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“The great plan of happiness revealed to prophets is the plan for a happy family.
It is the love story between husband and wife, parents and children, that renews itself through the ages” (Boyd K. Packer).

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Priesthood

Some women have a problem with the idea that men in the Church hold the priesthood and that women don't.  They often think of it as being unfair - a way of keeping women down and placing men in positions of power and authority.

It is, I believe, a lack of understanding about the true purpose of the priesthood that leads to these feelings.

When we talk about the power of the priesthood, we are not talking about the power and authority of men.  We are talking about the power and authority of God.  The ability to heal, to ordain, to bestow blessings - that is not something that is inherent in mortal men - that is a divine characteristic that can only be shared by God when and how He chooses.

When men in the church receive the priesthood, they are given direct access to that power.  BUT there is a huge caveat.  It is not to be used for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others, and they must maintain certain standards of worthiness.  Men are given a charge, which is a responsibility or a stewardship, to use God's power to bless the lives of others.  For themselves they can do nothing.  Have you ever heard of a man giving himself a priesthood blessing?  That not only sounds ridiculous to a member of the Church, but it probably looks ridiculous.  Why?  Because we know the actual power is not coming from the man, but from God.

Others equate the priesthood responsibility to officiate in church leadership positions as a clear sign that women are second class citizens in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I consider it merely a divinely appointed division of labor.
Women are given special charge to bear children, to nurture others.  Women seem to have natural managerial and nurturing instincts that help them in this calling..  In their make-up, women have a unique need to care for others that is not as readily apparent in men.  Look at any traditional family unit and more often than not, you will see that women are the main caregivers in the home.  This is considered the traditional role and there is a reason that traditions have developed this way over time.  Spouses have generally drifted to the area in which they are better qualified to contribute to family life.

However, our God teaches us to love and serve others.  If women, with their natural instincts to help, ruled the world, I truly believe that men would find very few opportunities to serve.  Think of how often in a ward women are frustrated with what they see as the inept way in which the priesthood handles their responsibilities.  I have often heard women complain that priesthood-planned events are sub-par and not as well organized or carried out.  While it may be true that a dinner planned by the priesthood may have no sign-up sheets, tablecloths, or real dishes, those are not necessarily good reasons for women to take over these responsibilities.

With the men holding the priesthood, women  have opportunities for growth that they would not otherwise have.  They have the opportunity to sit back and let someone else serve them.  They have the opportunity to learn patience!  I think if men did not have that divine authority in our Church and family lives, women would take over all areas, run themselves ragged, and we would inevitably see the destruction of functional society.

The Priesthood is not a mandate to be in control, it's a charge to serve.  It provides men access to opportunities to exercise their unique abilities to serve, while at the same time allowing them to grow in their abilities in a way that would not be possible otherwise.

While I believe that there are certain logical reasons for men to hold the priesthood, I believe that it rests on more than just logic.  I believe it is part of the eternal order of things.  That, too, makes logical sense to me, but it is a little more difficult to explain just why.  In the grand scheme of things, men and women are different.  They just are.  There is no competition between the two.  Sort of like how can you have a competition between a dolphin and a cheetah.  One is better at swimming, the other at running.  But they are both incredibly beautiful creatures.  They each have a role to play in their ecosphere, just as men and women have their own roles to play in morality.

As our understanding of each other's roles improves, our abilities to better fulfill our own role increases, and great happiness will result.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Priesthood in our Lives

I'm preparing for a lesson in Young Women that Josh and I are co-teaching that is about the priesthood - specifically the organization of the priesthood and women supporting the priesthood.  It's an interesting topic that I've been enjoying pondering over.  A couple thoughts that have come to my mind:

1.  We live in a world today in which it is socially acceptable to make fun of men.  The media portrays men and selfish, fumbling, idiots with a serious lack of common sense.  In Relief Society meetings I have heard jokes and laughter about those inept priesthood men.  It's not uncommon when groups of women get together for them to belittle their husbands for their insensitivity.

