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Videos of Jesus Christ – No Regrets Parenting

When Jessica was a brand new baby in 1987 I made a solemn commitment to myself. I would live each day carefully and mindfully so I could be a mother with no regrets. In 1991, when she was almost four (and had a baby sister, Belinda) I lost my temper when she broke a rule and I knew all my parenting aspirations were for nought.

No Regrets Parenting

I’m sure that in those four years I did lots of imperfect things, but that was the first time I felt I’d really bungled the motherhood thing. And it’s only gone downhill from there. Not that I haven’t had some good moments and even sparks of rare, accidental brilliance. But for the most part, I’ve been a pretty darn average parent on the scale of awful to amazing. Those teenage years can just wipe the floor with your incredible intentions. Not to mention all your own bad habits, insecurities, and general cluelessness.  [click to continue…]

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Tall Tales and Truths

Book Review: Mormons: Tall Tales and Truths by Jenni Rose Maiava

Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith? Do you work in your church for free? Can Mormons dance?

These are just a few of the questions posed in this book by Jenni Rose Maiava. The author gives simple answers to each of these questions, sometimes with a personal anecdote to illustrate. Most chapters are just a few paragraphs long, which make for very quick and easy reading.  [click to continue…]

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Simple FHE Ideas: Repentance

You may have lived through the awful, error-filled object lessons that I did in Sunday School or seminary. Here are some examples of what not to do to teach children or anyone about sin and repentance:

Simple FHE Ideas Repentance

  1. A teacher picked up a slab of wood. He drove four or five nails into the board, then turned the hammer over and pulled them out. “This is like the law of chastity. You can repent, but the holes are still there.”
  2.  A teacher took out a piece of gum, placed it in his mouth, and chewed it well. Then he took out the gum and held the was before the class. “This gum is like chastity. Who wants it now?”
  3. The teacher brings a luscious looking, decorated cake to class. He sets it on the table in front of the class with plates and forks next to it. After talking about chastity for some time he picks up a plate. All the students’ mouths start watering in anticipation of their treat. The teacher sticks his hand into the cake, grabs a handful, and smashes it on the plate. Then he holds it out to the class. “Who would like a piece?”

I suppose all these awful “analogies” are used in the hopes of scaring kids into avoiding sex at all costs (assuming, of course, that this hasn’t already been a problem for some). Of all things kids can mess around with, it’s one of the most impactful. And there a grain of truth in all that mess. When we sin, we are forever changed. We can’t turn back time and undo what we did. We can’t use the time we spent sinning for growth and service and goodness. We can’t magically make physical ills caused by addictions, repair the relationships that were ruined, cause illegitimately conceived children to be unborn and start over, or pull back all the problematic consequences of our bad behavior, we can still be clean before God.

Still, the gospel teaches us that scarlet sins can be white as snow. Not pink. Not tinted. Pure white. That is truth. Whatever baggage may stick with us from our sins as we travel through life, we can rest assured that God does not hold it over our heads, use it to smack us around, or even remember it.

We can be utterly clean before him. He will see us as we are.

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This isn’t a video about Jesus Christ. It’s actually a life insurance commercial. Yea, I know, right? But it really is one of the best videos of Jesus Christ ever, without intending to be. Because the least of these is always him.

Least of These is Him

About a decade ago I read a life changing book titled Masquerading as Angels by Lance Richardson and Bruce Miller. It was a chronicle describing a vacation taken by two families with the purpose of finding people along the way to whom they could offer service.

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Recently I was pointed to an article by V. H. Cassler (who I presume is Valerie Hudson Cassler) titled “Ruby Slippers on Her Feet: Reflections on the OrdainWomen Website.” Soon thereafter a few people asked me to comment. Well, it’s one thing to respond to a typical blog post or speech and quite another to respond to 20 pages of single spaced type. But, hey, I aim to please!

Ruby Slippers On Her Feet - Cassler

Sincerely, though, dredging through all this is going to be painful. I can feel it. And I just want you to pity me right from the start. Sometimes when I’m asked to analyze something, it’s worse than expected, but other times it turns out not to be as problematic as the rumbling seems to indicate. But this time, it’s just starting out wrong, so I hope I’m pleasantly surprised.

Here goes nothing.  [click to continue…]

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We Are Strong!

