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We Will Raise a Sin-Resistant Generation

children-with-lantern_1430582_inl Raising a Sin-Resistant Generation in our era is not easy. So much of what is logical and true has been corrupted. Our children are left to sift through half-truths and confusing lines of reasoning to find their way in this world.

Covenant keeping mothers would love to remove all corruption from the path our children have to take, but we realize that we cannot do it alone. Gratefully, there have been three, recent General Conference talks from President Russell M. Nelson, Sister Bonnie Oscarson, and Sister Joy D. Jones that each lay out inspired directions that will help mothers raise their children as a Sin-Resistant Generation.

From President Nelson’s talk, we find this list (bullet points added):
1- “We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and
2- who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world.
3- We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation;
4- women who know how to receive personal revelation,
5- who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment;
6- women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families;
7- women who teach fearlessly.”
8- “We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and
9- who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.
10- We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms.
11- We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity.
12- We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.” adam-eve-teaching-children-82611-tablet

Sister Oscarson Added to the list when she taught,
“It will take concerted effort to be converted and to keep our covenants. To do so,
13-we need to be girls and women who study the essential doctrines of the gospel and have an unshakable testimony of their truthfulness.
14- we need to acknowledge the centrality of God our Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, to our faith and salvation. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.
15-We need to study and understand His Atonement and how to apply it daily; repentance is one of the greatest blessings each of us has to stay on course.
16- We need to see Jesus Christ as our primary role model and the example of who we need to become.
17- We need to continually teach our families and classes about our Father’s great plan of salvation, which includes the doctrine of Christ.
18- we need to understand the need for the restoration of the doctrine, organization, and keys of authority in these latter days.
19- We need to have a witness that the Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely chosen and appointed by the Lord to bring about this restoration and recognize that he organized the women of the Church after the organization that existed in Christ’s Church anciently.
20- we need to study and understand temple ordinances and covenants. The temple holds a place at the very center of our most sacred beliefs, and the Lord asks that we attend, ponder, study, and find personal meaning and application individually. We will come to understand that through the ordinances of the temple, the power of godliness is manifest in our lives and that because of temple ordinances, we can be armed with God’s power, and His name will be upon us, His glory round about us, and His angels have charge over us. I wonder if we are fully drawing upon the power of those promises.

999334aefabbf242152c127605d16899 In the talk by Sister Jones, she carefully discusses the true difficulty mothers have in raising a Sin-Resistant Generation: “there are children who struggle to stand “steadfast and immovable” and whose delicate minds are being wounded. They are being attacked on every side by “the fiery darts of the adversary” and are in need of reinforcement and support.” Sister Jones goes on to say what all mothers are feeling about the important generation that we are raising, “They are an overwhelming motivation for us to step up and wage a war against sin in our effort to bring our children unto Christ.”

We cannot let this be the generation that “dwindles in unbelief”. Gathering Families encourages all to become part of a movement of mothers and fathers who are dedicated to raising a Sin-Resistant Generation. We invite you to join with us.

-Jenny Baker: Gathering Families

(Art by Annie Henry, Del Parson and Minerva Tiechert)

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A Call to Action for Latter-Day Saint Families

13166058_609409039221880_4996146699076551943_nThere is one area to which we as Latter-day Saints must pay greater attention – protecting religious freedom. Did you know the Church has a website (https://www.lds.org/religious-freedom) dedicated to teaching how we can stand for religious freedom? Did you know that members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak multiple times per year all over the world on this critical topic? Why is this such a vitally important issue?

Let’s go straight to the Savior’s own words to find out more. He said that He established the Constitution and raised up wise men – the Founding Fathers – for that very purpose (see D&C 101:80). That alone shows us that we should revere the Constitution and the Founding Fathers because they were given to us by the Savior himself! Joseph Smith set an example for us all to follow when he said, “I am the greatest advocate of the Constitution of the United States there is on the earth” (Documentary History of the Church, 6:56).

We also learn in Doctrine and Covenants 101 why the Constitution was established. In verses 77-78, the Lord says that He suffered the Constitution to be established and maintained “for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man may act . . . according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.”

Agency is one of the greatest gifts we have from our Father in Heaven. We are here on Earth to prove our worthiness and character and we need our agency to do that. Oppressive governments have the power to severely limit our agency and our ability to practice our religion. When that happens, we lose the capacity to be fully responsible for our actions at the day of judgment. That is not what our Father wants for us! As Latter-day Saints, we understand the essential role of agency in the Plan of Salvation. Knowing that, why do we hesitate to become involved in governmental affairs in order to preserve maximum agency? Why do we let apathy get the best of us?

Let’s face it – in our world today, everything is a hot-button issue. Various political parties battle nonstop and it can be completely exhausting. Anyone who dares to speak up is immediately written off as being ‘political’. When did that label become a bad thing? Being involved in politics means being informed and involved in government. That should describe every one of us. The fact that we keep electing dishonest, corrupt officials that give politics a bad name is really our own fault. If we were more involved and sought for honorable men and women to fill public offices, we could be proud of our government instead of being largely ashamed of it and reluctant to be associated with it. Informed voting is key.

