Dear Daughters of Zion

Dear Daughters of Zion,

We know you are busy. You always are. But we couldn’t let this month go by without pointing out something we have noticed….. we all share one, great concern….. How can we ready ourselves and carry out the work of Zion in these Last Days?

Instilling the love of the gospel in our family is very difficult to do lately. There are many of us who live with sorrow because of the very personal ways that the adversary is striking us. We have all felt this sorrow to one degree or another, haven’t we?

300-general womens meeting new 2It is interesting to note that the weekend of September 22-24th is going to be so centered on women. First of all, and most importantly, it is the weekend of our General Women’s Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What a miraculous event! Women from all over the world, members of the church and non-members, will meet to get direction and strength from our leaders and a member of the First Presidency. There’s something powerful in gathering out the women of Zion to worship together!

Another gathering is happening this weekend…

The Mom’s March for America— is “a national gathering of mothers to WebImage-Passalong-300x206 shine the light on the powerful influence of mothers in our homes, communities, and nation; and raise the bar of decency, civility, and liberty in our culture. This is not a march walking down the street, shouting and carrying signs. This is a Cultural March; a celebration of the biggest cultural movement happening in America – the march that mothers make every day in their homes, neighborhoods, and businesses as they nurture their families, influence their communities and shape our nation.”

May I suggest reading the Declaration of Mothers. You will be inspired!

What an amazing gathering of mothers! And the best part is that we can participate from our very own homes!

“I believe that the moment we learn to unleash the full influence of converted, covenant-keeping women, the kingdom of God will change overnight.” -Sister Sheri Dew (Women and the Priesthood: What One Mormon Woman Believes (2013), 163

These two gatherings are not the only things happening this weekend…

Here’s a list of a few things to ponder……
– Important Jewish Holiday: The Feast of the Tabernacles, occurs on the 20th-22nd of September. In this Ensign article we read that The Feast of Tabernacles, “with its imagery of the blowing of trumpets, a call to regather and reawaken Israel. It is a time of renewal of true worship with new understanding.” The Feast of the Tabernacles occurs during the Jewish month of Elul. Elul is the month of repentance and re-turning to the Lord before the Day of Atonement. It’s interesting to note that the eclipse happened on the first day of Elul. The month of Elul ends with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

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“Christ and his prophets teach of a latter-day awakening and gathering of Israel—the beginning of their second and final harvest. And there are those who see Rosh Hashannah as prophetic of this event, though most of them see it only as prophecy of the gathering and renewal of Judah. Latter-day Saints believe in a larger gathering: the Jews to Israel and all of Israel to the gospel. Both gatherings have already begun. Coincidence or not, the gold plates, which in their translated form (the Book of Mormon) have spread throughout the world to begin to awaken and gather Israel, were delivered into the hands of Joseph Smith in the latter part of September, a time closely approximate to the beginning of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. Coincidence or not, a statue of Moroni, their keeper and deliverer, now stands on temple spires, trumpet to his mouth, proclaiming to all Israel that it is time to awaken and gather.” Lenet Hadley Read (“Symbols of the Harvest”, Ensign, Jan. 1975)

– Signs in the Heavens: Remember John’s Prophecy in JST Revelations 12:1; “And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” This “sign” is found when the constellation of Virgo is seen with the moon below her feet. Stars and planets also align to make up her crown. This same, celestial alignment previously occurred on the Feast of Trumpets in 2 B.C. and 1832. It will occur again on September 23, 2017. The sign in 2 B.C. is considered to have come the autumn before Christ was born. The sign in 1832 occurred right as Joseph Smith, under the direction of the Lord, organized the Kingdom of God on this earth. We may not know if there is any significance to this year’s sign. But it is definitely something to ponder.

– Many religions will be fasting this weekend. Think of how many people of faith will gather together in prayer and fasting! What power and grace will we see?

Sing and Rejoice!

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord. And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee.” (Zechariah 2:10-11)

We are not sure what the last of the last days will look like. It’s interesting that we are not fearful in spitemary-magdalene-saw-jesus-1103329-gallery of what is on the news. However, we are very keenly aware of the important role that the daughters of God will play in the winding down scene. Our homes must become sanctuaries, our arms must be outstretched with charity, and the words of God must always be on our lips. With this realization, we are even more grateful for the power of prayer and fasting as well as the peace of the temple. Can you imagine taking on this dispensation without it?

Dear Daughters of Zion, this coming weekend is obviously a time of gathering. Let’s each take upon ourselves the role of a gatherer in this last dispensation. As daughters of Zion, we can gather our families to the temples. We can invite our friends to join in prayer and fasting! We can reach out to our neighbors to rejoice together at Women’s Conference and at the Mom’s March. Together, we can petition the Lord for help in preparing ourselves and our children for the coming of the Lord. Can you imagine the power, blessings and joy that will result?

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee.” (Zechariah 9:9)

Sincerely,

Jenny Baker, Michelle Boulter, JaKell Sullivan, Laureen Simper, Stephanie Gifford, Ai Eisenach, Alisa Ellis, Alyson Williams, Becky Foster, Emily Thornton, Jennifer Jensen, Julie Rae, Kristine Swarts, Kristine Wagner, Mandy Baker, Natalie Robison, Randi Gardner, Rhonda Hair, Shelby Rodgers, Susie Schnell, Wendi Mott, Antonia Ormston, Maggie Klaas, and the rest of the women of GatheringFamilies.com.
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Increasing in Wisdom

man-person-school-headI had a conversation with a bright, energetic woman from Siera Leone, Africa, while attending the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women. She was an eloquent speaker who used her doctoral degree to bring modern farming equipment to her country. She was impressive, to say the least. But as we spoke of our children, she complained of the poor schooling in her area and how she worried that her children were not learning the way she thought best. I asked her if she would consider supplementing their education by teaching her children at home? She answered me with a quick…

I am not a teacher!”

I reminded her of her own great education and asked if there was something she had learned that she would like to share with her children and she replied again…

I am not a teacher!

I tried once more to explain that mothers teach their children all of the time! Our teaching is not limited to how to make a bed or brush teeth properly, but can be expanded to all areas of great knowledge. She replied, once more,

I am a mother, not a teacher!

What a tragedy! This brilliant woman feels that she must stand idly by and watch her children waste away in a failed education system. In the world’s eyes, the worth of the “professional” takes precedence over her worth as a maternal mother. Perhaps she has mistakenly prioritized education and career because that is where she has spent the majority of her time? Or perhaps she has never learned the divine nature of women? Or maybe she has yet to learn that she can count on the Lord to help her fulfill the role of motherhood?

The adversary has successfully redefined the role of motherhood to fit a very narrow role. And the worst part is… WE ARE FALLING FOR IT! It is no wonder that so many of the rising generation have a difficult time understanding the love and wisdom of our Father in Heaven. How can they learn this eternal wisdom and love if they are continually denied time with parents in a nurturing and growing capacity?

May each of us treasure this truth; one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and [our earthly] mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.” –President Thomas S. Monson (“Behold Thy Mother”)

Eternal vs. Temporary Worth

It is far too easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day grind. We work hard to achieve goals that seem important, but are so overwhelmingly temporary in the grand scheme of things. Even good things such as career, higher education, and community service can blind our view of our eternal worth. Gathering our children within a family gives both parents and children time to reflect and remember our eternal natures.

Increase in Wisdom

Family life is the perfect way to increase in wisdom. It’s a simple idea, really. Whatever we attain in21272396_867247773441398_3232743472386661075_n this life will not only go with us to the next life, but it can go on with our children throughout their lives. If obedient, our children will not only receive the wisdom that was handed down to them, but they will add upon that wisdom and hand it down to their children.

