"The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit,
the greater your capacity to create."

~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

For all my friends, I wish you a very merry and BLESSED Christmas! As I head out to spend the holiday with dear friends, I leave you with this message - an excerpt from Henry B Eyring's "Home for Christmas":

Blessed with His Light

There is [a] glimpse of heaven that becomes easier to see at Christmastime. It is of light. Heavenly Father used light to announce the birth of His Son, our Savior (see Matthew 2; 3 Nephi 1). A new star was visible in both the Eastern and the Western Hemispheres. It led the Wise Men to the child in Bethlehem. Even wicked King Herod recognized the sign; he feared it because he was wicked. The Wise Men rejoiced because of the birth of the Christ, who is the Light and the Life of the World. Three days of light without darkness was the sign God gave to the descendants of Lehi, heralding the birth of His Son.

We remember at Christmastime not only the light that announced the birth of Christ into the world but also the light that comes from Him. Many witnesses have confirmed that light. Paul testified that he saw it on the road to Damascus:

“I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.

“And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

“And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest” (Acts 26:13–15).

The boy Joseph Smith testified that he saw a marvelous light in a grove of trees in Palmyra, New York, at the beginning of the Restoration:

“Just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

“It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17).

Such light will be visible in our heavenly home. It will bring us joy then. Yet even in this life you have been blessed with a part of that wonderful experience, through the Light of Christ. Every person born into the world receives that light as a gift (see Moroni 7:16). Think of the times you have had an experience that makes you a witness that the Light of Christ is real and precious. You will recognize from this wonderfully assuring scripture that you have been guided by that light:

“And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.

“That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

“And … I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you” (D&C 50:23–25).

In a world that is being darkened by evil images and dishonest messages, you have been blessed to recognize more easily the flashes of light and truth. You have learned for yourself that light grows brighter as you receive it gladly. It will become brighter and brighter until the perfect day when we will be in the presence of the Source of the light.

That light is easier to discern at Christmastime, when we are more likely to pray to know what God would have us do and more likely to read in the scriptures and so more apt to be on the Lord’s errand. When we forgive and feel forgiveness, when we are lifting the hands that hang down (see D&C 81:5), we are being lifted ourselves as we move toward the Source of the light.

You remember that the Book of Mormon describes a glorious time when the Savior’s faithful disciples reflected His light for others to see (see 3 Nephi 19:24–25). We use lights to celebrate the Christmas season. Our worship of the Savior and our service for Him brings light into our lives and into the lives of those around us.

We can with confidence set a goal to make this Christmas brighter than the last and each year that follows brighter still. The trials of mortality may increase in intensity, yet for us, darkness need not increase if we focus our eyes more singly on the light that streams down on us as we follow the Master. He will lead us and help us along the path that leads upward to the home for which we yearn.

There have been times, often at Christmas, when we have felt parts of what we will experience when we at last come home to the Father who loves us and answers our prayers and to the Savior who has lighted our lives and lifted us up.

I testify that because of Him, you may have an assurance that you can go home not only at Christmastime but also to live forever with a family whom you love and who love each other.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Second (Medical?) Opinion

This morning I had my annual exam and since my GYN has started her own practice, I had to fill out a whole new patient profile including some pretty personal questions about my history.

I thought it was funny how my doctor seemed to think it was strange that I am not currently "active" in an intimate way (apparently no one is expected to uphold any kind of standards these days) and she even went so far as to suggest I try some internet dating in order to find someone with whom I can have a relationship. I told her I'd been down that road and was scared off by all the weirdos!

Any way, I read on Rice Freeman-Zachery's website today about some other internet dating fiascos that seemed to echo my own experiences... I laughed my butt off because it's just so sad and so true! You can read about them here: http://voodoonotes.blogspot.com/2009/12/internet-dating.html

Monday, December 14, 2009

Second Base (A "girls only" kind of post)

Today was a milestone for me: my first mammogram. I have been putting this off for two years (much to the frustration of my GYN) because - let's face it - I was scared! I had heard so many horror stories of pain and "pancakes" - you ladies know what I'm talking about - and, as a full-figured kinda gal, I was really dreading the experience. Thanks to new digital equipment and the gentle Lucinda at the radiology lab, I would like to say that it was No. Big. Deal. And such a relief to finally have it done. Ladies, take care of your boobies - get your mammograms!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fuzzy Chicks


A few of you wondered what those fuzzy yellow things were in the middle of my stash... well, here they are - aren't they the cutest?

Simple Pleasures' Bag Sale!


Suggested Retail Price = $488
Actual amount I spent = $20

This weekend, my favorite local craft store Simple Pleasures had a fantabulous promotion - as much stuff from their clearance section as you could fit in your bag for $20. The ladies who checked me out said I may have had the biggest before-discount total... I am a good shopper and a VERY good packer to have gotten all of this into my bag =) Most of what you can see in this photo is about half of what it actually there - I tried to buy at least two of everything so I could share the bounty with my Mom <3

Friday, December 11, 2009

C-C-C-COLD!!

(This is not my photo... I found it online but I can't remember where!)

I love winter. I love snow and crisp, cold days. I love watching the seasons change and autumn brings such anticipation for the crystal-coated treat of winter.

This week, I hate winter. Mostly I hate what the extreme cold has put me through...

First, I was unable to make it to work on time one morning when my fuel line was frozen. Good advice: when sub-zero temperatures are in the forecast, add some HEET gas-line antifreeze and top off your tank - trust me, it's worth the $2 investment.

Second, when cold weather starts causing water mains to burst around town, do NOT drive through the standing water - it will coat your car's mechanical systems and freeze up in the cold weather. Another good piece of advice: don't use your parking brake in winter. My wheel wouldn't budge and I was stranded again... thank goodness it finally warmed up above freezing today and I was without a car for only one more day. (I'm immensely grateful for my wonderful home teacher and his lovely wife for coming to my rescue and taxiing me around!)

All of these things may sound like common sense to those of you who have spent your lives in cold climate areas but after living in California for 20 years, it never even occurred to me. By sharing my woes, I hope I can prevent some of you from making the same mistakes.

Aaaahh... a warmer, sunny weekend is ahead - for once I am turning my back on cold-hearted winter and embracing the sun!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

JOSEPH SMITH’S FEELINGS ABOUT HIS PROPHETIC MISSION

Time for another lesson summary from Relief Society this month...


“I have no desire but to do all men good.”


FROM THE LIFE OF JOSEPH SMITH

From the beginning of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s ministry, his life was often in peril. Though the Lord delivered him many times from his enemies, the Prophet knew that once he had completed his earthly mission, he could die.

