Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thoughts on Motherhood

It was over nineteen years ago, but I still remember well those first exhausted moments after the birth of my first child.   I snuggled him in my arms, so excited to meet him finally, and my heart was filled with a mixture of joy, awe, and  pure panic.  Mostly though I daydreamed about the future of our little family and I couldn’t wait to get to the bedtime stories, sloppy toddler kisses,  and the cookie baking.

 It didn't take too long though before motherhood started to get a little more complicated.  There were still the joys of sleepy snuggles, contagious baby giggles,  and the excitement of watching them grow and progress. But with those joys also came the challenges of painful ear infections,  toddler tantrums, and juggling the needs of two, then three, then four, then five children.  

Each of the five children that has come to our family has brought with them their own unique personality and set of joys and challenges.    I expected the zits and the hormones and the homework woes as they grew older, but having a child face an aggressive form of cancer and another child with frequent seizures definitely were not things I dreamt about  when I gazed  into the eyes of each our newborn children.   

I think each of us knows deep down inside that whenever life is overwhelming, we can turn to God and He will be there.   Sometimes, though,  when life is smoother sailing we let God slip to the back burner in the busyness that consumes our  day-to-day lives.  

I’ve shared this experience with you before, but  I think back to that morning in January almost three years ago.  I  was preparing a sacrament meeting talk and spent a couple of hours that day studying the scriptures and reading general conference talks.  Sometime during that study time,  I  suddenly became  so overwhelmed with the absolute knowledge that God loved me personally and was aware of me and family.  At the time I had  no  reason to think that that day would be any different than any other.  Yet God knew.  He knew the storm that laid before us and he, in a very real way,  spiritually prepared me for the earth shattering phone call we received just a few hours later that my sixteen-year-old son had leukemia.   And the news that came just a couple days after that that Glen had been laid off from his job.    

I often think back to that day and wonder how different those next several months could have been if I had not taken the time that morning to allow myself to listen to the message that God wanted me to hear.    What if I had skipped my scripture study and prayer time, as sometimes happens on busy days, and gone straight to chores and errands instead?   I have no doubt that eventually I still would have felt that comforting message, but how grateful I am to have had that comfort in my heart  from the earliest moments of that very difficult time in our lives.   

Elder Bednar said in a recent conference:  
"We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can receive capacity and “strength beyond [our] own”  1

I testify that many times in our lives we have felt that strength beyond our own that comes from the Savior’s atonement.  

Elder Bednar continued ,
“There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.”   But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. 1

I write this from the perspective of a mother, but  what a powerful message to each of us.  Whether we be a woman, man, teenager, or child...this message is universal.  God is with us.  He wants to take your burdens upon him.  We have but to find the quiet moments in our lives that we can turn our hearts to him and truly listen.   And as mothers (and fathers) we have a very real opportunity to help create those moments for our families.  

This quote from Sister Beck that illustrates this point perfectly:  

Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all. Their goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world. Their goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord’s kingdom for the next 50 years. That is influence; that is power. 2
How is easy it is to get caught up in trying to do more, to compare ourselves with others, and to let the meaning of our lives get lost in filling the slots on the calendar….when truly all we really need is less!   

A study at Harvard followed subjects for 75-years and found that future success and fulfillment  in life is not predictable based on income, intelligence, or education level, but rather on the positive connections an individual has with their families.  We would do better to eat dinner together as a family daily than to sign our kids up for yet another “enriching” activity that takes them away from home and will likely bear no impact on their future lives .  3

I will close today by inviting each of  us to remember the example of  Mary--the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.  She knew from the beginning that her son was the son of God and had a glorious mission to fulfill and yet she did not allow that knowledge to overwhelm her into complacency.  She embraced her role as mother and loved him and taught him and helped raise him to be the Savior of the World.  

Even in the final moments of Christ’s life he spoke of his mother.  He never forgot, even in His anguish, the woman who cared for Him even before she could hold Him in her arms—the earthly mother who had prepared Him for a divine mission. 4


1.  Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease by David A. Bednar

2.  Mothers Who Know by Julie Beck

3. The 75-year study that found the secrets to a fulfilling life:

4.  Motherhood

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Teaching the Character Trait of Perseverance / Determination / Grit

In our homeschool this year, we are spotlighting a character trait each month. A couple days a week for an entire month we will read a story or watch a video and discuss that character trait in greater detail. The idea is that by talking about it, seeing it in action, and reinforcing it all month, that the concepts will really start to sink into their souls.  