“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” (D&C 130:18-19)

This eternal increase in wisdom won’t happen unless we make teaching our children a priority. Parents must follow the Savior and lead, guide, and walk beside their children… just as we would have the Savior do for us.

Gathering vs. Dispersing

The theme of gathering is found throughout the scriptures. We long to be “gathered in from [our] long dispersion,” (2 Nephi 10:8). The thought of being gathered in gives us a feeling of comfort and completion. We have felt this as our own family gathers together for prayer, meals, or fun.

The gathering of Zion begins at home. President Henry B. Eyring gives us insight into the principle of gathering families, “Families are the basic organizational unit of the eternal realms, and so He intends for them also to be the basic unit on earth. Though earthly families are far from perfect, they give God’s children the best chance to be welcomed to the world with the only love on earth that comes close to what we felt in heaven—parental love. Families are also the best way to preserve and pass on moral virtues and true principles that are most likely to lead us back to God’s presence.

Parents can make a conscious effort to gather their families in from the temporary world. This separation will allow for greater learning and peace to take root. Once the principles of the gospel are firmly established in the hearts of our children, they can go confidently out in the world to gather in other families. This pattern will be repeated over and over until all the families of the earth are gathered in.

Imagine the blessings that await future generations once our generation chooses to give up the temporary things of the world in order to focus on their own, eternal family.

“If we fail in our homes, we fail in our lives. No man is truly successful who has failed in his home. I ask you men, particularly, to pause and take stock of yourselves as husbands and fathers and heads of households. Pray for guidance, for help, for direction, and then follow the whisperings of the Spirit to guide you in the most serious of all responsibilities, for the consequences of your leadership in your home will be eternal and everlasting.” -President Gordon B. Hinckley (“Each a Better Person”)

IMG_2421Every mother is a teacher of the most eternal and everlasting nature. The “professionals” cannot have the eternal impact that we have. We don’t have to do this alone, we have the help of a loving Heavenly Father and our Savior who will guide us, through the Holy Ghost, to accomplish this perfect plan. Let’s move forward, with faith, to gather our families and increase in wisdom together.

By: Jenny Baker

The Idea of Intentional Parenting

IntentionalParentingOur Heavenly Father intentionally placed us in this mortal experience to give us the opportunities we need to return to Him. What an amazing idea he had for us to learn and grow! This life is full of hands-on experiences, consequences, and learning moments. On top of it all, we get to help some of God’s other children learn and grow as well: we get to be parents. We shouldn’t look at our role of helping with His work as any less important than He sees His own work. We are helping “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life” of ourselves, our children, and any other lives we may touch.

If this is true, the most important work of mothers and fathers is to bring our children to a knowledge of God and His Plan of Salvation, enabling them to return to their Heavenly Parents. As I think about this responsibility, several thoughts come to mind: if God is deliberate and intentional as he accomplishes His work, shouldn’t I be intentional in my own parenting work as well? And if my husband and I are to be successful in our parenting endeavors, shouldn’t our goals match His goals?

But there’s another side to our responsibility of raising good children: we as parents need to return to Him as well. Again, our Heavenly Father thought of everything. In all His wisdom, God made the benefits of parenting help both children and parents, allowing all of us to learn the most from our individual experiences. Helping God accomplish His goals for our children accomplishes His goals for us at the same time. No one learns better than when they are teaching it themselves. This means we, as parents, are enrolled in a sort of Parenting 101 class. We get our first taste or experience in parenting here which can continue into the next life if we are worthy.

The young men who were part of the Army of Helaman did not have the amazing spiritual experiences their parents had of being taught by Ammon, burying their weapons, and choosing to die rather than sin again. But somehow their parents were still able to pass on that knowledge to them. In other scripture stories this didn’t always happen.

