Category Archives: Young Women Organization

Self Reliance (November 2013 YW lesson)

I’ll have to be very quick, but here’s how our lesson went:

We went through King Benjamin’s speech and noted several passages where he talks about our relationship to each other and to God. We made a triangle on the board of “us” “other people” and “God.” Then as we discussed passages or other quotations we drew arrows and wrote words to describe the relationship. In addition to King Benjamin, we talked about Pres. Kimball’s quote: “God does hear us but it is usually through another person that he meets our  needs.” We talked about how God relies on us to help other people (Arrow from God through us to others) and how we can’t think that self-reliance means never receiving help. We added lots of arrows and words throughout the lesson.

Then I told a story about my kids fighting over a water bottle. It was one they were given when we were not at home and the two boys were to share it. They barely used it. We were home having a snack and one boy remembered the water and got it to drink during snack. The other boy remembered that he hadn’t had much so he yelled at his brother for taking too much and yanked it out of his hands! I picked up the water and returned it to the first boy, and picked this brother up and put him on the couch! I explained that we had plenty of water at home and there was no need to be mad or to force his brother to give him water! He could have 300 glasses of water if he wanted!

The point of the story was that if we erase God (or Mom, in this story) from the triangle, then we’ve still got arrows going back and forth between us and others but without any clear picture of what that means. My son forgot that there was any other way to get what he needed except from another person and since he didn’t think asking nicely would work, he resorted to force. How true is it in the real world, that when we forget that God is in charge we resort to fighting, harsh feelings, arguing, gossiping, etc.?

Then a lovely prompting came, and we went back to King Benjamin’s speech and read the part where he says if you always remember your weakness and his greatness you will always rejoice, AND, you will live peaceably and not have a mind to injure one another. I thought that was fascinating. If you remember God is in charge and you are only his servant, you won’t fight!  You won’t, because there is no need when you are relying on God.

Then we looked at the word Self-Reliance again and reviewed everything we had learned. We added above the word self “secret:God”. The weeks before we had talked about becoming Christlike and had read 3 Nephi 12-13 where Christ talks about having a pure heart. We talked about how God seeth in secret, etc. So we brought that back in and said that what matters in self-reliance is our heart, like always. We’ll need others and they need us, but the point is that we are always relying on God. All money or food etc in the world is really God’s. If we’re relying on him, then we’ll have what we need. He might ask us to give a million dollars to someone else, or he might prompt someone to give a million dollars to us. And we have to be okay with it. But, what we can’t do is assume that we want or need something, and that someone else has to give it to us. Then harsh feelings come.

My partner had related that she is in charge of an office and if others don’t do their work she has to still keep things in order. She jumped in here and said that God really was her secret. She couldn’t do it without him. I mentioned that probably to her office staff it looks like she is very self-reliant and on top of things. She laughed and said that was probably true, but they didn’t know her secret. 🙂

So we ended up saying that self-reliance is when it looks like you are content and independent, when in reality, you are depending on God in such a way that you don’t covet or misuse what you have. It’s a secret relationship with God that makes you truly self-reliant.

I’d add more or explain better but that’s the extent of my time this morning. 🙂

Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit (October 2013 YW Curriculum)

I wanted to very, very quickly mention our YW lesson yesterday.

The Beehives and I were discussing “Becoming Christlike.” We looked at 3 Nephi 12:48 where Christ asks us to be “perfect.” Since that could mean all sorts of things we looked at all of chapter 12 to get an idea. We started on verse 19, where Christ says we need a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.” We spent a while talking about both of those phrases. Then we looked at the stories in the rest of chapter 12. Most of them use the word “heart.” We wrote up three ways in which heart was used: 1) what you care about, 2) hidden, and 3) loving everyone. We were going to read some stories from Chapter 13 but we ran out of time. They are going to read it for next week so we can talk more about it.

I really enjoyed studying scripture with the Beehives! I learned a lot. A broken heart means, or leads to, a purified heart. A perfect heart. A heart with full-purpose. A heart that is honest. A heart that loves everyone, because Christ loves everyone.

It was a nice lesson.

