Last Minute Campaign Strategy: Mitt's Helping Hands

There seems to be an element of frustration, among Mitt Romney supporters, that the American public still do not know who he is -- really know. Meaning: not his political agenda but more his heart -- what makes him tick. And if people really knew Romney's heart they would trust him --  turning more hearts toward choosing him as the next U.S. President.

After all, isn't there something deeply compelling about knowing someone's heart? When we know what motivates an individual, and it is good, we are better able to trust their overall intentions. According to those closest to Mitt Romney, he is a man who is always serving others in very personal, and nonpublic ways and needs to be more open about this very important facet of his life.

I had this odd epiphany while watching an interview expressing this frustration and I immediately realized that this is the same frustration that many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) can relate to in wanting to share the gospel: If people really understood about the restoration of the original Christian church that Christ Himself established during His mortal ministry and the Plan of Salvation they would likely join the Church.

And then I thought, if Mitt Romney, and his frustrated followers, really want people to know more of who he really is, then perhaps he might want to spend the remainder of his campaigning days reaching out in the same way the LDS Church does, by organizing a little community outreach and call it: Mitt's Helping Hands. As one example, why not do a food drive and invite all rally participants to bring donations that could be given to a local charity? Frankly, I can think of many ways over the next 10 days or so that the Romney campaign could make a huge impact by following the example of the LDS Church's example of community outreach: Mormon Helping Hands.

Sidebar: Thinking these thoughts a bit silly, I set this post aside a few days ago until I came across this story, just tonight. It seems as though fate has compelled Romney's team to do exactly what I was thinking he should do, in response to a need for relief on the east coast. Check this out from

Romney Campaign Bus Being Used For Hurricane Relief Efforts
"In a true example of leadership, Mitt Romney has sent his campaign bus to aid in hurricane relief as Hurricane Sandy prepares to slam into the northeast as early as tonight. Donations were being accepted today at the Romney campaign Virginia headquarters. Ann Romney was scheduled to appear in New Hampshire tomorrow, but has canceled plans so resources can be spent helping people affected by the storm."

Although there are no Mitt's Helping Hands signage, as I've suggested, I think that serving the local communities that Romney has scheduled for visits over these last few days on the campaign trail would likely have a much more persuasive effect on swaying potential voters than pretty much anything he might have to say in another political speech.

Update: The Romney campaign is now inviting supporters to donate to disaster relief efforts via the Red Cross. Nice.

Washington Post: Mitt Romney’s Hurricane Sandy plans

Not surprising, I'm already hearing kickback about Romney's efforts to help with hurricane Sandy as simply politically motivated. But can you imagine what 'they' would say if he didn't reach out to do what was in his power? To any true Christian, when they see their brothers and sisters in harms way, and they can in some way help, they will. It's that simple. I think Romney realized that he was in a position to help and that's what he's trying to do with his immediate, available resources. That, too, is what leaders do.


Explosive Confirmation of Increased Numbers Applying for Missionary Service

Yesterday a tweet went out on Twitter claiming: "On average LDS Church had received 600 missionary applications per week. Last week it received 7,000." This was sent out by a member claiming that his stake president had shared this information. Members took it viral within hours. By the time I got the info it had made it to Facebook. However, there was no verification at the time and so I decided to put my personal feelers out to see if I could find out if this info was legit.

It took nearly 24 hours before the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, just minutes ago, released this official announcement via Church spokesperson Michael Purdy:

“As Church leaders had anticipated when the change was announced, the number of individuals who have begun the missionary application process has increased significantly. Typically approximately 700 new applications are started each week. The last two weeks that number has increased to approximately 4,000 per week. Slightly more than half of the applicants are women.

These are early numbers and it is difficult to say exactly where we will be over the coming months but we are grateful for the willingness of our members to make the sacrifice to serve people around the world. We recognize that Church members are interested to know additional details on the logistics of this change as discussed after the announcement and look forward to providing more details as the program moves forward.”

According to Joseph Walker at Deseret News, who emphasized that this jump in missionary applications is a 471 percent increase :

"The numbers announced Monday by Purdy validate anecdotal reports of huge numbers of prospective missionaries lining up for screening interviews with their local ecclesiastical leaders. While the details of how the new age options will change the training of new missionaries and the administration of the church's far-reaching missionary program, the one thing that seems certain that it will change. 
Interestingly, the LDS missionary program was already going through a period of growth and change. According to Elder Holland, the church's current missionary force is "a little more than 58,000" – a number that has been growing during recent years."

I'll continue to update this post as more information becomes available. This is one time when something sounded almost too good to be true --  but it is, basically, TRUE!

Kathryn Skaggs

Photo Credit:

KSL News: LDS Church sees increase in missionary applications

Read more: New Missionary Age Requirement: It's NOT about you!

Speaking Without Thinking

I started my morning off by listening to this talk, given by Robert S. Wood: Instruments of the Lord. I remember when he actually gave the talk and how pertinent his counsel and scriptural examples were, then, of our need to make sure we don't ever find ourselves "speaking without thinking"-- and even more so, today, in this current climate of both religious and political differences, highly intensified through the use of social media and social networking, we need to heed this counsel. I don't think we can ever be reminded, too much, of our need as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to remember who we are, and Whom we are under convenant to remember and emulate "in all things and in all places". At least for me, I truly appreciated his message and hope that we will all be inspired to act, daily, as His instrument.

"Have we who have taken upon us the name of Christ slipped unknowingly into patterns of slander, evil speaking, and bitter stereotyping?"

Video: Instruments of the Lord

You can read the talk if you prefer.

With our encounters with others: not of our faith or opinions -- do we look upon them as a brother or sister in Christ, regardless, and treat them accordingly?

Kathryn Skaggs

Latest on WBMW:

Mormon Women: Working Outside the Home

Mitt Romney's presidential run has brought a tremendous amount of attention to Mormon women, by women not of our faith, wanting to know, among other things, about Mormon women who work outside of the home. I see as the pertinent questions they are asking: How Mormonism, in general, looks upon women who choose to work outside of the home: Is this a positive? I assume these inquiries are a concern because of how Romney's personal faith might determine his policies about working women in America -- making it a legitimate probe.

For Romney, I see this interest as a good thing and not necessarily, as some liberal pundits would have us believe, a mark against him. In actuality, this interest likely signals a leaning toward Romney and not the contrary.

Women in America, all of us, are genuinely interested and concerned about first, the well-being of our families, and second, the necessity that many women have to work outside of the home – and for our purposes today, how this potential president would support these important facets of our lives.

The general premise which directs all counsel concerning the choice for LDS women to work outside of the home, or not, is that Mormonism places marriage and family as the highest priority in the lives of adult members -- male and female. Not just that we marry and have children, but in taking seriously these Biblical commands we consider ourselves under covenant with God to fulfill our sacred responsibilities to home and family, first. With that said, there is great compassion extended to women who through no fault of their own are unable to find a suitable spouse, or find themselves unable to have children.

The teachings of the Mormon faith do not lend themselves to one single solution, applicable to every situation. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a global church, with over half of its members living outside of the United States -- making it impossible and unreasonable that there would be a one-size fits all, right answer for every woman.

However, well over a decade ago LDS Church leaders, through inspiration, drafted what is known as The Family: A Proclamation to the World -- that clearly defines eternal principles and doctrines that govern the family, as ordained by God -- and that we believe to be the basis of successful marriage and family life – regardless of residence. Here is a portion of the document:

HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

From an LDS perspective, the decision for a woman to work outside of the home, when there are children to be nurtured in the home, requires a great deal of prayerful consideration -- not to be taken lightly. The challenge to nurture our children, as our highest priority is magnified when a mother finds herself divorced, widowed, or for whatever personal circumstance the primary income earner for her family.

Because the decision for LDS women to either work outside of the home or be a SAHM is so personal and diverse, and desiring to give as best a representation of what actual Mormon women think and feel about this topic, I decided to reach out to some of my readers, faithful Mormon women, who have reconciled this decision for themselves – having applied the teachings of Mormonism. (Please note, originally I did not intend to post their feedback here, but because it was so compelling, and inspiring, I decided to do so. Meaning, that none of these women shared their thoughts with this intent, either, and therefore did not worry about editing. I have left their comments as is.)

~ Julie

"Some mothers do not have a choice! I am an ex-military wife and there were times when money was so tight that I had to work. It was not a matter of paying for an elaborate lifestyle. Just putting food on the table."

~ Joyce

"My first thought was be prepared to work outside of the home no matter what, you never know what your life will be like. That said, my mom did both. She felt very strongly that she needed to be at home when we were little. I am very grateful for that because I know there were dangers that she protected us from. When my youngest brother was in junior high she had to go back to work to make ends meet, and I am very thankful she was prepared to go and do that. It was hard, but she did enjoy teaching once her own kids were older, because she still got to interact and be with young children. She is amazing at teaching kids how to read.

My grandmother was a widow and she had to work out of necessity to keep her family alive. I know I have several cousins who work outside the home because they make more money than their husbands in their chosen careers. It works for their families. I think in the end, it has to be a choice that a husband and wife make as a team. We've made the choice for me to stay home and be with our kids. It's still work and it leaves me open to help in our ward and with our neighbors as well. I was an older single and I reached a point as well, when I really thought marriage was not going to happen for me. I was glad I finished college and had a degree and could support myself. I know if I had to go back to work I could as well."

~ Collette

"I worked part-time outside of the home because we needed the extra income. When it became no longer necessary for the income, I chose to work. I worked part-time, mornings from 8-12:30. It seemed to help give me something good mentally, and some individuality. My kids noticed that I was a happier person when I worked. They were very afraid when I was unhappy with my job, and I quit work. I then did a few semesters of college, even took some classes with my kids. I think it is a personal decision, and a very difficult one to make. I felt I had the best of both worlds, because I was able to be home when my kids got home from school, and able to attend their activities."

~ Merilee

"We are taught that the priorities should be family first, church second, school / work third. As a couple, the husband and wife need to determine what is most important to them, and then determine how to obtain it. Some families choose to do with less in order to be able to have a SAHM. Some families need both parents to work outside the home to be able to provide the bare basics for their family. 

My situation is different from the true nuclear situation you presented, I'm the step-mom to my husband's 4 children (currently living with us full-time, but will revert back to 50/50 shared time). We basically live off my salary; as a large portion of his salary goes to child support. Without me working, we wouldn't be able to have the kids 50/50. With me working, we're not only able to share in quality and quantity time with the kids; but, we're also able to provide them with extras -- like soccer, piano, etc. But, having watched my SAHM sisters enjoying the simplicity of a nuclear family, I know that they are greatly blessed because of the skills and education they have. When their families needed it, they were able to return to the workforce to help make ends meet. 

Being a SAHM is one of the most wonderful blessings and hardest trials a women can face. It's one I'd love to be one day; but, that's pretty impractical until we win the lottery (but that's another post entirely)."

~ Jane

"A recent post has brought it to my attention that many liberals believe that Mitt Romney's (and I suppose, Mormons in general) biggest desire for women is to Keep Us In Our Place (I didn't watch the debate last night, something about a binder?). I am a Mormon woman. NO ONE has ever required me to stay at home with my kids, cook dinner or clean the house. No one has ever prevented me from having an education or a career. In fact, our Church encourages an education for women, and in fact, the majority of the LDS women I know are college graduates. 

I have an education and am trying to develop a career as an author. I am not a stupid sheep, though I think that people who seem to believe everything they hear may fall nicely into that category. I have a strong personality, I am smart, I am opinionated and I am sure that I am often annoying. I also don't believe in painting all of a group of people with the same brush. Hopefully not all liberals do that-but I looked at this other post (about the binder) and saw hundreds of comments from snide Know-It-Alls who were making stupid uninformed comments about women who are Just Like Me. 

Having said that, I will now say this. There is something that Mormons believe that many liberals seem to have a problem with. That the woman is the heart of the home. That taking care of our OWN children is the most important job on the planet. I am fully aware that there are many people out there who are unable to stay at home with their kids, and I respect that, I don't criticize them. 

I have one little autistic son and one little son with Asperger's, and one of the happiest things in my existence is that I AM THE LIGHT OF BOTH OF THEIR LIVES. I am always able to be there for either of them whenever they need me, and I am more grateful for that than for anything else in my life. 

