Friday, September 26, 2008

General Relief Society Meeting

Once a year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints holds a meeting specifically for women. This General Relief Society Meeting will be held this Saturday, September 26th at 6:00 p.m. MDT. We invite all women to participate and hear the uplifting messages of our church-wide leaders by either attending the meeting which is broadcast to all Stake Centers of our church, or watching the broadcast via Internet at We know that any who do take the time to listen to this broadcast will be inspired to do their best and to reach out in love to those around them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Child's Faith

I have always tried hard not to burden the Lord with trivial problems. Sometimes, things just aren't important enough to pray about, I have often thought. How wrong I was! Yesterday, I learned a great lesson about the character of a loving Father in Heaven from my little boy, Sam.

Sam is almost 3 years old and is speeched delayed. About 80% of the time I have no idea what he wants. But one thing I do know, is that Sammy loves Thomas the Train. He loves everything about them! His favorite Thomas toys are the little take-along trains. They are just the right size to fit in his little hands. Yesterday, I let Sammy choose two of his trains to take with us to visit a few of our neighbors. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for Sammy to lose his trains on the playground. I was a little upset, because those toys aren't cheap, and after about an hour of combing the playground we only found one train.

It was getting dark and I had given up. I put the boys (I have a 16 mo. old too) in the wagon to walk home, and Sammy started to whimper a little for his lost train. I was halfway to our apartment when I stopped and thought, "It won't hurt to take one last look." Before I turned around, I paused and thought, "I guess a little prayer won't hurt either." So I went and stood by Sam and bowed my head (only after checking around to make sure no one was watching) and I said a quick prayer in behalf of my little son who has no voice for himself. It went something like this: "Father in Heaven, I know that this may seem very petty and trivial, but Sammy lost his little train. I know it isn't a big deal to us, but it means a lot to him. Please, Father, help us find his little train, and bless Sammy for his perfect faith. Amen."

We started back to the playground. Then to my utter amazement, when we got to the gate, there was his little train, sitting there as if waiting just for us! Tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes as I realized that finding Sammy's train wasn't a trivial thing to pray for after all. Why? Because it mattered to Sam, and if it matters to him, then it mattered to the Lord.

What a loving Father in Heaven! How blessed that we are to know that no matter what, he will be there for us, to help us, comfort us, and heal us, when we need him. Thanks to my little son, with his perfect faith, I know my Father in Heaven a little bit more. If it matter's to us, it matters to Him.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I love and value being a mother, but sometimes I need to be reminded of the importance of my work when all I notice around me are the spaghettio streaks on the wall or the yogurt-encrusted hair of my rambunctious kids. This week, that reminder of the beauty and sacredness of being a parent came from one of my new neighbors. A sweet woman that I had only briefly met before came up to me at our neighborhood playground with a beautiful baby boy in her arms. With pure joy written on her features, she explained to me that this was her new baby! She and her husband had just been able to adopt him after months of waiting and he had finally arrived. Throughout the day I witnessed both parents playing with him in the beautiful weather along with grandparents that had travelled from a foreign country to be with their new grandson. Later that day, I saw this new mother quietly rocked her son to sleep for the first time under the shade of a tree. I know that she will soon have her days of messes on the kitchen wall, but I'm also certain that she will find much joy along the way.

President Hinckley wrote that we should, "celebrate and treat children as our most priceless treasures ... If our children are really our greatest treasures, it stands to reason that they deserve our greatest attention (Standing for Something, 152)." I know that I often fall short of this ideal, but I truly hope that at the end of my lifetime I will be able to look back and see that I dedicated myself as much as I could to what matters the most.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Answers to Prayers

In my spiritually immature mind I sometimes try to figure out why God answers some prayers immediately and others seem to go unanswered. A few months ago, at my husband's graduation, the camera slipped out of my hands minutes before he walked across the stage to receive his MBA diploma. And of course it broke. I was devastated and immediately prayed "Heavenly Father, I know you can fix this camera and I am begging you to please fix it so I can take pictures of this." I honestly believed that after my pleading I was going to take a picture and I would see something other than squiggly lines indicating it was broken. But I didn't. It was heartbreaking to me. I followed up my prayer thinking "OK, that's OK, I know you have answered other prayers and I know at least that you heard me." I do wish it had been fixed though. It was such a big moment for my husband and our family, a culmination of 3 years of hard work and diligence and I hardly have it documented.

Fast forward a few weeks after that. We were driving through Georgia on our move to Florida and it began to rain. We were on the freeway going 75mph and although the rain didn't seem like much I felt like it was starting to puddle a little on the road and I had the thought to slow down which I shared with my husband. As I began to slow down a car passed us on our left. Within seconds this car hydroplaned, began spinning circles in the middle of the highway, and hit the left side rail. The trunk flew open and the car jumped several feet into the air landing down hard on the road. Had I not slowed, this car would have spun right into our car. My husband called 911. I was in shock. It was the worst accident I have ever seen and we were seconds from being involved and seriously hurt. The thought of my two children in the back seat getting hurt brought me to tears and we had to take the next exit so that my husband could drive and I could stop shaking and crying. I then remembered the prayer we had so simply given hours earlier "Heavenly Father, we are thankful for all we have and for the safety we have had so far on our trip. Please bless us with safety again as we drive today." It went something like that at least. I KNEW without a doubt that God had answered our prayers.

If I had to pick, I would much rather have the prayer of safety answered than my silly broken camera. No matter what the outcome, I believe that we must show our faith by praying to God continually. I believe there is reason behind how our Heavenly Father answers our prayers. Whether or not we "see" an answer to our prayers, I know he hears us when we pray to Him because we are his children and he loves us. I hope to have the same magnitude of faith someday as the prophet Nephi did when he said--

"Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen."
--2 Nephi 4:35--

Monday, September 15, 2008

Where is my voice?

Because of a few poignant experiences that my family has been through in the last year, my mind has been repeatedly drawn to, for lack of a better description, my priorities. Each time I have thought of where they should be, I seem to be far off the mark -- and excuses pile up. I have so much homework, and housework, and mom/wife-work, etc., etc. But then something unexpected happens, and I am jolted back to that same place again -- priorities. I am reminded of how blessed I am to be able to go to school, to have a home to live in, to be able to be a mom and a wife, and to be able to do all these things with the encompassing knowledge that there is a purpose behind it all -- a driving force that brings even greater happiness to these already joyful descriptions of my life.

If I follow the plan of happiness, I will have the opportunity to be with my husband and children for eternity. I have the opportunity to learn all the beautiful things this world has to offer, and then take them with me to the eternities. And the most incredible part of all of this? The plan itself is joyful. Not just the end result -- living it brings peace in a contentious world, serenity in a rapidly declining society, health an a tumultuous environment, and joy to all those who hear and embrace it. So therein lies my priorities -- or lack thereof. I have been blessed to know the way to find happiness, and I feel a responsibility to share that knowledge. When my little brother was preparing for his mission recently, he and I found an old CD I had from an Especially For Youth outing I went on when I was younger.

"I've never been the kind to testify
I don't have the words his truth deserves
But it's a simple thing he asks
A worthy heart and willing hands
He says if I'll make the choice
He'll help me find my voice" (Kenneth Cope)

How often has a variation of this verse been in my mind? I never have been the kind to testify -- because I don't have the words (or the courage) His truth deserves. But the rest of the verse is where I hope to focus -- it's a simple thing He asks ...

My priorities are constantly being realigned to keep myself on the track I want to be on -- but I have been blessed to know the simple truths in this world -- who I am, where I came from, and how to get to where I want to be -- and so many others don't have this same knowledge. So I hope to, once again, refocus my priorities and work on finding my voice, so that I can show my gratitude to my Father, and share His message. We may not all be called to the field, but we are all called to the work, and although I am nervous about the prospect, I genuinely look forward to heeding that call.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Women and the Church

A while ago we received a comment from a concerned reader that believed that the church "degraded" women. This is unfortunately a misconception that many outside the church seem to have because women do not hold the priesthood and therefore must be being demeaned by the organization. I obviously cannot speak for all women in the church, but I just wanted to write a little bit about how I actually feel that the church provides quite the opposite for women - true fulfilment and opportunities for self-improvement.

Our church leaders continually teach about the importance and divinity of womanhood. In our last General Conference, many references were made of the irreplaceable role of women, including an entire talk entitled "Daughters of God" (given by M. Russell Ballard), which encouraged women to reach towards their full potentials. Leaders have also given a great deal of counsel to women to obtain as much education as they can, which will in turn strengthen them and their family members. In our church, women have many possibilities to teach, lead, and serve. The women's organization of the church (the Relief Society) is the largest women's organization in the world and has almost limitless opportunities to teach and serve many around the globe. In addition to the countless ways women forward the work of the church, men are taught to revere and honor the women in their lives.

Through church leadership and local support, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints truly can strengthen women and help them achieve their best. Despite these teachings do women sometimes feel overwhelmed or inadequate to the tasks placed upon them? Definitely. With many societal pressures on how to be the "perfect" women, this is often the unfortunate case inside and outside of the church. Being a modern woman is especially difficult in a world that devalues the natural roles of mother and nurturer. However, if gospel principles are followed and women accept the best that they can do and not the best their neighbor can do, true happiness can be found in the honorable and unique role of womanhood.

In closing, there are many things that I do find degrading: pornography, society's crumbling view of the importance and sanctity of marriage, how women are often portrayed in the media, the idea that being "just a mom" is not enough, and the perception that if a women is a full-time caregiver she must have no other options available to her. On the other hand, something that I find genuinely ennobling: the church and how it helps me focus my life on the things that truly matter most - specifically, the Lord, my family, and personal growth.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Summer Lambs

I feel bad that I haven't posted on this blog since I joined it. But my cousin read this story to us over the weekend and I remembered hearing it before and so I found it on the church website. I guess it was in the Friend and the Ensign several years ago. So you may have heard it but I thought it was a neat way to illustrate missionary work! :)

One summer my father said that he had a big job for me and my brother, Clay, to do. Pointing to a nearby field with a bunch of lambs in it, Dad said that he’d share any money that we made from raising and selling them.
We were excited. There were about 350 lambs, and all we had to do was feed them. However, none of the lambs had mothers. To feed one or two baby lambs is easy, but to feed 350 of them was a real job. We made some long, V-shaped troughs out of boards, then got a tin washtub, ground up some grain, put it into the tub, and added milk to make a thin mash.
When we herded the lambs to the troughs, they just stood there looking at us. We tried pushing their noses down into the milky mash, and we tried wriggling our fingers in the mixture to get them to suck our fingers. Some of them would drink, but most of them ran away.
Many of the lambs were starving to death. The only way that we could be sure they were eating was to pick them up and feed them.
At night the coyotes would sit up on the hill and howl. The next morning we’d see the results of their night’s work, and we’d bury two or three more lambs.
Clay and I soon forgot about becoming rich. All we wanted to do was save our lambs. It really wasn’t too bad until I made a pet of one of the lambs and gave it a name. It was always under my feet, and it knew my voice. I loved that lamb. One morning it didn’t come when I called it. Later that day I found it under the willows by the creek. It was dead. With tears streaming down my face, I picked up my lamb and went to find my father. Looking up at Dad, I said, “Isn’t there someone who can help us feed our lambs?”
After a long moment he said, “Jayne, a long, time ago, Someone Else said almost those same words: ‘Feed my lambs. … Feed my sheep.’ ” (John 21:15–16.)
Many years later, while pondering Moses 1:39—“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of [all mankind]”—I remembered the summer of the lambs, and I sensed how the Savior must feel with so many lambs to feed, so many souls to save. And I knew in my heart that He needed my help.

By Jayne B. Malan First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency