Saturday, June 24, 2017

Daughters of God—Be a Force for Good!

On March 12th, 2017, I taught my ward's Relief Society lesson, "Daughters of God." Unfortunately, I was unable to give my entire lesson because our opening exercises—with our ward's darling young women in attendance—ran extremely long.

Normally, I wouldn't care in the least that I had less time to present my RS lesson, but this was a very special lesson that was jam-packed with goodness in every section! Because of our lesson's phenomenal nature, and my desire to share all of its amazingness, I'd spent a lot of time preparing it. To say I was seriously bummed that I wasn't able to share everything I had prepared would be an understatement! 😢

I find it super interesting that "Daughters of God" is one of the longest RS lessons I've seen in 2017—so I was sort of "doomed" from the beginning 😉. In my defense, I didn't realize just how long it truly was until I began preparing my next RS lesson, "The Whisperings of the Spirit," that I taught in April!

Yet how could I not share such wonderful thoughts and heavenly principles with my dear ward sisters?! I had oodles of information to present, and I really wanted to hear what my lovely ward sisters had to say!

Because I was so disheartened that my RS lesson didn't go as planned, I decided to turn my heartache into something better! 😀 I'm so happy to finally be sharing my thoughts about the wonderful Daughters of God lesson right here on my blog! Yay!

Not only do I feel better in finally sharing everything I prepared for my lesson, but I would absolutely love it if someone here in Internetland finds my post helpful! 💕 The funniest thing is, I actually began writing this blog post clear back in March(!), but the months dashed away from me like a scene from "The Incredibles"! Hey, better late than never!

Daughters of God

Let's start by reading part of the introduction on page 95:
"Throughout his life, Gordon B. Hinckley expressed appreciation for the abilities and contributions of women. He also expressed his strong witness of the importance of women in God’s eternal plan. He delighted in women’s increasing opportunities, as well as in their faith in the Savior and their devotion to their families and the Church."
I can so attest to this wonderful truth about President Hinckley! He was always sincerely praising and honoring women. He made sure all women felt unending and unconditional love from Church leadership!

I loved reading about Gordon B. Hinckley’s sweet mother, Ada (introduction, page 95). She was bright; educated; loved literature, music and art; raised eight of her husband’s children and five of her own(!); learned to manage a large household; had a tremendous influence on Gordon, and was a force for good throughout President Hinckley’s life 😊 I'm truly in awe of Ada Hinckley. Certainly her accomplishments are impressive, but what sticks with me most is the impact she had on President Hinckley. Because of Awesome Ada, millions of people throughout this entire world were and are positively affected for the best through her son, Gordon B.!

Gordon B. Hinckley’s wife, Marjorie (introduction; page 95), was a very strong woman devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. She had extraordinary faith and a cheerful disposition. Marjorie loved life, was quick witted, and very wise. She was a voracious reader and an intense seeker of knowledge. Best of all, Marjorie was down-to-earth—she connected well with everyone, yet she was confident, alert and refreshing throughout her life! 😊

I love these paragraphs from section 1 (pg. 96–97):
"Each of you is a daughter of God. Reflect on all the wondrous meaning of that one paramount fact. 
"If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates. 
"You are very precious, each of you. ... You occupy a high and sacred place in the eternal plan of God, our Father in Heaven. You are His daughters, precious to Him, loved by Him, and very important to Him. His grand design cannot succeed without you. 
"Let me say to you sisters that you do not hold a second place in our Father’s plan for the eternal happiness and well-being of His children. You are an absolutely essential part of that plan. Without you the plan could not function. Without you the entire program would be frustrated."
During my RS lesson, I wanted to ask many questions, but I was only able to get to a few of them. I didn't personally answer all of those wonderful questions here in my blog post, but I'm sharing them anyway. I hope we ladies will contemplate these questions to help remind ourselves of our great worth and importance!

Question: Why is it important for us to understand the "high and sacred place" of women in God’s eternal plan?

Question (section 2; pg. 97): Let’s review the Lord’s advice to Emma Smith found in D&C 25: 1–16. What can we learn from those verses about being an elect lady (ourselves)?

