Saturday Morning April 2012 General Conference Highlights

What a day in downtown Salt Lake City, to kick off the April 2012 General Conference. So many highlights! I'm kind of like a kid when it comes to being here in Utah. I love it! And I love the spring with all the blossoms on the trees, and the daffodils popping up everywhere. Life is everywhere! When I drove into town on Thursday, the first thing I did was make my husband pull the car over, so I could use Instagram to take a picture of the beautiful pink blossoms. But what most excites me about being here is covering General Conference -- via social media.

There is something powerful in being a part of helping others to know about, and hear, that we have living prophets upon the earth, today -- and broadcasting their messages around the globe. I trust that many of you feel the same as I do, and that many of you are part of that effort, online, to do the same.

Who would have thought when we started using social media to share the gospel, online, that things would have exploded the way they have. Certainly not me. I don't think any of us could have predicted the power that the Internet would eventually have, when we were initially inspired to get involved. In just this last week I was contacted by Deseret News for an interview with Trent Toone, KSL TV's Carole Mikita invited me into the studio for an on camera interview -- and just today, between sessions of General Conference, Roxeanne Vainuku, of KUTV approached me and requested an on camera interview, that aired tonight on CBS channel 2 -- all to talk about social media and General Conference. That's what a big deal it has become!

This afternoon Jesse Stay shared these stats on how successful the efforts of so many were, on Twitter, to broadcast the first two sessions of General Conference: "This conference has seen 30,678 total Tweets today (so far), by 7,835 users, and a total reach of 3,448,285 people." That's incredible!

So, I'd like to share some of the 'messages' or 'pearls of great price" that I, and others, shared, online, during the Saturday morning session of General Conference. These are direct quotes from living prophets -- "noised abroad" by faithful Latter-day Saints. Imagine with me, if you will, what it must be like for many people, who have no idea what living prophets teach, or what Mormons truly believe, to hear these words of life...

Thomas S. Monson - As We Gather Once Again

"I welcome you and express my love to you."

"We are here to learn."

"Some may be seeking answers to questions and challenges you are experiencing in life."

"Each can be enlightened and uplifted…"

"How blessed we are to have come to earth at this time"

"No cause, no force in the entire world can stop the work of God".

"There is much that is difficult and challenging in the world today…"

"I thank you for your faith and devotion to the gospel"

Boyd K. Packer - And a Little Child Shall Lead Them

"The creation of life is a great responsibility for a married couple."

"It is the challenge of mortality to be a worthy and responsible parent"

"Neither man nor woman can bear children alone."

"Some, due to circumstances beyond their control, are raising children as single mothers/fathers."

"These are temporary states"

"In the eternal scheme of things, not always in mortality, righteous yearnings will be fulfilled."

"Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling - from which they will never be released is to one another and then to their children."

"One of the great discoveries of parenthood is that we learn far more about what really matters from our children than we ever did from our parents." 

"We urge our members to show devotion to their families."

"Fathers and mothers next time you cradle a newborn child in your arms you can have an inner vision of the mysteries and purposes of life."

Dallin H. Oaks - Sacrifice

"Sacrifice of Jesus Christ has been called "the most transcendent of all events…"

"That sacrifice is the central message of all the prophets."

"That sacrifice - the atonement of Jesus Christ - is at the center of the plan of salvation."

"The Christian faith has a history of sacrifice including the ultimate sacrifice."

"Christians have voluntarily given sacrifice motivated by faith in Christ and the desire to serve Him."

"For most followers of Christ our sacrifice involve what we can do on a day-to-day basis in our ordinary personal lives."

"Today, the most visible strength of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the unselfish service and sacrifice of its members."

"The best known example of unique LDS service and sacrifice is the work of our missionaries."  

Other examples of service and sacrifice appear in the lives of the faithful members who serve in our temples." 

"Such examples strengthen all of us. They remind us of the Savior's teachings."

"…most important examples of unselfish service and sacrifice are performed in our families."

"Mothers devote themselves to the bearing of children and nurturing their children."

"Husbands give themselves to supporting their wives and children."

"…as you sacrifice for each other and your children, the Lord will bless you." 

"Latter-day Saints look on their sacrifice of time and means as a part of their schooling and qualifying for eternity."

"Just as the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is at the center of the plan of salvation, we followers of Christ must make our own sacrifices to achieve the destiny that plan provides for us."

"I know that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God the Eternal Father."

Henry B. Eyring - Mountains to Climb

"Many of you are now passing through physical, mental, and emotional trials that could cause you to cry out…" 

"The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?" 

"There seems to be no better answer to the question of why trials come and what we are to do than the words of the Lord Himself, who passed through trials for us more terrible than we can imagine."

"You and I have faith that the way to rise through and above trials is to believe that there is a "balm of Gilead".

"The Lord has promised: "I will not… forsake thee."

Quotes Monson "A foundation of faith in the reality of those promises takes time to build" 

"If the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts the power to endure will crumble."

"My purpose today is to describe what I know of how we can lay that unshakable foundation."

"…the ground must be carefully prepared for our foundation of faith to withstand the storms that will come into every life."

"That solid basis for a foundation of faith is personal integrity." 

"Our choosing the right consistently whenever the choice is placed before us creates the solid ground under our faith."

"Those choices, hundreds in most days, prepare a solid ground on which our edifice of faith is built."

"The metal framework around which the substance of our faith is poured is the gospel of Jesus Christ, with all its covenants, ordinances and principles."

"Trouble itself can be your way to strengthen and finally gain unshakable faith."

"The particle of faith most precious and which you should protect and use whatever extent you can is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."

"When hard trials come, the faith to endure it well will be there…"

"You built a foundation of faith from loving as the Savior loved and serving for Him."

"It is never too late to strengthen the foundation of faith." 

"In their perfect love for you, Heavenly Father and the Savior want you fitted to be with them to live in families forever." 


