Saturday, April 17, 2010


I was trying to think of a clever title, but I'm not feeling so clever tonite.

I think it's time. I've been known to change my mind on something like this before, but I think I need to do something pretty significant, to draw a line in my sand for myself and see how it feels. I need to simplify my life, and I think the way to do that is to back off from participating in the 'nacle. (Whatever the 'nacle actually is these days...I'm thinking MA 'nacle, big blogs kind of 'nacle.)

Done blogging? Yeah, right, no, not. But I'm going to start fresh, at a new blog. I think I need a change. I think a lot of people need a change from having me out there commenting, too. :)

Being involved in the bloggernacle has changed my life in very real ways. I have found cherished, lifetime friends. (Just thinking about that alone takes my breath much poorer I would be without some of the friends I have made through blogging. Whoa.) I have spent hours mulling and musing about what matters to me most. (I think it's helped keep me from going insane while dealing with health struggles.) I've come to appreciate the gospel and my testimony all the more. I've learned from others, and about others.

I'd like to think I've grown a little through it all and become a little better. I know, too, that I've also made some mistakes along the way. But that's part of this messy, messy life. Thank heaven for the Atonement. I feel the reality of the Atonement perhaps more strongly in my life than I ever have. That's a good thing, because I feel like I realize how much I need it -- need the Savior -- more than I ever have.

Yes. The more I live, the older I get, the more I experience, the more I realize how very, very much I need Christ.

To those who have respectfully engaged and listened, thank you. To those I have offended, it may not sound like much, but I'm sorry. To those who know me well, you know how to find me. :)

Thanks for the ride.


p.s. Archives will probably stay up. We'll see. Email above will still stay active.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

I heart Sister Beck II -- Great talk about the power of womanhood

Sister Beck is a woman of power, a fabulous, fearless leader. I love her. I feel her calling to us as women to also be women of power and fearless leaders as well, by increasing our faith, strengthening home and family, and being of service in providing relief. I hear her reminding us of the power in personal revelation as well, inviting us to live our lives so as to be connected to heaven every day, every hour. I also feel it's essential for us to trust in the worth of women in God's plan, to know who we are. It's clear Sister Beck doesn't doubt one bit our worth before God. We need to not doubt. (That quote from Eliza R. Snow was awesome.)

Again, we are reminded of similar themes taught a couple of years ago when she gave her "Mothers Who Know" talk and when Elder Oaks talked of "Good, Better, Best" -- the need to prioritize, to actively resist distraction and the dilution of our roles as nurturers.

I am moved by the reminder of the power of personal revelation in our lives. Pres. Packer talked this morning of men living beneath their privileges in the priesthood. I can't help but feel that we as women often live beneath our privileges by not doing what it takes to really have the power of personal revelation in our lives. I know I do, anyway.

I loved what she said about how the power of revelation can be a constant source in our lives that makes it "possible to feel bathed in help even in turbulent times."

Speaking of Pres. Packer, it was awesome to listen to Sister Beck talk right after Pres. Packer's talk on the power of the priesthood. There is also power in womanhood!

There is power in the sisterhood of Relief Society. Being a faithful member of of Relief Society we can "be trusted and relied upon to make a significant contribution to the Church." I think it's important to realize, again thinking of Pres. Packer's talk, that our contribution is different from that of men. We don't hold priesthood office. But our power and influence is REAL.

There is power in Relief Society. I loved how she talked about the "combined spiritual power of all the sisters." The thought that I had is that as we each seek to tap into the power Sister Beck has talked about in being in tune with God and living up to the mission of Relief Society, we contribute to that combined power. Sister Beck taught that through Relief Society, "sisters can receive answers to their questions." As we catch and live the spirit of the Relief Society, we can be instruments to "lift...women up and out of a troubled world and into a way of living that prepares them for the blessings of eternal life." Relief Society can help us be "strong and immovable."

I think we are being reminded in this Conference about the "way of living" -- centered on Christ, Christ-centered living, and faithful family life -- that can point us toward our eternal goals.

In addition to the things listed above, Sister Beck reminded us that nurturing is also a source of power. I have felt that in my life. Listening to Sister Beck talk renews my desire to turn my heart to my children and to others to try to develop more of that gift of nurturing that God is telling us repeatedly through His leaders matters so much.

I love the reminder that our success and our worth is not measured by "outward credit or praise." I think that ties into us seeking a sense of worth in the Church, too. Again, as important and sacred as the priesthood is, priesthood office and position is not a requirement to have worth, power, and influence in God's work. I think it's essential for us as women to know that in our hearts, through the Spirit, in order to be women of power.

