Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day Talk 2017

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to speak in my church's congregation. My assigned topic was "Women in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament." I had a somewhat unconventional approach to the topic and had many people ask for copies of the talk afterward. Because of that, I decided to post the transcript of my talk here:

I have been asked to speak today about an obscure topic. The topic given to me was “Women in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament”. On face value, it doesn’t sound that obscure, but once I started researching I realized just how obscure it is.

Let’s take the Book of Mormon, for example. There's only six women mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon and three of those are referencing the Bible (Eve, Sarah, Mary). Out of the three remaining women, one is a prostitute, so probably not appropriate to talk about on Mother’s Day, and then I am left with Sariah and Abish -  Great women, but my pickings are fairly small as far as stories to tell.  (source:

When women are mentioned generally in the Book of Mormon, there are a few cool references ("we do not doubt our mothers knew it”), but there's also quite a few times where women are mentioned as sex symbols (harlots, concubines, etc). (Source: B of M index: women)

Those of you on Facebook know that this week I put a little poll in the ward facebook page asking who your favorite Book of Mormon heroes are. I had thought—“well maybe even though there’s only a few women mentioned by name, people may really like those few women or maybe the women who are mentioned but don’t have names  are really meaningful and ward members may and have great insights about them”. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Nephi, Enos, Moroni, Mormon, Brother of Jared, Benjamin and Abinadi were the heroes mentioned. And don’t get me wrong—those are great figures in the Book of Mormon (Enos has always been my favorite), but it doesn’t help me with my fairly obscure topic.

Additionally, there is no book in the Book of Mormon told through the perspective of a woman. The Book of Mormon is a book written by men and dominated by male protagonists.

Realizing that the stories of women during the Book of Mormon times go largely untold may cause many to feel that the Book of Mormon is a sexist manuscript that can’t be true. Though I may agree that it is sexist, I contest that this is part of the testament of it’s veracity.  The Book of Mormon is a part of history and the history of the world has been largely dominated by sexist beliefs.

Political Science professor and Mormon Scholar Valerie Hudson Cassler wrote, “It is very difficult to be raised in one of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity), as I was, and not come away with some fairly unpleasant conclusions about women. Depending on the religion and sect involved, one may be taught that the first woman was feeble-minded or a murderess and that all her daughters are marred by that fact, that a woman’s body is unclean, that God meant women to submit to their husbands and in general be subservient to men, and that divinity is male and male alone. (Of course, echoes of such teachings can be found in other faith traditions besides the Abrahamic, as well.)” SOURCE:

My guess is there are many here today who have felt this way. Her article later describes one very important story about a woman that is clarified only in the Book of Mormon – the story of Eve. In the Bible we learn that Eve tempted Adam and Adam fell and it is easy to blame Eve for our misery. The Book of Mormon, of course, clarifies this story and helps us to realize that what Eve did was essential to our existence on earth. I’ll read an excerpt from 2 Nephi chapter 2:

18 And because he [SATAN] had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.
19 And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth. [So at this point, Satan probably thinks he got his way—that Eve did what he said and therefore people would be miserable forever, just like he was hoping for. It appears, though, from the next few scriptures, that Eve knew better than that]
20 And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth. [Of course we know here that they couldn’t have had children in the Garden of Eden, so this was the only way for us to be born]
21 And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents. [Our loving God created an opportunity for us to be born and then to repent—all because of that decision that Eve made]
22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. [So Adam and Eve would have stayed in this state of perfection, but it wouldn’t have been a state of joy because they were unable to have all emotions when they couldn’t contrast]
24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. [Though it doesn’t say it in this often quoted scripture, we know from the scriptures above that Adam would not have fallen had Eve not eaten of the fruit first. So, in essence, we owe our existence and our ability to feel joy to the story of Eve]
[And in the last verse I’m going to read to you, we learn God’s solution to the fact that we are born in a fallen state]:
26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

This scripture passage I read is a very clarifying moment in the Book of Mormon for women. It turns that Christian-notion that women were the first temptresses on it’s head and shows that this story – the story of our creation - was really about Eve and her courage to think outside the box and do things slightly unconventionally—for the good of the entire world.

