by Robyn

Women’s History Month: The Female Council of Health

March 7, 2016 in Book, Church History, LDS History, Midwives, Priesthood, Relief Society, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

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Has anyone else found this treasure?  I had been eyeing this new book, The First Fifty Years of Relief Society, and recently found out that there are portions of it already online with plans for the entire book to be available online within the year (source).  The timing of the release of this book is perfect with March being Women in History month.  It is another source to glean from our heritage of Relief Society sisters.  I love learning from my sisters of the past.  It points us to our future.  Heather has blogged about the history of midwives within the LDS church , in this post, “Midwifery as a Calling.” I recommend reading it if you haven’t yet. I found this excerpt from this new book that reaches a little deeper about the beginnings of organizing health care for women in the early church,

The hardships of the westward trek and isolated frontier settlement brought health concerns, including distinctly female concerns, to the forefront. Midwives and other women began attending meetings of the Council of Health with male practitioners when the group was formed in 1849.6 Some women, however, were uncomfortable discussing medical matters in the Council of Health, which caused “a slackness of attendence of the females, which was suposed to be caused by there being present male members.” As a result, the Female Council of Health was organized by July 1851.7 Midwife Phoebe Angell, mother of Brigham Young’s wife Mary Ann Angell, was designated president of the women’s council, and she chose two midwives as counselors. The women’s council met about twice a month, initially in Angell’s home. As membership expanded, the group later held some meetings in the newly erected tabernacle on the south end of the temple block.8 On November 13, 1852, the council selected one woman each from most of the city’s nineteen wards “to look after the poor.”9 After Angell died in November 1854, her counselor Martha “Patty” Sessions became president of the Female Council of Health, though by then Sessions was also serving as president of the newly organized Relief Society of Salt Lake City’s Sixteenth Ward.10

This council was separate from the reorganization of the Relief Society and took place before Brigham Young asked sisters to “get a classical education and then get a degree for Medicine” in 1873 (Daughters in My Kingdom, 54). This Female Council of Health was a precursor to the trainings that Dr. Ellis Shipp established for sisters in the Salt Lake Valley in the 1880s.  Midwife Patty Sessions often refers to attending these meetings in her journal (Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Sessions).  Richard L. Jensen offers insight on what these meetings were like:

They heard lectures by local physicians, “discussed faith and herbs in healing, attempted to design more healthful female fashions, spoke and sang in tongues, and enjoyed a social and spiritual interchange” (see Richard L. Jensen, “Forgotten Relief Societies, 1844-67,” Dialogue 16, no.1 [Spring 1883]:107).

Our circumstances today are not exactly the same as our sisters of the past.  This council was organized to fill a specific need of their time.  I feel that it does reflect a desire of the priesthood leaders of the early church to meet the needs of women.  They knew there were needs specific to women that needed women. They wanted women to be a part of their councils and when they became aware that the women needed their own forum to better meet each other’s needs they formed the Female Council of Health.

I do feel that God does still care greatly for the health of women. We have recently witnessed a rediscovery of the divine nature of pregnancy and childbirth.  Many women have felt called to the work in one way or another.  I felt called to it over 12 years ago.  The spirit compelled me to become a childbirth educator. It has been a great treasure and blessing to me through the years.  I have come to a place where I am pondering my next steps forward.  I have loved being a childbirth educator and have found myself doing more and more doula work instead of classes.  And the promptings keep coming that I need to move forward with midwifery and health care training.  I have pondered different paths and at times feel confused about which one to take.  Studying the history of health care within our church is helping me find the path that God has prepared for me.  I don’t know all the details of it yet. It is different than what I expected but it is nonetheless His and inspired and I’m choosing to go forward and let faith instead of fear lead me there.

 

by Lani

Ritual Rebirth in Ancient and Modern Practice

April 8, 2015 in Atonement, Baptism, Heavenly Mother, Jesus Christ, Lani, Old Testament Women, Priesthood, Rebirth, Rites of passage, Savior, Symbolism, Temple by Lani

I enjoyed so many beautiful moments in conference last weekend. Part of me wanted to write about Linda K. Burton’s beautiful talk. While listening to her words, my cheeks ran with tears as I was completely overcome by an overwhelming gratitude for the man who has stood by my side and held me up through so much pain and darkness. I also wanted to write about saints and sinners, enduring to the end, and Mother Teresa’s intense battle with darkness.

But this morning I felt impressed to write about something I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time, and I’m not really sure why it has taken me so long to get around to it. What I want to talk about touches on some statements made by a couple of speakers last weekend:

Nothing relative to our time on earth can be more important than physical birth and spiritual rebirth, the two prerequisites of eternal life. –D. Todd Christofferson

To inherit this glory, we need more than an unlocked gate; we must enter through this gate with a heart’s desire to be changed—a change so dramatic that the scriptures describe it as being “born again; yea, born of God.” –Dieter F. Uchtdorf

During my senior year at BYU (2002, holy cow that was thirteen years ago), I completed an internship as a managing editor for an on-campus student journal Studia Antiqua. The journal was the brain-child of Matthew Grey, who was a student and editor-in-chief, and was supervised by S. Kent Brown, director of Ancient Studies at BYU. As part of my “training,” Matt gave me copies of the journal’s first issue, published before I joined the team. I still have my copy of that issue and treasure it. Truthfully, I only really treasure the last article in the issue, containing information I wished I had known before I attended the Provo temple to receive my endowment the previous year. The article I’m referring to is called “Becoming as a Little Child: Elements of Ritual Rebirth in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity,” by our editor-in-chief, Matthew Grey, now known as Dr. Grey, assistant professor of ancient scripture at BYU.