As Sister Snow remarked, we need to " the world judges.....We know the Lord has laid high responsibility on us [as women]." We need to know that! Sister Beck reminded us that, "In a world where the measures of success are often distorted, it is important to seek appreciation and affirmation from proper sources.... Peace, joy, and hope are available to those who measure success properly." We can feel and know of our worth and success through the power of the Spirit and through honest self-assessment with God's help and through doing all we can do to be righteous we give our heart to trying to be the women God needs us to be and live so as to have the Spirit with us.

There is power in truth. I am grateful for Sister Beck and how she reminds us often of truths that can free us to be the women God needs us to be. There is power in her teachings.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Amazing Family History Tips

If you are wanting to find ways to find more information about your ancestors, this post by historian Ardis Parshall is a goldmine of information.

Dance, Dry Bones, Dance

(Oooo. I love the title, too.)

She's done other posts on family history as well.

Lesson 1 (First steps)
Lesson 2 (Home sources)
Lesson 3 (Social Security)
Lesson 4 (Census)
Lesson 5 (Resolving Discrepancies)

She has a gift, I tell you, and it's a gift that she shares it.

And if you are interested in reading history, you'll want to sit down for a while at her blog. Amazing stuff, particularly if your interest is in Mormon history. (But it's not the typical LDS history she writes about. She shares stories that are less-known, if known at all.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Glenn Beck and Social Justice, and Thinking Outside the Box in Politics

OK, so I get that people feel strongly about helping the poor. I think rare is the person on either side (and all along the continuum) of the political spectrum who doesn't.

I'm not necessarily a fan of Glenn Beck; he too often uses too much extreme rhetoric for my liking.

But good grief, the responses to his recent comments on social justice (or, better said, how people are framing those comments) are also really extreme in their rhetoric, and to me missing the core point -- and missing an opportunity where we as a nation might actually have some discussions on how we really can and should help the poor.

Even before I read this quote, my thought about all of the hoopla was that many people are hearing what they want to hear in what he said, not actually addressing the core of his concern. Reading this strengthened that opinion for me:

"Social justice is code language. Code language for big government… If your church is preaching social and economic justice you better do some digging and find out exactly what that means. Because if that means big government, (that) you need to support big government programs, (then) you don’t have a church… Now if your church is talking about social justice in a way that you empower yourself to go help the poor, well then that is exactly what Jesus… would like you to do.”
– Glenn Beck, March 12 radio program (hat tip for the quote comes from a comment here)

Does he dismiss social justice outright? No. Does he show ignorance about the notion that helping the poor is important to religions? No. Is he really saying something so outrageous? I don't think so.

Here, I hear him encouraging people to think about what social justice means -- because it means different things to different people and faiths -- and to figure out if it's really a good thing in every context.

What is so crazy about that?

I understand disagreeing with his politics, but so many really emotional reactions to his comments don't seem to me to be hearing what he is saying at all and don't really even address the politics he takes a stand on.

In Anatomy of Peace language (a book that I think should be required reading for everyone), that's called being in the box. And it's pretty much like shutting off your heart AND your brain.

Such a dynamic plagues the political process. But it's such a precious waste of time and energy, and clouds the ability to actually think clearly about things like this that matter.

We've got to get outside the box.

For Mormons, to me, a compelling point when engaging in politics is to note that the First Presidency has reminded us that "“Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of various political parties."

So I say let's seek for good, solid principles across the spectrum, rather than waste precious time slinging mud at the "other" -- especially when that mud-slinging often involves arguing against things that weren't actually the real message of what was said.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day

We are having a pi party with extended family to celebrate. I might even post some pictures. I made a yogurt cheesecake something (an experiment...we'll see how it tastes) for my "fruit" (we'll smother it in berries) and also a cow pie dessert (no bake oatmeal fudge cookies all in a big pile...may never cool but I wanted to have some fun with my dessert).

I might slice some oranges and then cut the slices like pieces of pie.

My sister-in-law is going to make chicken pot pie for dinner.


Do any of you celebrate pi day?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rest in Peace, Merlin Olsen

For those of you old enough to know who Merlin Olsen is, he recently passed away. He has always come across to me as a gentle, quiet, good man.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rejoicing in the Gospel and in Being a Mormon Woman

Recently, I was accused of being over-cheerful about my perspective on the eternal blessings awaiting us -- women included -- in the eternities.

At some level, I'm still just sort of dumbfounded.

Sometimes in conversations about women's issues, I find myself wanting to ask, "Do you WANT me to be miserable about being a woman in the Church?" I sometimes feel as though there is the feeling among some that if you are *really* smart, you will figure it out that Mormonism really is awful for women. Or that if you are happy, it must be that you haven't really looked closely enough at that verse or this policy or that part of our history. Or that you are being "intellectually dishonest" by being happy.

For the record, I've spent a good portion of my adult life thinking about women's issues relative to Mormonism. Thinking about these issues pretty much fill any extra mental space I may have for pondering life and the gospel. I know that doesn't make me some expert, and I'm certainly not an academic of these issues, but I have given these things lots and lots of thought. I love chewing on the gospel, and I'm not afraid to consider hard questions. But there needs to be space for simple answers, too.

I also actually try hard to understand and try to be sympathetic to the struggles some have in the space where feminism and Mormonism seem to collide. I know such struggles are real. We all have our struggles. I'm sorry for yours, if you have them.

But at some point, I just have to say let me have my space to rejoice in what makes me happy -- in the things prophets of God tell us we CAN and SHOULD be happy about! -- without expecting me to be able to answer to all the things that may bother you, if you do struggle. If you disagree, please leave me the space to have my perspective and to disagree with you or to engage things differently. Please don't expect me to explain away the things that bother you. Please don't expect me to take your approach to processing the gospel.

If you feel pain about these things, I'm so sorry. But I can't solve it, nor should I be expected to see things as you do. Your pain, your questions, your issues are for you and God to work through. He is the source of peace and truth. He can help you sort through these things, in His time and His way. I have my own things to sort through. Believe you me.

I cannot change what is in holy writ, nor do I want to. I cannot change Church structure, nor do I want to. I cannot change prophetic counsel and teachings about gender roles or other topics relative to women, nor do I want to.

Am I without questions? No. Do I wonder sometimes about policies, practices, or topics of preaching? Sometimes, yes. Are there things I don't fully understand? Of course. But I don't expect to understand it all. I think it's plain wrong to expect to understand it all, especially without accepting what we already have been given. And the more I rejoice in and embrace what I DO know, the more things make sense to me.

What I DO know is that God is a loving, perfect God, that "all that He has" awaits us all if we follow His plan and His Son. The Church is true. God's authority is here, the ordinances of salvation are here, the doctrines of salvation are here, prophets live and teach and preach today. Their teachings won't always gel with the isms of the secular world. That should be expected. The texts won't always be neat and easy to process intellectually. That should be expected.

Elder Maxwell used to say something like if God promises all He has, "brothers and sisters, there isn't any more." I believe the prophets and the scriptures and the beauty found in temple ordinances that teach that God has promised us -- women and men -- all He has. What more could we want? We -- women and men -- have all we need to be able to receive all those blessings. ALL of the ordinances necessary for eternal life are here, on the earth, binding us to God for eternity if we will receive them and receive Him and His Son. Those blessings are what my last post was about. At some point, I see absolutely no reason to look for reasons to doubt those blessings or to take issue with things that don't seem to fit nicely and neatly into these core doctrines of the gospel. We are mortal. Things of God won't always make sense. But wow. What does and can make sense is pretty glorious in my experience.

And so, I rejoice in that.

Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your atrust in bGod, in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who cbrought the children of dIsrael out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red eSea on dry ground, and fed them with fmanna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them.

[S]hall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. aCourage...and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into bsinging. Let the cdead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the dKing Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to eredeem them out of their fprison ; for the prisoners shall go free.

Let the
amountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid brocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the cmorning stars sing together, and let all the [children] of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and dimmortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Finding God in the Space Between Pain and Resolution

I don't have much time to write, but wanted to capture this concept that is pressing on my soul....

So often, we seek God for relief, to have challenges, pain, cognitive dissonance -- whatever is causing us grief -- taken away, solved, fixed. I think it's easy to read of healings and miracles and somehow translate them to equating God's power with complete resolution of problems and pain.

While sometimes such complete miracles do happen, I'm feeling more and more that we really learn to find God and His power in the times when resolution and solution don't present themselves as desired. Such tensions require really leaning on God, trusting in His timetable, letting go of our wills and expectations and trying to let Him mold our souls.

At least that is what I am feeling in my own life. I see enough in my life, both in the present and especially in the aggregate of the past, to KNOW that He is there and very involved in my life. But answers and help have often not come in immediate moments, and sometimes unfold over years, even decades. And some problems I have had since childhood (like issues with mental illness) are still affecting my life in significant ways. There is just so much messiness in this mortal life of ours, and I feel my soul stretching as I learn what of that mess I should focus on right now, and what I need to let go of for now -- to let some of it just be messy and trust that through the Atonement, resolution will come, either in this life or the next. Enduring well is my job, not necessarily fixing it all.

