Thursday, November 27, 2014

Book Review: Walking with the Women of the New Testament

Written by Heather Farrell
Art by Mandy Jane Williams

If I had a coffee table, this book would be on it.  It is the perfect coffee table book!.  The book has beautiful pictures portraying the women, and has a wonderful layout.  One thing I love about this book is that I could pick it up and just flip through it and read about any of the women that seem interesting to me at the moment.  As a mother of a 3 year old and a newborn, I have limited time to sit down and read. Each entry is short enough, that I could read about one or two of the women in one sitting.

Heather has thought about each of these women’s lives and learned a gospel principle from them.  Each story is an example of how we can apply the scriptures to our own life – despite the cultural and time differences between our lives.  Life is complicated because of relationships:  relationships with family, friends, leaders, enemies.  Once in a Sunday school a teacher commented on how our lives are more complicated today in our modern society.  The thoughtful details that Heather expresses, shows us that they are not.  The women of the New Testament are very much like us.  Heather helps us to see that.  She also introduced me to women in the scriptures that I was not aware of, like Jesus’s aunt and sisters. 

With each story, Heather also talks about a different gospel principle, such as faith, forgiveness, or receiving inspiration.  She also shares stories from her life in a way that shows us how our lives are similar and that we can learn from the women in the scriptures and feel a connection to them.

The art also made me think of details of these women’s life that made the stories more real.  In the story of the widow who gave two mites in the temple, I have always visualized as an older women, nearing the end of her life.  Mandy depicts this woman as a young mother with three children.  Although we do not know the age of family situation of this woman, we do know she was poor.  This visualization gave me a different understanding of the depth of her sacrifice. 

The additional scholarly information was interesting and informative to read.  As I have studied the scriptures I regularly go to the seminary and institute manuals to get information about history, culture and religious practices and customs. But I still have had questions and lacked understanding because of my lack of familiarity with the culture.  Heather has gathered research that I had not yet seen, and helped me understand these women’s life and some gospel principles better.  One example is the Hebrew word tuma, which is translated as unclean in the Bible.  Heather states, “There is not an English equivalent of this word (which is why it can be a hard concept to grasp), but the easiest way to understand the meaning of tuma is to understand that it is the spiritual status that occurs when you have had contact with death.  This is because every living thing in the world contains a spark of divinity, a portion of God’s power, and when that power departs, it leaves behind a ‘spiritual vacuum,’ or a state of tuma.” (page 52).  This is a concept that I want to research and study more because of the greater understanding that I obtained of learning about the original word.

There are two things I wish the book included:  one, an alphabetical list of the women to make it easier to find the page if I wanted to look up a specific woman.  Second,  I would love for this book to contain an index on different topics!  How fun would that be?  I do love that the appendix includes a list of the values emphasized in the young women’s program.  Those values have become key in my life, and I love that there are examples of each in the scriptures!

This book is one that I intend to share with my daughters, so that they two can understand how the scriptures can relate to them.  It was an enjoyable and fun book to read, that I am sure I will revisit on a regular basis.  I hope Heather and Mandy will compile a book about the women in the Old Testament!

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Ministering of Angels

On my path to prepare for the birth of my second daughter, I have been seeking healing from trauma caused by my first daughter's medical issues.  As I sought Heavenly Father for help  to accomplish this, I was prompted to study two things: First, my own self worth.  I studied the scriptures Doctrine and Covenants 138 and Abraham 3.  Second, the ministering of angels.  For this I studied scriptures on angels in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine of Covenants.  I also read a talk by Elder Jeffery R. Holland entitled "The Ministry of Angels."

I learned a lot about me, my children and angels.  I also felt prompted to pray for angels to minster to us during my labor and delivery.   Here is a list of the way angels ministered to us.  First some background, my husband is a roofer.  The day Camilla was born, he had to work on a job that was 40 minutes from our house, up a windy mountain road with no cell signal.  This summer has had so much rain, it makes roofing scheduling really difficult.  This was also the day that the Spirit told my husband Camilla would be born.  I do not really feel the contractions until I reach the transition stage, so once I actually feel a contraction there is very little time.  There is no medical services in the county where we live, so I choose to go to a hospital up the mountain, about 40 minutes away.

How the Angels Ministered to Us:
  • I was able to listen to my body.  
    • On my daughter's birthday, I went about our daily activities of playgroup and storytime at the library. My body only wanted one position to be comfortable, so I maintained that position.
    • My 3 year old daughter let me take a nap (in her room, while she had quiet time.)
    • Around 6:00 at night I had a sudden urge to go on a walk.  My husband was still not home.  I went on a 3.5 mile walk to the opposite side of town and a stop at the park for my daughter on the way home.  
  • I did not realize I was in active labor.  This allowed me to not worry about getting hold of my husband or having to drive to the hospital by myself.  My husband even had me time the contractions (I could feel slight tightening, but this had been going on for a week).  The contractions were lasting for about 30 to 50 seconds and every 2 to 3 minutes.  At the time I thought there was no pattern and told my husband it didn't fall into any of the "official" categories.  (This was before my walk.)
  • Before the baby came, my husband wanted to finish the roof, take a shower, and eat dinner.  He got home while we were at the park and took a shower.  When we got home (just before 8, my daughter's bedtime) we tried to figure out what to do for dinner.  I was feeling discouraged that I was not any closer to having my baby and wanted to go out to eat.
  • We drove to a nearby town for dinner (hoping it was still open at 8:30 pm).  We ordered, my husband ate quickly. After using the restroom, I thought I was walking funny.  I sat down again at the table, mentioned it to my husband.  He took his last bite of food and then my water broke! (Just like he said it would on the way to the restaurant.)  How could that timing not be influenced by our Heavenly Father?  So we proceeded to drive home to grab a few things and then proceeded up the mountain to the hospital.
  • There was a horrific car accident earlier that day on the freeway involving 3 cars and a semi-truck.  The westbound lanes were both completely blocked (and one eastbound). The accident occurred right by the chaining station before the pass, so traffic could be diverted through that.  This is right before the on ramp to our small mountain town.  If the accident had occurred just a little further west, the freeway would have been shutdown.  There would be no other way to access the westbound interstate.  The only way to get to the hospital would have been to take smaller mountain roads that would take at least two to three hours to reach the hospital.  
  • The midwife I wanted to deliver my baby was on call.
  • After getting to the hospital, I discovered that their was meconium in the water.  When my daughter was born, she cried before she was fully born.  That cry told the pediatrician and the midwife that she was ok.  This allowed my husband to still be able to cut the umbilical cord before the midwife gave my baby to the pediatrician to check out. And I was able to hold my baby after a few minutes.  
  • My daughter was born 70 minutes after we got to the hospital, just as I wanted.
  •  Hannah fell asleep on the way to the hospital, and fell back asleep on the couch in my room. She woke up 2 hours after Camilla was born to meet her sister.  It was the perfect timing.  Then she went right back to sleep. It was the sweetest thing to watch them meet for the first time.
Whenever I think about my daughter's birth, I amazed at how perfect it was!  I have no doubt that angels of the Lord were their ministering to myself, my husband and both my daughters.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

How To Be Healed

 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions andtemptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
 13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

The above scripture is my favorite scripture on the Atonement.  It is where I first learned that the Savior can heal us of the pain in our lives through the Atonement.  The Atonement is about more than repentance!  Healing of the Soul can only come through the Savior.
The following are elements he lists that are necessary to be Healed:

  • Read the scriptures
  • Pray
  • Ponder
  • Repent if necessary
  • Be healed with the peace and joy of his Spirit
For each of us, this journey will look a little different as we progress on the journey, but God, our Heavenly Father, will guide us and lead the way through inspiration, personal revlation!

My journey has so far met with success in healing!  I feel so much more peace about my daughter's birth and my upcoming birth!  I am excited to approach it with the peace and joy I have felt, and with faith in my Heavenly Father and in my Savior, Jesus Christ.

I have prayed to seek help, now knowing which direction to go.  When I attended the temple last, I received direction on what scriptures to read, and as I have pondered it, I have received the peace that comes from healing.  So much so, that I have been able to put the pain out of my mind and just focus on the joy that comes from having children! My journey is not complete, but it is has begun!  And that I am grateful for.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Seeking Healing

I am currently pregnant with my second daughter. The birth of my first daughter went well and was beautiful, but due to some health issues she ended up in the NICU, which was traumatizing for me. I am seeking healing through the Savior so that I can let go of more of that experience before I give birth again (in September!). 

My question to you is, how have you had a spiritual experience with birth? How did you feel the Spirit during the birth or adoption of your children?

In the recent General Women's Meeting, Sister Wixon, spoke on keeping covenants and how this is empowering! In talking to other mothers about birth, many have said that they have found birth to be empowering. I never felt that way, but realized in this conference that having a child is empowering! Because we are keeping a covenant with our Heavenly Father that we may have made in our premortal life!