Young Women Lesson: How Can I Find Solutions to My Challenges and Problems?

You Are Enough, Vicki JohnsonThe overall theme in November is “self reliance.” Spunky did an excellent introduction last week here, and you can look up the Aaronic priesthood lessons here; they have additional ideas that I thought were helpful for the Young Women.

When I was in high school, I read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Self Reliance.” That essay gave me confidence and made me feel like I was capable of handling anything that came my way. I was determined to be self-reliant. So, I would start with my favorite part of the essay:

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great women and men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now women and men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.

I would begin by asking the class,
What does this quote mean to you?

Self-reliance is difficult to obtain, especially in the face of trials and the unknown, but as individuals who believe in the importance of free agency, it is vital that we study and gain the faith we need to be able to make big decisions as we face challenges in our lives.

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Hope in the Darkness

Hope in the DarknessExactly one week before President Uchtdorf offered his beautiful General Conference address suggesting that there are genuine reasons why some members of the church may doubt, I attended a conference in New York City, dedicated to that very theme.

The official title was “Negotiating LDS History and Faith Challenges.” The speakers were Richard Bushman, Fiona Givens, and Terryl Givens. It was sponsored by The Temple and The Observatory Group.

This is the part where I am about to share my notes. It is also the part where I explain that they are neither perfect nor complete: the conference was 6 hours, and I only had my phone to tap the words and sentences that meant the most to me.

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Plowing the Fields

In Primary, I learned the story of the Whitmer’s fields being plowed mysteriously by strangers.

“When he went out to start plowing the soil in the morning, David discovered that someone had plowed part of the fields already….The next day David went to the place he had left the plaster, near his sister’s house, but the plaster was gone. His sister told him that the day before, she and her children had seen three strangers spreading the plaster with great speed and skill. She had assumed they were men David had hired, but David knew they were helpers provided by the Lord.” Primary 5, Lesson 9 “Witness to See the Gold Plates”

This story captured my imagination. Who were these helpers? Angels? The Three Nephites? It was a great miracle and it followed me for years.

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Guest Post: Review of The God Who Weeps

by Elizabeth Pinborough

Elizabeth Pinborough is a freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in DialogueFire in the Pasture: Twenty-first Century Mormon Poets, and Wilderness Interface Zone

I learned about The God Who Weeps when I was invited to a blogger Q&A with Terryl and Fiona Givens at Deseret Book in Salt Lake City about a month ago. I quickly picked the book up, reading half of it, along with Ben Parks’ and Jacob’s and Julie Smith’s initial reviews, before the event. The God Who Weeps is a beautiful little book. Aside from its comparatively slim 148 pages, there is nothing remotely little about it. It is impressive in its scope and literariness. Its prose is sparsely elegant and accessible. And it is lovingly written. Most of all, though, the book is beautiful in what it aspires to do. The Givenses said that they wrote the book out of respect for the “sanctity of doubt”: that is, for real faith to exist, both reasonable grounds to believe and reasonable grounds to disbelieve must exist. Within the “context of reasonable doubt” the Givenses created their book with strugglers in mind, the number of young people who are leaving the church perhaps because they do not understand the principles of Mormon doctrine. The book functions as an extended and heartfelt letter to a doubter and “a prose hymn to the reasonable gospel that Joseph Smith articulated.”

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Relief Society Lesson 17: The Strengthening Power of Faith

Relief Society Lesson 17: The Strengthening Power of Faith

I never saw a moor;
I never saw the sea,
Yet know I how the heather looks
And what a billow be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven.
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the checks were given.

Emily Dickinson

I figure there are two approaches to this lesson. 1) you can tell the faith-affirming stories of George Albert Smith and ask your class for their own stories of faith and how it has grown. If you choose this approach, I hope you’ll consider reading or summarizing Emma Lou Thayne’s magnificent essay, “Seeing Without Seeing.” I cry every time I read it, starting with “Someone asked her [Helen Keller], “Do you see colors?”,

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