Friday, October 24, 2008

Blessed by Traditional Marriage

I don't live in California, but I watch with great concern the battle there over the definition of marriage. As I have studied the issue of traditional marriage vs. same-sex marriage and the ramifications of both, I feel to share--as a Mormon wife and a Mormon mom--my deep feelings regarding marriage.

This November my husband and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. What I always believed about the responsibilities of men and women in marriage and parenting has simply been reaffirmed and strengthened in my marital experience of 30 years.

Men and women are different. They each possess qualities unique to their sex which build and strengthen the marriage relationship. They complement and enhance each other. Children need ALL those qualities for optimum growth and nurturing. While there are single parents who have raised great kids, the IDEAL is a man and a woman, a mother and a father, each contributing their God-given qualities in the best interests of their kids. And face it, while we all know that ideal is not always available, it certainly is always preferred. In what other area of life do we not seek for the ideal?

I'm grateful for a husband who demonstrates manliness in the highest sense of the word, who has faithfully provided for and protected me and our children. I'm thankful my children have a father who accepts and performs the tasks of fatherhood lovingly and valiantly.

So far, fifteen lives have been strengthened and blessed by traditional marriage, and my greatest hope is that that number goes on eternally.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Body is a Temple

We Mormons have a unique perspective regarding our mortal bodies, and that comes from the Mormon doctrine that our Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and bones.

Tangible, but not mortal, God is not a personage of spirit, but a glorified, exalted, celestial Man with a resurrected and glorified body in which His eternal spirit dwells.

Because He loves us and has a plan for our eternal happiness, our Father in Heaven sent us, His spirit children, to earth to obtain mortal bodies through which we would be tried and tested to see if we will keep His commandments. Eventually we will all die--our spirit separating from our body for a while--but because of Christ's atonement and resurrection, all mankind will eventually be resurrected as well, the spirit and body to never again separate. Those who choose to follow God's plan and keep His commandments will not just rise from the dead with resurrected bodies, but with glorified, exalted and celestial bodies.

Even though these mortal dwellings of our spirits are imperfect and corruptible, the bodies we've been blessed with house our spirits and are God's sacred creation. Wise and grateful Mormons respect their bodies as gifts from God. Our body is the instrument of our spirit, and our challenge here is to make our body the best we can, and to use it as wisely and obediently as possible.

The wise and righteous use of our body includes how we display it for the rest of the world to see. Clothing that is too short, too tight, and too revealing in any way mocks the sacredness of the body and affronts our God. Tattoos, body piercings, and even too many piercings in the ears both disfigure and call inappropriate attention to a sacred gift. Photos of ourselves or our children that are placed where all the world can see them should accurately reflect the respect and esteem we have for our bodies, by being modest and promoting the sacred joy we have in these bodies.

It is not that Mormons are not grateful for our bodies, nor is it that we do not think them beautiful gifts from a divine Father. Modesty itself is a public statement as to just how grateful we are for the precious gift of our physical bodies. How we treat our bodies is a reflection of just how grateful we truly are.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Called of God

Faithful Mormon parents raise their sons with the expectation that, when they turn nineteen, those worthy sons will be called as part of the missionary force the Savior instituted when he said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

Shortly after our third son received his call to serve in South America, a friend not of our faith, grandfather to our boy's good friend, asked if we knew yet where said son would be going.

When I told him the nation that would be our son's home for the next two years, the grandpa asked, "Does the missionary get to pick where he wants to go? How does that get decided?"

I ventured to answer honestly: "We believe the missionary is called by God through inspiration."

With a look of slight impatience on his face, this man responded, "Right. How do they really decide?"

As Mormons we share many of the same Christian doctrines as our friends of other faiths. However, if there is one thing that truly sets us apart, it could well be that we really DO believe that in Christ's church, men and women are called by God, through the Spirit of prophecy, to serve the Lord in His Kingdom.

When the Savior asked his disciples who people said that he was, Peter declared with certitude, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (see Matthew 16:15-19). The Savior then stated two great truths:

First, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona . . ."--it is a blessing to feel the inspiration of heaven revealing truth to our souls; and second, "for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven"--there is a power beyond mortal might which will teach truth to the honest seeker.

