Hope Within Darkness

This semester isn’t going to be easy. I’m taking a class called, “International Economy of Women.” It’s like it sounds. Basically talking about the condition of women are worldwide, especially in their participation (or lack thereof) of international development. The material is really hard to digest. Rape, dowry murders, female genital mutilation, infanticide, girl children deprived from medical care and food so that the boys can have it instead. The list goes on.

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But…I was reading in 2 Corinthians 4, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (v. 17). Even though I can’t look at all of these terrible occurrences and think them “light afflictions,” I suppose when compared to what Christ went through they are. He suffered for all the pains, afflictions, and abuses of all women who ever lived. And most of all, he suffered for the unfairness of it all.

I still remember when Elder Quinton L. Cook (an LDS apostle) came and spoke in my church meeting last year unannounced. The only thing I distinctly remember from that meeting was when he said, “Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the Atonement covers all of the unfairness of life.” He was so specific, so direct. Now I can recall that moment, feel the power of the Holy Spirit that spoke then, and be more at peace while I’m learning about so many unfair things that have happened to women worldwide.

I suppose it’s like any of the bad things that have happened to me. I wouldn’t ever go back and change anything because those experiences made me who I am today. Even though my suffering is infinitesimal compared to so many other women’s, the principle is the same. One book I’m reading, Half the Sky, is a collection of stories illustrating just that point; women can use their terrible experiences to learn and grow and become better. Even though I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone…just as I wouldn’t wish my suffering upon anyone, it can still be a learning opportunity.

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God said that in the Book of Mormon, too. When all of those women and children were burned at the stake because they believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ…There isn’t much of a difference between the things happening now in the world and the things that happened in the Book of Mormon as far as evil goes. And the Lord said that those things happened so that the unrighteous could be held accountable for their evil actions. If God saved them at the last minute, he would prevent justice from acting upon those who were committing the atrocities. And all those that were doing their best and then suffered at their hands…they will be blessed in his kingdom, I’m certain of that.

Even though it doesn’t make any of it better, and I still feel a pull in my heart to do all I can to help my sisters in the world, the fact that Christ suffered for the unfairness of it all make

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Stand for Something

I know it’s not official yet, but the projected results say that Barack Obama will remain our president for the next four years. He’s worked hard for it, as did Mitt Romney and every one else who ran for the national election. I say, congratulations, Obama. And good game to Romney.

Most of all, though, I’m grateful that our nation’s system actually works. Whatever discrepancies or critiques you may have of how our government or election program operates, we are truly very blessed to have such consistency. Other countries don’t always have the same luxury. We know that whoever wins, will be president. We don’t have to worry about civil-war, or mass take-over by one group or another. Though perhaps the system and its people are not without flaw, the system works. I believe it’s inspired.

During the last few months, and especially right now during this time of high spirits and also bitter disappointments, I think it’s important to remember that we are all Americans, and as Americans, civility is a key element we must adopt and consistently apply. We might not agree on every topic, but somewhere there is common ground. The mere fact that we’re human beings existing and eking out a living on the same earth should be enough to provide at least that basis for understanding each other.

A wise man said: “Whenever your politics cause you to speak unkindly of your brethren, know this, that you are upon dangerous ground” (George A. Smith, Conference Report Apr. 1914, 12).

Mark DeMoss, an evangelical political adviser to Mitt Romney, launched what he called the Civility Project after seeing how Mormons were treated during the 2008 election. His project included a pledge with three simply stated, but powerful, points:

1. I will be civil in my discourse and behavior.

2. I will be respectful of others, whether or not I agree with them.

3. I will stand against incivility where and when I see it.

The pledge was sent to members of Congress. Sadly, only three signed it, and the project was discontinued.

Civility and respect are lacking and desperately needed in our nation. What are you willing to stand for? I know I definitely have a lot to work on in understanding and being more tolerant of views different from my own.

Let’s stand, and fight for what we believe. But let’s do it with dignity, respect, and civility for those who feel the call to stand for something different than we do.

I love these pictures (courtesy of BBC). They’re all people too, you know?