Since so many issues today are controversial, perhaps we are afraid to voice an opinion outside of the mainstream. Once you do, after all, the labels come fast and furious. Hater. Bigot. Out of touch. Religious zealot. Old-fashioned. Intolerant. When we are willing to stand up for our religious values – and our freedom to practice what we preach – in the public square, ridicule is a distinct possibility and no one would take pleasure in joining that firestorm. The good news is that we have comforting words from the Savior: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19).

My goal is to be strong enough to choose the Savior’s side over the world’s side each and every chance I get.

Religion and freedom go hand in hand. We can’t expect to have full use of one without the other. Therefore, if religion is something we value, it is incumbent upon us to take an active role in defending our freedom. The first step is to understand the principles upon which our country is based. We are based on Judeo-Christian values! We need only read the Declaration of Independence to understand that. It talks about what we are entitled to by the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. It affirms that we are given rights by our Creator which no earthly government can take away. Freedom is not given to us by man. It is given to us by God, and man, in turn, creates government to safeguard their freedom. How far removed we are from that principle!

In the coming weeks and months we will have posts on our Gathering Families Facebook page to teach about principles of religious freedom and actions we can take to be involved.
Ezra Taft Benson once said, “If America is destroyed, it may be by Americans who salute the flag, sing the national anthem, march in patriotic parades, cheer Fourth of July speakers. Normally good Americans, but Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free. Americans who have been lulled away into a false security.” May we be counted among the number who refuse to be lulled away into a false security! May we rise to the challenge of defending our freedom as we have been urged by leaders of the Church. May we worry less about being labeled ‘political’ or ‘controversial’ and worry more about being obedient. By doing the small and simple things of learning and working together, we can make great things come to pass in defending our religious freedom.

Embracing the Hood of Motherhood

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My husband Shayne is a master falconer. When he wants to protect and settle the falcon, he covers the falcon’s head with a hood, which creates in the bird a feeling of safety from predators and threats.
We talk of Sisterhood and Brotherhood, of Fatherhood, Childhood and Motherhood. We live in a wonderful Neighborhoods. It means something to us to belong to these “hoods”—we feel a sense of belonging to something that is good and safe; and in return, we feel a sense of responsibility to uphold and contribute to it.

Sheri Dew said, “Motherhood is more than bearing children. … It is the essence of who we are as women.” All of creation requires the life-giving, nurturing, saving, protecting acts of MOTHERHOOD to reach its potential.

Rachel Janovic said, “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in, it is what God gave you time for.” (blog post, Desiring God)
Mothers are not only women who have given birth, but also women who haven’t. I have numerous women in my life who understand what Motherhood means. Grandmothers, aunts, cousins, friends, and neighbors have mothered us.

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in, it is what God gave you time for.

I’d like to share some personal stories:

· When I first learned to ride a bike, I thought I would ride it to school, which was just six blocks or so from home. On my way, my foot got caught in the spokes and I fell. Unable to untangle myself, this kind sister came from her home and rescued me. She cleaned and bandaged my foot and called my mom. She was not my mother, but she felt like it that day.

· In junior high, a teacher, who wasn’t married and didn’t have children, wore various colored wigs to class, which was quite a spectacle to me. Yet she instilled in me the power of poetry. She had us memorize poems and recite them in front of class. They had strong messages about character, motivation, and living well. She was not my mother, but her influence felt like it.

· A woman known as Grandma Hall would invite her primary class to her home for, what I would call, tea time. She would have pressed white linens, homemade lemonade, and fresh cookies. She was always old to me. She was not my mother, but her genuine smile and personal warmth made me feel there was more love to go around and the world was filled with good.

· Most of my vacations and summers were spent with extended family. So many hours, days, even weeks together have created a trail of loving memories for what I learned from my grandmothers, aunts, and cousins. I learned how to

* pick citrus and squeeze grapefruit juice,
* perform skits and music in front of others,
* plan reunions that bring us together,
* pitch in for family meals with cooking and washing dishes BY HAND, and
* have REAL conversations with REAL people, face-to-face.

These women smiled because of the goodness and truths they lived by. While they have faced challenges of every kind, they have held their ground and come through brighter and better. They were not my mother, but they increased my desire to be part of this Motherhood.

The Motherhood in my neighborhood has blessed our family for more than 25 years. They have saved our children from danger, fed them when they said they were hungry, invited them to join in your adventures, reminded them of their responsibilities, taught them how to serve others, shared your testimonies, and fasted and prayed for them. They live with mother hearts.

The world is shouting rather loudly now that Motherhood is of little importance, and even that there are more important things to spend our time on. It is quite distracting. While the noise has intensified, it isn’t new. It’s a battle that’s been going on since the beginning of time. Even then, Eve was called “The Mother of all Living” and approved by God before she birthed a child. (Moses 4:26)

The title of Mother belongs to every female–that’s every female who has or will ever live. It is our finest title, our finest work, and our finest blessing, and will ultimately bring us to our finest joy.

Motherhood is the basis of eternity—past, present, and future. Motherhood doesn’t put us on a pedestal, but it does put us in the presence of angels. Through it, we are partners with God. Through it, we have the right to be guided and helped, to feel love, peace, and safety, and to reach our potential. Through it, we have the responsibility to provide guidance and help, to create and share love, peace and safety, and to help others reach their unique potential.

· It means we are women who embrace all the good that Motherhood is—
* divinity,
* holiness,
* caregiving,
* suffering,
* forgiving,
* selflessness,
* teaching,
* leading,
* serving, and
* loving

No influence is of greater value and no title should be more acknowledged, adopted, and adored by women of every age.

Someone has said, “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother.” Giving life is a miraculous process— We learned this more deeply through our experience with our daughter Kristen and our granddaughter Sara Kate, whom we lost after 5 days of miraculous living.

This divine process of a woman giving life cannot, has not, and will not be usurped or changed by even the brightest scientists and doctors. It is worthy of every “Wow”, “Oooo” and “Awwww” we can say. There are no words to describe its wonder.

This is where we all begin—with a miracle. And then our days are spent in a home. My home was a true “hood” of faith, security, and peace. My mother embraced Motherhood. She fought for it during the 70’s. She withstood public pressure, even ridicule as the debate raged on. She went on to represent families and mothers in the national arena, where those pressures intensified. I know where she stands. I know she has a Mother Heart. I know she knows that Motherhood is divine.

Our very hearts teach us that Motherhood is the best in us, if we listen. Motherhood in all its forms is our most ennobling title, our holiest work, and our most cherished opportunity.

Now is the time to go back to the wells of truth and remember what we have always known. Then, we will have the power, the courage, and the resolve to live it and to stand up for it.

By JaLee Jackson Clarke

JaLee Jackson Clarke is a mother of 5, 17308710_10155051597362432_9133278721192595292_n grandmother of almost 11 and hopefully more,has her MBA and works as an HR Manager and Executive Administrator. Pursuing joy and knowledge, and opportunities to serve are her passions. She enjoys discussion, fabric, sunshine, fresh air, and long walks.

Glorious Burden

There are mothers at the UN working to influence proposed policy that diminishes families and motherhood. This is my statement to those UN policy makers – let them hear from the mothers they seek to replace.

17352203_10154491320242217_5709368134985003240_nA societal movement to diminish motherhood has been in the propaganda mills of elite central planners for generations. This is spelled out in new policy being considered at the UN, and calls for “measures to recognize, reduce and redistribute women’s [and girls’] disproportionate [burden] of unpaid care of care and domestic work…”

Apparently, the propaganda has culminated to this bold moment of honesty, or, the central planners have decided they can wait no longer to win you over with spin. Bottom line: the State wants your children. For over a century, the most forward thinking elitists have prepared for victory on this point: a well-ordered State can raise a child to serve the State better than its parents can.

The State is right. If the end of raising a child is to see it serve the collective well, then the incubator of cradle to career oversight is perfect. Devoid of any real nurturing, the State can raise serfs to its service much more efficiently when love, nurturing, and family loyalty are removed.

But, if the world still wants thinkers, innovators, and people with a sense of humanity, they still need homes with mothers and fathers. Children still need to see adult human beings – appropriately sacrificing for them – to know that this is the surest way to have a life of purpose and joy.

The elitists have made a fatal mistake: they say “burden” like it’s a bad thing. C.S. Lewis once said that homemaking was the ultimate career that made all other careers possible. Policy crafters and influencers forget something as they deride and dismiss motherhood and family life: once upon a time, someone took on the burden of raising…them.aa1a98c87515e5cac989917f20590f4c

Burden indeed. What a glorious burden to be given: the charge of shaping the heart and mind of another human being – one that exists because you loved another human being.

It’s a glorious burden to lose your figure, your sleep, your mind – so you can bring another human being into the world, sit up with her when she has croup, help him get his science fair project finished, and teach him to ride a bicycle. It’s a glorious burden to lose all dignity as you leave your house in sweats that have spit up on them because you’re out of milk, and wear last year’s dress to a piano recital – your stomach in complete knots as if you were the one performing. It’s a glorious burden to read a seventh bed-time story to your children, the words slurring into near-drunken incoherence, as you are the only one who gets sleepy in this night-time ritual nearly as sacred as the family prayer.

It’s a glorious burden to be given a necklace made of macaroni, a sloppy kiss that smears spaghetti sauce on your cheek, and a tiny wad of a love note that says, “I love you, Mom – you are the BIST!” It’s a glorious burden to wander, sleepless, through a darkened house, stopping at the beds of each of your sleeping children, pouring out wept prayers of gratitude and pleading that God will watch over them when you can’t.

Here is what the elitists don’t know, or have forgotten, so far removed from such realities as humanity can be: the very thing that makes motherhood glorious is the fact that it is a burden – a back-breaking, mind-wracking, heart-stretching, soul-forging burden. It’s a glorious burden because it turns us into better, higher human beings for having taken it on.

