Who’s coming?

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This week is Women’s Conference at BYU. It is two days of great classes, great speakers, and just an overall great opportunity to get away and feast on the word.

I think you should come. Click here to learn more about it.

If you’re not local or just can’t come, never fear! (“Never fear” makes me feel very superhero-ish.) I will be attending lots of great classes and I plan to blog about what I learn. You can go here to see posts I’ve written about women’s conference classes in the past. Also, this time around, I’m going to try to do something wild and crazy and use Twitter to send out some great quotes and fun experiences. I only created my Twitter account a few weeks ago and I don’t even really know how to use it well, but I’m going to try. My handle (which I think is Twitter-talk for username) is @SD_Sorensen and the hashtag (which is also Twitter-talk for something I totally don’t understand) for women’s conference is #byuwc. So there’s that. Over there ——-> (on my sidebar) there’s a place you can subscribe to follow my Twitter account if  you want to.

If you are going to Women’s Conference, I would love to meet you. I’ll be doing a book signing in the BYU Bookstore from 10:30-12:30 on Friday, so come by and say hello!  Since Mother’s Day is kind of the prime marketing time for my book I have several book signings scheduled over the next two weeks starting tomorrow.  Here’s a schedule in case you’d like to come visit or pick up books for gifts or whatever. If you do come, please introduce yourself.

UPCOMING BOOK SIGNING EVENTS for COVENANT MOTHERHOOD:
Wed. 5/1, 11-1, Lehi Costco
Fri. 5/3, 10:30-12:30, Women’s Conference, BYU Bookstore
Sat. 5/4, 2-5, Sandy Costco
Fri. 5/10, 5-7, Lindon Seagull Book
Sat. 5/11, 2-4, Redwood Road Seagull Book, SLC

After that, I’m going to lay in bed for a few days and let my children bring me chocolate bon bons on a silver platter. I’ll probably actually do lots of laundry and surf Facebook for hours with my eyes glazed over. Either way, I’ll recover.

So, in summary: Come. And if you can’t, stay tuned here on the blog or Twitter, and I’ll try to keep you posted. And if you can’t do that, then just send bon bons. I think that about covers it.

p.s. Special thanks to my husband who takes some time off every year so I can go to Women’s Conference. It’s my Mother’s Day gift. :)

Invigorating?

PrayerDraw1[image credit: Jenny Stevning]

Nick Galieti, who interviewed me about my book a while back (you can listen to that here), wrote me this morning to let me know that he had written an article about it in the Deseret News.

That was a fun surprise.

There were also a couple other surprises.

The title of the article was “LDS author Stephanie Dibb Sorensen invigorates motherhood with practical doctrine”. I love that he used the words motherhood and doctrine together because that’s really what I hope makes the book different. I tried hard to steer away from fluff and to just show through scripture and personal experiences how our daily mothering is really the doctrine of Jesus Christ in action. The word “invigorates” made me laugh a little because, although it’s a great word and it felt like a compliment, the idea that I “invigorate motherhood” just humors me. I spent several hours this week doing yard work. This made me feel old and sore. Ever since I got home from church today, I’ve been fantasizing about taking a nap. I fantasize about naps on most days. So I don’t consider myself a very invigorating specimen of motherhood, but I’m so glad Nick thinks I am. :)

The other surprise from the article was the discovery that I apparently speak out loud in very long run-on sentences. I should really learn to punctuate a little bit when I speak. I am a fast talker, especially when I’m nervous, but now I know that I also craft paragraph-sized sentences effortlessly.

Warning: subject change….

I’ve been blogging for a long time, and one thing I’ve learned is how thoughtful and smart my readers are. There are many times that your comments have encouraged me or helped to me to gain insight into circumstances and principles. Some of you may have read a recent post I wrote called “An open letter to two real moms.” Among lots of other run-on sentences, I whined a little about book signings and I shared a few lessons I learned from general conference, including this one:

President Packer testified of the power of mothers’ prayers. Sure that means prayers for our children, but I also think it means prayers when we need help being a parent. God will honor those prayers.

Well, this morning I got a comment on that post that is still in my moderation queue, and I’ve been thinking about it most of the day. I have a variety of ideas, but I’m not sure I know how to answer her. I decided that I’m going to open it up to you to help answer her question.

Where is the help, I need it now! I have been poring out prayers to heaven. They say we have this power as a mother to get help from heaven. Well, where is it. I need it, and have been asking for it for years.

I will allow her to remain anonymous and I will email her and let her know that many wise mothers will be sharing some thoughts with her. Be kind to her and answer as if she were your own daughter, because I think she could use a little “invigorating.” Just share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks, friends.

In case you were wondering…

…people who write books about motherhood have really bad mom days too. Sometimes so bad they’re ashamed to tell you the details. But trust me, you are not the only one living through days that just go wrong from the get-go, even when your heart, mind, and testimony KNOW better. Do you think they let people take the sacrament more than once a week? I need a do-over.

Some good LDS reads

If you like reading LDS literature but don’t know where to start, I have a few suggestions for you. When it comes to the religious genre, I tend to lean toward non-fiction (surprise, surprise). I also have friends who write LDS fiction, and I love them, and have enjoyed anything I’ve read from them, so if fiction is your thing, give Melanie Jacobson, Becca Wilhite, Sarah Eden (I don’t actually know her, we’ve just met once, but I just started reading her regency stuff, and I like it) and Annette Lyon a try.

Okay, so non-fiction. I tend to like stuff that is heavy on facts and doctrine. Not necessarily a heavy read, but I like to feel like it has substance, like it makes me smarter or better. Deseret Book gave me the opportunity to review some of their titles and these are the ones I picked.

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This book is a big book. As in 919 pages big. But it is awesome. If you have wanted a way to learn more about the broad spectrum of Church History, this is a really helpful reference. Written by about 100 talented contributors, it has maps, excellent photos, a 700-page enclyclopedia that explains pretty much any person or place or theme mentioned in the D&C, and a 150-page overview that includes the historical background and content summary for all 138 sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is a really great resource. A little pricey, but use one of those 25% off one item coupons and get it. It has been a really helpful study aid.

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The Continuous Conversion

by Brad Wilcox

The tagline of this book is: God Isn’t Just Proving Us, He’s Improving Us. This book is a good follow up to his first book, The Continuous Atonement, and explains more some of the principles he taught in his BYU devotional about grace. (I love grace, and I really liked that devotional. Link here.) Sometimes Brad Wilcox is a little too anecdotal for my taste, but he did use some good analogies to clarify the doctrinal principles. For example: “When a person is learning to play the piano, are the only two options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? Similarly, in mortality, are the only two choices being perfect or giving up?” The book focuses on the process of conversion and transformation.

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Choose Higher Ground

by Henry B. Eyring

Well, the best thing about this book is that President Eyring wrote it, of course. I suspect that many of these chapters are actually a collection of talks that he has given, but they are organized nicely into sections and themes that address the climb of discipleship and the safety that can be found on higher ground.  The book is divided into these sections: A Strong Foundation (my favorite), Personal Growth through Helping Others, Strength in Adversity, Power to Live a Consecrated Life, and Help for the Last Days (where among other things, he recommends looking for the Lord’s hand in our daily lives). You simply can’t go wrong by studying the teachings of a living prophet.

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Eliza: The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow

by Karen Lynn Davidson, Jill Mulvay Derr

I don’t know a lot about Eliza R. Snow except that she was an early Relief Society president and that she is responsible for one of my favorite quotes about womanhood: “Tell the sisters to go forth and discharge their duties, in humility and faithfulness and the Spirit of God will rest upon them and they will be blest in their labors. Let them seek for wisdom instead of power and they will have all the power they have wisdom to exercise.” Well, this book about her is informative and insightful, but it is also lovely. The pages and photos and artwork make it just a really pretty book. I really like this up-close look at a woman who lived a life of holiness and sacrifice and service.

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If you know me at all, you know I love living prophets. Rebecca Irvine created an easy way to teach your children about the lives and inspirational stories from the prophets of the Restoration, from Joseph Smith up until President Monson. The fifteen chapters (for each of the fifteen prophets) all include 3-4 weeks worth of FHE lessons you could use, complete with printables, stories, music suggestions, activities and even additional references for further study. This is a really practical and easy way to teach about our modern prophets.

