August Young Women Lesson: How can I prepare now to become a righteous wife and mother?

Traducción española/Click for Spanish Translation

This is a very tricky lesson to teach! Be sure to be mindful of those who do not fit the cookie-cutter mould in your branch, ward and/or stake so that the lesson does not border on the offensive or appear to be making judgement of others’ lives, circumstances and choices (to so do this would only undermine the concept of marriage, making the lesson an anti-marriage lesson).

 

To start, I went and reviewed both the lesson for Young Women (YW) and Young Men (YM)girls leadIt was surprising to me how vastly different the lesson materials were. The YW lessons were in a passive voice, and even included a subsection titled, “Share Experiences,” which heavily contrasts the YM’s “Let the Young Men Lead.” Now, I think sharing experiences is a good thing, but I also think that having the Young Women lead the lesson is also important. When I was a Young Woman, my Mia Maid (MM) teacher always had the MM President begin the meeting. She had the MM President assign someone to conduct, lead, and then turn the time over to her, as the teacher. Her example in this is still one of the most important in my life, because it taught me that I was allowed to be a leader (to peers, at home, etc.). I recommend you do the same in your classes so the YW gain confidence in how to manage people (a very important skill to learn in managing a family, roommates, etc!)

 

Teacher Preparation:

By this age, (at least for any of the youth classes I have taught in the church) the students already “know” the rote answers they are “supposed to know.” I am a huge fan of digging deeper after they give me the rote answer, by asking them if they agree or disagree with the rote answer that they have been taught and have them supplement their thoughts by asking them “why do you think this is the answer?” and “why might this not be the right answer”. I suggest doing this with the Young Women in your class, thereby encouraging them to think about the answer they are giving. Then ask them if they agree or disagree, and challenge them to develop a testimony of the answer they are giving.

Read More

Relief Society Lesson 15: The Sacred Callings of Fathers and Mothers

Capítulo 15: Los llamamientos sagrados de los padres y las madres, Traducción española/Click for Spanish Translation

Lesson 15 ETB.Exponent.

This is a LONG lesson (lds.org text is here). I do not think you will be able to cover all of the material in the lesson, or in this lesson plan. But because teaching typical/gendered model-based lessons is difficult, I tried to be inclusive of all women, including childless women, those who are in a mixed faith marriage or those who are single parents. So- let’s get into it:

Introduce the term, “Family.” I have written about the term previously here, and highlight this quote as a way to model inclusiveness:

 

Family is a rubbery term at best; even within the church, the black-and-white-paper-cutout-men-standing-holding-hands-together_9777700definition of family comes in varied terms of a mortal family, an eternal family, a heavenly family, a ward family (wherein the bishop is the father of a ward) and for those in University wards, you may get “assigned” membership in FHE family groups. Even at work or in sports, a branch or a team can be described as a family unit. In consideration of this, you can see why I prefer the mathematical definition of the term “family”: a group of curves whose equations differ from a given equation in the values assigned to constraints in each curve. In applying this concept to the more common definition of family, I am comfortable in defining family like this: A group of individuals who share values assigned to and within the constraints of a common group.

 

 

Print out some of these quotes as relate to the women in your class. ( I have added descriptors in italics at the front of each quote, you are not obligated to read or include these) . Have members of the class each read one. I would not encourage discussion at this stage (timing!), but rather, invite the women to adapt the idea of mothers and fathers to be inclusive of all church members in all walks of life:

 

(widows or divorcees) A woman in the role of single parent, whether widowed or divorced, has a very special calling, and she will be held accountable before the Lord for what she does with her stewardship. Although her spouse is absent, she stands nonetheless commissioned by the Lord to perform the charge he issued to all parents: “And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” She may feel at times that she carries a disproportionate share of that responsibility, yet she has the Lord’s assurance that he will prepare a way for her to accomplish her task.  –  Maren Eccles Hardy, This You Can Count On, Ensign, September 1990.

 

 

(Mixed Faith Marriages): The fact is, many of us will never see our spouses join the Church. But we must continue to follow what we know to be true. We will not be held accountable for their salvation, but we will be held accountable for our own actions—how brightly we let our own light shine. Understanding this truth has relieved us of a great burden; in a very real way it has set us free to find contentment, joy, and growth in our part-member marriages. – Kristin Sandoval and Susan Heumphreus, When Your Spouse Isn’t a Member, Ensign, March 1990.