One of the first character traits we are talking about this year is that of determination, which is something that I very much would like for my kids to develop. We live in a world where getting distracted and making excuses for our shortcomings is all too easily accepted and I think it is a valuable skill in life to be able to face challenges head-on instead of allowing ourselves to quit at the first sign of challenge or difficulty. Below you will find some of the resources I've gathered to help teach this trait during the month. I would love to hear any ideas or resources you would recommend as well, so feel free to leave those in the comments.


*Mormon Messages: about how hard work and determination can make a difference

*Short video about persevering:


*Aesop's Fables:The Hare and the Tortoise (online version)--about the value of pushing forward, even when the odds are stacked against you

*Aesop's Fables: The Crow and the Pitcher (online version)--about continuing to try, even when it seems hopeless and also about sometimes having to think outside the box and searching for less obvious solutions

*Nephi getting the plates (the first section of this seminary lesson is perfect to tie it all together)

Here's a short video about Nephi getting the plates


*The Value of Determination: The Story of Helen Keller

*Story of Abraham Lincoln and the incredible odds he overcame to become president of the US (Stand Tall, Abe Lincoln is a good book)


visit a ropes course together as a family
A good ropes course will have different levels of challenges that can get progressively more difficult as children gain confidence and experience. Additionally many ropes course employees are willing to work in inspirational thoughts or scriptures to their activities and/or create situations where cooperation and perseverance is required.


*A book that is a  good resource for parents: How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

*This is a  short TED talk about the importance of grit in students' success in school.  I really liked the recommendation to teach kids about how the brain is not a stagnant organ, but that its capacity actually grows  as we use and challenge it.  


“Perseverance means to continue in a given course until we have reached a goal or objective, regardless of obstacles, opposition, and other counterinfluences...Perseverance is a positive, active characteristic...It gives us hope by helping us realize that the righteous suffer no failure except in giving up and no longer trying.”
― Joseph B. Wirthlin

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saing, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”
--Mary Anne Radmacher

Friday, June 13, 2014

Women and the Priesthood: Quotes and Resources

With all the controversy that's been going on with women and priesthood recently, I had been a little concerned about the difficult questions that the YW might have as we taught the lessons about the priesthood through the month of June.    Then with everything coming to a head this past week, and our ward being the very epicenter of it all (since the founder of OW has lived in our ward for a number of years), I knew that there was no way to avoid facing the controversy head-on.      This study guide, with quotes and resources, was created by a member of my presidency to be a guide for us to use as we prepare our lessons over the next few weeks.    Click here to see resource pages for other potentially difficult topics (with more to come).

"A man may open the drapes so the warm sunlight comes into the room, but the man does not own the sun or the light or the warmth it brings." 
Elder Neil L. Andersen, Oct. 2013 General Conference  (This one is my favorite!!)

"Elder Dallin H. Oaks cautions us in our references to the priesthood: 'While we sometimes refer to priesthood holders as "the priesthood," we must never forget that the priesthood is not owned by or embodied in those who hold it. It is held in a sacred trust to be used for the benefit of men, women, and children alike.' 
[Daughters in My Kingdom]" Sister Linda K. Burton, "Priesthood: 'A Sacred Trust to Be Used for the Benefit of Men, Women, and Children,'" 2013 BYU Women's Conference

"Priesthood authority functions in both the family and the Church. The priesthood is the power of God used to bless all of His children, male and female. Some of our abbreviated expressions, like “the women and the priesthood,” convey an erroneous idea. Men are not 'the priesthood.' Priesthood meeting is a meeting of those who hold and exercise the priesthood. The blessings of the priesthood, such as baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, the temple endowment, and eternal marriage, are available to men and women alike." 
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church," Oct. 2005 General Conference

"Can you imagine how dark and empty mortality would be if there were no priesthood? If the power of the priesthood were not upon the earth, the adversary would have freedom to roam and reign without restraint. There would be no gift of the Holy Ghost to direct and enlighten us; no prophets to speak in the name of the Lord; no temples where we could make sacred, eternal covenants; no authority to bless or baptize, to heal or comfort…. There would be no light, no hope—only darkness." 
Elder Robert D. Hales, "Blessings of the Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 32–34

