Category Archives: Charity/The Pure Love of Christ

Do Your Worst!

Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel

“For the happy man prayer is only a jumble of words, until the day when sorrow comes to explain to him the sublime language by means of which he speaks to God.” [Alexandre Dumas in his masterpiece, The Count of Monte Cristo (completed in 1844).]

For some, sorrow is the teacher of this sublime language; for others, a storm is the teacher. Some in our family have been taking major tests and qualifying exams this year. For some, success is quick. For others, success will come later than expected or preferred. For everyone in our family, life has explained to us in new ways the importance of this sublime language. Here are more of the words in the language to which Dumas refers:

Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome, Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you, as Albert Mondego, the man.

Storms teach. But the master teacher is what we see as we look into the storm.

Quote from Time 1:00-2:03 of a clip of the birthday toast from “The Count of Monte Cristo” (2002), on YouTube below (or entire movie, with or without subtitles.) :

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Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk

WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header, Ukiyo-e Woodblock Print, “Great Wave Off Kanagawa”, Hokusai (1829-32)—en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2.jpg, with further info at en.wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa
  • Bonus photo, “Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel) And Abbé Faria (Richard Harris), Imprisoned In Château d’If” —www. imdb.com/media/rm1540921600/ch0010200
  • Photo, “Edmond Dantès, portrayed by James Caviezel”—www. pinterest.com/pin/105764291222980072/
  • Photo, “Albert Mondego (Albert de Morcerf), portrayed by Henry Cavill”—henrycavill.org/en/filmography/best-known-as/perfect-book-boyfriend
  • Photo, “Mercédès Iguanada, portrayed by Dagmara Dominczyk”—fanpix.famousfix.com/0671183/012040677/the-count-of-monte-cristo-2002-picture.html
  • Photo, “Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”—www. pinterest.com/pin/120541727497864394/

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“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

“Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”

Heroes, Superpowers, and Kindness

When I think of superheroes, I think of Maren Halversen.

We don't have to agree on anything to be kind to one anotherI am lucky to have learned from a leader in kindness. Maren was a friend in high school. Down Syndrome never kept her from trying anything. She was the first student with Down Syndrome in the state to have been integrated into the regular school system. When I moved to her school in 8th Grade, I was young and awkward. I remember that she always said hi to me. Maren always gave me good reasons to be kind.

At our 10-year high school reunion, Maren saw me from a distance and came running up and threw her arms around me. It was fun to introduce her to my wife. But it wasn’t until later as I reflected on the reunion moment that I recognized the real lesson at work here—that all along, Maren had been the leader. She had taught me to be kind. She had taught all of us well, and we had been following her lead. Why did I think that it might be the other way around? I was glad that I finally learned to see with better eyes than that. And, again, as I reflect now on that reunion moment and the strength behind her hug, I hope that—maybe, possibly—that I saw with better eyes than that even back in high school. After the reunion moment, I think that I simply had finally learned to recognize it. Again, Maren had lead me to that point.

As we all celebrate other reunions, I hope we take time to see and to recognize the real leaders in our lives. So often, they are not the ones clamoring for attention. So often, true leaders simply lead quietly, maybe even without realizing it. As Maren did. I think that was her superpower.

We can all be superheroes. What is your superpower?

The Superpower Of Listening Closely

The Superpower Of Listening Closely

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Header photo, “Children Playing Around The World: In Vietnam, a small girl helps another to ride a bike by leading from behind”—expofotomiami.org/30-magicas-fotografias-de-ninos-jugando-alrededor-del-mundo/
  • Photo, “We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another”—Image with quote, from Twitter quote of Yahya Adel Ibrahim of Pemberton, Western Australia—twitter. com/yahya_ibrahim/status/587185223076487168
  • Photo, “The Superpower Of Listening Closely”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/
  • Photo, “Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/
  • Photo, “Young Man With Superpowers”—ldsmissionaries.com/tag/lds/page/13/

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Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?

Who Knew Reading Could Be A Superpower That Might Change Lives?

Young Man With Superpowers

Young Man With Superpowers

Pains, Crucibles, Results

What is our mission in life?

When God provides what we need (even when painful), so that we start to see things as He sees them, He may stress and stretch our vision.

What will be our ability to make these changes?

Will it stretch us, break us, or shape us into a beautiful iron rose?

Kim Martin: “The greater our sorrow is, the greater our capacity is to feel joy.”
Spoken by an iron rose who knows.

My two older sisters have each passed away in the past month. The pain for those of us who remain is excruciating. It puts us to the test. Where we go from here will try our mettle. It helps us to see our mission in life…

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nephi-fashioning-the-plates

As he passes through a crucible of his own, Nephi uses fire to fashion metal plates for scripture

Bonus Materials:

Read, watch or listen to James E. Faust, “The Refiner’s Fire”, Apr 1979 LDS General Conference. “You are discussing a matter you know nothing about… I knew then that the angels of God were there.”

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “As he passes through a crucible of his own, Nephi uses fire to fashion metal plates for scripture”—www. lds.org/media-library/images/nephi-fashioning-the-plates-447330?lang=eng&category=
  • Photo, mormonad-cool-it–it-is-in-your-hands—www. lds.org/media-library/images/mormonad-cool-it-1118404?lang=eng&category

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mormonad-cool-it--it-is-in-your-hands

Selfless Gifts, Simple Gifts

When I think of Christmas stories of being selfless, I don’t have any personal stories of great import. That may be a good thing. I think of fairly normal things. Like when I was in college and got a bunch of friends together to walk the halls of retirement homes singing Christmas carols and sharing cookies, simply because my family had always done that, and I missed it. Service was just a part of our upbringing.

Or my first Christmas when I lived in Argentina, and the culture was so different — December falls in summer on the other side of the equator, so I had a decision to make. Would I choose to focus as did many North Americans on the fact that there were no Christmas colors (such as red & green), no carols, no decorations, few Christmas trees, no gift giving (since gifts are given two weeks after on Day of the Three Kings, January 6), few Christmas stories, just beer and fireworks? Or would I instead choose to focus on the fact that Argentine culture simply differs from mine, that people celebrate differently than I, that I should go and enjoy the dancing, learn to love polkas and chacareras as much as they, see beyond differences between Papá Noel and Santa Clause to see the similarities their roles represent, and just sit and enjoy the eating and talking and eating and talking ’til the wee hours of the morning? Enjoying cultural differences was just part of my upbringing. So was deciding to love other people as they are. As I made the less fleeting decision, I made their experience my experience, made Argentines my family, made their stories part of my family story. And now I miss those times, actively miss the differences, sorely miss the people.

I think one of the best things I can do at Christmas is to learn to get outside of myself and make the season not about me but rather about the people around me. If it’s about me, the season may be frenzied and unsettling. If it’s about others, I may find my days merry and bright.

My mental and spiritual state can be independent of the culture, the geography or the weather. I can bring my own mental snow, mental flocking, mental glowing white candles. I have learned that a white Christmas isn’t just an ideal; it’s a state of mind.

 

Other selfless Christmas stories below. Enjoy!

A young boy gives selflessly to another child in need:

 

John Rhys-Davies retells the story of Luke Chapter 2:

 

John Rhys-Davies explains the importance of the Christmas story:

 

Cloverton Hallelujah: Love the chords, and I applaud the holiday lyrics which magically upgrade this gorgeous ballad with Cohen’s discordant words into something we love to sing. Thank you, thank you, Cloverton, for the wonderful music!

Here’s the audio:

Here’s the video with audio muted:

I love the changes in the lyrics, and I find this verse particularly meaningful:

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

The first gift of Christmas wasn’t from a store. What does love mean to you? Life? Peace? Or hope?

(Or watch/download same video at mormon.org link.)

 

From our family to your family — This season and always, may you have many selfless moments and simply find magic in these moments!

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

 


Storm Clouds Clearing…

Whatever clouds you encounter, God will part them for your good.

Storm Clouds Clearing...

Storm Clouds Clearing…

In high school, I had a religious instruction class in the early morning at 7:30AM before general school classes started at 8:30AM. We also organized testimony meetings from 6:00-7:30AM on the first Thursday of each month, where anyone with interest might discuss with the group things he or she felt down deep about their own faith and beliefs. A small group of us decided we wanted a further opportunity to share among close friends, and we would sometimes go up on a nearby mountain to hold our own extra testimony meetings. This circle of kindred spirits was fundamental to my adult faith. One time, on our designated mountain testimony day, it had rained all morning, and we met at lunch in private in an empty classroom to pray for clear weather. The rain continued all afternoon, but we started walking up anyway. The clouds parted, the sun shone, we shared our precious testimonies, and then, as soon as we said the closing prayer, the clouds re-gathered and the rain started up again as we walked down the mountain. I don’t think that it was that important that I heard our testimonies that day, but I’m convinced that someone in our group had a need and that God knew it and provided a way. In addition, maybe He wanted someone in our little group to know without a doubt that He hears and answers our prayers. The town was a wonderful place to grow up and to grow in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If we were to expect everything to be delivered on our time schedule, would we learn patience? Spiritual clouds always depart—in time. If we were consistently to get what we want when we want it, would we learn to be selfless? In my own experience, it is more likely that we recognize the need to stand strong, if clouds and whirlwinds come our way and allow us a chance to learn to survive storms that come into our life. God will help. And He’ll do it His way, not our way. He tells us, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Whatever clouds you encounter, I know that God will part them for your good…

Clouds Clearing From Yoadcomb Scar, Wild Boar Fell, Three Kilometers From Low Dovengill, Cumbria, Great Britain, UK

Clouds Clearing From Yoadcomb Scar, Wild Boar Fell, Three Kilometers From Low Dovengill, Cumbria, Great Britain, UK

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Bonus Materials:

1. Concept of “in time…”: Read, watch or listen to Henry B. Eyring, “A Priceless Heritage of Hope”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.

2. Read, watch or listen to Neil L. Andersen, “Spiritual Whirlwinds”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “Storm Clouds Clearing…”—the-big-fat-lie.blogspot.com/2009/09/storm-clouds-clearing.html
  • Photo, “Clouds Clearing From Yoadcomb Scar, Wild Boar Fell, Three Kilometers From Low Dovengill, Cumbria, Great Britain, UK”— geograph.org.uk/photo/1630424

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What’s In It For Me?

2010 Earthquake in Haiti

2010 Earthquake in Haiti

Why religion? How about all this God stuff? If he exists, why would a god be concerned with us? What’s in it for me?

 

 

 

Women from around the world share thoughtful answers. I especially like what the mother from Haiti has to say: “The Holy Temple”

In Oklahoma, a close friend of mine said Yes to being my assistant as I headed our local priesthood quorum of adults. In the preceding years, Scot had not been attending a church of any kind, and he hadn’t been sure what he thought about God. He worked as a laborer, he was quiet and unassuming, humble and meek, and he certainly didn’t seek out any chance for God to be concerned with him. He was in constant pain, caused by pinched nerves in his lower spine, yet always bore a sincere cheerfulness that made everyone smile. I knew him to be a hard worker and a good man, saw his skills as a husband and as a father, and wanted him to work by my side as we went about the work of watchcare of others. As we made personal visits to the brothers in our quorum, helping them to bless their families, together we learned a lot about priesthood leadership, and I loved working with Scot. It was wonderful to see him grow over time in his confidence in approaching others, in the way he made spiritual and leadership decisions, and in his understanding of how God was truly concerned with him. Scot was a perfect example of never asking, “What’s in it for me?”

Here’s what my niece has to say about her experience at a prestigious university in the mid-West. She has learned not only the importance of religion but also the importance of not asking what’s in it for her:

Yesterday, I was talking with a friend who was surprised and a little baffled at all the time I spend “socially” with Church. True, there are lots of activities and events that I would consider social, but I don’t consider Church (or rather, Christ) to be my social life—It’s my whole life, and everything else is an appendage to it. Christ is why I go to school, Christ is why I go to work, Christ is why I do the things I do (or don’t do some of the things others do). It changes my perspective, and I then see more than earthly potential and temporary influences of even the smallest things. It’s not always easy; I’m far from perfect, but I know it’s true.

Here’s what President Uchtdorf teaches us, including what he calls the central question for the selfish person, “What’s in it for me?”:

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not an effort of once a week or once a day. It’s an effort for once and for all. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration?”, Apr 2014 LDS General Conference.)

And from President Oscarson on feeling these things down deep:

We often refer to the scripture that “where much is given, much is required.” I believe that a close corollary to this is that “where much is required, much more will be given.” In other words, if we expect more of our youth, they will step up to the challenge, and I do believe that we need to require more of them. We need to step up our teaching so that our youth do more on their own to understand the doctrines of Christ and the reality of the Restoration, and we need to find a way to motivate them to write these things on the “tablets of their hearts.” (Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President, Annual Seminaries and Institutes training broadcast on establishing greater expectations of our youth.)

To me, religion is of vital importance. I have taught my adult children to move beyond questions like, “What’s in it for me?” I have learned that I am happiest when I focus not on serving myself but rather on serving others.

Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief

Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief

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Bonus Materials:

“Glorious”, with lyrics by David Archuleta (well worth 2:53 of your time)

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, “2010 Earthquake in Haiti”—commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2010_Haiti_earthquake_damage3.jpg
  • Photo, “Haiti Earthquake, Disaster Relief”—www. lds.org/manual/new-testament-student-manual/introduction-to-matthew/chapter-8?lang=eng
  • Photo, “Watchcare Isn’t Complicated: Three Women And Watchcare Of Others”—www. ganellyn.com/tag/watch-care/

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Watchcare Isn't Complicated-Three Women And Watchcare Of Others

Watchcare Isn’t Complicated: Three Women And Watchcare Of Others

Are Mormon Woman Oppressed? Do Women Hold Positions Of Authority In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Our Family’s Answer.

Reader Question:
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who happens to be Muslim, said to me, “People are always asking me whether or not I feel oppressed as a woman in Islam. And I don’t! Are Mormon women oppressed? Do women hold positions of authority in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

Family Answer:
This truly is a good question. And my friend was asking in the best way possible—with a sincere heart and mind. It was a “clean question”, a phrase we use in our family to indicate a question free of any agenda. She had no intent to pounce on my answer; her question was in no way mean-spirited; she was not intending to entrap or embarrass me or the Church. She merely was seeking information and was simply an open book. It was refreshing to see her approach, because this question, being truly a good question, unfortunately is not always asked in such a constructive way. In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather answers to this question, we talked to our adult kids, and here are the answers we gathered:

rocks on a misty beachAuthority to act in God’s name and the fullness of gospel truths were lost in the centuries after the death of Jesus (Bible, Amos 8:11-12, 2 Thessalonians 2:3). For example, Christ established important roles for women disciples—As the Lord’s Church was lost in apostasy, this pattern of discipleship was also lost (Julie B. Beck, Ensign, Nov 2011). After this apostasy, people noticed inconsistencies between what the current church taught and what they read. They protested against these errors and taught the truths they saw in the Bible. Various people were inspired by God to fight against various false doctrines, and little by little, many churches moved closer to the doctrines of Jesus Christ. This process also created divisions and sects that taught a variety of conflicting doctrines. When Christ restored His authority to the earth, He restored this authority to everyone, in all walks of life. Specifically for your answer, He restored His authority both to the men and the women of the world. Here are some of the ramifications. We hope that some are meaningful to you.

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1. Video by Sheri Dew: What do LDS women get? Are Mormon women oppressed?

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2. While serving on a Relief Society board, Lillian DeLong visited a rural area of Ghana. Her husband was in Priesthood meeting in another room, and she was in Relief Society meeting, each conducting leadership training. After it was over, a woman came up to Lillian. In her beautiful Ghanaian church dress, she shook her hand and kept saying, “This is a woman’s church.” Lillian asked, “What do you mean, ‘This is a woman’s church?’” And she said, “We have just been in the marvelous Relief Society that teaches us not only spiritual things but temporal things about how to make our lives and our children and our families better. And at the same time your husband is in the Priesthood room and he is teaching our husbands that the culture of the church does not allow for them to beat their wives and their children.”

And she said, “In this church, my husband and I get to go to the temple and we are going to seal our children to us. And I have seven of my eleven kids that are dead. And I want my children with me. This is a woman’s church because it protects me and gives me all of those things.” (Sharon Eubank, Director, Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities, “This is a Woman’s Church”, FairMormon Conference, Provo UT, 8 Aug 2014.

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3. In and out of the Church, Mormon women lead all the time; the influence of their leadership extends far and wide. As a global leader in the Relief Society, Sheri L. Dew taught us in Oct 2001: “Sisters, some will try to persuade you that because you are not ordained to the priesthood, you have been shortchanged. They are simply wrong, and they do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. The blessings of the priesthood are available to every righteous man and woman. We may all receive the Holy Ghost, obtain personal revelation, and be endowed in the temple, from which we emerge ‘armed’ with power. The power of the priesthood heals, protects, and inoculates all of the righteous against the powers of darkness. Most significantly, the fulness of the priesthood contained in the highest ordinances of the house of the Lord can be received only by a man and woman together.” (Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, Chapter 8, “Blessings of the Priesthood for All: An Inseparable Connection with the Priesthood”, Page 128.)