Style Tiles by Olioboard

Jen over at iheartorganizing.blogspot.com shared an amazing website, and I had to share it with you right away!
I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of pictures like this one – Jen calls them “Style Tiles” (source here).
Well, making something like this yourself can be quite time consuming. BUT there happens to be a nifty website out there to make it for you. And save you tons of time!
It’s called olioboard, and I can’t wait to try it. Dream home designing, here I come!
What nifty home-design tools have you stumbled across lately?

Words For Home

Moment of confession: I love home-improvement blogs.

One of my favorites is called The Nester. The author writes about her home-improvement projects, and gives others a chance to share theirs. I eat it up.

In the month of October, though, the author of The Nester picks one topic to write about every day in October. This year, her topic was: Home. On Purpose.

One of the series posts I loved the most delved into words that we want to describe our home. The author has never wanted her home to be described as “formal” (she has a pink mustache on her planter bust on the mantle place – young kids!). She challenged her readers to think about what words they would use to describe their home…

As I thought about it…what words do I want to describe my home?

Peaceful.

Memory-making.

Safe.

Fun.

Bright.

Loving.

Those last few were from my husband, and I completely agree. Figuring out what we want our homes to be like is so important. Because if we don’t actively decide, they might become something we don’t want. After all, life gets crazy and sometimes we just react instead of acting.

What words will you choose for your home?

Six Month Muffins

Yesterday was our six-month anniversary! Pretty big deal. James was really sweet and woke up before I did to make me “Breakfast in a Muffin” muffins. They are SO good.

They look kinda funky…but that’s just the cream-cheesy, bacony goodness layer on top. You can find the recipe here. I’m so grateful for my husband!!

The Father

The concept of “God,”for me, has always been synonymous with “Father” or”Heavenly Father.”

The distinction is significant. God can sometimes be an abstract concept. But Father…that implies someone different. Someone knowable. Someone who knows. Someone who loves.

I’m not a parent yet, but I’ve seen many parents before the birth of a child. Overwhelmingly, those parents are ecstatic. They prepare for months and months in anticipation of their new little one, whether or not it’s their first. When the baby comes, the parents are awed by this new life, and they love it more than they knew that they could.

Why wouldn’t the Father view all of his children in the same way? Why wouldn’t he see me as an amazing human being with nearly unlimited potential? I know that he does. And I know many of you see him the same way.

But…if I know it, do I trust it? Do I look to him to help me see myself as he sees me, or do I compare myself to others? Someone directed us to “look directly to our Father for our sense of self-worth” (Quentin L. Cook, “The Doctrine of the Father”). In the end, it’s really only what he thinks of us that matters.

Do I know God? Do you? He certainly knows us. And loves us. That I do know.

What can we do better, to know the Father? To look to him for our worth and potential?

Redefining Beauty

I’ll admit it. I’m a feminist.

The word “feminist” has such a negative connotation to it. Why is that? I suppose because, in the early 1900’s, the media associated feminists with the radical bra-burning, capital-marching women’s rights groups (even though they never actually burned the bras).

Guess what? If you’re someone who believes in non-discriminatory pay, voting privileges, and overall opportunity for women, you’re a feminist, too.

Last year, I took a women’s studies class and loved it. I loved learning about how women have come to be seen as we truly are, human beings with potential, though at times the fight seemed fruitless. I appreciated learning about media objectification of women, so as to better defend myself and women (and men) who I care about from the negative images and messages we’re exposed to every day.

A blog called “Beauty Redefined,” started by two graduate student women studying media and body image, often inspires me to re-think how I see myself. Media today is often filled with thin, tan, flawlessly skinned models that tempt us to hold ourselves up to their standard. They are lying to us. And the purpose of the Beauty Redefined blog is to expose that lie.

Their most recent post, which you can read here, is a good example of what I love about their thoughts. The post talks about how the lingerie line Victoria’s Secret objectifies women even in their attempt to empower them. It’s too good to summarize, but here’s a good quote:

When the most powerful companies in the world profit off of teaching you that your body – specifically your enhanced, bound, lotioned, glittered, posed, surgically and digitally altered parts of your body – are your only source of “empowerment,” they are lying to you.

Our worth is not defined by what’s on the outside.