Read More

Money and Power Within the Walls of the Church

Very early in the Book of Mormon, the Great and Abominable Church is church-budgeting-money-pastor-malphurs-group-300x300described in 1 Nephi 13; it is described in many ways, but specific to fiscal wealth as a church that positions money, the power of money and those beholden to financial overlords as “captive.” Though temporal self-reliance and independence is an important concept in Mormon culture and doctrine, I can’t help but wonder why this is so grossly different to the way the church structures its finances for women. The historiography of the church suggests that the church does not see fit to have women handle money on an institutional level, yet it encourages a degree of egalitarianism between husbands and wives when creating a family budget. For example, the principal lds.org website includes a section on temporal self-reliance and well as information on provident living and discussion resources on how to create a household budget. To the credit of the church, much of the budget and household financial materials provided at the lds.org website relay a sense that home finances are a joint decision made by “couples” (this is an example of language used to address a ‘couple’ as primary financial decision makers). However, probably as a means of not contradicting the gender-based roles consistent with church dogma, there is still the derogatory placement of men only as primary “breadwinners,” and women as “bread-spenders” (I found this church video particularly shocking). These labels are not only offensive, they are not necessarily reflective of all Mormon households.

 

Any sense of egalitarian budgeting, however, is institutionally abandoned as soon as this same couple enters the doors of a church building. If the church teaches that men and women (i.e. husbands and wives) are equals in maintaining a household budget, it stands to reason that the Relief Society President and Bishop should be equally responsible for the financing and operations of a ward, and that the Relief Society as a whole should have access and responsibility of at least 50% of the available finances of the church. Yet it is within the walls of the church building that financial disparity is reinforced with men making all of the financial decisions in regard to the ward, creating financial captives of the women who choose to serve callings that need financing in order to be effective, such as those who would organize Primary Activity Days and Girls Camp. J. Reuben Clark seems to be the most-quoted leader on the administrative structure of the church in seeking to provide for the temporal needs of church members, where the finances of the ward are dictated by the bishop:

 

“The office of bishop is in administering all temporal things … having a knowledge of them by the Spirit of truth.” In his calling he is to be endowed with the spirit of discernment to detect those “professing and yet … not of God;” he is to search “after the poor to administer to their wants by humbling the rich and the proud.” (one resource is here)

 

With a bishop in charge of the finances associated with a ward, his perspective of finances are influenced by his experience as a Mormon male, and likely as the primary income provider for his family.

Read More

“Home Church”

I’ve lived rurally before. And I will probably live rurally again. But right now, this rural is different. The last ward I attended, it took an hour and 45 minutes to get to the building. But we still went for a time, as I wrote about in the May visiting teaching post here. Now we are a good two hour drive from the nearest fellow church members’ house, where there is no building, no relief society president, no primary.

 

I have not yet met the fellow members of the branch we are in; the District President (the presiding church officer over the 5 branches in this regional area) is the acting branch president for us because the branch is so small.  I wondered if the powers that be might assign my husband to be branch president, and me as relief society president. I had heard about this practice from fellow church members who had for a time lived in regional areas without chapels, church members or even missionaries. This branch assignment was gratefully not the case for us; I say gratefully, because if we were assigned these positions, we would likely spend a significant amount of time in the car attending regional leadership meetings, and possibly be assigned to “visit” (i.e. “reactivate”) less active (if they are still around) church members who have not been in communication with the church in years or even decades.

 

About once a month or more, we attend a branch that is about a 3 hour drive away. We chose to latch onto this branch mostly because they instantly welcomed us, and asked us to participate. Even though we do not attend activities, we are still alerted to them. In the end, and for the most part, we do “home church.” Or at least that is what we call it.

Read More

Visiting Teaching June 2015: Divine Attributes of Jesus Christ: Virtue

As soon as I saw the word “virtue”—I rolled my eyes. Thankfully, this isn’t about the idea of virtue as a sexual commodity. It is about the virtuous aspects and acts of Christ as a servant, healer and friend to us all. So whilst I normally like the General Authority quotes included, I did not find them as inspirational in this month’s message. But I did find inspiration in the From The Scriptures section which was fully focused on Christ and a woman with faith:

 

From the Scriptures

Today, virtuous women, full of faith, reach out to the Savior. In Luke 8 thetouchwe read of a woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years that could not be healed. She sought healing when she “came behind [Christ], and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood [stopped]. … And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” This virtuous faithful woman fell down before Him, declaring “unto him before all the people” that “she had touched him” and “was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole”

 

Through His virtue, Christ can heal, enable, strengthen, comfort, and cheer when we choose with courage and faith to reach out to Him.

 

 

Now, to be honest, in the past, when I have read this, a part of me felt like the woman somewhat robbed Christ of virtue—she touched His robe without permission (Luke 8:44).  But I thought about this some more—Christ did not become less because He shared His virtue—nor was He accusing her because she had touched Him. In thinking of this, and in consideration of Christ’s infinite love, I think He turned to share her joy in the miracle; not because He ever intended to accuse her. He turned to share in her joy of being healed- and don’t we all feel that way when we help someone feel well, whether it be trough prayer, a listening ear or chicken soup?

Read More