Sunday, May 11, 2008


In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I would post a talk I gave a couple years ago on Mother's Day. I hope all you wonderful mothers had a great day. Thanks, Mom, for being my shining example and my dear friend. I love you! Happy Mother's Day!

In a talk by Jeffrey Holland, he quoted some lines attributed to Victor Hugo which read:
“She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children, who ate with eagerness.
‘She hath kept none for herself,’ grumbled the sergeant.
‘Because she is not hungry,’ said a soldier.
‘No,’ said the sergeant, ‘because she is a mother.’”

I loved this short passage, because to me that is the very essence of a mother—supreme love and sacrifice. We honor our mothers each year on this day because of the tremendous love they have given and the many sacrifices they have made for us. What a wonderful blessing it is in one’s life to have had such a mother. They mold us into strong adults and then continue to be a source of strength and support and an example throughout our lives. I was blessed with such a mother and I am so grateful for her guidance and love.

The work of mother is of extreme importance in Heavenly Father’s plan and it is a work entrusted to every woman. In the beginning God created the earth and placed man upon it. In Moses 3:18, 21-22 it says, “And I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten, that it was not good that the man should be alone; wherefore, I will make an help meet for him…”And I, the Lord God, caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and he slept, and I took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in the stead thereof; And the rib which I, the Lord God, had taken from man, made I a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

Eve was to be a help meet for Adam. In Daughters of God, by Michael Wilcox, he says, “The word help is translated from a Hebrew root meaning ‘to surround, to protect, and to aid’… In describing Eve as a help for Adam, the Lord adds the adjective meet. In this context meet means ‘equal to, suitable for, becoming, right, fit, worthy, sufficient, competent, well-placed, necessary, proper, fulfilling, and satisfying.’ Eve was all of this to Adam. She was equal to him. She was suitable, becoming, and of value. Her help and companionship were right. She was fit, worthy, sufficient, and competent. She was well-placed beside Adam, a necessary and proper companion. Her help was fulfilling and brought satisfaction. Meet also suggests that Eve would complement Adam, would make him complete.”

The metaphor of the rib is also an important indication of the relationship between man and woman. Pres. Spencer W. Kimball said that “the story of the rib, of course, is figurative.” Pres. George Albert Smith said: “In showing this relationship, by a symbolic representation, God didn’t say that woman was to be taken from a bone in the man’s head that she should rule over him, nor from a bone in his foot that she should be trampled under his feet, but from a bone in his side to symbolize that she was to stand by his side, to be his companion, his equal, and his helpmeet in all their lives together.”

Men and women are to be equal partners with different responsibilities delegated to each in order to perform the Lord’s work here on earth. The men are given the priesthood and the charge to provide for their families “by the sweat of thy face.” Women, from the days of Eve, have been given the role of mother.

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living; for thus have I, the Lord God, called the first of all women, which are many” (Moses 4:26).

Michael Wilcox continues to write:
“Eve’s name in Hebrew means ‘life-giver.’ Both Adam and the Lord considered this the most appropriate and worthy name to give the first woman of many women, the ‘mother of all living.’ There is dignity in the thought that the first woman’s name was essentially the title of mother… Sister Patricia Holland gives added insight to what it means to be a life-giver. [She said,] ‘Eve was given the identity of ‘the mother of all living’—years, decades, perhaps centuries before she ever bore a child. It would appear that her motherhood preceded her maternity, just as surely as the perfection in the Garden preceded the struggles of mortality. I believe mother is one of those very carefully chosen words, one of those rich words, with meaning after meaning after meaning. . . . I believe with all my heart that it is first and foremost a statement about our nature.’”

Brother Wilcox continues, “There is a difference between the labor of Eve and the labor of Adam. The Lord told Adam, ‘By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’ (Moses 4:25). Whatever our occupations in this life may be, there will come a time when they will not be necessary. None of the means by which men eat bread by the sweat of their face will continue in the eternities. Our occupations allow us to live and learn. They edify and instruct, but they are essentially aspects of the telestial world in which we live. On the other hand, Eve’s role as life-giver is eternal and celestial. It was revealed to Joseph Smith that the life-giving power of women fulfills ‘the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified’ (D&C 132:63). Adam shared in this great work, but Eve was the primary life-giver. Her labor would not change after the resurrection. Is it any wonder the adversary has tried so diligently to demean the labor that Eve and her daughters perform? Is it any wonder that he has tried to convince both women and men that the temporal labor of the lone and dreary world is more important than the eternal labor of a celestial one?”

What a blessing we as women have to be mothers. It is our divine destiny, a celestial work we can perform here and in the eternities. Sheri L. Dew stated, “No woman who understands the gospel would ever think that any other work is more important or would ever say, ‘I am just a mother,’ for mothers heal the souls of men.”

This is true whether we give birth to children of our own or whether our charge is to “give life” to children around us. Michael Wilcox wrote, “Life-giver is an appropriate name because women not only give birth to children but continue to give life to their families and others. My mother gave me the gift of life when she gave me birth, but she continued to give me life as I grew, through her example, teachings, sacrifices, and love. Even today she continues to give me life through her counsel and wisdom.”

Sister Patricia Holland taught that “some women give birth and raise children but never ‘mother’ them. Others, whom I love with all my heart, ‘mother’ all their lives but have never given birth. All of us are Eve’s daughters whether we are married or single, maternal or barren; and we can provide something of that divine pattern, that maternal prototype for each other and for those who come after us.”

