The Wisdom of a Consecrated Life

Just the other day I spent the afternoon with my mother-in-law to celebrate her 85th birthday. She is wise, always has been. We took her to lunch at Olive Garden and had a great visit. She's still sharp as a whip and I think her social life could rival that of any YSA in the Church. She knows pretty much everything important that is going on in the lives of her life-long friends, her eight living children and ever-growing posterity. I love and respect her greatly. 

We enjoyed a number of different conversations, mostly catching up on the family gossip (all positive). But the one thing she brought up that kind of surprised me, was when she shared her brief thoughts about those who take issue about (what she considers, and I agree) the little things in the Church and blow them out of proportion. Meaning, they have nothing to do with our salvation. She specifically referred to those who advocate outside of the Church for priesthood ordination (although she didn't say it exactly like that, but I knew).

If this doesn't tell you how 'with it' my mother-in-law is at 85 I don't know what would. This is a woman, who still recalls sitting out on the lawn at Temple Square, while her husband (then serving in a stake presidency) was inside the Tabernacle attending priesthood meeting. She would listen intently and trust that the counsel being given by Prophets' of God would not only bless their lives, but more importantly the lives of all members of the Church -- male and female. Not once did she feel that she was being barred from some secret society. After she shared those thoughts with me, she just shook her head and I knew what she meant -- though her words were few.

As women in the Church, we have so much. We are blessed beyond earthly boundaries with power and authority to do the eternal work of the Lord because of the priesthood of God here upon the earth. There are no 'them and us' when it comes to equality from an eternal perspective. Truly, I felt her sadness (and perhaps a little frustration) for those sisters who do not see "things as they really are." More than anything, I sincerely believe that she shared her feelings with me to convey the thought that women in the Church are best to focus on those things that will bless our lives, here and now, and that of our families for eternity.

When you're 85, I imagine one tends to focus on what's most important in life. This makes hearing the thoughts of someone at that age pertinent. The seemingly little things that many of us spend time fretting about will likely not claim our time and emotions in the not too distant future. Rather, life's lessons and challenges will have mellowed us out and we will hopefully be more focused on what truly matters for time and eternity. Those are the experiences intended to help us become like Christ.

With these thoughts in mind, I am more fixed than ever to make sure that my own time and talents are spent in building up the kingdom of God and looking for the positive. I pray that the legacy I leave my own children will be similar to that of so many valiant LDS women who have gone before. These courageous sisters served the Church and their families faithfully, without complaint. I am confident that the peace each of us seek, as daughters of God, comes from knowing who we are and trusting that a consecrated life is sufficient to claim all the blessings of Exaltation. 

Isn't it interesting that the Lord in His perfect wisdom allows the seemingly elderly (considered out of touch) to lead His Church here upon the earth. I can't wait to hear their counsel and teaching over the next week.


Kathryn Skaggs

New York: Mormon Women Among Group Requesting Inclusion of Family at United Nations Conference

Women from several organizations around the world — including the Big Ocean Women (BOW) based in Provo — plan to gather at the gates of the UN today at 5:45 EST to demand inclusion of family language in the Post-2015 Agenda.
Provo’s Carolina Allen (founder of Big Ocean Women) and Susan Roylance (International Policy and Social Development Coordinator for the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society) collaborate on wording to announce their demonstration at the U.N.

These faith-based women gathered in a Staples near the U.N. to make hundreds of small flyers asking women to gather to present a Declaration of Women. They then dispersed to spread the information to family-friendly delegates and attendees of the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women.
In addition, the demonstration will include the Be WoMan campaign with “+9″ signs, which signify that life began nine months before birth.
Provo’s Carolina Allen, president of Big Ocean Women, says, “We join hands with women from all over the world to support motherhood and families, and request the U.N. to include us in their Post-2015 Agenda.”
Source: UtahValley360

3/18/2014 Press Release: Women Demand Inclusion of the Family in the UN Post-2015 Agenda

Women from several organizations around the world gathered at the gates of the UN on Wednesday, March 18th, to support the inclusion of family language in the Post-2015 Agenda.
The women represent 130 NGOs from 40 countries over five continents, including Brazil, Guatemala, Canada, Bolivia, Mexico, Philippines, Japan, Central African Republic, Cuba, New Zealand and the United States. Other women attending the Commission on the Status of Women joined hands with these women -- in support of the women promoting the importance of the family in the United Nations activities in the next 15 years.
A Declaration of Women, created by the Professionals for Ethics organization, was presented.
The women gathered at the gates were holding signs which said “+9” – representing the nine months before they were born. “We declare that life begins 9 months before our birth,” said Susan Roylance, the International Policy and Social Development Coordinator for the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.
Carolina Allen, President of Big Ocean Women, declared their organization’s support for the family and motherhood and stated that “we join hands with women from all-over the world to support mothers and families, and request the U.N. to include us in their Post-2015 Agenda.”
For further information contact:
Susan Roylance: 801-440-8120
Carolina Allen: 801-362-4671

Note from BOW founder, Carolina Allen, on how we can help today:
Note from founder: "Miracles have happened and somehow Susan Roylance is backing a historic demonstration outside the UN in behalf of our plea to include the family in the post 2015 agenda!!
Please help us mobilize more women that can help us create momentum via social media. We need your help and that of your friends back at home."

Please use these hashtags in all communications when sharing about this event: #BigOceanWomen #CSW59 #post2015agenda

To follow this event head on over to Facebook NOW and LIKE their Page: https://www.facebook.com/bigoceanwomen

Kathryn Skaggs

LDS Social Media Presentations and Best Resources for Sharing the Gospel Online

With two of my beautiful daughters
Presenting at the 2014 BYU Women's Conference on the topic of sharing the gospel via social media will no doubt be a highlight journal entry when I someday write my personal history. Not because I feel like in doing so it was some great personal achievement; no, quite the contrary. Rather, because it was so far-fetched that someone like me, an ordinary member of the LDS Church, who happens to enjoy sharing the gospel online was invited to do so. I consider the privilege a great testimony of how the Lord uses the weak things of the world to accomplish His great work. I am continually a humble recipient and witness to this principle of power!

For quite sometime (not sure why I've waited so long?) I've been wanting to share with anyone interested the audio from my BYU presentation and a little slide show I put together after the conference, with some notes to go along with it. I'm doing this for two reasons, 1) To journal my presentation so I have a record of what I taught, and 2) In hopes that it might be instructive to those who want to learn how to share the gospel online and hear my personal story.

There are a few standout lessons that came to me (very personal) as a result of having the experience of being invited to speak at BYU Women's Conference and that I hope to share, someday. But for now, I'll keep those to myself. (Although you'll get a hint of what I'm referring to in the audio of my presentation.)

John Dehlin Excommunicated for Severe Amnesia Problem

And now, ladies and gentlemen… if I could direct your full attention to the center ring of the “Dehlinite” circus, where John himself proudly announces via national media and public radio the results of his LDS Church disciplinary council:  Excommunicated for apostasy!


And this, from his sidekick, Peggy Stack, of the Salt LakeTribune:

"The official charge against the founder of the "Mormon Stories" podcast was "conduct contrary to the laws and order of the church," but the letter from Dehlin's North Logan LDS stake president, Bryan King, called it "apostasy" and cited evidence for the unanimous decision:

Margaret Blair Young: As Sisters in Zion

"God be with you till we meet again..."
Guest Post by Margaret Blair Young

My father is a linguist, and so I have spent all of my life exposed to different words and sounds. When other families went to Disneyland, we went to Guatemala.  Inevitably, I learned a couple of languages, and then incomprehensible sounds which could not possibly make sense suddenly did.  Then I could pick up a string of words, and finally the thought.  I revert to Spanish if my father, who can’t hear well, indicates that he didn’t understand me.  Some extra hearing comes to him when I use that language.

One of his last joys (his life is winding down, though he is still with us) is in helping me prepare to go to Africa.  

Dad traveled throughout the world during his eighty-four years.  His patriarchal blessing told him that he’d be “an ambassador for the Lord in many lands.”  And so he has been.  He is fluent in all fo the romance languages, Chinese, Finnish, Russian, and more dialects than you likely have never heard of.  I have seen him converse with native Mayans, native Chinese, native Russians, etc.  He does it in their language.  I remember so well the moment when our whole family was in Patzicia, Guatemala and Dad was speaking in sacrament meeting.  All of those present were fluent in the dialect, Cakchiquel, but only a few were truly fluent in Spanish.  Dad started in Spanish and then said, “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I would like to speak in Cakchiquel.”

Ganel-Lyn Condie: LDS Women are Not Perfect But We Trust Our God

Guest Post by Ganel-Lyn Condie

Today, I read a public statement from someone that is no longer a member of the LDS church. She said this of current members of the church "only the least talented, least articulate, least nuanced thinkers, least likely to take a stand against abuse, and the least courageous people thrive in the Church today.” THIS IS NOT MY TRUTH!

For evidence, I offer a book that I have worked on for over 3 years. I Can Do Hard Things with God, is an anthology of women that are SMART, articulate, VERY HIGHLY EDUCATED, dedicated, BRAVE, courageous THINKERS. The women profiled aren't perfect but we trust our God, we sustain a Prophet, we live our faith EVEN when things are HARD, very HARD. This book is a small sample of LDS women. I know that many, MANY non-Mormon readers have already bought the book. I pray those that are Mormon, Muslim, Jew and Catholic, and non-LDS everywhere will read these few personal stories and see that the belittling statements of a few do not represent the intelligence I see all around me in the lives of the members of the Mormon faith.

Is Mormonism declining in the 21st Century among educated Americans?

Guest Post: By Michael Terence Worley

Recently a number of people have claimed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is struggling.  A common recitation of the claim is that once members learn about certain facts about the faith, gain “thinking skills,” or learn about the Church’s positions on social-political issues they will leave.  For instance, a noted critic of Mormon teachings on women, Kate Kelly, said recently: “The Mormon faith has become a place that incentivizes the survival of the least fit. … [O]nly the least talented, least articulate, least nuanced thinkers, least likely to take a stand against abuse, and the least courageous people thrive in the Church today.”

This claim is frequently repeated in a variety of ways. But what do the statistics show? Are the more learned Latter-day Saints leaving the religion of their childhood while the less educated remain affiliated with the Latter-day Saint faith? By and large, not so. Let me explain.

The Pew Research Center has released a 2011 study stating in part:

“Mormons who have graduated from college display the highest levels of religious commitment (84%) followed by those with some college education (75%). Mormons with a high school education or less exhibit substantially lower levels of religious commitment (50% score high on the scale) than their more highly educated counterparts.”

This shows that whether or not the church is growing or shrinking as a whole, its shrinking isn’t coming from the most educated. In fact, it seems the more education one has, the more likely they are to be a faithful Latter-day Saint.  While some educated latter-day Saints some do leave, many conversations are taking place about how to help deal with such issues. More importantly, the data is showing many more educated Latter-day Saints stay than leave.

LDS Apostate Says Only Dummies Thrive in Mormonism

In a recent post by Kate Kelly, (excommunicated by the LDS Church for blatant apostasy) she feebly attempts to defend John Dehlin (who stands to also be excommunicated) by trying to offend faithful Mormons for keeping temple covenants, suggesting that the Church is losing control of its membership.

According to Kelly, “The Mormon faith has become a place that incentivizes the survival of the least fit. Since strict obedience is demanded and harshly enforced, only the least talented, least articulate, least nuanced thinkers, least likely to take a stand against abuse, and the least courageous people thrive in the Church today.”

Interpreted what she actually means to say is that, because the Mormon faith is a place where the faithful gather to make and keep sacred covenants with God, members considered in good standing (by choice) don’t use their time and talents to undermine and advocate contrary to the teachings and counsel of living prophets.

Rather, faithful Mormons boldly live their religion in the face of relentless accusations suggesting that to uphold the commandments of God is un-Christian, weak, and judgmental and will land them on the wrong side of history!

I’m not sure what Kelly hopes to gain by trying to insult the general membership of the Church, but I can assure you that most members will see it as just sad. And seeing as how similar ploys didn’t work for her, I seriously doubt that more public shaming of the Church (or us) will change anything about another’s Church discipline.

Kelly may have a law degree, which she feels makes her smarter and more qualified than many of us to… what? Oh yeah, to advocate publicly contrary to leaders of the Church – or God. But as for me, I much prefer to exercise willing obedience and use my God-given talents to stand for what I believe and with those whom the Lord has called to lead His Church.

And in the process, if I’m considered among “the least talented, least articulate, least nuanced thinkers... " I’ll continue to consider it a ‘badge of honor’ and count myself among the likes of many of you and those who have gone before us valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ.


Kathryn Skaggs

You might also enjoy reading these other responses: 

Is Mormonism declining in the 21st Century among educated Americans? by Michael Terence Worley

LDS Women are Not Perfect But We Trust Our God by Ganel-Lyn Condie

LDS Leaders Announce Better Vision Toward LGBT in Unprecedented News Conference

In an unprecedented move today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced via social media a special News Conference only two hours before airing. The topic of concern: religious freedom and non-discrimination. They also requested the hashtag #Fairness4All be used in our communications about the conference. 

As you can imagine, that move certainly woke up Mormons online and had many of us standing at attention! And by the way, no changes in doctrine or Church teachings were made -- just sayin.

So, what went down during this urgent News Conference? This, from the Mormon Newsroom:

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called Tuesday for legislation across the United States that protects vital religious freedoms.

At the same time, the Church said it would support legislation where it is being sought to provide protections in housing, employment and some other areas where LGBT people do not have protections, while ensuring that religious freedom was not compromised.

Competing interests between advocates of religious freedom and those seeking to build LGBT rights into law have led to legislative inaction or stalemates with increasing frequency across the United States. In a news conference that included three members of the governing Twelve Apostles and one woman leader of the Church, leaders called for a “fairness for all” approach that balances religious freedom protections with reasonable safeguards for LGBT people — specifically in areas of housing, employment and public transportation, which are not available in many parts of the country.

TLC Controversy Over SSA Mormons Featured on 'My Husband's Not Gay'

(Post update below.) By now, you’ve probably heard about the upcoming TLC special ‘My Husband’s Not Gay’ that will feature male Mormons who experience same-sex attraction but choose to marry women – and are happy!

However, not everyone’s happy that they’re happy (particularly liberal champions of tolerance – only on their terms) and have launched a media campaign to have the show cancelled before it even airs. Here's the promo video if you haven't seen it:

Video Clip: My Husband's Not Gay

To be frank, I’ve been reading rumblings about this show for the last few weeks, before the backlash to try and shut it down ever began and have had mixed feelings about having this part of my Mormon faith exploited, which is what TLC is doing.