Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Blogger, Perhaps a Ministering Angel

There are a few rare and glorious occasions when I stumble upon a blog whose author or purpose really speaks to me. Those are the blogs that inspire me and the people that I thank God for.

Because of Proposition 8, the pro-gay movement has been in the foreground of my thoughts this month (if you couldn't tell). And, although I don't really know very many Californians, there are people I know who are affected by this debate. I knew a lot of homosexuals in high school; some of them were close friends. And then, at BYU, I watched friends struggle with the split between their faith and their sexuality. I have thought of them often and wondered how they felt, a minority watching the rest of the nation argue over their heads about what they should or shouldn't be allowed to do. My heart has especially been grieved for those trying to reconcile an unyielding stance by their church on homosexuality with the reality of their passions.

I always stand behind the leaders of the church and, in so doing, believe I stand where God would have me be. But I mourn for those who are left bereft or confused at their place in His kingdom. I've spent a lot of time on my knees trying to understand God's plan for them.

He ultimately told me that it wasn't my place to request revelation on their behalf. I realized that what was needed on my part was trust, obedience, and compassion. (Which, coincidentally, applies to any commandment. This epiphany has strengthened me in all areas of my life.)

Having come to that conclusion, I prayed to have my faith strengthened. And He gave me an example, an extreme example that would take away my excuses and doubt. I found hope and peace (but not all the answers) at this blog.

And because I know that sometimes God's ministering angels are mortal beings like you and I (who use the internet), I feel confident saying that this blogger writes, in part, as a tender mercy from my Father to me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Living Oracles

We thank thee, oh God, for a prophet!

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we hold a semi-annual general conference. At the five-session conference, leaders of the church present gospel messages and counsel pertinent to our day. After the conference, their remarks are published in The Ensign and available online at the general conference archives. The most current general conference talks are God's word to His people in these days and are comparable in value to ancient scripture.

I try to study a talk from the archives every day. Since the most recent session of conference this October, I have received counsel from those talks directly pertinent to the world's turmoils and my place in them. I have received great peace and reassurance. I have had cause again and again to praise God and thank Him for sending us living oracles.

I am sure that every message shared in that conference spoke directly to someone. However, I would like to share a few of the messages that spoke to me and that I found very pertinent to our time:
* To the family wondering how to respond to the world's financial crisis, Elder Perry recommends simplifying.
* To the people living in a climate of contention, Elder Eying calls for unity.
* To the youth encouraged to stand up for themselves and yet to be kind and tolerant, Elder Hales outlines what it means to have "Christian courage".
* To the church member dissenting to the Church's support of Proposition 8 (and perhaps those supporting it with wrongful prejudice), Elder Christofferson offers this call to Zion.
* To the doubters who struggle to reconcile a loving God with the uphill journey unfairly meted out to some of His children, Elder Corbridge reaffirms that Christ is The Way.
* To the child of God who is tried and afflicted, our compassionate and long-suffering Elder Wirthlin shares the advice of his mother: "come what may, and love it."
* To the citizen who cultivates an attitude of entitlement and is racing to acquire more and more worldy goods, our beloved prophet, President Monson, cautions us to live with gratitude.

Each of these messages was a lovingly crafted "tender mercy" of the Lord to me. Each bolstered my testimony when the winds and rains of a sometimes cruel world attempted to shake me from the Rock of my Redeemer.

I invite all of you, members of the Mormon church or not, to read these inspired messages and take heart in troubling times. Which counsel, in its timely arrival, was a tender mercy in your life?

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Last Sunday, Scott and I went to a devotional for temple workers in the Salt Lake temple assembly hall. It was a very special experience: we met in a holy place with white-clad saints to hear the prophet of God bear testimony of the living Christ. The Holy Ghost was very strong in that sacred setting. Scott turned to me and gave me a squeeze. He said, "This is my idea of heaven." Then he amended, "Except the boy's not here."

Later that evening, the three of us sat together on the couch in our living room. Scott and I were discussing the lessons that had been taught in Sunday School and Relief Society. As we quietly and simply bore testimony to each other of the beautiful gospel truths we had been reminded of that day, I felt that same spirit wash over me. In my mind, I heard again those words, This is my idea of heaven.

