Sweet Emma Smith

We all know that behind every good man is a great woman, so it goes to reason that behind a great man is a remarkable woman.  Emma Smith was no exception. In the early 1800s, Joseph Smith was called at a young age to be the inexperienced prophet of a long-prophesied Restoration of the church that Jesus Christ had established while upon the earth.  Joseph became an instrument in the hands of God and the leader of a fledgling church, both assignments which laid heavy burdens upon him and made him the target of much opposition.  Despite his unprecedented faith, his undying work and perseverance, and his naturally pleasant nature, he was often downtrodden.  His suffering was sometimes unimaginable.  During this long refiner’s fire that the Prophet Joseph was chosen to endure, God saw fit to bless him with the company and support of a good woman, a help-meet in every sense of the word.

Emma Smith was a ministering angel in the flesh to her prophet husband.  She faced the same threats, trials, and discouragement that Joseph did, and notwithstanding her own suffering, she offered much-needed support to him and consistently reached out to others in service.  As expected with any female figure who plays an important role in the history of mankind, Emma and her story are somewhat controversial.  Her motives and choices are sometimes questioned, especially during the period after her husband’s martyrdom.  We cannot begin to imagine the depth of her sorrow or the extent of her exhaustion on every level– physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion– by the point that her husband was murdered.  I’m afraid that she is one of the most misjudged characters in Church history, if not in the overall history of modern religion.

I have a dear friend who, because of her own personal testimony and because of opportunities given to her by her Heavenly Father, has made it one of her life’s missions to dispel the myths about Emma Smith.  She has dedicated years of study and prayer and thought to understanding Emma’s life, Emma’s history, and Emma’s heart.  This past weekend, she was invited to be the keynote speaker at a historical convention in Nauvoo, Illinois to speak about Emma’s story.  She felt overcome by the weight of the assignment, knowing that she would be speaking to a combined LDS and non-LDS audience, many of which have longstanding tight-held opinions about Emma.  However, over the years, she has developed a friendship with Emma, and despite her fears and anxiety about participating in this event, she prepared and fasted and prayed and pleaded that she might somehow be able to honor Emma through this opportunity.  That choice didn’t come without opposition either, but she did it and survived, and I’m very proud of her. She gave me permission to share this media clip that she and her husband prepared for her presentation.  (And incidentally, she received copyright permission to use the clips and music used here.)  I hope you can take five minutes to watch it and think about how remarkable Emma Smith truly was.

I know that Joseph loved his Emma dearly, and he must appreciate so much any efforts that we make to really know her and understand her.  I’m confident he wants us to appreciate her as he did.  She stands as an example to us of an “elect lady” (Doctrine and Covenants 25:3), and there’s so much we can learn from her still.  I’m thankful for what she did, for the price that she herself paid, so that her husband could do what the Lord called him to do.  The fruits of their sacrifice provided the framework of my faith, my family and my hope.  I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to honor both her and my friend.  (Thanks, Shantel.)

Find-a-Friend Friday?

Blogging has introduced me to some really cool people. I think I’ve met in real life now at least a dozen ladies that I’ve met first through blogging, and it’s always been a pleasure. So that got me thinking, I bet all of you are really great women and I wish I knew you better. (And it’s obvious you’re great if you read my blog. *snort*  Whatever.  It at least means we have something in common.) That’s when I had one of my genius ideas*. What if I “interviewed” some of you on my blog to find out more about you? The extra bonus is that other readers with similar circumstances or interests can find you too and maybe more friendships can be formed. Strength in numbers, ladies, strength in numbers.
What do you think? Any volunteers?

*disclaimer: I have lots of genius ideas that may appear to be abandoned. (Like when I was writing this, I remembered that I never published those “fake” General Conference talks you submitted.) BUT. I will do it. And some of you may wonder whatever happened to my Protecting Innocence Project that I went on and on and on about over a year ago. I confess that it temporarily (if a year can count as temporary) fell through the cracks, but it is not forgotten. (Give me a break.  We finished law school and I moved across the country.) A lot of work has been done behind the scenes, and lately I’ve had a little fire in my bones to get it up and going. And I will. I promise. Okay, disclaimer done. Feel free to let me know if any of my other genius ideas went completely forgotten.

Notable Post-its and Paying it forward.