Kathryn Skaggs

Saturday Afternoon April 2012 General Conference Highlights
The Saturday afternoon session of the April 2012 General Conference brought with it plenty of Church business with, among other positions, the release and call of the Presiding Bishopric and the General Relief Society Presidency. On the lighter side, the Internet was frantically trying to confirm rumors that David Archuletta was part of the MTC choir, singing during the session -- which he was -- made evident by snapshots taken by attendees, flying across cyberspace!

"Millions of Church members, friends and invited guests are expected to view the 182nd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). All five conference proceedings will be held Saturday and Sunday, 31 March and 1 April 2012, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and can also be viewed live via television, radio, satellite and Internet broadcasts."

"Countless LDS members and others will also be “noising abroad” their thoughts, impressions and comments through various social media tools this weekend during the 182nd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Through its website, the church is encouraging members to use Facebook, blogging, Google+, Twitter, and other social networks to promote the conference and invite others to listen to living prophets."

There's a lot of people of our faith, not of our faith, that don't like our faith, want to misrepresent our faith, online. Many of 'them' are talking about 'us' and writing about 'us' -- and too often what they're saying is not what we would want 'John Smith' to first come in contact with, about Mormonism -- when he does his Google search to learn more about Mormon beliefs.

New Relief Society President: Sad Good-bye and Happy Hello!

With yesterday's long awaited release of the Mormon Mommy blogs interview with Julie Beck, via the Mormon Channel, which prompted speculation about a possible release today, I'm sad to say 'they' were right. I've loved Sister Beck's inspired counsel over these past five years and will forever credit her for the inspired work on Daughters in My Kingdom. She has left a legacy for every sister in Relief Society, which so many of us already cherish. For me personally, she was/is a modern-day prophetess. Her power and spirit are emblazoned upon our hearts, and forever we are knit together as sisters in Christ.

 One thing those of us who have been members of the Church, for many years, knows, is that with every call there comes a release. Although such knowledge and acceptance does not always make it easy. Another thing I have learned is that God is in control, and it's now time to move foreward and welcome our new general Relief Society president, Linda Burton. She and her two counselors will need all of our prayers to sustain them in the great work they have been called to do.

About Linda K. Burton:
Linda Burton was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Morris Ashton and Marjorie Castleton Kjar. She is the second child of six, having two sisters and three brothers. She met and married Craig Palmer Burton in 1973 when she was studying elementary education at the University of Utah. Brother and Sister Burton are the parents of six children—one son and five daughters—and have sixteen grandchildren (eight girls and eight boys).

Sister Burton accompanied her family as a teenager when her father presided over the New Zealand South Mission. She has been privileged to work in the Primary, Young Women, Relief Society, and Sunday School auxiliaries as well as serving for a brief time as a seminary teacher. She and her husband recently returned from Korea, where he presided over the Korea Seoul West Mission.

I have a testimony that Sister Burton's call is to work equally along side of our priesthood leaders, and under their direction, to accomplish the exact same work of Lord -- and to accomplsh it with power. I look forward to hearing from her in General Conference on Sunday. What a thrill that will be, to feel her spirit and allow the Spirit to confirm her call to our hearts. I trust that each of us will be blessed with that gift.

It is no small thing to be called to lead the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are living during a time that women, even within the Church, struggle to find their place in the world -- and even understand their roll as women in the Church. It requires strong, faithful and powerful women to lead us. As LDS women we respect strong, spritual leadership. Dare I say we crave it? We need a woman who we know is inspired of the Lord -- and these are exactly the kinds of women that the Lord is setting before us in these Latter-days. I'm excited to get to know Sister Burton and her counselors.

As we say thank you to Sister Beck, and her counselors, we thank them for their inspired service and tremendous examples of faithful daughters of God -- and welcome our new leadership with enthusiasm as we go forward to continue this extraordinary work that the Lord has placed before us.


Kathryn Skaggs

LDS Newsroom:  

New Presiding Bishopric, Relief Society Presidency and General Authorities Announced at Mormon General Conference
"Sister Linda K. Burton was serving as a member of the Relief Society general board when she received her call to serve as the organization’s president. In her Church callings, she spent three years serving with her husband as he presided over the Korea Seoul West Mission. They returned from Korea in 2010. She also served on the Primary general board, and in various callings in the Young Women, Primary, Sunday School and as a seminary teacher."

Sister Julie B. Beck answered member questions, on the Mormon Channel, about how to best spend our leisure time, focusing on activities from what kinds of books we read, movies we watch, and of great interest to this WBMW -- the subject of blogging -- discussed in detail.

We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ: The Beckoning of Sister Beck
"My parents taught me not to put anyone on a "pedestal," but in my mind and heart Sister Julie B. Beck keeps making her way up there for me with every word of wisdom that spills forth from her lips!"

The Atonement and Little Children

How little children understand and experience the Atonement is a question that LDS songwriter, Shawna Edwards, found herself pondering when she felt inspired to create a new Easter song for the children in her ward Primary titled: The Miracle.

After I heard the song and was deeply touched by it, I was fortunate to be introduced to Shawna, via Facebook. I told her that I wanted to share her beautiful song with my blog readers and that --  I'd love to quote you about what inspired you to write the song, create the video and your hopes for when people see/hear it -- along with any other thoughts/information you'd like to share. I love adding a personal touch whenever possible.