Don't get me wrong-when my husband comes home from work in the afternoon, I do not greet him at the door wearing an apron and heels with a perfect roast coming out of the oven, right on time. "My Place" is wherever I say it is, and every Mormon woman I know is the same way. I wonder how many of these judgemental liberal women come home from work every afternoon and then cook dinner too? If you liberals really believe the tripe someone is feeding you about people like me, then you don't really know any of us. You certainly don't know me. So get over yourselves. End of rant-until next time." 

~ Laurie

"I was a stay at home mom for many years while my husband worked two (and sometimes three) jobs to support us. At that time, I worked 2-3 NIGHTS a week in law offices for a little extra cash, but mostly to keep my skills current. When my first two daughters were in high school, my son was nine years old, and my youngest daughter was 3 1/2, I went back to work full-time, and my husband cut down to one job. I would rather have stayed at home at least one more year until my youngest was in kindergarten, but we were struggling financially with two kids looking toward college. So #1 and #2 really got a SAHM, #3 got both worlds, and #4 mostly had a working mom -- however, my husband retired when she was in junior high school, so she had a SAHD for a few years, which was pretty great for them.

Now that they are all grown and I'm looking backwards, I think we did the best we could to give each of our children what they needed. They are all good people -- no matter what my working status was when they were growing up. When Dad was working multiple jobs, the kids would go with him to help him on his weekend jobs -- which gave them time together and taught the kids how to work.

When Dad retired, he spent extra time with the one who had mostly a working mom. The key for me was working part-time a couple nights a week when the kids were young to keep my skills current. Had I not done that, I would not have had near as many opportunities later when I went back to work full-time. (I thank my first boss for that! When my first child was born he wouldn't let me quit -- he sent the bookkeeping home with me, and when I needed to be in the office, he told me to bring the play pen. Looking back, I realize he did that for ME; not for HIM."

~ Janalee

"I am a SAHM, who works inside the home, and I homeschool my 4 young kids! Yes I am one busy person and wouldn't change it for the world! We need two incomes and i decided a long time ago i wanted to be the one who raised my kids. This is very personal to me and it as been a decision my husband and I made together with The Lord at the helm! I know without a doubt I am doing exactly what the Lord wants me to do personally for my children and he is with me always guiding me every step of the way.

When I'm feeling low or stressed the spirit Is where I turn and I am always given the strength to do what I need to do. I firmly believe we don't all fit in the same mold and that The Lord has a divine purpose for each one of us. As long as we tune into that purpose we will find the greatest happiness in whatever endeavor we attempt. D&C 84:88 ........for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. I love being a mom and I truly believe it is a calling and a gift!"

~ Lisa

"I have been a single mother of small children and I have had the blessings of being a stay at home mom. My youngest is now almost five and is in a full time prek and I have been looking for work to help support our family because my husband is at the only job he could find in this economy. We both decided that if I could find just a part time in the morning job that would help ease the pressure off of my husband. I love being home with my daughter in the after noons and I love being able to be there for my kids whenever they need me. But my husband needs me working to ease his stress plus, it would give me marketable skills if Heaven forbid something happens to my husband. "

~ Lee

"I work outside the home because I feel a deep personal and spiritual mission tied to my work. Not all Mormon women feel like the only purpose of working is to earn income, but we are definitely in the minority. My husband has been going to school and home with the kids most of our married lives so we haven't had a lot of daycare. No one at church, no church leader, no youth leader has ever commented to us or our children that we are doing it wrong. When people ask, we respond with "we prayed about it and this is what we feel God wants for our family right now" and among Mormons, that answer trumps almost everything political or judgmental (I mean, as long as it is within the law)."

~ Elizabeth

"When discussing this topic with women outside of our faith, I think it's important to start with The Family Proclamation and how Motherhood is a Divine calling. Without that basic foundation, the questions of "Why not the man?" and "Why is it a big deal to work/SAH?" can't ever be fully addressed.

Also, I have recently discovered "The Latter-day Saint Woman" Handbooks, and believe it is a wealth of knowledge on the importance of our roles as wives and mothers. While there is general direction from the Prophets that women do their greatest work in the home, and families should do what they can to allow the mother to be home to nurture her children, there is also the understanding and explanation that every family must assess their personal needs and find the path that is right for them, through prayer and fasting. It is clear that not every mother can stay home, and that is okay.

As for personal experience: I started college unmarried, but by the time I was finished I was married and a mother. I worked as a mother, and now I am a SAHM. Each time my family has come to a crossroads of whether to work or stay home, we've revisited the decision in prayer and fasting.

When my husband and I first married, we agreed it was financially beneficial to wait to have children until we had finished our college education. But less than a year after our wedding, I felt a very strong desire to have a child. My husband was less enthusiastic, but we prayed asking if it was time to start our family, or if waiting was acceptable. The answer came to us in the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference October 2007. Sister Beck's talk, "Mother's Who Know" contained this statement:

President Ezra Taft Benson taught that young couples should not postpone having children and that “in the eternal perspective, children—not possessions, not position, not prestige—are our greatest jewels.”

This was probably one of the most direct answers of personal revelation I have ever received. Frankly, I slept through the majority of that session of conference, and awoke only briefly to hear perhaps two or three sentences more than what I just quoted, and then fell back to sleep. When I shared this with my husband, we were both overwhelmed with understanding that it was time for us to have a child, despite the fact that we both had at least 2 more years of college ahead of us.

Interestingly enough, I never considered stopping my college education when my daughter was born. My education benefits my children - a mother's education is a significant indicator in what level of education her children will progress to - and getting my degree was important to me and my husband. We did our best to alternate our class schedules to avoid babysitting as much as possible, and eventually got a babysitter when that no longer worked. I consider it a great blessing that our schedules worked out so that I was never away from my daughter for more than 4 hours at a time her entire first year of life, and if I was gone, she was safe in my husband's arms.

Since then, life hasn't been easy, but I have never regretted proceeding with both my family and my education and career. Money has certainly been tight, and we did use government programs to help our situation when we felt it was necessary. But we have never gone wanting for necessities, and still manage to enjoy small comforts by budgeting our money carefully."

~ Amy

"One of my grandmothers was a teacher with two master's degrees. She took my grandpa out of the mines with her focus on education. He later went to college also and became a teacher and a principal. He died in his late forties and my grandma was able to pay off her house, put her three boys thru missions and college, have a nice retirement and even help some of her grandkids with college because she had a stable career. 