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Another recent favorite that is only recent to me because I was too distracted when it came out is The Beginning of Better Days. It is a really cool treatise of all the things the prophet Joseph Smith taught about womanhood, mixed with beautiful commentary by Sheri Dew and Virginia Pearce. If you haven’t read that one yet, it’s worth your time.

Do you have any favorites to add to the list?  [Pay no attention to this subliminal shameless plug about reading my own book, Covenant Motherhood, here. Come on, it's like my own child. I couldn't ignore it. :)] What are some good LDS reads that you’ve found particularly inspirational or educational lately?

General Conference Mastery

Remember how in seminary we would memorize 25 key scriptures for each year of study? Well, Elder Holland gave the following testimony about the role of modern revelation:

God continues to speak His word and reveal His truth, revelations which mandate an open canon of scripture.

So I got to thinking. I want to memorize some of the key phrases and principles that were taught at general conference. Elder Richard G. Scott taught once that:

… memorizing scriptures is like filling a filing cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon anytime, anywhere in the world.

I want that for me. I want that for my children. Since I’m going to study one general conference talk a week until the next conference, I thought that I could use that opportunity to help my family memorize some phrases from living prophets and apostles. I am going to print out a brief phrase from each talk on the week I study that talk. I will hang it by our kitchen table and we will all say it out loud before family prayer and before each meal prayer. Hopefully we can memorize it by the end of the week.

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I went through each talk and picked out a key phrase from that talk that I thought would be easy for my family to memorize, but still packed a powerful doctrinal punch.  I’ll paste them below in case it’s something you’d like to use as well.

Here is an excel file download of the quotes: Conference Mastery

Week Speaker Quote
14-Apr-13 President Boyd K. Packer We are free to choose what we will and to pick and choose our acts, but we are not free to choose the consequences.
21-Apr-13 Bishop Dean M. Davies Let us accept the Savior’s invitation to come unto Him. Let us build our lives upon a safe and a sure foundation.
28-Apr-13 Elaine S. Dalton We are each unique and different in our circumstances and experiences. And yet our part matters—because we matter.
5-May-13 Elder Craig A. Cardon Remember and believe the words of the Lord and […] exercise faith in Him unto repentance. He loves you. He wants to forgive.
12-May-13 Elder M. Russell Ballard The power of the priesthood is a sacred and essential gift of God.
19-May-13 President Henry B. Eyring We are under covenant both to lift up those in need and to be witnesses of the Savior as long as we live.
26-May-13 Elder Richard G. Scott The ideal place for […] peace is within the walls of our own homes, where we have done all we can to make the Lord Jesus Christ the centerpiece.
2-Jun-13 Elder Quentin L. Cook We earnestly hope and pray for universal peace, but it is as individuals and families that we achieve the kind of peace that is the promised reward of righteousness.
9-Jun-13 Elder Stanley G. Ellis Our Heavenly Father knows us, loves us, and wants to help. He knows best how to help. We are not spiritual orphans!
16-Jun-13 Elder John B. Dickson Heavenly Father loves all of His children, […] Jesus is the Christ, and […] the gospel is available to all, both the living and the dead.
23-Jun-13 Elder David A. Bednar Obedience to the law of chastity will increase our happiness in mortality and make possible our progress in eternity.
30-Jun-13 Elder Russell M. Nelson Now is your time to prepare to teach others about the goodness of God.
7-Jul-13 President Dieter F. Uchtdorf God promises the hope of His light—He promises to illuminate the way before us and show us the way out of darkness.
14-Jul-13 Elder Neil L. Andersen We are witnessing the miracles of the Lord as His gospel is spreading across the world.
21-Jul-13 Rosemary M. Wixom Why not choose a time each day to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other? Simply turn everything off.
28-Jul-13 Elder L. Whitney Clayton Marriage is a gift from God to us; the quality of our marriages is a gift from us to Him.
4-Aug-13 Elder L. Tom Perry [Heavenly Father's] commandments are the road map He has given us to return to Him, which is the only way we will be eternally happy.
11-Aug-13 President Thomas S. Monson A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God.
18-Aug-13 Elder Jeffrey R. Holland In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith.
25-Aug-13 Elder Dallin H. Oaks As Jesus taught, those who love Him will keep His commandments. They will be obedient.
1-Sep-13 Elder Christoffel Golden Jr. The Father and the Son are distinctly separate beings, but They are perfectly united and one in power and purpose.
8-Sep-13 Elder Enrique R. Falabella Home [is] the place that can become a piece of heaven here on earth.
15-Sep-13 Elder Erich W. Kopischke Seeking and receiving acceptance from [Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ] will always lift and encourage us.
22-Sep-13 Elder Bruce D. Porter We need not fear the future, nor falter in hope and good cheer, because God is with us.
29-Sep-13 Elder D. Todd Christofferson The greatest service we can provide to others in this life, beginning with those of our own family, is to bring them to Christ.

The full text of all the talks can be found by clicking here. General Conference makes me happy. Good luck filling that filing cabinet in your mind full of friends.

Here is an excel file download of the quotes: Conference Mastery

DIY- General Conference Book Club

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Wasn’t General Conference great? My testimony was renewed, and I walked away with a list of items to work on implementing that I know will bring more power and blessings into my life. I am so grateful for living prophets and apostles. I know God lives and speaks to us today through His servants.

After 9 semi-annual conferences, I’m no longer going to host the online General Conference Book Club here on Diapers and Divinity, but I still hope that people will run with the idea and use it either for personal study or to do a collaborative study with friends. Here’s how it works:

  1. Study one talk each week until the next general conference in October. It just so happens that there are exactly the number of talks as there are weeks this time around, so it makes for a really easy fit.
  2. You can simply read the talk, or you can mark it up and study it and ponder it throughout the week. Write your thoughts in your journal. Look up all the scriptures quoted in the talk as part of your scripture study for the week. Find ways to apply the teachings in your life.
  3. If you decide to get together with others, either online on among friends, you can share your thoughts about the talk, share testimony, and share related experiences and goals. You can meet weekly, which is fairly easy to do online, or you can meet once a month and discuss the 4+ talks for that month. If you do get together as friends, it could be fun to meet up at a favorite restaurant, get together at a home and have refreshments, or tie it in with another fun activity like a game night or something.

I have put together a schedule that you can follow starting next Sunday. The audio and video is already posted, and the text for all talks will be available on gc.lds.org by the end of this week.

14-Apr-13 President Boyd K. Packer watch listen
21-Apr-13 Bishop Dean M. Davies watch listen
28-Apr-13 Elaine S. Dalton watch listen
5-May-13 Elder Craig A. Cardon watch listen
12-May-13 Elder M. Russell Ballard watch listen
19-May-13 President Henry B. Eyring watch listen
26-May-13 Elder Richard G. Scott watch listen
2-Jun-13 Elder Quentin L. Cook watch listen
9-Jun-13 Elder Stanley G. Ellis watch listen
16-Jun-13 Elder John B. Dickson watch listen
23-Jun-13 Elder David A. Bednar watch listen
30-Jun-13 Elder Russell M. Nelson watch listen
7-Jul-13 President Dieter F. Uchtdorf watch listen
14-Jul-13 Elder Neil L. Andersen watch listen
21-Jul-13 Rosemary M. Wixom watch listen
28-Jul-13 Elder L. Whitney Clayton watch listen
4-Aug-13 Elder L. Tom Perry watch listen
11-Aug-13 President Thomas S. Monson watch listen
18-Aug-13 Elder Jeffrey R. Holland watch listen
25-Aug-13 Elder Dallin H. Oaks watch listen
1-Sep-13 Elder Christoffel Golden Jr. watch listen
8-Sep-13 Elder Enrique R. Falabella watch listen
15-Sep-13 Elder Erich W. Kopischke watch listen
22-Sep-13 Elder Bruce D. Porter watch listen
29-Sep-13 Elder D. Todd Christofferson watch listen

If you would prefer to participate in an online discussion group similar to what has been hosted here and aren’t interested in setting up your own community, Becca at My Soul Delighteth will be hosting a GCBC for this round of conference and welcomes your participation there.

This is what President Monson said during the closing remarks of yesterday’s conference:

“I know you will agree with me that the messages have been inspiring. Our hearts have been touched, and our testimonies of this divine work have been strengthened. As we’ve felt the spirit of the Lord, may we long remember what we’ve heard these last two days. I urge you to study the messages further when they are printed…

I know I have been blessed as I’ve studied the words from conference and tried to understand them, apply them, and internalize them. Whether you do a book club or not, please make a goal to make these talks a priority over the next six months. You won’t regret it.