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As D. Todd Christofferson reiterated in conference, God has commanded us to teach our children what it means to be reborn and all of the symbolism involved in it. Until I became acquainted with Matthew Grey’s Studia Antiqua article about ritual rebirth, I didn’t realize that baptism wasn’t the only rebirth ritual we participate in as members of the Church. In ancient Israel there were specific acts performed each time a child was born. Matthew Grey outlined these in his research. These include: 1) a washing with water, 2) an anointing with oil, 3) clothing in a garment, and 4) receiving a name.

Matthew Grey shared excerpts from Ezekiel 16, where the Lord spoke to the people of their original “birth” and the elements that were missing: “And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all” (vs. 4). Then the Lord described how they had been “birthed” of Him through their covenants with Him and how He had provided the important birth rituals they originally lacked: “Then washed I thee with water; yea I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broidered work” (vs. 8-10).

The scriptures outline a similar ritual rebirth process for High Priests before entering the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement each year. At the door of the temple, a priest would be washed with water, anointed with oil, and clothed with sacred attire. This sacred attire included a cap/mitre, also translatable as “turban” (Mitsnepheth in the Hebrew) or “crown” as described by Myers in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (see footnote 35 in Matthew Grey’s article). Following the washing, anointing, crowning and clothing, the priest was consecrated to the service of God with the the Divine Name inscribed on a plate of gold fitted on his head: “Holiness to the Lord” (Exodus 28:36-38).

Referring specifically to the anointing aspect of these rituals, Matthew Grey explains: “In most cases, the act of ritual anointing serves to empower or enable the person to do what he was made worthy to do through the washing. In its most common application, anointing with oil was used in the coronation of a king or in the consecration of a priest” (p. 68).

These words from an Ensign article (published two months before I was born) seem particularly pertinent: “In the temple men are prepared for their roles as kings and priests, and women are prepared to become queens and priestesses” (Carolyn J. Rasmus, “Mormon Women: A Convert’s Perspective“). President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “It is within the privilege of the sisters of this Church to receive . . . authority and power as queens and priestesses” (Daughters in my Kingdom).

Nothing is more important than physical birth and spiritual rebirth Elder Christofferson told us. Our mothers have given us the gift of birth and our first naming. Christ gave us the gift of rebirth through baptism and offered us His name. We may experience other rebirths in our journey upward, but none is more sacred than the rebirth our Heavenly Parents offer to us: a rebirth as kings and queens, priests and priestesses, and the sacred naming given only to those who have overcome the world:

To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written , which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it (Revelation 2:17).

by Lani

Seeking Earnestly the Best Gifts

March 29, 2014 in Divine nature, Lani, Love, Personal Revelation, Power of Words, Prayer, Priesthood, Priesthood blessings, Thoughts, Women's Rights, Young Women by Lani

 

You say it’s in this heart of mine
Everything I need to shine
It’s love alone that makes this light
And gives us wings and takes us through the night
-Dan Zanes, “Firefly

For the past couple of weeks, it has felt very much like my soul has been straining, reaching, trying to uncover something just beyond my grasp. I’m sitting down to write because, like Flannery O’Connor said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

The Mormon news world has been humming with articles, letters, blogposts, comments, so many opinions swirling around the subject of women and Priesthood ordination. Personally, I don’t want to attend Priesthood Session, and I don’t want to be ordained as a deacon, elder, bishop, apostle, or prophet. But my heart has compassion toward those women who are seeking “earnestly the best gifts” (D&C 46:8) and grappling with questions. Joseph Fielding Smith has told us: “If [women] are faithful and true, they will become priestesses” (qtd. in M. Catherine Thomas, Light in the Wilderness, p. 287). None of us really knows how God would define a “priestess” and her powers. Do we already possess these powers and simply need to develop them more fully? Will they be given to us at some point in the future? These are valid questions I’ve wondered about myself.

This post isn’t really a “women and the priesthood” post per se, but it was the priesthood issue that prompted my initial straining, reaching, searching. In my efforts to better understand the issue, I have been delving deep into the subject of power, what it means to have power, what it means to em-power—petitioning God in prayer and meditation for answers, scouring the scriptures, articles, scientific research, and various books for the missing pieces in my understanding.

I’ve also scanned my memories, working to discover whose influence has been the most powerful in my life and why. Of course parents, grandparents, and close friends are givens. Certainly my favorite authors. But what about regular people? What about those strangers I can’t forget? What made them powerful?

When I was about thirteen years old, I got stuck in the Columbus, Ohio, airport, flying stand-by with my brother, trying to get back to Boston after visiting our grandparents and cousins in Utah. The flights were packed and the prospects of getting out of that airport reasonably soon were slim. I panicked. My overactive imagination began catastrophizing up a storm. I couldn’t relax. I could hardly breathe.