We all know women who are single or who haven’t been able to have children who are mothers to the children around them, having a profound influence on their lives and who they become. We also know women, who although they have many children of their own, still reach out to those children outside their family who need their help and love and guidance. It is in our nature and it is our role as women to mother. Perhaps this instinct makes us good companions to our husbands as well, who also need a little mothering from their wives now and then. We can be mothers throughout our lives to Heavenly Father’s children of all ages, old and young. We continue to need the influence of mothers into adulthood and feel a special place in our heart for those who reach out to us with love and guidance. Many of the women in this ward have felt like second mothers to me and I love them for their influence in my life and for the love they have shown me.

Sheri L. Dew in her talk “Are We Not All Mothers?” spoke about this sacred role of mother and the charge that is given to all women. I apologize for the length of this quote, but she says it so well and summarizes much of what I’ve already said in such an eloquent way, that I would like to read it:
“Our Father has entrusted us as women with His children, and He has asked us to love them and help lead them safely past the dangers of mortality back home.
“Loving and leading—these words summarize not only the all-consuming work of the Father and the Son, but the essence of our labor, for our work is to help the Lord with His work. How, then, may we as Latter-day women of God best help the Lord with His work?
“Prophets have repeatedly answered this question, as did the First Presidency six decades ago when they called motherhood ‘the highest, holiest service … assumed by mankind.
“Have you ever wondered why prophets have taught the doctrine of motherhood—and it is doctrine—again and again? I have. I have thought long and hard about the work of women of God. And I have wrestled with what the doctrine of motherhood means for all of us. This issue has driven me to my knees, to the scriptures, and to the temple—all of which teach an ennobling doctrine regarding our most crucial role as women. It is a doctrine about which we must be clear if we hope to stand ‘steadfast and immovable’ regarding the issues that swirl around our gender. For Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. And he knows that without righteous mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail.
“When we understand the magnitude of motherhood, it becomes clear why prophets have been so protective of woman’s most sacred role. While we tend to equate motherhood solely with maternity, in the Lord’s language, the word mother has layers of meaning. Of all the words they could have chosen to define her role and her essence, both God the Father and Adam called Eve ‘the mother of all living’—and they did so before she ever bore a child. Like Eve, our motherhood began before we were born. Just as worthy men were foreordained to hold the priesthood in mortality, righteous women were endowed premortally with the privilege of motherhood. Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our very identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us.
“President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that ‘God planted within women something divine.’ That something is the gift and the gifts of motherhood. Elder Matthew Cowley taught that ‘men have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. [They] are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls … and the regenerating force in the lives of God’s children.’
“Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with priesthood ordination. It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters, a sacred trust that gave women an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is ‘as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.’”

The Father has given men the Priesthood, with its attendant blessings and responsibilities, and this is their role in building up the Kingdom of God on earth. As women, we are given the charge to be mothers, a task of equal importance in the work of the Lord, for we are to bring children to this their second estate as they are born into physical bodies, but we are also given the responsibility to help them keep their second estate, through our examples of righteousness and our loving guidance. Truly everything is done in the wisdom and order of the Lord. He has ordered his kingdom on earth in such a way so as to ensure that through the priesthood, we receive the blessings of sacred ordinances and covenants to guide us back to him and the guidance and inspiration of the men who righteously bear this authority, and also to ensure that we also receive the loving guidance to remain faithful to those sacred ordinances and covenants through the influence of the mothers in our lives. We each have a duty to each other as we strive individually to return to our Father’s presence. We can thus see the importance of the first two commandments, first, that we love God, and second, that we love our neighbors as ourselves. Certainly these two commandments are the instruction manual for a mother.

Sister Dew taught, “Every time we build the faith or reinforce the nobility of a young woman or man, every time we love or lead anyone even one small step along the path, we are true to our endowment and calling as mothers and in the process we build the kingdom of God.”

She went on to say, “As mothers in Israel, we are the Lord’s secret weapon. Our influence comes from a divine endowment that has been in place from the beginning. In the premortal world, when our Father described our role, I wonder if we didn’t stand in wide-eyed wonder that He would bless us with a sacred trust so central to His plan and that He would endow us with gifts so vital to the loving and leading of His children. I wonder if we shouted for joy at least in part because of the ennobling stature He gave us in His kingdom. The world won’t tell you that, but the Spirit will. We just can’t let the Lord down. And if the day comes when we are the only women on earth who find nobility and divinity in motherhood, so be it. For mother is the word that will define a righteous woman made perfect in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, a woman who has qualified for eternal increase in posterity, wisdom, joy, and influence.”

Truly in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, those righteous women who reside there will be called Mother by many. We are told that no faithful woman will be denied any eternal blessing. Although some may not have the blessing of children of their own in this life, Pres. Brigham Young promises all righteous women, “You will see the time when you will have millions of children around you. If you are faithful to your covenants, you will be mothers of nations.”

