Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book of Jenne and Carolyn: The Book of Mormon Abridged

This summer, my mom started studying the gospel and investigating the LDS church in her most serious attempt yet since my baptism 9 years ago. Her efforts came after she had a stroke at the age of 56 and in a blessing of healing afterwards, she was counseled to study and learn about the gospel. To my surprise, she listened. After attending church with me one Sunday, she discovered she really liked the format of the Gospel Principles manual. She's been reading it on her own and tonight she reported to me that she's on Chapter 13. Last time I asked probably a month ago, she was on Chapter 6 so I'm pleased to hear of her progress. '

One of the things she requested of me before I said left for home last was that I help her find the scriptures in the Book of Mormon that were meaningful and instructive without having to get bogged down in the storyline or dealing with the objectionable warlike culture of the Nephites and Lamanites. She's tried to read the Book of Mormon before but has struggled and given up. I feel she wants to find the special and profound information present in the Book of Mormon but doesn't know where to look.

Her request came at the time when I had been thinking about compiling all of my favorite Book of Mormon verses together in one place for my own quick and easy reference when wanting to turn to familiar, comforting and instructive words. Off the top of my head, I know that swaths of 2 Nephi, Mosiah, Alma and Moroni will be included, including also the vision of the tree of life in 1 Nephi.

Don't be surprised if you see this post become the receptacle of these verses.

Also please suggest some of the most instructive, comforting, inspiring or otherwise useful verses in the comments. My mother, lovely woman that she is, has been subject to a great deal of suffering, disillusionment and unfulfilled dreams throughout her life. She struggles with a sense of worth and purpose. I'm open to suggestions on Book of Mormon verses that might address the feelings of her heart and give her hope in the gospel as a source of fulfillment and joy.

The Book of Jenne and Carolyn: Abridged and Annotated Book of Mormon for Mom
1 Nephi 8: Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life
1 Nephi 11: Nephi's vision of the Tree of Life
And for some scripture mingled with (very interesting) philosophies of men: Nephi and His Asherah
1 Nephi 12, 13, 14: Nephi's vision and prophecies of Christ and the gospel (symbols and languages explained)

Second Nephi
This is my favorite book of the Book of Mormon because it teaches the plan of salvation, explains clearly Christ's role and how we are helped every step of our lives as we are faithful to him.
2 Nephi 2 in its entirety but for highlights see below:
Note: when Lehi addresses Jacob or his sons, replace their names with yours to read the personalized message of Christ's gospel
  • 2 Nephi 2:2: "thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain."
  • 2 Nephi 2:11: "opposition in all things"
  • 2 Nephi 2: 14, 16: "the Lord God gave unto man that he should aact for himself"
  • 2 Nephi 2: 25-28: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."
2 Nephi 3: 6-24: Prophesy of Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon and the restoration
2 Nephi 4:15-24, 33-34: Blessings of scriptures, God's hears prayers, love of God
2 Nephi 9: 4-17: Inevitability of death, Means for escape from death provided by Christ, need for the atonement, division of spirits in paradise and prison(cross reference to D&C: 138: 8, 28 Christ preaches to the spirits in prison and offers a means of salvation i.e. baptism for the dead)
2 Nephi 9:21-24: Christ "suffereth the pains of all men, yea the pains of every living creature, men, women and children."
2 Nephi 9:27-39: Sin described and examples given of actions that separate people from God
2 Nephi 10: 23-25: "remember you are free to act for yourselves...wherefore reconcile yourselves to the will of God"
2 Nephi 18:19: "should not a people seek unto their own God for the living to hear from the dead?"
2 Nephi 19: 6-7: prophesy of Christ's birth (text became Handel's Messiah)
2 Nephi 21:1-9: Description of Christ's personality, temperament, mission and values "for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord"
2 Nephi 22:2: "God is my salvation; I will trust...Jehovah is my strength and my song."
2 Nephi 24: 12-14: The downfall of Satan, pride without humility
2 Nephi 25:23-27: Nephites lived the law of Moses and believed in Christ, looked forward to his coming (vs. 19- prophesy of when Christ will come and what he shall be called)
2 Nephi 26:11 & 13, 32-33: "The Spirit will not always strive with man" but Christ beckons to and blesses those who live the commandments and "inviteth all to come unto him."
2 Nephi 27: Prophesy of Book of Mormon
2 Nephi 28:3-31: A description of the evils that will exist in our day
2 Nephi 29: The Book of Mormon is intended to be in addition to the Bible (Fools say: "A Bible, a Bible, we have got a Bible and there cannot be any more Bible!")
2 Nephi 31: The necessity of baptism, "Wherefore you must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, with a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men."
2 Nephi 32:1-6: After baptism you are led by the Spirit through reading the scriptures and prayer "the words of Christ [and the Holy Ghost] will tell you all the things you should do"
2 Nephi 32: 9: Pray Always and the Lord will "consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of your soul."

