Archive for the ‘women’ Tag

Mothers and Daughters

Reading: “Mothers and Daughters,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

In the past few conference Elder Ballard has focused on family relationships. Last time he spoke to father and sons, so this time he chose to speak to mothers and daughters. He first encouraged daughters to listen to their mothers. He then encouraged mothers to teach their daughters important lessons. These inlude:

  • Find joy in nurturing children
  • Don’t gossip or casually criticize others
  • How to nurture others (by example)
  • About sexual matters
  • To be modest
  • How to recognize the spirit

My own daughter is only two years old, but I can already see her emulating my example. I am often humored, and sometimes bothered, when she says to me the things I say to her all the time. I hope I can be a good example for my daughter, and provide the nurturing that she needs to grow up wise and strong.

What things did your mother do that helped you learn the most? How can you better reach out to the young women in your life to help them learn these important concepts.

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A Measure of Success

Reading: “And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit,” Sister Julie Beck, Relief Society General President, April 2010 General Conference

Although this is only the second talk I have written about, I feel safe in saying that this is the most personally moving and meaningful talk I heard in all of conference. There was so much here that I felt was personally directed at me, and Sister Beck answered questions I didn’t even know I had yet.

In this talk Sister Beck asks sisters to measure their success appropriately. She says,

Good women always have a desire to know if they are succeeding. In a world where the measures of success are often distorted, it is important to seek appreciation and affirmation from proper sources. To paraphrase a list found in Preach My Gospel, we are doing well when we develop attributes of Christ and strive to obey His gospel with exactness. We are doing well when we seek to improve ourselves and do our best. We are doing well when we increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help others who are in need. We know we are successful if we live so that we qualify for, receive, and know how to follow the Spirit. When we have done our very best, we may still experience disappointments, but we will not be disappointed in ourselves. We can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when we feel the Spirit working through us.9 Peace, joy, and hope are available to those who measure success properly.

I often have a difficult time measuring my own success. There are so many things to do in a day, whether it is running errands, cleaning house, making dinner, entertaining a toddler, or interacting with a baby, it all seems important and I can never do it all. At the end of the day I often feel like I am drowning in a sea of things that can never get done, and it is hard to feel that I have accomplished all I should. It is a huge help and inspiration to hear from Sister Beck the true measures of success, and to be reminded that all those little things I do each day do have great meaning and importance. When I am focused on what is really important, then I can truly feel I am succeeding.

How do you usually measure your success? Are there any measurements that need adjusting?

The Importance of Motherhood

Reading: Sheri Dew interviewing Elder Richard G. Scott and his daughter Linda Scott Mickle in the latest episode of Conversations, a podcast/radio show done by the Mormon Channel

This past weekend I got to listen to the latest episode of Conversations, where Sister Sheri Dew interviews Elder Scott and his daughter about his life.  In the interview they talk about Elder Scott’s life, marriage, and insights.  It is a great opportunity to get to know Elder Scott better.

The part of the interview that particularly stood out to me were Elder Scott’s words to mothers.  When Sister Dew what one piece of counsel he would give to women to help them live in this time of confusion about the role of women he said:

I think I’d begin with the fact that they should recognize that it wasn’t until after the creation of women as the final act that the Lord declared his work was done and it was good. The need to recognize the tremendously important role that the Savior himself places on womanhood. The woman is a nurturer just by the way she’s created and I think some women begin to wonder about how effective what they do is, and they shouldn’t. They should realize how extremely important they are in all the plans of his Father in heaven…

I think wherever it is at all possible to be done, a man will bless his children more by making it possible for his wife to be in the home with them as they are growing. They need, if it is at all possible, a mother in the home with them.

It is easy to get so wrapped up in the day to day drudgery of being a mom that you forget the real purpose of what you are doing.  Hearing an apostle say directly that what I am doing is important, that staying home with my children is important, and that I am doing a great work really touched me and comforted me.

I encourage you to listen to this podcast if you have some time.  There are lots of great things that I learned about Elder Scott and he had a lot of great things to say to us as an apostle of the Lord.

What has been the importance of the mothers in your life?

The Heritage of the Relief Society

Reading: “The Enduring Legacy of Relief Society,” President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, General Relief Society Meeting, September 2009

Since its inception in 1842, the Relief Society has been actively involved in service. In this talk President Eyring gave a brief history of the Relief Society, including many accomplishments I had never heard of before. Some of these include:

  • Started a hospital system in frontier times (was later passed on to other management)
  • Began what was to become LDS Family Services
  • Created a grain storage system relied upon by the federal government
  • Created their own magazine for women
  • Started the primary and young women programs
  • Started visiting teaching from the beginning

Elder Eyring further explained that while many of those programs are no longer ran by the Relief Society, that the passing on of these programs was necessary because now that the Relief Society is spread across the whole world (versus being centralized in Utah) managing such programs would have become burdensome and difficult.  Today the greatest role of the Relief Society is in reaching out to individual sisters in a time when we all have become more isolated from each other.