My other grandma was a SAHM and had to find work when my other grandpa died early also, with two grown kids and two minor kids. She didn't have an education so she got a job in a hospital cafeteria. She was wise with her money, retired early, paid off her house, and has helped her children and grandchildren throughout her life. 

My mom dropped out of BYU when she married my dad. My dad often worked two and three jobs to support us. My mom worked for about a decade during my jr high/high school yrs. They have always struggled financially and currently live with me. 

I decided to educate myself and have a career. When I was in LDSSA and Lambda Delta Sigma we had a conference where the Presidency of Lambda Delta Sigma (on the general RS board) had 10 of us stand up. She then went one by one having us sit down for various reasons. She told us that 9/10 women will be required to work whether they want to or not, the biggest reasons being death, disability and divorce. I decided that it would be better to be prepared than not. 

After marriage, we decided to start our family after I had my BA and that I would be a substitute teacher to help until my husband finished his degree. I only needed to work 4 days a month to meet our needs. It was perfect. One year after my husband received his degree he filed for divorce. If I had not had the means to provide for my family, I would have lost all custody of my children except for visitations. I did need to return to school for a different credential in order to provide more stability, and I have now had the same high school teaching job for 8 yrs. I chose to be educated so I could be responsible and it has given me the chance to not only support my children but also my parents and two of my siblings who have needed to live with me at times. I am now looking at post grad studies to increase my income so i can help my children in college (in two and four years) and, eventually, retirement salary. 

Some ladies work because they need structure in their lives and find that even if it's a part time job it helps them get up and going in the morning. Others need purpose outside of the home and feel that it helps them focus when they are at home. Not all of us are Suzy Homemakers. I know I prefer making money and hiring others to doing things myself because I'm just not a good homemaker. Also, the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31 was clearly a well respected professional and homemaker who was admired by her husband for all the good she did: financially and managerially (if that's a word)."

~ Janeen

"I work for a company owned by the church and I have two young children at home. The circumstances surrounding my employment were such that it had the handwriting of my Heavenly Father all over it. He practically gift wrapped it for me. After praying about it, there was no doubt in my mind that working outside the home was what I should be doing. My husband stays home with the kids. Somedays he envies me, somedays I envy him.

What I would tell people outside our faith is that we weigh what is best for our families and then partner with our Heavenly Father in making these decisions. Then we don't judge others for making the choice differently. No woman deserves to feel like she is a lousy mother or inferior woman, especially while she doing what is best for her family."

Video: I'm a Mormon, Former Journalist, and Dedicated Mother

Jane Clayson Johnson once interviewed the U.S. President and anchored Good Morning America. Then this Mormon woman put her plans on hold to fulfill another lifelong dream: become a mother. See more at

If you came upon my blog hoping to find out about Mormon women working outside the home, we have given you some important insights into our faith, and the strong emphasis that we place on family -- and why that understanding is at the very heart of the decisions Mormon women make for their families. 

If Mitt Romney's Mormon faith has any affect on how he might potentially govern, as POTUS, in regard to working women -- I suspect he would be inclined to support their challenges to put family first -- and honor the wonderful diversity of every Daughter of God.

Video: Daughters of God - I Am A Mormon Woman


Video: Daughters of God - I Am a Mormon Woman!

Mormon women are gaining prominence throughout the world, as women who know who they are, as daughters of God, and understand their potential to influence others in ways that truly make a difference. Our power comes from a deep understanding of our purpose in life, which centers our efforts, daily, on what matters most. At the very heart of our lives is our families and those closest to us.

The newest video from Mormon Messages: Daughters of God focuses on the powerful influence that women, who know who they are, have in the world. Wherever faithful women apply this knowledge they are a blessing for good to everyone they come in contact with.

My initial response to this video is to share it with every woman I know, in hopes that more women will come to desire a better understanding of her value and worth as a literal daughter of God. This inspired counsel and teaching, from President James E. Faust, on what it means to be a daughter of God came to my mind:

As daughters of God, you cannot imagine the divine potential within each of you. Surely the secret citadel of women’s inner strength is spirituality. In this you equal and even surpass men, as you do in faith, morality, and commitment when truly converted to the gospel. You have “more trust in the Lord [and] more hope in his word.” This inner spiritual sense seems to give you a certain resilience to cope with sorrow, trouble, and uncertainty. 

You cannot imagine the gifts and talents each of you has. All women have appealing features. I do not refer to model-type appeal, but rather that which comes from your personality, your attitude, and your expressions. I urge you to enhance the natural, God-given, feminine gifts with which you have been so richly blessed. None of you should be so content that you cease to care about how you look or act. In his day, President Brigham Young encouraged women to get an education. This is still good counsel, but I hasten to add: in all your getting, do not lose your sweet femininity. 

You sisters do not know the full extent of your influence. You sisters enrich all of humanity. All human life begins with you. Each woman brings her own separate, unique strengths to the family and the Church. Being a daughter of God means that if you seek it, you can find your true identity. You will know who you are. This will make you free—not free from restraints, but free from doubts, anxieties, or peer pressure. You will not need to worry, “Do I look all right?” “Do I sound OK?” “What do people think of me?” A conviction that you are a daughter of God gives you a feeling of comfort in your self-worth. It means that you can find strength in the balm of Christ. It will help you meet the heartaches and challenges with faith and serenity. 

I wonder if you sisters can fully appreciate the innate gifts, blessings, and endowments you have simply because you are daughters of God. It is a mistake for women to think that life begins only with marriage. A woman can and must have an identity and feel useful, valued, and needed whether she is single or married. She must feel that she can do something for someone else that no one else ever born can do.

Video: Daughters of God

Our knowledge of this eternal truth should cause us to shout for joy and empower every LDS woman to go out and do something MORE -- today!

Kathryn Skaggs

Photo Credit: Screenshot from video

Learn more about Mormon women and what we believe:

LDS Newsroom: Mormon Women in the Church

New Missionary Age Requirement: It's NOT about you!