Heavenly Father wants his children to know, to experience, truth. Whether the truth has to do with the field of labor for a new missionary, or how to organize and run a local congregation, men and women who are called of God can have the gift of prophecy. That is a great blessing all of us can tap into.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Good People

Recently we had the privilege of taking a cruise to Alaska. The ship was a veritable small town of people--over 2000 passengers, more than 1000 crew members.

On our first day at sea we struck up a conversation at the lunch table with a couple from Manhattan, NY. They were warm, friendly, intelligent, and patriotic. They loved America; they loved people; they were committed to serving this country in return for the many privileges America had given them.

The husband had served in World War II, then went to college, eventually receiving a PhD from Columbia University. He taught at the university level at a handful of prestigious schools, then was tapped by President Ronald Reagan to head up the Federal Executives Institute, a program designed to teach the heads of federal agencies effective management practices. Eventually he helped take the program to the international level. After retirement he turned his energies to volunteer work focusing on refurbishing and maintaining monuments honoring soldiers and sailors who gave their lives in the Civil War.

The wife was a professional singer, a professional watercolorist, and held three Masters degrees: one in the arts, one in counseling, and one in theology. Her love for and pride in her husband was obvious, as was her warm interest in people.

We saw these new friends later during the cruise and traded email addresses, promising to keep in touch. And not only do we plan to, we look forward to it.

In addition to seeing whales up close and personal, viewing breathtaking glaciers, and experiencing the overwhelming beauty of Alaska, a highlight of our trip was connecting with these people. We learned again that, despite wide differences in life experiences, locale, and cultural backgrounds, we have much in common with all of God's children. Among that vast number are many virtuous, lovely, and uplifting individuals who are living lives of decency and service. It was a privilege and a blessing to be reminded of that truth.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Daughter Who Knows

A once-in-a-lifetime family event happened a week ago: our only daughter was married. It was a wonderful day, made that way because of a lifetime of good choices made by a wonderful girl.

May I pay tribute to this wonderful woman, my daughter Rachell?

Nearly a year ago, Julie B. Back, now General President of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a powerful address entitled "Mothers Who Know." As I have reflected on the qualities of such women Sister Beck described, I've realized that my daughter epitomizes them, young as she is. Using a few of Sister Beck's points, I'll tell you what I mean.

"Mothers who know desire to bear children." Not only have marriage and children long been a desire for Rachell, she has prepared herself for those opportunities. Unafraid of the challenges the world throws our way that would discourage successful marriages and families, Rachell understands that "children--not possessions, not position, not prestige--are our greatest jewels."

"Mothers who know honor sacred ordinances and covenants." Rachell has always honored these holy things, dressing carefully for Church meetings; sacrificing to attend the temple; and faithfully fulfilling Church callings.

"Mothers who know are nurturers. . . . . Another word for nurturing is homemaking . . . including cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home." Once when Rachell was still in grade school, I left for a day of shopping with a grandma and cousin. Rachell was not invited along. Instead of moping, she went to work, and when I got home, she had cleaned the entire house, done laundry, and fixed meals for her brothers and dad. At the time not even 12, she still values and practices that kind of nurturing.

"Mother who know are leaders." Sometimes leaders have to stand alone, and Rachell did that, not without some anxiety and tears, but always faithfully, through her teenaged years. Rachell led out in keeping Gospel standards, including dating standards, scripture study, modesty in dress and behavior.

"Mothers who know are teachers." Shortly after the return of our most recently-returned missionary son, our family was discussing the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Rachell taught some profound insights about the Atonement. Her brother asked, "Where did you learn that?" She said, "In my personal scripture study." He was amazed--he hadn't learned it until halfway through his mission, and his little sister four years younger than he had gleaned it on her own and was now teaching it to others.

"Latter-day Saint women should be the very best in the world at upholding, nurturing, and protecting families." Rachell will do, in fact is doing, this very thing. Even though I am her mother, I am humbled and grateful to follow her example.

I love her very much.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


As Mormons, we are counseled by our church leaders to read the scriptures daily. As Mormon parents, we are counseled to read not only personally, but with our children. We are especially encouraged to make family study of the Book of Mormon a daily and lifelong pursuit.