Every human on this planet started life with a mother and a father. Not everyone takes to parenthood, and tragically, there are still too many children who don’t have the love and sanctifying sacrifice of present parents. But through the millennia, there is no alternative way of raising children that can hold a candle to it. To buy the lie that this is a burden that should be “recognized, reduced, and redistributed” is absurd and dangerous. The glorious burden of motherhood is most definitely to be recognized – as the highest thing a woman can choose to do with her life. Motherhood should be recognized, but it should be reverenced – and protected – for the endangered species that the central planners are trying to make of it.

In spite of the spin, this is the cold hard reality: in spite of the imperfect execution, there are still more parents, around the globe, that freely choose to take on parenting, because it is a glorious burden worth shouldering. Civilization depends on it.6fde27d4da1fda2a55097874defd1e9b
#MomStory
#EmpowerMothers
#LoveIsNotABurden
#CSW61

by Laureen Simper

Learn how you can tell the United Nations that Love is Not a Burden at this link.

My Value As A Mother

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It’s been a long day full of appointments, piano lessons, soccer practice and Church activities. Everyone is in bed and I am grateful for the quiet. I make my rounds checking in on each of my boys. But tonight it’s different. Tonight I wonder about my value as a mother.

I see my oldest. I smile as I watch him sleep. So easy going and carefree. My mind goes back to the times he has laid across my bed to talk about his adventures with his friends. I smile as I remember that those talks often led to him asking me for advice. How grateful I am for those talks! God knew I was the mother for my oldest during one of his hardest trials.

God knew I was the mother for my oldest during one of his hardest trials.

Next I go to the room shared by my younger two. I watch my youngest and remember his smile and laughter. He is so curious about everything! I laugh as I think back to a couple days ago when he asked if he could have one of my laundry pods to break in his hand. He was so excited when I handed him one that he ran yelling, “Dad! Dad! Mom said I can bust this!”. God knew I was the mother who could take that curious boy and turn his MANY messes into some sort of experiment.

God knew I was the mother who could take that curious boy and turn his MANY messes into some sort of experiment.

I look on the bottom bunk and there is my strong willed middle son. I remember when he and his brothers decided to hike around on the rocks with grandma. His two brothers ran ahead but he stayed with his grandmother walking patiently next to her, helping her along the rocks. God knew he needed a strong willed mother to help him navigate life. Oh how we have learned from each other!

God knew he needed a strong willed mother to help him navigate life. Oh how we have learned from each other!

Three boys with very different personalities and interests. They were sent to me by my Father in Heaven because I was the best mother for them. This realization brings a smile to my face.

I walk back to my room and see my sweet husband. He is snoring lightly and I laugh remembering how he claims that he never snores. He has given me a wonderful life! I can see that my value as a wife and mother is priceless. I do not need a day off to realize that, I only need my family.

by Michelle Boulter

  1. Michelle Boulter is very active in various efforts to protect parental rights and local education control. Im March of 2015, Michelle attended the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women where she became aware of atonal and international policies that are being created to undermine the natural rights of mothers and fathers She co-founded two pro-family organizations: Return to Parental Rights and Gathering Families in an effort to encourage local policy leaders to uphold the family as the fundamental unit of society.

    Michelle is opposed to Federal Education Standards and regards it as an unconstitutional usurpation of power and a denial of state and local control. She firmly believes that no government or program should put themselves between parent and child. She believes that strong families are the key to preserving local education control.

    Michelle is married to Blake Boulter and they are the proud parents of three boys. She is currently homeschooling her youngest two and was recently elected to the Utah State Board of Education.

A Day Without Dividends

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After looking at my do-to list this morning, I seriously considered joining the national women’s strike, “A Day Without Women”. I could use the day off… and let’s face it, I’ve fantasized more than once how it would be if I truly stayed in bed all day. So, why not join with the other women in our country and let my family see what it would be like without THIS woman???

There’s only one problem…. I am a mom. I don’t work with corporate bosses, excel sheets, project reports and paid sick leave. I answer to a much higher authority…..the future of humankind!

Mothers who nurture children literally shape the future. This is not hyperbole. It’s absolutely true…. and we all know it! Why do you think there are so many special interest groups and investors who are willing to spend the big bucks to get a say in your child’s education? They KNOW the future is in your children and they want a say in how they are raised and taught.

Powerful moms also know how important it is to invest in the future by investing in their children. They know that each hug, story, lesson, curfew, assigned chore, conversation, object lesson, etc. will play a part in creating the kind of generation that will follow us. This investment isn’t to be taken lightly. Intentional mothers seriously seek guidance and direction from God to know what to give each, individual child. Unlike the greedy special interest groups that lobby congress for a piece of your child’s future, mothers are carefully attentive to every physical and emotional change in their children. Mothers gladly sacrifice to give each, individual child the care they need.

The investment that mothers make in their children does not always provide immediate dividends. Some days it seems like they have taken a huge loss…. not the kind of downturn that hurts the pocket book, but the kind of loss that hurts your heart and brings you to your knees. You know those days…. we ALL know those days. Mothers feel absolutely helpless as we watch our children that we are so invested in go through trials, sickness, or setbacks. It is times like these that a mom realizes that SHE is the one who is truly growing…… And all that she invests in her child is also an investment in herself.

And all that a mother invests in her child is also an investment in herself.