May we remain faithful that we may receive these precious promises. May we recognize the sacred responsibility and duty that has been entrusted to us as mothers. Pres. Hinckley spoke to mothers and those who will become mothers saying:

“What a wonderful thing you have done as mothers. You have given birth and nurtured children. You have entered into a partnership with our Father in Heaven to give mortal experience to His sons and daughters. They are His children and they are your children, flesh of your flesh, for whom He will hold you responsible. You have rejoiced over them, and in many cases you have sorrowed. They have brought you happiness as no one else could. They have brought you pain as none other could. . . “
“You have nothing in this world more precious than your children. When you grow old, when your hair turns white and your body grows weary, when you are prone to sit in a rocker and meditate on the things of your life, nothing will be so important as the question of how your children have turned out. It will not be the money you have made. It will not be the cars you have owned. It will not be the large house in which you live. The searing question that will cross your mind again and again will be, How well have my children done?
“If the answer is that they have done very well, then your happiness will be complete. If they have done less than well, then no other satisfaction can compensate for your loss.” (“Your Greatest Challenge, Mother,” Ensign, Nov. 200, 97)

May the Lord bless mothers. They embody love and sacrifice and goodness. May we always honor our mothers for the richness they give our lives and for all that they have done and continue to do to guide us along the path to our Heavenly Father. I am so grateful for my dear mother and her many sacrifices for me and the love she shows me daily. I am supremely grateful for the blessing of being a mother to my sweet children. May the Lord grant us mothers that we may do His work among His children with His inspiration and guidance always, that we may help bring about their salvation as well as our own. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Busy Busy

I'm sorry that I have been such a slacker! We got home from our vacation on Monday night and I have been so busy trying to catch up on things since we got home. So I haven't had much time for blogging. I have a feeling that this last month of school is going to stay pretty busy and then it will be summer, which always seems to make it hard to have anything really scheduled for me, so I have decided to change the format for my posts. I will still continue to do my posts regularly, but just not on such a scheduled basis like the previous few weeks. This has been such a great way for me to study the scriptures, I've really enjoyed it and look forward to doing more. Thanks for reading--it's helped me stay motivated to continue, which has really been a blessing to me and I hope for some of you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Little Vacation

Well, quite spontaneously (we even forgot to tell my mom who lives with us) we picked up and drove to California very early Tuesday morning. We spent most that day driving and we've been at Disneyland all day today, which is why I haven't posted a new topic. Since we will likely not return until Sunday or Monday, I won't be able to do a new post until next week. So have a wonderful week and I'll return next Tuesday with a new topic!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The Lord has commanded us to forgive all men. In D&C 64:9-10 it says:

"Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.
"I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."

When I have read this in the past, I have wondered, why does the Lord say He will forgive whom he will, but we have to forgive? In pondering this, I've come to the realization that this requirement has less to do with the Lord's forgiveness of others, and more to do with His forgiveness of our own sins. We are required to forgive others, not based on whether the Lord will forgive them or not, but simply because we have been forgiven.

I think the parable Christ gave about the king and a certain servant illustrates this well. In Matthew 18:23-35 Christ tells of a king who took account of his servants. One servant was brought before him who owed him ten thousand talents. The servant could not pay and the king commanded that he, his wife, his children, and all that he had be sold to pay the debt. The servant fell down and pleaded for the king to have patience with him and he would pay him all he owed. The king was moved with compassion and forgave the servant of the debt.

That same servant went out and found a fellowservant who owed him one hundred pence. He took him by the throat and demanded payment. The fellowservant fell down and pleaded for him to be patient and he would pay all that was owed. The servant would not, and had the fellowservant cast into prison until all was paid.

When the king found out what had happened, he called the servant to him and said, "'O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?' And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him."

Christ continues,"So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."

We are commanded to forgive because we have been forgiven of all. Christ has paid the debt for each one of us, and the forgiveness He extends to us is greater than any forgiveness that may required of us towards our fellowmen.

At times, however, extending this forgiveness may seem impossible. Some of the hurts inflicted upon us may seem too great to ever be forgiven. When we hear about or experience ourselves some of the atrocities commited by men, the sin we are required to forgive may seem much greater than any we may have been forgiven of. Surely some of these offenders will not find the Lord's forgiveness. Why then does the Lord require it of us and how are we to forgive?

I recently read a book called "Left To Tell" about a woman in Rwanda who survived the genocide of 1994. It was an amazing tale of her horrific experience of being hunted by those who were her neighbors and friends the day before, who ultimately killed her parents and two of her brothers, leaving only her and an older brother, who was living outside the country, alive. To read about these horrendous acts against humanity, I could not imagine how one could forgive such things. And yet this woman, who was very close to God and her Savior throughout her ordeal, was able to forgive and prayed that her fellowcountrymen would also forgive. She saw that the violence inflicted upon her and the other Tutsis was a result of the Hutus' continued hatred and inability to forgive the wrongs inflicted upon them many years ago. She realized that both groups would have to forgive in order for either group to have peace. She also came to know that peace herself, even telling one man responsible for her mother's brutal death, "I forgive you."

Thinking of her experience I realized the importance of forgiveness, not for the offender, but for the offended. Through our forgiveness, we are given peace. We are able to feel the Spirit, which we cannot have if we harbor anger towards another. Thus it is for our benefit that we are required to forgive, and that we might not become the offender in our anger.