What a difference between these young men and the ones who lived during the reign of King Benjamin who were too young to understand his great speech: many of that rising generation rejected his words. Of course there is no way to guarantee children’s testimonies will always grow the way we would like, but if parents couldn’t make a difference, then God wouldn’t bother designing parents and families into His plan. However, He did design it that way because parenting does make a difference and Intentional Parenting can make an even bigger difference.

Intentional Parenting can be defined as:

Deliberately choosing to raise children in an environment created to instill a desire for truth, a strong faith in Christ, and a determination to follow Him.

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEIntentional Parenting means children are the priority. I once heard a popular conservative radio host ask parents to find out what their children have learned from them by asking one simple question, “What do we, your parents, most want you to be: successful, smart, good, or happy?” How many children would answer “good”? As it turns out not very many. In fact, most children choose all the other answers before selecting good. This is an interesting impression of parenting today.

Good parenting means making goals and, typically, goals we make are measured in the length of time it takes before they can be achieved. This goal of raising children to successfully return to our Heavenly Father is just about the longest goal imaginable. Often long-range goals can fall through the cracks when there are pressing short-term goals that need addressing. But when it comes to parenting, sometimes those short-term goals can actually get in the way or even hurt the prospects of achieving the long-term goals.

When my children reached an age to begin helping with jobs around our home, many times I told myself it would be a lot easier to just do it myself. My three-year-old helping empty the garbage often meant I was picking up dropped pieces of trash; my six- or seven-year-old helping me clean the bathtub or vacuum the family room meant spending time with touch-ups, pulling toys and stray socks out of the vacuum, or even vacuuming again which felt very much like wasting valuable time already in such short supply.

Two of my short-term goals, accomplishing these tasks quickly and efficiently and having a clean house, were being undermined by little helping hands. But while I was despairing of ever reaching these goals, my big picture, long-term goal of helping my children return to God was working great! My children were learning the valuable skill of hard work and the satisfaction that comes from it. Depending on which goal I focused on, I could either feel very successful or an abject failure. As I tried patiently and lovingly to teach my children these various tasks, I could just imagine the patience and self-control it takes for our Heavenly Father to watch and wait for His work to be accomplished.**

IMG_2358We’re not only working out our own salvation by following Christ and His teachings; we’re also trying to make sure, as much as we can, that our children will also follow Him and our grandchildren as well. It is a multi-generational goal which only God can ensure. I can do my part but then my children have to do theirs—which means they have to understand the multi- generational aspect as well—and their children and so on. This means not only are parents teaching their children to be righteous people, they are also emphasizing how important it is for them to teach their children to be great people too.

We can’t fix the world or even our own communities, but we can choose to be Intentional Parents and raise our children with the long range goal of their becoming Intentional Parents themselves to continue the cycle another generation. Nothing else should matter as much. Then when my children (and their children) are asked if their parents want them to be successful, smart, good, or happy, their answer will be, “To be good; to gain eternal life and to pass this knowledge on to my children through my own Intentional Parenting.”

By: Jennifer Jensen, author of “Raising Intentional Parents”

* We will always discuss the God-ordained traditional nuclear family with His ideas of their various responsibilities. We might not all have this family form but we can work towards it and we can teach our children to aim for this as well.

References:
1 Moses 1:39
2 Alma 53:21, 56:47-48, Book of Mormon, https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm?lang=eng. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016. 3 Mosiah 26:1-4, Book of Mormon.
4 Telushkin, Joseph. “What Did Your Parents Most Want You to Be?” YouTube, uploaded by PragerU, Mar 17, 2014, www.youtube.com/watch?v=5adJxEWLFKU. Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.
**story from anonymous contributions by parents of GatheringFamilies.com

Back to School Concerns: Ensuring Accurate History is Taught

usa-1779925_960_720The first article in this series discussed the absence of God in public schools. When belief in God is removed, another belief system must take its place, and secularism has done just that. A secular belief system posits that events have no religious or spiritual basis. This point of view is completely antithetical to the reality of our nation’s history and spiritual origins. Because of the domination of secular teachings, there is a significant concern that we are losing the divinely inspired founding principles of our country.