When we invest in these young ones, we find ourselves becoming better. We learn patience, love, kindness, math, science, budgeting, organizing, etc. Everything our child learns, we learn…only on a deeper level because we are learning through our child’s eyes. There is no college class or seminar that can teach this kind of wisdom. It has to be gained organically. This kind of learning never ends and can only be had through the intentional act of parenting! A mother will continue to learn through her child throughout her lifetime. Name one other career that gives that kind of dividend!

If you want true cradle-to-grave learning, become a mom. Just remember that the more intentional you are in your investment, the greater the dividends…. Then, years from now, your investments will have compounded and multiplied to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Each subsequent generation learns, as you have learned, the eternal importance of investing in the future by investing in their children.

However, if you find that you can miss out on a day without pay in order to let the world know how important your influence is on our current economy…go for it. As for me, I KNOW how truly influential my job is….. and I don’t want to miss a moment of it!

By Jenny Baker

A Child’s Faith: More Precious than Diamonds

child's faith
Last year, I looked down at my hands and made the sad realization that my wedding ring’s diamond was gone. I was devastated and racked my brain to think of all the places it could have fallen out in the last 18 hours since I’d seen it last; I had taken a shower, done dishes and laundry, taken out the trash, vacuumed the house, driven carpool, gone to the gas station and on and on and on… My sweet, wise husband suggested we say a little prayer asking for divine help. We knelt and I offered an earnest prayer, explaining not only the monetary value, but also the sentimental value of such a loss and requested help with its return. We then set off on an adventure in search of the lost diamond.

It was never recovered.

Fast forward a few weeks, my nine-year-old daughter lost a school book which was soon due to be returned. We had checked every room, shelf, backpack, and corner of our home and even made calls to the public and school libraries in hopes that perhaps it had already inadvertently been returned. I had finally conceded to the fact that we would just pay the meager $8.69 or so back to the school for the lost book. That is, until my daughter, with a defeated spirit, made a comment which tugged painfully at my mother’s heart. “I don’t get it, Mom. On Sunday, I read a scripture promising if I ever needed help, I could always say a prayer and that Heavenly Father would listen and help me. I did pray for help, Mom! Why haven’t we found it?”

And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
-3 Nephi 18:20

I knew in that moment we had to find that old, worn out, used and tattered paperback book. I went to a quiet place and knelt, coincidentally in the exact spot my husband and I had knelt just a few weeks earlier, and pleaded yet another earnest prayer of seeking. The coincidence was not lost on me as I, again, explained the value of a lost item. This time, however, it wasn’t the monetary or sentimental value that had me concerned. This time, we had something of much more eternal value at stake. Something far more precious than diamonds: my daughter’s faith. I pleaded to find the book, not so that my daughter could finish her school assignment, not so my daughter could return the book, and not so I could avoid a replacement fee. I pleaded, as only a mother could, so that my daughter’s faith in prayer could be strengthened. I pleaded that my daughter could experience the blessed promises made to her in the scriptures. I pleaded that she would know she did have a Heavenly Father who hears and answers her prayers.

“There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.”
—President Boyd K. Packer, “These Things I Know”


Not five minutes after my prayer, my daughter found her book. She hugged it tightly as she told me how glad she was to have a Heavenly Father who listens to her prayers and answers them. She expressed the same gratitude in her prayers that morning before running off for the day.

I followed up with my own prayer of gratitude, not only for a Heavenly Father who listened to and answered each of our prayers but, also, for the ability to recognize the eternal perspective of the two lost items. Within a matter of seconds, the missing diamond’s value had dimmed to less than that of an old, worn out, used and tattered paperback book because hidden behind that lost book was the faith and testimony of my faith-filled 9-year-old daughter who wanted so desperately to believe in the promises offered her in the scriptures. It was a beautiful reminder that my child’s faith is far more precious than even the most sentimental, rare or exquisite diamonds I could possibly own.

By Shelby Rodgers

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The Link Between Family and Freedom

Do you ever look back at your life and smile thinking of how different it is from what you had once planned? I’m so grateful I’ve learned a lot since the days when I knew it all.

Once upon a time in my youth, I had life all planned out. I would have my important career in a skyscraper and live in a downtown apartment with easy access to the nearest major league ballpark. I would live an important, satisfying life in my urban oasis.

Fast forward to reality. I now live in a century-old farmhouse with an amazing husband who couldn’t care less about sports. I didn’t finish college. I spend my days as a stay-at-home mom caring for my husband, my daughter, a Yorkie and some horses. There are no tall buildings in sight, and I can’t even tell you the current starting lineup for my favorite baseball team. Instead, I keep busy researching rare neuromuscular diseases and other topics that were nowhere near my radar 15 years ago.

The best part is – I wouldn’t change a thing! I have no doubt that life leads you down different roads for a reason. Every step we take builds on the one before. First, I met a man I couldn’t live without, even though he took me completely by surprise and turned out to be everything I never knew I always needed. Then I became a mom and it changed my life in every way. Suddenly I had an answer for the things I had always questioned earlier in life. I used to wonder things like: How does it benefit anyone to have children and just be a stay-at-home mom? You spend your whole life raising kids just so that they can grow up to spend their whole life raising kids. Kind of a pointless cycle, I had thought. Ironically, I was blessed to grow up with the greatest mother as an example. It just took me awhile to realize that I wanted to be for someone else what she has always been for me.