Here's what I came up with after studying D&C 25. These points are my opinion, not Church doctrine—each of these points are separated out by the corresponding verse:
1. Listen to the Lord; if we receive the Lord’s words, we’ll be sons and daughters in His kingdom.
2. Be faithful and walk in the paths of virtue; if we do those things, we’ll be preserved and receive an inheritance in Zion.
3. Our sins can be forgiven; we can all be elect ladies.
4. Don’t murmur about the Lord regarding things we haven’t seen or don’t understand; everything will be revealed eventually.
5. Support our husbands (if we’re married); speak kind words; be humble.
6. *This wasn’t written in the verse, these are just my thoughts: we should write about our marriages and our family history.
7. Read/learn from the scriptures; share what we learn at church—as we are inspired by the Holy Ghost.
8. Utilize the gift of the Holy Ghost; we should spend much of our time writing and learning things of the gospel and about the world.
9. Don’t ever feel undervalued in The Church; our husbands and other priesthood brethren support us; have faith.
10. Don’t be hyper-focused on worldly issues; seek the best things in life that enhance our spiritual progression; I believe Luke 10:38–42 goes perfectly with this verse:
38 ¶Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
11. We don’t have to write hymns, but we should use our musical abilities and share our talents.
12. We should sing uplifting spiritual music—we’ll be blessed when we do.
13. Be happy; look at the bright side of life; keep the covenants we’ve made.
14. Be humble; don’t be prideful; delight in our husbands; be close with our husbands; support our husbands; The following isn’t in the scripture—they’re my thoughts: If you don’t have a husband yet, live your life worthily so you’ll be ready for celestial marriage when the opportunity presents itself—which could be in this life, or in the world to come…remember, the Lord keeps his promises!
15. Keep the Lord’s commandments; if we keep the commandments, we’ll receive a crown of righteousness (We’re daughters of a king!); we’ll also be able to be with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again one day.
16. The Lord's voice is for all sisters, not just Emma.
Question: What aspects of the Lord’s counsel to Emma Smith are especially helpful to you?

I love all of those recommendations—every single one of them are helpful to me! It's like the perfect recipe for a successful, happy life!

Question (section 3; pg. 99–101): What are your impressions as you read President Hinckley’s following counsel to mothers? (I totally enlarged all of the text because it deserves to be emphasized! 😊)
"The true strength of any nation, society, or family lies in those qualities of character that have been acquired for the most part by children taught in the quiet, simple everyday manner of mothers. 
"It is the home which produces the nursery stock of new generations. I hope that you mothers will realize that when all is said and done, you have no more compelling responsibility, nor any laden with greater rewards, than the nurture you give your children in an environment of security, peace, companionship, love, and motivation to grow and do well. 
"I remind mothers everywhere of the sanctity of your calling. No other can adequately take your place. No responsibility is greater, no obligation more binding than that you rear in love and peace and integrity those whom you have brought into the world. 
"Rear your children in light and truth. Teach them to pray while they are young. Read to them from the scriptures even though they may not understand all that you read. Teach them to pay their tithes and offerings on the first money they ever receive. Let this practice become a habit in their lives. Teach your sons to honor womanhood. Teach your daughters to walk in virtue. Accept responsibility in the Church, and trust in the Lord to make you equal to any call you may receive. Your example will set a pattern for your children. 
"God bless you, mothers! When all the victories and defeats of men’s efforts are tallied, when the dust of life’s battles begins to settle, when all for which we labor so hard in this world of conquest fades before our eyes, you will be there, you must be there, as the strength for a new generation, the ever-improving onward movement of the race. Its quality will depend on you."
Isn't President Hinckley's advice amazing?! I love his words so much! He's such a happy, inspiring guy! 😀

Question: For parents, why is "no obligation more binding" than rearing their children "in love and peace and integrity"?

For me, the answer is obvious. Parents have been given the ultimate responsibility in the creation of the bodies and the raising of Heavenly Father's children! He's literally allowing us to act in place of Him! Thus, we must do our very best to accomplish His heavenly goals for His children...our children! Oh, how grateful I am to have been given the heavenly opportunity of being a mother! Children are a most wonderful gift! 💛💙💚💜

Question: We have all seen marvelous examples of women in the Church with "strength and great capacity." What are some ways that we women can help bring to pass "the immortality and the eternal life of all of the sons and daughters of God"?