In this world, how can we as women honor the priesthood.  I submit that if we fall prey to these feelings, we are not honoring and respecting the priesthood as well as we think we are.  I wonder if this is just another tactic of Satan - it seems likely that it is - to destroy the Church.  How far of a step is it to mocking your local priesthood to ignoring the counsel of our Prophet and Apostles?

2.  Elder Cook gave a talk a few conferences ago entitled, "LDS Women Are Incredible!".  In regards to my previous thoughts - I don't think men mock women the way women mock men.
In Elder Cook's talk he shares an experience of the pioneer Elizabeth Jackson who's husband died while on the trek across the plains with the Martin Handcart company.  Her thoughts:
“I will not attempt to describe my feelings at finding myself thus left a widow with three children, under such excruciating circumstances. … I believe … that my sufferings for the Gospel’s sake will be sanctified unto me for my good. …

“I [appealed] to the Lord, … He who had promised to be a husband to the widow, and a father to the fatherless. I appealed to him and he came to my aid.”4
Are we LDS women supportive of our husbands in their callings?  Are we willing to sacrifice so that our husbands may do the Lord's work?  Do we complain?  I do sometimes.  Sometimes it is really hard to have my husband gone for long hours at a time as I deal with grumpy children and the trial of being stuck in my house on a long Sabbath day with cabin-fevering children.  Why does the Lord ask this sort of thing of us, when we know that families are of the supreme importance?  Why does the Church sometimes take the father out of the home more than we might think necessary?

First of all, there are times when we have to set church aside and focus on our family.  That is a decision that is personal and individual to each family unit.  However, my feelings are that the family that sacrifices for the Lord's Church will find that they receive great blessings.  When you send your husband out on the Lord's errand, you will get back a better husband.  The Lord will sustain both of you in your varying stewardships.  I really believe this.  I have found that on those long Sabbaths, a quick prayer and an effort to spend quality time with my children turns what moments before felt like drudgery, into an enjoyable time.  Attitude can make a big difference, as well as an eternal perspective.  Is it easy?  No. Some sundays I want to stay home curled in my bed.  I'm tired.  I don't want to struggle with my two year old through Sacrament Meeting.  Some Sundays my three year old collapses in a full-blown temper tantrum in the middle of a Sacrament meeting prayer.    That has really happened....several times.  Some weeks I'm tempted to shuffle them all home and plug in a movie so that I don't have to think about them anymore.

But.  I KNOW we are being blessed.  And, I appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate to my Father in Heaven that I am willing to do hard things for Him.

3.  The Lord considers women to be a valuable part of the priesthood.  Neither man nor woman can reach the highest order of the Celestial Kingdom without each other.  The Temple sealing ordinance is just that - an ordinance of the priesthood.  Women join men in that priesthood ordinance.
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I like to think of this as stewardships meant to both bless us (by playing to our strengths) and test us (by stretching us above that which we might do).  I think the priesthood stretches men by making them reach out and nurture and serve others through wise and righteous administration of the Lord's power.  I think not having the priesthood helps keep women - those wise managers of their homes - from feeling as though they can and should manage every aspect of life.  I think together, a righteous priesthood holder and a righteous wife, can create a perfect team.




Monday, March 19, 2012

Perceptions

Yesterday was one of those exhausting days where it felt like I was fighting with my two youngest kids all. day. long.  

Towards the end of the day we were finally reunited with Daddy, who got to have his share of the little wiggle worms.  I was somewhat gratified to see that they wouldn't cooperate for him, either - but not really.  It was just tiring to have the constant little noises and distractions when I was trying to listen to a great talk.