Consider the following quotes:

“I believe we are paying a very high price for our increasing secularism. Jefferson said, ‘God who gave us life, gave us liberty.’ Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift of God?”
– President Gordon B. Hinckley, Address given at Provo Freedom Festival, 1997

“As a result of misunderstanding the importance of religious liberty in our Constitutional order, many citizens and even some educators have come to consider it bad taste or even illegal for public school teachers even to mention religious influences or commitments. No wonder we suffer an appalling ignorance of our political and cultural origins.”
– Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, July 1990

When religious influence is not considered or discussed while teaching history in the classroom, fundamental truths are left out of our children’s education. God established this nation. He raised up the Founding Fathers for the purpose of writing our Constitution. His influence was seen throughout the Revolutionary War which was prophesied of in the Book of Mormon. Not only do we as Latter-day Saints believe this, but the Founding Fathers believed it! Prevailing wisdom today paints the Founders as wealthy, elitist slave owners who served their own interests by establishing our government. History books written by authors like self-proclaimed socialist Howard Zinn are widely used and rarely questioned. Much of the spiritual influence that the Founders felt and acted upon has been erased. History has been rewritten.

Character of the Founders
Fortunately for those seeking truth, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have said much about these great men. Here are just a few examples:

“I [look] upon the Founding Fathers as men who believed in God, as men who prayed to God, as men who recognized God and wished to do His will. What a singular and remarkable group they were! As I look across the world today, I search in vain for such a group as walked together across the stage of history when this nation was born.”
– President Gordon B. Hinckley, Address given at Provo Freedom Festival, 1997

“The Founding Fathers understood this country’s spiritual heritage. They frequently declared that God’s hand was upon this nation, and that He was working through them to create what Chesterton once called ‘a nation with the soul of a church.’ While they were influenced by history and their accumulated knowledge, the single most influential reference source for their work on the Constitution was the Holy Bible.”
– M. Russell Ballard, “Religion in a Free Society,” Ensign, October 1992

“Other nations might boast of their kings, but the King of America, proclaimed by the patriotic fathers who founded it and established it, is the great God of Heaven.”
– Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, October 1928, p. 109

“I have resolved to do all that is within my power to keep alive the same faith which existed in the hearts and souls of our early founding fathers. It was George Washington who declared, ‘The people know it is impossible to rightly govern without God and the Bible.’”
– L. Tom Perry, Conference Report, October 1975, p. 130

wilford-woodruff-82910-galleryIn the April 1898 General Conference, President Wilford Woodruff had this to say about the Founders: “Those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men.” He then goes on to relate the occasion when many of the Founding Fathers appeared to him in the St. George temple and insisted that their temple work be done. Said he, “Would those spirits have called upon me, as an Elder in Israel, to perform that work if they had not been noble spirits before God? They would not.”

From these teachings of modern prophets and apostles we can be assured of the noble character of our Founders.

Why Our Country is Unique
The next question is – why does it matter? Why is our freedom so essential to understand and maintain? The answer is very simple and Elder Mark E. Petersen explains it this way:

“Free agency is part and parcel of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, free agency was required here in America so that God’s work could move forward; and so it must, for the day of the Lord draweth nigh and the ultimate destiny of the United States is rapidly emerging.

“Here in the USA the Lord’s latter-day Zion has been established already. Here in the USA his latter-day New Jerusalem will yet be established. Here in the USA the Lord will preside during the Millennium” (BYU, 7/4/76).

This is not just one of many nations. Our Father in Heaven needed a free land to restore the gospel. Our country has a destiny to perform, and it is not finished yet. From this free land the gospel has gone forth to the world and must continue to go forth until the time when we again welcome our Savior. Freedom is essential to the spread of the gospel. Knowing this, we cannot fail to teach the rising generation the truths that they will need to carry on the Lord’s work.