Then an airline employee at one of the gate desks took compassion on us. We had probably come up to her after failing to obtain seats on the last flight of the evening, asking whether there was any chance of luck in the morning. I don’t remember her name, but twenty years later I can still remember how her kind eyes and smile melted my fears away. If my memory serves me correctly, she spent a considerable amount of time helping us look at our options, talking with our family on the phone about possibilities, probably staying long past the end of her shift. She had a good soul, a nurturing heart, and I could feel it deep in my core. She didn’t make our problems go away, but in her presence, I felt at peace. In her presence, I felt for a few moments that everything was going to be OK. And that was enough to get me through that night in Columbus, Ohio.

Here’s what I know. That woman was powerful.

Carolyn Myss has written: “The truth is that the more you empower others, the more powerful you become” (Invisible Acts of Power, p. 44). How powerful am I? How am I using my power? I love these words from President David O. McKay (I took the liberty of making the pronouns feminine to better suit my theme): 

 

There is one responsibility which no woman can evade; that responsibility is her personal influence, a silent, subtle radiation. . . .  This radiation is tremendous. Every . . . person who lives in this world wields an influence whether for good or for evil. It is not what she says alone; it is not alone what she does. It is what she is. . . . Every woman has an atmosphere which is affecting every other person. She cannot escape for one moment from this radiation of her character, this constant weakening or strengthening of others (qtd in Thomas, p. 187).

 

When I think of the magnitude of the power I wield, it is sort of frightening to me. I can crush another person, or I can send them soaring. I can alter the atmosphere in a room in an instant by my own energy and behavior. That woman in the Columbus airport radiated a character so beautiful that it swept my panic away and replaced it with peace. That’s the kind of power I want. That’s the kind of character I want to radiate.

I was talking to my friend/co-author Felice about my soul-searching and questions about power last weekend. She said, “Have you read The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis?” I happened to have it on my bookshelf (purchased years ago for a book club but never finished). The Great Divorce is C.S. Lewis’s brief fictional journey from hell to heaven. Felice described to me a part of the book that I have now read multiple times and keep coming back to. I’ll paste a condensed excerpt here:

First came bright Spirits . . . who danced and scattered flowers. Then, on the left and right, at each side of the forest avenue, came youthful shapes, boys upon one hand, and girls upon the other. . . . Between them went musicians: and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done. . . . It must have been the almost visible penumbra of her courtesy and joy which produces in my memory the illusion of a great and shining train that followed her across the happy grass. . . . Only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.

“Is it?… is it?” I whispered to my guide.

“Not at all,” said he. “It’s someone ye’ll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.”

“She seems to be . . . well, a person of particular importance?”

“Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.” . . .

“And who are all these young men and women on each side?”

“They are her sons and daughters.”

“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”

“Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter. . . . Her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. . . .“

“And how… but hullo! What are all these animals? A cat—two cats—dozens of cats. And all those dogs… why, I can’t count them. And the birds. And the horses.”

“They are her beasts.”

“Did she keep a sort of zoo? I mean, this is a bit too much.”

“Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. The abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”

I looked at my Teacher in amazement.

“Yes,” he said. “It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.” (p. 117-120)

There is much I still don’t know or understand. The longer I live, the more complex, heart-wrenching, and confusing life seems to become. But all of this pondering has led me back to this most basic of truths:

There are many of God’s powers available for us to harness and develop here upon the Earth, and the greatest of these is love.

I can be powerful in this life. We all can. Every moment. Of every day. Radiating who we are, wakening the dead things of the universe into life.

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My 8- and 10-year-old daughters’ hands 🙂

Miracle Birth Story of Melchizedek

February 28, 2014 in Angels, Conception, Death, Felice, Fertility, Priesthood by Progressive Prophetess

I have been thinking a lot lately about miracle births. Jesus Christ’s conception and birth are of course, the most famous and miraculous, but there are a whole lot of other miracle conceptions and births in the scriptures, and in every day lives. For example, a friend of mine has shared that her parents have no idea how she was conceived. The parents of Melchizedek evidently felt the same way, for similar reasons, however, my friend’s mother survived the ordeal.

The following story is from the second book of Enoch, which is not included in the traditional Christian canon, but is one of the few apocryphal books mentioned throughout the cannon. We could discuss why it was excluded by that early century committee at length (some LDS scholars believe it was put down because it had too much evidence of God having a physical body, which went against teachings of the time.) but we won’t do that now. Let’s just jump into the good stuff–the jaw dropping, miraculous and strange birth story of Melchizedek.  If you are familiar with bible stories, it is no more strange than many of them, but it is apocryphal, so read it with discernment. I’m not saying it is 100% factually true, but it gives one much to ponder.

 

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Behold, the wife of Nir, whose name was Sopanim, being sterile and never having at any time given birth to a child by Nir –

Sopanim was in the time of her old age and in the day of her death. She conceived in her womb, but Nir the priest had not slept with her. From the day that that The Lord had appointed him to conduct the liturgy in front of the face of the people.

When Sopanim saw her pregnancy, she was ashamed and embarrassed, and she hid herself during all the days until she gave birth. Not one of the people knew about it. When 282 days had been completed, and the day of birth had begun to approach, Nir remembered his wife, he called her to himself in his house, so that he might converse with her.

Sopanim came to Nir, her husband; and, behold, she was pregnant, and the day appointed for giving birth was drawing near. Nir saw her and became very ashamed. He said to her, “What is this that you have done, O wife? Why have you disgraced me in front of the face of these people? Now, depart from me and go where you began the disgrace of your womb, so that I might not defile my hand on account of you, and sin in front of The Face of The Lord.”