Wanting to be obedient, we tried hard to follow that counsel but getting a routine going was tough. We'd just feel like we were on a roll when something would happen to upset the schedule applecart: school would start, or school would end; new baby would arrive, or the chain-reaction childhood illnesses would begin and make their month-long runs through six kids. It was tough.

Then our oldest kids hit the Dreary Wasteland of tween-age hood, the end of innocence. Sibling bickering increased. After-school sports and activities ballooned the family calendar. Tension over doing homework--not to mention handing in said homework--escalated. Things got tougher.

And then we were reminded of this prophetic promise:

"I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness" (Elder Marion G. Romney)

We bought inexpensive copies of the Book of Mormon, kept the stack next to the dining room table, and tried again. Breakfast time became scripture reading time. And this go around, it stuck. We first finished the Book of Mormon as a family in 1990, and in the next 17 years finished it eight more times, just reading a few minutes each day. Sure enough, the promises of prophets came to pass. Mutual respect and consideration grew; the spirit of contention departed; loving counsel and responsiveness to that counsel increased--just like Elder Romney said it would.

At the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior gave this great measure by which we can judge the goodness of anyone, anything:

"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (Matthew 7:16-18)

The Book of Mormon is a true and good tree. Our family knows this, because the fruits are good.
Anyone who will give it an honest try will taste the same fruit.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Testing, Testing

Bruce C. Hafen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy for the Mormon Church, shared the following:

“[Several years ago I watched] a close friend my age decline physically from multiple sclerosis. I had seen him gradually lose his ability to walk, to stand, and then to sit. During the stage when he was fully bedridden, his wife passed away from cancer. His family wheeled him into her funeral on a mobile bed. . . . ("Reason, Faith, and the Things of Eternity,“ Elder Bruce C. Hafen, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute Speech, March 21, 2008.)"

In bumping along the roadway of mortality, I‘ve learned that every one of us struggles with trials and tests, some of them physical and just as dramatic and sobering as the above.

For others, the trials fall under the categories of marriage; children; finances; living with the consequences of our sins; the death of a loved one; or being in the world but not of the world. The category of heartache may vary, but the reality of difficulties is certain.

What do we do with our inevitable trials? I don’t know the detailed answers for each of you. But I know One who does.

Remember John the Baptist? His mission was unique and awesome: prepare the way for the Messiah, making a people ready to receive the Son of God. John taught with power and baptized many.

In the face of John’s valiant efforts, an account in Matthew 11 is a little perplexing. The Baptist had spent a year imprisoned by King Herod, whom John had publicly criticized for his unlawful marriage.

“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,

“And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:

“The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:2-5).

What’s going on? Why would John, the great Preparer of the Way, send two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he were the promised Messiah? After all, this was a man who had been filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb. Was his testimony slipping, or was he jealous of Christ’s growing ministry and his own waning one?


The imprisoned prophet hoped this encounter with Christ would persuade his followers to forsake him and follow Jesus. John knew what a personal experience with the Savior could do.

Allow me to point you to Christ. Why? For the same reason John sent the people to Christ: seeing the Master and hearing his teachings lead us to the greater light we all desperately need, whether we are enduring the daily dullness of life or battling through excruciating periods of personal adversity

Where will we find this Christ we must all seek? In the scriptures. In the words of Latter-day prophets. In the promptings of the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost which come as answers to prayers. Christ will be found there. I know that, because I find Him there, and with the finding, my burdens become easier to bear.

Go find him.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

When my kids were young, and burst into the house to unexpectedly find me washing windows or scrubbing walls, their first question was "Who's coming to visit?" I'm not the world's worst housekeeper and could have taken offense at that (and usually did), but truth be told, unlike the homes of great housekeepers, my windows and walls only got serious cleaning attention when pressure (think: out-of town visitors) was on.

However, I did like my house to appear clean (think: whited sepulcher), and with my six little Mormon children constantly running in, out and around it, I was somewhat uptight about trying to maintain what mediocre housekeeping I did manage to do. And when my mostly-male family members showed a marked indifference to my cleaning efforts, I responded . . . negatively.

I remind myself of another woman who fussed and fretted about housecleaning and food-prep for visitors. Her name was Martha, and she too was frustrated and irked by a family member who failed to pitch in. Instead, sister Mary chose to spend her time with One she loved even more than a clean house, sitting at His feet and listening to Him, being spiritually fed, taught and strengthened.

When Martha in her cumbered crankiness complained of Mary's choice, the Savior gently corrected her, saying "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

It's a matter of priorities. Clean houses are important; after all, the same Savior said "My house is a house of order, and not a house of confusion." But every Mormon mom knows that a clean house is temporary, and is soon taken away from her. Only one thing is needful. When our mortal life has ended and we stand before that same Lord at the judgment bar, the only thing to matter will be whether we have chosen, out of all the good things mortality offers, the better part.

Sitting at the Savior's feet through scripture study and prayer, devotedly and daily learning from Him what our priorities should be, is the best first choice for all of us. That choice will then lead to inspired uses of the rest of our time, and only then will eternal blessings follow which shall not be taken away from us.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


What's better than getting a gift? Giving one!

My Mormon husband just gave each of our grown sons copies of a book he read them in their youth, a book that enthralled them, inspired them, and even made them cry. He wanted them to have their own copies so they could re-experience that joy through re-reading that story.

Of all the gifts a perfect father could give his child, what would be the very best gift? I would answer "that which brings the most joy." And what if that gift was something that could be experienced over, and over, and over again?

I have experienced moments of great joy in my life. But for unalloyed joy, joy available to every soul, I recommend repentance.

If one truly has faith in Jesus Christ, one will act upon one of His most repeated requests--to repent. Our tragic refusal to repent, besides evidence of insufficient faith in Him, is rejection of a supernal gift no other being can give, a gift that can be accepted only individually.

I give you my witness that there is nothing more important than doing all one can to repent of sin, and nothing more overwhelming and soul-changing than the peace, joy and purity of God's forgiveness. The cleanliness that follows will empower you like nothing else can.

I echo President Boyd K. Packer: "I readily confess that I would find no peace, neither happiness nor safety, in a world without repentance. I do not know what I should do if there were no way for me to erase my mistakes. The agony would be more than I could bear."

May we all fall to our knees, begging for guidance as to what to repent of and how to best do it. Our Loving Father is waiting to give the Gift.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Jump In

Confidence. Trust. Reliance.

These are synonyms for "faith," and as Mormons, we believe that the first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

When I was a little girl and afraid of water (one of my zillion fears), my dad would stand in the swimming pool, I would stand at the edge, and he would exercise his best powers of persuasion, enticing me to exercise my confidence, trust, and reliance on him by jumping into the water. The promise was that he would be there to reach out and grab me, saving me from certain death by drowning.

Faith, confidence, trust and reliance all hint at something more than belief: they move beyond simple belief into the arena of action. In order to exhibit my faith in my dad, I had to jump in. In order to exhibit faith in Jesus Christ, one also has to act. In reality, faith is more a verb than a noun.

Personally, faith in Christ means the willingness to do what he asks all his followers to do-- repent, forgive, serve, and obey.

As a mother, faith in Christ means the willingness to raise my children (God's children, on loan for a while) his way, not my way. I begin by first having those children. Then I have the faith to set the world aside and focus on them, my most important task in life. In that focusing I teach them to pray; to love the scriptures; to love each other; to do all the things, on a child's scale, the Savior expects from all of us. And as they absorb these teachings, they begin to love the Lord and exercise personal faith in him.

I'm grateful for Mormon parents who taught me faith in Christ. I'm grateful for my children, who are teaching their children the same. And I'm grateful for the Savior, who gives us the great invitation to jump in, trusting that He is there to reach out and save us.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter--Sweet the Joy

Have you ever touched a dead person?

I have. Once.

Before my Mormon father's funeral I touched his hands as his body lay in the open casket. Dad died several days before, and that touch was silent but physical testimony that he was gone. Cold. Waxy. Dead. Not sophisticated adjectives, but in this case, momentous.

What I touched at that moment, what I saw in that casket was only the shell of my father. The living part of him, his spirit, had departed that physical body which now lay lifeless before me. The physical proof provided by that touch startled me.

In an instant, my appreciation for the doctrine of the Resurrection leaped from the realm of a bystander's gratitude into deep, personal, experiential thanksgiving for our Savior Jesus Christ and His central role in Heavenly Father's plan for our happiness.

While Heavenly Father will grant exaltation only to those who choose it (see March 9 blog), the gift of a universal resurrection is free to every single person ever born into this world. Even the most God-hating human will receive that most-graciously given gift.

Following each of our resurrections, you will be you; I will be me; my dad will be my dad; all of us in our own--but perfected--bodies. As the Book of Mormon prophet Alma testified, "The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body . . . all things restored to their proper and perfect frame."

One day, I will again be encircled in the warm, living, loving arms of my resurrected dad. All because of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: I know that my Redeemer lives."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

What's Cookin'? You Choose

One of my college roommates was a home economics major, and I was astounded at all the chemistry classes she had to take. Turns out that in the kitchen, much of what makes a particular cooked or baked good good, is following certain rules of chemistry.

I don't come anywhere near understanding those rules. Why can you mix butter, eggs, sugar, milk and flour, put it in a hot oven, and produce a solid that stays solid? But if you leave out the flour, you get a semi-solid? What's magic about flour? The rules behind these results defy my understanding.

However, I've learned when cooking to obey the rules.

There are other rules out there that also result in certain outcomes. Pick your field--economics, physics, mental health, business--they all operate in the realm of rules.

So does our Heavenly Father. And contained within the Gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ, are rules for success. We call them commandments. Keep the rule or commandment, and you can count on certain results. Happy results. Break the rule, and misery is sure to follow. As a Book of Mormon prophet succinctly states it, "wicked never was happiness."

Why do these commandments work? Usually, God doesn't tell us. He just says do it. Magic? No. God just knows all the rules, and in spiritual things, success equals happiness, which comes from keeping those rules.

As Mormons we believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, if we keep the rules--including the little rule about applying Christ's atoning blood by repenting of
all those times we ignore/disregard/flagrantly break God's rules.

Want happiness? Ask a member of the Mormon Church--the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--about the rules that produce it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

All May Be

Because I was a stay-at-home mom and money was tight, I gave my own children piano lessons. The more children I had, the less stellar became my teaching. My oldest two children got the best quality instruction, with things deteriorating in descending order through subsequent kids. Interestingly, however, the child who today is the best pianist is one who received the fewest (and poorest) lessons.

She was not necessarily the most gifted or suited for musicianship, but because she had the greatest interest in actually practicing and playing the piano, she now reigns supreme of my offspring on the piano. Because she chose to learn, she did.

One of the great eternal principles taught in the Book of Mormon is the principle of agency. Repeatedly that book of scripture teaches that the eternal reward we eventually reap is up to us. Phrases like "whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely" and "whosoever will may walk therein and be saved" make it clear that personal choice is key.

Other phrases, like "then shall the wicked be cast out . . . because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord" express the sad truth that some of God's children will actually choose not to return to Him.

These teachings underscore a larger, overarching Mormon belief: through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved. May be, not because there is a question of Christ's power to save, but because there is a question as to whom of the all will choose eternal salvation. While not all WILL BE saved, all COULD BE saved.

Play the piano or not: the choice is ours. Gain eternal salvation or not: the choice is ours.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Their Own Sins

I have a friend who once belonged to a church which had two cemeteries--one for those who had been baptized, and one for everyone else.

My friend was serving as a secretary in the parish organization, and one day at a meeting the pastor mentioned the upcoming burial of a baby born to church members. The infant died without being baptized, and the pastor stated the baby could not be buried in the cemetery for the "saved."

Despite having been a member of this particular church her entire life, this woman was suddenly struck by the error of this practice. She spoke up: "That's wrong." Everyone turned to her, shocked at her outburst. When the minister remonstrated, citing the doctrine of original sin, she said, "I can't be part of a church that condemns innocent babies." And with that, she walked out, never to return.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--the Mormons--believe that men and women will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression. Further, the Book of Mormon teaches that little children are not capable of committing sin. They are beneficiaries of Christ's atonement, and to deny them that is to deny the mercies of Christ.

Anyone who has held a newborn infant; anyone who has spent any time with a little child; anyone who looks into the faces of such innocents knows in their heart that God is more merciful than to banish such from His presence for lack of baptism.

Back to my friend. After moving into a new neighborhood, she became friends with a neighbor who invited her to learn more about her church--the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My friend was leery, having heard dubious things about the "Mormons." But she agreed to be taught, and all hesitation vanished upon learning this critical doctrine: that we will be held accountable for our own sins, not for others' transgressions. That babies are not held accountable for the sins of their parents, however many generations away those parents may be.