Mormon Scholar Hugh Nibley expounded on this idea, saying, “it is the woman who sees through Satan’s disguise of clever hypocrisy, identifies him, and exposes him for what he is. She discovers the principle of opposites by which the world is governed and views it with high-spirited optimism: it is not wrong that there is opposition in everything, it is a constructive principle making it possible for people to be intelligently happy. It is better to know the score than not to know it. Finally, it is the “seed of the woman” that repels the serpent and embraces the gospel: she it is who first accepts the gospel of repentance.” SOURCE:

Let’s move to the New Testament now—which does have more stories of women.

Those on Facebook also know that the day after I asked for your Book of Mormon heroes, I asked for your favorite New Testament stories. Not as many ward members chimed in on that post, but out of the ones who did, one person mentioned the story in John 8 of Jesus being asked about the woman accused of adultery. This story reminded me of one of the reasons that I love the New Testament and the example set by Jesus in it. Christ always treated women with complete respect and love.
Writer Dorothy Sayer, said of how Christ was depicted in the New Testament, “They [women] had never known a man like this Man—there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized…who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for the, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious."
I’ll read the story from John 8 now, starting in verse 3:
And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him [JESUS] a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. [Of course, if she was caught in the act of adultery, there was a man caught in the act of it as well, but they weren’t concerned about that]
Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. [I like how at this point where these men are taunting him, he doesn’t let it bother him. He merely gives himself some time to think and for them to cool down]
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. [He’s so matter-of-fact about this. He gives them a clear opportunity to think of their own actions rather than focus on this poor woman]
And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. [so here he put them in their place. They couldn’t do it anymore and had to leave.]
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. [He truly was so quick to forgive and showed so much love to her.]
Another example of Christ treating women with respect occurs in the story of the woman at the well. Christian pastor Greg Cantelmo tells the story as he depicts it like this:
“We see in the gospels that Jesus treated women with incredible respect. A classic passage in this regard is Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman.34 This is a remarkable exchange, since Jesus was not only interacting with a Samaritan, a member of a race that was despised by Jews,35 but also a woman. And Jesus’ conversation with this woman is probably the most profound discussion of theology in the gospels. Women were not encouraged to have interaction with male strangers.36
“But Jesus went beyond the cultural ethnic and gender barriers and treated her as a person who was worth his offer of the living water of eternal life.37 He didn’t treat her in reference to what others said about her, her accomplishments or possessions, and he didn’t deal with her based on her appearance. He establishes through this woman that whoever accepts his offer of living water, that person will receive it. The woman saw the barrier as ethnic,38whereas the disciples returned and made an issue of gender.39 But for Jesus, gender and ethnicity are irrelevant in his offer of salvation.
“She comes to the well at noonday, the hottest hour of the day, which whispers a rumor of her reputation. The other women come at dusk, a cooler, more comfortable hour. They come not only to draw water, but to take off their veils and slip out from under the thumb of a male-dominated society. They come for companionship, to talk, to laugh, and to barter gossip—much of which centers around this woman. So shunned by these women, she braves the sun’s scorn. Accusing thoughts are her only companions as she ponders the futile road her life has traveled. She’s looked for love in all the wrong places, going from one dead-end relationship to another. For her, marriage has been a retreating mirage. Again and again she has returned to the matrimonial well, hoping to draw from it something to quench her thirst for love and happiness. But again and again, she has left that well disappointed.
“And so, under the weight of such thoughts she comes to Jacob’s well, her empty water jar a telling symbol of her life. As her eyes meet the Savior’s, he sees within her a cavernous aching, a cistern in her soul that will forever remain empty unless he fills it. And there she meets Jesus.40
“This encounter shows to all women that regardless of past mistakes, hurts, pain, and failures Jesus wants to fill women with his love because women are people intrinsically whom he values. Every woman is created in his image, a daughter of Eve, and he offers the greatest ministry ever; cleansing, forgiveness, hope, meaning, significance, and a life of power and purpose.”