This past week, my blog had the good fortune of some other much more notable bloggers smiling down upon it.  Some fresh new readers, both of the public and lurking variety, dropped by to visit.  Welcome to all of you because nothing helps a mother to survive the ups and downs of motherhood better than the knowledge that she’s on a team of like-minded others fighting the same battle.  There are some readers here whom I have never met, but who have managed to read many of my long-winded posts and survive, and I consider them dear friends.  In trying to decide if that makes me some kind of weird Internet delusional, I concluded that I really do believe that some of you would show up at my funeral if I croaked, so I’m probably not living in a fantasy world.  Given the overwhelming mess that is in my home right now, my chances of death are quite elevated so I would recommend that you start saving for plane tickets now.  In the words of Monte G. Brough,

I believe true friends not only make life more enjoyable, but they help each other become worthy of the greatest friendship of all [with the Savior]… —to bring out the best in each other and help each other live righteous lives.”

So thank you to many of you who help me do just that.  The whole purpose of this blog is to recognize and remember the divinity in motherhood, and it’s so much easier to do when a whole army of good people join in the conversation together, acknowledging our collective goodness, and encouraging our continued improvement.  Yep, thank you.

So, I created this lovely little award– kind of like a prize ribbon, if you will.  I hope it travels its way around BlogWorld and makes people feel good about what they’re writing.

Post-it Award

I know what you’re thinking:  How did you ever come up with such a clever name for a prize? I know. I know.  Some of us just have a gift for all things imaginative and witty.  (I’m also thinking about making a little book for Natalie about her first year and calling it “Natalie’s First Year.”  See?)  Anyway, there are no weird prize rules for this award.  You don’t have to do a viral tag  of 8 people or make a monumental display on your homepage about it (unless you want to).  Here’s all you do:

1.  Accept it.  You can do this in the tearful silence of your own computer desk or by writing an emotional acceptance speech in my comments.

2.  Pay attention in the next week or so to the posts that you read elsewhere and if you find a favorite (or two or three), then pass the award along to honor the blogger who wrote it.  You can either do a post like this where you announce it (and which I will probably continue to do on occasion), or you can email them and let them know or whatever.  You’re smarter than me; do what you want.

So without further ado, I want to honor these posts I’ve read in the past week or so:

Lara at Overstuffed recently moved to Michigan and wrote a lovely post about how one can feel at home even when they’re not where they expected to be.

That Girl (formerly from Brazil) wrote a very cool post over at Pensievity that encompasses the immeasurable value of us moms.

And Helen, at Dal, Hel, and Bel, put up these darling pictures of her daughter at family prayer and I just can’t help feeling all warm and fuzzy inside when I look at them.  They’re that cute.

Ladies, take your glamorous post-it note of fame and treasure it always.

And either I created the lamest poetry contest ever, or the one or two of you who entered so far have superpowers that are keeping others from writing a lullaby, thereby guaranteeing your world domination.  Step up, readers.



It’s my birthday, and I’m giving you a present. (You can drop off yours in the comment box.)

birthday_candlesIt always bugged me that my mom would never tell us her age.  So I’ll be honest, I’m old.  For the first time in my life, I feel old.  I figure maybe I shouldn’t say my actual age because then all you internet information predators could do the math and steal my identity and walk away with my amazing credit potential.  So let’s just say that I am now a lot closer to 40 than I am to 30, and that is INsane.  I am the “old people” in young people’s minds.  I have been out of high school for longer than it took me to complete elementary school, junior high and high school combined.  I have been through so many different stages of life that I have a bra drawer with about 12 different sizes in it.  (I should really get rid of them, because truth be told, I only need a very small drawer now.)

I’ll concede that older does mean wiser.  I now get it that all those boys that took up volumes of pages in my journals never liked me.  I was a dork.  I also know that a person cannot live on Pringles and bubble gum alone.  Plus, life has taught me many other important lessons like what not to do if you are a) mugged in China, b) cat-called in Argentina, or c) going outside too often in your pajamas in your own hometown.  So, yeah, one year older and wiser too…

old ladySo, I’ve got this whole blog birthday party thing worked out in my mind.  First a present for you.  