Book Review: We Are Strong! Mothers and Daughters Stand Together by Fay A. Klingler

We Are StrongThis timely and extremely applicable book cuts through the noise of the mommy wars and speaks to women in a non-discriminatory uplifting way that I found refreshing and empowering. I found the wise examples of Ellis Reynolds Shipp and Camilla Eyring Kimball extremely valuable and especially enjoyed the following from Brigham Young:

If some women had the privilege of studying they would make as good mathematicians as any man. We believe that women are useful not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, and raise babies, but that they should study law…or physics…

Fay’s frank yet nurturing syntax is apparent throughout. Her tone combined with pertinent anecdotal evidence directs the reader to inner contemplation and valuable self-assessment. The result of which can be influential in making changes that align perfectly with doctrine but are suited to each individual.  [click to continue…]

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We love General Conference so much around here. I wish we had in quarterly or more. I’ve had personal witness about how acting on prophetic and authoritative counsel can change our lives. But in spite of the fact that we look forward to it with great anticipation and make plans for a great General Conference experience, it can too easily come and go without  being as impactful as it should be.

General Conference Roundup

For the Family Home Evening after General Conference, we like to have something of a family conference roundup. It’s simple to implement, but helps make the entire experience more meaningful by helping us focus on taking action with the counsel we receive.

Preparation

As you watch conference ask each family member to look for a personal action plan. By this I mean to look for some counsel that they know will be helpful and can be acted upon. Ask each person to take a few notes on the speaker and topic so they can share their insights with the rest of the family.

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General Conference – April 2014 – Open Thread

Sorry to be slow to open the thread. Please feel free to add any thoughts about the sessions (including the General Women’s Meeting last week) here.

Enjoy conference weekend everyone!

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Sitting on the far end of the row of chairs in Sunday School — trying to avoid Bob at all costs — our teacher told the parable of the good Samaritan.

“When can you be a good Samaritan?” he asked. “When can you be kind to someone who is despised?”

Your Good Samaritan Moment

I glanced sideways down the row without turning my head. Maybe Bob would understand. Maybe he would finally get it. Maybe he would raise his hand and say:

You know, I just realized that I’ve been really unkind to Alison for the past seven years just because she’s fat. Plus red hair. Oh, and the glasses and the freckles. Plus she’s a freak. But that’s probably wrong and maybe I need to ignore all those flaws and just let her be.

That might not sound like a compliment, but that’s what I hoped for.  [click to continue…]

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Simple FHE Ideas: Choices

Jeffrey R. Holland said:

There are times when the only way to get from A to C is by way of B.

And B can sometimes give you a good kick in the teeth.

There have been times in my life — very important, consequential, serious times — when prayerful, thoughtful decisions by me and by members of my family have seemed to turn disastrous. It can seems logical — and accurate — to conclude that God simply isn’t in the details and doesn’t much care about the means so much as the ends in our lives.

Simple FHE Ideas: Choices

I openly admit that I’ve become rather deistic in my leanings over my 49 years on earth. By that I mean that I really do think that, to some extent, God has created the universe, given us the gospel for maximum advantage, and then let’s us “work out our salvation” without much intervention. I don’t think he does so out of disinterest, but out of a respect for agency. It’s the only way I can rationalize the disparity in people’s circumstance, the unfairness and evil in the world (and the innocents harmed by them), and the times I poured out my soul to God and did everything in my power to do what he wanted, only to have my head slammed to the pavement.

But I do believe that there is “supernatural revelation” and that he does exert his influence, particularly by giving us strength and comfort to survive those head banging moments we all come up against.

When one of my own children had a life changing blow to her dreams and plans, she saw the video embedded below and shared it with me. It depicted perfectly how her life had been shaped. She prayerfully made an important decision and proceeded with joy and excitement. But when the opportunity turned into a dead end, ultimately it was the answer to her prayer. She turned back with assurance that the alternate choice was correct. She could move forward without spending her life wondering if she had made the correct choice, because she was allowed to make both and see them to the end.

We can’t see all the lies ahead. But we can trust that whether God specifically directs our actions, nudges us toward future clarity, or allows us to choose without intervention and deal with the consequences — and I believe he does all three, depending on the circumstances — that our most troubling and chaotic “wrong roads” can be our best teachers, our greatest reassurance, and even our guiding light if we let the Lord be part of the path correction.

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In the middle of cranking out an excruciating long post, I keep coming across the almost universally intellectually dishonest or radically uninformed presentations about the supposed 90% of LDS women — and 95% of highly committed LDS members — who oppose ordination of women to the priesthood. So let’s clear up what the Pew survey revealed about Mormon opinion on female ordination once and for all.

Do Mormon Women Oppose Priesthood Ordination?