I am so glad I asked her those questions, because she messaged me and let me know that she "took some time and wrote the story of the song:

She begins her story by explaining how the idea to write the song came about:
"“Jesus is a God of Miracles.” That was the primary theme of the month, and I wanted a song to go with it. I scoured all the typical sources to find that song, but no luck. So I decided to write one. 
We often talk about the wondrous miracles of Jesus Christ — walking on the water, healing the blind, raising the dead. Even when we say the word “miracle,” that’s what we think of. So of course, I began the first verse with the typical lyric lines…. And then I got to the chorus. What more could I say about His miracles? And what could I say that would help the children connect to those stories, two thousand years ago and half a world away?"
She goes on to share:
"I know that’s not a terribly unique or profound thought. True believers understand that the Atonement is the most significant and central act of all time. True believers understand that without it, all mankind would be hopelessly, eternally lost. But that, again, is a difficult concept for children. It’s a difficult concept for anyone! And so, I made it personal. Not the miracle that rescues US, but the miracle that rescues ME. 
I wanted to make it clear how personal the Atonement is, how uniquely suited to individual needs, inadequacies, and struggles. I could talk forever about how Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the whole human family, but until I understand that Jesus Christ atoned for ME, I don’t begin to understand the Atonement. I wanted the children to know that He loves each one of them every bit as much as He loved the children of his time and place, and that just as He ministered to them one by one, so He does to us. MY name is graven on His hands. And yours is, too."

Easter Video: The Miracle 

I was so touched by this beautiful Easter song, The Miracle, and now I love it even more after Shawna so kindly shared her very personal experience of how it came to be. I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what His great sacrifice means to me and my family. I have said many times that Eternal Life would have little meaning (to me) if it was not possible to be with my family.  And for that "miracle" I am profoundly and deeply in debt to our Savior, for making it possible for each one of us to be made clean whereby we might enter into the presence of the Lord, once again.

As this Easter Season is upon us, may each of us take the time to ponder the Atonement for ourselves -- the greatest love story of all -- and how we might also share this message with our friends and family.

This special Easter video, I feel, is a lovely way to share our testimony of Jesus Christ and what His Atonement means to us personally.  Perhaps when you share it, you could include your own simple testimony as a brief comment and use hashtag #BecauseHeLives.

Kathryn Skaggs

Easter Message to the World From Living Prophet of God
Thomas S. Monson, a living prophet of God, has an Easter Message from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that he wants to share with the world! And he's hoping that you and I will help him, by sharing the video entitled"His Sacred Name - An Easter Declaration" with your family and loved ones.

"Do our children know about His perfect life, His selfless ministry, His betrayal and cruel Crucifixion? Have we testified to them of the certainty of His Resurrection, of His visit to the Nephites in the Americas, of His appearance to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove?"

"It is our sacred responsibility as parents and leaders of this rising generation of children to bring them to the Savior so that they might see His face and the face of our Father in Heaven as well. As we do so, we also bring ourselves."

The Messiah came to redeem men from the Fall of Adam.  Everything in the gospel of Jesus Christ points toward the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah, the Son of God.

Once Again #TwitterStake to Gather for #LDSConf

With only days away from the April 2015 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) members of the, unofficial, #TwitterStake are once again gearing up to share #LDSConf on Twitter.

Tweeting LDS General Conference, every six months, has now become an established, favorite online tradition of many faithful Latter-day Saints, who have come to love social media because of its power to share the gospel online.

I've come to really look forward to tweeting General Conference, and gathering, online, with so many great members who enjoy it as much as I do. I love it because of the great spirit that attends, what many may find surprising, digital missionary work. But trust me, it's real and for many of us who regularly participate, countless experiences leading to more extended gospel conversations are often the result.

Tweeting General Conference on Twitter is not for every member. Some prefer to follow the tweets via the hashtag #LDSConf and when inspired retweet a favorite message. Either way, it is a thrill to see the words of living prophets take center stage, on Twitter, and know that many outside of the Mormon faith are being touched by their inspired messages.

During one General Conference members on Twitter got a huge thrill when Dieter F. Uchtdorf sent a shout-out during his talk:

"With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before. In fact, I am almost afraid that some listening have already sent text messages like “He’s been speaking for 10 minutes and still no aviation analogy!” My dear young friends, perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to “open [your] mouths” might today include “use your hands” to blog and text message the gospel to all the world! But please remember, all at the right time and at the right place.
Brothers and sisters, with the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard not only around our workplace but around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity."

For LDS members, who gather to tweet General Conference, this is exactly what we are doing. We are focused and understand our purpose. It is more than a social activity. Each of us have a testimony of using technology to build the kingdom, and in a sense, it is a personal offering to do so. 

As a brief reminder of how to tweet LDS General Conference, most effectively, I am reposting some tips that I created previously:

Tips for Tweeting #LDSConf 

1.  For those following the hash tag #LDSConf let's try to keep the stream loaded with quality content specific to the conference. 

2.  Avoid excessive idle chatter using the #LDSConf hash tag. 

3.  If you must chat, drop the #LDSConf hash tag. That way, for those who decide to check out what #LDSConf is all about, they will find an amazing stream of inspired content that makes sense!

4.  DO use the hash tag #TwitterStake to chat with other Mormons on Twitter!   

5.  Tweet #LDSConf with a purpose -- to share the gospel with those outside of our faith.

6.  If you tweet over 120 characters it makes retweeting difficult.

7.  Resist urge to tweet every six seconds...  ; )

8.  Share personal feelings about #LDSConf alongside tweeting the conference message.

9.  Consider sharing LDS resources throughout the conference, i.e. LDS.orgMormon.orgMormon Messages, etc...  

10.  Have fun!

To learn more about what Mormons do on Twitter, why, and how -- you can read some of my previous posts:

I've been asked a number of times WHY I tweet General Conference on Twitter? Many concerns have been raised, -- one being that you can't get as much out of conference if you are focused on reading other tweets and deciding what you want to tweet. This can be true, if you look at it that way... but I don't.

I don't have any stats as to how many tweets went out over General Conference weekend using the hashtags #LDSConf, (update below*) but what I can tell you is that once again the efforts and interaction of Mormons on Twitter brought attention, worldwide, to the the reality that we truly have living prophets upon the earth!

