On Being Happy: Reflections On The 40th Anniversary Exponent II Issue

A few months ago when the young, male missionaries were over for dinner, we discussed the upcoming general conference. The boys had just attended a mission conference where the mission president asked them who their favourite general authority was. The boys reflected that each missionary there had a favourite speaker, and they laughed and felt closer to each other when they learned that others shared the same favourite. At this dinner, we all agreed that each general conference speaker was worthy, and would bring spiritual insights to the table. But we also agreed that there were one or more “favourites” who we were looking forward to learning from.

Every issue of the Exponent magazine is like this for me. I look forward to each worthy contribution of art, word, poem and song, and feel uplifted as so many of the contributions stay with me, bringing me peace, making me feel un-alone, and loved. Often the contributors who are previously unknown to me bring me the biggest enlightenment and delights, and I feel like I am making new friends of them as I read their words. But then there are my favourites. A handful of women whose words I save, I save them to read when the children and husband are away, for a time when I can invite them, and they spirit they bring to me. They know me, even if I have never met them. They teach me things that I often didn’t know I needed to learn. They heal me with prophetic wisdom that can only be administered by the spirit. They are my sisters, and I love them.

Lavina Fielding Anderson is one of these women. And this essay is one of those essays.

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April 2015 Visiting Teaching Message: The Attributes of Jesus Christ: Without Guile or Hypocrisy

Easter-Candy-CollageI am a diabetic. I have been a diabetic since I was just under 2 years old. And that is okay. No, I don’t love it. But I am okay with it…..kind of. Mostly. Well, for now.

 

As a child with diabetes, life was hard. I remember running away from my mother as she neared me with a loaded syringe. I remember being angry that I had to have shots/needles/injections, whereas my siblings didn’t. I remember coming out of a darkness, but feeling confused and nauseous as spoonfuls of honey were ladled into my mouth, saving me from dangerously low blood-sugars. I remembered my siblings being jealous and angry at the undivided attention I was given when I had blood-sugar problems—and how I longed, desperately to be ignored when I had those problems. It wasn’t fun. And it made me cry long, hard and often for a child so small. I really have very few happy childhood memories, and I think diabetes is the reason behind this.

 

However, my dad—he was great. He helped to make diabetic things into games.

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March 2015 General Women’s Session: Cheryl A. Esplin

The theme of this session is “The Family.”

 

Linda Burton, the General Relief Society President is conducting the session. The first speech was by Cheryl A. Esplin, 2nd counsellor in the General Primary cheryl-a-esplin-largePresidency. President Burton began the session by introducing members of the First Presidency and other (male) Priesthood leaders by name, then included an en masse introduction of all female General auxiliaries and the Relief Society General Board. She noted that this is the 100th anniversary of Family Home Evening, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Family Proclamation.

 

One of my very favourite hymns, How Firm a Foundation, set the tone for the session.   But for me, the beauty of the words of How Firm a Foundation was undermined by the video presentation of the Childrens’ Hymn: The Family is of God. It was delightful to see real families singing the song, many appeared to be of mixed nationality and varied ethnicity. But problematic for me was the absence of families without children at home, the homes of single people, and childless couples. I understand that the song is child-centred, but I noticed that the overwhelming visual definition of a family was limited very much to traditional families with many children.

 

I delighted in Counselor Esplin’s introduction where she used a parable of two soft drink cans.

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#VisibleWomen Series: Please Add a Women’s Regional Calling to Missions

This is my letter to the Relief Society General Office in regard to the creation of a regional or Mission-based Relief Society Presidency or similar.

President Linda K. Burton
Relief Society General Office
76 North Main
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

 CC: Mission President

 

Dear President Burton,

 

I live in Regional Australia. My family’s records are associated with a Branch that is about a 3 hour drive (each way) from where we live. Because of the tyranny of distance, we received permission from the Regional President for my husband to bless the sacrament at home with our children on Sundays. In these special meetings, we share a unique spirit while we teach lessons to our children directly from the Friend and other church materials. It has been a beautiful experience for us as a family, but we also love attending branch (and regional) activities and meetings as often as we can.

 

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled when the Branch Relief Society announced that they had changed the date of the Relief Society anniversary celebration. The date was changed from a weekday to a Friday—the start of a weekend-  specifically so I would be able to attend. I felt love and connection with the women of this branch in a way that is only shared by women in the church, and their desire to include me brought tears of gratitude and belonging. My husband and I quickly budgeted to ensure I could attend this, with family in tow!

 

You can imagine my disappointment when I had a message shortly thereafter stating that the celebration had been cancelled by the Branch President. He said that the women did not “ask permission” to have the celebration, or to move it. As there was a “District Family Discovery Day” scheduled on the regional calendar for the Saturday, he enlisted the Relief Society to manage that entire activity for the branch. “The Priesthood” would supply “supplementary food”– i.e. it was a potluck, so I was still assigned to bring a dish, but the men would bring soft-drinks. It was evident to me that he had forgotten about the Relief Society celebration (it happens annually, for Heaven’s sake!) and was content to have everyone else forget it as well. The funny thing is that the branch activity closely mirrored the Relief Society activity, but rather than focusing on the women of the church, the focus was to be on the church in general. The branch relief society president, a quiet and patient woman simply accepted the pronouncements. She said that her only choice was  “be angry ….or be supportive of the church.” In this, she advised me that she was choosing to follow the Branch President. 

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Sacred Music: The Spirit of God (#2)

I’ve taken somewhat more of a traditional approach to sharing hymns that mean something to me. This suits my mind and the place where I am, and allows me to indulge in seeking for information about the Hymns that have inspired me.

 

veil

The Spirit of God, in particular has an odd, personal history within me.  Like most hymns, I recall singing it as slowly as a dead-man’s march as a youth, but I still liked it. I recall being taught that it was sung at the dedication of the temple in Kirtland. I recall visiting a ward in Provo when I was about 19 and finding the congregation belted the song in a passionate fashion that was foreign to my familiarity. This congregation especially enunciated the lyric, “SHOUT!”… and it felt good -and right– to hear such fervour at church.   And I remember listening to the hymn as I made the 10 hour drive to the Brisbane temple a few years ago. I had been contemplating my anticipated temple visit, and this hymn — the imagery of the bursting veil—made the temple suddenly seem colourful, and bright and happy….. rather than white, blank and bland. It made me think of the temple as being a place that held a veil that was “beginning to burst” and that bright colours, as well as loud and joyous voices would one day sing and shout praises to God—

 

God. This is one of the hymns that uses the term, God. And so, I wonder now, if that itself was inspired to be reflective of the plural term, Elohim. Heavenly Parents—united as one God. The Spirit of God the Mother as well as God the Father, bringing peace to my heart. So, with joy, jubilation and peace– this song worked its way into becoming one of my favourites. 

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