What the Pew Survey Did Not Say

  1. If offered the priesthood by the prophet, would you refuse it?
  2. If church leaders said women could be ordained would you support it?
  3. Would you welcome the ordination of women, if the general authorities approved it?
  4. Would you like it if women could righteously hold the priesthood?
  5. Etc.

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If you were sitting in a small group, talking to Christ (can you even imagine?) what would you ask? I’d probably ask something like:

  1. Is it worth the trouble? Do I even have a shot at this exaltation thing?
  2. What are the most important things for me to fix? (Listed by priority, please!)
  3. How can I make sure my whole family and I (and all my other favorite people) are together in the celestial kingdom?
  4. What should my life mission be?
  5. What about that polygamy thing?

Whosoever Shall Be a Doormat

When the disciples had the fireside chat with Christ (to be fair, they had lots of them, so this wasn’t their one and only Q&A), one of them asked:

Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

I’ve always wondered at that. I’ve never really wondered who was greatest. I just want to be somewhere in the hierarchy. I don’t really care where it is. Greatest, least, fair to middling. Just let me in the door and I’m a happy camper. [click to continue…]

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Ordain Whomever

Ordain Whomever

Where is my paddle when I need it. I have an idea: let’s all line up in the woods, choose sides, and bare our bottoms for a good old fashioned spanking. Maybe thinking about our welting backsides, and that it hurts just the same whether you “hold” the priesthood or not, will help us remember that we are first children of God. A God who has commanded that we love one another, even as He has loved us.

And in our mortal state we experience pain, and can inflict it on others most violently.

Someone please provide me with absolutely irrefutable proof that we have any business “trying to figure this out.” Isn’t it the Lord’s business? Isn’t He capable of deciding what to do with “irreverent” and “disobedient” children. For the record I do not see those agitating for change as either of those terms.

Listen here, it’s not your business how your neighbor gets to Christ or even if they do. I know we hear a lot about sharing the gospel and spreading the good news. But that does not mean we are better than the next lady trying to figure out her destiny. It doesn’t. Ever.

The louder the screams. The more hateful the rhetoric. The stupider the one saying it looks. Period.  [click to continue…]

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Simple FHE Ideas: Fasting

Fasting is not my children’s favorite word. To be honest, it isn’t mine either. But about 15 years ago — when our kids were really struggling with trying to fast — we had this family home evening lesson.

Simple FHE Ideas Fasting

Remembering all the benefits of fasting (particularly when our stomachs are growling out the drawbacks) can help us remain steadfast in our commitment.

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Look for benefits of fasting while you read the following:

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I Am Strong! I Am Smart!

Book Review: I Am Strong! I Am Smart! by Fay A. Klingler

In an age where google is the authority and the idea of social acceptance has seemingly no ceiling. Where bullying can happen well into adulthood. And when being “liked” can be seen as the mark of success to feed insatiable desires for self confidence, what a relief it is to have a book that offers sound principles to build true and inner confidence on.

I Am Strong I Am Smart ReviewAs a child I wish I would have had this book to navigate all the bullying I encountered and other difficult situations I couldn’t understand, nor had an advocate to help me with. We would all like to believe that family is enough, but unfortunately we live in a world where surrogates are necessary for filling extended, and even immediate, family holes and roles. I would have cherished this book as a child.

As a mother I am deeply grateful to have this book for my children. [click to continue…]

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The Sheep and the Goats

There is a scene in the musical GodSpell that depicts the Jesus figure teaching his followers about the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31–46). It’s both a poignant and humorous scene, often shown with those listening (like Judas) trying to sneak from the goat side to the sheep side unnoticed.

Ye Have Done It Unto My Daughter

Unfortunately for me, getting to the “sheep side” where all will “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” is going to take more than just lying low or hoping Christ looks the other way for a minute or two while I tiptoe over. Instead it will require some big things: [click to continue…]

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Portraits of Female Leaders (Finally) Approved

For the first time in forever…they were noticed by someone! (Feel free to sing along.)

Today, Peggy Fletcher Stack reported that the LDS church has made a huge, bold move into the 20th century! They have, for the first time, included…wait for it…portriats of general female auxiliary leaders on the Conference Center walls!

Portraits of Female Leaders (Finally) Approved

According to an LDS spokeswoman (Jessica Moody, the church’s official go to gal for all things feminist):

Conversations about giving more visibility to women have been going on for some years. The decision to have the sister leaders of the church be more visible in the Conference Center is just one outcome of those conversations.