"In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife. And as husband and wife, a man and a woman should strive to follow our Heavenly Father." 
Elder M. Russell Ballard, "'This Is My Work and My Glory,'" Apr. 2013 General Conference 
"Do not spend time trying to overhaul or adjust God’s plan. We do not have time for such. It is a pointless exercise to try and determine how to organize the Lord’s Church differently. The Lord is at the head of this Church, and we all follow His direction. Both men and women need increased faith and testimony of the life and the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ and increased knowledge of His teachings and doctrine. We need clear minds so that the Holy Ghost can teach us what to do and what to say. We need to think straight in this world of confusion and disregard for the things of God." 
Elder M. Russell Ballard, "Let Us Think Straight," Campus Education Week Devotional, Aug. 2013

"We know so little...about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood. These were divinely determined in another time and another place. We are accustomed to focusing on the men of God because theirs is the priesthood and leadership line. But paralleling that authority line is a stream of righteous influence reflecting the remarkable women of God who have existed in all ages and dispensations, including our own." 
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "The Women of God," Apr. 1978 General Conference

“It is the unique responsibility of men to act as God’s agents or legal administrators in representing him on earth. … It is this authority which a woman cannot ‘hold.’ Her ‘priesthood’ callings are not elder, bishop, seventy or apostle—but wife, mother, teacher and comforter. These are at least as important and demanding as any of those exercised by men. In honoring these callings, she becomes a true ‘helpmeet’ of ‘Adam’ in his labors in the field." 
Rodney Turner, Woman and the Priesthood, Deseret Book 1973 

"Wives and mothers possess ‘a function as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself." 
Pres. J. Reuben Clark, as quoted in Rodney Turner, Woman and the Priesthood

“Do they [women] hold the priesthood? Yes, in connection with their husbands and they are one with their husbands, but the husband is the head.”

Pres. John Taylor, as quoted in Rodney Turner,Woman and the Priesthood

By divine design, Heavenly Father gave men and women different gifts and abilities to help them fulfill complementary roles as husband and wife. “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. … Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).

As stated in the proclamation, fathers and mothers are equal partners, each with different responsibilities and roles. Therefore “equal” does not mean “same” in this sense. Think of an old fashioned balancing scale, where you place items on either side of the scale until each side is balanced and equal. You could for example put a pound of gold on one side and a pound of jelly beans on the other side. They are equal in weight, but still very different from each other. Such are the God given roles of men and women, equal, but different.

Full and equal partnerships. Men and women joined together in marriage need to work together as a full partnership. However, a full and equal partnership between men and women does not imply the roles played by the two sexes are the same in God’s grand design for His children. As the proclamation clearly states, men and women, though spiritually equal, are entrusted with different but equally significant roles. These roles complement each other. Men are given stewardship over the sacred ordinances of the priesthood. To women, God gives stewardship over bestowing and nurturing mortal life, including providing physical bodies for God’s spirit children and guiding those children toward a knowledge of gospel truths. These stewardships, equally sacred and important, do not involve any false ideas about domination or subordination. Each stewardship is essential for the spiritual progression of all family members, parents and children alike.
Elder M. Russel Ballard

Something to Remember

When in doubt, teach doctrine, bear testimony: "A few years ago, my husband and I were invited to a gathering of many experienced Church leaders. A new presiding officer had recently been called, and at the end of the meeting a very difficult and contentious question was asked. Realizing the difficulty of answering the question, my husband and I immediately offered up our sincere prayers to Heavenly Father for this new leader. As he came to the pulpit to respond to the question, I witnessed a visible change in his countenance as he stood majestically, squared his shoulders and spoke with the power of the Lord. His response was something like this: "Brother, I do not know the answer to your question. But I will tell you what I do know. I know that God is our Eternal Father. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and was the instrument through which the power of the priesthood was restored to the earth. I know the Book of Mormon is true and contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know we have a living prophet today who speaks for the Lord to bless our lives." He then continued, "No, I do not know the answer to your question, but these things I know. The rest I take on faith. I try to live this simple statement of faith I learned years ago from Sister Marjorie Hinckley, who said, ‘First I obey, then I understand.’"
  Linda K. Burton, "Priesthood: 'A Sacred Trust to Be Used for the Benefit of Men, Women, and Children,'" 2013 BYU Women's Conference

Object Lesson  
Bring two objects that are used together to accomplish a common goal (like a pencil and paper or hammer and nail). Invite the young women to explain the differences between the objects and how they are used together. Explain that men and women are given different responsibilities that complement (or “complete”) each other to bring about God’s purposes. Invite the young women to describe some of the ways men and women complement each other.