As I have moved from place to place it has been a great blessing to count on the local Relief Society for help and for companionship.  While some women find it difficult to build a network of friends to help support them, the Relief Society provides a network of women happy to befriend and help wherever you go. Visiting Teaching, when properly done, helps ensure that every sister has someone looking out for them.

What blessings has the Relief Society brought to you in your life? How can you help the Relief Society in its current efforts?

Relief Society for Every Woman

Reading: “Every Woman Needs Relief Society,” Silvia H. Allred, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, General Relief Society Meeting, October 2009

Sister Allred would like every woman to benefit from Relief Society.  In her talk she encourages every woman to seek out what benefits she could gain from Relief Society. She also assures us that as we come together as righteous sisters, our example will bring many other righteous women into the church. She quoted President Kimball as saying,

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 . . . 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.Among the real heroines in the world who will come into the Church are women who are more concerned with being righteous than with being selfish. These real heroines have true humility, which places a higher value on integrity than on visibility. . . .

Thus it will be that female exemplars of the Church will be a significant force in both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days.

As a member of the Relief Society, I can think of many ways the gospel helps me to stand out from the world.  It shows in the things we do together as a family, the things I do on my own, my attitudes about the role of women, and so on.  Going to Relief Society helps me find others who share some of those same priorities, and be stronger as a whole.

Recently I met a woman in our ward who works very hard and seems to be a confident and self-driven person, but who expressed to me that she doesn’t like to go to Relief Society.  There have been times when I also did not enjoy going to Relief Society, so I feel sympathy with her. Yet, this talk has helped me to want to reach out to that sister and other sisters who have, for whatever reason, decided Relief Society is not for them and help them to feel welcome and to find the benefits of Relief Society.

What benefits have you gained from participating in Relief Society? How can you help reach out to other women and bring them back into Relief Society?

Purposes of the Relief Society

Reading: “Relief Society: A Sacred Work,” Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, General Relief Society Meeting, October 2009

In the General Relief Society Meeting about a week ago, Sister Beck, the president of Relief Society, reminded us of the three main purposes of the relief society, which are:

  1. Help sisters increase their faith and personal righteousness.
  2. Help sisters strengthen their families and homes.
  3. Help sisters serve the Lord and his children.

She then talked about the various ways the relief society does this, such as through relief society meetings, through visiting teaching, and through service.

Hearing the purposes of relief society help me be more motivated to attend and participate.  Sometimes it seems like relief society is for socializing, or entertaining, or even a competition. When I lose sight of the real purpose of relief society I often get discouraged because I’m not particularly good at socializing, or entertaining, and I always seem (at least in my mind) to be behind other more spiritual and friendly sisters in my ward. Yet, the purpose of relief society is centered on the gospel and on service.  It is okay that I may not be the “best” because relief society is truly about helping all the sisters wherever they are at in life.

What side purposes sometimes distract you from the real purpose of the relief society? How do you keep the true purposes of the relief society in your heart?

His Arm is Sufficient

Reading: “His Arm is Sufficient,” Sister Barbara Thompson, Second Counselor in the Relief Society Presidency, April 2009 General Conference, Sunday Morning Session

Last September in the General Relief Society meeting Sister Beck gave three things to help us in our quest for eternal life.  Those three things were:

  1. Increase in faith an personal righteousness
  2. Strengthen families and homes
  3. Serve the Lord and his children

Sister Thompson here encourages us to continue to strive to do these three things.  As part of her encouragement she shares the following verse from The Time is Far Spent:

Be fixed in your purpose for Satan will try you. / The weight of your calling he perfectly knows. / Your path may be thorny but Jesus is nigh you. / His arm is sufficient tho demons oppose. / His arm is sufficient tho demons oppose.

These are certainly three things that I strive to do each day.  Yet, sometimes I get discouraged when things don’t go just right. It is comforting to know that the Savior is always there to help me.  Although the Savior cannot make our choices or learn our lessons for us, he is there to help every step of the way.

Today I am going to pray to see how God is helping me.

How are you striving to follow Sister Beck’s counsel?  How have you received help to follow the counsel when your own resources were not enough?

Honoring the Priesthood

Reading: “Honor the Priesthood and Use It Well,” Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, October 2008 General Conference, Priesthood Session

The next several talks I write about are from the Priesthood Session of the General Conference.  In this meeting the leadership of the church talks to men who hold the priesthood.  This generally includes every worthy male over the age of 12 in the membership of the church.  There is also a similar meeting that is just for the Relief Society and Young Women, which includes all the women over the age of 18 and between the ages of 12 and 18 respectively. Rather than taking more space to give a greater background on the priesthood and how it operates in our church, I encourage those who want to know more about this topic to go here and here.