The Prophet was well aware that he and all of the Saints living in Nauvoo were in an increasingly dangerous situation. As Nauvoo grew larger, some of the people who lived in the area began to fear the growing political and economic power of the Saints, and mobs began again to harass them. The Prophet was in particular danger, for authorities from Missouri made repeated efforts to capture him, and apostates from the Church became increasingly hostile in their efforts to destroy him.

In the sermons and writings of the last few years of the Prophet’s life, there is a sense of urgency in his words. Knowing that his time was short, he labored earnestly to teach the Saints the things that God had revealed to him and encouraged them to prepare to receive these truths. He also expressed his great love for the Saints, even declaring that he was willing to lay down his life for them.

It is remarkable that while the Prophet was enduring so much persecution and was pressured by the constant demands of the growing Church, he found time to show that he cared for each Church member as an individual. Many Saints in later years remembered the love and kindness the Prophet Joseph showed to them.

Aroet L. Hale recalled: “The Prophet … frequently used to come out of the Mansion [House] and play ball with us boys, his son Joseph being near my age. [The Prophet] Joseph would always conform to the rules. He would catch till it came his turn to take the club, then, being a very stout [strong] man, would knock the ball so far that we used to holler to the boy that was going for the ball to take his dinner. This used to make the Prophet laugh. Joseph was always good natured and full of fun.”

Margarette McIntire Burgess recalled another experience with the Prophet in Nauvoo: “My older brother and I were going to school, near to the building which was known as Joseph’s brick store. It had been raining the previous day, causing the ground to be very muddy, especially along that street. My brother Wallace and I both got fast in the mud, and could not get out, and of course, child-like, we began to cry, for we thought we would have to stay there. But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. Then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavy-laden shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing. Was it any wonder that I loved that great, good and noble man of God?”

Why do you think he was able to maintain such a cheerful, caring attitude?

What can we do to remain happy and loving during times of trial?
• Reach out to supportive friends/family
• Attend the temple
• Pray for guidance/comfort
• Fast
• Give service to others


PROPHETS TEACH WHAT GOD REVEALS TO THEM;
WE STRIVE TO UNDERSTAND AND GIVE HEED TO THEIR WORDS.

“There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger [a piece of corn bread] for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle [a wooden mallet]. Even the Saints are slow to understand.”

“I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen [see D&C 121:40].”

What can interfere with our ability to receive more truth?

What can we do to be “prepared to receive the things of God”?
• Follow the commandments and teachings of Church leaders
• Pray for guidance/knowledge
• Be worthy
• Take the sacrament
• Attend the temple


ALTHOUGH PROPHETS ARE MEN WITH HUMAN FRAILTIES,
THEY ARE CALLED OF GOD TO TEACH AND LEAD HIS PEOPLE.

The Prophet’s journal for November 6, 1835, records: “I was this morning introduced to a man from the east. After hearing my name, he remarked that I was nothing but a man, indicating by this expression, that he had supposed that a person to whom the Lord should see fit to reveal His will, must be something more than a man. He seemed to have forgotten the saying that fell from the lips of St. James, that [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, yet he had such power with God, that He, in answer to his prayers, shut the heavens that they gave no rain for the space of three years and six months; and again, in answer to his prayer, the heavens gave forth rain, and the earth gave forth fruit [see James 5:17–18]. Indeed, such is the darkness and ignorance of this generation, that they look upon it as incredible that a man should have any [dealings] with his Maker.”

“When did I ever teach anything wrong from this stand? When was I ever confounded? I want to triumph in Israel before I depart hence and am no more seen. I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught. Must I, then, be thrown away as a thing of naught?”

“Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing: the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if He were here, would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against Him—they all watched for iniquity in Him.”

What counsel could you give someone who refuses to follow a Church leader because the leader has some kind of character flaw?
• Pray for patience/understanding
• Study the scriptures
• Speak to the leader directly
• Fast, ponder, and pray
• Remember the Church is perfect, but the people are not

Joseph Smith’s journal for October 29, 1842, records: “I … went over to the store [in Nauvoo, Illinois], where a number of brethren and sisters were assembled, who had arrived this morning from the neighborhood of New York. … I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities.”

How does this statement apply in all our relationships?


DESPITE OPPOSITION, PROPHETS FULFILL THE MISSIONS GIVEN TO THEM BY GOD.

“I speak boldly and faithfully and with authority. … I know what I say; I understand my mission and business. God Almighty is my shield; and what can man do if God is my friend? I shall not be sacrificed until my time comes; then I shall be offered freely. … I thank God for preserving me from my enemies; I have no enemies but for the truth’s sake. I have no desire but to do all men good. I feel to pray for all men.”

“I prophesy and bear record this morning that all the combined powers of earth and hell shall not and cannot ever overthrow or overcome this boy, for I have a promise from the eternal God. If I have sinned, I have sinned outwardly; but surely I have contemplated the things of God.”

“When men come out and build upon other men’s foundations, they do it on their own responsibility, without authority from God; and when the floods come and the winds blow, their foundations will be found to be sand, and their whole fabric will crumble to dust.”

“Did I build on any other man’s foundation? I have got all the truth which the Christian world possessed, and an independent revelation in the bargain, and God will bear me off triumphant.”

What experiences have you had in which God has helped you to fulfill your responsibilities in your family or in a Church calling?


PROPHETS LOVE THOSE THEY SERVE AND DESIRE TO LEAD THEM WELL,
EVEN IF DOING SO REQUIRES REPROVING THEM.

“… I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know that it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more. …”

When have you tasted the sweetness of the truth?

“I have intended my remarks for all, both rich and poor, bond and free, great and small. I have no enmity against any man. I love you all; but I hate some of your deeds. I am your best friend, and if persons miss their mark it is their own fault. If I reprove a man, and he hates me, he is a fool; for I love all men, especially these my brethren and sisters.”

How can we rejoice in the words of a prophet or other Church leader even when he reproves us for our misdeeds?


SUMMARY

“I will from time to time reveal to you the subjects that are revealed by the Holy Ghost to me. All the lies that are now hatched up against me are of the devil, and the influence of the devil and his servants will be used against the kingdom of God. The servants of God teach nothing but principles of eternal life, by their works ye shall know them. A good man will speak good things and holy principles, and an evil man evil things. I feel, in the name of the Lord, to rebuke all such bad principles, liars, etc., and I warn all of you to look out whom you are going after. I exhort you to give heed to all the virtue and the teachings which I have given you. …”
• The good feelings of the Spirit will reveal the truth to our hearts.

“I cannot lie down until all my work is finished. I never think any evil, nor do anything to the harm of my fellow-man. When I am called by the trump of the archangel and weighed in the balance, you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all.”
• If we wait until then to discover the truth, we will be too late!

