Sunday, July 31, 2016

Divine Nature

While studying in Matthew tonight, I was trying to find a quote in some old lessons I taught while I was Relief Society President. I read this lesson on Divine Nature and realized it was something I needed to read for myself.

It struck such a chord with me, I wanted to share it, to remind all the amazing women I know that we are wonderful and amazing, and we need to learn to love ourselves and stop comparing ourselves to each other.

It is kind of long but filled with a great message. It is amazing what the Lord can inspire you to put together. I hope you can stick it out to the end!

Divine Nature

While trying to prepare this lesson I decided it is much easier to write a talk than write a lesson from scratch.  I know what I want to convey to you but how do I put it into words.  How do I ask questions that will engage you?  How do I get the feelings of my heart to be expressed in a way that will resonate with you?  I am hoping that divine intervention and inspiration will attend me today because I haven’t been able to put this together as cohesively and thoroughly as I would have liked.

There are a lot of good quotes that totally convey what I want to cover.  I could just read conference talks to you and have the message given more eloquently and by more knowledgeable people than me.  What is it that I can offer to this lesson, to this group of women?  The only thing I can think of is my understanding and experience with what I want to talk about.

As women, we are hard on ourselves.  We expect ourselves to be perfect, to be everything to everyone, and impose almost impossible standards onto ourselves.  We look at women we see at church (represented by the woman in this statue); knowing what we look like when we wake up in the morning, how messy our house gets, that we are grumpy or lose patience with our kids; and think of ourselves and this unattractive gray rock.

We then compare ourselves to others and we usually come out on the bad end.  Why do we compare ourselves?

·         Life is hard
·         Depression
·         incorrect perspective
·         We don’t have all the facts.

What can happen when we compare ourselves to others?

·         We judge others
·         we feel bad about ourselves
·         we create an opening for Satan’s influence
·          possibly lose our Heavenly Father’s spirit


If I were me, sitting out there, looking up at the RS Pres. giving a lesson on divine nature or individual worth, I would think to myself “yeah, easy for her to say, she has it all together.”

I know it is very easy to feel like this rock. 

I don’t have it all together.  I know what I look like in the morning.  I struggle with my weight. I have dealt with depression for many years. I know that at 43 I still get pimples.  I know that I struggle with scripture reading.  I know that when we tell our kids we want to start having family home evening they ask "Why bother? Because it never works."

Now that you are wondering “why” they put “her” in as RSP? I ask:

How then, when I know all of these unattractive gray rock things about myself, am I expected to feel like this beautiful white statue;  full of individual worth and divine nature?

Is it possible that when we are comparing ourselves to others we are really asking “who am I?

If that is the case, then we need to know our identity.

Knowing our identity:

Julie B. Beck, Pres, Conf 2007

Knowing and defending the divine roles of women is so important in a world where women are bombarded with false messages about their identity. Popular media figures on the radio and television set themselves up as authorities and spokespersons for women. While these media messages may contain elements of truth, most preach a gospel of individual fulfillment and self-worship, often misleading women regarding their true identity and worth. These voices offer a counterfeit happiness, and as a result, many women are miserable, lonely, and confused.

The only place Latter-day Saint women will learn the whole and complete truth about their indispensable role in the plan of happiness is in this Church and its doctrine. We know that in the great premortal conflict we sided with our Savior, Jesus Christ, to preserve our potential to belong to eternal families. We know we are daughters of God, and we know what we are to do. Women find true happiness when they understand and delight in their unique role within the plan of salvation. The things women can and should do very best are championed and taught without apology here. We believe in the formation of eternal families. That means we believe in getting married. We know that the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. That means we believe in having children. We have faith that with the Lord’s help we can be successful in rearing and teaching children. These are vital responsibilities in the plan of happiness, and when women embrace those roles with all their hearts, they are happy!

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“You are second to none. You are daughters of God.