How do we forgive? The Lord will help us. When we lack the ability, but have the desire, the Lord will strengthen us and help us to truly forgive. He will touch our hearts and we will find it within ourselves to forgive. I remember a time recently when someone dear to me did something that hurt me to the core. I was more than hurt, I was angry. If I hadn't been touched by a book I had just read "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom, I probably would've reacted in my anger, and instead of being the offended, likely would have become an offender through harsh words and a rash response. Instead I was prompted to go to my Heavenly Father and seek His help to learn to forgive. It was an amazing experience. One that changed my life and my relationship with the person forever. It taught me the power of forgiveness, both for the one required to forgive and the one being forgiven. Where my anger would surely have driven us further apart, forgiveness brought us closer together. The extension of one's love through their complete forgiveness is powerful. The Lord enters in and I believe both are edified.

There may be times when we must forgive someone who doesn't seek our forgiveness or doesn't care if they receive it. There may also be times when someone has no idea we've been offended. In times like these we can also be sure that the Lord will comfort us and help us to forgive. We can also be sure that our forgiveness will bring us peace and allow us to continue in the Spirit.

As with all the Lord's commands, the reason for the commandment is for our happiness and salvation. The requirement to forgive keeps us from committing the greater sin, ingratitude for the forgiveness we've so freely been given by the Lord, and keeps us from perpetuating the offenses through our anger. Thus we are kept from sin as we forgive. We are also happy and at peace and we will feel a greater measure of the Lord's love as we participate in His great act of forgiveness.

I love a poem by Carolyn Pearson called "The Forgiving":

Will I forgive,
You cry.
What is the gift,
The favor?

You would lift
Me from
My poor place
To stand beside
The Savior.
You would have
Me see with
His eyes,
And with Him
Reach out to
A sorrowing heart--
For one small
To share in
Christ's great art.

Will I forgive,
You cry.
May I--
May I?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This Week's Topic

Thank you for your comments. This Week's Topic will be "Forgiveness." If you are hard pressed to find time to study this week, I think it would be a great topic to maybe think back on your own experiences with forgiveness, either when you have forgiven someone or when someone has forgiven you or when you have truly felt the Lord's forgiveness. Then please feel free to share those experiences with us on Sunday. I really love hearing others' personal experiences. It is a very faith promoting way to learn from each other. We'll see you Sunday!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Light of the World

In Matthew 5:14-16 it reads:
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

The Lord has given us his gospel and that light has been lit. He has not hid us under a bushel, but has set us upon a hill to be a light unto our brothers and sisters. The light he has given us is meant to shine forth.

3 Nephi 18:24 says, “Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.”

So what is the light we are to hold up? That which Christ has done--we are to follow his example. Our acts, our good works, are the light.

Proverbs 4: 18 says, “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

The path we trod, or the works we do are the light to the world. What causes it to shine more and more unto the perfect day? I believe it is that as our lights shine, others will see it and be drawn to the gospel, then their light will shine forth and more and more until Christ comes to reclaim his kingdom on earth.

So we are to hold our lights up, which we do by doing the works we have seen Christ do.

Christ was the light of the world. If we are told that our light shines by doing good works, we can imagine the light that shone forth from one who was perfect. Matthew 4:16 says, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.”

This light is irresistible. In Matthew 4:18-20 it says:
“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
“And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.”

Christ’s light was so great, Peter and Andrew left everything and immediately followed him.

When Christ appeared to the Nephites, they too witnessed this great light and partook of it themselves. In 3 Nephi 19:25 it reads:
“And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof.”

“The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” I can imagine the joy of those who sat in darkness for so long to see the light of Christ. When the power goes out in our house, we sit in darkness and wait, not knowing what to do, and we are so relieved when suddenly the lights flash back on and we can see. This sense of relief and appreciation for the light is as nothing compared to the joy that comes from the light of Christ that shines forth out of the darkness. And we are to be the bearers of this light to the world.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

How does this light of Christ influence others?

I like what the Bible Dictionary says about the light of Christ:
“The light of Christ is just what the words imply: enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ. For instance, Christ is ‘the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ (D&C 93:2’ John 1:9). The light of Christ fills the ‘immensity of space’ and is the means by which Christ is able to be ‘in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things’. . . The light of Christ should not be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the light of Christ is not a personage at all. Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost. The light of Christ will lead the honest soul who ‘hearkeneth to the voice’ to find the true gospel and the true Church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost.”

This light of Christ shines forth in us. It is through this light that we influence those around us. President David O. McKay taught us about the influence we have on others, saying:

"Every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone, it is not alone what he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person radiates what he or she is. Every person is a recipient of radiation. The Savior was conscious of that. Whenever he came into the presence of an individual, he sensed that radiation--whether it was the woman of Samaria with her past life; whether it was the woman who was to be stoned or the men who were to stone her; whether it was the statesman, Nicodemus, or one of the lepers. He was conscious of the radiation from the individual. And to a degree so are you, and so am I. It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us.
". . . As individuals, we must think nobler thoughts. We must not encourage vile thoughts or low aspirations. We shall radiate them if we do. If we think noble thoughts, if we encourage and cherish noble aspirations, there will be that radiation when we meeet people, especially when we associate with them.
"The effect of our words and acts is tremendous in this world. Every moment of life you are changing to a degree the lives of the whole world. . . .No matter what you are people will feel and recognize this. You radiate, you can't hide it. You may pretend something else, but that will not affect people."

This echoes the teachings from the scriptures quoted earlier. It is what we think, say and do that makes us who we are. What we are will radiate to others—it is the light we shine forth. Every time we follow Christ’s example our light shines brighter, we radiate more of his goodness, and this uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence. Every time we sin or allow unrighteous thoughts and influences into our life, our light is affected. The thing that strikes me as well is that it is not necessary that people see the good works we do, those good works become part of what we are and that is what is radiated.