We see from this and several other stories from the New Testament how Jesus discussed religion with women. He taught them and clearly felt it was important that they played an integral role in His gospel. After his ministry, when he was resurrected, it was women who first found the empty tomb and were given the responsibility to share the message of the resurrection. 

Matthew 28 tells the story:
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
¶ And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
This story not only shows the faith of these women, it shows the importance that Christ placed on their responsibility. He entrusted them to testify of His resurrection – at perhaps the most crucial time in history.

The scriptures and stories that I’ve shared today were chosen in hopes to help the women and girls in the congregation who may have struggled with the gender roles they’ve seen in the scriptures and in the church. Admittedly, it can be difficult “to be raised in one of the Abrahamic faiths … and not come away with some fairly unpleasant conclusions about women.” My hope and prayer is that this talk has helped some women to see more clearly the eternal value that women do have. Women’s opinions should be respected, and women should be empowered. Women’s skills and minds have been crucial to the existence of humankind and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I quit!

Around January 16th, Camm and I had this conversation:

  • Me: Oh, Camm! Isn't everything just going so well right now? 
  • Camm: Yeah, things are just fine.
  • Me: No, I mean, really well. The girls are just doing everything right. Work is going perfectly, everything is just great.
  • Camm: um, yeah, I guess so.
  • Me: I mean, I can't believe how well things are going.
  • Camm: You stopped nursing a week ago. That's the only difference.

It wasn't until he pointed it out to me that I realized he was right. Life actually wasn't going that much better - in fact Ivory had been growing her molars and hadn't slept all week. The only difference was me. I wasn't a hormonal basket-case of PPD anymore. It had only been a week since I'd quit giving Ivory the boob, and it had felt like the best week of my life. It's now been a month--and it feels like the best month of my life. I didn't realize I was in the trenches of PPD until I got out of it. Sure, I knew I was stressed. I knew I cried a lot. But I thought I was stressed because I have two little girls, two part time jobs, responsibilities at church, and blah blah blah. I didn't know that if you took the PPD out of it, my life would seem fabulous.

A few weeks ago that Similac commercial went viral with a message to stop the mommy wars.

Then there was a backlash from the lactation gurus saying that it was perpetuating a myth that bottles are as good as boobs and making people feel guilty for speaking their mind when they know that boobs are best.

I know breastmilk is healthier (why else would I have nursed her?).

That being said, I'm with the Similac commercial. Everyone needs to do what's best for their family.

Nursing is great for lots of women who love it. I know that many women love the extra bond with their breastfeeding child. I think that's great!

On the other hand, I don't think it's really necessary for me to be crying all the time. I don't even think that's best for my kids. With both kids I immediately felt better emotionally within days of quitting. I don't think that's a coincidence.

So rather than making everyone do what we think is best, stop the mommy wars!

"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it! It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children."--Dieter F. Uchtdorf

PS--Here are some other posts I've had on the topic:
This one was written a few months ago
This one is a humorous post from after I quit nursing Ruby

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

8 months and 10 days

Happy 8 months and 10 days to my sweet Ivory girl!

Readers may wonder what's so significant about 8 months and 10 days. Well, unlike everyone in my facebook newsfeed (who dutifully mark each month of their babies' lives with a sweet picture of them wearing special, clean shirts that state the number of months they are old), I haven't had time to think about her month birthdays, let alone take a picture. So 8 months and 10 days it is. Oh, except that I took this picture a few days ago, or weeks ago, or possibly months ago I guess--I didn't write down the date.

But here goes my attempt to make it up to her:

Ivory Stats at 8 months and 10 days

Weight: Not sure, but I think I am getting tendinitis in my wrist if that's any indication.

Height: Not sure again, but her pants seem to fit fine in the waist and the length--something that her big sister has never experienced as her poor big sister will be wearing high waters for the rest of her life

Hair: 1 of them is 3'', the rest are 1''.

Favorite food: Time Magazine

Second Favorite food: Wood chips at the park

(I think both of those are healthy, right?)

Favorite activity: Watching her sister's swimming lessons. She sits on the side of the pool waving her arms up and down in utter excitement. Can't wait for her own lessons.