The Book of Jacob:
Jacob 2: 17-19: description of social justice "Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you."
Jacob 4:3-13: through faith and prayer, revelation will be given

The Book of Enos: 1-9 example of sincere prayer leading to conversion

The Book of Mosiah: 

Mosiah begins with the reign of King Benjamin who is the king over the Nephites at the time. He was a faithful man and a conscientious leader. At one point in his reign, he gathered his people to together and expounded on the scriptures and taught them principles of the gospel. Chapters 2-5 are his address to the people. Linked verses are highlights of his address. 

King Benjamin's Discourse: 
Mosiah 2:17: Perhaps the most famous line from King Benjamin "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings are ye only in the service of your God." 
Mosiah 2: 19-22: Give thanks to God for creating you, recognize their (Father's and Mother's) role in your life
Mosiah 2: 23-24: What God requires in return: keep commandments and he/they "doth immediately bless you." 
Mosiah 2:34: "ye are eternally indebted to your heavenly father (+mother), to render to (them) all that you have and are"
Mosiah 2:41: "the happy state of those who keep the commandments of God, they are blessed in all things temporal and spiritual."
Mosiah 3: 5-11: prophesies of the coming of Christ. 2 important things here: King Benjamin reveals the name that Christ will be known by. Verse 7 teaches us that Christ, in his atonement, also experiences our suffering including our pain (from any cause), our fatigue (which can be caused by frustration, weariness in suffering, physical disability, etc). 
Mosiah 3:14: Little children cannot sin. They must come to an awareness of right and wrong before they can be held accountable for their mistakes. Cross reference: Moroni 8:8 
Mosiah 3:18-19: The Atonement does not work for those who do not accept and believe in it. We must "yield to the enticings of the Spirit" and "becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ."
Mosiah 3: 24-25: "whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works." At that time, it will be clear to each of us the results of our actions during life. Cross reference: Alma 11: 43 We will have a bright recollection of our guilt. Our understanding will not be clouded anymore and we will know perfectly where we went wrong. That awareness can be horrific to possess because we are our own worst critics. There is pain that comes from realizing our mistakes. That pain is what is being described by scriptural references to "fire and brimstone." Alma describes it as wishing that he could cease to exist but knowing that he could not and would have to live with his mistakes and the hurts he caused others. This is where the Atonement comes in and why it is so useful and necessary. It makes it possible for us to forgive ourselves for the hurt we cause ourselves and others. Once we forgive ourselves we can carry on with hope and assurance that despite our mistakes we are good people. 
Mosiah 4:9: "believe that [God] has all wisdom and all power both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things that the Lord can comprehend" Yet we are promised that we can and will comprehend all the things the Lord can comprehend IF we are willing to do what it takes to get to that point when we are ready to learn those things, even "all wisdom and all power." 
Mosiah 4:10: "if you believe all these things see that ye do them." 
Mosiah 4:11: Strike out "unworthy creatures" and its a great verse showing how we can feel God's love through forgiveness and how we can go about living a faithful life. 
Mosiah 4:12: if you are faithful, ye shall be "filled with the love of God" and "ye shall grow in knowledge of that which is just and true." To me, this means a perfect knowledge and understanding of what is right. The world needs a great deal more of that and I take hold upon the promise that I can find it from the source of all true and goodness with the hope that everyone else can do the same. 
Mosiah 4:13: Those who come to know the love of God (whether you think its how to love like God, be loved by God or show love to God), "ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably." 
Mosiah 4:15: I'm really just including this verse because its one of my favorites and is my hope for what my children learn: "ye will teach [your children] to love one another and to serve one another." 
Mosiah 4:16: Ye will succor those that stand in need of your succor, ye will administer of your substance unto him who standeth in need." And thus begins some of the greatest social justice verses in all of scripture. Also, cross-reference to the baptismal covenant (i.e. the covenant a member of the LDS church makes at baptism). 
Mosiah 4:19-22, 26: Like I said, some of the best verses on the topic of social justice in all of scripture, perhaps all religion in general. This is the gospel of Christ in word and action. 
Mosiah 4:24: Also empathizes and excuses those who feel guilty for not having enough to give. "I would that ye would say in your hearts, I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give."
Mosiah 4:27: Wise words indeed: "See that all things be done in wisdom and order, for it is not requisite that a  [wo]man should run faster than [s]he has strength."
Mosiah 5:2 and 5, 7, 8 and 15: Effects of conversion: "because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change  in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually...And we are willing to enter into a covenant  with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days....  Because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed  through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. And under this head ye are made free.... Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good  works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal  you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen."
Mosiah 7: 18-19: Working through difficulties, obtaining strength during affliction: "O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made. Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your  trust in God, in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought  the children of  Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground, and fed them with manna that they might not perish in the wilderness; and many more things did he do for them."
Mosiah: 7:29-30, 33: The effects of wrongdoing and the balm: "I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them. And again, he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap  the chaff thereof in the whirlwind; and the effect thereof is poison....But if ye will turn  to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage."
Mosiah 8:15-17: description of seer (yay mysticism!) "But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A compelling reason LDS women shouldn't want the priesthood?

