martyred prophet that the same organization existed in the church anciently.” (Eliza R. Snow, “Female Relief Society,” Deseret News, Apr. 22, 1868, 1)
Not only is Relief Society an ancient organization, patterned after the way Christ organized women in his church, but it is, in fact, the female quorum of the church.  President Spencer W. Kimball taught that ,
“The Relief Society is the Lord’s organization for women. It complements the priesthood training given to the brethren.”  
and Sister Julie B. Beck taught,

"The word society has a meaning nearly identical to that of quorum. It connotes “an enduring and cooperating . . . group” distinguished by its common aims and beliefs. When Joseph Smith organized the sisters, he told them that “there should be a select society, separate from all the evils of the world, choice, virtuous, and holy.” President Joseph F. Smith taught that Relief Society has its own unique identity and that it was “divinely made, divinely authorized, divinely instituted, divinely ordained of God to minister for the salvation of the souls of women and men.” (from "Why we are Organized into Quorums and  Relief Societies")

The Young Women's organization is the preparatory program to enter Relief Society, just like the Aaronic priesthood organization is preparatory for the young men to enter Elder's quorum. In fact, if you think back to what the ancient Relief Society would have looked like it certainly would have included young women. Right now our definition of when a young women enters Relief Society is based off her turning 18, the age in many Western societies when children are considered adults. Yet, anciently women were married around age 14, and by the age of 18 might already have had a husband and several children. This means that Relief Society of Christ's time probably would have included both young women and mature women.

So it is exciting to me to see that General Conference this year is expanding to include both the Young Women and the Relief Society women (and the primary girls!) in one meeting-- and unified under one purpose.

 It will truly be a meeting of all God's holy women. 

I promise you won't want to miss it! 

If you want you can watch it live on Saturday by following this link

Friday, March 7, 2014

Five Things for Friday, Book Update and Neverending Winter Edition




I am convinced winter is never going to end.

It has been a long and oh, so very, very cold winter.  And I don't know if I can take much more of it. I thought I was tough, but this winter has been so cold. We've had almost two months where the temperature has hardly risen above zero!  Last week I looked at the forecast and just about bawled. The high was 10 degrees! This week has been a bit better. Today it hit 30 degrees and it felt like a tropical paradise, which is kind of sad.

I am so ready for spring.

Still, I do have hope that it might not be too far away because I have noticed that the birds are back in our trees. We now have the most delightful group of robins living in our front yard, and a family of sparrows are now inhabiting our barn and the bird house in our yard. Also, the kids and I opened up the car doors yesterday and the waft that reached our noses told us that spring really must be right around the corner because... the skunk is awake.

A fragrant reminder that winter won't last forever.


I had a few people ask me how my book on New Testament women is coming along and I am happy to report that I am about  2/3rds the way done! It has turned out to be a bigger job than I first expected. Mainly because my editor and I decided that, since I have written about so many of the women in the New Testament,  it would be a shame not to just write about ALL of them.

So I am.

My book is going to be called, "All the Women in the New Testament" ... or something close to that. I am really excited about it! I have gotten so much inspiration and guidance as I have been writing about these women, and I know it is going to be such a blessing to people to have all these women's stories in one place. It is going to be a great resource for anyone studying the New Testament. Also, the pictures are turning out SO beautiful. Mandy is working on the cover images right now, so hopefully in a few weeks we will have a sneak peak to show you. I am getting really excited to see the finished product.

Now, to just to get it all done!  The Lord has blessed me with a big burst of energy the last few weeks, but I just hope that it keeps up because I still have about 15 more women to write!  If you want to say a little prayer for me I wouldn't mind getting all the help I can.


A few weeks ago I started taking pictures for a  post about our homeschooling routine. For the last four or five months we have had a really great schedule going, and I was feeling so good about how our system was working, that I couldn't wait to share it. Then all of sudden everything fell apart. About mid-February the kids didn't want to do anything even semi-school related. Our schedule went out the door, their were tears, arguments and "I'm bored" became the most common phrase in our house. I wasn't too worried though, I'd been warned by veteran homeschoolers that this burnout happens to EVERYONE in February, so I was prepared for it. I decided to reign back our schedule, toss out academic stuff, and just do activities. 

A topographical map of Mexico out of paper and glue
Scaling back seemed to work pretty well. We spent a few days going through dinosaur books and classifying and naming all he dinosaurs in the boy's collection. We made passports and used the Friend Magazine's Friends Around the World activities to study new countries. Asher and Rose started taking piano lessons. We put on a few puppet shows. We painted, drew, sculpted, and scribbled. We cooked and baked. We read "By the Banks of Plum Creek". We played in the snow. We watched movies.  We made up stories. And we played with LEGOs.

Lots of LEGOs.

But I am running out of ideas, and I still have several more weeks till this endless winter ends. We are getting bored. I'd love to hear what other people have been doing to beat the "cabin fever" and "homeschool funk"!


Like I mentioned we have been playing lots of LEGOs. In fact, can I just say that who ever invented LEGOs should be knighted, maybe even sainted. I honestly don't know how pioneer moms made it through the winter in one room log cabins without LEGOs. They are just about the best toy in the world.