I suppose that I'm as guilty as the next Mormon in finding myself curious to know what other members thought about the new LDS Church policy, lowering age requirements for missionary service -- for both young men and young women. I think Elder Holland's enthusiasm for President Monson's  announcement, expressed as "bordering on giddy," is shared by the majority of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who see this as both inspired and positive -- and perhaps as personal revelation! 

However, in my quest to connect with other excited members I came across a disturbing narrative, that I suppose shouldn't surprise me, but did: progressive Mormon women making it about themselves -- and even advocating the policy change as another incremental move toward women's equality in the Church --  motivated by outside advocacy

I'll be the first to admit that in my learning about this new option for LDS young women to serve a mission as young as age 19, I briefly reflected on myself at that young age -- and also on my own three daughters, now mothers -- one whom I feel may very well have served if that option had been available then.  So I do understand this momentary pause, by probably most women in the Church, to personally reflect on what might have been, and how, for those who did not serve a mission, it could have potentially changed their lives. 

And yet, the thought never once occurred to me to feel either sadness or anger for what I perceived to be a missed opportunity, that I felt should have been mine. And no, it never once crossed my mind that making the choice to be sealed to my eternal companion, at age 18, should be viewed as settling for my only option as a young woman in the Church at the time. And certainly the idea that withholding the opportunity to be a sister missionary until age 21, by the Church, was ever intended to be an issue of gender inequality within my Mormon faith. 

Such reflections, intended to cast a negative light on past missionary service age policies, and Church leaders, is in my opinion, a complete disregard to much of what both Elders' Russell M. Nelson and  Jeffrey R. Holland, Apostles of the Lord, explained during a live press conference, intended to clarify the new policy and answer questions -- and certainly to that which President Monson conveyed in the initial announcement.

I don't think anyone would argue the positive, personal impact that serving a full-time mission for the Church has on a person of either gender. I also, with gratitude, acknowledge the great blessings that have come to my own family due to my husband's two years of missionary service. And I certainly recognize that such dedicated service, early in one's adult life, can add greatly to one's testimony and the service capacity of many upon their return -- and throughout their lives. 

For the women of the Church, however, we cannot forget, nor disregard, important clarifications, and the re-emphasis, about sister missionary service well stated in regard to this new policy change, of which none have any allusion of trying to level the playing field for women in the Church -- in relation to issues of gender equality. 

During the LDS Church Press Conference following President Thomas S. Monson’s stunning announcement at the Saturday morning session of the October 2012 General Conference that “all worthy and able young men, who have graduated from high school, or its equivalent, regardless of where they live will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at age 18 instead of 19.” And also that, “able worthy young women, who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19 instead of age 21,” Elder Russell M. Nelson said, “this matter has been studied prayerfully over many, many months. This is an option that will allow more young men and women to enjoy the blessings of missionary service.” 

It is interesting to note that when presenting the new policy for young women, the application is to those who "have a desire to serve" versus how it was given to the young men -- "all worthy and able". This is a very important distinction that cannot, and should not, be overlooked. 

Elder Nelson then referred to the Savior’s Biblical mandate that He extended to the Twelve Apostles to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”. He noted that “from the earliest days of the Church that mandate has been followed”.  With significant emphasis Elder Nelson said that with President Monson’s announcement, “we are accelerating our efforts to fulfill that mandate and give more young men and women an opportunity to participate in that divine commission”.

Elder Nelson went on to express a hope that “many will seize this opportunity” by allowing greater flexibility to the youth of the Church – many who are anxious to begin service.  He stated that, “the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are united in our decision to make these important adjustments”.

Elder Nelson in speaking specifically about the young women of the Church: “Neither are we suggesting that young women are expected to serve, or that they do so at age 19. Many will still prefer to serve at an older age or not at all. Their voluntary service is valuable and most welcome. These age adjustments are new options, now available to bishops’ in evaluating what is best for each of his youth.  Young men or women should not begin their service before they are ready spiritually and temporally."  

Following Elder Nelson's remarks, Jeffrey R. Holland gave some very pertinent instruction that I feel make it quite difficult for any of us to make this policy change about us, and our reactions to it -- in fact, he went so far as to say so...

To the prospective missionary, male or female: “What does this mean for you? First of all it means that God is hastening His work and He needs more and more willing and worthy missionaries to spread the light and the truth and the hope of salvation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to an often dark and fearful world. In the vernacular of the day, this announcement, I say to these young people, isn’t about you. (Emphasis added.) It is about the sweet and pure message you are being asked to bear and the ever-greater numbers God needs to bear it.  You must prepare by personal worthiness and more cleanliness and you must study diligently to know the gospel you will teach. We want you teaching effectively from the first day onward, and that will require preparation which starts long before you get your call to serve. 

We ask parents to take a strong hand in this preparation and not expect that it is somehow the responsibility of local Church leaders or the missionary department of the Church, or MTC, to provide and direct all of that.”

So, to those who question why this change was made, Elder Holland is very specific in answering the question: "God is hastening His work and He needs more missionaries..." In other words, this policy change is about His work, timing, and what He needs to teach His children -- and not about what any of us might feel we needed, or perhaps believe His servants have caused women to miss out on in the past. 

One might even feel he was speaking to those (now parents) who feel that they did miss out in the past, with his admonition to take part in the preparation of their children who have been given this new opportunity for earlier service. Missionary service can and should be a family affair. Preparation and support of a missionary, by family members, I feel, is part of the sacrifice of missionary service in the Church. And in fact, its importance too frequently overlooked.

Said Elder Holland, “Missionary service remains a priesthood duty for young men. That has been said emphatically, and was said by President Monson. We put great emphasis on this for our Aaronic priesthood bearers through their years as a deacon, a teacher, and a priest. We hope all who are physically and emotionally able to serve will do so following their ordination to the Melchizedek priesthood. 

We do not express that same expectation for young women in exactly the way we do for our young men. There are some places in the world where sister missionaries cannot serve, but those who do serve are stunningly successful and we enthusiastically welcome your service. Personally I am absolutely delighted if this change of policy allows many, many more of our young women to serve – a prospect that thrills me. But always this is an option and is not to be seen as an obligation.”

This tells me that although parents and leaders are responsible to help prepare young people to serve missions, this will not be an over-emphasis, nor should it be, in the young women's program of the Church. 

