Friday, November 21, 2014

Win A FREE Subscription to LDS Living Magazine

I have an early Christmas gift for you!

I was contacted by LDS Living Magazine a few weeks ago. I have never had a subscription to this magazine, but my Dentist in Utah always had it in his waiting room and it was my favorite thing to read. It isn't a magazine that focuses so much on LDS doctrine, but more LDS culture and perspectives. It is a fun magazine and has a good mixture of practical ideas, inspirational stories, and even sometimes tackles hard topics.

They have a promotion going right now that if you subscribe anytime between now and the end of the year, you can get a whole year’s subscription for only $12.00! Giving magazine subscriptions for gifts is a really fun idea. A few years ago we got a subscription to National Geographic as a gift and it was the best. A monthly (or bi-monthly in this case) reminder that someone loved us. 

But now the best part! 

LDS Living Magazine wants to giveaway a year subscription to their magazine to one of my readers for FREE. If you are interested in entering please use the form below. The giveaway will be open for a week.

Merry {early}Christmas to one lucky reader!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

God Knows the Desires of your Heart... Promise

I was scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook feed tonight when I happened on this news article posted by a friend and my heart skipped a beat.

I hungrily read through the article, which talks about how CES (the Church Educational System for the LDS Church) just recently changed its policy and will now hire female teachers with children. By the time I reached the end of the article I didn't know if I should do a cartwheel out of joy, or curl up on the couch and bawl.

You see, eight years ago I was a newly married college student at BYU. Jon was still trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life and so he figured he'd give the idea of teaching seminary a go. Together we signed up for the first Seminary Teacher Training class. While Jon enjoyed the class it quickly became apparent to him that being a Seminary teacher wasn't what he wanted to do (there was no way he'd be able to wear a suit and tie every day). Me on the other hand, I was enthralled. I discovered that I LOVED teaching, and that I was really good at it. When the class ended I signed up for the second Seminary teaching class and loved that one as well. I got to do  two weeks of student teaching in a Jr. High and absolutely loved it. I couldn't think of anything better than having a job where you got PAID to study and teach the scriptures.

The teacher had let us know, early on in the class, that CES's current policy was that they didn't hire women who had school aged children. I could tell he felt really uncomfortable telling us this, but he didn't try to make up any excuses or explain why the policy was like this-- which I appreciated. He simply told us that in the history of CES the policy had changed multiple times, but that right now that is what the policy was-- it was what it was.

This was hard news for me to swallow.

By that time Jon and I were already wanting children, but I'd had some health challenges and a baby wasn't coming as easily as we'd hoped. I didn't know what the future held for me and so I continued with the classes, having faith that if this was the right thing for me to do it would all work out. The process of getting hired as a full-time CES teacher is challenging and lengthy. It requires a year long student teaching in a classroom and an interview with a General Authority. There are hundreds of students who apply for the student teaching positions, and very few who actually get selected for the opportunity to do one. So, when our teacher had us fill out a sheet asking us if we were interested in pursing that path, I filled in the boxes saying "Yes" I wanted to be considered for a student teaching position, but I wasn't really expecting anything to come of it.

The semester ended and Jon and I graduated together. Not long after, Jon and I found out that we were expecting Asher, our first baby. I was thrilled. God had worked a miracle in my heart during the months that I'd struggled to conceive and I knew there was nothing that I could do with my life that was more important than being a mother. It had never been in my life plan, but God had let me know that He wanted me to stay-at-home with my children. This wasn't an easy thing for me to accept. I argued with Him that there were too many things I wanted to do, and that I would be completely wasted if I stayed at home with babies. Yet, even as I argued I felt His firm and gentle reassurance that He knew the desires of my heart and that He would give me opportunities to do everything I dreamed of.

So I trusted Him. I stopped sending in applications to Graduate schools (it helped that I completely bombed the GRE) and started to settle into the idea of being a stay-at-home mom.

A few months after graduation I got a call from my Seminary Training teacher at BYU letting me know that I'd been selected for the year long seminary teaching position. I was thrilled and really wanted to accept the opportunity. Yet, I also knew that I was pregnant and that once I had my son I would no longer be qualified to be considered for a full-time CES position. It didn't seem right to me to accept the opportunity knowing that I wouldn't be hired, when someone else (who really could be hired) might benefit more from the opportunity. I explained this to my teacher and he, very kindly, said he understood and wished me the very best.

I remember hanging up that phone and feeling a strange mixture of sadness and happiness. There was a part of me that was really sad, because I'd just had to pass up a shot at my dream job because I was pregnant. I knew that a chance like the one I'd just turned down didn't come around very often. Yet, there was a part of me that was happy because I knew-- deep deep in my soul-- that I was suppose to stay home with my children and that home was were God wanted and needed me.

It wasn't long after I passed up the Seminary teaching job that I got the prompting and inspiration to start this blog about the women in the scriptures. I felt inadequate to tackle such a huge topic, but I'd learned in my Seminary teaching classes that I was good at teaching. I figured I could just teach online what I'd learned in my personal scripture study and bear my testimony, just like I would have in a real class. This blog started out really small and simple, but has grown into something I never ever dreamed it would. I have "met" people from all over the world, have seen my words change and influence people, and have gained insights and knowledge that I know came directly from Heavenly Father. The Lord has done more with me than I ever imagined he would, and it has been incredible.

But as I read through that news article tonight there was a part of me crying and questioning, "But couldn't I have had them both?" I feel a bit like I did when I heard the news about the missionary age being lowered, sad for what could have been, but happy that other women will have opportunities I didn't get.