In thinking about that experience over the last week, I have come to realize the holiness of my home. Although it is not quite the temple, God's house on earth, it can be a place where His spirit resides permanently.

My home is a place that has been sanctified by study and prayer. It is a place of revelation. I have said more prayers here, in my home, than in any other place. I have received more answers here, both through study and through personal revelation. I have listened to uplifting music here. It is in this place that I have been converted to the Lord again and again.

My home is the starting point. It is the place in which I have been prepared to face, and even change, the world. It is the faithfulness and love that is cultivated in my home that I carry into the church, into the temple, and hopefully into the world.

I am grateful for this holy place.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Welfare Square

My emotions have been very close to the surface this past week. So when I tell you I burst into tears yesterday pulling up to Deseret Industries, I hope you won't judge me.

Halloween is coming up and, as my friends know, I'm a sucker for costumes. I've been gathering all the necessary bits for our family's costumes way ahead of my usual schedule this year (aka not the night before!) but couldn't find one necessary piece. A friend told me there was a really great DI on the other side of the freeway and, with few options left, I decided to check it out.

I drove down 800 S, listening to the BBC and passing pens back to Soren, trying to keep him awake. I also looked for the big red and blue DI logo. That's why I almost missed the understated gray sign proclaiming the entrance to Welfare Square. An arrow for the Cannery, an arrow for Employment Services, an arrow for the Bishop's Storehouse, and then--ah!--this way to Deseret Industries. We took a sharp turn into the gated area.

It was the huge grain elevator that did me in. I'd never seen it before but the logo on the side was instantly recognizable as a symbol of provident living and the joy that comes as we help people help themselves. President Monson said that if we visit Welfare Sqaure, "your eyes will glow a little brighter, your heart will beat a little faster, and life itself will acquire a new depth of meaning." I felt that. It was because I caught a glimpse of the efficiency, compassion, and wisdom of God's plan for His saints. That place is a little piece of Zion.

Although we may not practice the law of consecration as the United Order did during the early years of the church, current-day members (and endowed members doubly) have made a covenant to care for the poor and the needy. The demands of this covenant are partially fulfilled when we pay tithing and fast offerings. And with those funds, through the Welfare Plan, God can ensure that the temporal needs of all His saints are met.

In working as a Relief Society president and at Step Beyond, I experienced a little bit of what the Welfare Plan is all about. To those who join with us, we as a people can offer relief from poverty. At the bishop's storehouse, we feed the hungry. At the employment center and the DI, we put people to work as well as educate them. At the cannery, we prepare for the future. With the perpetual education fund, we lift generations out of ignorance. In the bishop's office, saints receive the funds necessary to clothe and shelter their families in times of financial hardship.

I submit to you that the laws of tithing and fasting are the modern-day law of consecration--and they work! This comprehensive plan for the provident living of all church members is a tender mercy of the Lord.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Christ has opened my eyes and offered me spiritual rebirth. Now, not completely but more than ever before, I understand God's plan of happiness and the wisdom and love with which He guides His children.

And, after months of frustration, I have realized that this cannot be taught. I cannot give you the path my spirit took to arrive at a glorious truth. I can only urge you to open your heart to the Holy Ghost, "for by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

I know that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God, the Creator and Savior of the world.

I know that He was the greatest teacher and exemplar there ever was. He bade us follow Him and I know that although that path may seem at times to be fraught with trials and sorrow, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

I know that He healed the sick and raised the dead during His mortal ministry. I know that He can heal and revitalize souls sickened or deadened by sin.

I know that His sacrifice in Gethsemane and on Golgotha prepared the way for us to return in glory to our Father in Heaven. He is the only way, the only name through which we can be saved.

I know that He lives and that He loves us.

And while I struggle with temptation, with pain, and with inequality, I know that through Him I shall obtain eternal life. I know in whom I have trusted.

These things cannot be taught. But I have obtained these truths--and countless more I cannot put into words!--through the Holy Ghost. That gift is one of God's greatest gifts to me. And every experience I have that invites me to learn line upon line from this spiritual teacher is a tender mercy from my loving Father in Heaven.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yes to Proposition 8

I've been thinking a lot about the difference between opinions and truth lately.

