Book Review: Fresh Courage Take

Fresh Courage Take

I can’t remember when I first heard about Fresh Courage Take, but can remember when I first knew that I would read it. It was earlier this summer, sitting beside a Provo splash-pad with one of the contributors, Ashley Mae, listening to her talk about renaming her faith crisis, and watching our children play. Ashley’s is such a clear, thoughtful voice. I suspected (correctly) that if it was included, the book would be clear and thoughtful, too.

She is joined by eleven other authors–eleven other women–who wrote down their truths and handed them to us, bravely, vulnerably, and strongly. Each one tells the smallest (slash biggest) part of what it means for her to be a Mormon women, as well as some of the courageous choices she has made in claiming ownership of her actions, beliefs, and story.

As we might expect from a group of twelve women, those stories and truths do not always look the same, and sometimes look quite different. This is as it should be. This is the strength of the book.

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One More Example of ETB Lesson 15 (AKA: What Motherhood Looks Like For Me)

Connecticut, Family

I said this to my Relief Society sisters Sunday, more or less. (Not included are the beautiful, thoughtful answers they said back.) (If you happen to still be teaching Lesson 15, please check out Spunky’s inclusive and thorough plan.)

Divinity of Parenthood

What I hope that you will get from this lesson is that both fatherhood and motherhood are godly, and that cooperative parenting is the most godly of all.

Benson said, “A mother’s role is ordained by God. [Mothers] are, or should be, the very heart and soul of the family. No more sacred word exists in secular or holy writ than that of mother.”

Our Differences

Before I go further, I want to acknowledge that this topic can be sensitive. While we are all daughters of God and sisters in the gospel, we have different lived experiences. Some of us have never married, and never had children. Some of us have married, but now carry the load of parenthood by ourselves. Some of us are stepmothers. Some of us are adoptive or foster mothers. Some of us who do not have children, desperately wish to. Some of us who have children, at times desperately wish not to. Some of us are expectant mothers. Some of us are new, new mothers. Some of us are just pretty new. Some of us are seasoned. Some of us are empty nesters. Some of us are grandmothers. Some of us have difficult relationships with our own mothers. Some of us have no desire to be mothers. Some of us are mothers to everyone we meet.

I honor these differences. My hope is that we can draw upon them, and speak honestly and openly from our own experiences, to better learn from each other, and increase in charity and understanding.

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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.

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Sacred Music: Eliza R Snow and A Mother There

Eliza and MotherThis image is one that will be in the upcoming EXPONENT II COLORING BOOK (look for it later this year).

It is Eliza Roxcy Snow writing her famous hymn: “O My Father”.  Eliza had many roles and callings in the early church including 2nd President of the Relief Society, sister to the Prophet Lorenzo Snow, plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith and she was called the Prophetess of the Church by some.  She was also known throughout the region as a poet.

“In Nauvoo, she gained distinction as a Mormon poet [through her] featured [work] in local newspapers … and was called “Zion’s Poetess”.  She wrote 10 of the hymns in our current hymn book including some of my favorites:

  • How Great the Wisdom and the Love
  • In Our Lovely Deseret (sung with great fervor by the Elders on my mission)
  • The Time is Far Spent (another beloved song from mission days)
  • Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses

And, of course, the hymn she is perhaps most known for: O My Father.  This is a beautiful hymn written in 1845, a year after Joseph’s death, directed to our heavenly parents.  This direction is precicely what makes it so well known – it names both our Father and our Mother in Heaven.

Today on Mother’s Day, I pay tribute to both of these women who represent different kinds of mothers.

1. Heavenly Mother created our spirits and gave us life in a heavenly sense. In an earthly reflection of this creation, our mother’s here give life to our physical bodies. I honor the mother of my spirit and the mother of my body.  My earthly mother is good and kind and caring.  She gave me my body and has stayed near me on life’s journey to guide me and love me. This gift has come at a personal sacrifice to her.  Earthly mothers everywhere give of their body, blood, and heart to bring us into the world. A beautiful calling.

2. Eliza Snow did not bare children, but she has been a women of great influence and mentored many.  She used her spiritual gifts well and did great things for the Kingdom of God. This emulation of womanhood can also be called Mother. I honor Eliza, this pioneer Mother who went before me.  I also honor the many women who mentored me and loved me now. I consider them mothers to my spiritual journey.

Today,  I love both “the mother who bore me and the many mothers who bare with me.”

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The Tree of Life

Mother Earth – Caitlin Connolly | A Mother Here Art and Poetry Contest

When Jesus was sorrowful,
and very heavy,
He cried, Mommy.
She came unto Him
from heaven,
strengthening Him.

Even after they parted,
She tarried with Him,
and watched;
His friends could not
stay awake one hour.

When Jesus was on the cross,
His Father might have been
in the farthest reaches of heaven,
for sorrow, and solace.

His Mother might have been
right there, the Tree of Life,
branches holding Him–
a weeping willow.

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Defending Rudolph

rudolph oneWhen I was four, we lived in an apartment complex that divided a gingerbread house neighborhood and a ramshackle, riverbank neighborhood – one with neat little blocks of brick and garden, the other with litter strewn yards, debris from basements flooded every spring. Our buildings stood in between, a corridor of indecision for renters on their way one direction or the other, living in not quite a tenement, not quite a house.

We would eventually move to suburbia, our faces turned toward the light of the middle-class sun just a few streets away. But for a time we too straddled, my parents reaching beyond their marginalized backgrounds, counting on the American dream of ingenuity and effort to change their circumstances. They had worked hard to get this far, this nice arrangement of buildings, each with a tended square of grass in front. Our two bedroom apartment was a step up and they had their backs to the river.

I remember one day playing in front of our building as my mom sat on the stoop, reading Ladies Home Journal or maybe Alfred Hitchcock Mysteries. I played on the sidewalk, scooting along on a Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer riding toy. 

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