What do mommy bloggers need and appreciate the most?  Quiet time.  I’d like to introduce you to JumpStart computer games to shut up educate your children while they have fun at the same time.  My boys love the JumpStart computer games, and we actually owned two of them before the company contacted me about doing a giveaway on my blog.  Just today they played the 3D Virtual 1st Grade game while I blogged did laundry and lots of important things.  They really are very clever games that incorporate math, reading and critical thinking skills into fun arcade-like games and activities.  And now they have an on-line version of their games at http://www.jumpstart.com where your child can create a “Jumpee” (kind of like an avatar) and travel all around in a virtual world of learning adventures.  My boys have spent a little time playing around on it and they were quite smitten by some of the fun things they can do there.  Anyway, without further ado… you can win a three-month subscription to the JumpStart online world! (In other words, three months of built-in, guilt-free quiet time for you.)  You’re welcome.

js2js1

Now, for my present.  I want to know who my readers are.  There are many of you who are regular commenters and I absolutely adore you, but there are so many strangers that pass through that I never get the chance to meet, except as random IP addresses on my statistics tracker.  I average about 1,000 hits a week on this little ol’ blog (which I know is small potatoes to some folks), and I’d like to thank those of you who really just reload my page over and over again every day to make me feel good when I look at my stats, but there are so many of you I don’t know.  I think Ordinary Mom made this request on her birthday, and I filed it away in my brain as a good way to satisfy my own curiosity.

So here are your birthday party instructions (I’m old; I can be demanding and crabby if I want to be.):

1.  Leave me a comment and tell me something about yourself.  If you don’t want me to know your name, that’s okay.  You can be “anonymous,” but still tell me something about you.  (Where you live, what you do, etc.)  If you’re a regular commenter, tell me something about you anyway– I’d love to know you better.

2.  If you want to be entered in the computer game giveaway, just stick the word “(Giveaway)” at the end of your comment.  Or the beginning.  Or the middle.  I’m not picky.

3.  If you haven’t voted for your favorite entry in the Diapers and Divinity Summer Poetry Contest, go do that here.  The haikus are worth reading.

4.  Pretend that you’re really at my party and that I’m giving you a hug at the door and saying “Thanks for coming!”  Really.  All joking aside,

I believe true friends not only make life more enjoyable, but they help each other become worthy of the greatest friendship of all [with the Savior]… —to bring out the best in each other and help each other live righteous lives.”  (Monte G. Brough)

Happy Birthday, indeed.

Women’s Conference, chapter 3: Friendship

DSCF2025For those of you who usually come to this blog for the amazing and uplifting stories about boogers, laundry, and night-time diapers, please indulge me several more days of Women’s Conference summaries.  They may, perhaps, be of no benefit to you, but it’s a good exercise for me to review what I learned a week and a half ago, and to think about what I felt inspired to take notes on.  This picture is me and my good friend, Shantel, at Women’s Conference in the Marriott Center waiting for Elder L. Tom Perry’s talk to begin.  It was great to have a friend to share the whole experience with. (It was of course also wonderful to have my mom there, too, but she didn’t look so hot in the picture, so I cropped her out so she wouldn’t get mad at me.  Hi mom.)

I have some friends who are struggling with big things right now– the kinds of challenges that make my trials laughable.  This is why I chose to attend a class called, “The Hand of an Old Friend: Bearing One Another’s Burdens through  True Friendship,” taught by Shauna Harker and Dixie Taylor.  The class didn’t turn out to be exactly what I was expecting, but I learned some good things and set some new goals.

Here is a random compilation of my notes from this class:

  • We should pray to find the gifts in our life’s experiences, and pray to find people that need an extra touch.
  • When we feel spiritually low ourselves, we should fast and pray (and look for opportunities to serve).
  • We feel alone when we are too busy.  We need to pause; make a phone call, send a note, etc.
  • This was my favorite quote from the class and the most prominent principle I walked away with.  Ruby Haight (Elder David B. Haight’s wife) said:  “If you don’t have a loaf of bread, just give a piece of toast.” I was struck by the fact that what we might normally consider a “lame” or unworthy effort can truly be appreciated and make a difference in someone’s day, or life even.  She also quoted Alma 37:6 about “by small and simple things shall great things come to pass.”
  • Hymn says, “In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.”  We should look for the hidden sorrow.  Look for understanding, not judgement.
  • Sheri Dew taught that we should assume that we all are doing the best we can.
  • We gather together for strength, but we bring all our weaknesses and imperfections.
  • Ezekiel 36:26: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”
  • Mark 2:1-5: (Story of man healed by Christ after friends lowered him through the roof) “And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” It was the faith of the friends that healed the man.  We should not underestimate the power of our prayers and faith on the behalf of loved ones.
  • James 5:16: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
  • Christ is our friend.  D&C 84:88: “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”  What am I doing to be Christ’s friend?
  • When feeling alone, excluded, in a new situation, etc., be the first to say hello.  Make the first move.
  • Offer a specific service.  Too often the generic phrase “Is there anything I can do to help?” goes unanswered.  Offer something that you can do to help.  For example, “I’d like to come over and {insert  your idea here: help you fold laundry, bring you a meal, take the kids for a couple hours, etc.}.  When would be a good time?”
  • Look for the good in others.  You’ll always find it.

