Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Three Excellent Videos on the Importance of Religious Freedom

I don't have much time to write today, so you're getting the "ESPN" version of what's on my mind! :) *I frequently have to condense my thoughts for my dear, sweet husband, and I always refer to my presentations as "The ESPN Version"! Ha ha.

I have many thoughts about the importance of religious freedom, but until I have the time to write them down, I highly recommend watching these three excellent videos. :)

Also, thank you for taking the time to watch! Please feel free to share these videos with as many people as you'd like. I've included the direct links to the videos in their titles. Enjoy!

1. Religious Freedom is our First Freedom


2. What is Religious Freedom?


3. Preserving Religious Freedom

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Take on Women Seeking Ordination to the Priesthood

Please note that I am not an official representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but I am a lifelong (and very happy!) member of it. This blog, Enthusiastic Fantastic, is all mine. I don't have outside contributors. I don't have brainstorming sessions with others, although I'll occasionally run an idea past my husband. No one has ever asked me to write anything. No one has paid me to write anything. Even though I've signed up with AdSense, I've only "virtually" made $0.26* for the entire time I've been posting on this blog—which makes me chuckle! (*That amount was current as of the original date of this post.) Besides the advertisement boxes, I own every bit of content you find on this blog—minus the quotes I've shared. :)

For a long time I've put off publicly writing my feelings about this whole "women should be ordained to the priesthood" protesting saga that has been happening between some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The main reason for my silence is the fact that I've seen what mean and hurtful things have been written on other people's blogs who speak out about any particular social topic. People can be so rude and downright mean to anyone who doesn't share the same opinion as they do. I have a very hard time with unkindness! Also, I think the online meanness that any one of us can experience on a daily basis, has escalated to the point where people are afraid to share their opinion at all. It's a very sad state of our society.

The other reason I've been hesitant to speak out is due to the advice given in Proverbs 21:23. It's another one of my favorite scriptures! :)

{I was pretty excited to use buttons in my typographic design this time! You know the idiom, "Button it!" Yeah, I couldn't resist!}




That said, the ordain women movement has been a great annoyance to me for the past year. So, after reading two articles this past Friday, I decided to finally be brave and add my thoughts.

One article I read discusses the power of telling the truth, and the other one was the letter from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that was addressed to the Ordain Women group leaders. Side note: I'm still stunned that Ordain Women is planning a protest at General Conference, April, 2014! Seriously, what the what?! Anyway...

*Oh, and before I continue, I'd like to express my sincere love and deep gratitude for the multitude of blessings that have come to me through the priesthood blessings I've received throughout my life. I am immensely happy to be married to a worthy priesthood holder. My priesthood-holding husband has blessed me, and our children, more than I ever could have imagined! :)

First off, I'd like to share what my church defines priesthood as:
"The word priesthood has two meanings. First, priesthood is the power and authority of God. It has always existed and will continue to exist without end (see Alma 13:7–8; D&C 84:17–18). Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power, He exalts His obedient children, bringing to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39; see also D&C 84:35–38). 
Second, in mortality, priesthood is the power and authority that God gives to man to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God’s children. The blessings of the priesthood are available to all who receive the gospel. (“Priesthood AuthorityHandbook 2, Administering the Church)"
Good, I'm glad we're clear on what the priesthood means to me and my church. :)

Several months ago, I wrote and posted a poem on my private blog. (Do I still call it a poem even though it doesn't rhyme?! Ha ha.) I'll share it here, but without the current pictures of my children. (I may seem silly, but I still have major privacy concerns. I know, I know, then why am I still publicly displaying my life online? Well, it's because I feel like I am supposed to share my thoughts/views with the world. So, I share!) I also want to discuss a little more deeply as to why I don't believe women should be—or need to be—ordained to the priesthood.

Creation, Sustenance and Influence
by Adrie Peterson

I am a woman...like the magnificent Eve, who—during the creation period—was the very last being created on Earth.
I have been given a body that does whatever I wish.
I have been given the gift of creation.
In this supreme body, I have been given the opportunity to create pure and holy vessels for God's children to come to earth and live.

I choose to honor my Father in Heaven.
I marry a righteous man for eternity who blesses our lives with the priesthood. Our tremendous love for each other allows us to become parents.

This splendid body of mine produces the sustenance needed for those perfect little bodies to grow in health...they become strong because of me. A baby's cells multiply and divide millions of times as a direct result of my never-ending sacrifice and bodily efforts.

As a mother, I am selfless love's highest form.

When babies are no longer physically attached to the marvelous gift that my body is, I am continually able to influence their precious tiny souls as they grow. They look to me for knowledge, direction, comfort, pleasure and peace. Through the years, my influence might be taken for granted. Eventually, those priceless souls feel the pull of their fondest memories and the invisible cord leads them back to me.

I gently guide His children...my children...toward heavenly attitudes and actions.

Our Father in Heaven has entrusted me with assisting Him in His most wondrous work and glory. There is no need to ever ask for more...
He has already given me the greatest responsibility of all: creation.

Before some readers become annoyed at me, please let me explain that I fully understand that some women have not been given the beautiful gift of motherhood, thus, they might feel like they've received the short end of the stick in the terms of Heavenly gifts. For I believe that motherhood is the crowning gift from our Heavenly Father. Yet I feel like I can understand those childless women's pain—to some extent—because I was spiritually shown multiple times that my little family was completebefore I was ready to be done creating children.

I would have loved to have at least one more child—if not two or three more children! To this day, I still fight back tiny tears when I see a newborn baby. And when I'm alone, I'll frequently let some of those tears fill my eyes. How's that for honesty? Thus, I feel like I have a smidgen of understanding for those women who deeply desire to create children, but haven't been able to.

As we all know, sometimes in life we simply don't get to do what we want, or have the righteous desires of our hearts. Sometimes, we are given additional answers as to why our Heavenly Father's answer is "No.", but many times we won't find out the answers until after we return home to heaven. I don't know exactly why this is the case, but I suspect it has everything to do with our mortal challenge of faithfully enduring to the end well.

I know one of the reasons why some people in The Church feel like it's time for women to hold the priesthood, is so women can also bless the lives of others through priesthood blessings. Blessing the lives of others is a totally righteous desire! To them, I say this: Women can absolutely bless the lives of others in countless ways! Those blessings don't have to come only through the priesthood.

It's up to each of us how we choose to spend our time. Even though women don't hold the priesthood, there are so many ways we can contribute to The Church and society as a whole. Women can pray and have magnificent prayer experiences (I've personally witnessed miracles from my prayers), serve and lead in their church callings, serve in the temple, serve everyone around us, participate in fasting and contribute fast offerings monthly, have a career that makes a positive impact, serve as a missionary for The Church, etc.. The possibilities and opportunities are truly endless! :)

Now onto men and the priesthood. I truly believe that men were absolutely given the responsibility of the priesthood, it is meant for them! And I don't mean that in a disrespectful way to women. Again, I simply believe women were given the responsibility to create and grow our Heavenly Father's children. Similarly, that statement is not meant to be disrespectful to men!

Of course, I've heard the argument that fatherhood and motherhood are exactly the same, thus men have one more heavenly blessing—in holding the priesthood—that women don't. Yet, I don't see it that way. Fatherhood is so very important for the benefit of all children. Every child deserves to be raised by their mother and father! But I feel motherhood goes one step beyond fatherhood.

The connection that a mother holds with the child in her womb is quite unique to any other relationship. (Granted, we all know that a baby is conceived because of a woman and a man. Women can't create children alone, and neither can men. Men and women are truly so blessed to have each other!) It's because of the intense womb-time that women and children spend together (and the subsequent early-childhood years) that they have an inseparable connection to each other.

I have happy tears when I remember my three children in my womb—thankfully at separate times! Ha ha. Those 27 combined months were some of the very best in my life, which is saying a lot because I puked at least twice a day, every day, for 21 weeks of those months! (I still double curse morning sickness!) I will always remember my babies moving inside of me. Their individual personalities were clearly evident even before they were born! :) And I'll never forget that glorious moment when I pushed my sweet little babies into this beautiful world and they were laid on my chest. No experience will ever compare to the amazing conception, development and birth of my three children!

But back to worthy priesthood-holding men...they are a glorious blessing to and for our society. It's because of them that stunning and amazing miracles are brought to pass every day.

To those who say, "Women deserve to produce miracles too!", I respond with this: Women create miracles every day with the conception, birth, and raising of their children! Every child is a miracle! Women are already a huge part of the heavenly, miracle-creating process!

Why, then, would Heavenly Father not allow men not be able to produce miracles as well? How would it be fair to men if women were a part of two miracle-creating processes: motherhood and the priesthood? Talk about the potential for inequality! No matter how much a man desires to be the vessel of the miracle of life, he simply can't grow and sustain a baby inside of him like a woman can. Therefore, the priesthood gives men the wonderful opportunity to be vessels for miracles too.