My outlook changed dramatically once I was actually a mother. Our little family had a rough beginning which – following a now familiar pattern – was nothing like I thought it would be. Instead it was infinitely better! Once you feel a love like that, you can’t go back to thinking anything is more important. I realized the purpose of “just being a mom” was eternal in nature. It became so obvious that families were created to help us learn Christlike love, to learn what it means to love someone more than you love yourself, and to be willing to do anything for them. Families are where we learn sacrifice and service and unconditional love and compassion and forgiveness and all the other traits that will help us return to our Father in Heaven someday.

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That makes the family critically important and worthy of defending. In order for our families to be a laboratory of learning as we progress back to our heavenly home, we have to have the freedom to teach our children what and how we see fit to teach them. This is why I’ve taken an interest in things like education and freedom and preserving the family. All of these issues are linked.

As a society, we’re either moving toward strengthening the family or we’re moving toward letting it fail and having government step in as the caregiver.

As a society, we’re either moving toward strengthening the family or we’re moving toward letting it fail and having government step in as the caregiver. There are many forces at work in our nation trying to pull us to one side or the other. President David O. McKay once gave a talk entitled “Two Contending Forces”. In it, he talks about Satan vs. Christ and the different ways that we see these two sides contend with each other, like selfishness vs. service and state domination vs. personal liberty. He quotes Communist leaders like Marx, Lenin and Khrushchev in saying that hatred is the basis for Communism, and Christian love is an obstacle to the development of a revolution. While they may disguise their ideology with a smile, the only unity sought for is voluntary submission to their ideals.

On the other hand, Christ teaches that the greatest commandments are centered in love: love the Lord thy God and love thy neighbor. Our works must be filled with love, and the noblest aim in life is to strive to make the lives of others better and happier. He likens this to motherhood – the noblest calling where work is done exclusively for others.

Satan would have us be captive and controlled by oppressive tyrants, so that our choices are not our own. In that scenario, we cannot develop into all that we have the potential to become because someone else is in charge of our destiny. Christ wants us to be free to love and serve and put our religious beliefs into action, thus spreading the light of Christ throughout the world and allowing the gospel to go forth. The talk ends with the counsel to sustain, fight for, and be willing to die for the light of Christ.
This is why I want to stand for freedom. Communism may seem like an impossibility to most Americans, but there can be no doubt that our freedoms are slowly being eroded and that traditional morality is being replaced by moral relativism where there is no right or wrong and people are encouraged to simply do whatever feels good. This kind of thinking will eventually erode our liberties.

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” A moral and religious people tend to govern themselves rather well as they strive to live a higher law. Our Constitution is based on principles of limited government, and a moral people don’t need government to tell them the right way to live. It’s a very symbiotic relationship. When we move away from being a moral society (like when religion is silenced and stigmatized), government has to move in with greater control to guide behavior. When you get the wrong people in charge of such a government, the effects are catastrophic.

Ezra Taft Benson said, “The cause of freedom is the most basic part of our religion. Our position on freedom helped get us to this earth, and it can make the difference as to whether we get back home or not.” That statement alone tells me all I need to know about which side to be on. If you wonder how you can get involved and where to begin, start by reading the address by D. Todd Christofferson at the 2016 Provo Freedom Festival. He gives the background of why religious freedom matters to us and to our families, and then gives counsel on how we can become informed, speak out, and get involved. Once you have a desire to do this, the Spirit will guide you from there on the specific actions you can take.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World states:

“We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

My only goal in this life is to return to my Father in Heaven with my eternal family intact. I believe part of that will require being accountable for what I did while I was here. I want to stand for things that matter in order to preserve the things that mean the most to me – faith, family, and freedom. If these things matter to you, choose to be involved. Choose to make a difference. It is marvelous that we can take part in preserving Godly principles in our society! The future of religious freedom – and the future of our families – depends on whether or not people of faith choose to stand. Let us rise to the challenge!

14718811_676212405873852_5523984483066766551_nAbout the Author: Stephanie Gifford lives in southeast Idaho with her husband and daughter. She has a passion for learning about God’s hand in American history and how it ties to the restoration of the Gospel. To share what she has learned, Stephanie has started a Facebook page – Latter-day Prophets and Patriots – which has daily thoughts from LDS prophets and apostles on government and our inspired Constitution.

Small & Simple Things

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It’s 5:30 a.m. on a Friday.

The baby is up early to breastfeed. I drag myself out of bed and retrieve baby girl from her room. I feed her, change her diaper, and put her in the bassinet to go back to sleep.

I lay back down in bed because, today, I deserve to sleep in. You see, my husband has been working sun-up to sun-down for weeks. I have been doing it all on my own with the children and I am exhausted.

It’s now about 9:00 a.m. I can hear the baby stirring. I really don’t want to get up and face the day. The boys have been up for a few hours – in and out of my bed. I didn’t REALLY get to sleep in. I get to the kitchen and the boys have helped themselves to cereal (I’m okay with that today – they can have a good breakfast tomorrow). I pour myself some granola and scarf it down before needing to feed the baby again.