Sopanim spoke to her husband, Nir, saying, “O my lord! Behold, it is the time of my old age, the day of my death has arrived. I do not understand how my menopause and the barrenness of my womb have been reversed.” . Nir did not believe his wife, and for the second time he said to her, “Depart from me, or else I might assault you, and commit a sin in front of the face of The Lord.”

And it came to pass, when Nir had spoken to his wife, Sopanim, that Sopanim fell down at Nir’s feet and died. Nir was extremely distressed and said in his heart, “Could this have happened because of my word? And now, merciful is The Eternal Lord, because my hand was not upon her.”

The archangel Gabriel appeared to Nir, and said to him, “Do not think that your wife Sopanim has died because of your error, but this child, which is to be born of her is a righteous fruit, and one whom I shall receive into paradise, so that you will not be the father of a gift of God.”

Nir hurried and shut the door of his house. He went to Noah, his brother, and he reported to him everything that had happened in connection with his wife. Noah hurried to the room of his brother. The appearance of his brother’s wife was in death and her womb was at the time of giving birth.

Noah said to Nir, “Don’t let yourself be sorrowful, Nir, my brother! For The Lord today has covered up our scandal, in that nobody from the people knows this. Now let us go quickly and bury her, and The Lord will cover up the scandal of our shame.” They placed Sopanim on the bed, wrapped her around with black garments, and shut the door. They dug a grave in secret.

When they had gone out toward the grave, a child came out from the dead Sopanim and sat on the bed at her side. Noah and Nir came in to bury Sopanim and they saw the child sitting beside the dead Sopanim, wiping his clothing. Noah and Nir were very terrified with a great fear, because the child was fully developed physically, he spoke with his lips and blessed The Lord.

Noah and Nir looked at him closely, saying, “This is from The Lord, my brother.” And behold the badge of priesthood was on his chest, and it was glorious in appearance. Noah said to Nir, “Behold, God is renewing the priesthood from blood related to us, just as He pleases..”

Noah and Nir hurried and washed the child, they dressed him in the garments of the priesthood, and they gave him bread to eat and he ate it. And they called him Melchizedek .

Noah and Nir lifted up the body of Sopanim, divested her of the black garments, and washed her. They clothed her in exceptionally bright garments and built a grave for her. Noah, Nir, and Melchizedek came and they buried her publicly. Noah said to his brother Nir, “Look after this child in secret until the time, because people will become treacherous in all the earth, they will begin to turn away from God, and having become totally ignorant, and in some way when they see him, they will put him to death.”

Then Noah went away to his own place, and behold, great lawlessness began to become abundant over all the earth in the days of Nir. And Nir began to worry excessively about the child saying, “What will I do with him?” And stretching out his hands toward heaven, Nir called out to The Lord, saying, “How miserable it is for me, Eternal Lord, that all lawlessness has begun to become abundant over all the earth in my days! And I realize how much nearer our end is, on account of the lawlessness of the people. And now, Lord, what is the vision about this child, and what is his destiny, or what will I do for him, so that he too will not be joined with us in this destruction?”

The Lord heeded Nir and appeared to him in a night vision. And He said to him, “Behold already, Nir, the great lawlessness which has come about on the earth, which I shall not tolerate anymore. Behold, I plan not to send down a great destruction onto the earth. But, concerning the child, do not worry, Nir; because I, in a short while, will send My archangel Gabriel. And he will take the child and put him in the paradise of Edem.

He will not perish along with those who must perish. As I have revealed it, Melchizedek will be My priest to all holy priests, I will sanctify him and I will establish him so that he will be the head of the priests of the future.”

Nir arose from his sleep and blessed The Lord, Who had appeared to him saying:

	Blessed be The Lord, The God of my fathers,
	Who has not condemned my priesthood 
	and the priesthood of my fathers,
	because by His Word, He has created a great priest
	in the womb of Sopanim, my wife.
	For I have no descendants.
	So let this child take the place of my descendants and become as my
	own son, and You will count him in the number of your servants."

“Therefore honor him together with your servants and great priests and me your servant, Nir. And behold, Melchizedek will be the head of priests in another generation. I know that great confusion has come and in confusion this generation will come to an end, and everyone will perish, except that Noah, my brother, will be preserved for procreation. From his tribe, there will arise numerous people, and Melchizedek will become the head of priests reigning over a royal people who serve You, O Lord.”

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It happened when the child had completed 40 days in Nir’s tent, The Lord said to the archangel Gabriel, “Go down onto the earth to Nir the priest, and take the child Melchizedek, who is with him. Place him in the paradise of Edem for preservation. For the time is already approaching, and I will pour out all the water onto the earth, and everything that is on the earth will perish. And I will raise it up again, and Melchizedek will be the head of the priests in that generation.” And Gabriel hurried, and came flying down when it was night, and Nir was sleeping on his bed that night. Gabriel appeared to him and said to him, “Thus says The Lord: ‘Nir! Restore the child to me whom I entrusted to you.’ ”

Nir did not realize who was speaking to him and his heart was confused. And he said, “When the people find out about the child, then they will seize him and kill him, because the heart of these people are deceitful in front of The Face of The Lord.” And he answered Gabriel and said, “The child is not with me, and I don’t know who is speaking to me.”