How has this chapter influenced your testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith?
• I felt a very strong Spirit in reading this lesson; I am encouraged by the strength of his resolve to do what God expected of him.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Funky Art

I decided to try making more art in the style of Teesha Moore's tutorials. These are both ATC's which I found much more challenging due to their small dimensions (about the size of a playing card). Still it was a fun project, even if the results are a bit odd =)

Blue Christmas & Red Hot Thanksgiving

This week, my parents came to visit for Thanksgiving. I was so excited to have them come here! My mom is by very best friend and usually I only get to see her once or twice a year. My dad is a cool guy too and I love doing things with him. When I go home, we often go fishing together. This weekend, we took a drive up to the Florissant Fossil Beds and took a short hike - although the melting snow made the trail alternately slick and muddy. We had a yummy Thanksgiving dinner and did some Black Friday shopping too.

My mom shares my artistic interests and we do a lot of projects together, often participating in online swaps through Paper Traders or other groups. As I posted earlier, our Paper Traders group puts together a CafePress calendar each year. We had to come up with one more spread for December so mom and I watched a few of Teesha Moore's tutorials and then put our heads together for this collaborative creation using magazine ads:


I had so much fun with this! It is unlike anything I've ever done and was very freeing... I think I'll try doing an ATC this afternoon in the same style. Take some time to watch Teesha's how-to videos... she's so easy going with her art - I love it!


UPDATE: Our extra calendar page wasn't needed after all but there are still many lovely pieces of art to display, including my pear mosaic. If you're interested in a calendar, you can order one here: http://www.cafepress.com/PaperTraders.324251835

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Inchies


It's hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner! Our Paper Traders group is having an Inchie House swap - with a Christmas ornament theme. I made mine out of clear plastic and sprinkled some FlowerSoft snow inside so they're like mini snow globes - the box portion is only 1-inch square! I found these tiny little nativity ornaments at Michaels and they were just the perfect size. The "thatched" roofs are covered with four different colors of brown glitter.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Anniversary Shrine

Every year around this time, our Paper Traders group makes a special project to swap. This year we are constructing mini matchbox shrines. Because this is our fourth anniversary, the theme was to use the number 4 in some way - mine, obviously, is Four Seasons. The "leaves" on the trees are made using FlowerSoft - such a cool product! The text paper I used for the background came from an old book I got at a local thrift store that was printed in 1796. I love how they used an "f" instead of an "s" like we do now.

Water Journal


This is the spread I did for Joanie's "Water" themed round robin journal on Paper Traders. The scan really doesn't show how sparkly this page is... it has received a generous shot of Starburst Stains spray as well as some turquoise art glitter.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

“He Was a Prophet of God”: Contemporaries of Joseph Smith Testify of His Prophetic Mission

Has it been a month already? Time always seems to go by too fast this time of year. Another teaching Sunday has rolled around and here's my lesson for this week...


CHAPTER 43
“He Was a Prophet of God”: Contemporaries of Joseph Smith Testify of His Prophetic Mission

“I feel like shouting, hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet.” (Brigham Young)


Dallin H. Oaks: During my college studies at BYU, I was introduced to the History of the Church, an edited compilation of the writings of Joseph Smith and others. After I graduated from law school, I carefully read all seven volumes. I also pursued personal research in original records in Illinois, where the prophet Joseph lived the last five years of his life. The man I came to know in this way was not the man I had imagined. When I was a boy, growing up in the Church, I imagined the Prophet Joseph to be old and dignified and distant. But the Joseph Smith I met in my reading and personal research was a man of the frontier – young, emotional, dynamic, and so loved and approachable by his people that they often called him “Brother Joseph.” My studies strengthened my testimony of his prophetic calling. What a remarkable man! At the same time, I could see that he was mortal and therefore subject to sin and error, pain and affliction. Overarching the Prophet Joseph’s entire ministry were his comparative youth, his superficial formal education, and his incredibly rapid acquisition of knowledge and maturity. He was 14 at the First Vision and 17 at the first visit from the angel Moroni. He was 21 when he received the golden plates and just 23 when he finished translating the Book of Mormon (in less than 60 working days). Over half of the revelations in our Doctrine and Covenants were given through the Prophet while he was 25 or younger. He was 26 when the First Presidency was organized and 30 when the Kirtland Temple was dedicated. He was just over 33 when he escaped his imprisonment in Missouri and resumed leadership of the Saints gathering in Nauvoo. He was 38-1/2 when he was martyred.

Amasa Potter recalled being present at a powerful sermon the Prophet Joseph Smith preached to a large group of Saints in Nauvoo: “When [the Prophet] had spoken about thirty minutes there came up a heavy wind and storm. The dust was so dense that we could not see each other any distance, and some of the people were leaving when Joseph called out to them to stop and let their prayers ascend to Almighty God that the winds may cease blowing and the rain stop falling, and it should be so. In a very few minutes the winds and rain ceased and the elements became calm as a summer’s morning. The storm divided and went on the north and south of the city, and we could see in the distance the trees and shrubs waving in the wind, while where we were it was quiet for one hour, and during that time one of the greatest sermons that ever fell from the Prophet’s lips was preached on the great subject of the dead.”

The Saints who heard the Prophet Joseph Smith speak bore powerful and vivid testimonies of his prophetic mission. Many of them recorded their memories of discourses they heard him give and experiences they had with him, for they wanted the generations that followed them to know, as they knew, that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God.

For a testimony of the restored gospel to be complete, it must include a testimony of Joseph Smith’s divine mission. The truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the truthfulness of the First Vision and the other revelations the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph.


LIKE THE EARLY SAINTS, WE CAN KNOW THAT JOSEPH SMITH IS THE PROPHET THROUGH WHOM THE LORD RESTORED THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.

President Gordon B. Hinckley: An acquaintance said to me one day: “I admire your church very much. I think I could accept everything about it – except Joseph Smith.” To which I responded: “That statement is a contradiction. If you accept the revelation, you must accept the revelator.” It is a constantly recurring mystery to me how some people speak with admiration for the Church and its work while at the same time disdaining him through whom, as a servant of the Lord, came the framework of all that the Church is, of all that it teaches, and of all that it stands for. They would pluck the fruit from the tree while cutting off the root from which it grows… We do not worship the Prophet. We worship God our Eternal Father and the risen Lord Jesus Christ. But we acknowledge the Prophet; we proclaim him; we respect him; we reverence him as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty in restoring to the earth the ancient truths of the divine gospel, together with the priesthood through which the authority of God is exercised in the affairs of His Church and for the blessing of His people.