Even though I've presented my feelings as to why women don't need to be ordained to the priesthood, some might still totally disagree with me. To them, I say it all comes down to this:
  • Our Heavenly Father created, and has given us, an eternal plan to follow.
  • Jesus Christ was chosen to be our Savior, so we can return to our Heavenly Father and live with Them again.
  • We agreed to our Heavenly Father's plan, as is evidenced by our actually being on Earth with our precious bodies.
  • If we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it means that we believe it is the true and restored church of Jesus Christ.
  • If we are members of The Church, it also means that we support what Joseph Smith presented when he founded The Church.
  • Our baptism into The Church means that we support and sustain The Church's leadership and the way they run The Church.
  • If we don't support or agree with the leaders of The Church, we can calmly and rationally express our opinions, but it's not up to us to change the doctrine of The Church—only the First Presidency of The Church can do that. To further clarify my point, I recommend reading, watching, or listening to, "The Doctrine of Christ," by Elder D. Todd Christofferson.
*Update 03/23/14, 5:11 p.m.: After reading a comment from one of my readers, I realized that I needed to further clarify what I wrote in the previous bullet point about "changing the doctrine of The Church". No, the First presidency can't just up and change the doctrine to be whatever they want it to be. Only the Lord can change the doctrine of His church. I believe in, and fully support, the 9th Article of Faith which states, "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God." I also completely agree with Elder Christofferson's quote, "This [the 9th Article of Faith] is to say that while there is much we do not yet know, the truths and doctrine we have received have come and will continue to come by divine revelation." That was indeed the point I was trying to make: The Lord will reveal those truths and doctrines to the prophet/apostles, and they will be presented through the First Presidency. To continue that idea, later in his talk, Elder Christofferson said, "...in the end, just as in the New Testament Church, the objective is not simply consensus among council members but revelation from God. It is a process involving both reason and faith for obtaining the mind and will of the Lord."
  • If we have received an answer to our question/problem/request from The Church (as the Ordain Women group received on March 17th, 2014), we have the option to either listen to and follow what they say, or not. If we completely disagree with the answer we've received from The church, we have the option to leave The Church altogether. I truly don't want anyone to leave The Church, but everyone has their free agency. Everyone can make their own choices.
What I hope is that those protesting church members will see the miracle of motherhood as I do. I hope they will appreciate the great value and beauty of womanhood. Womanhood stands alone, even without motherhood or the priesthood!

Women are so blessed to be women! Men are so blessed to be men! We were created differently on purpose. Men and women were created to compliment each other, especially in marriage. We need each other. We are meant for each other! We can create and participate in miracles together!

I just truly don't believe women need the priesthood as men do.

Even though the responsibilities of men and women are different, those differences do not make us unequal. Every man and woman is equal in the sight of our Heavenly Father. All are alike!
2 Nephi 26:33:
For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
Lastly, I'd like to share this BYU Devotional, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," by Ezra Taft Benson. When he gave the talk, he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I really wanted to just copy and paste the 14-point summary of his talk, but I don't want to infringe on copyright laws. Instead, I will strongly encourage you to read every word of his fabulous talk!

Elder Benson beautifully presented his case that every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints should absolutely follow the current prophet, for the prophet is the only person on Earth who speaks for the Lord in everything. He also brilliantly stated,
"How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness." 
"If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord, then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain."—meaning the current president of The Church.
We would do well to follow his counsel. And now, I rest my case! :)

P.S. I love that I finished my post just in time for me to go get ready for church!

*Update: As I wrote this blog post in 2014 and life is always changing, I want to include this update from the Church. In 2015, the Church published an essay titled, "Joseph Smith’s Teachings about Priesthood, Temple, and Women." It's definitely worth a read! Also, check out their additional resources on the right side of the page. There are many other articles to delve into. :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Resurrection

No, this post is not referring to the new TV show "Resurrection". ;) I just had to clarify that point, lest people think they were about to read a review of the show!

This afternoon, I happily gave the lesson in my church's Mia Maid class. I was privileged to be able to teach the darling young women of my ward about Jesus Christ's glorious resurrection, and what it means for all of us.

After reading through all of the lesson material earlier this week, I chose to focus on Elder Dallin H. Oaks' talk "Resurrection," from General Conference, April, 2000. Today I had each of the young women read a scripture that Elder Oaks referenced in his talk, and we discussed each one of them as a class.