I believe it was during the Sunday afternoon session of conference that our dear Prophet and President of the LDS Church's name, Thomas Monson, was trending on Twitter! Such wonderful exposure to the eternal truth, that God speaks to His children, today! I hope you'll excuse me for not recalling exactly when this happened, but I was busily engaged throughout the entire weekend, while I tweeted as best I was able, with nine rambunctious grandchildren, and their parents! It was a glorious weekend!

Some very cool Mormons on Twitter, known as the #TwitterStake, are getting a bit of attention from Deseret News. Why you may ask, is this particular group so cool? Well, because these Mormons are using social media to share the gospel, online. That's why! And they're doing it in a big enough way, to get noticed! For those of you who know how I feel about sharing the gospel online, this is beyond cool!



Kathryn Skaggs a.k.a. @LDSNana on Twitter

General Information about how to watch April 2015 General Conference
"General conference is a semiannual gathering of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During general conference weekend, Church members and others who are interested gather worldwide in a series of two-hour sessions to receive inspiration and instruction from Church leaders."

Julie B. Beck on Mormon Bloggers - It's a Great Opportunity

Sister Julie B. Beck answered member questions, on the Mormon Channel, about how to best spend our leisure time, focusing on activities from what kinds of books we read, movies we watch, and of great interest to this WBMW --  the subject of blogging -- discussed in detail.

Disclaimer: I've utilized my mad transcription skills to transcribe quite a bit of the interview with Sister Beck, and hope you enjoy being able to read and ponder her great counsel. (But please ignore the lack of editing.) However, I don't recommend you using the quotes just in case I've not been 100% accurate, and would not want to misrepresent her words around the blogosphere. So, if you're tempted, before you do, make sure and listen to the interview yourself -- to make sure we both have it right. : )

So, how does Sister Beck spend her leisure time?   

Video: Julie B. Beck on Leisure Time

"My first priority is to spend time with my family, but I feel oftentimes the need to do something that isn't so intense, and that isn't so mind challenging,  that it gives my mind a rest. It's sort of like Nephi losing the spring in his bow I need to do something that helps me keep my soul in balance. I love good books and I love to sleep, but I don't get enough of either of those. I love and enjoy old classic movies, particularly now when I hear so many weighty and difficult problems I like old classic movies that are humorous and have happy endings, and that invite the spirit into my home."

"It's wonderful for us to have opportunities to renew our spirits. For me it's connected with the Spirit -- how is it building my spirit and my personal spiritual strength -- and there has to be some of that. I am a compulsive reader. I always have to have something to read...."  

Member Question:  How can we have downtime and not feel bad if we're not doing genealogy or journaling, or reading the scriptures or planning a lesson or something else.  How do we find a balance?

Sister Beck responded by acknowledging this as the "age old question of women". She said that there are always ten things we could be doing in every moment or hour that we have.  We have to make choices about the things that are essential and necessary, and the things that are nice to do. 

"For me, I sort of categorize my life in those categories. The essentials have to be taken care of first. There are a lot of necessary things that need to be done. If I have to write a talk for a major broadcast no one is going to write that talk for me. I have to force myself to sit down and study and do the reading and the writing that gets that done. It's a necessary task. And then there is some nice to do things that add beauty and variety, and lift to our lives. They lift our spirits."

Sister Beck shared this quote by Ezra Taft Benson: "When we put God first all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands of our time, the interest we pursue and the order of our priorities." She said, "I love that. It's our love of the Lord that does that. I try to choose things where I can feel the Lord's approval in that choice. I don't think He wants me to be working, working, working every minute. He wants me to be a whole person."

Mormon Channel: We are speaking specifically today about media because in the last 10-15 years our choices with media have exploded. There is a lot more options to ways we use our leisure time because of the media. It's in our homes and in our purses and with us as we go along…. (Close quote)

Sister Beck:

"This extends not just to the use of the media. We are focusing on that a little bit today and I hope what we talk primarily, are principles that will help us and maybe some examples on that. But some people spend their leisure time in lots of physical activities, outdoor activities, sports and so on…  So the principles apply in all things -- but those things often feed our souls"

Member Question: Spending free time reading.  Is it a good thing? Is it a waste of time if the book is not spiritually based?

Sister Beck:

Quoted 2 Nephi 9:51 and explained it as the principle that can be applied to answer this question. She confessed that she is a "big reader", a "compulsive reader".

"Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness."

She went on to explained: " I love the concept of climate and establishing a climate in my home where the Spirit can dwell. The books I read contribute to that climate in me, in my heart. They contribute to the climate in my home.  It's the same with movies, its the same with media. If we think of establishing a climate where the Spirit can be nurtured and dwell. I know that there are a lot of popular trends in books and people tend to chase after a reading trend because they often don't know what to read. I generally have something going in the scriptures, something that's of a church book nature, or church magazine, something in current events, something nonfiction and something fiction -- generally a classic or it's a classic to me. 

I have sort of established some rules for myself: tone of the language have to be elevated enough, and the story line enough, and well written enough that it will increase my vocabulary  and elevate my thinking and enrich my mind. I have to read. There is something in me that makes me have to read. So I make time for that. I don't know where the time comes, usually from sleep. If I can't sleep I read something."

I've quoted a number of times, Eliza R. Snow, where she says "We're here trying to be fit companions for the gods and holy ones." So we wouldn't want to fill our minds and thoughts with things that don't elevate, that don't feed our spirit, so to speak. I've also heard that classics are classics for a reason. They are timeless for a reason.  They are well written. They promote good thinking. They push us to things. 

I remember a conference where President Hinckley stood up and prefaced his remarks by saying, "In preparation for this talk I read…" and then he gave this list that was probably two thousand pages long, if not more. Other times he quoted from Shakespeare or other writers or poets. He loved Tennyson. That taught me something about President Hinckley. I remember sitting in conference once listening and thinking "My goodness, Pres. Hinckley loves to read".  Another time he said, "I love the heft and feel of a good book".  So reading isn't evil.  Reading is a blessing and the Lord has created records for us to read and to study. A lot of good things have been written to elevate us, so I don't think reading is a waste of time, and I don't think we can only read church sponsored books. There is a lot of good out there. It's on us though, to learn to make the choices that will create the climate in us that enables the Spirit to grow and flourish."