Eliza R. Snow, the general president of the Relief Society from 1866 to 1887: “In the cause of truth and righteousness – in all that would benefit his fellow man, his integrity was as firm as the pillars of Heaven. He knew that God had called him to the work, and all the powers of earth and hell combined, failed either to deter or divert him from his purpose. With the help of God and his brethren, he laid the foundation of the greatest work ever established by man – a work extending not only to all the living, and to all the generations to come, but also to the dead. He boldly and bravely confronted the false traditions, superstitions, religions, bigotry and ignorance of the world – proved himself true to every heaven-revealed principle – true to his brethren and true to God, then sealed his testimony with his blood.”

Wilford Woodruff, the fourth President of the Church: “I have felt to rejoice exceedingly in what I saw of Brother Joseph, for in his public and private career he carried with him the Spirit of the Almighty, and he manifested a greatness of soul which I had never seen in any other man.”

Mary Alice Cannon Lambert, an English convert who emigrated to Nauvoo in 1843: “I first saw Joseph Smith in the Spring of 1843. When the boat in which we came up the Mississippi River reached the landing at Nauvoo, several of the leading brethren were there to meet the company of saints that had come on it. Among those brethren was the Prophet Joseph Smith. I knew him the instant my eyes rested upon him, and at that moment I received my testimony that he was a Prophet of God… He was not pointed out to me. I knew him from all the other men, and, child that I was (I was only fourteen) I knew that I saw a Prophet of God.”

What impresses you about these testimonies?
  • This was a man who was so filled with the Spirit that those around him could feel and see it
  • Despite possible persecution, they were compelled to testify that Joseph Smith was truly called of God

What is the foundation of your own testimony of Joseph Smith?
  • I have a personal testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, therefore, believe that Joseph Smith – as the man who brought this great book forward – must be a true prophet of God.

How did you obtain this testimony?
  • [Invite class members to share their personal experiences. I plan to share mine during my lesson but it's very sacred & personal and not really appropriate for posting on the internet.]

You may wish to write your testimony in your journal or share it with your family.


JOSEPH SMITH WAS AN EXAMPLE WE CAN FOLLOW IN DEVELOPING A CHRISTLIKE CHARACTER.

John Needham, an early English convert: “Joseph Smith is a great man, a man of principle, a straight forward man; no saintish long-faced fellow, but quite the reverse. Indeed some stumble because he is such a straight forward, plain spoken, cheerful man, but that makes me love him the more.”

John M. Bernhisel, a medical doctor who boarded in Joseph and Emma’s home in Nauvoo for several months during 1843 and 1844: “Joseph Smith is naturally a man of strong mental powers, and is possessed of much energy and decision of character, great penetration, and a profound knowledge of human nature. He is a man of calm judgment, enlarged views, and is eminently distinguished by his love of justice. He is kind and obliging, generous and benevolent, sociable and cheerful, and is possessed of a mind of a contemplative and reflective character. He is honest, frank, fearless and independent, and as free from dissimulation [false appearances] as any man to be found… As a religious teacher, as well as a man, he is greatly beloved by this people.”

William Clayton, an English convert who served as a clerk to Joseph Smith: “The more I am with him, the more I love him; the more I know of him, the more confidence I have in him.”

Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of the Church: “He was brimming over with the noblest and purest of human nature, which often gave vent in innocent amusements – in playing ball, in wrestling with his brothers and scuffling with them, and enjoying himself; he was not like a man with a stake run down his back, and with his face cast in a brazen mold that he could not smile, that he had no joy in his heart. Oh, he was full of joy; he was full of gladness; he was full of love, and of every other noble attribute that makes men great and good, and at the same time simple and innocent, so that he could descend to the lowest condition; and he had power, by the grace of God, to comprehend the purposes of the Almighty too. That was the character of the Prophet Joseph Smith.”

How do these statements describing Joseph Smith’s appearance, personality, and character influence your feelings about Joseph Smith?
  • Preparing this lesson has really helped me to see how great and marvelous his accomplishments were

Think about ways you might develop some of these same character traits.
  • Post a favorite quote/testimony on my bathroom mirror
  • Pray for strength to develop our own spiritual character
  • Read scriptures and other good works for inspiration and greater understanding

Joseph Smith: I shall speak with authority of the Priesthood in the name of the Lord God, which shall prove a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death… If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses, for if we are not drawing towards God in principle, we are going from Him and drawing towards the devil… Search your hearts, and see if you are like God. I have searched mine, and feel to repent of all my sins.

Thomas S. Monson: I love the words of President Brigham Young, who said, “I feel like shouting Hallelujah, all the time, when I think that I ever knew Joseph Smith, the Prophet whom the Lord raised up and ordained, and to whom He gave keys and power to build up the kingdom of God on earth.” To this fitting tribute to our beloved Joseph, I add my own testimony that I know he was God’s prophet, chosen to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days. I pray that… we may learn from his life. May we incorporate into our own lives the divine principles which he so beautifully taught – by example [courage, faith, honesty, patience, diligence, missionary work, love]– that we, ourselves, might live more completely the gospel of Jesus Christ. May our lives reflect the knowledge we have that God lives, that Jesus Christ is His Son, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that we are led today by [a] prophet of God.


AS THE PROPHET THROUGH WHOM THE GOSPEL WAS RESTORED, JOSEPH SMITH TAUGHT GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION WITH CLARITY AND POWER.

Brigham Young: “The excellency of the glory of the character of Brother Joseph Smith was that he could reduce heavenly things to the understanding of the finite. When he preached to the people – revealed the things of God, the will of God, the plan of salvation, the purposes of Jehovah, the relation in which we stand to him and all the heavenly beings – he reduced his teachings to the capacity of every man, woman and child, making them as plain as a well defined pathway. This should have convinced every person, that ever heard him, of his divine authority and power, for no other man was able to teach as he could, and no person can reveal the things of God, but by the revelations of Jesus Christ.”

Joseph L. Robinson, a counselor in a bishopric in Nauvoo: “We have long since believed and verily known that Joseph Smith was a true and humble Prophet of God, but now our eyes do see him, and our ears hear his voice, which is like the voice of the mighty thunders of Heaven, yet his language is meek and instructive, edifying much. But there is a power and majesty that attends his words and preaching that we never beheld in any man before, for he is a mighty Prophet, a holy man of God. He truly had been educated in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God and was highly charged with the Holy Ghost, which was a constant companion.”

How can these testimonies about the way the Prophet Joseph taught the gospel and explained the scriptures help us as we study and teach the gospel?
  • Sometimes we may think the Gospel is too complex but its principles are simple and beautiful
  • Let the Spirit guide us in our study and in the things we say to others when sharing our beliefs

LIKE THE EARLY SAINTS, WE CAN TREASURE UP THE WORDS OF JOSEPH SMITH AND LIVE THE PRINCIPLES HE TAUGHT.