Sleep Schedule: Better than some kids, but still exhausting to her mom.

Enjoys finger paint (note, this is not that she enjoys finger painting, she enjoys finger paint--as in she stuck a bunch in her mouth today while Ruby and I were trying to include her and she was happy as could be about it).

Sense of humor: Fantastic (She thinks I'm hilarious.)

Tricks: loves rolling, sitting, playing with toys, tasting toys, tasting any food or anything, knocking over blocks, and tickles.

Other Trick: Can crawl. OK, that might be an exaggeration, I mean: Can Army crawl. OK, that might be another slight exaggeration as I can't imagine any Army recruiters calling the house any time soon. She can slither forward on her belly at a rate of 3''/hour. Not bad, huh? I'm actually happy as it means Ivory normally stays generally where she was left.

Cuteness ranking: #1 Cutest baby in the world

Couldn't be happier to have such a sweet girl (well, unless of course, she were sleeping just a little bit more). Seriously, though, I love her cuddles, her laughs and giggles, the joy she's brought to our family. I love the way she and Ruby are developing their relationship. I love her sense of humor. I love her little personality and I'm so happy that I am blessed to be her mom.

Friday, October 10, 2014


I don’t like breastfeeding.

I figure by starting off the blog post that way, super-duper breastfeeding advocates can just stop reading and we can avoid a huge slew of negative comments about my poor mothering skills below (not that I ever have very many comments on any post anyway).

When I was pregnant with Ruby (now 3) I was sick. Typing the word “sick” doesn’t do justice to how I felt. My schedule consisted of grad school and working and puking in between. I’ll spare you the details, but just know that I was sick.

Though I was sick, my pregnancy was a perfectly healthy pregnancy. Baby developed just fine and there were no complications. I’d try to convince myself that I was glad we were “healthy”, but it was hard to remember that when I felt anything but healthy.

I couldn’t wait to have my body back. I wanted to be able to run and swim without throwing up. I wanted to feel normal again. I wanted to be hormonally stable. I felt like those 9 months would never end.

Sometimes (or a lot of the time) I would think about what was on the other side of the 9 months. I knew I’d have my Ruby girl, I knew I’d get to bond with her, I knew I’d get to experience what it is like to love my daughter and I was excited. On the other hand, I was dreading breastfeeding. I knew that though I wouldn’t be puking my guts out, I wouldn’t have my body back to normal for a long time.

I attended two different breastfeeding classes where they filled my brain with information about how much better breastmilk is than formula and gave lists of rules about what I should do to make sure I keep up my milk supply. I read books and articles about what I was supposed to do. Rather than helping me prepare and be at ease, I would come home from classes full of anxiety and worrying about every little thing. I was stressed, to put it lightly.

Months passed and the day finally came where I held my little Ruby girl. I did get to bond with her, I did get to experience what loving a little girl is like, and it was exciting! I started breastfeeding fairly seamlessly. Yes, there were all the normal trials about getting used to it and the nipples hurting. (There were also the abnormal trials like finding out I have a 3rd lactating nipple—but that’s a story for another time.) I nursed Ruby regularly. And my stress levels were continually on the rise. I kept trying to think of all the things that I’d learned in the classes and books and tried to make sure I did everything right. I kept reminding myself I had to do it for at least a year because that’s what a good mom does. And I drove myself crazy.

When I started school and work again at 2 months, I started introducing formula. By 4 months she was completely weaned. And I felt fantastic. I had the flexibility I needed for my work/school schedule. I continued bonding just fine with the little one. I felt like my relationship with my husband was much better. In essence, I replaced breastmilk with a happy mom.

Three years later Ruby rarely if ever gets sick and is plenty smart. I've never regretted that decision.

The week before Ruby’s 2nd birthday I found out I was pregnant with Ivory. Again, I had a healthy baby inside me but felt sick. This time I didn’t feel as sick, but it was still hard. It was easier mentally to think clearly as I’d gone through it all before.

I decided to do everything differently in regards to breastfeeding this time around. I would read no books, attend no classes and hardly think about it. I would breastfeed for 1 day and at the end of that day I would decide if I wanted to do it the next day. That was my only goal: 1 day.

