Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Ancient "Relief Society" of the New Testament

Samaritan Women by Mandy Jane Williams

When was the last time you opened up your copy of "Daughters in My Kingdom", the book about the history of the Relief Society?

If it has been awhile then you should go and grab yours off the shelf and open up to the the first chapter. I want you to notice that the title of this chapter is called, "Relief Society: A Restoration of an Ancient Pattern", meaning that the Relief Society is not a modern organization. It is something that has existed every time that God's church has been organized on the earth. As Lorenzo Snow, the fifth president of the church, taught,
“You [ Relief Society sisters] have ever been found at the side of the Priesthood, ready to strengthen their hands and to do your part in helping to advance the interests of the kingdom of God." 

The history of the Relief Society, doesn't begin with the women in Nauvoo when Joseph Smith organized the women there. It begins with the women of the New Testament, the ancient "Relief Society". It was Christ who organized it, set its mission, endowed women with power, and enlisted their aid in doing His sacred work. Women were involved then, just as women are involved now.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

"Relief" Society vs. "Fix-it" Society By Amy

These words by Amy really resonated with me and helped me think about the ways I try to "fix" things that I can't. There is some real wisdom in her words and I hope you learn from her. And, by the way, I didn't tell her to put my book as her favorite... though I'm flattered she did. 

When I first received the calling to be the Relief Society secretary, I asked Heavenly Father a couple questions. I wanted to understand the purpose of Relief Society better and what my personal responsibilities are as a member of the Lord’s organization for women.

I had completely forgotten about these questions until the beginning of this year. We know that the Holy Ghost can “bring all things to [our] remembrance.” (John 14:26) And as I was wondering whether the things I have been learning, as I struggle to improve as a mother, were appropriate to share the Spirit reminded me that I had asked these questions. It whispered to me that I had received the instruction I was being given specifically as answers to those questions. And I realized that these questions were universal to all of us as members of the Lord’s organization for women.

My questions were:

1. What does the title “Relief Society” mean and what does it have to do with me?
2. What is meant by “Charity Never Faileth”?

What’s in a Name?
After careful reflection, I realized that what I was wondering is: who named the Relief Society? Was it named by the women who had the desire to be organized? They had a purpose, a strong desire, wrote up a constitution and had a vision….you know the history.

But I am coming to realize just how important names are to our Heavenly Father. In the Book of Mormon, Christ is given over 100 distinct names and each of them have "particular significance"  in describing Christ’s divine nature. When we make covenants, we are given names. For example, when we are baptized we take upon ourselves the name of Christ. And in the temple we learn more about the eternal significance of names.

Names matter to God.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Love Life and Learning by Michelle Lehnardt

I'm excited to have Michelle as my guest poster today for my Relief Society Celebration! I've been following her blog, Scenes from the Wild, for awhile and it is one of my favorites.  Mostly, because she gives me hope. Hope that maybe someday this wild family of mine might look something like hers does, with amazing grown and growing up children, a strong family culture and enthusiasm for the small things. So thank you Michelle!

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As women in the Relief Society, we are life-long learners, life-long teachers. Today I'm focusing on raising kids who love to learn, but everything in here applies to ourselves.
When I asked my 14 and 16 year old separately on their ideas on raising smart kids I expected them to cite all sorts of examples such as reading books, learning a musical instrument, visiting the library etc. I was surprised by their nearly identical answer– “be prepared to be very different.” My older boys, my nieces and girls in my neighborhood confirmed the same idea: it's hip to be too cool for school.
How did we get here? In the past, education was highly valued. When did “smart” equate with “uncool”? And doesn’t every parent want to raise intelligent, creative children– boys and girls.
If you’ve read this far, you’re the kind of parent who cares about education, so I’ll offer up my best tips.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Finding Nobility in Motherhood and Joy in Womanhood by Nikki Yaste

You are in for a treat today! Nikki has the most incredible story and the testimony to go with it. I have learned so much from her and she constantly inspires me to be better and to look at things differently. Enjoy!

I’ve been asked to write a special blog to celebrate the anniversary of the Relief Society. It’s been 142 years since the founding of this amazing organization in March 17, 1842. As I read through the Relief Society Declaration and thought about what I “bullet” I wanted to specifically address in this, I kept circling back to this:

“[Finding] nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.”

Why?! The topic I most wanted to avoid!

Often times, I feel like I come up short when the subject of motherhood is specifically addressed in Conference or Relief Society. I want to avoid these topics like the plague. I spent a lot of time extremely jealous of people who had the “loving” and “doting” mothers in their lives. Honestly, I go so far as to ignore Mother’s Day, chalking it up to just another Sunday in the month of May. As a child, I didn’t grow up in the most conducive environment that would produce any “noble” qualities of motherhood and certainly, there was little joy to be found as a woman.