Our Responsibility
It is up to us as parents to know the history of our nation, the Constitution, and how it relates to the gospel. It is our responsibility to make sure our children are taught these things. Ezra Taft Benson said:

“We must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

“Have we read The Federalist Papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it?

“As Jefferson said, ‘If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, . . . it expects what never was and never will be'” (October 1987 General Conference).

Abraham Lincoln declared at Gettysburg that ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. An apathetic and ignorant citizenry cannot possibly uphold the divinely-inspired Constitution and ensure that our freedoms are protected. We are incredibly blessed to live in this promised land, and we must remember that “unto whom much is given much is required” (D&C 82:3). The blessings of freedom come with the responsibility to preserve that freedom for future generations. We need to commit to teach our children the noble character of our Founding Fathers and the Biblical principles upon which our government is based. Most importantly, we need to teach them that our Father in Heaven was, is now, and will forever be blessing this land according to our righteousness.

Written by Stephanie Gifford
Stephanie Gifford lives in southeast Idaho with her wonderful husband, Jared, and their beautiful daughter. She enjoys horses, baseball, reading, and spending time with family.

Back to School Concerns: Addressing the Absence of God in Public Schools

School busesSummer is coming to a close and it’s almost time to send our children back to school. This is a perfect time to think about education and what it means for our children. What is true education? What do we want our children to know and to be by the time they leave our homes and go out on their own?

My favorite definition of education comes from Orson F. Whitney: “[Education] is the expansion of the soul – the body and the spirit – to the fullness of its capacity” (“What is Education,” 6/19/1885). What a beautiful way to look at it! This is education from an eternal perspective – allowing the mind and the spirit to expand in wisdom and knowledge to the fullness of their capacity. Education needs to include our whole soul.

What is the goal that we have for educating our children? Certainly we want them to learn and gain skills that will allow them to provide for their future temporal needs. Financial stability is important. However, there are other areas of life that deserve even greater attention. Isn’t the ultimate goal to give our children a strong spiritual foundation so that they can help grow the Kingdom of God in these latter days? All of our spiritual and temporal learning should work to serve that goal in some way.

Usually when we speak of education and learning, our minds go to the learning done in a classroom. Approximately 90% of school-aged children attend public schools – usually for about seven hours a day, five days a week, for nine months every year. That is a significant chunk of time to send our children anywhere, and parents should be keenly aware of how the time spent there can affect them. The public school system is not perfect and we need to take an honest and open look at it. This series of articles will examine some of the concerns of public school and how parents can deal with them.

The Absence of God in Public Education

The biggest concern I see is the absence of God in public school. Through Supreme Court decisions and the misapplied doctrine of separation of church and state, prayer, biblical teachings, and discussion of God are not allowed in school. How do we balance sending our children to school to learn the secular things they need to know with also ensuring that their spiritual needs are being met?

With God removed from education, a vacuum is created which must be filled by another belief system. Our schools now embrace a secular viewpoint which posits that God and his divine influence are of no consequence. Ezra Taft Benson explains why this is a concern: “I would have you consider soberly how this secular influence has affected the treatment of our nation’s history in the textbook in the classroom. Today, students are subjected in their textbooks and classroom lectures to a subtle propaganda that there is a ‘natural’ or a rational explanation to all causes and events. Such a position removes the need for a faith in God, or belief in His interposition in the affairs of men” (BYU, 3/28/76). The secular influence naturally extends beyond history to other subjects like science and philosophy.

Another caution on this subject comes from Bishop Keith B. McMullin: “Because secularism typically ignores the eternal perspective, it can in time lead to unbelief” (BYU, 11/5/06). This seems quite logical when you think about it. We teach our children at church and at home that God’s influence is seen in everything; that a sparrow cannot fall without his notice. We teach our children that their Father in Heaven knows us each intimately and has a grand plan for all of his children. Then they attend school and are taught nothing of God’s influence and instead given alternate secular explanations in all subjects. This will surely lead to confusion for some of our youth.