I am not to the point of thinking that LDS women should have the priesthood. I do however find reading critical analyses on it interesting. The most recent analysis I've read is "Why Shouldn't Mormon Women Want this Priesthood?" by Marian Yeates.

I wish I could sit down and have a conversation with her regarding her thoughts. I even did an online search for her to find if her contact information was online, but no such luck.

Through an analysis of history and making comparisons to other times when women have been allowed to participate in a male dominated system, she gave some insight into what it could be like if LDS women were to be granted the priesthood. Drawing on the parallel to women in 20th century America getting the right to vote, Yeates said,
Women won the vote in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment. No one can deny that this was a tremendous victory after seventy-two years of struggle. Yet without being a female-based social vehicle, the vote itself has done little to change the material condition of women over the long term. ...The advantage of the incorporation strategy as it applied to suffrage was that it allowed women to gain access to existing political power. The disadvantage was that once incorporated into the male system, women became part of that system and so have had difficult establishing their interests as separate or different from men's.

In describing women's accomplishments in politics between the time they achieved the right to vote and the time the article was published (1989), she points out "the dream of women voting as a block strong enough to inform the American political process remains an empty promise seventy-years after winning the vote."

Marian Yeates believes that the same would happen if women in the LDS Church were allowed to minister in the priesthood: that it would take a very long time for any significant changes to be made into policy and administration, if it ever would happen.

This is where I would like to question Sister Yeates. Since 1989, American has seen a sharp increase in the number of publicly elected women to office. Perhaps now, another 20 years after she lamented the lack of influence of women on the political process, does she see that fruits of women making substantive inroads in the male dominated system? Is it a matter of 90 years being required instead of 70? If the same thing were to happen is what we see now in the American government, would that patience and long-suffering yield the results that she hopes would have come sooner? Does having to wait that long negate the fulfillment of that success?

The warning is there to LDS women who think that ordination to the priesthood is their intended goal, though you may obtain the office are you prepared to patiently and doggedly work for substantive improvement in the way things are run?

Sister Yeates also offers an alternative option for women wishing for greater involvement, influence and say over how the church is administered. Though she does not make the parallel, I think what she may have in mind matches the way in which the Relief Society was originally organized as a separate but complementary auxiliary of the church which was almost entirely administered by the women of the church. This too I would ask Sister Yeates if this is what she was intending to suggest because she did not specifically state this as a parallel.

I really am enjoying learning about the different perspectives of women and the priesthood. I especially enjoy learning about projections of what might occur if it were to occur. So often, I feel that people think that an intended outcome is a foregone conclusion, that of course the desired outcome is going to be achieved, and little thought is given to the unintended consequences. The collateral damage can often be worse than the ailment that originally afflicted. It seems prudent to comprehensively view the possibilities that could result from an action so one is making a truly informed choice. I would like to see the general membership and leadership of the church to be open-minded and patient enough to entertain these different perspectives so the best decision with minimal unintended consequences can occur.

And now I'm off to read D. Michael Quinn's article "Mormon Women Have Had the Priesthood Since 1843."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Heavenly Mother in the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 121: 26-28
26 God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now;

27 Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory;

28 A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.

The only accepted, revealed truth about Heavenly Mother is that she exists. Its also pretty evident, when one studies the doctrine and thinks logically about how God came to be that there are many gods. And that's pretty much all we know. Who they are, the divine being who like our ancestors have come before us, is still not revealed.

I'm certainly one of those who have been waiting with "anxious anticipation." This also instructs me that I can know some of it by the Holy Spirit, though I will unavoidably be waiting until I have received exaltation through being faithful to the gospel knowledge that has been revealed to me. Yet the hope and confidence that I will someday learn that which I yearn to know is there.

It is sad and difficult for me to accept that it will likely be at least until after my lifetime that I might know and have my Mother in Heaven's presence revealed to me. Because I wonder why not now, why not sooner? I can plead, entreat and beg God to reveal the knowledge that I and others "since the world was" seek. Ahhh, a time to apply Proverbs 3:4, "trust God with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding."

Must it stop me however from "ask[ing] of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him [or her] ask in faith, nothing wavering?" (James 1:5) And must it stop the leaders of the LDS church from asking for this knowledge to be revealed in the hopes that we might know sooner?

PTSD after childbirth: A Period of Adversity

My faith has been strengthened by my son's birth that was so traumatic for me. First I quickly realized that my experience giving birth, and the PTSD that followed was another period of adversity in my life.

I have found that generally when I make a momentous, good decision that some difficult adversity comes along to try to mess it up. I realized quickly that this was another one of those times in my life. By becoming a mother, I probably did the most important thing I'll do in my life; with the most potential to really make a difference in the world. I became responsible for a human life, and ultimately to give him the shape and direction that he needs to become a good person. One time somebody taught me that Satan doesn't try and tempt those who are aren't trying to live God's law. Satan doesn't have to try with them because they're already doing what he wants. On the other hand, those who are striving and doing right and good things with their lives, he going to work hardest on them and try to destroy and interfere with their efforts. I recognized that was occurring to me. I tend to get mad at Satan when I realize that's happening because there's no way I'm going to let the enemy of righteousness do that to me. I know its not my Father in Heaven doing it to me, but the influence of evil and the intent to cause sadness in the world.

I see Satan try to use maternity care to abuse and traumatize mothers. Providers so commonly violate a mother's right to give permission to what people are doing to her body, she is manipulated, coerced, threatened and ignored when she tries to stop it. I even see inappropriate and unnecessary use of technology and intervention during birth as "trusting in the arm of flesh" instead of trusting in God's creation and the body's ability to birth a baby safely. Interfering with the process of childbirth is, how I see it, another way that Satan interferes in the happy and healthy development of families. Families are of the utmost importance to the development and well-being of children. Heavenly Father created families because he knew thats what benefits children most--no other societal organization can do what parents do. Satan would love nothing more than to see mothers so traumatized that they commit suicide, or divorce their partners or abuse their children or fail to form healthy attachment to their children. He most especially doesn't want more people born into the world so he tries to scare mothers away from having more children.

Because I believe that God and Jesus "know the end from the beginning" I know that they know what I'm experiencing and how emotionally damaging that birth was for me. They know the wrongs committed by the staff people and understand better than I do the injustice inherent in the system. I don't believe they safe us from all suffering because everyone has their free will. There will always be people who choose to wield power in an abusive and destructive way. I was a victim of that and because I experienced it I learned that traumatic birth experiences are another destructive attack on families and God's children. I probably wouldn't have believed it if it hadn't happened to me.

But now that I have experienced it and suffered it and know it, I have 1) gained that knowledge, 2) developed empathy and compassion for mothers who have experienced similar trauma, as well as anyone who has been abused, or traumatized by a life event, 3) become more sensitive as a parent because I try not to force physically or manipulate my children when teaching them because I know how awful it feels and 4) realize that I have the opportunity to do something about it (obsessively, actually, a side effect of the PTSD). When I was seeking help in dealing with my experience, I didn't find the resources I felt I needed. But then I felt led in my searching to meet the founder of Solace, and Jennica and together we created this discussion board and are developing Solace as a advocacy and support organization for birth trauma. I believe that there is good coming out of it because it is a comfort for other mothers who have experienced birth trauma. In that way, my experience has and can help others.

I have grown very much from the experience. Not only are my work skills being improved because I'm learning how to direct a non-profit, but I've learned about the process of birth. I believe that the human body was originally created to work flawlessly. Since the introduction of less than perfect circumstance with the Fall of Adam, the body doesn't work perfectly all the time, but it works most of the time. And it works best when we trust in it and let nature do what its meant to do WITHOUT the interference of others (I think of Proverbs 3:4). Sometimes HF will guide us to those who have the skills to intervene when the process derails, but the people with those skills tend to over-inflate their value and necessity. I learned that HF wants me to take responsibility for my decisions and trust Him first and then let him guide me to know when to make use of man's knowledge and expertise. Just as any tool, it can be misused.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Freedom of days

A member of the church, an MBA in accounting, started a business with some friends and it did unexpectedly well. When the business was sold, the man was able to retire. After a while of spending 8 hours a day on the gold course, he became bored with his retirement and wished that he could do something different. He went to his bishop and asked to get a list of ward members who had not been visited the month before. He dedicated his days to visiting members of his ward, often visiting families who had been visited by home teachers that month. He sought a job at BYU to teach accounting but wasn't hired because he didn't have the education required. By volunteering, instead of seeking payment, he taught at BYU. He later went on to become a mission president.

Doesn't everyone wish they could retire early and have the freedom to do whatever during the day? If you could have that situation, what would you do with your days?

My husband and I love to ask ourselves questions like this. There is so much we wish we could do in our lives and we often feel limited by financial responsibilities and of course financial resources. We're a young student family so it comes as no surprise.

If that could happen for our family, my husband would love to spend as much as time as possible with me and our children at home. He would do a great deal of woodworking with the tools he's collected in the last few years. We would go on many day trips in our area to go hiking because we get sick of being at home. We live in a beautiful area of Washington where its easy to drive for a couple of hours and then explore some amazing places. We have this dream that we could homeschool our children and the world would be our classroom.

Want to learn about castles? Off to Europe.

Learning about the forest? Go camping for two weeks in the forest.

Hike, backpack, travel, camp.

That would be our life for a few years.

Then we would probably settle on an homestead property, grow and raise our own food and medicines. My husband would go back to his woodworking and photography. I would go to school and get my PhD. My husband might try to make some money by selling his arts. I would be practice in a community or ward as a midwife and general wise woman. I might run for public office and put my education in family studies and public policy to use as a decision maker in government.

Maybe we would adopt. We would certainly contribute and volunteer for organizations that teach family values to children and young adults, that address social issues that distress families. Likely our travels would be in conjunction with humanitarian efforts like Habitat for Humanity and other international community building non-profits. We'd likely volunteer to work in the temple or perform church service wherever we live.

When our children went to college, my husband and I would serve missions for the church. We dream of being missionaries in Nauvoo, church campsites and properties, humanitarian and family history missions. We'd pretty much be excited to go anywhere and hope that we would have opportunities to put our skills, knowledge, education and passions put to work.

One thing I love about my husband is that he is happy to stay home and care for our children an equal amount while I pursue personal development and social service opportunities. Its his professional development that is keeping him from doing that now and will likely keep him from doing much of that in the future but we hope that once he is settled in his career that he will have a flexible enough schedule where that could work for us. He's pretty adamant, however, that he never wants me to run for public office because he doesn't want to deal with the public life. I don't blame him...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A hint of Mother and a New Life

Recently I blogged about praying to Heavenly Mother and how the clearest and most recent direction the LDS has received was from President Hinckley and his rationale for telling the Saints that they ought not to pray to Heavenly Mother was that there were no instances in the scriptures of Christ praying or preaching about Heavenly Mother.

I've already discussed the limitations of that rationale and today I found another bit of evidence that could refute that logic. In Carol Lynn Pearson's chapter entitled "A Motherless House" she refers to apocryphal and gnostic gospels that evidently depict Christ expounding on the existence of Mother in Heaven. Perhaps these sources also cite Christ praying to his parents?

For course, now I would like to seek after these sources and find them for myself. In the early days of my blog, I read and reflected upon the Gospel of Mary Magdalene. I've been wanting to turn to the Apocrypha with the encouragement and warning of D&C 91.

For a few years I was feeling limited in my study of the scriptures to just the scriptures. I've overcome that by recognizing that a deeper understanding of the scriptures, after a certain point, pretty much only comes from researching the topics, history and ideas found in the scriptures. There is a tremendous amount of scholarly work on the scriptures both ancient and modern. My study of the scriptures have taken on new life and abundance through branching out. I'm just getting started too as I've only recently discovered Mormon intellectualism.

Embracing My Mormon Feminist Self

The personal revelation I receive in regard to what Heavenly Father wants from me in this life is contrary to the direction given by the church when it comes to what women, and mothers are supposed to do. I have been guided, counseled and strongly encouraged by the Spirit to pursue my education in spite of being a mother, in spite of having young children. I feel that I am being prepared for some out of the home employment in the future, though I will admit that I don't know if that is the case. At this point, I am preparing for that if it does end up being a reality and I feel prompted to be as qualified and prepared as I can be because it is better to be prepared and not need the preparation than need the preparation and not be prepared. Before becoming clear on what was expected of me, I was wholly prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to fit the description of the traditional, church approved Mormon woman. I was surprised, and scared even to find out that was not expected of me.

So for me, the prescribed gender roles do not fit and its not because there is something wrong with me, or that I am being led away by some false spirit but it is because Heavenly Father does not want those prescriptions to fit for me. It appears that he wants something else. I guess it would be wise to point out that maybe the only reason why He wants this for me is because he knows my weaknesses and failings as a mother. Maybe he knows I that will not thrive if he were to expect me to give my heart, mind and soul to the minute by minute duties of motherhood. And if that is the case, maybe he is working some magic and turning my weakness into a strength and that my strength will be to be whatever he wants me to be as a qualified person in my community in whatever post I'm being led to.

I know that I'm not the only woman in the church who is being led by God to do something different than what the church leaders are preaching so heavily over the pulpits. I'm not questioning that the ideal role of women is that they should be what the leaders of the church say. Maybe that is God's will for the majority of the women of the church. But I know that its not his will for me and for other people like me. When it comes down to following the leaders of the church, or following clear directions given by God, I choose to follow God's direction, knowing that even the church leaders give room for exceptions and believe that personal revelation trumps leader's direction (even commandments for that matter: think Lehi killing Laban). It appears to me that somehow, there will be some good, though maybe not as extreme as saving a whole nation from dwindling and perishing in unbelief, but that I will do something that Heavenly Father is wanting me to accomplish by being an "non-traditional" woman in the church.

It can be difficult to feel judged and scorned by fellow members of the church as I am doing all I can to follow God's will for me. I feel that people are judging me on outward appearances without knowing my heart or direction that I have been given that is specifically tailored to me and my situation. Because I feel this frustration, confusion, uncertainty, discomfort in the church based on my own experiences, I have gained empathy for the women of the church who have faced much more opposition, judgement, harshness that I have in regards to their choices to be the non-traditional Mormon woman.

Because I feel a disconnect between God's plan for me and what the church is telling me, I know that other women are struggling and suffering under the strain of trying to negotiate that gap. I'll say its for that reason why women's role in the church are something I feel like I need to address (and it helps that Heavenly Father has confirmed this is what he wants me to be doing). Its an attempt to protect myself from hostility that may be coming in the future, to help me feel more at home and accepted in the church and to provide those same comforts and assurances to other women in the church as well. '

In the new organizations, LDS WAVE ( that I am more interested and concerned about the social justice activities. In the organization of roles for each member of the board, the social justice section has been assigned to me. Everyone here knows that is my passion and a major frustration I have with the church. We are told to be actively involved in our communities, we have a wealth of knowledge and information on addressing social issues which the Humanitarian efforts of the church do not address and then we are discouraged when we attempt to organize those efforts in our wards and Relief Societies. I have had to look outside the church to fulfill that desire and to follow that spiritual guidance and I'm hoping that through my efforts with WAVE that I will be able to combine my love and knowledge of the gospel with my desire to serve in social justice and women' issues.

I'm also very energized by the thought that we will be helping to further the aims of the church of preaching the gospel and perfecting the saints through hopefully attracting positive press and admiration for the women of the church who are following in the footsteps of Eliza R. Snow and Emmeline B. Wells and Zina Huntington Young; and showing the world and the women who are struggling in the church that Heavenly Father rejoices in women using their capabilities in broad applications that are not limited to motherhood and wifely duties.

There's a section of Proverbs that describes a woman doing just that: Proverbs 31:20-31 and many stories of women in the early days of the church in Utah did many of the same things. I don't understand why the women of today are not capable of having similar opportunities and blessings now. Reading the biographies of the Relief Society presidents was really inspiring. I am trying to emulate them and I feel that I am, with God's blessing and encouragement.

As I've gone along, I've also been amazed at how my family doesn't and hasn't suffered because of it. I know I'm trying to maintain a balancing act and I feel that with Heavenly Father's help, I've been able to do it so far (completing my master's and thesis while being a stay at home mom, being an organizer and volunteer for three time consuming non-profits, etc) and because I've been spiritually supported through all what I've experienced so far, I've gained confidence that my family and I will continue to have the help that we need to accomplish the goals of a healthy Mormon family.