[P.S. Congratulations to anordinarymom who was the winner of the Covenant Motherhood podcast book giveaway. I'll contact you via email.]

An open letter to two real moms

First of all, let me set the scene.

Wallflower

Imagine you are at one of your first dances. You’re standing on the sidelines and there are hundreds of people mingling all around you. You try to look alert and available and smile at people, but no one–no one–wants to make eye contact with you. After you manage to smile at a few boys, they come over and say hi, ask you a few questions about yourself, then half smile and walk away. You do that for two hours, and in the end you danced with a small handful of boys, but the rest of the time you just sweat bullets and tried not to run and hide in the bathroom.

That’s what it feels like to be an unknown author at a book signing.

Tonight I signed books for Ladies Night at Deseret Book. This is an actual picture from my phone of all the people there:

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Notice that none of them are looking my direction. It’s okay. If I could throw my name in a hat and win a dozen cinnamon rolls or free books and DVDs, I would have done that too. I don’t blame them.

Okay, so the two moms.

Mom #1 came over to my table, browsed through my book, and said, “Too bad I already failed as a mom. My son’s about to go to jail.” I tried to be encouraging and tell her how my book testifies that parents are not responsible for their children’s agency and should not feel they have failed when children wander. I told her that many general authorities have taught that our covenants have power to reach out after and rescue our struggling children. She just looked at me, crossed her fingers, and walked away.

Mom #2 came over and looked through my book with another lady. Someone else had asked me a question, so I only overheard their conversation. She opened to the table of contents and scanned the list of chapters.  It looks like this.

Introduction: Motherhood Testifies of Christ
Chapter 1: Jesus Christ Creates
Chapter 2: Jesus Christ Teaches
Chapter 4: Jesus Christ Provides
Chapter 5: Jesus Christ Cleanses
Chapter 6: Jesus Christ Defends and Protects
Chapter 7: Jesus Christ Loves and Sacrifices
Chapter 8: Jesus Christ Forgives and Shares Burdens
Chapter 9: Jesus Christ Saves
Chapter 10: Grace and the Covenant
Chapter 11: The Eternal Influence of Covenant Motherhood

And I heard her say, “I want a chapter called Jesus Yells,” and she put it down and walked away. Do you know what I wanted to do to both of these ladies? I wanted to shake them and then give them a hug. But I didn’t. On the way home, I thought about what I wanted to say to them. This is obviously too late, but here goes.

Dear real moms,

I get it. Motherhood is hard. We mess it up all the time. And even when we think we’re getting it right, our kids sometimes choose wrong. Hard. Really hard. But I can’t help but wonder… did you hear the same general conference that I did today? Because there are some powerful truths that were taught that you might have missed because you were so busy believing that you are failing.  Here are just a few I remember off the top of my head:

  1. President Packer testified of the power of mothers’ prayers. Sure that means prayers for our children, but I also think it means prayers when we need help being a parent. God will honor those prayers.
  2. Elaine Dalton declared that our daily contributions matter and that keeping our covenants will call down the powers of heaven to bless us.
  3. Craig Cardon said over and over again that Jesus wants to forgive us when we make mistakes, and He will do it seventy times seven times. He said the Savior allows for improvement over time and doesn’t demand immediate perfection.
  4. Elder Ballard told us the parable of the tomato plant and testified that we have unlimited potential. Even when we feel wilted, the light and power of the gospel can nourish us and give us life.
  5. President Eyring taught that our simple acts of obedience and service (hello, motherhood) can help us feel closer to the Savior.
  6. Elder Scott counseled us to recognize the good in others, not their stains. Mom #1 and Mom #2, recognize the good in yourselves, too, and stop staring at those stains.
  7. Elder Cook testified that we can feel peace even in times of disaster and chaos (that means every day from 4-8 pm at my house).

Those are just a few of the things I heard today from men (and women) who we sustain as mouthpieces for our Father in Heaven. I don’t care if you never read my book, but I hope you know that you are not failing if you are trying. The good you do every day is not cancelled out by raising your voice or a child’s bad decision. There’s the Atonement for that. Use it. Believe it. Rely on Jesus Christ. He loves that you are a mother. He loves you. I think you should love you too. That is all. I hope you like the rest of conference tomorrow.  Good night.