I’m so grateful for good friends.  Occasionally I need some kind of service (feel free to volunteer right now to do laundry or bring me dinner), but what is the most sustaining to me is a friend’s listening ear– a phone call, a treadmill conversation, a kind comment, etc.  I thank God for surrounding me with kind and forgiving people, who whether in sincerity or due to great acting skills, make me feel important.

Lovely ladies

dscf1750Lately I’ve been feeling grateful for wonderful women in my life. Sometimes we let ourselves drown a little bit in the dreary details of motherhood, but a conversation with another mother I admire can lift my spirits, refocus my purpose, and remind me that I am not alone in what sometimes seems difficult.

When I was 16 years old, I was the only girl from my church group that was not invited to a particular formal date dance. When the next day at church, I was the only one who showed up in a regular dress, and the rest of the girls were all wearing their formal gowns from the night before (for the record, I’m not fond of that “trend”), I felt like an idiot. And in typical teenage fashion, I felt dramatically sorry for myself. I went home and moped for most of the afternoon, until the doorbell rang. There on my doorstep was Julia, the president of my young women’s class. Julia was a senior at my high school, and she had recently undergone a bone marrow transplant in an attempt to escape the cancer that had come and gone more than once. She was bald, but had a lovely smile, face, and grace about her. Anyway, she showed up at my house that afternoon with a small flower pot and a card. It said “Bloom where you are planted.” Apparently, she sensed my hurt feelings at church and went out of her way to reach out to me and encourage me. The irony was not lost on me. My problems were small and insignificant in comparison to hers, yet she was noble enough to acknowledge them and encourage me.

This trend has repeated itself many times in my life, especially recently. In the last month alone I can pinpoint conversations I’ve had with women who have significant struggles that make mine look ridiculous at best. But like Julia, they have served me. They have showed me kindness and made me feel their love and God’s love through them. One has a handicapped daughter and struggles daily with decisions related to her care and balancing her needs with those of her other children. Another recently overcame cancer while caring for her three small children. One has five, yes FIVE, children with special needs and amazes me frequently with her spiritual insight and willingness to listen to me. Another, pregnant with her fourth child, was just diagnosed with cancer. These women are AMAZING. They think they are ordinary, but they are great examples to me, and I thank God I know them.

President Ezra Taft Benson said, and I whole-heartedly agree:

The fellowship of true friends who can hear you out, share your joys, help carry your burdens, and correctly counsel you is priceless. For one who has been in the prison of depression, the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith have special meaning: “How sweet the voice of a friend is; one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling.” . . . What a boon to be in the company of those who edify us!

I’m also constantly amazed by those of you who drop by this blog and whom I read about as I surf the blog world.  You are good women with good hearts doing good things.  We should all tell each other that more often.  We need to say it, and we need to hear it.

A few shout-outs, just because I feel like it:

Jana at The Meanest Mom always makes me laugh.  Her post today cracked me up.  I love her integrity in parenting; sticking to her guns despite the pushes and pulls of children and critics.  (She’s also hosting a great giveaway, but you don’t need to pay much attention to that.  I believe 47,000 people have already signed up for it, so your chances are probably better with Powerball or the NFL draft.)

Heather at the Extraordinary Ordinary wrote a great post this week about the lessons that motherhood forces us to learn.  It made me think so much that I had to email her instead of leaving a comment because I was so verbose I would have been a comment pirate and taken over her post.  I love her authenticity and substance.  Incidentally, I spent some time with her in person recently and she’s just as lovely in real life.

And all of you that have commented on the General Conference Book Club posts have impressed me so much.  Thank you for being as cool and insightful as you are.  Really.  I’ve spent the last two nights falling asleep while reading Elder Christofferson’s talk, but I’m going to jump in tomorrow with my own feedback.  Hope to hear from many more of you, too.

And I have to mention this lovely lady:  dscf2015

She’s one spunky, delightful little girl who keeps me smiling.  Her daddy’s out of town this week and it’s endearing to see how much she misses him.  Today, she bumped her nose and said, “When daddy gets home, I will show him my nose and he’ll kiss it better.”  When I  grow up, I bet she’ll be my favorite woman on the planet.

How stay-at-home moms go clubbing

clubbingI don’t care how dedicated you are to motherhood, every woman needs some friend time.  Adult conversation and empathetic encouragement do wonders for a tired (and snot-covered) soul.  Maybe I only speak for myself here, but “clubbing” in its traditional sense is the last thing I need.  I get enough noise, annoying pick-up lines (“Mom, I dropped my spoon again.  Will you pick it up?”), and spilled drinks at my own house.  I prefer good, uplifting conversation, and really connecting with other women.  Blogging has been a great tool for this.  Anyway, I dedicate this post to two clubs that may help you meet some of those needs as well:  Make-ahead Meal Club, and the new General Conference Book Club.

I recently started a Make-ahead Meal Club as an enrichment group for the ladies at church.  I’ve loved it, and just wanted to pass along the details (plus some of you said you were interested) so that you can maybe duplicate this among some of your friends/acquaintences/neighbors.  Here’s a copy of the original invitation to show how mine works:meals

I will be starting a monthly Make-Ahead-Meal Exchange where several of us can prepare one meal in bulk, come together and exchange them, and go home with several meals we can just pull out of the freezer on a busy day.

Objective: learn new recipes, get together briefly with girlfriends from church (invite friends and neighbors to participate, too), save time cooking and have dinner on hand for crazy days.

Scheduling:

First Thursday of each month
7:30 p.m – 8:30 p.m.
at my house

Details:

1.  Pick a meal that can be frozen and saved for later.  It should be an entree/casserole/hot dish/main course.  The club will not exchange side dishes or desserts.  The recipe should feed 6-8 people.  (If you have a smaller family, then leftovers will last longer!)  Make FIVE of it (plus any extras you want to keep for yourself).

2.  Put meals in disposable, freezer-safe containers:  freezer-bags, gladware, or aluminum-foil baking dishes and label it clearly.

3.  Make 5 copies of the recipe, complete with preparation instructions.

4.  Bring the five dishes ready to exchange on M-A-M Exchange night.  We will choose a random order and then take turns selecting meals to take home.  Each person will leave with five meals.  (Be sure to make something that you know your family will eat and enjoy *just in case* it’s not all selected by others you end up taking a couple back home among your five.)

5.  Bring a big cooler or box you can use to happily carry off your dinner haul. :)

6.  Eat a light refreshment and visit briefly with friends.

And no one has to RSVP.  The more that show up the merrier, but if there are only two of you, then you still split up the meals you made and they made and save them in the freezer for another day.  Also, if someone doesn’t have time or budget, they could always make fewer meals and then take home as many as they brought.  It’s pretty slick.  We’ve done it for two months now.  The first month, 5 showed up.  This month there were 6, and I keep hearing from others that they’re interested in trying it out.  I’ve really enjoyed it a lot.  It’s a totally guilt-free girls’ night out that benefits your family too.

Next club up:  General Conference Book Club (GCBC, because every club needs a cool acronym).  The idea here is that we (an online community of moms and friends) commit to studying one talk a week from the most recent General Conference (see this post if you feel confused).  By the way, I really do TRY to control my use of parentheses, but I just can’t help myself.  (See?!)  I realize that the Ensign won’t be published for several weeks, but I felt anxious to start anyway while we (I) feel the momentum and desire.  So our first few talks can be found and printed online.  Sue Q suggested making a new blog for it, but to be honest, I don’t feel that ambitious, so I’ll make this a regular Sunday installment on my blog here.  Look, I even made a cute little image that we can use like a button (if I can ever figure out how to do that).

genconfbutton1

So watch this Sunday for round one.  There will be a talk #1 announcement and then you have all week to study and ponder the talk.  The following Sunday, I will post my own insights about the talk and you can do the same in the comments section.  This is one of those occasions where it’s completely acceptable to have many long-winded comments.  And I’m not bent on the main post always being mine.  Feel free to volunteer to guest -post the talk review and the rest of us will chat in the comments.  Each Sunday I will also announce the talk we’ll be studying the following week.  I’m open for suggestions if there are talks you want to read and study right away.  I think the comment thread will be really cool.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed before, but my comments are set up so that you can reply to another person’s comment and it will squeeze yours right under theirs as a response.  It’s kind of fun and conversational.  Anyway, I hope you’re in, and we’ll start this coming Sunday.  I’m excited.

Alright, ladies, let’s get clubbing.  :)