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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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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Valentine’s Day: Women of the Bible Edition

It is that time of year again…that last minute scramble to find the ideal way to tell someone you love how much they mean to you.  You want that perfect card: something visually beautiful that can be displayed with pride on a desk or at home but also with the message that perfectly captures the feelings of your heart.  Last year The Exponent Blog proudly (reluctantly? unwittingly until it was too late?) introduced a line of tasteful and timeless Church history Valentines, featuring your favorite friends from Nauvoo.  If that theme better fits your Valentine’s style, check them out here!

This year we’re thrilled to offer a new collection of Valentines featuring the ladies of the Bible.  Print them off on cheap copier paper, scrawl your name, and show someone how much you care!  Bonus points if you tape candy on — everyone knows the best Valentines have sweets.  Candy not included.

Full disclosure:  Every Monday night I check my feminism at the family room door and watch The Bachelor for two beautiful, glorious hours.  What can I say, I love the journey of true love.  I drew these while watching and ran out of time to finish.  Needless to say, I accept no criticism of the quality of the art…because there is nothing here you could possibly criticize.

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Feminist Church, in Haiku Form

Wearing pants to church.
Getting shifty eyes from the
RS President.

Girls, we need to talk.
Modesty is not only
About your shoulders.

Watching Conference.
Whenever they say “virtue,”
I eat M&Ms.

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Tattoos and Ghost Stories


A few months ago a dear friend asked me if I had anything I’d want to contribute for a collection of essays on Primary that would be both real and uplifting. I recalled a funny and sweet memory of one daughter as a Sunbeam and submitted it. Another friend of ours, Bret Wunderli, also submitted a piece. Both were gladly accepted by the compiler. However, the publisher, whose distributor is Desert Book, found our submission troubling and chose to omit them stating: “With Deseret Book distributing this book, we can’t include anything that hints at questioning Church doctrines. Even if it’s subtle.” This disturbed me. Not because my story wouldn’t be included, but because of the climate of fear that is trickling down from above. There is just so much fear. And it is escalating.  Nobody’s mad about the editorial decision, just really sad when something you intended to be bright and insightful is seen as insidious. So brace yourselves for our expurgated stories:


My husband’s family is very loving, very supportive, and very colorful. Literally. Seven of the ten kids have at least one tattoo.  And not just initials, or some Chinese symbol that is supposed to say “serenity” but actually says “brussels sprout.” They wear tattoos of bulldogs and Spanish skylines, Maori symbolism, and even the Little Mermaid. My kids adore these aunts and uncles and get fairly defensive when Primary lessons lump body art into the list of “no no’s” or signs of apostasy.

When Georgia was a Sunbeam, her sweet teacher taught a lesson on bodies being temples. When she got to the part about tattoos being Bad, Georgia jumped up from her chair and let loose that her family had lots of tattoos and they were good and pretty and in fact God LOVED tattoos and temples had art so why not bodies—so there! Her kind teacher quietly directed these 3 and 4 year olds to draw pictures for the rest of the lesson.

After church, this teacher found my husband and me and told us the story. She handed me the picture Georgia had drawn. It was a very simple sketch of a man in robes, beard, long hair. Clearly it was Jesus…with a large red tattoo on his forehead of a heart. I looked up to see how this teacher was responding. She had a huge smile on her face and told me she loved Georgia because she was so passionate and truly understood that the Lord loves us all.  I hugged her and was so thankful for a teacher who can teach the party line but did not need to shut down the opposition. 

“Why aren’t there any women in the Godhead?”

By Bret Wunderli

Several years ago, my wife and I taught the oldest teenagers in Sunday School. We had prepared a lesson on something else, but when it became clear that the students were unclear about the Godhead, we scrapped our lesson and taught them about the Godhead. (It should be noted that these young men and women were smart; the fault, we’ve always assumed, was in the teaching they’d received. That is, their teachers had always assumed that they understood the Church’s teachings regarding the Godhead. That was our hypothesis, anyway.)

Some years later, I found myself teaching the oldest Primary children. To say these boys and girls were bright doesn’t do them justice. Remembering our experience in Sunday School, I decided to teach them the clearest, best lesson about the Godhead that I could manage when the topic came up in the manual.

At some point in the lesson, Victoria raised her hand. Her question was priceless. She said, “Why aren’t there any women in the Godhead?” Slight pause. Then, with a puzzled face and a tilted head, she added, “I mean, there’s a ghost in there after all.” That class was not only full of smart kids; they were also kind. They respected each other. So when I tell you that everyone (including the teacher) laughed, it’s important to understand that we were laughing at Victoria’s wit and not at her. Victoria was glowing.

Here’s my answer to her that day: “Victoria, there are many people in the Church who will give you many different answers to that question. Here’s the real deal. We just don’t know why there aren’t any women in the Godhead.”

And there you have it.


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Dear Sister Sassy: Our Resident Agony Aunt

adbf0f6196d792210049c0cd48fc3f0eHere at the Exponent we’re proud to introduce a column by our resident Agony Aunt, Sister Sassy.  An expert in homemaking, spirituality, doctrine, culture, morality, and pretty much everything else, Sister Sassy has been dispensing bad advice to fictitious readers for seven years and is excited to share her (dubious) recommendations with this audience.

Dear Sister Sassy,

It is my understanding that Family Home Evening is non-negotiable and key to my family’s happiness.  My husband is supposed to preside at our weekly gatherings.  When we were first married, we had FHE all the time, but it seems like now we’ve lost our spark.  My husband seems barely interested, even when I use themed printables! I am worried that he is going elsewhere to get slapdash spiritual lessons and forced activities.  Is he getting so much out of his Bishopric meetings he feels I have nothing left to offer him? Is this grounds for divorce?
Forlorn in Fremont

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