That God is great, and kind, and good, and fair.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mother's Best Helper

Apologies for the tardy post. Our newly married Mormon son and his wonderful Mormon wife came to visit and we were busy having a warm, wonderful weekend with them. Which leads me into this week's post.

The sweetest experiences of my life have been those moments following the intensity of labor and delivery when the doctor placed in my arms our newest-born child. Nothing tops the awe, wonder and joy of that moment . . . unless it is seeing that child many years later, kneeling at the marriage altar in a holy temple, being united by sacred covenants to a worthy, wonderful spouse. Zeniths, these experiences.

As a Mormon parent, the road from labor room to celestial room could loom long and terrifying were it not for an incredible gift from our Heavenly Father.

In addition to our belief in God, our Eternal Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, Mormons believe in the Holy Ghost. Member of the three-person Godhead, the Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, and when one is baptized and then confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a Mormon), one is given by priesthood power the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Let me tell you what this gift has meant to this Mormon mom.

In specific instances, the whisperings of the Spirit have given me insight into the motivations of a misbehaving child, and with that heaven-sent understanding I taught and trained him with greater patience and love. The Holy Ghost has enlightened my mind and answered questions as to the cause of a child's personal struggles. The Spirit has confirmed to me the correctness of a child's chosen path; has compelled me to correct a child going down a dangerous path; has helped me love a child when the child wasn't acting in a particularly loving way; has given me brief glimpses into the future experiences a child may have. The Holy Ghost has brought me comfort and hope that, if we parents and our children keep our covenants, we can be family forever.

I don't claim to be constantly guided by the Spirit, although I could be if I did a far better job of being worthy of that. However, my experiences with the Holy Ghost are marvelous testimony that our Heavenly Father loves us, His children, and has prepared a way to guide and direct us while we are temporarily separated from Him. If for no other reason, I would want to claim membership in the Mormon Church because of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, available to all God's children who qualify for it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Confessing Christ

I hit high school at the tail-end of the hippie movement, which movement pervaded most things adolescent. Even religious teenagers had gotten into the culture, at least regarding appearance. I remember watching the local college's homecoming parade, one entry in which was the Campus Crusade for Christ. Dressed in sloppy bell-bottom jeans and ratty t-shirts, sporting long stringy hair and sandals, they carried posters and shouted slogans like "Honk if you love Jesus" and "Jesus Freaks and Proud of It." The whole thing bothered me. Something didn't jive.

I know, I know: there are those who would argue that the Savior too wore long hair and sandals. But I suspect there was a gravitas about him different from my parading pals' posture.

Today I see something of a resurgence in public proclamations via t-shirts, bumper stickers and Christian rock music regarding one's belief in Christ that again bothers me. I think it's because of what I, as a Mormon, have been taught to believe about who Jesus Christ really is. We can thank Heavenly Father for revealing through the Prophet Joseph Smith the correct nature of the Savior of the world.

Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God. We believe that through Christ's great atoning sacrifice, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of His gospel. We believe that the Atonement provides a literal resurrection for all and empowers us to become what the Apostle Paul testified: "joint-heirs with Christ."

Jesus Christ is dignified. He is perfect and pure and holy. And while he loves us to unfathomable depth and degree, I believe that if given the opportunity to see him, we would not rush up to him and high-five, back-slap, chit-chat or even necessarily embrace him. His magnificence and power would instead cause us to drop to our knees and silently adore, while we waited for his invitation to come to him.

In my observation, those whose lives have been changed by the atoning power of Jesus Christ--be they Mormons or otherwise--behave with greater, not lesser, dignity and purity. The great change His power offers is a change to become MORE like him. Then we will find Christ-like ways to proclaim our belief and worship of him, ways infused with an element of the dignity and reverence He epitomizes and deserves.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Passing of a Prophet

One week ago tonight Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet, seer, revelator, and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) passed away at the age of 97.

A few nights later at a high school basketball game, a good friend of mine--Catholic, not Mormon--approached me to offer her condolences in the loss of our "president." Her wishes were genuine and I was touched her thoughtfulness. But her reference to President Hinckley as "your president" took be aback. He certainly was the president of the Mormon Church. But he was much, much more than that.