BYU Statues and the Honor Code

There was a light-hearted post written recently about how BYU statues break the honor code. Yes, it’s an old joke; why can Brigham or Karl Maesar have a beard, why aren’t there sleeves on the little girls’ dresses, etc. etc. It’s all in good fun, but it does actually raise some questions, or at least, could give us an opportunity to think more carefully and appropriately about something like the BYU Honor Code.

What is an Honor Code? It’s a code, or a set of rules or behaviors that a group enters into willingly, and assumes responsibility to follow those rules without anyone forcing them to do so. It’s the old chalk-circle analogy: if I promise to stay in that circle, I’m going to stay in that circle! That little story I think illustrates nicely what is at the heart of an honor code, that is, honesty. Rules about beards or shorts may have been put there for various reasons, and those reasons may even change over time, but when it’s a part of an “honor code” then the rules themselves aren’t really what matter. For the time being, what is at stake is one’s honesty. Like I said, that may be only for a limited time, such as while a student is still a student at BYU. Once they have graduated, a student is free to have a beard, for example. The fact that something is okay for the temple recommend interview but not to take a test at BYU ought to tell us at least this: don’t take the rules as commandments; they are a code for a particular group of people. (Plenty of schools have dress codes or other codes not associated with religious beliefs. Even our local middle school has a uniform requirement.)

Now, how does that speak to modesty issues? Has the BYU honor code come to mirror modesty “rules” taught in the Church? Or, have modesty “rules” in the Church come to mirror the BYU honor code? Also, how does the temple factor into our discussion? (or how ought it to factor in?) I wonder this, because as I walked around Provo last summer I noticed that women all over Provo, on BYU campus, and at BYU museums (including employees) were fine wearing shorts 6 or more inches above the knee. Now, before any one picks on me for being too picky, I’m using this as an example of three different ways to think about (what we usually call) modesty:

ONE: BYU Honor Code specifies a specific length of short. Just as any other dress code for any school, these BYU students and employees willingly agreed to follow BYU’s dress code. Regardless of other ways of thinking about modesty, this seems like a matter of being slightly dishonest or disingenuous.

TWO: Temple-endowed members will need to wear clothing to the knees and over the shoulders and covering the belly & back. This is a fact and can be a fact without any reference to modesty, sexuality, etc. Either these women at BYU and around Provo were not endowed, or, they weren’t following through with the need to wear garments and clothing to cover them. Which would mean not following covenants made in the temple; in other words, another question of honesty.

THREE: Clothing is also a way to cover, display, signal, label, etc. Were these women signalling anything inappropriate by their choice of clothing? No, I don’t think so at all. Nothing was provocative, nothing associated them with “dangerous” groups or movements, nothing was even flashy or gaudy. They were usually simple khaki or denim shorts. Outside of a BYU or temple-aware culture, there would be nothing about these shorts that would be considered immodest or inappropriate in any way!

So this summer, when I was in Provo I assumed these women either weren’t members or weren’t yet endowed. They were bright, happy people going about doing good.  I had concerns about BYU employees or students, but not because they were being sexualized or any such thing, but simply because it seemed a bit dishonest. Kinda cheap, I guess. But I just shrugged my shoulders and let it go. Besides, if it’s a matter of honor code, maybe something in the honor code has changed and I’m just not aware of it.

Such seem to be three different ways of thinking about rules like knee-length shorts and shirts with sleeves. There are times when not following those rules is provocative certainly, but of course not every instance! The rules I think go beyond that. I teach my children to wear knee-length shorts and sleeves not because it’s scandalous to do otherwise, but because it’s a way of pointing them to or preparing them for the temple. It’s a small thing, but I want them to feel like it’s a reminder to prepare for the temple. I suppose similarly, the temple garments are a small thing, but they remind us about the temple too.

I love the statue of the two children playing with a frog that is outside the Wilk. They are bright-eyed and happy and having fun sharing a wonder of nature with each other. The little children are not dressed to BYU Honor Code standards, but why would they need to be? They aren’t BYU students! 🙂 And they certainly wouldn’t be endowed at that age. And perhaps the person who made the statue wasn’t even a member of the Church! There is nothing in their demeanor or dress that is negative or that signals something inappropriate in any way. It is full of innocence and joy.

Which is why posts like the one I mentioned can be so light-hearted. BYU students realize that they are choosing to dress and act a certain way. It’s not an eternal commandment to be clean-shaven, wear a ring, have shorts a certain length (hey, early members had to wear full-length pants!), etc. And we recognize that. BYU students choose to follow the Honor Code because it is requested of them in order to make them a identifiable group (as all codes do, whether for schools or religions or political or artistic movements, etc.)

Honor code or dress code rules aren’t, almost by definition aren’t, eternal universal rules! Which I think ought to make our discussions of modesty much more nuanced than they usually are. Are we modest for this or that moral reason? Maybe. But we are also “modest” because we are are asked to be, and in that we are modest because we are honest too. Things to think about, anyway…

The difference between Commandments and Covenants

This month the YW are learning about “commandments.” This morning I am pondering the difference between “commandments” and “covenants,” and how to teach this to the YW in my classroom today.

A covenant is a sign that your heart has changed, and that you will keep the commandments. Keeping commandments outside of a covenant might make you a “better person” or perhaps help your heart to change, but they aren’t want God is actually after. He “loveth those who will have him to be their God” (1 Nephi 17:40). That sounds like a love-struck boy proposing to his girlfriend, “Will you have me?” Will you have me, as your husband? As your life-long love? Here God wants us to know if we will have him to be our God. That sounds funny in one sense, because He is God overall the earth whether we recognize it or not! So He must mean something slightly different here. He loves all of us who want Him to rule over us, who treat Him as our God. Who worship, obey, trust, love, etc. I love that this verse says He “loveth” – not, won’t destroy, not, accepts, etc. He loves us! And He has all power to do anything for or to anyone. What then can we hope for if He loves us? Anything and everything is possible! All sorts of blessings and assignments, etc. Remember that He wants to give all he has to whoever wants to be in Heaven with Him. He’s eager to share, and to love.

Anyway, I’ll continue my rambling thoughts here for a few more minutes. Commandments are what, rules? As opposed to covenants being, a relationship? A promise? Sometimes I think we talk about covenants as another commandment. “We covenanted at baptism to mourn with those that mourn, so don’t forget you need to do that.” 🙂 But I think that sort of language means we’ve missed the point of the covenant. Remember how King Benjamin talks about things after his people make a covenant? He says that they’ve seen their weakness and God’s greatness, they’ve made a covenant to let God be their God basically, and then Benjamin says to always remember this and they’ll always be happy, and THEN, he says if they are always happy, they will live a certain way (take care of poor, family, etc.). Keeping “commandments” is a natural outflow of a change of heart. And what does God want most? A broken heart and a contrite Spirit? Does “broken” mean broken from our desires? We’ve broken off the ties that bound us to anything besides God? Does a contrite Spirit mean one that recognizes its weakness and God’s greatness? I just looked up contrite in the dictionary, and it comes from the idea of being worn down (and theologically, it means to be full of guilt or remorse). I think it’s not unfair to link up contrite with Benjamin’s discussion of recognizing your weakness.

So, what God wants is for us to make covenants.

(I have lots to think through but little baby Micah is awake on my lap so I’ll have to stop there for today!)

Am I afraid of the Second Coming? Not really, because Zion’s coming too.

The YW I taught on Sunday expressed fear that the Second Coming was going to happen soon, so maybe they wouldn’t get to go to college or ever have a family. I was so surprised! I remember an article in the New Era or a talk somewhere when I was a youth that addressed those exact concerns (I’m still trying to find it for them), but I don’t remember ever having those concerns myself. I’m not sure why, but I just haven’t!

I was able to help calm their concerns quite a bit (yay for the Spirit!). We talked about Zion, among other things. I also told them that the concerns they expressed have been felt by every generation! That people when I was a youth were saying the same things, and people before me, and that you can read talks from the 1870’s etc where people are telling the youth, “The Second Coming is probably going to happen while you are alive, so get ready.” They were a bit surprised by that. Again what really helped was talking about Zion. About Enoch, and how what was left were the wicked, and so no wonder it was so bad on earth when Noah was around and things had to be destroyed. Yes, the world will end, but not until there is a Zion built and all the righteous who want to be safe can be there. That’s a promise!! (We read D&C 45.) I believe that so strongly. There will be a Zion. As much as any sign or destruction has been prophesied, so has a city of Zion been prophesied. They go hand-in-hand. And I, for one, am thrilled to see what Zion is like! To be among good, to feel the Spirit almost constantly? I’m okay with that. 🙂 One of my YW really seemed to be excited and comforted by that promise too.

I was thinking this morning (as I still search for that talk or something similar) that the “signs” of destruction, war, disease, earthquakes — haven’t these always been going on? In Isaiah’s time there were plenty of wars, in Christ’s time we read of diseases and wars, our country has had several major wars and plenty of diseases. In fact, we have so many less diseases now because of immunizations (this was pointed out in a talk by Elder Packer about not fearing the future). So it made me wonder: aren’t these things that we usually point out to say that Christ is coming soon the same fears and troubles everyone has had the world over throughout history? I live in peaceful ol’ New Mexico right now, but what of the many, many families living through war and famine, right now? Just because it seems for a moment that my life will be a little harder, does that mean I should suddenly assume that the Second Coming is coming very soon and I should be afraid of all the bad that is going to happen?

I guess what I am seeing is that the world is always full of all of those sorts of things listed. But maybe that is on purpose, so that we always assume it is time to get ready? Or, as I would rather put it, it is always time to build Zion? Sometimes I wonder if all of those negative signs are put there so that we don’t assume that the world will get perfect first, and then we build Zion. If the right time to build Zion is during times of trouble, and there’s always trouble, then it’s always time to build Zion! There’s never any reason for delay! Perhaps?

I love, love, love the stories of Zion. Enoch and Melchizedek taught people (sometimes very wicked people) and created a city of peace! They really did it! They taught and taught and taught! Moses sought to do it too (diligently!) but his people didn’t want it. Could the Israelites have had another Zion taken up to heaven? That would be amazing. There are abundant – abundant! – promises that there will be  Zion in the last day. Enoch’s city wants to come back, and wants to meet up with a city here. They’re waiting for us!

Sometimes I think it’s not that we are waiting for the Second Coming, but that the Second Coming is waiting for us. Waiting for us Saints to preach the gospel to the world, and live in such a way that Zion is being built. I don’t know (or care) if there will be only one Zion city in Jackson County. I know there will be one there some day. But will there be more? Could there be more? How amazing would it be if every country or region had a Zion city?? That would be so wonderful! Couldn’t it be so, if we were righteous and wanted it? Perhaps. Perhaps not? But at least I know there will be one, and I want to help prepare for it!

So I don’t know what else to say, except there have always been wars and troubles, and always will be. What will be different most of all is that there will be a Zion city again. I will always be scared of war or disease if it is close to my family, but I always know that we can have revelation and help for whatever affects our family. I will always be sad to hear about war and disease everywhere, but I can pray for individuals to have help and faith. Those things hold whether or not we are close or far from the signs mentioned in the scriptures. Why look for them, like a fig tree’s changing leaves? I’m not really sure exactly. I just know that whenever I’m around, I want to help build Zion. Maybe that means I’m not looking at the fig trees, and so I won’t be prepared, or maybe it just means I’m already building a place of safety for whenever winter comes. Is that the right way to think about it? I’m not entirely sure. I probably have a lot to learn still, But for now at least, this way of seeing the Second Coming makes sense and brings joy and comfort to me.

I’ll end with a few thoughts on Zion from others:

“And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God; And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.

And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.” D&C 45: 66-71

“We are in the last dispensation and fulness of time. It is a great day, and the eyes of all the heavens are over us, and the eyes of God himself and all the patriarchs and prophets. They are watching over you with feelings of deep interest, for your welfare; and our prophets who were slain, and sealed their testimony with their blood, are mingling with the Gods, pleading for their brethren. Therefore, let us be faithful, and leave events in the hands of God, and he will take care of us if we do our duty.” Wilford Woodruff 

“We look forward to the day when the Lord will prepare for the building of the New Jerusalem, preparatory to the City of Enoch’s going to be joined with it when it is built upon this earth. We are anticipating to enjoy that day, whether we sleep in death previous to that, or not. We look forward, with all the anticipation and confidence that children can possess in a parent, that we shall be there when Jesus comes; and if we are not there, we will come with him: in either case we shall be there when he comes.” Brigham Young
“My spiritual enjoyment must be obtained by my own life, but it would add much to the comfort of the community, and to my happiness, as one with them, if every man and woman would live their religion, and enjoy the light and glory of the Gospel for themselves, be passive, humble and faithful; rejoice continually before the Lord, attend to the business they are called to do, and be sure never to do anything wrong…All would then be peace, joy, and tranquility, in our streets and in our houses. Litigation would cease, there would be no difficulties before the High Council and Bishops’ Courts, and courts, turmoil, and strife would not be known…Then we would have Zion, for all would be pure in heart.”Brigham Young
“Whenever we are disposed to give ourselves perfectly to righteousness, to yield all the powers and faculties of the soul (which is the spirit and the body, and it is there where righteousness dwells); when we are swallowed up in the will of Him who has called us; when we enjoy the peace and the smiles of our Father in Heaven, the things of His Spirit, and all the blessings we are capacitated to receive and improve upon, then are we in Zion, that is Zion.” Brigham Young

“Zion, Zion, lovely Zion;

Beautiful Zion;

Zion, city of our God!” Hymn 44

Revelation (May 2013 YW New Curriculum Topic)

What a beautiful scripture to (perhaps) quote to the  YW:

“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.”

That’s D&C 42:61. It is of course talking to Joseph Smith, but I think every word in there has applied to me personally.

I am thinking of talking about personal revelation for this week’s lesson. I thought about using Two Lines of Communication, but that didn’t feel right yet. Then I thought about Sis. Dibb’s talk on finding holy places, since I think revelation comes in holy places. But that hasn’t settled on me yet either. Right now I’m thinking of other scriptures that talk about having faith that you can receive your own revelation, like 1 Nephi 15 where Nephi asks his brothers why they haven’t thought to ask God.

I also thought about connecting it to the Restoration lessons by talking about how the Gift of the Holy Ghost comes by the priesthood, which is part of the Restoration.

I guess I could also have a lesson on the Priesthood, which is what I would have taught on last week but plans had to change last minute. Hmm. That’s an option.

But, my study wants to go elsewhere this morning, so I’ll have to work on this more tomorrow. Adios!

Abrahamic Covenant & the Restoration…

You know, just me, trying to rethink how to teach the Abrahamic Covenant again…

I am teaching YW this month about the Apostasy and Restoration. Before we really get into those topics listed at, however, I very much would like them to have an idea of the covenant passed from Adam down to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, and from there to us. Then all the topics make a lot more sense. Why do we need the Book of Mormon? for example, will make more sense when we can see the overarching plan of the Covenant in restoring Israel and blessing the whole world, you know, stuff like that. 🙂

This is how I’ve laid it out before:

And I found this nice article today by Kent Jackson, that describes it a bit differently than me but think it’s still among the better resources I found:

And this one by Elder Nelson:

Every place you go to read about the Abrahamic Covenant at seems to have a different “list” of what is in the covenant. (My post had its own list too 🙂 ). Here is another one:

This one was more all-encompassing:

Last night, Joe and I had a fantastic conversation about what the “Covenant” meant to Jews, and so how early Christians also understood it. When we look at Nephi’s vision in 1st Nephi, we both notice that Nephi specifically says that the Great and Abominable Church will “take away” many covenants. Then a later verse says that things were taken out of the book. It could be read as a two-step process. First they take it away from understanding (it isn’t taught, or taught as not important), then later it’s simply removed because it no longer makes sense. It’s one way to read the text, anyway.

The way we were talking about it last night is that the early Christian church, because so many of them were Gentile, played down the importance of the Covenants the Jews had. Then Christianity spreads all over the West, and that is the view even the early Latter-day Saints inherited. Along comes the Book of Mormon, to remind everyone of the Covenant and to encourage all these Gentiles to actually take the message of the gospel back to Israel, who have been forgotten by the Gentile Christian church. That “forgetting” is what happened in the early Church; that is what was “taken out” of the scriptures. Was it actually, literally removed? That’s an open question to me. I think perhaps it was “taken out” of discourse, ie, not talked about, and so a doctrine of the gospel without the covenant was developed and that is how we read the scriptures. It’s hard even for us Latter-day Saints, even with the Book of Mormon and all of Joseph’s teachings, to see the Covenant clearly (as evidenced by me writing yet another post trying to sort all of this out).