Wilford Woodruff, reporting an April 6, 1837, sermon: “President Joseph Smith Jr. arose and addressed the congregation for the term of three hours, clothed with the power, spirit, and image of God. He unbosomed his mind and feelings in the house of his friends. He presented many things of vast importance to the minds of the elders of Israel. Oh, that they might be written upon our hearts as with an iron pen to remain forever that we might practice them in our lives. That fountain of light, principle, and virtue that came forth out of the heart and mouth of the Prophet Joseph, whose soul like Enoch’s swelled wide as eternity – I say, such evidences presented in such a forcible manner ought to drive into oblivion every particle of unbelief and dubiety from the mind of the hearers, for such language, sentiment, principle, and spirit cannot flow from darkness. Joseph Smith Jr. is a prophet of God raised up for the deliverance of Israel as true as my heart now burns within me.”

What do you think it means to allow the truth to be “written upon our hearts as with an iron pen”?
  • To have a testimony that will stick with us, no matter what comes
  • Job described using an “iron pen” to carve his testimony on a rock to stand as a witness for all time – our testimonies should be shared with others as well [see Job 19:23–24].

Brigham Young: “From the first time I saw the Prophet Joseph I never lost a word that came from him concerning the kingdom. And this is the key of knowledge that I have to-day, that I did hearken to the words of Joseph, and treasured them up in my heart, laid them away, asking my Father in the name of his Son Jesus to bring them to my mind when needed. I treasured up the things of God, and this is the key that I hold to-day. I was anxious to learn from Joseph and the Spirit of God.”

How can you follow the examples of Wilford Woodruff and Brigham Young in your study of this book and as you study the teachings of the living prophets?
  • Hunger after the words of our prophets & leaders to gain a greater understanding of God’s plan for us
  • Cherish the words of God’s servants
  • Study diligently so that we can recall these things in times of need

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Sweet Fruit of Patience


Every year our Paper Traders group puts together an art calendar produced by CafePress. Here is my submission for the upcoming 2010 Calendar (I think this will be for the month of September). I'll add a link here once they're available for purchase - the calendars are sold at the cost of production, there is no profit on these.

I did the paper mosaic of the pear last year but then lost my muse and didn't really know how to finish it. One of our calendar participants had to drop out at the last minute due to health issues so I pulled out this unfinished piece, added the side panels, the leaf, and the words... and I'm much happier with the results =)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

BECOMING SAVIORS ON MOUNT ZION

Since I have continued to receive positive feedback in doing this, it's time for another installment of Beckie teaches Relief Society. The lesson below comes from the manual, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, Chapter 41. Entries in italics represent excerpts from the manual or other quotes, as indicated.



• Note how Joseph Smith and the early Saints grew in their understanding of the doctrine of baptism for the dead.
As the Saints moved forward with this sacred work, “it soon became apparent that some had long records of their dead, for whom they wished to administer,” recalled Elder George A. Smith, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. “This was seen to be but the beginning of an immense work, and that to administer all the ordinances of the Gospel to the hosts of the dead was no light task. Some of the Twelve asked Joseph if there could not be some shorter method of administering for so many. Joseph in effect replied: ‘The laws of the Lord are immutable; we must act in perfect compliance with what is revealed to us. We need not expect to do this vast work for the dead in a short time.’”

• Think about how the Saints might have felt when they first learned of salvation for the dead.
It seems apparent by their actions that they early saints were both excited about the work and also felt a great responsibility to it.

• What were your feelings when you first participated in ordinances for the dead?
I grew up in the Denver area before we had a temple here and our youth group used to take long bus trips to Manti to do baptisms for the dead. It was always a wonderful experience. The first time that I went, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the names there were to do – and by how fast the ordinance worker could say the words before dunking me in again for the next person on my list… there was barely time to catch my breath!
On many occasions, I experience a sensation that seemed to send both chills and warmth from the top of my head all the way down to my toes and I knew, in that instant, that someone was very happy that I had performed this service for them.

The doctrine of salvation for the dead shows the greatness of God’s wisdom and compassion.

• How does the doctrine of salvation for the dead show God’s compassion and mercy?
(Excerpt from: Why These Temples? by President Gordon B. Hinckley):
Was there ever a man who truly loved a woman, or a woman who truly loved a man, who did not pray that their relationship might continue beyond the grave? Has a child ever been buried by parents who did not long for the assurance that their loved one would again be theirs in a world to come? Can anyone believing in eternal life doubt that the God of heaven would grant His sons and daughters that most precious attribute of life, the love that finds its most meaningful expression in family relationships? No, reason demands that the family relationship shall continue after death. The human heart longs for it, and the God of heaven has revealed a way whereby it may be secured. The sacred ordinances of the house of the Lord provide for it. But all of this would appear to be unfair indeed if the blessings of these ordinances were available only to those who are now members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The fact is that the opportunity to come into the temple and partake of its blessings is open to all who will accept the gospel and be baptized into the Church. For this reason, the Church carries forward an extensive missionary program in much of the world and will continue to expand this program as widely as possible, for it has the responsibility, under divine revelation, to teach the gospel to “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.” But there are uncounted millions who have walked the earth and who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Shall they be denied such blessings as are offered in the temples of the Lord? Through living proxies who stand in behalf of the dead, the same ordinances are available to those who have passed from mortality. In the spirit world these same individuals are then free to accept or reject those earthly ordinances performed for them, including baptism, marriage, and the sealing of family relationships. There’s no compulsion in the work of the Lord, but there must be opportunity. This vicarious work constitutes an unprecedented labor of love on the part of the living in behalf of the dead. It makes necessary a vast undertaking of family history research to find and identify those who have gone before. To assist in this research, the Church coordinates a family history program and maintains research facilities unmatched in all the world. Its archives are open to the public and have been used by many who are not members of the Church in tracing their forebears. This program has been praised by genealogists throughout the world and has been utilized by various nations as a safeguard of their own records. But its primary purpose is to afford members of the Church the resources needed to identify their ancestors that they might extend to them the blessings that they themselves enjoy. They in effect say to themselves, “If I love my wife and children so dearly that I want them for all eternity, then should not my deceased grandfather and great-grandfather and other forebears have opportunity to receive the same eternal blessings?” And so these sacred buildings are scenes of tremendous activity, quietly and reverently carried forward.

• In what ways can this doctrine “enlarge the understanding” and “sustain the soul”?
There is so much to learn and understand about the Gospel and the Lord’s Plan of Salvation for us. Only by studying the scriptures and the words of the prophets will we be able to “enlarge our understanding” of these things.
The answers to our questions and the comfort they bring to us can “sustain our souls” and increase our faith in Heavenly Father’s love for us both collectively and individually.
This great plan of redeeming our dead solidifies this loving bond with our Father by helping us to know that every single one of His children is special and is given equal opportunity to live with Him for eternity.