Gabriel answered him, “Do not be frightened, Nir! I am the archangel Gabriel. The Lord sent me and behold, I shall take your child today. I will go with him and I will place him in the paradise of Edem.”

Nir remembered the first dream and believed it. He answered Gabriel, “Blessed be The Lord, who has sent you to me today! Now bless your servant Nir! Take the child and do to him all that has been said to you.” And Gabriel took the child, Melchizedek on the same nught on his wings, and he placed him in the paradise of Edem. Nir got up in the morning, and he went into his tent and did not find the child. There was great joy and grief for Nir because had the child in place of a son.

73

The Lord said to Noah, “Make an ark with 300 cubits in length, in width 50 cubits and in height 30 cubits. Put the entrance to the ark in its side; and make it with two stories in the middle” The Lord God opened the doors of heaven. Rain came onto the earth and all flesh died.

Noah fathered 3 sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. He went into the ark in his six hundredth year. After the flood, he lived 350 years. He lived in all 950 years, according to The Lord our God.

To our God be Glory always, now and in the ages of the ages. AMEN.

Crazy interesting huh? Not much is said about Melchizedek in our scriptures, but for some reason he was important enough that the highest priesthood–the “Priesthood after the order of the Son of God” was re-named after him. Some people believe that he was Jesus Chris, visiting the earth before his coming in another form. I am not certain but I believe that if he was a man, he was awesome, and had elevated himself to be very much like Christ, and was a type of the Christ to come.

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)

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I pray that we can all think about and learn more about Melchizedek, the prince of peace, as we study the scriptures and receive inspiration. Feel free to share any insights you have.

Through the grace of God,

Felice

 

 

by Robyn

Inward and Outward Ordinances

January 31, 2014 in Menstruation, Parenting, Priesthood, Puberty, Rites of passage, Robyn, Symbolism, Temple, Uncategorized by Robyn

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Faith In God, My Gospel Standards, and The Gift of Giving Life

“That they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”

John 17:3.

I was recently released from serving in Young Women. My new calling is to teach the Valiant 10/11 year old girls.  In addition to that I am also their Activity Day leader.  I have been studying the Faith in God program with new eyes, looking for ways in which it prepares a girl (or boy) to give life.

The entire purpose of the Faith in God program is that each girl and boy of the age of accountability is set on a path that will bring them to know God and Jesus Christ.

The program is split into four sections: “Learning and Living the Gospel,” “Serving Others,” “Developing Talents,” and “Preparing for Young Women or the Priesthood.”

All of the requirements are identical for a boy and girl until you reach the section on Preparing for Young Women or the Priesthood.  The choice of scriptures for these sections is not a coincidence:

For the soon to be Young Women: “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come” D&C 87:8.

And for the soon to be Young Men: “The Priesthood of Aaron . . . is an appendage to the greater, or the Melchizedek Priesthood, and has power in administering outward ordinances” D&C 107:13-14.

Did anyone else catch the significance of comparing these two scriptures next to each other? These young priesthood holders administer in “outward ordinances,” which begs the question, what about the “inward ordinances?”  Inward ordinances happen inside a holy temple, in “holy places.”  There are the washings, anointings, endowments, and sealings we have all been taught about that take place in holy temple buildings.  But we are also told that our body is a temple.  If you have read Heather’s essay, “The Two Veils,” you are aware of some of these inward ordinances: intimacy, conception, pregnancy and birth.  I would add to that list, menstruation and lactation.  These girls are preparing to shed blood as did the Savior.  They are a holy place where ordinance work will take place beginning with menstruation and continuing through other the other inward ordinances.

As our girls become young women we must teach them the sacredness of their bodies and that they are places of holy ordinance work symbolizing the mission of our Savior. (Boys need to be taught their bodies are sacred too.  This could be a whole other post. I’m just concentrating on the role of girls preparing to be young women.) The point I am trying to make is that if we do not teach them what that means they will be confused as to why and how to express the power they hold within them.  Why be modest?  Why avoid harmful substances?  Why keep the Gospel Standards?

It is easy to misunderstand the importance of inward ordinances.  It is easier to understand outward ordinances and their significance because of their apparent visibility but that does not mean they are more important than inward ordinances.  The fact that inward ordinances are so misunderstood speaks to how sacred they truly are. 

As a girl becomes a woman she experiences changes in her body that are symbolic of the Savior’s life giving properties.  Hair begins to grow and is symbolic of life.  The curves she develops give her body the strength and shape to carry life within her and bring it into this world.  Hair begins to grow and is symbolic of life. Her breasts grow so that they may eventually be filled with living water to nourish her baby just as the Savior’s living water is meant to nourish us. Her body begins to ovulate and shed blood as did the Christ.  Whether inward or outward we should always, ask ourselves, “in what way does this ordinance testify of Christ and His Atonement?”

Each of the sections within the Faith in God program is preparatory to coming to know God and Jesus Christ.  In order to truly know God we become like our Heavenly Parents.  Part of that is reverencing inward ordinances.  We must help our boys and girls keep baptismal covenants, learn and live the gospel, serve others, develop talents, and prepare for more ordinance work in the young women and priesthood programs.

How do we help our boys and girls understand inward and outward ordinances?