The priesthood is defined as the authority to act in the name of God on Earth.  In this talk Elder Scott encourages the members of the priesthood to be worthy of this sacred trust.  The one area he emphasizes the most is that they treat the women of the church with the utmost respect, and their wives with love and tenderness.

Elder Scott states clearly that the fact that men have the priesthood and women do not does not imply that women are second class.  He says,

In some cultures, tradition places a man in a role to dominate, control, and regulate all family affairs. That is not the way of the Lord. In some places the wife is almost owned by her husband, as if she were another of his personal possessions. That is a cruel, unproductive, mistaken vision of marriage encouraged by Lucifer that every priesthood holder must reject. It is founded on the false premise that a man is somehow superior to a woman. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The scriptures confirm that Father in Heaven saved His greatest, most splendid, supreme creation, woman, to the end. Only after all else was completed was woman created. Only then was the work pronounced complete and good.

It is clear that when a man acts in “unrighteous dominion” by treating his wife as second class or as property, he is no longer worthy to hold the priesthood and the power leaves him.

Elder Scott made another comment that rings true sometimes for me as well as for other women I see around me:

By divine design a woman is fundamentally different from a man in many ways. She is compassionate and seeks the interests of others around her. However, that compassionate nature can become overwhelming for women who identify far more to accomplish than they can possibly do, even with the help of the Lord. Some become discouraged because they do not feel they are doing all they should do. I believe this is a feeling that many worthy, effective, devoted women of the Church experience.

I am very blessed to have a husband who loves and respects me.  He is always quick to tell me how greatful he is for the work that I do, even when I feel like I am not doing near as much as I should.  His kind encouragement often helps me to feel better when I may feel inadequate.

I do not have the Priesthood, obviously, but this talk made me feel much more greatful for my husband.  I am greatful for all that he does for me, and love him all the more for it.  Today I am going to tell him how much I love and how greatful I am for him.

To the women: What priesthood holders have blessed your life by honoring their priesthood in the way Elder Scott recommends? To the men: How do you honor your priesthood in your every day life?

Relief Society: Organization for Women

Reading: “Now Let Us Rejoice,” Barbara Thompson, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, General Relief Society Meeting, Sept 28, 2008

In Sister Thompson’s talk she discusses the history and purpose of Relief Society.  She first talked about how the early sisters of the church became united together in order to provide “relief” to those around them.  She said,

In the early days of the Church, sisters provided relief as they went from house to house. Doing what we now call visiting teaching, the sisters went about ministering to all—caring for and attending to the needs of others and ensuring that people had food, clothing, shelter and providing relief when needed. If a sister had something to share, she would contribute it to the visiting sisters. If she was in need, the sisters would help provide for her.

Many times in my life I have been helped in great ways by the Relief Society.  Recently, when I had my baby my visiting teachers helped to take care of me, while other sisters in the ward provided meals for us to eat.  Also, when we moved just a few weeks ago the sisters of the Relief Society came and helped me to clean my house and get it ready to go.  I know first hand that the relief society is actively involved in helping people everywhere around the world.

My participation in relief society is a major part of my participation in church.  It is God’s organization for women.  Sister Thompson said,

Relief Society is not just a class on Sunday. It isn’t just a place we go if we are not teaching in the Primary or Young Women organizations. It is the Lord’s organization for women. Participation in Relief Society is part of our glorious heritage and blessing as women in the Lord’s Church.

It does seem to me that in our society we do need women who know who they are and who confidently do the Lord’s work.  So many women are so confused about who they are or who they should be, but through the gospel we can be a beacon in a troubled time. Sister Thompson said,

Sisters, now more than ever, we need women to step up and be strong. We need women who declare the truth with strength, faith, and boldness. We need women to set an example of righteousness. We need women to be “anxiously engaged in a good cause.” We need to live so that our lives bear witness that we love our Heavenly Father and the Savior Jesus Christ and that we will do what They have asked us to do. We need to rescue “all that is finest down deep inside of [us]” so that as daughters of God we can do our part to build the kingdom of God. We will have help to do this. As Joseph declared, “If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.”

Since I just moved I am faced with starting all over again in Relief Society.  Since I am shy, I often have trouble really feeling comfortable in Relief Society, and I am really daunted by the task of trying to make new friends all over again.  However, inspired by Sister Thompson’s talk, I am now resolving to put forth my best effort to both make friends and to participate even if I feel uncomfortable.

How do you feel about Relief Society?  Also, how do you make friends and encourage a spirit of friendship in relief society?