Blessings of the Priesthood/Priesthood Power and Authority
"Blessings of the Priesthood," Elder Robert D. Hales, Oct. 1995 General Conference,

"'This Is My Work and My Glory,'" Elder M. Russell Ballard, Apr. 2013 General Conference,

"Power in the Priesthood," Elder Neal L. Andersen, Oct. 2013 General Conference,

Priesthood: "A Sacred Trust to Be Used for the Benefit of Men, Women, and Children," Sister Linda K. Burton, 2013 BYU Women's Conference,

"The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood," Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Apr. 2014 General Conference,

2013 Worldwide Leadership Training: Strengthening the Family and the Church through the Priesthood,

Women and the Priesthood
"Let Us Think Straight," Elder M. Russell Ballard, Campus Education Week Devotional, Aug. 2013,

"Young Women and the Blessings of the Priesthood," Diane L. Mangum, New Era, May 1993,

"Why don’t women hold the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? How do Mormon women lead in the Church?" question forum,

Lesson 13: "Women and the Priesthood," The Latter-Day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A

Roles of Women
"The Moral Force of Women," Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Oct. 2013 General Conference,

"The Women of God," Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Apr. 1978 General Conference,

"To the Women of the Church," Pres. Howard W. Hunter, Oct. 1992 General Conference,

"A Woman's Perspective on the Priesthood," Sister Patricia T. Holland, 1980 BYU Women's Conference,

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Staying Morally Clean: A Resource Guide

As a YW presidency,  we decided to each tackle a difficult or controversial topic that the girls might face in their lives and come up with a short resource page on the topic.  Each of the advisers and presidency members will receive a booklet containing all of the resource pages and use it in their lesson preparation and to refer to in case they are faced with difficult questions.   All quotes are taken directly from   The girls will not receive copies of the booklet  as we would not want to introduce them to controversial topics that they may not have thought of yet, but individual pages can be shared as we feel inspired.   Stay tuned for more topics.

Here is the first topic that we tackled:

Why Stay Morally Clean?   (see here for an FHE lesson on the same topic)

When you are sexually pure, you prepare yourself to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple. You prepare yourself to build a strong marriage and to bring children into the world as part of an eternal and loving family. You protect yourself from the spiritual and emotional damage that come from sharing sexual intimacy outside of marriage. You also protect yourself from harmful diseases. Remaining sexually pure helps you to be confident and truly happy and improves your ability to make good decisions now and in the future.

But what if we love each other?  

Sometimes people try to convince themselves that sexual relations outside of marriage are acceptable if the participants love one another. This is not true. Breaking the law of chastity and encouraging someone else to do so is not an expression of love. People who love each other will never endanger one another's happiness and safety in exchange for temporary personal pleasure.
When people care for one another enough to keep the law of chastity, their love, trust, and commitment increase, resulting in greater happiness and unity. In contrast, relationships built on sexual immorality sour quickly. Those who engage in sexual immorality often feel fear, guilt, and shame. Bitterness, jealousy, and hatred soon replace any positive feelings that once existed in their relationship.  

But it’s my body….
The body is an essential part of the soul. This distinctive and very important Latter-day Saint doctrine underscores why sexual sin is so serious. We declare that one who uses the God-given body of another without divine sanction abuses the very soul of that individual, abuses the central purpose and processes of life, “the very key” (Ensign, July 1972, 113) to life, as President Boyd K. Packer once called it. In exploiting the body of another—which means exploiting his or her soul—one desecrates the Atonement of Christ, which saved that soul and which makes possible the gift of eternal life. And when one mocks the Son of Righteousness, one steps into a realm of heat hotter and holier than the noonday sun. You cannot do so and not be burned.

Additional Reading Material:  

YW Manual #1, Lesson 32:  Personal Purity through Self Discipline

Article from  Protect the Power to Create Life article on Chastity article:  Personal Purity

Talk by Pres. Boyd K. Packer:  Why Stay Morally Clean?  

For the Strength of Youth:  Sexual Purity