When the meeting first started, the speaker had stopped mid-sentence towards the beginning of his comments and told all the parents (and he even made eye-contact with me) not to worry about their children.  He said the children are not bothering anyone else except you.  I want to explain, though, that this was not a regular church service, and so the same level of reverence that you would expect there was not necessary.   Therefore, he said to go ahead and ignore the screaming.  ;-)   

After the meeting, the elderly couple behind us smilingly complimented us on how well-behaved our children were.  I was completely surprised because I had spent the entire meeting wishing that child number five wouldn't hum to herself QUITE so loudly.  I love her quiet humming...but sometimes her enthusiasm is distracting.   It was a lesson to me that what the speaker had said was true - I was the one most disturbed by my children.  A huge part of my feelings during that meeting had to do with the already long and rough day, and a lack of a solid night's sleep on my part.  We were all hungry and tired at that point.  But really the kids were being pretty good - it was my perceptions that were off.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Ride of Your Life

Mr. and I have been discussing sex ed a lot of late.  Our oldest daughter was supposed to take that class in her 8th grade science class.  We decided to opt out of it and teach it at home.  Two reasons: 1) we feel that this topic falls under the category of parent's responsibility; 2) we did not think that some of the discussion matter was going to be age-appropriate.

So now we have to think more firmly on what we're going to teach.  We have the lesson plans from the school which we can use as a base (leaving out what we want, or adding our opinions).  We have books available.  And we have "The Family: A Proclamation to the World".  Now to schedule some time to have these lessons.  Yes.

Anyway, while I was pondering, I thought of an analogy for sex.

Imagine that sex is like an amusement park.  Satan runs one theme park.  There are all sorts of rides.  All ages are invited to attend.  You can bring a partner or meet up with one there.  Basically, it's an anything goes atmosphere.  There are no requirements to be able to ride and you're welcome on any ride.  Oh, but there's a catch.  There is no safety apparatus.  No seat belts and no shoulder pads.  You're just riding.  And hoping you don't fall out.  But hey, it's fun.  And you can do whatever you want.  Some people ride a lot of rides and try to convince others to join them.  

The Lord has his own park.  His rides are pretty awesome too.  Fast ones, slow ones, and loop-de-loop ones. AND his rides have safety features.  Seatbelts and shoulder pads to keep you safely in place while you enjoy the experience.  The difference?  There are standards you have to meet when you enter the park.  You have to come with your spouse, and you have to stay with them the entire time.  No dividing up and trying out different rides.  No inviting friends to join you.  It's just the two of you, having the time of your lives, in perfect safety.

At Satan's park, you're basically guaranteed a spill.  If you're lucky it will be a minor bruise, but it could have disastrous consequences.   You don't get to choose the severity of the consequences, though.

The Lord's park has a 100% safety record, so it's a pretty safe bet that you'll have a good time all the way through.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Love your kids

"As Latter-day Saints, be careful not to view the entire world outside the family as an ugly place.  To be sure, we live in a time when corruption is rampant, but so did Enoch.  There are also people about us who are good, kind, and decent.  In this and other matters, parents need not be unduly afraid of outside influences if the home is a warm, loving refuge for its members.  President David O. McKay explained: "A child has the right to feel that in his home he has a place of refuge, a place of protection from the dangers and evils of the outside world.  Family unity and integrity are necessary to supply this need" (Improvement Era, Sept. 1965, p. 757)." - A Parent's Guide


I think I've often felt like in order to protect my children I need to keep them home with me.  I think when they are very young this can be beneficial while their testimonies and understanding of who they are is developing.  But between the ages of 8 and 12 they should start heading out into the world.  And in their teenage years, you need to be willing to let them go and trust them to make good decisions.  I absolutely agree with this quote that the depth to which they feel safe and loved in their homes will determine how your children relate to the outside world.  I've felt more and more with my oldest child (now 13) that I need to constantly reaffirm to her that I love her, that God loves her, and that she has great worth.  That is one of my primary responsibilities right now.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Growing up Decisions

Next year my oldest daughter reaches high school.  That's the beginning of a really big, momentous, grown-up phase in a person's life.

As long time home-schoolers, the question we inevitably get is will our daughter go to public high school.  And our answer is that it is up to her.  And it is.  I've been talking to her about the various pros and cons between her three options: full-time public school, public school independent study (which can include taking classes on campus), or full-time home-school where we choose the program.

The pro to public school: she can participate in a group learning environment, hang out with friends, be taught by people who spend a lot of time teaching in their area of expertise.  The con - sometimes the student environment is not good.  There can be wasted class time, and there can be subjects being covered that we consider inappropriate.

Pro to independent study: can still participate in extra curricular activities, electives, etc., while having freedom to study at home in her own way.  Cons: sometimes it's harder to grasp topics as you are essentially teaching yourself and have no one to discuss with.

Pro to homeschool: choose your own curriculum, work at your own pace, spend more time with the family, better environment (no swearing, making out, etc).
Cons: miss out on the extra-curricular and elective options, friend time - have to teach yourself.  Some subjects either not an option, or are harder to do as a home-schooler.

It's been really hard for me to think through what I would even want her to choose.  High School is kind of an iconic experience, still, although it's getting to be less so as more and more kids homeschool.  But in our small town, if you want friends you pretty much have to be showing up at school every day.  There are no alternatives.

I don't think it bothers me that she's going to spend less time with our family.  I don't like it, but it's part of growing up and I have to learn to accept that I'm going to be seeing less of her.  She's mine for a time, and then I have to let her go.  It's my job to get her ready to fly.

Because of the impending high school decision, I've been reflecting on what I might still need to teach her in the next four years before she's an adult.  Four years is a long time....but it's going to go by so quickly.

And you know, that means that technically there are only six year left of my second child before she flies the coop.

This is all going by much to fast.

I'm tempted to keep having children so that I never have to say good-bye and face an empty nest.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Receiving Personal Revelation

Way back in October I had the privilege of going to Vacaville to hear Sister Julie Beck, Relief Society General President, speak to the women in our region.  She started her talk by inviting women to come up and share questions that they had for her.  It was interesting to note that every single person talked about a person challenge that they were dealing with and then wondered what to do about it.  Then Sister Beck spoke.  What she said was basically to do what you need to do to receive personal revelation.  THAT's where the answers will be found - from the Lord himself.

Yesterday as I was preparing my lesson on listening to the Holy Ghost, I found a talk by Sister Beck given in conference last April that was all about receiving inspiration from the Lord.  I wondered if when she was speaking to us in October she was thinking, "didn't anyone listen to what I was saying six months ago??"  Because she could have just given that talk all over again and sat down.  Or even just said - go read your May Ensign.

In the Conference talk she shares some wonderful thoughts.

**The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.
**A revelation in the book of Joel states that in the last days, sons and daughters of God will prophesy and the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon His servants and His handmaids. 10 President Spencer W. Kimball echoed this prophecy when he said:
“Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world. …
“Thus it will be that female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and spiritual growth of the Church in the last days.” 11 

**The Lord depends on His daughters to do their part to strengthen the homes of Zion and build His kingdom on the earth. As they seek and qualify for personal revelation, the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon His handmaids in these latter days.


It was good for me to read this because I have been needing to remember to seek this personal revelation and inspiration for myself. 

I've been reading a book by Sir Ken Robinson entitled "The Element".  It's all about finding your passion.  It made me feel like a complete loser as a home-school mom.  I feel like I'm failing so miserably in helping my children find and develop their talents.  Lately I've felt like school is boring, they're not learning anything.  They're just doing busy work to make me feel like we've accomplished something that day that somewhat resembles education.

One of the key problems I've been having is that I feel totally out of my comfort zone with my second and third children.  They learn so completely different from how I learn and teach.  They are physical, tactile kinesthetic people.  I am a bookworm.  I abhor mess.  Physical, tactile learning is usually messy.  We are different.  Knowing this didn't do much to make me feel better.

But after reading Sister Beck's talk I was reminded that the Lord sent these Spirits to our family - he's going to help me raise them. 

Talking to Josh also helped.  He reminded me that public school is no more suited to their learning styles than I feel I am.  With the added negative in that they won't even try to be suited to their learning styles - school would expect the children to conform to their teaching style.

These thoughts are giving me renewed hope and motivation to seek out, through the Lord's inspiration, ideas for how to best help my children learn.  I need to humble myself and learn to rely more on the Lord, and less on the internet.  This is something that will take more thinking about and working on, but acknowledging it is the first step.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Distractions

Sister Beck:  "The powerful feeling that has been coming over me is, “Sisters, fight—fight, sisters.” You have the responsibility in your homes...We cannot sit and act like victims. This is the work of a determined adversary, and we have to take responsibility for defending our homes. We must teach our families everywhere—in family home evenings, in prayer and scripture study, and at mealtimes. We must create opportunities to teach. This will require limiting activities that take us to and fro...We need to be the ones seeking every day to qualify for the Spirit, to recognize the voice of the Spirit, and to follow the voice of the Spirit because other voices will lead us in the wrong ways...This is a faith-based work. The family and the work of women—Latter-day Saint women—is a faith-based work, and we have to call upon our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel and the principles He taught on the earth. We have to follow Him with all our hearts" (2009 BYU Women's Conference).

Sister Beck gave a wonderful talk at this conference.  I have posted multiple quotes from that talk on this blog.  Sister Beck is my hero.  She is indeed a champion of a family.  She helps me feel proud to be a wife and a mother, and just as importantly she helps me feel CAPABLE as a wife and a mother.

We are engaged in a fight against a powerful opposer who makes it his supreme goal to destroy the family.  Why pick on the family?  Because that is where the war is won or lost.  Thus, the Deceiver is busy setting up distractions and stumbling blocks in our quest for happy families.  What are they?

1.  Today's women believe that mothering is hard and that it is deserving of sympathy.  It's not.  It's no harder than being a father, or being single, or having a physical handicap.  The challenges of each situation are different, but how can you say one is harder than the other?

2.  Raising expectations of mothers in order to keep us busy.  Today's mothers must chauffeur their children to multiple events, create healthy meals, sew elaborate Halloween costumes, be dressed impeccably in trendy clothing, dream up darling handouts for every lesson they teach, volunteer in each of their children's classes at school, and maintain a spotless, designer-decorated house.

3.  Making new versions of modesty acceptable.  Sayings like "modest is hottest" and "sexy modesty" which really are oxymorons.

4.  Today's mothers must deal with an influx in pornography, that has access to their very homes via the internet and television, that is geared towards all ages and genders.

5.  Today's mothers are supposed to balance a full-filling career and family life on 24-hours a day.  Even if you don't work outside the home, you are expected to be contributing to the family's income somehow.

Those are just a few of the things I've noticed.  These distractions take us away from what is really important.  Family time.  Gospel study as individuals and families.  Temple attendance.  Those are the things that rejuvenate us and remind us what really matters.


Husbands need to be loved

Sister Beck:   "Husbands need to be loved.  That creates a feeling and climate of faith, hope, and charity in a home, which the world does not teach. It is okay for a wife to cook for her husband. I have a niece who was married recently, and her mother said, “It’s okay for you to cook for your husband. You should do it. It’s a sign of your love for him and of how you want to take care of him and nurture him.” The world would not teach you that, but the gospel does. Love at home creates a climate of faith, hope, and charity. We have to work for it and strive for it" (2009 BYU Women's Conference).

Marriage is Essential

Elder Bednar gave two reasons why marriage is essential:  “Reason 1: The natures
of male and female spirits complete and perfect each other, and therefore men and women are
intended to progress together toward exaltation. . . . Reason 2: By divine design, both a man and
a woman are needed to bring children into mortality and to provide the best setting for the
rearing and nurturing of children" (Ensign, June 2006).

3 Purposes of Women

"In our presidency, we have talked about three lifelong responsibilities that Latter-day Saint
women have to help them prepare for the blessings of eternal life. First, we are to increase faith
and personal righteousness. We have heard much about that at this women’s conference. Second,
we have a responsibility to strengthen families and homes, and third, we have a responsibility to
seek out and help those who have needs—any kind of needs. We are a relief society and that is
what we do. We provide relief from all that hinders the joy and progress of women and all of
Heavenly Father’s children" (Julie B. Beck, 5/1/09, "Nourishing and Protecting the Family" BYU Women's Conference).
“That’s the job of a mother.
Every mother should produce a superior daughter.”
 - Sister Julie B. Beck,  in an address titled: "Nourishing and Protecting the Family" given on May 1, 2009, at the BYU Women’s Conference.