As far as I know, Mormons alone claim living prophets guiding their Church. Some find that odd, viewing prophets as some Old Testament fixture no longer needed by modern people. I find it incredibly comforting and fortifying, and I wonder why anyone would NOT want to be led by prophets.

The Book of Mormon writer Mormon describes prophets as "them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness. . . [who] bear testimony of him [Christ]. And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ."

My life has been shaped, guided, and blessed by prophets. Whether the prophets lived and ministered centuries ago, or walk among us today, their testimonies of Christ and his doctrines have made me a different person. As I have applied their counsel--whether as a wife and mother, a neighbor, or an individual daughter of God--I have become better. And that means that my own little corner of the world has been improved as well.

In a future day I hope to clasp hands with these great prophets--such as Moses, Enoch, Joseph, Nephi, Mormon, and Gordon B. Hinckley--and express to them my gratitude for their "strong faith and firm minds in every form of godliness." I'm not quite sure how I will verbalize that, but I sincerely want to do it.

And I will be eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for sending such prophet-men into my life.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I was a fearful child. You name it, I was afraid of it: Elevators. Earthquakes. Going blind from a fleck of toothpaste froth hitting me in the eye. For no rational reason, I had a lot of fears.

The person most able to calm those fears was my Mormon dad. My Mormon mom was exceptional and loved me just as much as dad did, but she had worries of her own demanding her attention, not least of which were eight other kids and how to stretch her husband's teacher's salary around all our needs. Consequently, Dad was the one who would sit and talk with me about my fears.

Dad was not a perfect man (he over-ate); he was not without his own mortal lapses (he was absent-minded in the extreme). And, as I realized as I matured, he battled his own fears. Maybe that's one reason why he so patiently listened to and counseled me.

My father passed away 7 years ago. I think the thing I most miss is his wise counsel. Even though hundreds of miles separated us once I left the nest, when fear festered I could always pick up the phone and call Dad. He had a way of calming my fears, helping me see truth and how I fit into the big scheme of things. In times of my childhood crises as well as more mature misgivings, he was warm and encouraging and full of faith--in me, in God, and in God's plan of happiness for His children.

Thank Heaven for good fathers.

I have always believed in a Heavenly Father. Even as a young child, I had no problem accepting the Eternal Father of us all as someone who knew me and loved me personally. Maybe it was because I had such a warm relationship with my earthly father. But even more importantly, maybe it was because my good Mormon dad knew by personal experience the truth of what the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith taught about God, our Heavenly Father:

"The Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring . . . . Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to receive an answer. When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, He begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to Him, He is ready to come to us."

Even though my mortal Mormon father is currently unavailable to take my calls, my Eternal Father has always been, and will always be, accessible. He is accessible because of what my religion reveals regarding the nature of God. Hence, as Joseph said, I know how to come to Him, and when I earnestly and reverently approach him, He is there to calm my fears, help me see truth and how I fit into the big scheme of things--His scheme of things. And, being the Perfect Parent, He does it all perfectly.

Whatever you have been taught, or have always felt, about God, I invite you to investigate what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches about your Heavenly Father. I guarantee that as you ponder these teachings, you will feel their truth. And that is because your Heavenly Father Father--and mine--wants to come to you, when you are ready to come to Him.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Dear Visitor:

I am a Mormon.
That means I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am also a woman, a wife, and a mom. With Mitt Romney seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States, I have read and listened to all kinds of comments, conjectures, criticisms and confusions regarding the Mormon faith. And I have decided it's time for me to jump into the fray.

Mormon. Woman. Wife. Mom. All of those adjectives describe me, but "Mormon" defines me. To define means "to make distinct;" "to discover and set forth the meaning of;" "to determine the essential qualities of." And all of the above is what my religion has done for me in my handful of decades here on earth.

In the weeks to come, I hope to convey to any random reader out there who cyber-stumbles onto this blog (and to any who purposefully visit here) what it means to me to be a Mormon. A Mormon Woman. A Mormon Wife. A Mormon Mom.

It is the most important thing in my life, because it makes the rest of life worth living. I hope I can convey to you why that is so in each posting here.

So, welcome to my blog.


A Mormon Mom