Sister Beck then shared this sweet tidbit about how she raised her own children to love reading:

As a young mother when needing to get up in the middle of the night, she thought 'oh good' I can read for 20 minutes! She always had something that she wanted to read that she saved for those quiet, in the middle of the night hours, when no one would bother her.

I love that! And this...

She never told a child to turn out the light if they were reading a book before bed. She let them read as late as they wanted -- even if they were young children.  She wanted to foster a love of reading.

I quote her here: "A reading child is a child that will stay out of trouble. That's a belief that I have. There's something wholesome in a child wanting to feed their mind. You have to imagine things when you are reading, that only you can see. And visualize things that only you can see. That's why it's important to select good things. I don't know that there's enough great literature for younger children. I wish there was more of that.  But I encouraged my children to read and put a lamp by the side of their bed. They always had a little bookcase by the side of their bed. Yes we read the scriptures. Yes we read The Liahona, and The Friend, and The New Era..."    

One thing noticed during the interview was that much of Sister Beck's leisure time is spent with her family, whether through outdoor activities or reading together as a family -- they are often included.  Reading together as a family contributed to the culture of their family and what is familiar to the group.

Member Question: Another sister called in wanting to know how to look for the principles behind deciding what to watch or what to use when you're using media? How do you make decisions about what you will consume in regard to the media and how do you choose to spend your free time?  

Sister Beck shared that she doesn't consider "time" free. She feels it's all part of building our spirit and nature.  For the Strength of Youth pamphlet gives us guidelines: We stay away from things that are vulgar, immoral, violent and pornographic. We know why those things are. We're adult enough to know what they are. It's just about establishing a climate within ourselves where the Spirit can dwell and you know when that is going away.  President Packer just spoke to the youth, seminary commemoration, he said: "You'll always be warned if something is wrong. You know what that waring sounds like in your head. You feel it. You've felt it. It's the Holy Ghost."

"I have had to get up and walk out of a movie or a broadway show, or something that was not correct. We've turned off the t.v.  We've sent back a DVD that isn't appropriate.  Oh well…  In our day we can watch so many things on our own and nobody would know, but the Lord will know and the Holy Ghost knows, and then your spirit knows.  We just do the things that feed and bless the Spirit. It's not that hard."

"Some nights I'm so tired I want to watch something that makes me not think of anything at all, so maybe I'll watch people cooking."

I, myself, fall prey to decorating shows or real estate of the rich and famous. : )

Member Question:  "I was at a Relief Society luncheon where I mentioned that I had a blog and one of the ladies in my ward said, "You blog?"  And then she went on to tell me all the other ways I could be more involved at home and at church, if I just didn't waste so much of my time on the computer. My question:

What do you think about blogging? Do you think I'm wasting my time?

(And of course I'm really listening at this point... but of course my heart already knows the answer.)

Sister Beck:

Video: Sister Beck on Blogging

"I think we need to think back in time about how women communicate. Blogging is a way to communicate with somebody who doesn't live next to you or isn't in your same neighborhood. When I was a young mother we spent time on the phone, a lot. I remember calling a friend or a sister and saying, "help me clean my house" and then we would talk while we cleaned -- and then we'd say "thanks, my house is clean" and we'd hang up. Women have always connected to each other. In the days of ancient scripture they would gather at the well and they'd exchange information, opinions and ideas. 

Martha Washington spent two or three hours a day writing letters and that journaling and writing letters was part of the daily life of a woman, in her day, who had the means and the time to spend that. So she made a lot of connections in writing in those ways. But the need to communicate is not new. In my mother's day they would go out to the backyard, hang up their laundry and share information over the back fence. So again, it's the principles behind this -- how much time is it taking? 

I just read a study that said young mothers are spending about three hours a day blogging because it makes them feel more connected and less isolated as they are making this transition between being an independent person to being a mother. Three hours?  I don't know. Is that too long to spend away from your family and your children and what's happening? Are you to the neglect of fixing dinner and nurturing people and putting children down for naps?  Just like watching t.v. shows, it can draw you in one after another, so can a blog draw you in one after another. Some people might need to set timers and say, "I'll spend a half hour on my blog and when the timer goes off I'm finished".  Or, "I can do 10 minutes, or I can invest this much -- this is my one day this week I am going to work on this". But again, it isn't the blog,  per say, that is the problem. Women have always needed to do this kind of thing. It's a new medium. So, how are you using that time? What's it doing to invite the Spirit? And maybe we can talk about some other things about that, too. It's an opportunity."

Member Question:  "I listened to a talk by Elder Ballard and he really encouraged us to use the Internet to share the gospel.  So in the past I started a blog and a Facebook account but I found that I spent too much time on them and I'd get distracted by them. My question for you is how can we use the Internet to share the gospel and be a force for good without getting caught up in the time consuming trap of the Internet?  

Sister Beck:

Video: Sister Beck Blogging for Good

"Again, who's driving this? Are you in control or is the blogging in control? We have our agenda and our agenda should be the Lord's agenda -- which is to prepare ourselves for the blessings of eternal life and help other people receive the blessings of eternal life. If you study section one of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord says: I need faith to increase in the earth. I need to establish my covenant. He talks about people who don't give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles and have strayed from the Lord's ordinances and they seek not the Lord, or to establish His righteousness -- and every man walketh in his own way in the image of his own god. Now, a blog could do that, but if we are walking in the image of 'our' God and we're walking in His way, then His Spirit will guide us and help us prioritize this work.