We become saviors on Mount Zion by performing sacred ordinances for the dead.

• What does it mean to be a savior on Mount Zion?
“But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah.”

• Why do you think it is impossible for our deceased ancestors to be made perfect without us?
(Excerpt from Gospel Library – Gospel Topics on LDS.org, Baptisms for the Dead):
Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth. Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf. Jesus Christ said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Even Jesus Christ Himself was baptized (see Matthew 3:13–17). Many people have lived on the earth who never heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ and who were not baptized. Others lived without fully understanding the importance of the ordinance of baptism. Still others were baptized, but without proper authority. Because He is a loving God, the Lord does not damn those people who, through no fault of their own, never had the opportunity for baptism. He has therefore authorized baptisms to be performed by proxy for them. A living person, often a descendant who has become a member of [the Church], is baptized in behalf of a deceased person. This work is done by Church members in temples throughout the world. Some people have misunderstood that when baptisms for the dead are performed, deceased persons are baptized into the Church against their will. This is not the case. Each individual has agency, or the right to choose. The validity of a baptism for the dead depends on the deceased person accepting it and choosing to accept and follow the Savior while residing in the spirit world. The names of deceased persons are not added to the membership records of the Church.

• Why do you think it is impossible for us to be made perfect without them?
John A. Widtsoe (“The Worth of Souls,” The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Oct. 1934, p. 189.):
“In our preexistent state, in the day of the great council, we made a[n] … agreement with the Almighty. The Lord proposed a plan. … We accepted it. Since the plan is intended for all men, we became parties to the salvation of every person under that plan. We agreed, right then and there, to be not only saviors for ourselves but … saviors for the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father’s work, and the Savior’s work, but also our work. The least of us, the humblest, is in partnership with the Almighty in achieving the purpose of the eternal plan of salvation.” “That places us in a very responsible attitude towards the human race. By that doctrine, with the Lord at the head, we become saviors on Mount Zion, all committed to the great plan of offering salvation to the untold numbers of spirits. To do this is the Lord’s self-imposed duty, this great labor his highest glory. Likewise, it is man’s duty, self-imposed, his pleasure and joy, his labor, and ultimately his glory.”

God has placed upon us a great responsibility to seek after our dead.

• What is our great responsibility to “seek after our dead”?
(Read excerpt from: Michael Otterson, “In Search of My Dad - Online,” Ensign, Oct 2009, 58–61):
All Done? Some say, “My family history is all done.” Others say, “Uncle Fred is doing it all.” That’s a bit like saying, “I don’t go to Church, but that’s okay because Uncle Fred goes for me.” The fact is that we need to be personally engaged in family history so our hearts will be turned to our fathers. Then we will forge that welding link between our ancestors and us that is so important to the Lord. Think about it. We each have four grandparents and that doubles each generation. In 10 generations we have 512 “grandparents” – not counting the thousands of other family members they bore. In 16 generations, we have nearly 33,000 direct ancestors. Our family history hasn’t all been done – I guarantee it.

Elder Theodore M. Burton, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, “Genealogy: A Personal Responsibility,” Ensign, Jan 1973, 52:
Stated, …in simple words, I say to every member of the Church that you have a personal, individual responsibility to become engaged in priesthood genealogical activity. The real impact of the priesthood genealogy program is one of individual responsibility. The actual work must be performed by individuals, not by organizations. What is everybody’s business is nobody’s business, so I must say that this work is your individual responsibility and each of you, as an individual, must become converted to this work as a personal responsibility. It is not my responsibility alone, nor that of your stake president, nor that of your bishop alone. It is not confined to the high priests. Neither is genealogy and temple work reserved for older people. It should not be put off until you retire or become too old and infirm to do anything else. Some persons have asked me, “Just what is my personal responsibility in this work?” I answer that your individual responsibility is to be, or to become, worthy to enter the temple of God to participate in ordinances of salvation for yourself and for others. Youth are to be baptized in behalf of the dead. Young adults are to receive an endowment of power and to be married in the Lord’s appointed way. Wives are to be sealed to husbands and have their children sealed to them for all eternity. Thus, just as you can be saviors for the living through active missionary work, so you are to qualify yourselves to become saviors for those who are dead who rely on you for help and assistance.

• What can we do to help children appreciate their family heritage and participate in temple and family history work?
What Young Adults Can Do (from Michael Otterson, “In Search of My Dad—Online,” Ensign, Oct 2009, 58–61):
I doubt there are many young adults who aren’t familiar with how to use a computer. The same isn’t true for many of their parents or grandparents. So I want to encourage you as young adults to do three things next time you are in their home. 1. Download. If your parents or grandparents have a computer with an Internet connection but don’t have an electronic family history program on their hard drive, go to www.familysearch.org and download a free copy of Personal Ancestral File (PAF) or other family history software for them. It will take you only a few minutes. 2. Tutor. If they have never done any family history work, sit down with them and get them to enter their own names into the software. Enter husband, wife, and children—no more for the moment—and just add the names, birth dates and places, marriage dates and places, and death dates and places. That will take about 20 minutes. Then encourage and help your parents or grandparents to gather up any written family history information from shoeboxes, scraps of paper, and pedigree charts and to begin entering it into the computer. In the weeks to come, help them with this goal. Once information is in an electronic format, you will be able to access the power of the Internet and amazing things can begin to happen as you search for your family history. If you do not know how to access this information from the Internet, a Church family history specialist should be able to help you. 3. Interview. If you can, use a digital recorder or digital video camera and ask your parents about their early lives and what they remember of their parents and grandparents. Do this in multiple sittings, but get it while you still have the blessing of living parents and grandparents. If you don’t have that opportunity, then try to gather this information from aunts and uncles or anyone of the previous generations. If you don’t do it, those memories will pass out of existence. Becoming involved in family history as young adults will turn your hearts toward your ancestors, enrich your temple experiences, and help to unite your family together forever.

Pose the following questions to the class:
• What experiences have you had as you have learned about your ancestors?
• How has your love for your family and your faith in God been strengthened as you learned about your ancestors?
• How has performing temple ordinances for your ancestors influenced your feelings about them?

Family Search Basics and FREE genealogical software available at FamilySearch.org


Closing

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), “Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, July 1997, 73:
“I hope that everyone gets to the temple on a regular basis. I hope your children over 12 years of age have the opportunity of going to the temple to be baptized for the dead. If we are a temple-going people, we will be a better people, we will be better fathers and husbands, we will be better wives and mothers. I know your lives are busy. I know that you have much to do. But I make you a promise that if you will go to the house of the Lord, you will be blessed, life will be better for you.”

My Haunted Kitchen


I recently posted about the crazy exploding bowl incident in my kitchen and today another weird thing happened: I was boiling water in the microwave and was watching it through the window in the door so that I would be able to turn the microwave off as soon as the water started bubbling. The surface of the water was perfectly smooth when all of a sudden, WHOOOOSH! The water burst up out of the cup, hitting the ceiling of the microwave and splashing down onto the turntable. Weird. Looks like I might need a new microwave... or an exorcist.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Adventures in my Kitchen

Tonight, while unloading the dishwasher, I went to stack some glass serving bowls and this one practically EXPLODED as soon as I sent another bowl inside of it - I barely tapped it and it shattered, sending microscopic shards of glass flying all throughout the open cupboard and across my kitchen floor where I was standing barefoot. Uuughhh... Luckily, no cuts and I was able to carefully pick up the bigger pieces and cautiously make my way to retrieve the vacuum. I guess this is what happens to glass dishes as they age - this bowl was over 20 years old.

After cleaning the glass from my kitchen, I decided to throw together a quick stir-fry for dinner... the bottled teriyaki sauce in my fridge was a bit "aged" and I didn't want to push my luck (seeing as how I was not on a good track so far tonight...) so I splashed some soy sauce in the pan and added a few leftover packets of Chick-Fil-A polynesian sauce - yum! Worked great in a pinch =)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Spooky Halloween Moo Card


I'm hosting my own Halloween-themed swap on Paper Traders. These cards are mini-moo size. I used some spooky scrapbook paper then heat embossed the tree background. I rubber-stamped the spooky house, cut it out, then put yellow cardstock behind to light up the windows. The moon, bats, and cat are all punched out of textured paper - the moon is a gray marbled paper, the bats are shiny, and the cat (my favorite) is velvety soft!

Fabric ATC


Connie is hosting a Fabric ATC swap on Paper Traders and I made 5 cards like this one. Originally, I had thought to sew a lantern that was puffy but damask fabrics have such a tendency to ravel that I settled for a flat version attached with Stitch Witchery fusible webbing instead. The scan really doesn't show the richness of the colors and the shiny nature of the fabrics - much prettier in real life, I promise!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Catching Up on Round Robin Journals

Our Paper Traders group is trying to finish up last year's journal round robin... the books have fallen a bit behind and we're all working hard to get them finished soon. This week, I have completed my spreads in three journals...

The first one is for Keron's journal on Freedom. I chose Free Agency as my theme and included the lyrics from the hymn, Know This That Every Soul Is Free. I hand-drew and colored a picture of Eve and the apple using the new Coloursoft pencils I got from my Mom for my birthday - love them! Although the artwork is original, the idea came from another piece I saw awhile back on a religious website... however, there was no credit given to the artist so I don't know who to thank for this concept.

This second spread is for Abby's "American Idol" journal where we were supposed to feature an American that we admired. I chose Gordon B. Hinckley as my idol - he was a great man whom I admired and appreciated immensely.


Lastly, is my spread for Diana's "Doors & Windows" journal. We were supposed to choose a quote and illustrate it in some way. The door on this house opens to reveal another hidden image. Also, all of the flowers are heavily glittered to add dimension to the page.


So, I'm caught up on journals for the moment... although another one should be making it's way to me soon. I'm certainly looking forward to having my "Hands" journal to finally make it home, too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Making It Up


I am one of the moderators for an online art community and sometimes we find ourselves put in a difficult position. Recently, a new member joined a collaborative project and received art from a couple of other participants but failed to contribute the work in kind that she was committed to do. We tried repeatedly to contact her with no response and were finally forced to make the difficult decision to boot her from the project and the group.

Having had one of my own art journals stolen last year, I felt empathy for the two artists who had made special journal pages for this woman and got nothing in return; I decided to make pages for their journals myself - even though I'm not signed up to participate in this particular project.

Above are the pages I made for a school-themed journal and below are the "Italian Affair" pages I did for the other one.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

RELIEF SOCIETY: DIVINE ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN

This month, I have to teach a week early. I'm sharing my lesson outline below for those who have said they appreciate these posts. The entire lesson can be found here: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=7ca8b00367c45110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=198bf4b13819d110VgnVCM1000003a94610aRCRD)
RELIEF SOCIETY: DIVINE ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN
“If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates.”
FROM THE LIFE OF JOSEPH SMITH
In the spring of 1842, members of the Church in Nauvoo were busily occupied with the work of building the Nauvoo Temple. Two such members were Sarah Granger Kimball and her seamstress, Margaret A. Cook, who, while talking together one day, decided to combine their efforts in order to help the temple workmen. Sister Kimball said that she would provide fabric so that Sister Cook could make shirts for the men. The two women decided to invite other sisters to join them in forming a ladies’ society to further their benevolent efforts. Sarah Granger Kimball recalled: “The neighboring sisters met in my parlor and decided to organize. I was delegated to call on Sister Eliza R. Snow and ask her to write for us a Constitution and By-laws, and submit them to President Joseph Smith prior to our next Thursday’s meeting.”

After looking over the proposed constitution and bylaws, the Prophet pronounced them the best he had ever seen but then said: “ ‘This is not what you want. Tell the sisters their offering is accepted of the Lord, and he has something better for them than a written Constitution. I invite them all to meet with me and a few of the brethren… next Thursday afternoon.’ ”

Accordingly, on March 17, the Prophet, accompanied by Elders John Taylor and Willard Richards, met with 20 women of all ages in the upstairs room of the Red Brick Store. The Prophet officially organized the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo and taught those present about the purposes of the new organization. The sisters elected Emma Smith as president of the Relief Society, and Emma selected her two counselors. The Prophet then read a revelation received 12 years earlier in which the Lord assigned Emma to collect hymns for publication and designated her as an “elect lady” (D&C 25:3). Emma Smith rose to speak, emphasizing the society’s vast potential: “We are going to do something extraordinary… We expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls.”

Since those early days of the Relief Society, the women of the Church have remained a tremendous force for good. At a meeting held a week after the Relief Society was organized, Lucy Mack Smith, the Prophet’s mother, gave the sisters counsel that extends to millions of women in the Church today: “We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together.”

Read the statement by Emma Smith at the top of page 450:

Emma Smith rose to speak, emphasizing the society’s vast potential: “We are going to do something extraordinary… We expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls.”

Why do you think Relief Society sisters are able to accomplish extraordinary things?
  1. called of the Lord
  2. led by men of God
  3. divine duties – the “errand of angels”
In what ways have you and your family been blessed through the efforts of Relief Society sisters?
  1. friendship
  2. food
  3. funerals
  4. Visiting Teaching program
Read the counsel from Lucy Mack Smith at the bottom of page 450:

At a meeting held a week after the Relief Society was organized, Lucy Mack Smith, the Prophet’s mother, gave the sisters counsel that extends to millions of women in the Church today: “We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together.”

In what ways do Relief Society sisters follow this counsel today?
  1. develop loving relationships with each other & our visiting teaching sisters
  2. be cognizant of needs/challenges of others
  3. be available/approachable to help
  4. LISTEN, sympathize, empathize
  5. teach – share our experiences, offer guidance, bring a message/lesson when we visit teach
  6. When it’s hard to do these things, keep an eternal perspective; Christ loved ALL men.
THE RELIEF SOCIETY, ORGANIZED UNDER THE PRIESTHOOD AND AFTER ITS PATTERN, IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE CHURCH
The Prophet Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society “under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood” (page 451).

Sarah Granger Kimball recalled that shortly before the Prophet Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society, he said: “I will organize the women under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood… The Church was never perfectly organized until the women were thus organized.”

How does this set them apart from other service organizations in the world?
  1. divinely organized according to God’s plan
  2. power in the priesthood / sustained by the hand of God
  3. led by divine guidance & inspiration
Why do you think the Church was “never perfectly organized” until Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society?
  1. God’s plan includes ALL of his children
  2. We have innate qualities and divine duties as women of God.
THE RELIEF SOCIETY ENABLES WOMEN TO ACT ACCORDING TO THEIR BENEVOLENT NATURES, GIVING CARE TO THOSE IN NEED
The Family: A Proclamation to the WorldAll human beings – male and female – are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
  1. gender specific roles – men & women have divinely different qualities, talents, and abilities to develop and use for the benefit of the gospel
Doctrine & Covenants 88:125 And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.

How do the responsibilities of Relief Society sisters today compare to the assignments the sisters received from Joseph Smith?
  1. have faith in leaders & pray for them
  2. listen to God’s counsel
  3. be sympathetic
  4. give relief to poor, destitute, widows, & orphans
  5. provide relief for strangers
  6. tend to the wounded heart of the distressed
  7. be benevolent & kind
  8. open doors to the weary traveler
  9. share with the hungry & unclothed
  10. practice holiness
  11. remain pure & innocent
  12. feed the Lord’s sheep
  13. have no strife among us
  14. repent
  15. do not be self-righteousness
  16. be honorable
  17. don’t gossip
  18. speak kindly of others
Read the first full paragraph on page 452:

“Said Jesus, ‘Ye shall do the work, which ye see me do.’ [See 2 Nephi 31:12.] These are the grand key-words for the society to act upon.”

In what ways do opportunities to give service help us become more like the Savior?
  1. As we emulate Him, we become more like Him.
  • “As I have loved you, love one another.”
  • Shepherd
  • Healer
  • Teacher
  • He sacrificed for others
THE RELIEF SOCIETY ENCOURAGES WOMEN TO PRACTICE HOLINESS AND TO INSTRUCT ONE ANOTHER
Read the first paragraph on page 453:

“The Ladies’ Relief Society is not only to relieve the poor, but to save souls.”

What do you think it means to save a soul?
  1. lead others to the path of salvation
  2. sustain them along that path

In what ways do members of the Relief Society fulfill this responsibility, both temporally and spiritually?

TEMPORAL
Feed families
Teach homemaking skills
Play dates
Book club

SPIRITUAL
invite sisters to attend meetings & activities
offer to carpool/babysit so they can attend church/temple/etc.
make them feel welcome
comfort & mourn with them (suffering loss can be a huge test of faith)

Review the second full paragraph on page 452 and the fourth paragraph on page 453:

Willard Richards reported: “The [Female Relief Society] meeting was addressed by President Joseph Smith, to illustrate the object of the Society – that the Society of Sisters might provoke the brethren to good works in looking to the wants of the poor – searching after objects of charity, and in administering to their wants – to assist by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the community.”

“You must put down iniquity, and by your good examples, stimulate the Elders to good works.”

What can Relief Society sisters do to stimulate good works among priesthood holders?

  1. set a good example
  2. be supportive & encouraging
  3. create opportunities for them to serve
What can priesthood holders do to support Relief Society sisters in their work?
  1. set a good example
  2. be supportive & encouraging
  3. create opportunities
Read the paragraph that begins at the bottom of page 453:

Willard Richards reported: “President Joseph Smith read the revelation to Emma Smith, from the book of Doctrine and Covenants [D&C 25]; and stated that she was … to expound the scriptures to all; and to teach the female part of the community; and that not she alone, but others, may attain to the same blessings.”

Doctrine & Covenants 25:1 Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith, my daughter; for verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom. 2 A revelation I give unto you concerning my will; and if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life, and thou shalt receive an inheritance in Zion. 3 Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called. 4 Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come. 5 And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness. 6 And thou shalt go with him at the time of his going, and be unto him for a scribe, while there is no one to be a scribe for him, that I may send my servant, Oliver Cowdery, whithersoever I will. 7 And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit. 8 For he shall lay his hands upon thee, and thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost, and thy time shall be given to writing, and to learning much. 9 And thou needest not fear, for thy husband shall support thee in the church; for unto them is his calling, that all things might be revealed unto them, whatsoever I will, according to their faith. 10 And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better. 11 And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church. 12 For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads. 13 Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made. 14 Continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride. Let thy soul delight in thy husband, and the glory which shall come upon him. 15 Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come. 16 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all. Amen.

What can we learn from this about each sister’s responsibilities and opportunities?
  1. we are called of God to be teachers (in our classes, in our homes, among our friends/associates)
  2. we are expected to be knowledgeable in the scriptures
  3. we have a responsibility for the spiritual growth of our fellow sisters
THE RELIEF SOCIETY ENCOURAGES WOMEN TO FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAVIOR IN SHOWING MERCY AND AVOIDING STRIFE
The Prophet warned against “feeding on the faults of others” (page 454):

“If you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another… We are full of selfishness; the devil flatters us that we are very righteous, when we are feeding on the faults of others.”

What do you think this means?
  1. We may form an elevated opinion of ourselves by looking down on others.
  2. This may be a way of subconsciously defending our own shortcomings.
How might this attitude hinder the efforts of the Relief Society – or any quorum or group in the Church?
  1. prevent us from loving those who we deem unworthy
  2. cause us to think they don’t “deserve” our service
  3. make others feel unloved or unwanted
What can we do to feed the Lord’s sheep rather than feed ourselves on their faults?
  1. pray for patience and understanding
  2. pray for guidance to know what they need from us
CLOSING OBSERVATIONS & TESTIMONY
Consider following verses from Proverbs 31:
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. 14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 15 She ariseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. 16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. 19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. 20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. 24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. 29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Bear testimony of the holiness of the Relief Society