I think the times I have felt most distant from God are the times I have demanded resolution in MY way. I have felt close to Him as I see His hand in direct and miraculous ways, but also as I trust in the fact that He is there even when I don't see as much of that direct intervention.

Mortality is such a journey. Walking by faith is hard work.

But it's good work when I can see it for what it is, in the light of the eternal plan of God.

[Heavenly Father and the Savior, Jesus Christ] sustain us in our hour of need—and always will, even if we cannot recognize that intervention. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. Of that I personally attest. I thank my Father in Heaven for His goodness past, present, and future.... -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Patriarchal Order as a Good Thing

In the many years of being involved in discussions about women's issues (particularly in the context of the Mormon Church), I've found that there are a few terms that make feminists' hairs stand up on end. Patriarchy is one of them.

It's understandable, of course. There are brands of patriarchy that are oppressive and potentially very awful. There are cultures where men see women more as possessions than people and lord over them in various ways.

But that isn't the model of patriarchy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And yet, too me, it feels like sometimes the emotional and mental reactions to the word prevent open and meaningful discussion about what we mean when we talk about patriarchy (or, better said, imo, the patriarchal order) in LDS doctrine.

Now, of course, I can only share my perspective on this, as I have no authority whatsoever to declare doctrine, but I want to suggest that we consider carefully what our doctrine teaches about the purpose of life, about the nature of God, about the purpose of the temple, and about the value of women (and men, of course) in the whole of God's work.

When women's issues are discussed, a lot of focus is often given to Church structure and function. "Well," some assert, "Since women don't hold priesthood office and thus don't hold many of the leadership callings" (even though they do have many opportunities to lead and teach...a topic for another day) "it therefore follows that women are less valued to God and to the Church."

But God's plan involves so much more than just who does what in the Church. I think it's ever-important to realize that the Church exists as a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. What is the end?

In Doctrine and Covenants 131, we read:

“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

“And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

“And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

“He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase” (D&C 131:1–4).

Elder Cree L. Kofford said this about the scripture:

Many people reading this section of the Doctrine and Covenants do not grasp its full import. ... The gospel, which is called “the new and everlasting covenant,” includes many specific covenants, one being called “the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.” This title, or name, is simply another way of saying “patriarchal order.” Thus, that portion of section 131 could read: “And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into the patriarchal order of the priesthood.”
In short, to me the patriarchal order is a good thing (understatement), because it's about an eternal marriage partnership -- about the greatest blessings God has for His children that are sealed on a married couple. The patriarchal order is about a man and woman joined together and, through the sealing of the Holy Spirit of Promise to be enabled to "...inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths...and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever" (D&C 132:19, emphasis added).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Finding Calm in the Commotion

Haiti. It's on all of our minds, and for most of us, it's in a helpless sort of way. We're too far away, without the time or means to really make more than the tiniest dent by sending a meager offering somewhere. And praying. Oh, yes, we are praying.

I'm also pondering. A lot. Pondering how it is that I should even be able to continue my day-to-day life of getting children from here to there, doing dishes (I own dishes -- I feel guilty about owning dishes and having food to put on them!), doing laundry (I own clothing! Nevermind my turbo washing machine!), looking at the bathrooms that need to be cleaned (I have more than one bathroom! In my house! With running water!). Speaking of water, I can get a drink of clean water, for crying out loud. Anytime I want to, from a faucet in my kitchen (or my bathroom(s)). (At least for now. Is anyone else feeling a little bit of fear?)

You know what I mean. Right?

And yet, I think of the scriptures that tell us that in these last days as we prepare for the Lord's second coming, things will both be in commotion and yet also continue to be normal -- people "marrying and given and marriage" and all of that. And I can't help but feel this tragedy in Haiti is a little example of what that means. I know that the Lord expects me to pray and weep and mourn for those who mourn, and to do what I can to help relief suffering of the poor and needy. But I also don't think He expects us all to somehow stop normal life -- if we have it. I think we each at different times will be living the normalish stuff of life, and at other times, be experiencing more of the commotion. And we never know from one minute to the next on which end of the spectrum we might find ourselves. (Again, it's hard not to feel fear even saying that.)

It's all part of this thing we call mortality.

I got an email tonight from a friend who has done service in Haiti. She shared with me the tragic story about her friend who has lost her mother, and possibly her brother. Her mother was buried in the rubble of a hospital after she had re-entered the building to save others. This young college student recently lost a sister in an accident, and now she is facing the heart-wrenching reality of knowing her mother is gone and considering that her brother might be too. And that her country, her home, is in shambles.