Here is a list of the scriptures we read: Mosiah 16:7; 1 Corinthians 15:54; Mormon 7:5; Mosiah 15:8; Mosiah 16:7–8; Alma 22:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Ne. 9:22; Helaman 14:17; Mormon 9:13; D&C 29:26; D&C 76:39, 42–44; John 14:19.

Additionally, we read aloud and discussed all but the last section of his talk. I was sad we didn't get to finish discussing his talk, but we simply ran out of time. (Actually, I think I went over my class' time limit by a few minutes!) That said, I was greatly pleased with the way the lesson turned out, and I know the Holy Ghost had everything to do with it. :) I dearly hope the Mia Maids in my class enjoyed the lesson as well!

Instead of only linking to Elder Oaks' wonderful talk on our Savior's resurrection, I've chosen to share the video here. I feel his words and personal delivery are that important! I highly recommend watching it. :)

video

This morning, I created a typographic design of Alma 34:32 (the first half of the scripture) for the young women of my ward to take home. Not only is it one of my all-time favorite scriptures (okay, I have a lot of favorite scriptures), but Elder Oaks also referenced it in his talk. :)

Yes, my design is visually very simple this time. I created it in only black and white because for me, everything in life really is the simple contrast of black and white! Either we're on the Lord's side, or we're not. We're either willing to give our wills (the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action) completely to our Heavenly Father, or we're not. It really is so simple. For one day, all of us really will be taken home to that God who gave [us] life. (Alma 40:11)


Alma 34:32 is the challenge I give myself every single day, and I advised "my" Mia Maids to do the same. I know I've said it so many times, but we really must not have any regrets in life! We must not leave anything undone, or left to chance...because if we really think about it, there is no chance. We will absolutely face the consequences of our actions—or inaction, for that matter! We need to be prepared for the day of our own glorious resurrections, so we will not fear our final judgment—nor debate the final outcome of it! :)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Paramount Parents

It's no secret that I'm a most emphatic supporter of the family. I have always been this way, from day one of my earliest memories. I will be shamelessly and unconditionally devoted to promoting happy families until my very last breath!

So today as I read an article that connected me to the UNICEF webpage, "Convention on the Rights of the Child," I had a mighty strong gut reaction. Here is a snippet of what they are promoting:
"Nearly 25 years ago, the world made a promise to children: that we would do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential...
"In spite of the overall gains, there are many children who have fallen even further behind. Old challenges have combined with new problems to deprive many children of their rights and the benefits of development.
"To meet these challenges, and to reach those children who are hardest to reach, we need new ways of thinking and new ways of doing."
I found it interesting that 192 countries have ratified the treaty, and The United States is not one of them.

Before I continue, please let me clarify that I am so very happy for people trying to help the children of the world! I absolutely high-five! their wonderful life-improving efforts. I want support and love for all of our Heavenly Father's (God's) beautiful babies! Oh, how I love babies! I want all babies/children to be loved, safe, protected, happy, healthy and intelligent. My list could go on and on!

Yet, in that same child-adoring breath, I'm frustrated with the seemingly lack of good parents. As a society, we need to find a better way to prepare the young people of our world to become paramount parents! (I'm not talking about the movie company, but the definition of paramount, which is supreme or very important!) Truly selfless, honest, kind, thoughtful, caring, loving, good parents are THE answer to all of the problems that UNICEF is trying to solve!

It's so important to raise children well, but what happens when those children are raised—what then? They've been taught many things, like how to take care of themselves, how to learn, how to work, how to be financially responsible, and hopefully how to serve others, but have those "saved" children been taught how to become good parents? It's worth serious consideration because those babies turn into the children who become the adults that are the parents who might end up neglecting the very babies they've created!

Parents need to be thinking of their children's best interests at all times—yes, it's an actual need for all children.

Before anyone gets all "Oh, what does she know?!", please let me state that I understand the need for self-care. I understand the value of making sure a mother or father is well-nourished—in every sense of the word. Whether spiritually, physically, mentally or emotionally, parents absolutely need to be well-cared for—just like the airlines clearly state in their flight-prep speeches they give before take-off. We parents must put on our own oxygen masks first, so we can attend to our children's oxygen-masks and other needs. If we're unconscious, we can't help at all!

That said, I've seen way too many parents more interested in promoting their own life agendas, than in taking good care of their children and it absolutely breaks my heart.

I admit, I've had my moments of "just a minute, honey," or "I'm almost done, just wait one more second," when I should have responded much more quickly. Does that mean we should spoil our children? Well, in terms of love, I don't think we can ever fully spoil our children!

*Seriously, we need to do everything within our power to help our children unequivocally understand that they are loved by their parents! There should be no room for doubt in this area.*

If we're talking about too much permissiveness, or things we give to our children, then, yes, we can absolutely spoil our children. Parents must learn to make the distinction between unconditional love and spoilage.

I could go on and on about this topic for hours. But I guess what it really comes down to is this:
Parents need to be the paramount figures in their child's life.

Parents need to constantly evaluate their lives and ask themselves, "Am I doing what is truly best for my child?"

And I fully understand that parents aren't perfect—we absolutely have our limitations! But we parents need to look very seriously at our souls and make sure that we are doing our utmost best for our children on a daily—and sometimes minute by minute—basis! If we don't do what is best for our children, who will?

Are we going to depend on some world government organization to parent our children for us?

Parents need to remember that childhood lasts such a brief period of time. When our babies are grown, there is no going back—there is no do-over in parenting!

I know many people lament the fact that they have regrets in their lives, but I wonder how many of us think about the consequences of our parenting? Will we endlessly replay the moments of our children's lives and say, "Oh, how I wish I would have done/said ______________, instead of ______________!"

There is no debate that every child was created through the egg of a woman and the sperm of a man, and grown inside the womb of its mother. Think about that amazing fact! There is literally no other way for a child to be born—except through a woman and a man. Because of that fact, each baby born is the "perfect" combination of two people. (Yes, I fully know that no one is perfect, but you know what I mean.) Thus, each and every baby deserves to be loved unconditionally by their mother and father until their dying day!

By the way, I continually wish, hope, and pray that every child is born out of love, but sadly, I know that that is not always the case. Thankfully, that scenario is the exception rather than the rule. Hopefully those "unwanted" children will be adopted by wonderful new parents who will love them as their own.

It's absolutely magical for me to see that my children resemble their father and me in so many ways. I believe strongly that this "Hey! You look like me!" situation we parents find ourselves in was our Heavenly Father's way to endear our children to us. I'm similarly fascinated to see parts of myself in my parents!

Again, my physical characteristics endear me to my parents. I look at my parents and know that it's literally because of them that I'm here and have this wonderful body. Even though I'm a grown woman, the love I have for my parents grows each and every time I think about how I actually came from them. Every child deserves to feel that way! :)

I truly believe if every parent actively chose to spend the necessary and quality time with their child, we would not see as many problems in our world. Yet, I have complete compassion and empathy for those parents who were mistreated during their formative years, as they might not know how to parent their own children. It's a vicious cycle that must be stopped. We can do better...we can be better parents! :)

So, yes, UNICEF has the right idea of helping all of the children in this world, but we parents must step up! No matter how much money we make, or how much time we have, or where we live, or what talents/disabilities we have, or what we believe, we parents need to do for our children what no other organization can do!

Yes, I typed other organization because I truly believe the family is the greatest organization! And parents are the presidents of that organization! :)

In a child's life, there is no adequate substitute for the love, care, concern and precious time of his or her parents. Of course many other people can love and help a child when there's no option of biological parental involvement, and I'm so grateful for those wonderful, caring, selfless souls, but I believe a child's ideal growing-up situation is to be nurtured by their own flesh and blood. It's those invisible DNA threads that secure children to their parents. We parents must never stop working to keep our invisible threads tightly connected to our babies until they are grown and ready to move-on in their lives. Then, we must do our best to help our children understand what needs to be done to raise their own children well! :)



This is my beloved family, circa 2006. They mean more to me than anything!

*Followup disclaimer: I understand that there are certain life situations that some parents find themselves in that are less than ideal. I understand that adoption is a wonderful option for parents who truly can't raise their precious children. I understand that adoption is a huge blessing to couples facing infertility. My post in no way diminishes what those parents—birth or adoptive—go through. I truly can't imagine the heartache involved on either side.

I also understand that there are some parents who are a danger to their children. Obviously, the safety of the child is of utmost importance.

I've simply written what I feel is the best option for children when parents are capable of raising their children. That said, I know there are always exceptions to the rule. Thankfully, children are resilient!

I'm not trying to make anyone feel badly. I'm just expressing my opinion as I see it, from my 14+ years of experience as a stay-at-home-mother, volunteering in countless school and church classrooms, and after nannying for four separate families—two full-time positions before marriage and two very part-time positions after my children were in school full-time. (Actually, in my last two part-time positions, I think I was more of a sitter than a nanny.)

Yet at the same time, if my words can help someone in this vast world choose to be a better parent, then that makes me super happy! :)