Progress is progress. I’m actually quite happy about this change and — more to the point — glad these issues are on the radar. Still, I’m dismayed that it needed “some years” of conversation to happen rather than being one of those many things that is patently obvious. Within only about one or two LDS conversations or situations, gender awkwardness is all over the place.  [click to continue…]

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Simple FHE Ideas: Bullying

Seven years after I wrote Bullying in Church, the post came screaming back to life. That traffic (not coincidentally, I’m sure) coincided with the release of the Mormon Moment video titled, “Bullying – Stop It.” The video went viral almost immediately and along with those searches my bullying post started raking in comments and social media buzz.

Bullying - Simple FHE

Even though I have ample experience with bullying as a victim, as the parent of a victim (with four out of my six kids), and as a bystander doing nothing, I had no idea how common this problem is. I also did not realize how many have left the church because of this, even though I almost did myself.

This past week I had a conversation with a guy I grew up with. He had read the post and contacted me. He witnessed some of what happened and even participated in the rock throwing festivity (something he apologized for years ago). At the time it occurred my mom went to the home of each boy and talked to the parents. After that kindergarten incident, I do not recall him ever being involved directly again. (It didn’t seem to phase Bob (the pseudonym I gave to my years-long childhood bully in the post linked above)  — or his parents. During our conversation this guy said,

think that we probably had the same “Bob.”

I was shocked. I had no idea he was being harassed, too, let alone by the same perp.

Since then I’ve thought a lot more about bullying and boys. It was awful and traumatic for me. But after seeing one of my sons experience some of it, I recognize that with boys there is still a general machismo that makes it  taboo to discuss, to even admit, to even label it themselves. I mean, if you are being bullied, what does that make you?

After watching the video this week, a friend asked, “Why not just teach kindness?”

I understand wanting to take a positive approach. Sometimes, however, I think we need to clearly identify the negative side. Just as we don’t always focus on “positive internet resources” but also, specifically and directly, address the evil of porn. It seems so many don’t understand bullying — or even identify what they are doing as bullying — that it is a huge issue we need to address from the negative side as well.

My daughter, Monica, plays Melissa, the blonde bullied girl in the video. Ironically, she is one of the two of my children who hasn’t dealt with bullying at any serious level. Still, she and Aisha Garcia (the girl who plays Jessica, the brunette bullied girl) capture the heartbreak of such treatment.

I hope you’ll share this with your children and help make a step toward making churches (and everywhere!) safe for everyone.

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3 Nephi 14: 12

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Mormon Momma is Moving!

Now you’ve done it! Thank you for crashing the servers again! We are moving to a bigger, stronger, faaster server on the evening of March 15th!!

Mormon Momma MovingLast fall we upgraded (“upgraded” being a relative term) to a  VPS when we got pounded with traffic. It help. Kind of. Sort of. The crashing is happening again. I’m sure you all experienced the annoying, aggravating, slowed-to-a-crawl page views — if, indeed, you could see them at all.

I’ve just purchased a “large” managed hosting plan with LightningBase and will get Mormon Momma (and, later, my other sites) moved there ASAP. I have high hopes that this will greatly enhance the user experience and make accessing the site a pleasure rather than a pain.

If you experience site downtime in the next day or so, trust that it will be temporary.

We appreciate you taking the time to read, share, and comment! Thank you for your support!

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 I’m anxiously waiting for you to chime in on this Tad Callister talk.

This Facebook message from a friend was the final straw. She was the seventh person to ask me what I thought about the BYU-Idaho devotional address turned Ensign article by Elder Ted R. Callister, published in March 2014, titled “The Lord’s Standard of Morality.” The rumbling is enough to coerce me to the keyboard.

Thought: Lord's Standard of Morality - CallisterWord of warning #1 - I’m only going to address those things that I either think deserve positive reinforcement or that I have concerns about. As much as I’d like to, I just don’t have time to address the entirety of everything important every time I blog. And, really, I don’t think anyone asked my opinion on this because they hoped I would say, “Awesome sauce to the core! Go read!” Most likely they found it somewhat troubling and/or controversial and wanted to compare their ideas with others.

Word of warning #2 - I’m writing this without first reading the apparent barrage of comments/posts/articles already written. I may be a misfit or redundant or just irrelevant. That’s OK. I just wanted to record the personal reaction I had without it going through multiple filters.

You can assume that if I do not mention something, I either agree with it, find it neutral, or at least believe it can be reasonably explained. If that approach doesn’t work for you, please stop here! You have been warned!

Here we go… [click to continue…]

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