“There has come to you as your birthright something beautiful and sacred and divine. Never forget that. Your Eternal Father is the great Master of the universe. He rules over all, but He also will listen to your prayers as His daughter and hear you as you speak with Him. He will answer your prayers. He will not leave you alone” (“Stay on the High Road,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 112).

How can we know our identity?

How can we learn our identity and understand the divinely appointed mission the Lord has for us?

·         a parent or a leader
·         patriarchal blessings
·         Prayer
·         serving others
·         attend your church meetings

Patriarchal Blessing:

Pres. Monson, Nov 1986

Your patriarchal blessing is yours and yours alone. It may be brief or lengthy, simple or profound. Length and language do not a patriarchal blessing make. It is the Spirit that conveys the true meaning. Your blessing is not to be folded neatly and tucked away. It is not to be framed or published. Rather, it is to be read. It is to be loved. It is to be followed. Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night.


Richard G. Scott, conf 2000

Let us encourage every woman who questions her value to turn to her Heavenly Father and His glorified Son for a supernal confirmation of her immense individual worth. I testify that as each woman seeks it in faith and obedience, the Savior will continually prompt her through the Holy Ghost. That guidance will lead her to fulfillment, peace, and a consuming joy through magnifying her divinely appointed, sacred womanhood.


James E. Faust  Conf. 2009

Serving others can begin at almost any age. Often the greatest service to others is one-on-one. It need not be on a grand scale, and it is noblest within the family.

Attend Church:

Susan W. Tanner, Young Women General President, Conf 2007

All over the world and in almost every language, young women ages 12 to 18 declare the same thing: “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.”  Yet as they grow up, they often grow away from the confident knowledge . . . that they are very special. Youth often experience an identity crisis, wondering who they really are. The teenage years are also a time of what I describe as “identity theft,” meaning that worldly ideas, philosophies, and deceits confuse us, buffet us, and seek to rob us of the knowledge of our true identity.

One very good young woman said to me, “Sometimes I am not sure who I am. I don’t feel Heavenly Father’s love. My life seems hard. Things are not turning out the way I wanted, hoped, and dreamed they would.” What I said to her I now say to young women everywhere: I know unequivocally that you are a daughter of God. He knows you, He loves you, and He has a plan for you.

This is spoken to the Young Women but I share it with you because it applies to us equally.  We are going to start having the Laurels come into RS on the 4th Sunday.  We will be joining them in standing and saying the YW Theme.  I love the YW theme.  I love that daughters of God all over the world are standing and saying “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.”  

I enjoyed being a part of that while serving in YW and I want you to be able to feel of that as well.

What can we do when we feel bad about ourselves?

Ok, great.  We all know this but how does this help me when I am stuck at home with a sick baby, a whiny toddler or a know-it-all teenager; if I am in the throes of depression; if I don’t have the emotional where-with-all to face a crowd at church; if I have a mountain of laundry to do, bills to pay, and meals to prepare?

Gray rock time:  I have had days where I haven’t come to church because I didn’t feel like I could be cheerful enough to be here.  Being in the midst of people who “have it all together” was too much.  I also struggle with temple attendance.  It causes anxiety in me. I am so afraid that I am going to do or say something wrong, that everyone will be looking at me or waiting on me, that I am a ball of anxiety and nerves. That makes it very hard for me to want to experience. It is something I am working on.

What can we do when we feel bad about ourselves?

·         Call a friend or a spouse
·         Pray
·         listen to good music
·         take a nap
·         go to the temple
·         read good books
·         take a walk
·         list our blessings
·         read your patriarchal blessing
·         serve others

James E. Faust  Conf. 2009

I wonder if you sisters fully understand the greatness of your gifts and talents and how all of you can achieve the “highest place of honor” in the Church and in the world. One of your unique, precious, and sublime gifts is your femininity, with its natural grace, goodness, and divinity. Femininity is not just lipstick, stylish hairdos, and trendy clothes. It is the divine adornment of humanity. It finds expression in your qualities of your capacity to love, your spirituality, delicacy, radiance, sensitivity, creativity, charm, graciousness, gentleness, dignity, and quiet strength. It is manifest differently in each girl or woman, but each of you possesses it. Femininity is part of your inner beauty.

