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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Heavenly Mother’s Day: Dreaming of the Divine Feminine

Putneypics from Flickr

Putneypics from Flickr

Guest Post by Maxine Hanks

My encounter with the divine feminine began in dreams, when I was a teen; yet, a sense of Her was there before, in the love of my mother and the lyrics of my favorite Primary song:  “our lilac tree” and “butterfly wings” and “the magical sound of things,” resonated Her presence.My first dream of Her came in 1972; a female figure led me to our Chapel, where a crystal bowl of pristine water waited on the sacrament table, for me to partake. Before I could drink, two sisters in the ward began adding ingredients to the water to make a cake. I awoke dismayed. She appeared in another dream or two, but I didn’t know Her name.

In 1976, I unconsciously engaged Her at college, by writing about female concerns on campus, and co-chairing the women’s conference, themed “Woman Clothed With The Sun.” I was doing female theology without knowing it.

I first spoke of Her in 1982 at the Seventh East Press. I wanted to publish the poem, “The Motherless House,” but I had to wait 10 years. She was barely surfacing then, in work by Carol Lynn Pearson (1970s), Linda Wilcox (1980), the Exponent II (1980s), and private discussions by Martha Pierce and Julie Nichols.

Read More

Heavenly Mother’s Day: I Dreamed I Wrote Five Poems

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.36.02 PM

When Martin Pulido and Caroline Kline announced the A Mother Here Art and Poetry Contest, I wished that I was an artist or a poet. I wanted to add my heart stirrings to the collective swell. Instead I sent the call for entries as close and as far as I could, inviting some of the best and dearest creatives I knew to contribute. In response, one mentioned that she looked forward to my poem. Her assumption that I too would be making an offering gave me pause, and then it gave me the courage to try.

The first stanza came while I walked to a friend’s house. I tapped it into my phone’s note function, and typed it up when I returned home. I thought that I was finished. I had my single poem–my single try to say how much Heavenly Mother meant to me. But that night I had one of those rare dreams you remember upon waking. I had written five Heavenly Mother poems, and I was reading them over a pulpit.

I couldn’t remember the words, but wrote four more stanzas in morning’s light.

Read More

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.”

Read More