While I feed the baby, my five year old slips on the wet floor. (Why is the floor even wet?)

Soon after, my three-year-old tells me he peed his pants. (Oh! THAT is why the floor is wet! Gross!)

I should exercise but the day is already getting away from me so I’ll just do it tonight. (I’m not going to do it tonight.)

I hop in the shower while the baby sits in the bouncer and the boys come in whining about numerous things. I just want some peace! Why are they fighting so much? Why am I so tired and so grumpy?

I recall the day I first held my son in my arms. Everything changed that day. I was not just Randi anymore, I was now “Jude’s mom”. And soon I became Maxwell’s mom and then Penny’s mom. Becoming a mother has truly made my life infinitely better. But today – today is terrible! Why?!

I’m sure anyone that reads this would have the simple answers for me. I know the answers too. I do, but in that moment, when I’m SO tired and I’m so overwhelmed, I don’t always remember.

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It’s Saturday morning. I can hear my baby waking up in her room.

I get up and retrieve this sweet, precious, miracle from her crib.

Penny’s bedroom wall is painted with flowers that I drew and painted by hand. My husband and I spent hours perfecting this floral wall for our soon-to-arrive baby girl. For months I dreamed of our daughter sleeping in her room under her bird mobile, surrounded by flowers and butterflies.

Today, my dreams are real and my baby is every bit as perfect as I knew she would be. I am so thankful that all of this is real.

I feed my baby and I notice her. Those ears are perfect. That chubby little hand grasping my finger! This morning baby girl takes her time eating. By the time she is finished, I can hear my boys stirring. I put Penny down for her morning nap.

I say my prayers and sneak into the kitchen. I turn on the scriptures on my phone. I open the shades and let the sunshine in. I scramble some eggs, put some bread in the toaster and place a bowl of fruit on the table. The boys run in. “Mom! What are you making us?!” They are so happy just to see me up! My five-year-old, Jude, says “Mom those scriptures are talking about Ammon! We learned about Ammon in primary!”

The rule in our home is that Mom always says the prayer at breakfast because I honestly need to ask for help. Every morning that we have breakfast together I pray for the Spirit to be in our home and in our hearts. I pray that we can have the ability to accomplish our tasks and that we can be kind to one another.

Today I’ll exercise. I pull out my yoga mat. Two little boys are peeking around the corner with their mats in hand. “You can join me,” I say. I don’t enjoy exercising, but having those little boys join me makes it pretty entertaining. In the shower I pray in thanks. Today is a good day. The light coming through my bathroom window is especially magical. That scripture this morning was exactly what I needed to hear.

Today, I am even going to make dinner!

Now what is the difference between these two days? The small and simple things I chose to focus on!

In the talk entitled, “By Small and Simple Things” by Susan K. Bednar, Susan says:

Come with me to my busy life as a young wife and mother. Elder Bednar was enrolled in a demanding doctoral program at Purdue University, far away from our families. We had an energetic two-year-old — energetic is kind of a mild word for the way he was — and a very young baby, very little money, and hardly any time to spend together as a family. As we struggled to balance family responsibilities, the rigors of school, and Church callings, I became more and more overwhelmed with my duties as a stay-at-home mother and wife. Many of you may have experienced some of these same emotions and frustrations.

After considerable pondering about my situation, I asked my husband for a priesthood blessing. I was promised in the blessing that if I would exercise, get more sleep, eat regular meals, have meaningful prayer morning and night, and engage in more purposeful and consistent scripture study, I would receive the physical and spiritual tools to better cope with my circumstances and the discouragement I was feeling. The reason I remember this blessing so clearly is because afterwards I thought: “Doing this is going to solve my problems? These are typical ‘Sunday School’ answers.”

Sister Bednar then spoke about how she rationalized NOT doing all these things. We all could – I sure do. And in this day and age, there are loads of articles, memes, and stories about how HARD it is to be a mother. This media complains about how moms never get time for themselves and how motherhood is such a thankless job. Moms sacrifice SO much! I let those thoughts influence me sometimes, and when I do, I rationalize NOT doing the things I know I should do. I decide I’m going to “give myself a break.”

Isn’t it funny, though, how it’s not actually a break when you leave out those small and simple things?

“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

I have to share a funny little experience from the other day. I was complaining to my husband about my stress. I told him I need to learn how to manage my stress better. The next day he brought me home a pamphlet with big letters that said, “STRESS MANAGEMENT.” I laughed pretty hard but then I sheepishly opened up the flap. I wanted to see what was inside! I opened up the pamphlet and guess what it said?

Be positive
Exercise & Stretch
Relax
Meditate
Spend time with those that you love
Sleep
Manage money
Eat right

Huh.

I told my husband, “Sweetie… I already know all these things! This pamphlet gives me nothing!” And then he so sweetly asked, “Are you DOING those things?” I was put in my place.