The Bible says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). And I, for one, am so grateful. I'm glad the God I trust is smarter than us all.

I can plan and theorize and formulate and wonder. In fact, God wants me to do that. But I must be willing to give those ideas up when God speaks to me, even if I don't understand His plan. He has all knowledge and wisdom and power. And His plan is always better.

Sometimes, God wants me to study things out in my mind and come to a conclusion through logic and reason. But more often than He speaks to my mind, He speaks to my spirit. He wants me to accept a spiritual confirmation and exercise my faith. He is asking me to offer obedience to a plan that might fly in the face of contemporary thought. And when I receive that spiritual confirmation, I can proceed with confidence, even in the face of great opposition.

Today we have a prophet who speaks for God. His name is Thomas S. Monson and through him, our all-wise and all-loving Heavenly Father disseminates essential knowledge and counsel particular to our time and circumstances. When President Monson speaks, we do not have to wonder which course of action is best. We should pray for confirmation and then accept on faith that God's plan is always better. When my Father commands, I will give up whatever half-formed notions I've constructed and obey Him. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1Corinthians 3:19).

And so it is because of the spiritual confirmation I have received, more than anything I've reasoned out, that I support Proposition 8.

I feel a great deal of anguish for those people who will be left with sorrow, confusion, and doubt if this amendment is passed. Still, I think it is important and will do a great deal of good. This must be what Nephi felt like, commanded to slay Laban, knowing it was the right thing to do, but struggling with the ramifications. Or perhaps what the Israelites felt like, commanded to look at the serpent of brass and live yet wondering why their prophet Moses would suggest something that was so similar to idolatry. It was right because God commanded it and sometimes that needs to be good enough.

I, along with God's prophet, urge anyone with the vote in California (and Florida and Arizona) to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If you can't vote on this issue in your state, you can still talk to friends and family who will, donate to the initiative here, or speak up on the internet. If you are grateful to live in an age where God speaks to man again, don't disregard His counsel! It comes from someone smarter than us all.

And if you can't accept my testimony and spiritual knowledge as a sound enough support, click here for an excellent and reasonable defense of the issue.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Linguistic Anomalies

My husband is a linguist and so I knew I he would be dorky about our first child's language acquisition. I knew that when our son stopped squawking and started babbling, my husband would take a great deal more interest in him. I expected that.

So when Scott started talking about the unusual phonemes our son was acquiring, I figured it was just lingo-babble and fatherly pride. I didn't really understand what was peculiar about Soren's aggregate of sounds and so I guess I thought Scott was just exaggerating. Kind of the scholarly equivalent of me propping Soren up against a table and then snapping pictures of him "standing" at 6 or 7 months. That Soren would be standing then seemed as unlikely to me as him aquiring difficult and non-native sounds before typical baby babble. I mean, it was just a bizarre hubris to think our baby would defy the bell curve, right? And average was more than good enough for me.

Then another linguist friend came to visit our family on Sunday. She and Scott huddled together around Soren and began talking in a language of linguistic scholarship, unintelligible to me. What I gathered out of the conversation was that they were talking about Soren and that it was generally agreed that he was making some unusual sounds. Scott was beaming.

Yesterday I had a thought. I thought that maybe Soren's unusual babble was a gift from our Father, a tender mercy. It's such a small, seemingly unimportant thing. But I believe God is involved in the minutia of our lives. If there was going to be a baby like Soren (and face it, statistics do say there should be at least one), then why would he not send the little tike to a father that would thoroughly appreciate it? Yes, his phonetic inventory is going to realign to normal before he starts talking. No, it's not an earth-shaking miracle or life-altering blessing. But it's a beautiful detail that brings more joy to our home right now. And I believe it's a tender mercy from a loving and involved Father in heaven.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

First Snow

I woke up this morning and wandered, bleary-eyed, into Soren's room. The window blinds were open and morning was streaming into the nursery. Cold, white morning. I don't think there is a more magical day of the year than the first morning you wake up to snow.


Yesterday Scott and I were walking to the library when it started to rain/slush. I couldn't really suppress a little hop-skip-and-squeal; for some reason it felt marvelous to turn my face up into the falling slurry. I pulled Soren's wrap up over his head and he fell asleep while we walked, getting wetter and wetter. It was absolutely wonderful. I said to Scott, "I love weather." I loved walking, all bundled up in hand-knit items, and feeling how different it was from walking in the heat only a few months ago. The newness of it made it feel like a special gift, falling on my head straight from heaven.

Then we passed a panhandler standing head down in a wet sweatshirt, cold and with no place to go. Here I was, enjoying a jaunt out in the invigoratingly chilly air while he was enduring it, hoping it would stop. I'm sure there's a lesson in this. Compassion, empathy. I was grateful for the sudden slush shower because I had a warm apartment to go back to. Or a library to hurry on to. He didn't have either of those things; surely the cold rain was no blessing to him. Still, I'd felt the love of God in that bitter sweet condensation.

The library was full of hobos. I was glad. Perhaps it wasn't so callous of me to be grateful for the fluctuating weather. Because of the great economy of my Father, I could feel His love in chilly, melted fingerprints on my face even as they could feel His love while sinking into a warm, public armchair.

Things I was grateful for on this walk: changing weather, my comfortable apartment, a lesson in compassion, and the public library.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Help for My Sister

Calling all conscientious eaters: my 13-yr-old sister is thinking about becoming vegetarian (because of a fantasy book she read, of all things). She is looking for advice on whether or not this course of action is for her and how she should broach the subject with our mom, who makes meat and potatoes for every meal. Please follow this link to her post and offer her your opinions, advice, experiences, and recipes. Although I have given her my input, based on my knowledge of her and our family, I know that I have a lot of friends who have struggled with this issue before. Even if you are not vegetarian and have never considered becoming vegetarian, could you share with her how you balance your diet, how you interpret the counsel to "eat meat sparingly", or of a time you might have made a lifestyle change that affected those you love? It would mean a lot to me if you could lend her a hand.

Boy, I'm grateful for an internet community that can help with these kinds of things.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

50 Tender Mercies

I felt the love of the Lord today:

1. when I woke up this morning and realized that Scott, Soren, and I had all enjoyed a full, uninterrupted night of sleep.
2. when I pulled on a hand-knit sweater.
3. when we had the time and foresight to pray together before walking to the train stop.
4. when we chatted with Phyllis, the crossing guard.
5. when there were enough seats at the train stop for all of us.
6. when a woman getting off the train gave me a piece of good advice.
7. when I had a stroke of genius and ensured that Soren will never be hatless on a morning walk again.
8. when a bird's feather fell right in front of my path.
9. when Soren was happy to eat taco soup for breakfast, since we have a ton and no one else wants it.
10. when I read the paper and was grateful for our democratic government, flawed as it is.
11. when I listened to the first disk of Handel's "Messiah".
12. when I thought about the perfect government Christ will set up at his second coming, when we will be ruled by he who is called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace!
13. when Soren curled up next to me and laid his head on my chest, if only for a moment.
14. when I bit into a crisp autumn apple.
15. when I remembered other apples and harvesting the bounty of the earth from our yard at Step Beyond.
16. when I was able to get ahold of Aaron Fernuik and cancel our harp lesson to take care of my feverish son.
17. when I stopped to feel it.
18. when I spent a little bit of time cleaning, then stepped back and look at the difference I had made and thought of President Uchtdorf's talk on the divinity of creation.
19. when I explained the geometry of a soccer ball to Soren and he seemed to listen the whole time.
20. when I used the miracle that is Vick's Vapor Rub!
21. when I felt the energizing power of the Spirit, sustaining me as I was trying to sustain my baby boy.
22. when I opened the window blinds and let in the sunlight.
23. when I thought about how God wants me to nourish my body, then actually sat down and ate lunch.
24. when Alisha Stamper came to visit.
25. when Wallace Stamper smiled at me (truly a rare gift).
26. when I used the internet to read up on my extended family.
27. when Soren and I danced to "Here Come the ABCs" and he laughed (if a little wetly).
28. when Jill Fetzer called and gave me an opportunity to magnify my calling.
29. when I curled up on the couch in my comfortable apartment and read unstoppably through my chance to nap.
30. when April Clauson brought me some fresh basil and mint from her garden, as well as an example of service and friendship.
31. when Soren woke up from his afternoon nap, contently babbling.
32. when I listened to Henry B. Eyring--again.
33. when I put down my book and watched Soren play with a Baby Ruth wrapper.
34. when I saw the motto for Attachment Parenting Month, "Giving Our Children Presence".
35. when I commented on your blogs.
36. when I looked at pictures of my family.
37. when Soren looked up at me and smiled.
38. when Scott came home from work and said he'd had plenty to do and felt more like a linguist than a bureaucrat.
39. when Scott had his new work shirts and I remembered what a blessing his job is.
40. when I realized we had so much good leftovers I wouldn't have to cook!
41. when I made a very tasty pesto anyways with lots of basil and lots of flavor.
42. when all three of us sprawled out on the floor to play.
43. when it kind-of looked like Soren was combing Scott's hair.
44. when Scott and I watched Soren play in the bath tub.
45. when Soren and I went on a babywearing walk in the cool evening air.
46. when I saw Earl Gilmore at the church building and saw him smile, in spite of everything.
47. when I walked into my warm house and put on my warm robe.
48. when Soren fell asleep and peace descended on him and our home.
49. when Scott came home from a church meeting and held me close.
50. when I wrote this list.

Can I start a tag? How have you felt the love of the Lord today?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Divine Maternity

Every mom is different and so is every child. There is no one right way to parent.

I learned something very valuable in General Conference this weekend. I learned that we have more in common as mothers in Zion than we have differences. All the important things we have in common. I've been secretly bitter and antagonistic towards other moms who, in their zeal and love for their babies, left me feeling inadequate and then, as a defense mechanism, spiteful and self-righteous. But I was wrong and if I have offended you, I'm sorry.

President Eyring talked about the need for unity in the church and, although he wasn't talking about our need to come together as mothers and women, that's what I heard. That's what I needed to hear. A great day of unity is coming and I want to be a part of it. If that is to be, I knew I needed to give up my pride. Eyring said that we focus too much on our differences. We exaggerate them, trying to seperate ourselves from eachother, trying to be better than each other. He was talking about me. He admonished me, reminded me that our differences are insignificant when compared to the similar heritage we share. Those differences are shades of divinity. They are not polar opposites but slight shifts in focus.

We are all daughters of God and our divine spirits all yearn to become like our Heavenly Parents. Whenever we feel strongly about something, it is because we can sense that it is an echo of our God's love. Whenever another mother feels strongly about the way the she parents, it is because she knows something about the character of God.

And now I see the character of God in those mothers around me. They are amazing; they inspire me even when I choose to do something different. Because our differing styles are similar in love.

I chose to bear my son, Soren, in a hospital with pain medication and his birth was wondrous and absolutely perfect. So was the birth of Margaret, whose mother labored for days in her very own home and triumphed over fear and pain without the assistance of drugs or medical personel. We both experienced the spiritual and empowering gift of childbirth. But I respect so much those mothers who have to give up their plans of vaginal birth and offer the escape hatch to emerging life. Mothers who end up choosing cesarean are a great example to me of both physical and emotional sacrifice on behalf of their infant.

I chose to breastfeed Soren for the first 9 months and I cherished that physical representation of the link between us. I am amazed by this mother who, at great personal sacrifice, continues to nurse to the great benefit of her toddler. I am also amazed by this mother who, in the face of great (dare I say?) persecution, bottle-feeds her baby with love, tenderness, and humility that in no way diminishes the mother-child bond. We are all nourishing our babies with emotional and physical sustenance.

I chose a crib for my son, and his very own room. I chose early sleep training; Soren and I both needed it. But I have learned that mothering is a 24-hour job from a good friend who sleeps with her baby and feeds him several times in the night. In spite of all my nights of good sleep, sometimes she has more energy and optimism during the day than even I can muster up. We both guide our sons with love, making sure they are well rested.

I chose to implement a 1/2 hour long "room time" each day for my son when he plays alone in his room and I tidy up. But I am inspired by Paula from my ward, who carries her daughter Penelope in a sling while she does housework! I can see how happy it makes Penny to stay close to her mother and it reminds me that all children need special time with their parents.

