Friday, March 20, 2015

The Women of Zion's Camp

"Zion's Camp" by C.C. Christensen
I teach online Seminary for our Stake, for those kids who live too far away to attend early morning Seminary. This year we are studying the Doctrine and Covenants and last week we studied the sections 103-105, that deal with the history of Zion's Camp. Zion's Camp was an army organized by the prophet Joseph Smith to march from Kirtland, Ohio to Independence, Missouri to assist the Saints that had been attacked there and to reclaim the land that had been confiscated by mobs. The army was not large, around 200 men, and they endured many trials on their 900 mile trek, including lack of fresh water, food, persecution, and cholera.

In the end divisions within the camp prompted a revelation from the Lord that told them that they would not be able to redeem Zion. Many of them returned to Ohio without the opportunity to fight for their lands. Despite the disappointment the journey was a powerful spiritual experience for many of the participants. As author Andrea G. Radke wrote:
"While considered a failure in its ultimate goal of reclaiming lost lands and relieving the heavy persecutions in Missouri Zion's Camp has been seen as a historical turning point for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from the members of Zion's Camp Joseph Smith drew a majority of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the whole of the First Quorum of the Seventy. The hardships of the 1834 Missouri expedition provided important enduring legacies uniting its members in a stronger loyalty to Joseph Smith and other leaders, solidifying the participants dedication to the church's cause, and schooling young leaders in the organizational skills necessary to move masses of people."  (Source)
 I have often thought of the women and children who were left behind in Ohio as their husband's and son's (and most of the church leadership) went with Zion's Camp, and how they must have struggled to hold things together back in Kirtland. Yet I was surprised as I studied the history of Zion's Camp this time to learn that there were at least 12 women and 7 children who also traveled with the camp.

Map of Zion Camp's march, nearly 900 miles one way. They were given D&C 105, in which they were told Zion would not be redeemed,  on the banks of the Fishing River. Only about 20 miles from their destination.

I think we forget that throughout history women have often traveled with armies and military campaigns, often in the rear of the army as cooks, laundresses, and nurses. This is true of just about all wars throughout history. Remembering this fact can help you learn to "see" the women in the wars of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. There were almost always women who traveled with armies and military campaigns, but you rarely ever hear about them.

Yet,  the women of Zion's Camp are unique in that while they probably did assist with the cooking and the laundry it doesn't seem to be their main reason for being included. In fact, Joseph Holbrook, who traveled with his wife and two small daughters, wrote about an interesting experience that the women of Zion's Camp had shortly before the camp made its way into Missouri. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Yes, Virginia, Girls have Priesthood Power too

Last Sunday I substituted in Primary, the 6 and 7-year-old class. Our lesson was on the priesthood and its blessings. I started my lesson by making pinwheels with the children and talking about how there are powers (like wind) that you can't see but still have the ability to do powerful things. I then moved into making the example about how God's priesthood power is similar.  It isn't something we can see with our eyes, but that we can feel it and see it by watching what it does.

Not long into our discussion of priesthood a sweet little red-headed girl beside me pipped up and exclaimed, "Well, that isn't something girls get. I won't ever get the priesthood."

She said this matter of factually, without any trace of anger or disappointment, but there was something in my spirit that rose to the surface. I heard the unspoken question in her voice and knew I couldn't let this remark slide by. So I looked her straight in the eyes and said, "That isn't true."

She perked up and looked at me curiously as I continued, "The priesthood is God's power, and it is all around you.  It is the power that makes the sun shine, the power that makes flowers grow, rain to fall, gravity to work; it is the power that helps you learn and helps you know that things are true or not true, it is the power that answers prayers and makes miracles happen. It is the most powerful power in the entire world and God gives it to both boys and girls. "

By this time I had the whole class's rapt attention. 

"Boys and girls are different and because they are different they use priesthood power in different ways. Boys get ordained to a priesthood office and can do things like baptize and pass the sacrament, because those are the priesthood jobs that God has given to them."  Then I looked down into her sweet little face and asked, "Can you think of any ways that girls use priesthood power too?" 

She thought for a moment and was just about to shake her head "no" when a smile spread across her face, "Girls get to go on missions!" she exclaimed.

"Right", I responded back, "and don't you think that Sister Missionaries need God's power to help them teach people, to help them answer people's prayers, and to do miracles." She nodded her head enthusiastically.

I turned to another little girl, whose mother was pregnant, and asked her, "What is your mom growing right now inside of her body?"

"A baby boy." 

"And do you think that God is helping her to grow that baby? She nodded her head slightly. "Your right He is. He is helping her.  He is giving her power to make a new person, and God's power is priesthood power." I saw comprehension dawn on her little face and a smile come to her eyes.

I turned to the whole class and asked, "And what about the Primary president? Do you think that God gives her power to help know how to teach and take care of all the children in primary?"

As I talked I felt the spirit washing over me in waves and I knew that this was important for these children-- boys and girls-- to understand. I picked back up my lesson book and started to hand out coloring pictures of ways in which men use the priesthood power, a father blessing his baby, a boy passing the sacrament, and men giving a blessing. As I handed them the pictures I explained,

"Today our lesson is going to be about how boys use the priesthood power, because it is really important. We need the priesthood ordinances, like baptism, to return to our Heavenly Father and God has given  boys the very important job of administering ordinances. Heavenly Father has also given girls important jobs and power too, but today we are focusing on how boys use God's power to bless others."

Later that afternoon, as I thought about the conversation I'd had in Primary with those children about women and the priesthood, I started to worry. I didn't feel like I had said anything that wasn't true, and the spirit had been strong in that little classroom, but still I worried. I envisioned a situation in which they went home and told their parents that their primary teacher had told them that girls had the priesthood too.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spring Break for Women! Win a Free Ticket

I am really excited about this giveaway today!

I am giving away TWO free tickets to a new event called Spring Break for Women which will be held in Brigham City, Utah on April 25, 2015 at Box Elder High School. Similar to Time Out for Women, this event will feature some amazing speakers and entertainment, giving LDS women an uplifting day of fun and learning.

And guess who is going to be the keynote speaker?


I will be speaking for an hour, and I am so excited. I have been working on my presentation and I have to say it is going to be wonderful. The one thing about writing a book is that as soon as it is published, you think of 100 more things you could have said. So I'm  excited for this opportunity to share my love of the scriptures and my testimony, and say some of those things I didn't put in the book!

In addition to me Ashlee Birk from The Moments We Stand (who has the most incredible story), Daniel Bay Gibbons (a fantastic person) and Troy Christensen, (a.k.a. the Color Guy) will also be speaking. The entertainment for the day will be provided by Mike Bearden from Voice Male.

This is an event you won’t want to miss!  It promises to be a wonderful day, that will uplift and inspire you.

Mark your calendars and head over HERE to get your tickets. It’s JUST $49 to attend the entire day!

Or try your luck at winning a free ticket,  I am giving away two!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is going to be a great event, and so if you are in Utah or Idaho I hope you come so I can meet you!

And if you bring your books I will sign them!