One of our favorite things has been to make stop-motion LEGO movies with the Lego Movie Maker App. It is a really awesome app... and it is free! Asher and I have made some pretty epic videos together. These two our our best I think.


Oh, and look who can sit up now!

Isn't she a doll?  I'm totally addicted to kissing those little cheeks.

I hope you have the most wonderful weekend!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women

I was recently invited to review Alonzo L. Gaskill's new book "The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women." The title really intrigued me and I figured that this book would be right up my alley.

And it was.

This book isn't very long, only 112 pages. The first part of the book is Gaskill's introduction and the historical background behind the "Lost Teachings of Jesus." Out of everything in the book, I loved the history part the best. In fact I would have loved to have twenty more pages of the book dealing with it, but that is just the history nut in me. The text that Gaskill shares is taken from a manuscript brought from India in the late 1800's. A scholar named Nicholas Notovitch visited a Buddhist monastery there and learned of the existence of very old documents they had which contained the teachings of Jesus. In his book Gaskill explained:
"According to the monks, the content of these ancient texts was acquired by some Indian merchants who had been in Judea during the last year of Jesus's mortal ministry. Shortly after Christ's crucifixion, these itinerant importers returned to their homeland and told of the truths they had seen and heard. Within three or four years of Christ's death, the testimonies of those eye witnesses regarding Christ were recorded. Consequently, if their reports are true, then their record of Jesus's teachings was penned before any of the four Gospels." (Pg. 6)
This was just fascinating to me because I have often thought that there must be other accounts and records of Jesus Christ scattered across the world that we have yet to discover, or which have been lost. In fact, as Latter-day Saints we know there are additional records about Christ's teachings that we don't have yet, but someday will (see 2 Nephi 29:11-14). This book gave me a little glimpse into what those other books might contain, and it was exciting to see that among those teachings were beautiful truths about women.

These teachings were even more meaningful for me because for the last few months I have been engrossed in writing my book about New Testament women. As I have been studying and writing about the women in the New Testament I have felt, several times, that we must have lost something really important about Christ's interactions and his teachings about women.  There are many beautiful truths-- and  many more "bread crumbs" of truth-- about women throughout the New Testament, but it seems like there is something big missing. So reading these Lost Teachings was a great validation of my feelings, because I think they indicate that Christ probably did teach much more about women than just what we have in the New Testament. Which was really exciting to me.

The second half of Gaskill's book was his commentary on the content of the Lost Teachings. I enjoyed many parts of his commentary and appreciated how he drew on quotes from the prophets and apostles to show that, whether or not Jesus actually said these things, the truths contained in the Lost Teachings are supported by modern day revelation. I felt that was a really powerful part of his book. I also appreciated his attention to how these teaching apply to both women and men. Too often when we teach about women we forget that those teachings also apply to men. I appreciated that Gaskill made it a point to speak to men, as well as women.

On the other hand, I felt at times his commentary lacked the depth I was hungering for. There were a few times when he seemed to skim over the surface of the teaching, peppering it with quotes from General Authorities, when I would have liked to have dove deeper into the meat of it.  For example here are some  of my favorite verses from the Lost Teachings,
" The wife and mother are the inappreciable treasures given unto you by God. They are the fairest ornaments of existence, and of them shall be born all the inhabitants of the earth... 
...woman being for you the temple wherein you will most earnestly obtain perfect happiness." (verse 16, 18)
How awesome is it that Christ calls women a TEMPLE, through which we obtain perfect happiness! That just made my little heart about jump out of my chest. I felt like this was one of the times where I would have loved to have seen more in depth analysis from Gaskill, or hear more of his own ideas. For me the verse brought up a myriad of ideas about what it means to me-- as a woman-- to have  Christ call me a "temple" and say that it is IN me that perfect (which is often the word that God uses to mean "eternally complete") happiness is obtained..

That just made a whole bunch of happy buttons go off in my heart!

These Lost Teachings really did more for me than just validate that modern day prophets teachings about how important women are in God's plan are true. Instead, they really helped illuminate and deepen my understanding of how God sees women.  In fact, when I first read through the Lost Teachings I had little light bulbs going off in my head left and right, and made Jon sit down and listen to me read the whole thing to him (there are 21 verses) and listen to my excited rambling.

Poor Guy.

But I guess he is used to it....

Overall, I enjoyed this book and loved learning more about the Lost Teachings of Jesus. I also appreciated how it acted as a spring boarded to help me think about Christ's interactions with women differently.  I am looking forward to reading some of Alonzo Gaskilll's other books. My friend promised me I would love his other book, "The Lost Language of Symbolism", and so I will have to round up that one soon.

If you are interested in getting a copy of  "The Lost Teachings of Jesus on the Sacred Place of Women" you can  buy it on Amazon right now for only $11.99! It would also make a great Mother Day's gift... because it is only two months away ;)

You can also keep abreast of all of Alonzo Gaskill's latest news by following his blog, and if you haven't read this post by him... you might just be fascinated.