The scriptural example of a great blogger, so to speak, is Abish.  Abish is someone who had a personal conversion, a personal testimony, and then when the opportunity was right she went from house to house telling people and collecting them in front of the missionaries. So the principle is great. Blogging is a new opportunity. It also comes with a responsibility. A lot of people dived in with the idea of the opportunity, without recognizing it has this other side of the sword. There is a responsibility and an accountability that comes with it. 

Another quote that I would teach from this is one that President Kimball gave and we read it in "Daughters in My Kingdom". This is a quote all the sisters should know, where he says: 

"Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world."

"Where does a blog fit into this? Think about the influence Latter-day Saint women could have if they are articulate. Not just about anything, but they are articulate about the things they stand for, which are encapsulated here (holding up Daughters in My Kingdom) and in the scriptures. If they can express their faith. If they can express what families mean to them. If they can serve in a way to seek out and help those who are in need of those covenants and ordinances and the blessings of the gospel in a distinct and different and happy ways, from the women of the world -- those are some principles.

So we look at, one, the time --  the amount of time it takes. It shouldn't distract us from the essentials or the necessaries, but is something that we can do to share the gospel if it is focused correctly. What is the tone of our conversation on a blog? I've read a lot of blogs, just to become acquainted with this. Are we representing ourselves as harried, as silly, as distracted? Or are we representing ourselves as who we really are?  Latter-day Saint women are generally well informed, intelligent -- we're challenged by our life experiences, but we triumph. We are problem solvers -- we know how to do that. So we come from a long line of strong, faithful, purposeful women. Some of the stories in here (Daughters in My Kingdom) can maybe influence the tone of how we represent ourselves. 

This is a great opportunity, but we also have the responsibility. We're accountable for managing it in a way that will bless others and will show us as being distinct and different in happy ways. 

Mormon Channel: Comments on how Sister Beck shared that her mother communicated back in her day, but that the stakes are much higher between those two activities because what we said over the fence, there's no record of it, there's no record that exist, but what you write on the Internet it last forever and it is always searchable and people, thousands and thousands of people have access to that, not just one person that you have a conversation with. And so it means the stakes are higher.

Sister Beck:

"They are higher. And we will be accountable for that. If you read 2 Nephi 26 -- this is a sobering one, when we're talking about blogs. I hope sisters look at this and think about this in terms of this opportunity -- and I'm calling it an opportunity, that in verse 29 the Lord commanded that there shall be no priestcrafts, "For behold priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world that they may get gain and praise of the world, but they seek not the welfare of Zion". Then we hear a little bit more, "but the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion". We've covenanted to give all that we have to help the Lord and bless His kingdom. 

There is such an opportunity to build and labor for Zion, to help the Lord establish His Kingdom on the earth and I think that our women understand in their heart about this covenant we've made in the temple -- to help the Lord build His Kingdom. What a chance...

Before we close and as we talk about this covenant keeping, I'd like to also read a quote on page 66 in "Daughters in My Kingdom", from President Joseph F. Smith. This provides some great guidance and leadership. We are all part of this Relief Society so the focus is on 'relief' -- that we're helping. Relief means to lift and make better. President Smith said he didn't want to see the time when our Relief Societies would follow or co-mingle and lose their own identity by mixing up with these women-made organizations that are coming to pass. So think in terms of blogs in this.  He said "It is for you to lead  the world and to lead especially the women of the world in everything that is praiseworthy. Everything that is godlike. Everything that is uplifting and that is purifying to the children of men.  You are the head, not the tail. "  So as we look at these opportunities of how to use time, how to evaluate ourselves, we think of the words of prophets. We think of the words of Belle Spafford in here (Daughters in My Kingdom) that says "It's time to get out of the things that don't help us with eternal consequences. 

We are a covenant making people. That means we know what's ahead. We know what we are aiming for -- we are aiming for Eternal life. And it's establishing this climate, this spirit in ourselves where the Spirit can grow and then with that conversion that we have we now have opportunities to show that we are distinct and different in happy ways. We can keep those covenants and we can lead the world in these things. I hope that our sisters will  do that."

To listen to the entire interview with Sister Beck, which I highly recommend, you can do so on the Mormon Channel.

I was so touched by Sister Beck's inspired counsel and direction in this interview. I wish I could personally hug her and thank her for addressing these topics. I will be pondering and praying about so many things that she said, that touch me personally, to better focus what I do as a Mormon blogger  -- and how I spend my own leisure time.

What specifically caught your attention? I would both love and appreciate your thoughts, so please comment.

Kathryn Skaggs

Note: Did you know that you can email Sister Beck questions for the Relief Society program on the Mormon Channel at and they could be answered in an upcoming Relief Society question and answer episode (she records them monthly). You may also record your question by calling 1-877-MYLDS32 and leave your question.

Fun NEW Ways to Share General Conference Using Social Media
With the April 2012 General Conference only days have created some cool NEW, and fun, social media tools -- to help you invite others to come listen to living prophets speak.

In blogging about Mormonism I am not, nor do I try to be, the voice of the Church. However, like many other members, I do feel a strong responsibility, and desire, to make sure that I represent what I believe to be mainstream Mormon beliefs -- of which some might refer to as orthodox Mormonism. The only agenda that I have is to help others understand and discuss what the LDS Church teaches and faithful members, as a whole, believe.

How to use the new book Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society is now available on Specific training for LDS leaders is the initial focus, but also included in this training are suggestions for how all Mormon Womencan best utilize this Relief Society resource in their own personal study of the gospel, and in their families. Sharing the Gospel Online - Blogging
"Publishing your life through a blog can be an excellent way to share with the world what being a member of the Church means to you."

Photo used by permission: Mike Licht,

Is it Ever Okay to Deny the Faith?

A Florida pastor, politically aligned with Rick Santorum, has issued a public call for Mitt Romney to denounce The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, due to what he believes is a racist religion. He posits that if Mitt Romney, a Mormon, were to be elected as President, this country would head backward in its progress toward racial equality.