I think if you were to sum up all the acts of our Savior in one word it would be service. So since we are to follow Christ’s example and do as he did, if we are to let our lights shine, we too must serve others. We must do good works for others and these acts will show forth the light of the Savior and glorify our Father.

I am supremely grateful for the influence of my Savior, my light.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

We have been so blessed to have been given this light. Now it is our obligation to let our lights shine forth as we emulate the Savior and perform good works and service to others.

D&C 103:9 says, “For they were set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men.”

We are to join the Lord in His work by being this light and radiating His goodness and peace.

Pres. McKay implored, “If it be possible, so far as in us lies, let us live peaceably with all men—not overcoming evil by evil, or being overcome by evil, but overcoming evil with good. Then will the Church stand as a light to the world. That is her destiny. . . If we can only maintain the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the future of the Church is secure. Truly, men and women will see a light that is not hidden under a bushel, but one that is set upon a hill, and they will be attracted by it, and will be led to seek the truth more by our acts and deeds and by what we radiate in virtue and integrity, rather than by what we say.”

May we let our lights so shine.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New Tuesday Topic

Okay, guys, you are starting to make me feel like when I was a MiaMaid teacher trying to get the girls to have a discussion. It was like pulling teeth to get them to talk.

I'll try one more week. This week's topic will be "Light." It's a broad subject so you can study whatever aspect of "light" that you would like. I hope you will participate and leave your comments.

Thanks! Have a great week!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Christ as Bridegroom

As I was contemplating what topic to study for this week, the thought of the symbolism of Christ as the bridegroom came to my head. A couple days before, Brent and Krisstina were having a conversation about how women should take their husband's name when they are married. I came into the conversation adding how I think taking your husband's name shows a different level of commitment because you are actually leaving your old identity and taking on a new one. This leap of faith shows that you are commited to being a part of your new family. Suddenly the thought came to me that we are told to take on Christ's name and I marvelled at the parallels of taking on Christ's name and taking on the name of one's new husband. We commit to Christ that we will leave our old selves and take on a new identity as part of His family. Taking on his name shows a deep level of commitment and devotion. This was a neat thought to me and I realized this was perhaps one aspect of the symbolism of Christ as the bridegroom.

This thought continued to return to my head over the next couple of days, and later on Tuesday, as I was trying to decide on a topic, the symbolism of Christ as bridegroom kept coming to my mind. I was very interested in exploring the topic further, but it seemed a fairly lofty one to attempt. Little did I realize just how overreaching this symbolism is.

When it first entered my mind to study this topic, I thought I would find other neat correlations between a bride and a groom and us and the Savior, such as the one about taking on your husband's name and taking on Christ's name. After reading a few scripture passages, it became clear to me that it would be crucial to understand the Jewish custom of marriage since those were the customs to which the people of Jesus' time would relate as He taught them.

My mom read my post about the new topic and I asked for her input as to what to study. She asked me, "How deep do you want to go?" I said, "I don't know. What do you have?" She gave me a book to read called Beloved Bridegroom by Donna B. Nielsen.

I have been studying that the past couple days and I am only now on page 51. But I cannot believe the wealth of insight and new understanding that has come to me that was so unexpected when I chose this topic. It has furthered my understanding of Christ's love for us, of the meaningfulness of the sacrament, and so much has flooded my mind regarding the sacred symbols and clothing of the temple. I certainly did not expect to discover all that I have when I was prompted to study this topic, and I am so grateful for the newfound understanding I have gained by coming to understand this profound symbolism.

Like I said, I still have the majority of this book to read. But I would love to share with you a few of the insights I have gained so far.

In the Jewish custom of marriage, there are three parts. The betrothal, the preparations for marriage, and the wedding. Marriages are arranged by the parents of the bride and groom. Parents of the groom choose a suitable bride and then the groom and his father or another close male family member go to the prospective bride's home to make the marriage proposal.

When they arrive they are given food and drink as a gesture of hospitality, but they refuse to partake until their request is granted and the bride agrees to the proposal. In Beloved Bridegroom (the source of all quoted references in this post) it explains:

"Middle Easterners have strong associations between covenants and the idea of a covenant meal to seal an agreement. Eating a covenant meal together in Biblical times was a way to ratify pacts or treaties. By consuming meals together, they symbolically became members of the same family. This was especially true regarding bread. Through partaking from the same loaf at the same table, even strangers became companions, a word whose literal meaning is "one with whom bread is broken. . . .With so much importance attached to the idea of 'breaking bread' or sharing a meal, no wonder that a food could not be eaten together until a binding contract between the bride and groom had been settled." (p. 20-21)

A completed marriage contract in Biblical times had three conditions that had to be met to be legal. They were money, writ, and intercourse. Money was the bride price, either money paid or services rendered. Writ was the "ketubah"--a contract which stated the bride price, the obligations of the groom, and the rights of the bride. Intercourse or "knowing" a wife "filled the requirement that blood be shed as a fulfillment of the covenant." (p. 18)