This dichotomy makes it critical that we examine what is being taught so that we can combat false philosophies and help our children find truth. Ezra Taft Benson said, “As a watchman on the tower, I feel to warn you that one of the chief means of misleading our youth and destroying the family unit is our educational institutions. President Joseph F. Smith referred to false educational ideas as one of the three threatening dangers among our Church members. . . It is important that you stay close to your children, daily review, if possible, what they have learned in school, and go over their textbooks” (October 1970 General Conference). We must be truly vigilant to ensure that the righteous goal of gaining an education doesn’t result in the negative consequence of having faith weakened or destroyed by those who teach theories as truth that are contrary to God’s laws.

In addition to monitoring what is taught, how can we give our children a strong spiritual foundation to support them through school? Here are some suggestions:

Pray for Discernment
Both we and our children need the gift of discernment. The adversary is subtle and cunning, but the light of the Holy Ghost will illuminate truth and allow us to navigate a world in turmoil.

LDS Seminary Class
Attend Seminary and Institute
These programs have been established to help our youth and young adults understand the teachings of Jesus Christ and how to apply them in daily life. Attendance will provide a daily source of spiritual strength for our children.

Make the Gospel a Priority
Family prayer is a wonderful way to begin our day and invite the Spirit to guide our actions. Reading and discussing the scriptures together each day will help our children learn true principles and how to apply them in their lives. Spending quality family time together is essential. We need to be available for our children when they’re home so that they can come to us with cares and concerns. It really is the basic things that can make all the difference.

Teach Children How to Recognize the Spirit
We often discuss the Holy Ghost and we know that he can communicate with us, but each person receives inspiration in different ways. We need to teach our children from a young age how it feels when the Holy Ghost is present in our lives. Point out times when you feel the Spirit. Teach them to pray to know how the Holy Ghost speaks to them. Teach them that the Holy Ghost sends feelings of peace and assurance that can help them know they are doing what is right.

Avoid Overscheduling
It is always wonderful to have hobbies and to participate in wholesome activities that build talent and character, but we have been warned against participating in these things at the expense of gospel learning and study and quality family time. In the October 2007 General Conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave this counsel: “The amount of children-and-parent time absorbed in the good activities of private lessons, team sports, and other school and club activities also needs to be carefully regulated. Otherwise, children will be overscheduled, and parents will be frazzled and frustrated. Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children’s values on things of eternal worth. Parents should teach gospel priorities through what they do with their children.”

Later in that talk he makes this clear statement: “Some young people are amusing themselves to death—spiritual death.” Keeping our families too busy (albeit with good things) and our priorities off-balance can certainly result in weakening the spiritual foundation of our families.

In an increasingly secular world where God is irrelevant and belief in absolute right and wrong is fading, our children need to be strengthened at home more than ever before. Kim B. Clark said, “Brothers and sisters, you and I need to be much better than we are now. The scriptures teach us that the world is now and will be in commotion. Wickedness and darkness will increase. Yet in that darkening world there will be increased divine light. The Lord Jesus Christ has a great work for us to do with the rising generation. It is a greater work than we have ever done before. The Lord is working in power to strengthen teaching and learning in His true and living Church. He is hastening His work, and He is preparing the earth and His kingdom and us for His return” (“Encircled About with Fire”, 8/4/15).

Our youth have a marvelous work to do on the earth and we have the critical role to prepare them. With so much of their time spent away from home and family, we need to do all we can to strengthen our children and provide a strong spiritual foundation so they may face the world with courage and faith.

Written by Stephanie Gifford
Stephanie Gifford lives in southeast Idaho with her wonderful husband, Jared, and their beautiful daughter. She has a passion for learning about God’s hand in American history and how it ties to the restoration of the Gospel. Stephanie enjoys horses, baseball, reading, and spending time with family.

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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.