While not wanting to lessen this beautiful invitation to the young women of the Church, who desire to serve at a younger age a full-time mission -- and probably many will -- for just a moment let's ask ourselves this question: what do missionaries do? Answer: they teach the saving truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and administer the saving ordinance of baptism to God's children, thus putting them on the path to salvation. 

And now this question: Is the young woman who chooses eternal marriage and motherhood instead of first taking the option to serve a full-time mission any less serviceable in the kingdom of God?

The LDS young woman who chooses to focus her personal, spiritual preparation on a temple marriage and motherhood, not including a full-time mission, should never be made to feel that she is making a lesser choice, or is less valiant. The choice to serve a full-time mission, although an important service and option, should never take the place as the number one priority and/or responsibility of the daughters of God. 

These realities bring us back to the most important reason that young women are not obligated to serve full-time missions, nor are they missing out if they choose not to -- as are the young men: the mandate for such service is required of those who bear the priesthood. 

I see, as one of the greatest blessings of lowering the age requirement for young women, support for encouraging all of our young people to find their eternal companions, as soon as possible in life. With young women, who desire to serve a mission, now able to serve relatively at the same time as the young men, instead of having to wait, meeting this goal may very well prove even more successful for both sexes.

The measure of a faithful Mormon woman, over another, will never be because one has chosen to first serve a full-time mission. First and foremost in importance to God, is that each of us prepares to make and keep sacred covenants enabling us to build eternal families. For a few progressive Mormon women to suggest otherwise is simply a misguided understanding of our Heavenly Father's plan for all of His children.

As a woman in the Church, do you feel that not serving a full-time mission as a young woman, in any way, kept you from developing your full potential to serve in the Church -- or has in some way suppressed your personal growth as a woman? 

UPDATE: Explosive Confirmation of Increased Numbers Applying for Missionary Service

Kathryn Skaggs 

Highlights 2012 General Relief Society Broadcast: Challenges of Mortality

Deseret News: LDS Church lowers age requirement for missionary service

LDS Newsroom:  Mormon Women in the Church

Photo Credit: LDS Newsroom

Favorite Prophet Quotes: Sunday 2012 October General Conference

It's not too much to describe my weekend as glorious.  I love how the Lord takes our sincere desires and magnifies them beyond what we, ourselves, could EVER imagine! When I began blogging back in 2008 I had a simple desire to share the basic truths of the gospel with those, online, that were seeking to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had a simple and sincere desire to help share our Mormon beliefs in such a way that others could easily understand what we believe. And I had a desire, when the Church began growing in developing their online presence, to assist them, completely without them knowing (or so I thought) to share their official materials with others.

Said President Monson in his concluding remarks today, "We have had unprecedented coverage of the conference, reaching across the continents and the oceans to people everywhere." And when he said that, my heart was immediately pierced as the Spirit bore witness to me that in a small way I was assisting in that great effort -- as are many of you. 

Yesterday, I enjoyed so much going through all of the talks after a long day of listening to General Conference, and choosing my three favorite quotes from each of our prophets, that I decided to go through the very same exercise with Sunday's General Conference sessions. In such a short amount of time we are spiritually flooded with inspired teachings from modern-day prophets, requiring us to revisit each talk in order to isolate the specific messages that touched us individually -- and prompt us to application and deeper pondering.

I have a tendency to struggle to remember who said what, until I take the time to go back and re-read/listen to each prophet's message more carefully. Mind you, this is not a problem, but truly a blessing to have living prophets, among us, who speak the mind and will of the Lord for our day. And in that spirit, I sought to extract from their divine counsel, what spoke to my heart. You will surely note, that to me, in general, a 'quote' is more than a soundbite.

From the Sunday morning session of October 2012 General Conference -- My favorite prophet quotes:

President Henry B. Eyring - "Where is the Pavilion?"

"God is never hidden, but sometimes we are, covered by a pavilion of motivations that draw us away from God and make Him seem distant and inaccessible. Our own desires, rather than the feeling of "Thy will be done, " create the feeling of a pavilion blocking God. God is not unable to see us or communicate with us, but we may be unwilling to listen to His will and time."

"Our feelings of separation from God will diminish as we become more childlike before Him. That is not easy in a world where the opinions of other human beings can have such an effect on our motives. But it will help us recognize the truth: God is close to us and aware of us, and never hides from His children."

"As we do what He would have us do for His children, the Lord considers it kindness to Him, and we will feel closer to Him as we feel His love and His approval. In time, we will become like Him, and will think of the judgement day with happy anticipation."

Read a summary of President Henry B. Eyring’s talk.

President Boyd K. Packer - The Atonement

"It was understood from the beginning that in mortality we would fall short of being perfect. It was not expected that we would live without transgressing one law or another."

"We do not know exactly how the Lord accomplished the Atonement. But we do know that the cruel torture of crucifixion was only part of the horrific pain which began in Gethsemane -- that sacred site of suffering -- and was completed on Golgotha."

"Throughout your life, there may be times when you have gone places you never should have gone and done things you never should have done. If you will turn away from sin, you will be able to one day know the peace that comes from following the  pathway of complete repentance. No matter what our transgressions have been, no matter how much our actions many have hurt others, that guilt can all be wiped out."

Sister Linda K. Burton - First Observe, Then Serve (And yes, I do consider the general President of  the Relief Society a 'prophetess' to the women of the Church.)

"We have covenanted to "always remember [the Savior] and keep His commandments," and He said, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." "We are the Lord's hands here upon the earth, with a mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us."

"To help us better love one another, I would like to suggest four words to remember: "First observe, then serve." 

"What better place to first observe than in the home?"

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland - The First and Great Commandment

"I am not certain just what our experience will be on judgement day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation God does not ask us what Christ asked Peter: "Did you love me?" I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all -- "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." And if at such a moment we can stammer out, "Yea Lord, thou knowest that I love thee," then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty."

"The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-apostles who without a single synagogue or sword went on to shape the history of the world in which we now live."

"To those who were once with us but have retreated, preferring to pick and choose a few cultural 
hors d'oeuvres from the smorgasbord of the Restoration and leave the rest of the feast, I say you face a lot of long nights and empty nets. The call is to come back, stay true, love God, and lend a hand. I include in that call to fixed faithfulness every returned missionary who ever stood in a baptismal font and with arm to the square said, "Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ." That commission was to have changed your convert forever, but it was to have changed you forever as well."

President Thomas S. Monson - Sunday Morning Message

We live in a unique time in the world's history. We are blessed with so very much. And yet it is sometimes difficult to view the problems and permissiveness around us and not become discouraged. I have found that rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find happiness."

I testify that much joy comes as we recognize that we can communicate with our Heavenly Father through prayer and that those prayers will be heard and answered -- perhaps not how and when we expect they would be answered, but they will be answered, and by a Heavenly Father who knows and loves us perfectly and who desires our happiness."

"The Lord's purposes are often accomplished as we pay heed to the guidance of the Spirit. I believe that the more we act upon inspiration and impressions which come to us, that more the Lord will entrust to us His errands. I have learned... never to postpone a prompting."

From the Sunday morning session of October 2012 General Conference -- My favorite prophet quotes:

Elder Robert D. Hales - Being a More Christian Christian

"What does it mean to be Christian? 

A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the literal Son of God, sent by His Father to suffer for our sins in the supreme act of love we know as he Atonement. 

A Christian believes that through the grace of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, we can repent, forgive others, keep the commandments, and inherit eternal life. 

The word 'Christian' denotes taking upon us the name of Christ. We do this by being baptized and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, by those holding His priesthood authority.

A Christian knows that throughout the ages, God's prophets have always testified of Jesus Christ. This same Jesus, accompanied by Heavenly Father, appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith in the year 1830 and restored the gospel and the organization of His original Church. 

Through scripture and the witness of Joseph Smith, we know that God, our Heavenly Father, has a glorified and perfected body of flesh and bone. Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son in the flesh.  The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit whose work is to testify of the Father and the Son. The Godhead is three separate and distinct beings, unified in purpose.

With these doctrines as the foundation of our faith, can there be any doubt or disputation that we are Christians? Yet, for every Christian, a simple question remains: what kind of Christian are we? In other words, how are we doing in our quest to follow Christ?"

"To be who Heavenly Father wants us to be, we follow Jesus Christ."

"In all His days the Savior never gave up doing His Father's will, but continued in righteousness, goodness, mercy and truth to the end of His mortal life."

Elder Richard G. Scott - "The Joy of Redeeming the Dead"

"The Lord revealed that through proper priesthood authority baptisms could be performed vicariously for the dead preserved the justice of His statement: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Vicarious baptism can mercifully provide essential ordinances for all worthy deceased who did not receive it in mortality.

This glorious doctrine is another witness of the all-encompassing nature of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He made salvation available to every repentant soul. His Atonement conquered death and he permits the worthy deceased to receive all ordinances of salvation vicariously."

"Any work that you do in the temple is time well spent, but receiving ordinances vicariously for one of your own ancestors will make the time in the temple more sacred and even greater blessings will be received. The First Presidency has declared, "Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors."

"This work is a spiritual work, a monumental effort of cooperation on both sides of the veil where help is given in both directions. Anywhere you are in the world, with prayer, faith, determination, diligence, and some sacrifice, you can make a powerful contribution. Begin now."

Elder David A. Bednar - Converted unto the Lord

"My message focuses upon the relationship between receiving a testimony that Jesus is the Christ and becoming converted to Him and His gospel. Typically, we treat the topics of testimony and conversion separately and independently. However, we gain precious perspective and greater spiritual conviction as we consider these two important subjects together."

"Seeking for and obtaining a testimony of spiritual truths requires asking, seeking and knocking with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith in the Savior. Fundamental components of a testimony are knowing that Heavenly Father lives and loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that the fulness of the gospel has been restored to the earth in these latter days."

"The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through the Savior's Atonement. True conversion brings a change in one's beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God and includes a conscious commitment to become disciples of Jesus Christ.

Conversion is an enlarging, a deepening, and a broadening of the undergirding base of testimony. It is the result of revelation from God, accompanied by individual repentance, obedience, and diligence. Any honest seeker of truth can become converted by experiencing the mighty change of heart and being spiritually born of God. As we honor ordinances and covenants of salvation and exaltation, "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ", and endure in faith to the end, we become new creatures in Christ. Conversion is an offering of self we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony."

Read a summary of Elder David A. Bednar’s talk.

President Thomas S. Monson - God Be With You Til We Meet Again

"May we each watch over one another, assisting in times of need. Let us not be critical and judgmental, but let us be tolerant, ever emulating the Savior's example of loving kindness. In that vein, may we willingly serve one another. May we pray for inspiration to know of the needs of those around us, and then may we go forward and provide assistance."

"Let us be of good cheer as we go about our lives. Although we live in perilous times, the Lord loves us and is mindful of us. He is always on our side as we do what is right. He will help us in times of need. Difficulties come into our lives, problems we do not anticipate and which we would never choose. None of us is immune. The purpose of mortality is to learn and to grow to be more like our Father, and it is often during the difficult times that we learn the most, as painful as that lesson may be. Our lives can also be filled with joy as we follow the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

"The Lord admonished, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." What great happiness this knowledge should bring to us. He lived for us and He died for us. He paid the price for our sins. May we emulate His example. May we show our great gratitude to Him by accepting His sacrifice and living lives that will qualify us to return and one day live with Him.

Read a summary of President Thomas S. Monson’s closing remarks.

Kathryn Skaggs

Photo Credit: LDS Newsroom

My Favorite Quotes from Saturday Sessions of General Conference

I challenged myself to choose my three favorite quotes from each of the Saturday October 2012 General Conference addresses -- given by our living prophets. The thing I love about LDS General Conference quotes is the way in which they isolate, so well, specific doctrines and/or principles that are most meaningful to me personally, and help me to remember the overall counsel given -- in order to make my pondering most effective. So, without further ado, let's get to it...

From the Saturday morning session of General Conference -- My favorite quotes:

President Thomas S. Monson - Opening Remarks

"I am pleased to announce that effective immediately, all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age.Rather, based on individual circumstances, as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.

As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.

We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty—and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable, to respond to the call to serve. Many young women also serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service."

(Okay, that was kind of cheating. Oh well)

Elder Quentin L. Cook - Can Ye Feel So Now?

"Many who are in spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices. Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants. Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes. Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. They then draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. 
Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed."

"While anything that lessens commitments is of consequence, two relevant challenges are both prevalent and significant. The first is unkindness, violence and domestic abuse. The second is sexual immorality and impure thoughts. These often precede and are at the root of the choice to be less committed."

"The need for civility in society has never been more important. The foundation of kindness and civility begins in our homes. It is not surprising that our public discourse has declined in equal measure with the breakdown of the family. The family is the foundation for love and for maintaining spirituality. The family promotes an atmosphere where religious observance can flourish. There is indeed beauty all around when there's love at home. "

Elder Russell M. Nelson - Ask the Missionaries! They Can Help You!

"The decision to serve a mission will shape the spiritual destiny of the missionary, his or her spouse, and their posterity for generations to come. A desire to serve is a natural outcome of one's conversion, worthiness, and preparation."

"Missionaries strive to follow Jesus Christ in both word and deed. They preach Jesus Christ and His atonement. They teach of the literal restoration of Christ's ancient Church through the Lord's first latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith."

"If you have concerns about your family, ask the missionaries! They can help! Strengthening marriages and families is of utmost importance to Latter-day Saints. Families can be together forever. Ask the missionaries to teach you how this is possible for your family."

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf - Of Regrets and Resolutions

"When we are young, it seems as though we will live forever. We think there is a limitless supply of sunrises waiting just beyond the horizon, and the future looks to us like an unbroken road that stretches endlessly before us. However, the older we get, the more we tend to look back and marvel at how short that road really is. We wonder how the years could have passed so quickly. And we begin to think about the choices we have made and the things we have done."

"In our day, it is easy to merely pretend to spend time with others. With the click of a mouse we can "connect" with thousands of "friends" without ever having to face a single one of them. Technology can be a wonderful thing, and it is particularly useful when we cannot be near our loved ones...  I believe that we are not headed in the right direction, individually and as a society, when the most frequent way we connect with family or friends is by re-posting humorous pictures, forwarding trivial things, or linking them to sites on the Internet."

"The more we devote ourselves to the pursuit of holiness and happiness, the less likely we will be on the path to regrets. The more we rely on the Savior's grace, the more we will feel during life's journey that we are on the track our Father in Heaven has intended for us. "

From the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference -- My favorite quotes:

Elder L. Tom Perry - Becoming Goodly Parents

"Through all the fast-paced change occurring around us, we earnestly pray and work to ensure that the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ endure. At the top of the list of these values, and therefore, prime targets of the adversary, are the sanctity of marriage and the central importance of families. They provide the anchor and the safe harbor of a home where each child of a loving Heavenly Father can be influenced for good and acquire other eternal values. "

"Culture is defined as the way of life of a people. There is a unique gospel culture, a set of values and expectations and practices common to all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This gospel culture or way of life comes from the Plan of Salvation, the commandments of God, and the teachings of the living prophets. It is given expression in the way we raise our families and live our individual lives. "

"The joining together of a man and a woman to be legally and lawfully wed not only is preparation for future generations to inherit the earth, but it also brings the greatest joy and satisfaction that can be found in this mortal experience. This is especially true when the powers of the priesthood proclaim marriage for time and all eternity. Children born to such marriages have a security that is found nowhere else."

Elder M. Russell Ballard - Be Anxiously Engaged

The Beehive has always been an important symbol in our Church history...The beehive symbol is found in both the interiors and exteriors of many of our temples... All of this symbolism attests to one fact: Great things are brought about and burdens lightened through the efforts of many hands "anxiously engaged in a good cause." Imagine what millions of Latter-day Saints could accomplish in the world if we functioned like a beehive in our focused, concentrated commitment to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ."

"There is power in our love for God and for His children, and when that love is tangibly manifest in millions of acts of Christian kindness it will sweeten and nourish the world with the life-sustaining nectar of hope, faith and charity."

"When our hearts are no longer set upon the things of the world, we will no longer aspire to the honors of men or seek only to gratify our pride. Rather, we take on the Christ-like qualities that Jesus taught."

Elder Neil L. Andersen - Trial of Your Faith

"The gift of faith is a priceless spiritual endowment... Our faith is centered in God our Father, and Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. It is bolstered by our knowledge that the fullness of the gospel has been restored to the earth; that the Book of Mormon is the word of God; and that prophets and apostles today hold the keys of the priesthood. We treasure our faith, work to strengthen our faith, pray for increased faith, and do all within our power to protect and defend our faith. "

"How do you remain "steadfast and immovable" during a trial of faith? You immerse yourself in the very things that helped build your core of faith -- you exercise faith in Christ, you pray, you ponder the scriptures, you repent, you keep the commandments, and serve others. When faced with a trial of faith -- whatever you do, you don't step away from the Church! Distancing yourself from the Kingdom of God during a trial of faith is like leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view."

"Like the intense fire that transforms iron into steel, as we remain faithful during the fiery trial of our faith, we are spiritually refined and strengthened."

Elder Dallin H. Oaks - Protect the Children

"We are all under the Savior's command to love and care for each other, and especially for the weak and defenseless. Children are highly vulnerable. They have little or no power to protect or provide for themselves, and little influence on so much that is vital to their well-being. Children need others to speak for them, and they need decision makers who put their well-being ahead of selfish adult interests."

"Our Church leaders have taught that looking upon marriage "as a mere contract that may be entered into at pleasure… and severed at the first difficulty… is an evil meriting severe condemnation, " especially when children are made to suffer. And children are impacted by divorces."

"The family structure that produces the best outcomes for children, on average, are two biological parents who remain married."

As you can imagine, choosing only three quotes from each address was a challenge. However, I really enjoyed reviewing each talk and seeking to know what I needed to learn most, ponder upon and strive to apply. I'm sure that many of you were also moved by these same teachings of our prophets. Today I felt that we were taught very powerful doctrines -- and so pertinent to our current times. I end these sessions of General Conference with the sweet assurance that we are truly led by men called of God to lead us in these last days. 

Kathryn Skaggs

Right out of the box the Saturday morning session of General Conference started off with a big surprise, and from how Elder Holland explained it, a huge shock to most in the Church -- at all levels! I was able to be in attendance during a Church press conference immediately following the Saturday morning session, in response to President Monson's explosive announcement about the lowering of the ages for both males and females to serve missions -- 18 now for young men and 19 for young women.