  • Utilize A Parent’s Guide. It is a manual by the church for parents to help with teaching our children about their bodies and intimacy according to their understanding and age.
  • Participate in Faith in God.  Attend scouting or activity days.
  • Celebrate and teach them about the inward ordinances. Consider a coming of age party for your daughter as she nears puberty.
  • Put together a special binder/book of information for your daughter about the changes she will experience. 
  • Attend the new General Women’s Meetings with your daughters (or boys the General Priesthood Meeting with their fathers). It seems God has much in store for our girls and we must be ready to help them understand what is coming. Study both the Women’s and Priesthood sessions.  Teach your daughters and sons what was discussed at both.
  • Listen for those informal, spontaneous moments when you can talk about these topics and bear testimony of their significance.  Don’t have this conversation just once. Leave the lines of communication open for questions.
  • Go on “dates” with your child. They need not be extravagant, they just involve one on one time. 
  • Be aware of how you talk about your body, motherhood, and fatherhood, etc.  Our children tend to mirror our insecurities.

I have already been learning a great deal from these powerful girls who are on the cusp of becoming women.  They are smart.  I have to prepare for their lessons studying not only the primary manual but the adult Sunday school lesson as well.  Their questions are thoughtful and reflective.  I feel a great responsibility to give them what matters most.  I seek the spirit every week as I prepare to teach them.   

I would love to learn from you. What have you done to teach your children or primary kids the significance of inward and outward ordinances?

 

 

by Lani

Wounded Warriors

October 4, 2013 in Abortion, Atonement, Depression, Dreams, Energy Healing, Forgiveness, Grief, Intuition, Lani, meditation, Motherhood, Pain, Parenting, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Pregnancy, Prenatal influences, Priesthood, Priesthood blessings by Lani

A reminder of our official disclaimer:

Though we have made every attempt to be consistent with the correct doctrine and teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Gift of Giving Life and all related media are an expression of many of our own thoughts and reflections upon pondering the truths of the gospel that we treasure. Our book, website, and facebook page are not official declarations of doctrine in regards to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to which we belong and cherish our membership. Please make sure to pray and ponder about everything you read.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to quote a scripture:

“The whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin” (Moroni 8:8).

I absolutely believe those words to be true. In the context of Moroni’s words, I interpret the word “whole” to mean “without sin.” Little children are 100% whole in that sense. However, I have come to understand that while all children are whole, in the sense of being “without sin” themselves, some babies come to this earth already spiritually wounded. I have learned this truth first-hand.

In 2010, when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter (fourth child), something led me to the website of Sarah Hinze. At the time I felt very drawn to Sarah. Sarah has done extensive research into pre-birth experiences, and I found her research fascinating. I felt like God wanted me to connect with her, but I didn’t know why. Simultaneously, I was experiencing (for the first time) antepartum depression. I had never been depressed during a pregnancy before. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so much darkness and misery. It seemed so strange after three previous happy pregnancies.

After the birth, when my baby was eleven months old, I had a striking and memorable dream. Occasionally God speaks to me in dreams. I feel that this was one of those divine messages. Here’s what I saw…

I was walking with someone. I don’t know who it was. The road we were walking down looked like a ghost town. Dark, abandoned buildings. Dirty. Trash everywhere. But we were the only people walking down a deserted road. Eventually, we went over to the gutter on the side of the road, and I picked something up. At first I thought it was just a piece of garbage. But then, as I looked closer, it seemed to transform in my hand. It was a baby!  A tiny baby… only an inch or two or three. It fit in the palm of my hand, and it was alive.

My immediate thought was, “We have to find her parents!” I held her and began searching. As I searched, she grew miraculously (in the space of a few hours) to be five or six years old. A sweet little blonde girl. I took care of her while looking and looking for her parents or at least a suitable home for her. As I cared for her, I felt my heart ache and fill with love for her. Part of me really wanted to keep her, but another part of me thought, “I can’t take care of another kid right now!”

Eventually, after realizing that our search was futile, we brought her to a non-descript building. There was a massive line of children coming from the door. I got the impression that all those children were like her. They were waiting in line because they had nowhere to go. We headed to the back of the line to leave her there, but my heart was torn and breaking. I wanted to keep her, but I also didn’t feel like I could. Then the dream ended.

My interpretation of the dream was that the little girl from my dream was a special spirit who had been rejected and cast aside repeatedly, perhaps through abortions. She was hurting, and she desperately wanted to come to Earth, to be wanted and loved. I felt that I had been chosen to “rescue” her because I have the compassion and experience to know how to nurture a soul acquainted with abandonment. I felt that she would be bringing some of that heartache with her to Earth and that I had the means within me to help her heal. I thought this spirit sister was still waiting to come to my family, that she was a child I had not yet brought to Earth. I also felt that God was calling me to help rescue all the other children like her, castaways waiting for their turn on earth.

IMG_6650When I told my husband about the dream and my interpretation, his response was, “Maybe it’s just telling us where [our youngest daughter] came from?” I assumed he was just speaking from his own lack-of-desire to have any additional children. I wasn’t ready to open my mind to that possibility. No, it couldn’t be her, I thought.

A little over a year later, through a series of divinely-orchestrated events, I finally met and became dear friends with Sarah Hinze—the woman I had admired from afar on the internet since my pregnancy. I devoured several of Sarah’s books and developed a special connection with her. Over the past several decades, Sarah has gathered many stories about the spirits of aborted babies returning to earth. So we started working on some projects together, with a mutual desire to raise awareness about the “castaways” (like the little girl in my dream and countless others like her).