By today's perceptions, the idea of buying one's bride may seem degrading. "On the contrary, the value and esteem of a woman were directly connected to the size of the bride price paid for her. It was expected that the more noble the family and the more beautiful the girl, the higher the bride price asked for her. Her strength, age, ability, and character determined the final amount. The price paid also influenced the level of esteem that the groom's family had for the bride. The lower the price, the less she was valued by her husband and his kin. If a man obtained a wife for a small price, he had little respect for her. But if much was paid for her, he felt he had something valuable, a person who had to be cherished and well treated." (p.22)

"Part of this bride price later became the woman's dowry, so that in the event of her husband's death, or if he divorced her, she was left with some financial security. . .A portion of the money was used by the father to purchase household utensils for his daughter. . . The dowry also was used to purchase clothing for special occasions and jewelry, such as earrings, nose rings, bracelets, and gold coins. These would be worn constantly by the girl for the remainder of her life--her own personal possession--by law never to be taken as payment for any debt incurred by her husband. They were carefully guarded, both for their value and their symbolic meaning. This dowry had the root idea of 'en-dower-ment' or endowment. To receive an endowment before her marriage from her father made the young girl feel protected and loved. It was a shield and safeguard against future uncertainty." (p. 22-23)

There is so much more I could include, but I will stop for now with these few references. In just these references we can gain understanding for many of the covenants we make in our lives. So far in Beloved Bridegroom, most of the text lays forth the customs of Jewish marriage, without much commentary yet on its associations with our day. So I'm sure I will continue to learn much more as I continue to read, and perhaps will find my preliminary thoughts and insights to be to quickly formed, so forgive my hasty interpretation, but here are the things that have come to my head and heart based on my reading so far.

Firstly, the sharing of the meal. This made me think of the Last Supper and the institution of the sacrament. We partake of this sacred ordinance after an agreement has been reached between ourselves and Christ (bride and groom). I believe this agreement is formed as we are baptized and agree to take on the name of Christ. We then "break bread" with the Savior, to ratify this sacred covenant each week. We symbolically become members of Christ's family and become companions. In the Jewish tradition, a covenant set forth by the breaking of bread is unbreakable and permanent and carried serious implications in its undertaking. No such covenant would be taken lightly. I was struck by how sacred a promise we really make each week as we "break bread" with the Savior.

Next, the marriage contract and particularly the bride price. After this was paid, the "man was considered to 'own' the woman. He had purchased her and she belonged to him." This may seem offensive to women today, but actually it gave the woman permanent protection by her husband under a very serious covenant as mentioned earlier. "Although a woman was a 'possession' of the husband, she was still considered to have an extremely significant place in his heart. The word used to describe this relationship is segulah which means 'peculiar treasure' or 'treasured possession.' Segulah was the term that kings used to identify certain objects in their possession that were carefully guarded because of their great worth. Segulah also had overtones of being 'hidden.' Although kings valued all of their possessions, their special (peculiar) treasures were dearest to their hearts. Truly, the worth of a bride was great in the eyes of her husband." (p. 24-26)

From this context, we can come to understand the meaning of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

What is the bride price paid? The uttermost farthing. The Savior gave His very life and suffered the pains and sins of the world as His bride price. What does this say about His feelings for each of us? Remember from the Jewish tradition, the higher the price, the more valuable and esteemed the bride. Truly the worth of souls is great in the sight of God, for the greatest price that could ever be paid was paid to own us and make us His most treasured possessions. Of all the king's possessions, we are the most dear to his heart.

I loved the significance of the special clothing and adornments purchased by the bride's father with the bride price. She would wear these every day forever as a reminder of her "en-dower-ment." Guarding these carefully because of their great worth and symbolic meaning, these things were hers alone, never to be taken away. "To receive an endowment before her marriage from her father made the young girl feel protected and loved. It was a shield and a safeguard against future uncertainty." The woman could proceed forward knowing of her father's love and protection. I gained a greater understanding of the temple and the clothing I wear daily as a reminder of the love of my Father.

I had another insight come to me as I read about the segulah, the most treasured possession, one that is carefully guarded and hidden from the eyes of the world. I thought of the idea that this is the kind of regard a Jewish man held for his wife, and the thought came to me that this is the regard our Heavenly Father must have for our Heavenly Mother. So prized and treasured that our knowledge of her is carefully guarded. I have oftened wondered why she is not mentioned in the scriptures. This new understanding has reaffirmed to me her status in our Father's eyes as the most prized, and treasured of His possessions that she is 'hidden' and guarded.

There is so much more--I could go on and on. Perhaps I will do another future post with more insights as I finish this book. There is no way that I could completely cover this subject and all that I would like to share. I highly recommend reading this book yourselves. This has been one of the most wonderful experiences and has so enriched my understanding and I'm not even one-third the way through!

I know Christ lives. I'm so grateful for the special relationship we can have with Him. And I am so grateful to have gained a greater understanding of that relationship this week.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Living Water

"It is finished," he said.
Then bowing his head,
He left us.
And with the end of his mortal life,
Began the hope of life eternal.
From the drops of blood he shed,
Sprang forth a well of living water.
From the outstretched arms of the resurrected Savior,
Came an invitation
To come, drink, and never thirst again.

--Kristine Tanner, Dec. 1996

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Topic

Thank you to those who participated last week. This week's topic will be the symbolism of Christ as the bridegroom. I'm not sure why this topic came to mind, but I am excited to research it since I never really have. I look forward to all your insights. I hope you will all share what you find. Even just sharing any scriptures or quotes with or without your own commentary (if you are nervous to do that) will still be beneficial to everyone. Have fun and I look forward to Sunday!

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Joy is an essential component of our Heavenly Father’s plan. As I read many scriptures about joy this week, one passage that is a very familiar one, made me realize even more the importance of joy. It is in fact why we are here. 2 Nephi 2 :22-25 reads:

“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
“And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
“But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”

Adam fell to allow each of us to enter this mortal realm. And we are here to have joy. The fall was essential to get us here, but also because it brought opposition into the world. As we learn from the above passage as well, we never would know joy without experiencing misery. We are here in this corrupted, fallen world so that we may ultimately know joy.

As I have studied joy this week in the scriptures, I came to the realization that this one line sums up the entirety of the Lord’s plan. “Adam fell, that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” Therein is referenced the fall, our mortal probation, opposition, the principle of agency, the Atonement, our salvation, and ultimately entering into the Lord’s presence.

So if our purpose is to have joy, how are we to attain this joy? Psalms 16:11 says: “…in thy presence is fullness of joy.” Certainly our ultimate goal is to return to the presence of our Father, wherein our joy will be at its fullest, and we must prove ourselves through the testing and trial of our faith in this mortal existence. Surely this is one aspect of the joy referenced in 2Nephi 2:25. But I believe we are also here to have joy in this life as well as in the life to come. And it is interesting to me that the things that will bring us joy here are the same things that will bring us back into the Lord’s presence to experience the fullness of joy that He has.

There are five things that seemed to stick out as recurring themes in the scriptures about joy. These five principles are how we attain joy in this life and the life to come.
1. Keeping the commandments.
2. The Love of God
3. The Lord’s forgiveness
4. Salvation
5. Ask & ye shall receive

“And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.” (Mosiah 2:41) We know the importance of keeping the Lord’s commandments if we are to have joy. Just as we as loving parents give our children guidelines to protect them and keep them healthy, safe, and happy, so our Heavenly Father has spelled out those things that when obeyed will keep us both physically and spiritually healthy, safe and happy. As we learn in Alma and soon learn from experience, “Wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10) Keeping the Lord’s commandments also allows Him to bless us, which in turn brings us joy, both from the actual blessing and also as we feel the love of the Lord through those blessings.

Jesus gave us a promise for our efforts to keep the commandments. In John 15:10-11 He says, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Our joy will be full as we keep the commandments because we may thereby abide in the love of God.

In Lehi’s dream he came across a tree, whose fruit was most desirable to make one happy. It also was the most sweet of all fruits and was exceedingly white. “And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy.” (1 Nephi 8:12) In later verses we come to know the meaning of this tree. The angel asks Nephi, “Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
“And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
“And he spake unto me, saying, Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” (1 Nephi 11:21-23)

The love of God is the source of exceedingly great joy. It is the purest, sweetest, most desirable above all else. It is where we must look if we are to have true joy. Wherein was the love of God manifest? In that He sent His Son. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16.)

It is interesting to me that when the angels prophesied and testified of the birth of the Savior they always said, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.” The birth of the Savior was truly the beginning of the source of all joy.

This is true for multiple reasons, one of which being that because of Christ’s atonement, we are given the opportunity to repent of our sins. As we fall short of obeying the Lord’s commandments, our joy is taken away. The love of God is manifest through His Son’s sacrifice for us, through which we may be forgiven for our sins. As we are forgiven, our joy is returned, I believe in an even greater measure. Psalms 30:5 JST expresses this in such a beautiful way:

“For his anger kindleth against the wicked; they repent, and in a moment it is turned away, and they are in his favor, and he giveth them life; therefore, weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

This principle is also manifest in the passage referenced in my post about being perfect and the parable of the debtors. As we are forgiven of sin, we come to love the Lord who so fully forgives us. Christ even says, those who are forgiven of the most shall love the Lord all the more. Through the Lord’s forgiveness we come to feel His love more fully and thereby experience true joy.

I love this scripture in Isaiah 12:1-3:

“And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”

Through the atonement of Christ and the repentance made possible thereby, we are able to have joy through His salvation. Not only is this the means by which we may return to our Father’s presence, gaining eternal salvation and fullness of joy. But as we come to understand the atonement and use it in our daily lives and realize our complete dependence upon the Savior for our salvation, we will rejoice at this great gift which He so freely gives. We will feel freed by His ability to save us. Our burden will be lightened, and joy will enter our hearts.

As Christ is preparing His apostles for the time that He shall leave them, he explains that in a little while they shall not see Him and they shall be sorrowful. “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” (John 16:22) I love the thought that when we see the Savior again, we shall rejoice and our joy will never again be taken from us.

Christ goes on in the next two verses to explain a principle with which I was very familiar, but had never really associated with joy. In verses 23-24 He says:

“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”

We are commanded many times in the scriptures to ask God in faith and we are promised that we will receive. Christ here states that therein will our joy be full. I found this quite interesting. I think D&C 42:61 adds some insight to this.

“If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”

There is much joy to be discovered as we ask of the Lord and receive of His knowledge.