I chose not to babyproof my house, at least not most things. I am *trying* to teach Soren self control by imposing boundaries on him and sometimes it seems like he gets it. But I love to see moms who have made their homes a safe haven for their child, a place to explore and enjoy. And I don't think these values are mutually exclusive! I am never surprised to meet children who are both creative and obedient, self-managing and confident.

I chose to feed my baby on a schedule, which (when implemented at 3 months) improved his temperament (and mine) drastically. But I understand and value the lesson of trust and tenderness given with milk by mothers who feed on demand like my favorite mom blogger. But in spite of the fact that I no longer feed for comfort, Soren has learned to trust me. He knows that I will meet his needs and show him a way to be happy and comfortable. Any mother can share that bond of trust with their child, no matter their feeding philosophy. We will all rush to their aid and respond according to the spirit when our sons and daughters call out to us.

I chose cloth diapers mostly because I am so cheap. But I don't think that what we put on our child's butt is any good indicator of our quality as a mother. I am blown away by TopHat, who is learning to identify her baby's elimination signs and teaching her 6-month-old to use a mini-potty. I am impressed by Liz, who makes her own wipes! But the contemporary mother who has most inspired me is April, who uses disposable diapers and, as a consequence, has one less worry getting in the way of having fun with Sequoia. Diapers do not make the mom.

To all mothers earnestly loving and raising a valiant generation, I honor you. Especially those of you who feel inadequate. Our children need us to be their mothers, not a philosophy and definitely not another. I know that every baby needs his or her unique mother and that each mother can have the Holy Ghost with her to give individual tailored help. And that all of us, even when we choose "opposites" can be love incarnate to our family. I grateful for this lesson and so sorry that it took me so long to get it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Lord's Organization for Women

Everyday I am reminded that life isn't fair. The world is full of injustice and suffering. There are people everywhere struggling with physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual losses. There are children growing up hungry for the love and leadership of a stable parental unit. There are teenagers struggling to find meaning and identity in all the wrong places. There are women who do not understand their infinite worth. There are men floundering without the confidence that comes from gospel truths. There are children of God who are sick, neglected, lonely, undernourished, oppressed, heartbroken, confused, and dying. In these last days before the Lord's second coming, our fallen world seems to weigh even more heavily on the weary shoulders of humanity.

It is not hard to see that this is a time that calls for courage and sacrifice. We are surrounded by extraordinary occasions and pressing calls. We should not be idle when there is so much to be done, so many wrongs to be righted. But sometimes I wonder where I can put my effort so that it will not be wasted. Which charity or group or volunteer work should I be involved in? There are so many and I cannot do them all. There are many good things to do but which is the best? And will my widow's mite of service even make a dent in the injustices of mankind? Perhaps I should just cling tight to me and my own and hope that the plagues of this era pass over our door.

In this time of suffering and climate of perceived helplessness, the Lord has organized the women of His church. He has formed the Relief Society to perform His miracles, spreading relief, knowledge, and joy as the Savior did during His early ministry. He has laid down a plan in the compassionate service, visiting teaching, education, and enrichment arms of this organization that can, if we catch hold of the vision, alleviate suffering. And He has promised us that charity never faileth.

"We need not rush about trying to find things to do or causes to take up," Barbara Thompson said in last Saturday's General Relief Society broadcast. "Remember, most often the help needed is in our own homes, neighborhoods, and communities. A kind word of encouragement, a note of thanks, a phone call, a loving smile, a helpful deed, and a reminder that God loves us is often what is needed most." Those things seem like only a drop in the bucket and yet that is the Lord's plan for His children. Drop by drop we will become a cascading torrent, filling the earth with God's tender mercies.

And when I wonder if I am doing enough, when I am frustrated that I cannot fix the entire world, when I want to be do something grand and heroic, I must exercise faith in God's plan. Relief Society is His organization for the women of the world. I know it is effective and important because it is His plan. I will no longer doubt the power of Relief Society. I will no longer scorn the impact of visiting teaching. I will not deny the power of a thought-provoking lesson or activity to soften hearts and invite the Spirit. I will no longer stay my hand when I am called upon to serve in little ways. For "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass."