Book Review Series: Ella

EllaGuest Post by Kacee. Kacee is preparing to adopt her 5th child in the next week. (November is National Adoption Month in the US!) She lives in a very rural area in Utah, where life is still simple. She likes helping at the school her children attend. She also enjoys being outdoors with her family. In her spare time she loves to craft, especially making hair bows for her 4 fabulous and amazing daughters.


I was able to attend the author, Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee’s, book launch for this book last weekend. The launch was absolutely wonderful and the author was beautiful, wearing her very own Cinderella dress. I hoped that the booked lived up to what everyone there felt that it would. It did and then some.


This book was very simple to follow, yet amazingly beautiful to read. Without sharing any spoilers, I’ll start: One thing I loved about Ella was how faithful she was to her parents, even though both of her parents had passed away. Ella’s father was a pure example of love to Ella up to the day he died. Ella followed his footsteps and did everything she could to make her father happy, even if it meant beatings and bitter anger towards her from her stepmother and stepsisters. Ella had nothing to remember her parents by. Her stepmother sold everything after Ella’s father died. Everything, that is, except for a small box that contained two items that meant the world to her. She did everything she could to do to keep these items safe from her step family.


I had the privilege to read this book with my daughter, who turns 13 next month.

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Book Review Series: Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt

Book Review Series: Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt


Planted-smallIn Planted, author Patrick Mason represents what I love most of the LDS faith: a focus on community and Christ with flexible boundaries that stretch to include everyone. His journey through topics many find troublesome will give those in the LDS faith who feel certainty, greater certainty. But, Planted also offers lessons for enhancing the capacity of LDS Church members to hold space for those who doubt.


In the spirit of Eugene England or Chieko Okazaki, Planted teaches empathy and the gift of mourning with those that mourn. It is a must-read for the faithful and doubting alike (with a caveat that it might not be the best fit for those that no longer entertain the possibility that central LDS truth claims have any validity).


Mason argues for an inclusive body of Christ that is stronger and more redemptive through the diversity of faith among the members. He relates examples from his own lived experience as to how he has connected to others through unifying applications of the teachings of Jesus Christ that cherish diversity. Mason also balances his male perspective to some extent with experiences of women. My favorite was the treatment of Mother Teresa and her struggles for connection to God. I was shocked to learn how a woman so fully devoted to the work of God, anguished throughout her life in seeking a spiritual witness that never came.

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December Young Women Lesson: What is Zion?

Traducción española/Click for Spanish Translation Translation generously provided by Cesar Carreon.


City of Zion Taken Up

For the teacher

(link to lesson outline

The word “Zion” has many meanings in our vernacular.  The original Zion was the city of Enoch, whose citizens were so righteous and pure that they were taken up to God’s bosom without tasting death (translated.) Since then, it is used throughout the scriptures to describe “the pure in heart” or to refer to the Lord’s people. It can mean the state of a person’s heart, and the unity of a community. Early Mormon pioneers used the term “Zion” to refer to the place where they could finally gather together and worship God in peace — eventually Utah. Oddly, there sprung up a retail shop, Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Inc. (ZCMI), a bank – Zions Bank, and a National Park – Zion National Park, all using Zion in the title. (Whether or not they are the pure in heart, I cannot say.) It is also used in the scriptures to refer to Ancient Jerusalem and “New Jerusalem” (in connection with the second coming of Jesus Christ.)

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Interview with Girls Who Choose God Author Bethany Brady Spalding

Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the BibleA little over a year ago Deseret Book released Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the Bible.  I reviewed it here.  Now, authors McArthur Krishna and Bethany Spalding have published a second book, Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Strong Women from the Book of Mormon.  I asked Bethany to tell us about the process of writing these books.


Tell us about where the idea for a book about women in scripture came from.

GIRLS WHO CHOOSE GOD: STORIES OF STRONG WOMEN FROM THE BOOK OF MORMONWhen my oldest daughter, Simone, was almost three years old, we were reading through a book of scripture stories together. At the end of the book, she looked up at me with puzzled eyes and said, “Mom, where are all of the stories about the girls?” Her question struck me.  I don’t think my mom had ever asked that question.  I didn’t think to ask that question until I was in my thirties.  But here, my daughter who was not yet three was already asking the gender question.  At such a young age she could already see that she wasn’t reflected in those stories.  She could already recognize the discrepancy.  It was then that I knew that Simone’s generation was different and that they would demand and deserve a new approach to teaching the gospel.  It couldn’t be boy-centric anymore.

Now I am not a writer, and I am not a scriptorian. But I am a mom, and I am a believer in change.  So when I couldn’t find an adequate book about women in the scriptures, I decided to write one.


How much time passed between that initial spark and publication?

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Guest Post: Wheat and Tares

By: Adrianne  (Knitting enthusiast. Sometimes writer of thoughts.)

Wheat and Tares

A coal has burned into my heart
Tearing more than me apart.
I do not dwell on right or wrong
Most is grey in my life’s song.
But wounded to my brothers bend
Seeking from my sisters,friends.
Wheat from Tares the coal will sift
And maybe that is the coal’s gift.
The Tares will turn with angry shout
And chase away the ones with doubt.
The wheat will reach with open arms
And hold this coal and with me mourn.
Brothers, Sisters friends we’ll be
Regardless of the coal you see.
Unless the tares o’rcome the field
My heart by sheaves of Wheat be healed.

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On RS Lessons, Vulnerability, and Love

Lost LambPreface

I taught Relief Society this Sunday, with a fully broken heart. It was extremely painful, but it was also moving, to be vulnerable before my sisters, and to witness moments of light, and grace, and burden sharing.

It was Ezra Taft Benson’s lesson 20, “Feed My Sheep,” which Suzette previously posted about here.


We began by singing “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd,” as per a good tip from TopHat and her own excellent RS teacher. I told the sisters that my favorite line in the hymn, and the part I wanted to focus on was this: “Make us thy true under- shepherd[esse]s.” Because it is, and was.

President Ezra Taft Benson suggested that

Sisters also have callings of “shepherding” in the charitable and loving service they render to one another, and to others. Thus, we must all learn to be true shepherds. We must manifest the same love to others that the Good Shepherd has for all of us. Each soul is precious to Him. His invitation beckons every member—every son and daughter of God.

After reading this, I asked a few simple questions, and the sisters answered.

Who are the sheep?

The first said simply, “We are.” Two more added, “Our Relief Society.” “Our Ward family.” Still another said, “Everyone.” I agreed. Lambs are like neighbors, and Jesus showed us who the neighbors are, that we are commanded to love as ourselves.

What then, do they need to be fed?

Again, various responses flooded in: “The love of God.” The word of God.” “Not always, but sometimes, real food.” I paused at the last one, because 1) Jesus did this, when he gave loaves and fishes, and recognized that people could not be fed spiritually until they were fed physically, and 2) I’ve experienced it, when my daughter was born, when Mormon Feminism was due to the publisher, and the very night I taught this lesson, though I had no way of knowing it, then.

What if they don’t want to be fed, or the food doesn’t seem nourishing to them?

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