It's hard to even process the whys of these things. It's hard to process the breadth and depth of the suffering and grief caused at times like this. The intensity at the individual level is almost more than I can bear (such as when I hear stories like the one sent by my friend), but the collective suffering is really just intolerably overwhelming. And then, to realize that this kind of suffering happens in other ways all over the world, in large- and small-scale ways -- I can't do it. I simply can't go there for more than a millisecond before feeling the weight of it all.

It could consume any of us. And sometimes it might if we let it.

I, with Nephi, know God loves his children, but I know I don't know the meaning of all things. And I know that no pat answer can ever assuage the grief people feel at this time. But one thing that does bring me some measure of peace and perspective is to realize that the breadth and depth of the suffering can remind us of the breadth and depth of the Atonement. Only Christ can eventually make these things fully right. He is the one who was sent to bind our wounds, wipe away our tears, heal the broken-hearted, and swallow up the sting of death.

I will never stop caring, praying, and seeking to find ways to help. I will not turn a blind eye just because the suffering is difficult to process. But in the end, I know of no other way to fully face the devastation and difficulty that life can bring without holding fast to my faith in the Savior. It is my anchor in times of personal and global difficulty.

And I feel myself needing to dig ever deeper to anchor myself more fully in Him.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Moses 1 as another sort of Fall story?

As we sat in Sunday School this past week, I had some thoughts that excited me.

First of all, I love love love the way Moses comes to know who he really is, and how he discerns between the light, love, purity, power, and goodness of God in contrast with the darkness, hate, counterfeit everything, puniness, and evil of the devil.

But Moses still has to work really hard to not succumb to the fear and bitterness that the devil brought into his experience.

And it felt as I pondered the story that there was a progression of how Moses responded, perhaps a mini creation-fall-atonement sort of story...with accompanying insights into how to overcome the influence of the devil (the fall) and progress spiritually.

First, he says, "I can judge between thee and God." I love that. He uses doctrine ("God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten") to stand up to the temptation.

I love, too, how Moses is anxious to get more revelation. He says, "I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him."

Twice he tells Satan to get/depart hence.

But then Satan seems to step it up a notch. Not seems, he does. He rants ("upon the earth" - hm, interesting phrase) and pretends to be Christ. (Makes my skin crawl just writing that.)

And Moses feels great fear, which causes him to see the "bitterness of hell."

It's a good thing that Moses had decided not to cease calling upon God, because it was only that that allowed him to have strength to, again, tell Satan to depart. He overcame the power of fear and had faith strengthened.

But the devil was not about to give up. He trembled, and the earth shook (again, interesting that the text talks about the impact on the earth, not just on Moses). This time, Moses received strength first (hm...) and then, "in the name of the Only Begotten" told Satan to depart.

It feels to me as though, over the course of this interaction, Moses gains more confidence and strength, to the point where he is able, through the power of the Christ and His Atonement -- using the name of Jesus Christ, even -- to overcome the adversary, and come again to a point where he could behold and enjoy the glory, presence, light, and blessings of God.

To me, this story feels a bit like a type of our own journey, the same sort of type that we get in the Adam and Eve story. First, Moses sees the wonder of God's creation. He is able to be in the presence of God for a while, but then that presence was withdrawn. While he was not left completely alone (v. 15 said that God's Spirit had not completely withdrawn), he was left to learn by his own experience to distinguish between light and truth and the evil one - and to act upon the light and truth. It took repetition, consistency, trust in doctrine, discernment, faith in Christ, obedience to commandments, and consistent prayer and spiritual effort to overcome the temptations of the devil. Each time as he leaned on the Lord, he received the strength -- even successively more strength, I think -- to come off the victor. As he was able to finally get Satan to leave his presence, he was blessed to behold the glory of God again, he was chosen to do God's work (to be a deliverer, one of my favorite types of Christ), and was given what seems similar to the sealing power (v. 25).

Elder McConkie once said that
God himself, the Father of us all, established a plan of salvation whereby his spirit children might progress and become like him. It is the gospel of God, the plan of Eternal Elohim, the system that saves and exalts, and it consists of three things. These three are the very pillars of eternity itself. They are the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement.
I see all three pillars in this wonderful chapter, Moses 1. And in it I see much wisdom in how we can overcome temptation, learn through faith and obedience to discern light from darkness, receive spiritual strength to face temptation, and come to know more and more about God, the creation, the atonement, and the purposes of life.