To help answer that, let's read from section 4, page 101:
"God has given the women of this church a work to do in building his kingdom. That concerns all aspects of our great triad of responsibility—which is, first, to teach the gospel to the world; second, to strengthen the faith and build the happiness of the membership of the Church; and, third, to carry forward the great work of salvation for the dead."
To go along with that, I found this great quote while researching Susan Easton Black Durrant. (She spoke at my stake's 2017 Women's Conference, and I wanted to find out more about her.) Susan said,
"Many people leave the Church because they have so many questions, but we have stayed because we have received so many answers."
Amen, sister! I couldn't agree more with you! We must stay and help build God's kingdom!

Continuing on, let's read some more of President Hinckley's fabulous words (section 4; pg. 101): {Isn't this fun?! 😁}
"Women in the Church are associates with their brethren in carrying forward this mighty work of the Lord. 
"We expect leadership, and strength, and impressive results from your management of the organizations for which you are responsible. We uphold and sustain you as daughters of God, working in a great partnership to assist him in bringing to pass the immortality and the eternal life of all of the sons and daughters of God."
Question: Why is it important that men and women work together to move the Lord’s work forward?

As I've said many times before, I believe men and women need each other. Men are not better than women! Women are not better than men! We are supposed to work side by side with each other because we each bring something important and different to the table. 😊 The Lord needs all of us to help be his "hands" here on Earth!

I read the other day about a great, new scientific discovery: Stars are born in pairs!  Interestingly, when stars are created they aren't identical to each other, but they're definitely companions! Just like each amazing star in the heavens is created with a companion star, men and women are created to have a companion—and it all started with Adam and Eve! Heavenly stars and Heavenly Father's children are not meant to be alone! 🌟⭐

Yes, men and women are meant to influence each others' lives for the better!

Moving right along, let's read the following (section 5; pg. 101–102):
"The women of the Relief Society are literally encircled eternally in the arms of our Lord. In my judgment, this is the greatest women’s organization in all the world... 
"Who, even in the wildest stretch of imagination, can fathom the uncountable acts of charity that have been performed, the food that has been put on barren tables, the faith that has been nurtured in desperate hours of illness, the wounds that have been bound up, the pains that have been ameliorated by loving hands and quiet and reassuring words, the comfort that has been extended in times of death and consequent loneliness?"
For those of you who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, ponder to yourselves: What blessings have come to you from the efforts of Relief Society sisters, including those who are serving in Young Women and Primary?

For those of you who aren't members of the LDS Church, I highly recommend looking into the benefits that Relief Society can bring to your life! 😇

For me, the Relief Society has been my anchor ⚓ throughout my adult life. Every move my family and I made to a different city was made easier by my association with wonderful Relief Society sisters! No one is perfect, but the sisters of the Relief Society truly and continually try to help others in Christlike ways! 💛 I am grateful for my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and my subsequent access to the Relief Society!

Question: How can we each strengthen the Relief Society in our own wards?

Here are some ideas found in section 6 (pg. 103–104):
"No one can calculate the tremendous force for good that you can become. 
"I feel to invite women everywhere to rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass."
I love how President Hinckley clarifies that we sisters are not supposed to sacrifice ourselves to the point of destruction. Yes, there's a fine line between doing enough and overdoing it. We must be aware of our human limitations, but we be must also be willing to push just a little further to improve in tiny increments! 😀

In "Preach My Gospel," there's a wonderful section that helps us identify if we are doing "enough":
"You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you." (The Spirit is also called the Holy Ghost.)
Isn't that idea so beautiful?! It's the perfect way to gauge our efforts! (I didn't include that part in my lesson because I just found it today. Oh, how I love finding new gems of jewels!)

Questions: How can we gain a better vision of what God sees our potential to be? How can we progress toward reaching our potential?

Obviously, those questions will be answered differently by everyone. For me, the way I learn more about myself and what Heavenly Father knows I can become is by searching and seeking. I'm constantly reaching out to our Heavenly Father through prayer, scripture study, endlessly researching gospel topics, going to church every Sunday, serving others, attending the temple, etc.