But then, I think about where my life has taken me and I wouldn't trade it for anything. The Lord knew the desires of my heart and made them happen in a way much better than I could have ever dreamed. He knew what I wanted better than I knew what I wanted.

But do you know the best part?

I moved to Iowa and got called to teach Seminary. When I got the phone call from the High Councilman extending the call I was speechless, literally. After I hung up the phone I just sat on my bed stunned, and felt a wave of the spirit sweep over me, like God was saying "See, didn't I tell you?" Receiving that calling felt like a great big giant hug from my Heavenly Father; a testament to me that He knew the sacrifices I had made to do what He said. A testament to me that He knew my heart, that He cared about my dreams, and He would make them come true.

I know that God is aware of each of us. Even in the times when things don't seem fair, or life doesn't turn out how we imagined, I just want you to know that He sees you. He hears your prayers and knows the desires of your heart and, often in ways you never dreamed of,  He will make them happen... promise.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Book Release and Launch Party Events! Woo hoo, woo hoo!

"Walking with the Women of the New Testament" is officially released!

{Big cheer... followed by a sigh of relief... and then another big cheer}

Many of the people who pre-ordered the book have already gotten their copies and I have been hearing such good feedback about it. Which makes me so happy. My good friend texted me a few days ago and told me that she bawled through the introduction, which was just about the best compliment I could have ever gotten!

I am so happy with how it turned out, and am so excited for people to read it and learn about the amazing women of the New Testament. Mandy and I put together this trailer for the book and it gives you a bit of a sneak peak inside the book. Mandy really did such an incredible job with the artwork.

I also want to invite you to our book launch party!

 I will be in Utah for Thanksgiving and so Mandy and I will be hosting a party in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah to celebrate our book and you are all invited.  It will be on Saturday, November 29th from 6- 9PM, and if you are interested in coming you can see all the details on our Facebook event page.

I will also be doing a book signing and hosting a discussion about the women of the New Testament  at Zion's Books in Provo, Utah on Tuesday, November 25th at 7PM. You can follow their Facebook page for the forthcoming details. 

Also, my book blog tour will be November 16th- November 30th and I will be sharing the links on my Facebook page so that you can join in the excitement. I am really excited-- and terrified-- to hear what people think about it.

Mostly, I am so excited for you to read my book, and if you can make it to one of the events I'd love to meet you and sign it  for you! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

FREE Study Guide for Women in the New Testament!

I am very excited to share the project that I have been working on the last few months. I've wanted to do something like this for a long time and I am so excited it is ready!

I've put together study guides to go along with my new book, "Walking with the Women of the New Testament." I had the help of Heidi from A Lively Hope and they turned out wonderful.
Click on picture to order a copy
Click on picture to order a copy

 Each study guide contains three pages about each woman (or group of women) in the New Testament. The first page lists the scripture references and space for you to record what you learn while you read. The second page provides lots of room for you to record other thoughts and questions you had or things you learned as you studied. On the third page I have provided questions for additional study, prompts and study suggestions that should help you make your study of these women more effective and meaningful.  Here are the study pages for Mary, the mother of Jesus.

There were too many women to put them all into one study guide so I broke it up into two. Volume one covers all the women in the four Gospels (Matthew- John) and Volume 2 covers all the women in the epistles (Acts- Revelations). They are both about 100 pages long.

Each study guide also contains additional study pages in the back that you can photo copy and paste into your study guide as you study individual women. There are pages for you to do a compare and contrast, a character/topic sketch, a storyboard, a timeline, and blank map pages. I have also included a bookmark with study prompts that you can print off and put in your scriptures (if you make it smaller) or in your study guide. Here is just a sample of some of the additional pages.

I am really excited about these and so excited for people to starting using them and getting to know these New Testament women for themselves. I won't lie and say I don't want you to buy my book and read my thoughts, because I do. Yet, even more than that I want you to open up your scriptures and come to know these women like I know them... as good friends and as your sisters in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So I hope you will take advantage of all the work I have done and begin your own study.

The study guides are available in print form for $9.99 through Amazon  (volume 1 here) (volume 2 here). Or you can also download them as  PDFs and print them off yourself for $4.99 (volume 1 here) (volume 2 here). Just a note: the covers for the PDF version are different than the printed version.

But here is the best part!

If you sign-up for my newsletter (see the box on the right side bar of my blog) I will send you a FREE copy of the first study guide -- the one that covers the women in the gospels-- for you to download and print off.

So go sign up right now! 

The study guides are designed to work in conjunction with my book, but if you don't have it you will still be able to use it. Though, if you have my book I think you will find it enhances your study. I also hope that after you finish the women in the gospels you won't stop there but will keep going and study the women in the epistles too.

I'd also really appreciate people spreading the word about these study guides as well. This next year in Sunday School we will be studying the New Testament. I am hoping that if more people (women and men) have spent time studying the women in the New Testament that there will be more conversations all over the church about Christ's teaching for and about women, and about women's roles and responsibilities in the early Christian church.

The New Testament teaches many important truths about women and our role in Christ's work, and I think that this knowledge is one that both men and women in the church desperately need right now. There is so much that is made clear when you study the scriptures with your eyes open to the women within their pages. I am hoping that my book and these study guides will help open up people's eyes and help them learn to SEE women, because they are there, and their stories are so relevant to our day.

So, go sign up for my newsletter, order your a copies of the study guides, and then share the word. Let's get these women's stories shouted from the rooftops this year!