I finished that day and did it the next day and the next. Ivory’s now 8 months and I’m still doing it—day by day.

I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit through my two different nursing experiences and I’d like to outline them here. Some positive about nursing and some negative:
  • ·         Nursing really has gotten easier as the baby gets older. She latches quicker, drinks faster, and (for someone like me who doesn’t like my boobs in the open) nursing discreetly is easier.
  • ·         Since I have another kid, nursing is logistically easier because I don’t have bottles in my already full-of-dirty-dishes sink; I don’t have to remember bottles/formula in addition to the diapers, wipes, crackers, toys, and books on our walks to the park; and when I stumble out of bed in the night to get to Ivory’s crib, I don’t have to make a bottle in the dark.
  • ·         Ivory’s still not sleeping through the night. I know that many 8 month olds aren’t. I read blogs about how babies shouldn’t be expected to. I also know this might not have to do with breastmilk. The truth is, though, Ruby was sleeping through the night long before 8 months and that made life so much easier. Knowing I could get a full night’s sleep every night did wonders for my mental health that I’m definitely lacking now.
  • ·         I don’t feel any more bonded to Ivory than I did to Ruby. I love both of them. I don’t think that breastfeeding has made any difference on that.
  • ·         Figuring out my work schedule is really hard. Pumping isn’t convenient or comfortable or fun. I do it, but I don’t like it.
  • ·         When I read blogs or talk to moms who absolutely love it, I can’t relate at all. I do not feel like it is my calling in life. I also don’t feel like every mother should do it. I quit with Ruby because I felt like having a happy mom was more important than her diet. I still think I was right.

 I’m glad I can do it. I’m glad that I’m healthy, that my baby is healthy and that we can do it. I do not think any mother should ever feel guilty for not breastfeeding for any reason. I’m still nursing Ivory one day at a time and we’ll see where it takes us. I don't know how long it lasts. I know though that you will not see me nursing my daughter on the cover of Time or even hear me gush about how much I love it. I just don't really like it all that much (and I know by saying that I'm still opening myself up to that slew of negative comments on my mothering skills if you breastfeeding advocates made it this far).

BTW: here's a humorous post I wrote shortly after I quit nursing Ruby:
Ivory girl

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Snip bits from an average Tuesday

I looked over at the phone hook--where normally rests our cordless landline. In its place was a hot pink and purple felt phone that jingles when you shake it. I guess Ruby decided her phone needed a charge more.

I told Ruby her picture was beautiful. She smiled and said, "Thanks!"
Curiosity struck as I wondered what "thanks" could mean to a three year old aspiring artist.
"Ruby, what does 'thanks' mean?" I asked.
"It means we love each other."
She's right. That is true gratitude.

Eight minutes into my first ever HIIT workout, I heard the baby cry from her crib. I've never been so happy to hear a cry from her precious mouth. Maybe I'll try HIIT tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our Functional Landlord

Our landlord is a fix-it sort of man. He always gets the job done in the most functional, efficient way possible. Unfortunately, his interior design skills could use some work.

When we first moved in we had a nice fireplace in our living room.

"Don't use the fireplace," our landlord warned, "because it really loses more heat than it makes. In fact, before winter I'll buy some doors to put on it to keep the cold out."

I pictured something like this:

Winter rolled around and he came over. "I just didn't like any of the doors I saw--I don't think they'd really keep the heat in. So I just made something."

This is what he made:

Functional? Yes. 
Beautiful? Well, that's debatable.

Recently our toilet was leaking. He looked at it and said, "Oh, it's just sweating because the temperature inside is colder than the room temperature. I just need to insulate it."

Here's his fix:

I thought INsulation was supposed to go on the INside. 

Functional? Yes. 
Beautiful? Well, I don't think that's even debatable.

Someday we'll own our very own house and can fix things how we want to fix them, right?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Baby Ivory's due date is 5 weeks from today!

35 weeks pregnant with Ruby

35 weeks pregnant with Ivory

Is it any wonder that my body hurts so much more this time around?