“Men are, that they might have joy.” We are here to experience sorrow that we might know joy. As we experience opposition, we are tested as to whether we will keep the Lord’s commandments. As we do so, we experience the happiness that comes from doing what is right and we feel the love of the Lord and abide in that love as we keep the commandments. This love is the source of all joy. When we fail to be obedient, we can turn to Christ to be forgiven through His infinite atonement. This process of forgiveness brings us to more fully feel joy as we come to know more intimately the source of our salvation, and realize the great gift He offers—forgiveness and joy in this life, and salvation and eternal joy in the presence of our Father in the next. All that the Father hath is offered to us and as we ask, we shall receive.

Ultimately our joy comes from Jesus Christ. One of my absolute favorite scriptures is John 16:33:
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

We can have joy in this fallen world, because Christ has overcome it and offers His salvation to all. It’s as if He is saying to us, “Don’t worry. This life is hard. But be happy. I will save you.” Surely that is something we can all find joy in.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Topics

I have been thinking that it would be fun to have a special group blog every Tuesday. Here is how it would work. Each Tuesday I will give a topic, quote, or scripture for all of us to think about and study for the week and then the following Sunday I will post a blog with my thoughts and everyone can add their insights as well through comments. Everyone should leave their comments by Tuesday, so that when we come back to get the new topic, we can read all the additional insights that have been posted.

I think this will be a fun way for us to inspire each other and learn from one another. I hope you all will join in. We have so many different experiences and perspectives to share, I think we will really edify one another through this process. I look forward to it! Please feel free to let anyone know about it who might also have an interest in participating. Also please feel free to email me any topics you would be interested in studying.

This week's topic will be "Joy." We'll see you Sunday!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Come Spring

Cry not,
Though winter is cold,
Silent and still.
But where is thy sting?
Come spring
Will not the trees be once again
Arrayed in brilliant robes of green
More beautiful than before?
Does not the tulip awake and
Rise once more?
Does not God restore
The beauty of the world around us
Each year?
It is so
And a reminder that
Life does not end with winter.
The spring cometh
When those sleeping shall arise
And in glory live forever.
If worthy God’s world
Are not also His children?

                           By Kristine Tanner

Friday, March 7, 2008

On Being Perfect

I came across a quote in my Young Women's lesson manual that has become one of my favorite quotes. Speaking of coming to Christ it says:

"He wants us to come to him as we are. We do not have to be perfect to go to him. While Jesus was on the earth he associated with publicans and sinners and his disciples asked him why he associated with them, to which question Jesus gave a beautiful and simple answer: 'They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick.' (Mark 2:17.) The Lord does not ask us to heal ourselves of our imperfections before we approach him, but to come to him with those imperfections and he will assist us in overcoming them." (Gospel Doctrine [A Course of Study for the Melchizedek Priesthood Quorums, 1970-71], p.57).

I loved this quote. I love the thought that Christ wants us to come to Him as we are. I think sometimes I have felt like I need to be better before I can approach Him, that "temple worthy" is equivalent to close to perfect, and I feel distanced from Him by my own feelings of not being good enough. And yet it makes total sense that we must come to Christ with all our imperfections. We can never be perfect on our own merits. No matter the degree, we all sin and fall short of perfection. If we waited until we were perfect, we would never come to Him. "The Lord does not ask us to heal ourselves of our imperfections..." He wants us to come to Him now just as we are, so that He can heal us.

I love the story in Luke 7:36-50 of a woman, who was a sinner, when she had heard that Jesus was eating at a Pharisee's house, she came with a box of ointment.

38. "And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

39. "Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

40. "And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.

41. "There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.

42. "And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

43. "Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

44. "And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

45. "Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.

46. "My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.

47. "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

48. "And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. . . "

50. "And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."

This Pharisee was also under the misconception that a sinner had no place with the Savior. And yet, it was this sinner who was forgiven, because she had the faith to approach Jesus, in her imperfections, and because "she loved much." Why did she love the Savior so? I love the parable in these verses of the two debtors. One owed five hundred pence and one owed fifty. "And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?" Simon answers, "he, to whom he forgave most."

To me there are two great lessons here. The first is that no matter the amount of debt, both debtors were frankly forgiven. No matter how much we have to be forgiven of, the Lord will forgive us. None of us can repay the debt, no matter how large or small in comparison. We all must turn to Christ, who has paid this debt for all.

The second lesson, and a beautiful one indeed, is he who is forgiven of the most is he who will love the Savior all the more for that forgiveness. I think this is a very comforting thought to know that our acknowledgement of our own weaknesses and our seeking forgiveness will actually strengthen our love for the Savior. Perhaps this knowledge can help us see a purpose in our weaknesses rather than the hopelessness one might feel trying to overcome them alone.

I also find it comforting, as I see some of my loved ones who have made wrong decisions or who struggle with weaknesses, to think that these struggles will only make them love Christ more when they do seek His forgiveness. It gives me a real sense of hope that all the trials, struggles and experiences we have will be for our ultimate good.

We must come to Christ as we are. He will help us to overcome our imperfections, but most of all He will let us partake of His perfection. This ultimate forgiveness, no matter the debt, will forever secure within us a perfect love for our dear elder brother. We do not have to be perfect--because He is. We must simply seek Him in humility and love, with the faith that we can be healed through Him.

John 16:33 says: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Christ's perfection is enough. Whatever weakness, trial, imperfection, or affliction we may suffer, Christ has overcome it all. That is the source of peace and hope. Come to Him as you are and He will make you whole.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Beauty for Ashes--Isaiah 61:1-3

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

"To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified." Isaiah 61:1-3.