I know that sometimes we appear to simply be “housewives.” In a world full of so many grand definitions of success, making peanut butter sandwiches and sweeping the floor three times a day doesn’t seem like much. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and tired. But when we make the choice to change our perspective, to remember why we became mothers, we realize that the little things we do for ourselves and for our families make a big difference.

Amidst the around-the-clock baby feedings, floor mopping, and sandwich making, what is it that we are working for? For me, it is exaltation. I want to live again with my Heavenly Father & Mother and my Savior Jesus Christ. And I want my family there with me.

“By small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

What “small and simple things” should I be doing to achieve my greater goal of exaltation?

In a General Conference talk given in April 2016, President Monson suggests three choices we can make that will help determine our destiny:

1. Choose to build up within ourselves a great and powerful faith – a real faith, the kind of faith that will bolster our desire to choose the right.

2. Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.

3. Choose Christ.


I can testify that prioritizing the right “small and simple things” makes a big difference. I am so grateful for the guides we have been given to help us remember what to prioritize: a living prophet, the scriptures, prayer, and revelation. We can’t do it all by ourselves, but we CAN do it all through Christ.

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By: Randi Gardner

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Stop Running!

As a busy mom, I have often found myself pondering the scripture, “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength” (D&C 10:4). On days when I had no sleep, a ‘to-do’ list a mile long, and sick children, I wonder how this is even possible. It wasn’t until I considered the opposite of this principle that I more fully understood what the Lord had in mind. Let me share with you what I have learned….

If there was one word that describes running faster than we have strength, I would say that it is RIGOR. We first hear about Rigour in Exodus 1:13-14. “And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: All their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.” The Pharaoh commanded that the Israelites be forced to gather straw to make enough brick to fulfill an impossible quota. He would not listen to reason and lift their burden. He wanted to weaken the Israelites and force them to leave their God by requiring them to run faster and labor more than they had strength.

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A similar situation happened in the Book of Mormon under the command of Amulon;
And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God. And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.” (Mosiah 24:10-11) Again, we have another person in power that required rigor in order to weaken a God-fearing people and force them to leave their God.

In Leviticus, God warns His people about rigor and commands the Children of Israel; “Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.” (Leviticus 25:43) He warns against rigor THREE TIMES!!!! I guess the Lord didn’t want His chosen people to follow after the merciless rulers of Egypt.

Fast forward many years and we find ourselves bowing under the stress and rigor that has been placed upon us. The evil in this world forces us to use all of our energy to align with current policies and laws. With every passing year, it becomes harder and harder to provide for, preside over, protect and nurture our families.

Every year, hundreds of new bills are implemented that place extra burdens on our backs. Forms to fill out, fines to be paid, taxes to be levied, and regulations to be kept come at us like a fire hose on a house plant. It is impossible for the average family to keep up with everything that is required of them. Time restraints alone keep us from attempting to even comprehend the magnitude of the heavy load that is placed upon us.

The recent buzz word in education is “rigor” or “rigorous”. Our children are expected to reach prescribed standards that do not always meet the abilities of their personal development. Teachers are also asked to spend more time reporting, preparing and assessing than they used to. The results may reflect achievement on paper, but most parents will attest that their children are overwhelmed with all they are expected to do…… and let’s face it, so are the parents.

I had a conversation with a young man who has always had his life well organized. He was the youngest of five children who had all excelled in life. His future was bright and he had always looked forward to changing the world. But lately, he had seemed depressed. His positive outlook had disappeared and he just didn’t look like himself. As we talked, he expressed that too much was expected of him. He found that the things that were easy for his older siblings were too overwhelming to him. He had decided not to go on a mission because he was worried that he wouldn’t be ready for college and career if he left for two years. His natural optimism was replaced by drudgery as he weakened under the weight of so much rigor.

Are we recognizing our current generation gap? Have we not realized that the rigorous push for a perfectly engineered society has left our youth dealing with things that even their older siblings didn’t have to endure?

What about the adults? Do we expect to be able to do all that our older siblings and parents were able to do? Have we not realized that the rigorous push for more government control in our lives has left us with very little time, money and freedom to pursue the kind of life we would design for ourselves?

This is where I have to stop myself. I could choose to feel sorry for myself or start yelling hateful things to everyone involved in this new kind of rigorous, social engineering. But I choose not to. Instead, I look to the scriptures and see God’s promise to His children.……

And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” (Mosiah 24:14-15)

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We have all felt our burdens being lifted in our own, personalized way. Our Heavenly Father has not forgotten us. With that in mind, we can go forward in faith and work with our politicians and representatives to help them see that these rigorous burdens have no place in our country. We can reach out to those around us in service and help lighten their load. And we can make and keep sacred covenants in order to claim the promised blessings that will help us through our trials.

Above all, we need to make sure that these burdens do not keep our family from looking to our Heavenly Father. The rigorous requirements of Pharaoh and Amulon did not keep the righteous from worshiping God, and our rigorous requirements shouldn’t either. Although other men might expect us to run faster than we have strength, the Lord has promised us that He will lift our burdens and that we will come off as conquerors in the end. Can there be a better promise for our times?

“Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; be diligent unto the end.
 
Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” (D&C 10:4-5)

-By Jenny Baker