Through my work with Sarah Hinze, I became familiar with two stories that were influential in helping me open my mind and heart to the truth about my dream, my pregnancy depression, and my daughter:

We found that these were the feelings of the little girl in my womb. I was feeling all her feelings with her. . . . we learned that this little soul had been in another body that had been aborted. She was experiencing again the fears, rejection, sadness, and feelings of being not loved or wanted. She was feeling that she was nothing; and that she might possibly be destroyed again (“Learning to Trust“).

 The day I found out I was pregnant I literally danced for joy!  I had known he was coming for a number of years and was so anxious to have him.  I could feel he was pleased I wanted him so much.  Yet, in the ensuing weeks, I could feel a sadness about him.  I did not understand why. . . . In the beginning of February, I finally received the answer I had been looking for.  I was told by a friend who could see and talk to spirits, that Michael was . . . sad because he had been aborted a few years prior by another woman (“Receiving Michael“).

As I pondered these stories, my mind began to open to the possibility that my husband had been right with his interpretation of my dream.

Indeed, our youngest daughter had, over time, grown into a very clingy toddler who cried excessively. Though I had always gone out of my way to help her feel safe and loved and secure, she still seemed to have a constant mistrust of my permanence in her life. Always afraid to let me out of her sight. She was restless, doubtful, anxious, and seemed so often unhappy. And I was exhausted and at my wit’s end wondering what I had done wrong with her. All she had known all her life was love, safety, and compassion. So why was she so miserable?

Then just a few months ago in June, I finally asked God. After feeling little whispers here and there, urging me to open my mind and heart, I got on my knees, and I asked if my youngest daughter was the little girl from my dream. Almost immediately, it was like hundreds of little puzzle pieces clicked into place in my head, and a tidal wave of intense anguish swept over me. I gasped and started sobbing. I felt impressed that the vast portion of the pain I was feeling belonged to my daughter. I believe I was given a small taste of the agony of her festering pre-mortal wounds. And I sobbed and sobbed, bathed in her agony and my own guilt for having been so blind to her wounds (and so resentful of her neediness), for nearly an hour.

Once I had calmed down enough to explain to my husband why I was sobbing, I asked for a priesthood blessing. Within that blessing, I was given divine confirmation of the impressions and revelation I had received. She was the little girl from my dream. She had been cast away multiple times in the past. My heart was broken for her.

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A few weeks later, I had a conversation that served as another witness to my daughter’s pain-filled past. She is now two-and-a-half years old. On that particular morning I had been praying and meditating with the intent to help her heal. So it seemed fitting that she, somehow sensing my focus on her pre-earth self, started a conversation with me about it:

“I was in your belly,” she said.

“Yes, you were!” I said with a smile. “Did you like it in my belly?”

“No,” she answered. And then the moment passed.

Maybe ten minutes later, we were in her bedroom changing her clothes or doing some other morning task, and she said, “I was sad.”

“When were you sad?” I asked.

“In your belly,” she said.

Though I was not excited to learn that my daughter’s womb experiences had been, in fact, painful for her, it was also a relief to hear her little voice speaking the words. I felt that it was both a confirmation that I wasn’t crazy and a confirmation that my efforts were doing something and stirring up something inside of her, which is often one of the first steps to healing. I was happy that something had given her the voice to speak her pain out loud.

I will have to save the rest of our healing journey for another blogpost, but I wanted to at least share this much today. I want to bear my firm testimony that there are many spirits being sent to earth in these days who have “baggage.” They are, of course, whole and pure, in the sense Moroni spoke of. But some of them are also carrying painful wounds that they received before they ever took their first breaths. I believe that many of these children are being compensated for their previous trials and pain through being sent to loving homes where they can be nurtured in peace and heal. Perhaps one of your children (or a future child) is among those wounded souls. These special spirits need special mothering, tenderness, empathy, compassion. You can read more of their stories HERE.

I have written about the Spirit of Elijah in our book. I believe these special wounded spirits are among those Malachi was making reference to when he said:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children” (Malachi 4:5-6).

I invite you to turn your heart to these children. I invite you to gain your own testimony of their existence. I invite you to resolve to do whatever you can to help them heal. It is my belief that some of the most valiant and gifted of heavenly fathers children are among them, and it is for this very reason that Satan has (often repeatedly) thwarted their entrance into mortality. They are the armies that will eventually destroy him. Let’s help empower them to do so.

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The Matriarchal Order

June 19, 2013 in Family History, Heather, Motherhood, Priesthood by Heatherlady

I want something strange for my birthday.

Basically a box with two big Q-tips

This is the DNA Test for the National Geographic Genographic project. For $200 they will send you two mouth swabs, which you swish around in your mouth, and then mail back to them. With the swab they are able to use your mitochondrial DNA and the DNA from your Y chromosome (if you are man) to trace your lineage back thousands of years. So far the project has hundred of thousands of participants from around the world and they are beginning to be able to trace the genetic trends and migration patterns of ancient people based on DNA markers. The results you get back from your mouth swab should be able to tell you from what individual woman you descended from and where your maternal ancestors moved and migrated to through the centuries.

These videos explains it much clearer than I would be able to do. It is really quite amazing.

Maybe I am strange, but I would LOVE to have this done. Here is why:

If you remember back to your 7th grade Biology class the “Y” chromosome is  only found in males and is the sex-determination gene. If you have a “Y” Chromosome then you are a man, if not you are a woman. This means that the “Y” Chromosome has been passed down since the very first man to all other men living on the earth. Tracing it back can tell a man his paternal lineage. Yet only tracing the “Y” Chromosome gives us less than half the picture of humanity.

The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) on the other hand is found in both men and women. The mtDNA it is the “powerhouse” of the cell and is where cells create the energy they need to live.  Scientists have discovered that within the mitochondria there are thirteen genomes that are the life activation sites where– miraculously– the cell creates the “spark” that makes life possible. The amazing thing about mitochondrial DNA is that it is ONLY passed on– to both men and women– through the mother. Men’s mitochondrial DNA is contained in the sperm and it dies before it is passed on to the egg. So the only mitochondrial DNA that both men and women have comes from their mother. This means that by examining their mtDNA every person on earth would be able to trace their maternal lineage back to the very first woman. In fact, this woman is often called by scientists “Mitochondrial Eve.” The woman to whom ALL of humanity– both male and female– has an unbreakable DNA chain back to.

It just takes my breath away to think about what that means.

It means that within the very first woman, this “Mitochondrial Eve”, was given the literal power to  activate life. That as she bore children that life force was passed on to her sons and her daughters in the from of their mtDNA. Then as Eve’s daughters began to bear children they passed on the VERY same mtDNA to their children, thus giving them life. Their daughters then passed on that that life activating power to the next generation of women, who passed it onto their daughters, who passed it on and on until eventually that very same mitochondrial DNA (with a few mutations) is what now powers my cells and sustains my  life force. It is incredible to think that I am literally connected in an unbroken chain of mtDNA, through all those generations of women, back to my very first mother.

It is the matriarchal order.

The matriarchal order is the plan, the lineage, the way through which ALL of God’s children have, and will, enter mortality. There is no other way to get to this earth than through the body of woman. You just can’t sneak in the back door, it doesn’t work that way. If you want to come to earth and get a body you must pass through a woman’s body into this world, and she must pass onto you those life activating cells. There is absolutely no other way to do it. Furthermore, once you have your body you will forever carry with you that mtDNA, a permanent and real link that seals you into the beautiful tree of humanity.

I loved how author and scientist Bryan Sykes explained his own feelings about this order in his book, “The Seven Daughters of Eve.” He said:

” I am on a stage. Before me, in the dim light, all the people who have ever lived are lined up, rank upon rank, stretching far into the distance… I have in my hand the end of a thread which connects me to my ancestral mother way at the back. I pull on the thread and one woman’s face in every generation, felling the tug, looks up at me. Their faces stand out from the crowd, and they are illuminated by a strange light. These are my ancestors. I recognize my grandmother in the front row, but in the generations behind her the faces are unfamiliar to me… There are all my mothers who passed this precious messenger [mitochondrial DNA] from one to another through thousands of births, a thousand screams and thousands of embraces of a thousand newborn babies. The thread becomes an umbilical chord.” ( In “Eve and the Choice Made in Eden” by Beverly Campbell, pg 47-48

In a similar way all who wish to enter into the Kingdom of God must pass through the patriarchal order. They must become “reborn”, as Christ describes it, as the sons and daughters of God through the ordinances of the priesthood, which includes baptism, the endowment and sealings. These ordinances, which are recorded on heaven and on earth, makes it possible for there to be an unbroken sealing link  through all generations. A link which literally makes it possible for us to be reborn into our resurrected immortal bodies, be cleansed from our sins, and enter into God’s kingdom.

Really, the goal of all the work we do in our homes and in the church is aimed at having every person who has ever lived on earth spiritually sealed, bound, and connected together all the way back to Adam, just like we are already— through the process of our birth– physically sealed to our mother Eve. Understanding this makes everything we do in the gospel so much more clear to me. As author Beverly Campbell said,

“What insight this fundamental connection gives us of the gathering into families in the hereafter and therefore of the importance of genealogy and temple work. How marvelous is the plan of God and His wonderful scales of justice as He places recognition of the linkage of humankind through the mother and the lineage of the priesthood through the father.” (“Eve and the Choice Made in Eden” by Beverly Campbell, pg. 48

It is truly incredible when you start to think about it. It makes me want to shout with joy and spread the good news of the gospel from the housetops. It makes me want to stand beside the men in my life and help them honor and use their priesthood righteously; to help them to truly see and understand the marvelous work that God has entrusted to them on this earth. It makes me want to hug the women around me and say, “Do you understand? Can you see who you are? We have the most amazing bodies!” It makes me yearn to search out my ancestors and take their names to the temple. Yet more than anything, it makes my heart swell with joy and gratitude to the men and women who have sealed me into the family of God– both physical and spiritually. Those men and women who have worked together to forge a matriarchal and a patriarchal order– endlessly sealing and linking all of God’s children together for eternity.

God has truly designed the work of this earth to be  THE MOST beautiful partnership between men and women imaginable.

Which is why I think it would be really neat to get a little peek at my very own ancient maternal lineage for my birthday.  Even though $200 does seem like a lot for two giant Q-tips.

A girl can always hope right?

Cross-posted at Women in the Scriptures