I have learned for myself that women who know and live the gospel of Jesus Christ understand that “the priesthood of God is not owned by or embodied in those who hold it. It is held in a sacred trust to be used for the benefit of men, women and children alike.” (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, as quoted in Daughters in My Kingdom, Chapter 8, Page 127.)

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4. Just as Isaac and Rebekah of the Old Testament put a lot of work into ensuring that their son Jacob and his future wife enjoyed the blessings of an eternal marriage (Julie B. Beck, Aug 2009, “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family”), my wife and I have put a lot of work into our marriage and into raising our kids. The two of us together are better than the sum of the two of us separately (Sheri L. Dew, LDS General Conference, Oct 2001, “It Is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone”). As Isaac and Rebekah did, we want to be the man who has the keys and the woman who has the influence, working together as a two-are-better-than-one closely-knit team to see that we are prepared and to bring about the work that God wants us to do, equally yoked in our responsibilities as spouses and parents. “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers should help one another as equal partners.” (Family Proclamation.)

“The world does not know us, and truth…demands that we speak… We are not inferior to the ladies of the world, and we do not want to appear so.” (Eliza R. Snow, 6 Jan 1870.) While women do not hold the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ, women leaders in the Church impact all of us. “The world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Page 3.)

Early in her life, my wife, Kim, nurtured a strong desire to be a woman of power and a woman of influence. She decided that she could do that most effectively by choosing to stay at home to raise a family. Her influence on our six adult children and on their families cannot be measured. That is influence; that is power. We are grateful for her wisdom to wield these skills in such a way as to have a true impact on society.

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5. Established in 1842 for women 18 years old and older, the Relief Society is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. The motto is “Charity never faileth”. President Julie B. Beck has taught us: “Relief Society should be organized, aligned, and mobilized to strengthen families and help our homes to be sacred sanctuaries from the world. I learned this years ago when I was newly married. My parents, who had been my neighbors, announced that they would be moving to another part of the world… This was before e-mail, fax machines, cell phones, and Web cameras, and mail delivery was notoriously slow. One day before she left, I sat weeping with her and asked, ‘Who will be my mother?’ Mother thought carefully, and with the Spirit and power of revelation which comes to women of this kind, she said to me, ‘If I never come back, if you never see me again, if I’m never able to teach you another thing, you tie yourself to Relief Society. Relief Society will be your Mother.’ Mother knew that if I were sick, the sisters would take care of me, and when I had my babies, they would help me. But my mother’s greatest hope was that the sisters in Relief Society would be powerful, spiritual leaders for me. I began from that time to learn abundantly from women of stature and faith.” (Daughters in My Kingdom, Pages 96-98.)

I have learned that the women of the Relief Society build faith and personal righteousness and help those in need. They have strengthened my family and my home.

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We hope this answers your questions and helps you to understand us better, to understand better how women hold positions of authority in the Church of Jesus Christ and especially how Mormon women lead others, all the time and in all they do.

And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.

-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family

woman running on a beach

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Bonus Materials:

1. “You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory,” Sheri Dew, President and CEO of Deseret Book Company, BYU Devotional Address, 9 Dec 2003, Read: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=984,
or Watch/Listen:

2. “Mothers Who Know,” Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, LDS General Conference, Oct 2007, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/mothers-who-know?lang=eng#watch=video.

3. “Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion Satellite Broadcast, 9 Aug 2009, http://theredheadedhostess.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/2009-beck-teaching-the-doctrine-of-the-family__eng.pdf.

4. “The Moral Force of Women,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson, LDS General Conference, Oct 2013, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/the-moral-force-of-women?lang=eng.

5. “What I Hope My Granddaughters (and Grandsons) Will Understand about Relief Society”, Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President, General Relief Society Meeting, Sep 2011, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/what-i-hope-my-granddaughters-and-grandsons-will-understand-about-relief-society?lang=eng.

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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:

  • Photo, rocks-on-a-misty-beach—www. org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng
  • Photo, woman-walking-on-a-beach—www. lds.org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng

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