Dear Sister Sassy: Raising a Stripling Warrior


Sister Sassy is the Exponent’s resident Agony Aunt, answering all your pressing questions and dispensing wisdom from her pedestal.  To see other sterling examples of her guidance, see past posts here and here.

Dear Sister Sassy,

I’m expecting a boy, my first, in a few months. What advice do you have for raising a future priesthood holder?

                                                                         Mummy in Muncie

Dear Mummy,

May I be the first to congratulate you on fulfilling the measure of your creation? Finally you’re compensating for all your earthly failures. There are several important steps you can take right from the beginning to prepare your son to preside righteously.

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October Young Women Lesson: How can I be more Christlike in my service to others?

chilean-relief-efforts-lds-703116-galleryI think we often use “Christlike” as a sort of synonym for “nice and Gospely.” When we are told to be more Christlike, often it is in a context that means “stop gossiping and start being kind.” I don’t disagree with that interpretation, but I thought a fruitful approach to this lesson would be to really pull apart the characteristics that defined Christ’s service to others, and then consider how to emulate those elements.


Christ was powerful in his service

Christ performed many miracles we cannot hope to replicate. Class members could read or tell a few stories in this category, such as raising Lazarus from the dead, performing the Atonement or many examples of healing.

Though we cannot raise the dead, we have the potential to be very powerful in our service. Like many people I have been horrified and deeply upset by the stories of refugees trying to find asylum and a better life in Europe, only to meet with death or misery. There are also many terrible experiences of migrants seeking to enter the United States and having their families torn apart. If your girls are blithely unaware of these situations, perhaps some discussion of a world event that touches you could bring a modern example that shows suffering was not only a reality of the Savior’s life.

How can Young Women be powerful in their service?

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Dear Sister Sassy: Visiting Teaching Dilemma

adbf0f6196d792210049c0cd48fc3f0eSister Sassy is The Exponent’s resident Agony Aunt. Her previous excellent advice can be found here.

Dear Sister Sassy,
My ward just rearranged the Visiting Teaching Assignments, and my list now includes a woman with whom I am not acquainted. I’ve heard she is hostile to us, but the president has made it clear that everyone should receive at least one visit. What do I do?!
Beleaguered in Biloxi

Dear Beleaguered,
There is actually a very simple solution to this problem. Set up a time to go with your companion, and make sure that you travel in the same vehicle. If you live where people drive on the right, try to be the passenger – you’ll want to be as close to the curb as possible. When you arrive at the home, suggest a prayer in the car. This serves two purposes: First, it invites the Spirit and is a good idea. More importantly, from a cowardly point of view, it ensures that you have a reasonably equal starting pistol. As soon as you say “Amen,” spring from the car and march with great speed to the door. I know, you’re thinking this is crazy talk just because I radiate self-confidence and quiet dignity. Hear me out!

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Relief Society Lesson 14: Marriage and Family — Ordained of God

Traducción española/Click for Spanish Translation
portrait-mother-children-argentina-1080296-galleryWhen I realized that I was in charge of the write-up for this lesson, given current events in the United States, I admit that I cringed. I was really happily surprised to read the content, which is full of helpful suggestions on how to strengthen your relationships with those you love. I’ve gotten so used to the phrase “Ordained of God” being a prelude to a discussion of same-sex marriage that I was surprised to see a lesson on the family that wasn’t a political stance.

Consider setting conversational parameters from the outset, particularly if you live in the United States or have many Americans in your class. Specifically asking people to refrain from expressing political opinions or referring to the Supreme Court decision could deter unnecessary side tracking. Alternatively, this lesson could be a good jumping off point to address ways to be more Christlike in our interactions with others, including responses to gay friends and family members. Set the tone for the discussion by acknowledging that, at least in the United States right now, this topic can easily drift off course and you’d like to set off in a specific direction.

Empty Chairs

From the beginning of their marriage, Ezra and Flora Benson made their home and family their top priority. When their children were young, they began emphasizing that they wanted their family to have no “empty chairs” in the eternities . . . May He bless us to strengthen our homes and the lives of each family member so that in due time we can report to our Heavenly Father in His celestial home that we are all there—father, mother, sister, brother, all who hold each other dear. Each chair is filled. We are all back home.

We cannot control what happens to other people in the eternities, but we have often been taught that our homes can be a little piece of heaven on earth. Think about who would sit around your table at a big holiday, if everyone could come.

Why might a family member not feel welcome or comfortable in your home/your company?

How can we make sure that all family members feel fully loved and accepted? How can you show love and acceptance of a person when their choices deeply concern you?

If you have ever felt rejected, were you able to make peace within yourself or with the other person? How?

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#VisibleWomen: Women in Church Art

relief-society-general-presidency-2012-busath-1031310-gallery-noticeThis week I decided to do an informal survey of the representation of women in my ward building.  I had the general impression that there were few women, but I decided to actually go through and count.  The numbers are a little imperfect, for several reasons.  First, I did not have access to any of the male-only rooms which were locked, including two Bishop’s offices, the Stake offices, the High Council Room and the Clerk’s office.  Second, many paintings and posters feature images that include very small or indistinct figures that can’t really be counted one way or the other.  A few paintings include androgynous angelic figures that I decided not to count either way.  As part of my survey I included both framed paintings and images on bulletin boards, but excluded any snapshots or local images.

In my ward the various auxiliaries are assigned bulletin boards to decorate as they choose, but most feature pictures taken  from church magazines, lesson manuals or the Gospel art kit.  A few have posters produced by the church or affiliated organizations promoting conferences and programs. I figured since I was doing the survey I might as well keep track of ethnic representation as well, since most church art tends to depict the people of the Americas or the Fertile Crescent as looking like they are from northern Europe.  Accordingly, my stat numbers of non-white people reflect only individuals who are clearly represented as not having pale skin or light hair, rather than people who are supposedly of a non-white ethnicity (the Nephites) but actually look like Vikings. Here are my findings.

Representation of people with special needs or disabilities: 1 boy with Down syndrome on a pass-along card tacked to a board.

Number of non-white women depicted: 2

Number of non-white men depicted: 11

Total number of women depicted: 48

Total number of men: 245

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