The way I progress toward reaching my eternal potential is, first, by having endless faith that Heavenly Father loves me(!), that He will answer me (eventually!), and that He will help me every step of the way!

Secondly, I never, ever give up! Even when I make mistakes or sin, I never stop striving to become what our Heavenly Father knows I can be/achieve. I always try to think of and thank our Savior for the marvelous opportunity He has provided for me to be connected to heaven!

If I ever start feeling down about myself, I pray pray pray! 😀 Then I listen for inspiration/revelation from the Holy Ghost, and I act on what He tells me.

Now I'd like to share a little homework assignment! 😁

Susan Easton Black Durrant spoke at my stake's Women’s Conference about wonderful, prominent LDS women who did extraordinary things in their lives. It really was amazing to hear of those phenomenal women's contributions. While the majority of us will never become "prominent Mormons" in terms of the public spotlight, that doesn’t mean we can’t be prominent to our families, or the people in our communities! 😊

*By the way, I searched on about the current membership numbers of the Church. As of March, 2017, showed that The Church has 15,634,199 members throughout the world. When I did a Google search about the number of prominent Mormons, the biggest website I could find listed 857 members of The Church on it. So, our chances of becoming "prominent Mormons" are a measly .00006%! That's quite the statistic! The good news is, each of us have at least a 50% chance of being important to our families! Of course, that all depends on what we choose to do with our lives! 😉

Thus, I want all of us to ponder President Hinckley’s statement and think about when we have seen examples of the "marvelous … power of women of faith." What can we learn from those great women that will help us in our own lives?

Let’s all take the opportunity to write in our journals—or a blog (Yay! #EnthusiasticFantastic! 😄), or some other form of social media—about the kind of women we want to become. Let’s really evaluate ourselves with an honest heart (our strengths and weaknesses) and set realistic goals to achieve our desired potential—as well as our heavenly potential!

At the end of my lesson, I handed out this 3.75 x 3.75 card to all of my ward sisters to help remind us of our great potential and capacity! (I created it in black and white because my printer is a basic laser printer, and I wasn't really planning on sharing it here on my blog! Ha ha.) It makes me happy every time I read it!

Well, friends, we've finally made it to the end of my lesson! It feels great having shared it with all of you(!)—especially since I was just recently released from being a Relief Society teacher. I was immediately called to be a Sunday school teacher (there are two teachers; we alternate teaching every other Sunday) for the 12–13 year-olds in my ward.

I'm truly excited for this new opportunity(!) as I've never been a Sunday school teacher before! I'm fully prepared and ready to teach my first lesson tomorrow—which feels great! Let's just hope my 12-year-old son is okay with me teaching his class! 😂 #sayalittleprayerforme! 😊

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Just Checking In!

Hello! 😁 Good morning! How are you?!

No, I didn't die and I didn't have anything tragic happen to me! 😄 Yes, I'm still here! As I've said before—and like most of you—I'm just a super busy lady with not enough hours in my days to blog in the way I desire! (Actually, if I really think about it, there are enough hours—I just want more of them! Three extra hours a day would be really nice!) I simply have many other things I've been spending my time on.

Thankfully, I can see the light at the end of my endlessly busy tunnel! Yay! My kids' school year is almost complete and I want to shout "Hooray!" every single day! I cannot wait for summer and all of the blogging fun it promises! (At least I dearly hope I'll be able to blog more!)

And with that, my blogging minutes are over. I hope to be back writing again very soon—I love it soooo much! Wish me luck! 🍀 😀

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Just Do It! Dump Facebook! :)

Two days ago, I read Lauren Field's troubling article, "Should we fear the future of Facebook?", in the In Depth section of the Deseret News. Even though its subject is worrisome, I feel very strongly that everyone should read it and share it with their peeps!

After I finished the article, my mind instantly went to the family of my birth (and their spouses)—more than half of them are still active on Facebook. I composed an email to my peeps that included the article listed above and sent it right off.

I won't bore you with my entire email, but this is the first sentence I sent to my beloved Fam, "I just read this article about Fakebook and I'm convinced yet again that Facebook is NOT good for any of us!" I strongly encouraged my family members to read the article and delete their Facebook accounts!

Thus, I was super happy (and genuinely surprised!) to receive an email yesterday morning from my wonderful sister-in-law. She's been wanting delete her Facebook account for a while now, but kept hanging onto it for little reasons. Happily, she said the article I shared is what convinced her to finally "dump Facebook"! Yay yay happy day! Now I just need to get the rest of my extended family to break up with Facebook, too! Ha ha.

Don't worry, I'm not too pesky about trying to get them off of Facebook. I fully understand that everyone gets to choose how they live their lives. That said, I wonder if I might persuade some of you in the world wide web to dump Facebook, too? 😇

What really bothers me about Facebook's status these days (ha!) is that the company and its influence has grown much bigger, I think, than anyone ever planned on. I believe it's so big, in fact, that there are problem accounts/groups on Facebook that aren't being monitored properly. I don't think Facebook has the employee power or resources to handle the vastness that it's helped create in our www—not to mention the fallout that happens to its users in real life! And the fake news that engulfed Facebook users during the United States Presidential Election is downright scary!

Yes, I worry about a company that has that much access to its customers' personal lives. I totally worry about the tornado vacuums and virtual reality bubbles that Facebook has created in our society. That sounds extreme, but I believe Facebook's "social experiment" is far from over!

In fact, whenever I think of Mark Zuckerberg, my mind instantly goes to the cartoon, "Pinky and the Brain"—and Mr. Zuckerberg is Brain, just waiting to take over the world! Ha ha. For a fun visual, see this YouTube video: Pinky and the Brain intro.

Now I wouldn't necessarily call Mark Zuckerberg a literal genius, but he has accomplished what no one else could do—and on such a grand scale. So I give him props for that. But his great accomplishment certainly doesn't make me want to sign away my privacy and free time to him, that's for darn sure!

I realized that it's been two years to the day since I quit Facebook! (And I so did not plan my post this way! 😁)  As I look back over those two years, I'm amazed at how ecstatic I truly am—and continually feel(!)—that I dumped Facebook! Leaving Facebook behind really is one of the best social media decisions I've ever made! 😀

Of course I've found other ways to spend my social media time since leaving Facebook, but overall, I have a lot more free time! My brain is absolutely less cluttered—which means I have more time for researching other things I'm interested in or passionate about. My soul is so much less annoyed! I can honestly say that I'm a better person for having shunned Facebook! Yay me! 😄

If you're not yet tired of this subject, feel free to read more of my thoughts about Facebook and why I ended up leaving it—my previous posts are in chronological order:

I could go on and on about the dangers I see in Facebook (like I did to Greg yesterday morning!), but I'll refrain. Suffice it to say, I'm so happy I use Instagram and my blog to keep up with my friends and family! As I've said many times before, I wish everyone would write a blog! And I still deeply feel that way!

Yesterday, I watched an interesting TED Talk about blogging—clear back from 2006! While our social media society has drastically changed since then, the speaker's point—that everyone should be blogging about their lives—is as important today as it was 11 years ago! I totally agree with Mena Trott! Here's her talk if you're interested: "Meet the founder of the blog revolution."

Then, last night after dinner, I started watching the new documentary, "Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise" via our Roku's PBS channel. I was only about 15 minutes into it when I felt strongly that I needed to finish this creating this post instead.

But before I started writing again, I looked at the list of literary works Ms. Angelou created over her lifetime. I was impressed—okay, blown away!—to see all of her accomplishments! Yet in that very same moment, I felt the fire within me roar even stronger that everyone needs to be writing (i.e., blogging! 😍) about their lives as much as possible! Obviously, we shouldn't blog to the point of becoming unbalanced in our lives—we need moderation in all things, but each and every single one of us should absolutely be writing about our lives on a consistent basis.

In the end, I'll let my favorite hashtag of the day have some time in the Enthusiastic Fantastic spotlight. 😊 Yes, I'm all about the #neverfacebook movement! I thought I created that awesome hashtag, but according to Twitter, it's already been used to complain about Facebook many times! Ha ha. I hope you'll join me in my #neverfacebook "mission" and spread the word!

P.S. I had a lot of fun creating this typographic design!