True story.

I've gone back and forth about how I wanted to respond to this story, or if I even would. It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day circus of what's happening in the mainstream media, when it comes to the Mormon faith, and so I try to be selective about what I address. I have different criteria for helping me to determine what, I believe, is important enough to then turn around and write about. 

Perhaps you're thinking to yourself right now, "Why all the pondering? This is ludicrous and that pastor needs to be called out! It's a no brainer." Am I right? For some of you I imagine that I am. And, I'll admit that at first glance this, too, was my initial reaction. That's not to say this pastor's actions should be ignored. Plenty are taking care of that, as we speak., a source that encourages members to help provide credible information about the Church, online, in response, issued this press release: 

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (March 13, 2012) – MormonVoices today called on Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum to condemn the anti-Mormon comments made by his supporter, and honorary Florida Chairman, Reverend O’Neal Dozier. The New York Daily News and multiple other media outlets have reported that Dozier proclaimed that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as the Mormon Church, is racist and said that the Church “is prejudiced against Blacks, Jews and the Native American Indians.” He therefore demanded that Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney publicly “renounce his racist Mormon Religion.” He claims that in so doing, he hopes “to foster and maintain good race relations here in America.” 
Scott Gordon, a managing director of MormonVoices, and contributor to the Website, counters that Dozier’s attacks on the Church do nothing to maintain good race relations and do serious harm to maintaining good religious relations in America. “Dozier’s comments represent a form of religious bigotry that should not be tolerated by any serious candidate for the Presidency of the United States. His comments are either ignorant or are willful misrepresentations for personal or political purposes.” Gordon also pointed out that Dozier’s challenge to Romney seems curiously behind the times, given that the Church’s restriction on priesthood for Blacks ended in 1978 and that today, all men of any race who meet minimum standards of worthiness are ordained. 
MormonVoices also released an article on its website, found at, clarifying the teachings on race that are found in The Book of Mormon, including the verse,“[The Lord] inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33). The article further quotes the recent Church statement that “unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church,” and the 2006 comments from the late Mormon Church president Gordon B. Hinckley, who declared that “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church.” 
MormonVoices was created to respond to false or misleading information in the media and is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Fair enough. I can support this position, and alongside of it appreciate other efforts to do the same -- and hope that more will. However, after some thoughtful consideration, I began thinking about how, on a daily basis, every active member of the Church is called upon to denounce their faith. Brother Romney is no different than you or I. The spiritual cost of shying away from what we profess to believe, through covenant, is relatively just as high, and eternally no different. Worldly position does not impress God -- He expects that our actions, as Latter-day Saints, be equal in all circumstances. In The Book of Mosiah, at the waters of Mormon, Alma boldly defines the initiates commitment in the baptismal covenant:

"Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life"           (Mosiah 18:9)

Regardless of circumstance, or the perceived cost, each member of the Church is equally bound to the same commitment, in order to qualify for the blessing of membership within the gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps Mitt could just renounce the Church on this one point, to politically appease his critiques? That way he could remain an active member and advance his political career. After all, we really don't know a lot about the history of Black Mormons in the Church, and seem to be taking a lot of hits lately on this issue. Some might feel that because of this, it is not practical that he should stand 100% by the Church. Besides that, who knows if he really agrees with the Church's position?

But that's not how faithful Latter-day Saints view their relationship with Jesus Christ, and His Church. By the law of common consent, individually, we commit to sustain those called to preside over the Church and collectively this, act of faith, unifies the body of the Saints -- and the work to build the kingdom here on earth. The practice of picking and choosing what commandments and counsel fit within the framework of one's personal worldview, is not a habit that members should subscribe. Instead, we are challenged to pick up the cross and bear it together.

Our vulnerability to deny the faith will come to us individually, most likely dependent upon our specific weakness. A strong testimony of Jesus Christ is what will fortify us even when it is most difficult to remain true -- and if we falter will bring us back.  One can't help but think of the Apostle, Peter, when he denied Jesus Christ and thereafter wept bitterly at the realization of what he had done. The thought of separation from Him, whom he desperately loved, was almost unbearable. Surely when Peter came to understand the power of the atonement, that made reunion with Christ possible, his joy was beyond measure. Once reunited with the Master, Peter became immovable -- one upon whom the Savior could trust.

Our commitment to be immovable is one, like Peter's, that once made will become a sure anchor in our lives and that which will guide us daily as we navigate this constantly changing world. The pressure to shrink in the face of our critics, for what we believe, is now an everyday occurrence. Whether in standing for traditional marriage, sexual abstinence before marriage, the keeping of the word of wisdom, following living prophets, standards of modesty, to name only a few -- as we do so, we are true to the faith and are at one with the body of the Saints.

"Each of us who have made covenants with God face challenges unique to us. But each of us shares some common assurances. Our Heavenly Father knows us and our circumstances and even what faces us in the future. His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, has suffered and paid for our sins and those of all the people we will ever meet. He has perfect understanding of the feelings, the suffering, the trials, and the needs of every individual. Because of that, a way will be prepared for us to keep our covenants, however difficult that may now appear, if we go forward in faith. 
I share with you the obligation to be a witness for God at all times and in all places that I will be in as long as I live. And I share with you the confidence that God can grant us the power to keep all our covenants." Henry B. Eyring

Kathryn Skaggs

Recent posts WBMW:

Why Do Mormons Trust Men to Speak for God? 
We live during a time when much of what prophets teach and instruct, which runs glaringly in opposition to mainstream society, for some, becomes a bit uncomfortable -- and to a few, unbearable.

Mormons and Racism: Are Mormons Racist?
I'm not here to defend or debate that this was part of LDS history. Nor do I have all of the answers as to why this was considered church policy for so long. However I can tell you that, today, Mormons are happy that such a policy is no longer in effect, and are thrilled to know that all blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ are equally available to God's children -- and rightly so.

The Significant Difference of Truth
I can't stress enough the importance of developing our testimony of the gospel upon the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. Not just upon the book, but upon its truthfulness. My experience has taught me that there is a significant difference. In fact, it is the differencethat has the power to enable us to withstand the very real and inevitable buffetings of the adversary.

The LDS Newsroom: Race Relations
"It’s been over 30 years since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began ordaining its members of African descent to the priesthood.

It was a pivotal moment in Church history, with implications not only for members in the United States but for the Church worldwide."

Deseret News: MormonVoices calls for Santorum to disavow pastor
"MormonVoices, an independent organization associated with the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR), issued a press release early Tuesday calling for Santorum to "condemn the anti-Mormon comments made by his supporter, an honorary Florida chairman, the Rev. O'Neal Dozier.""

BYU Studies: Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood
"Edward L. Kimball discusses the former Mormon policy of restricting Church members of African descent from receiving the priesthood. He examines the traditional and proposed scriptural basis for the policy, its origin and implementation, and the chain of events that led his father, President Spencer W. Kimball, to seek revelation regarding changing the policy. Black Africans’ interest in joining the Church, the Civil Rights movement, Church members’ changing perceptions regarding the priesthood policy, and spiritual manifestations all contributed to President Kimball’s landmark decision. The article describes how President Kimball went about obtaining the revelation allowing all worthy male Church members to receive the priesthood, how the revelation was spiritually confirmed to other leaders, and members’ reactions when the change was announced."

Mormon Belief: America A Promised Land

Saturday Mitt Romney gave an interview to hosts of the nationally syndicated Rick and Bubba Show, of which the questioning caught my attention. Barely into the interview Romney's Mormon beliefs were called into play as the host explained, "One of the areas that we have to deal with, because I believe if you make it and you're the nominee, that I know how the opposition works and they'll do anything to defeat you and one of the things they're going to come after is your Mormon faith. Evangelical Christians don't always agree that Mormons are also Christian, just another denomination. And one of those issues concerns Israel. I have friends who are Mormons and sometimes I get a feeling that the Mormon faith calls America the Promised Land, not Israel, therefore it almost feels like that our biblical mandate to always support Israel is not necessarily in play anymore. Where do you stand on Israel?"

Romney then proceeded to give his political position, by affirming his commitment to stand with Israel. Since this is not a political blog we'll leave it at that. Toward the close of the interview, with seemingly some anxiety, the host jumped back in, attorney style, and asked "Because this isn't going to go away, do you as a Mormon believe that America is the new promised land, yes or no?"

Romney replied, with a bit of a chuckle, most likely amused by the insistence of the question and replied by saying “You’re going to have to go talk to the Church and ask what they think about that. There’s no question that Israel is the promised land. That's what the Bible tells us, and my best guess is that other lands are promised to other people.” End of interview.

Clearly these cats, with such a direct closing question, were pretty confident that they had their mouse. The reason this interview caught my attention is because I'm well aware of the spin that could likely make this the next story in the ongoing media web of confusion. It's hard to know if Romney, on the spot, knew how brilliant his answer was, but I'm giving him a thumbs-up anyway.

The catch words in this web are 'a' and 'the' -- in understanding where the promise land of America fits into the picture. The scriptures clarify the destiny and purpose of this land, without taking away from that which God has promised other of His children.

I think it might also help to understand that Mormon doctrine teaches that the destiny of the earth is to be Celestial -- meaning perfected and glorified. So in that sense the entire earth is 'The Promised Land' and God, as an inheritance to bestow upon His children, has designated specific portions. In essence those who qualify to receive this blessing will all feel that their inheritance is choice, or the best. It's also my opinion that when this land, America, is described as "a choice land above all others" that is in reference to liberty, as it was here that the gospel of Jesus Christ would be restored in the last days.

In Latter-day scripture both the 'a' and 'the' reference to promise land can be found. The promised land and a promised land are used interchangeably. Frankly, I'm not sure if that means anything, other than different ways to reference their promised land.

In The Book of Mormon Lehi declared:
"But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord." 

In a revelation to Joseph Smith:
"And I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it.

And I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh;" (D&C 38:17-18)

In The Book of Mormon Ether declares:
"And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.

For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off."
(Ether 2:9-10)

I think it's interesting to note that nowhere in The Bible is found the phrase "a land of promise" and only one reference to "the land of promise".

"By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:"(Hebrews 11:9)

I've simply focused on these two specific phrases to emphasize that God has designated land inheritances to all those who love Him and keep His commandments, including both Jew and Gentile. The earth is large and from an eternal perspective I have to believe, like Brother Romney, that "other lands are promised to other people". For those here in the Americas we certainly believe this it is "a land of promise" and for us, "the land of promise".

Kathryn Skaggs

WBMW Recent Posts: 

LDS Newsroom Infographic: Who Are the Mormons?

Why Do Mormons Trust Men to Speak for God?

Note: After I wrote this post and went to research resources for those who would like to study this topic further, it appears that we are on the right track. 

Scripture Topical Guide: Promised Lands  (Interesting that my search for "promise land" came up plural, lands.) 

"Lands that the Lord promises as an inheritance to his faithful followers, and often also to their descendants. There are many promised lands. Often in the Book of Mormon, the promised land spoken of is the Americas."

"Temporarily, we call it America. But it began with the single, primeval continent of Genesis, and the miracle of millennial healing will bring that unity again."

"It’s important to understand a few things about scriptural references to the “promised land.” First, there is obviously more than one land of promise (because both the Old and New World covenant people had such lands). The land could include a large area — or land of promise — as well as smaller sections of lands of promise in a larger area of promise. Thus the Book of Mormon can speak of lands of promise (see 2 Nephi 6:11, 9:2, 24:2)."