One of your particular gifts is your feminine intuition. Do not limit yourselves. As you seek to know the will of our Heavenly Father in your life and become more spiritual, you will be far more attractive, even irresistible. You can use your smiling loveliness to bless those you love and all you meet, and spread great joy. Femininity is part of the God-given divinity within each of you. It is your incomparable power and influence to do good. You can, through your supernal gifts, bless the lives of children, women, and men. Be proud of your womanhood. Enhance it. Use it to serve others.

Silvia H. Allred, First Counselor, RS Pres, Conf 2009

I have witnessed the same miracle in the lives of many women in different parts of the world. They embrace the gospel, and Relief Society helps them strengthen their faith and grow spiritually by giving them leadership and teaching opportunities. In their service, a new dimension is added to their lives. As they progress spiritually, their sense of belonging, identity, and self-worth increases. They realize that the whole intent of the gospel plan is to provide an opportunity for us to reach our fullest potential. 

C. S. Lewis wisely said: “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. … There are no ordinary people. … Your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses” (“The Weight of Glory,” in Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces [1974], 109–10).

Gray rock time:  When I was going to counseling for depression several years ago, I had a counselor tell me that I should lower my standards.  Well, that just made me mad.  I thought “Why should I have to lower my standards!  Why shouldn’t my family have to raise theirs”!

It took a different therapist, to explain it to me in a different way, to understand his meaning.  I have to decide what really matters.  Will my children turn out horribly if there is dust on top of the fridge or dust bunnies under the sofa?  Will my eternal salvation be in jeopardy if the dishes don’t get done today?

We don’t have to do it all and we certainly don’t have to do it all TODAY!

We need to have some down time, some personal time, some me time.  I love the analogy of the bank account. (You have to make deposits before you can make withdrawals.)

Richard G. Scott, conf 2000

President Hinckley has eloquently captured what the Lord has repeatedly inspired His servants to say of His precious daughters:

Woman is God’s supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good.

“Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth.” 1

True Identity Realized!

What happens when we realize our true identity?  When we stop comparing ourselves to each other and learn to love the wonderful things about us?


We realize that we are beautiful in our own way.  This geode is beautiful in its own way.  It doesn’t diminish the beauty of this statue; the statue doesn’t diminish the beauty of the geode.

Be the best YOU!

The Lord said: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; … for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

This is our hope for you, as your presidency, that we can all realize that we are wonderful, beautiful, talented women.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Becoming More Faithful

Becoming Project Week 1

My goal this week was to study some of the verses I identified in the New Testament which refer to faith.

I began with Matt 14:31 which is Jesus speaking to Peter after he had the faith to get out of the boat and briefly walked on water, but then faltered when he focused on the storm and began to sink.

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Footnotes lead to Mark 4:40 (my third chosen verse) which Jesus said after He calmed the storm, to the Apostles who had feared for their lives, because “there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full” (vs 37).

And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?

Footnotes lead to Alma 44:4 in which Moroni speaks to Zarahemnah after the Nephites had surrounded the more numerous Lamanites in battle.

Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith.

And thus we see: if Jesus can calm the storm, cause mortal men to walk on water, and support and keep safe a much-outnumbered army, then he can care for me and give me the support I need and keep me in his care, so long as I am faithful unto him.

Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not … if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

Verse 22 goes on to say

And all things (blessings), whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

And thus we see: God can move mountains. The Apostles could move mountains with enough faith. I need to have faith that God can give me the blessings that I need. My prayers need to have faith, I need to believe. I need to doubt not!

In verse 31 Jesus tells Peter:

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

Jesus then tells him in verse 32:

 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren.

And thus we see: Jesus has got our backs! Jesus is greater and more powerful than Satan. Jesus wants our faith to be strong and fail us not. All he asks in return is that we will then go and strengthen our brethren.

The footnote to strengthen points to: Fellowshipping; Missionary Work; Sustaining Church Leaders. I believe sharing testimony of our trials, being strengthened through Christ, and what we have learned through the process, is also a form of strengthening our brethren.

Weekly Reflection

I love what Elder Oaks says about our canon being open.

Because of our belief in continuing revelation, we Latter-day Saints maintain that the canon (the authoritative body) of scriptures is open. In fact, the scriptural canon is open in several ways, and continuing revelation is crucial to each of them.[1]

He goes on to say:

Our belief in an open canon also includes private revelations to individual seekers of the meaning of existing scriptures. Such revelations are necessary because, as Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve observed, “Each pronouncement in the holy scriptures … is so written as to reveal little or much, depending on the spiritual capacity of the student” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985, p. 71).[2]

I feel I have experienced some of that personal revelation during my study this week. Some of the things that I have been impressed about:

Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. This stood out to me because I am going through some challenging circumstances with my family right now. This was a powerful reminder that a God who can cause both a barren woman and a virgin to give birth, can certainly help me find new employment, can help my daughter through this separation and possible divorce, and can rescue my wayward daughter. I just need to do my part and have faith in him.

Christ’s royal birthright was through both fathers. I either didn’t catch it or didn’t remember that he had a royal birthright through the lineage of David and would have been the rightful heir to the civic throne. He was King through all aspects of life.

The faith shown by Peter and Andrew when Jesus asked them to come follow him and they "straightway" left their nets, (Mark 1: 17-18) is a great example to me of the kind of faith I want to develop. That is my focus for my Becoming Project.

I believe that studying the life of Jesus Christ can only have a positive impact on me. I am excited to learn more about his life and to gain a deeper testimony of him.

[1] Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Scripture Reading and Revelation, January 1995,
[2] ibid

Friday, July 29, 2016

Traits From His Mother and Father

In my scripture study, I focused on Setting. I wanted to learn a little more context through customs and traditions of the time.

We know of the Godly and divine traits Jesus obtained from God the Father. Someone in class posed the question "What traits did Jesus receive from His Mother and His Father?"

From what I have learned, according to Jewish tradition at the time, an unwed pregnant woman was subject to being stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21) Joseph had decided that he wanted to "put [Mary] away privily," (Matt 1:19) prior to the angel visiting him. (vs 20)

What this teaches me about Joseph is that he was a very kind man. He wanted to spare Mary the indignity of a public trial and divorcement.

What we know about Mary is that she was obedient and virtuous, she was "highly favored, the Lord [was] with [her]," and she was blessed among women. (Luke 1:28)

We can rest assured that they both were victims of much speculation and ridicule because of the situation in which they found themselves.

I think Jesus would have learned traits of humility, obedience, kindness, and love, to name a few. How much of that was inborn because of his divine parentage we don't know, but I am sure his parents were examples of those traits and helped him to incorporate them into his behavior and way of being.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Straightway Toward Faith

One of our assignments is to choose a Christlike characteristic that we want to work on and develop throughout this class. I have chosen faith.

The world is crazy and our family is facing several challenges right now. I felt that learning more about and developing greater faith would be beneficial.

And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me and I will make you to become fishers of men.  And straightway they forsook their nets and followed him.
Mark 1:17-18

This is a perfect example of faith. I love the word "straightway" in this verse. They didn't stop to think about it. They didn't worry how they would feed themselves or make money to sustain life. They dropped their nets and went.

Marvin J. Ashton said this:

Straightway is a power word. Straightway is an action word. It means immediately, without delay or hesitation. It means at once. Also, it is associated with having no curve or turn—a straight course, track, or path. Procrastination would be the very opposite of straightway. To procrastinate is to put off intentionally and habitually something that should be done. Procrastination is unproductive delay. Someone has wisely said, “Procrastination is a silly thing, it only makes me sorrow; but I can change at any time—I think I will tomorrow!”

I don’t know if it is possible to develop that level of faith, to immediately “for[sake my] nets and follow him,” but I hope that through studying the life of Jesus Christ through the words of His Apostles, I can at least gain a greater understanding of the principle and cultivate a deeper faith.

Straightway, Marvin J. Ashton, April 1983

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Christ's Royal Birthright x2

Matthew chapter 1 begins with a long list of genealogy. Sometimes I wonder why this is so important to know who "begat" whom. I read something very interesting in The New Testament Made Easier by David Ridges regarding this genealogy. He said:

"We know of course, that Jesus was literally the Son of God, not the son of Joseph. In tracing this genealogy, Matthew points out that Joseph, the Savior's wonderful stepfather, would have been the political king of the Jewish nation at this time if the Romans had not been in power. And Joseph's legal successor to the crown would have been Jesus. See Jesus the Christ, p. 87."

Jesus had royal birthrights from both of his fathers. Isn't that interesting genealogy?

Monday, July 25, 2016

With God, Nothing is Impossible

I started my new class this week. It is a summer block class studying the four gospels.

Instead of reading them in the order of printing, we are reading certain sections that will follow it more chronologically.

Our reading block this week was: Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2, John 1:1-18, 17:1-5, Matt 3-4, Mark 1, Luke 3-4, and John 1:19-4.

One of the principles that I focussed on is:

For with God nothing shall be impossible. Luke 1:37 

This was spoken after an angel told Mary that she will bear the Son of God whilst a virgin and that Elisabeth, who was barren and stricken with age, was 6 months pregnant.

This reminds me of a scripture that I have posted on my monitor:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Phillipians 4:13

These scriptures bring me great comfort and hope. I can do hard things because with God nothing is impossible. I just have to keep being faithful, following the commandments, and living up to my covenants.

I work full time, do my schoolwork in the evenings, and am an ordinance worker on Saturdays. I have had a lot of health problems lately and have had to take a leave from the temple. I have felt impressed to donate some time to the Circles Program which helps people get out of poverty. This will take up one evening each week.

I am excited to feel well enough to get back to my temple work and know that it is something the Lord still wants me to do. Sometimes I don’t know how I can keep doing it, but I have experienced miracles in relation to my time to do homework. I have been told in blessings that it is because of my temple service. I have literally seen my time expand and have been able to accomplish everything that I need to do.

If we are doing things that follow what God wants us to do, he will make a way for us to do them.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A Diabolically Tactical Fight

My studies this week brought me to a talk by Elder Ballard in which he mentions the attack on the family.

Let me say again that the family is the main target of evil’s attack and must therefore be the main point of our protection and defense. As I said once before, when you stop and think about it from a diabolically tactical point of view, fighting the family makes sense to Satan. . .”

“When the devil wants to strike out and disrupt the essence of God’s work, it attacks the family. It does so by attempting to
  • Disregard the law of chastity
  • Confuse gender
  • Desensitize violence
  • Make crude and blasphemous language the norm
  • And to make immoral and deviant behavior seem like the rule rather than the exception.

I must take a moment to comment on Elder Ballard's use of "it" when referring to the devil. Not once, but twice. 

BAM, Elder Ballard, BAM!!!

The belief in or use of these have all come to bear in my household since my daughter left the church and moved back home from school. I have had to be bold in making known to her what will not be tolerated in my home. In addition to being bold about our standards and setting boundaries, we have had to be bold in getting our daughter to believe that we still love her no-matter-what! 

Elder Hales tells us how we should handle people who criticize our beliefs: “we must love them. We do not feel we are better than they are. Rather, we desire with our love to show them a better way-the way of Jesus Christ.

Love. It always comes down to love. We don't have to agree on everything to love one another.

(Elder M. Russell Ballard, Let Our Voices Be Heard, October 2003 Gen. Conf.)
(Elder Robert D. Hales, Christian Courage - The Price of Discipleship, October 2008 Gen. Conf.)