As a child, I felt like a burden to my parents. Something that was to be seen and not heard. I was to fall in line or suffer the consequences, no questions asked. For along time, I didn’t have a relationship with my own parents as a result of their abusive behavior. When I am asked “what was my childhood like?” My normal response, with a smirk, is always “what childhood?” I didn’t have the “normal” upbringing and comfort that most children, hopefully, have. Simply things, like napping on the couch or having an open imagination were mocked relentlessly. There were few hugs and fewer expressions of “I love you.”  As I entered into my teenage and young adult years, it became all about sex, alcohol and drugs. I partied with the best of them, sneaking into clubs and bars. I built an identity on exploitation (If I got it, flaunt it.) and the false idols of sex and power. I married the old wise tale that I was really living the “good life.” When I became a mother, all that changed. There is nothing that that will focus your life like a baby.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Strengthening Marriage, Family, and Home by Destiny Mawson

Speaking in this last General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson expressed the following,
"...we need women who. . . are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God's children along the covenant path toward exaltation; . . .women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly." 
More than ever before our children need us to be the "guardians of the hearth" that President Hinckley mentioned. We need to feverishly be dedicating ourselves to strengthening our marriages, families, and homes so that our children have a haven in which to develop and leave with testimonies firmly in place. 

Time and again, we as women have been championed with defending and fortifying these three elements.

Strengthening Our Marriages
I am presently in my second year of homeschooling my five children and a move for our family allowed my husband to now work from home. We are nearly always all together. The biggest difference I have noticed from when my husband worked in an office and my children attended public school is the need I have for consistent date nights with my husband. Prior, we would maybe get one date a month, sometimes not, but it was enough. However, as my duties as a mother have increased, so has my need to cleave unto my husband more often. I need those quite moments, just he and I to reconnect, to discuss our day without eavesdroppers, to plan and prepare for our future together. Strengthening my marriage allows me to be a better mother and to better focus on my family and home. A former Bishop's wife once told me that she knew her husband was the one when he told her that as much as he loved her, he would always love the Lord first. As hard as it may be sometimes, the order in which we put our efforts should be, first to God, second to our spouse and third, to our children. The order matters.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Why Relief Society Is Not A Glorified Book Club by Jan Francisco

I'm excited to have Jan as my first guest poster (is that a word?) for my celebration of Relief Society! I love everything that Jan writes. She has such great thoughts and says things so well... so make sure to jump over to her blog afterwards.


I love me a good book club. Or a girl's night group. Or even a sit-on-the-couch and crochet-together group. It is so agreeable and validating to surround myself with people who think like I do, have similar pressures of job or home, have 3-5 kids of similar ages. I go from echo chamber to echo chamber and it is comfortable. Pleasant. The conversations don't challenge my status quo, just make me laugh. And, of course, the food!!

Relief Society, however, is not one of these echo chambers. Relief Society is a mix of real women, living in all different phases of maturity, with all different family situations, and vastly different life experiences. Relief Society does challenge my thoughts and the way I live my life. Sometimes I laugh. Often my eyes tear up at the sincerity and goodness of the women around me, their vulnerability in sharing deeply personal and spiritual things with a room full of friends and strangers. I love their hearts. I can see myself in them, whether it is the ghost of Jan Past, Present or Future--and seeing them in their strengths and weaknesses helps me to better see myself. Their motes become my beams; and I see my potential in their triumphs.

Within this mix of women in every ward I've attended, I always find several who just thrill me with their gospel knowledge. These women who make comments like, "Well, you'll remember that Joseph F. Smith promised. . . " or "I have always loved the thought by Brigham Young that. . . " and then they say something profound and topical and analytical and it just wraps the whole thing up in my mind. I adore these Sister Scriptorians. In a 1979 Women's Conference, Camilla Kimball delivered a talk in behalf of her husband, President Kimball, admonishing:
We want our homes to be blessed with sister scriptorians—whether you are single or married, young or old, widowed or living in a family. . . Regardless of your particular circumstances, as you become more and more familiar with the truths of the scriptures, you will be more and more effective in keeping the second great commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. Become scholars of the scriptures—not to put others down, but to lift them up! After all, who has any greater need to “treasure up” the truths of the gospel (on which they may call in their moments of need) than do women and mothers who do so much nurturing and teaching?

(I know about this quote because of one of these wonderful women saying, "You know, President Kimball told us all to be Sister Scriptorians, and so I decided that was what I was going to do!")
As a 16-year-old Laurel, my leader was the brilliant Sister Wilson. She was learning Greek so she could read the New Testament in its original language. She taught lessons of doctrine, almost devoid of crafts and handouts. She knew stuff. She blew my mind about the possibilities for sisters in the church. After watching her live the gospel, I had my trajectory roughly laid out--following her lead.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Relief Society Declaration {Giveaway!}

Keep reading for a chance to win this beautiful printable of the Relief Society Declaration
This week the Relief Society, the oldest and largest women's organization in the world, will celebrate is 173 birthday! I have a great love for Relief Society, which has mostly been gained by serving in it for the last 13+ years of my life.  Even though we have moved often somehow Jon and I would always get called to the same callings (him in the young men's and me as the Relief Society secretary), we joked that we must come with sticky notes on our foreheads. In 10 years I served in 8 different Relief Society presidencies!  In fact, I'm teaching seminary in our Ward right now, and besides a few months as the primary chorister (best calling ever!), it is the first time I've had a calling outside of Relief Society.
I've often wondered why the Lord had me serve in Relief Society at a time when most of the women my age were being called to Primary and Young Women's, and I've decided that it was because He knew that I needed to gain a strong testimony of Relief Society. I know that for me, coming to understanding the history and the real purpose of Relief Society has done more to strengthen my testimony of womanhood than anything else (well, besides studying the women in the scriptures). It has changed my heart and opened my eyes to spiritual truths in a big way.
This week I want to celebrate the Relief Society by focusing on the Relief Society Declaration.

Did you even know the Relief Society had a declaration?