Happy New Year: In 2013 I Will...

With the New Year upon us Mormon.org is asking a simple question over on both their Facebook and Google Plus pages, using a clever video that I really like: what will you do in 2013? That's it.

How about...

Inspire instead of retire?
Dance with the family?
Read the Bible every day?
Get out of your comfort zone?
Be there for bedtime stories?

Finish that song?
Conquer the Appalachian Trail?
Work from home?
Fall in love . . . again?
Learn to forgive?

So instead of setting the big goals that often overwhelm and discourage many, even setting us up for early failure, why not make small, meaningful commitments that will affect our lives and those we love with a different perspective. After all, how many times have we been told that it's the little things in life that really count. I actually believe that; not that longterm goals don't have an important place in our lives, too. But often times this whole New Year's goal setting thing can become a bit of a burdensome tradition that personally, I'd rather ignore. I think perhaps that's why this little encouragement from Mormon.org appeals to me so much, and I find so inviting.

In fact, so much so that I'm kind of excited about all the little possibilities for its application in my own life in 2013. How refreshing to be looking at setting goals, or not, without feeling defeated before I even get started. I think the difference is in looking at incorporating versus destinations or reaching specific accomplishments; or making it whatever you want it to be! 

Video: What Will YOU Do in 2013?

"Those who are filled with the love of Christ do not seek to force other to do better; they inspire others to do better, indeed inspire them to the pursuit of God. We need to extend the hand of friendship. We need to be kinder, more gentle, more forgiving, and slower to anger. We need to love one another with the pure love of Christ. May this be our course and our desire. " ~ Howard W. Hunter " A More Excellent Way"

I've heard it said that a 'commitment' not written down is just a wish, so feel free to leave a comment and share what you will do in 2013...

Kathryn Skaggs

WBMW: If God Called You Home... Today

Thomas S. Monson: Living the Abundant Life  (One of my favorite talks about choosing to live well and how.)

"At the advent of a new year, I challenge Latter-day Saints everywhere to undertake a personal, diligent, significant quest for what I call the abundant life—a life filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings…

So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference. To do the best we can and then to choose to be happy about our circumstances, whatever they may be, can bring peace and contentment." ~ Thomas S. Monson

Christmas: Caring for the Weary

Christmas is a time of joy and celebration! A time we remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We tend to center our holiday traditions around family and friends, creating memories that last a lifetime; even generations. As the years go by, we look forward to the next to carry on these traditions maintaining in our lives a sense of familiarity and security that become a part of our literal identity as both individuals and families. Well, that's certainly the expectation of Christmas, isn't it?

And for many, it is such an experience of Christmas which is why it is considered the most wonderful time of year, and thought upon with the fondest and tenderest of memories. And it is precisely for these very reasons that when life's road become difficult and we find ourselves weary from the pains of mortality, that suddenly this once happy time of year can, for some, temporarily, be viewed with sadness and even dread. 

Yes, mortality naturally produces many a weary and wounded traveler along its bumpy road of life, leaving by the wayside many who are in need of care, particularly at Christmas when tender feelings of family are so sensitive and in need of dressing. One can't help but think of President Thomas S. Monson and his ever thoughtful and loving outreach to the widows under his life-long care. Truly Christmastime is the most difficult for those who have experienced the death of a loved one.

But life also has other challenges, both physical and/or emotional, that can weary the mortal traveler, temporarily disabling our ability to, on our own, completely enjoy this time of year without the help of each other. 

And so, as disciples of Jesus Christ, perhaps even a bit of a wounded warrior ourselves, we are asked to look around and perceive who else might look a bit weary and in need care. 

Because, Christmas is a time of joy and celebration. A time to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ -- and covenants made. And we need to make sure that our family and friends -- no matter what pains they have suffered, or are suffering along their weary road of mortality -- will feel His love and Spirit to buoy them up along their way.

I think these words, part of the First Presidency Christmas message, sum it up perfectly:

The spirit of Christmas creates in our hearts a desire to give joy to others and to serve them. At this time of year we feel a spirit of giving and of gratitude for what we have been given. The celebration of Christmas helps us keep our promise to always remember the Savior and His gifts to us and, in turn, to serve others.
Each act of kindness to anyone becomes a kindness to the Savior because He loves all of Heavenly Father’s children. And because that brings joy to Him, it also brings joy to His Father, to whom we owe thanks beyond measure.

I have found that when we reach out to lift those who are weary, that we discover our own need to be lifted. It is a beautiful exchange made perfect through Jesus Christ and the gift of His Atonement. It is what Christmas is truly all about, and in so doing, will help us to better understand the true Spirit of Christmas.


LDS Bible Videos Tell Christmas Story

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) have created a wonderful collection of Bible videos depicting the Life of Jesus Christ. The particular videos I'm sharing here, today, beautifully portray the Christmas Story as recorded in sacred scripture. Each one of these New Testament Bible videos carefully follow the actual text from the King James version; maintaining the integrity of the inspired account as originally recorded.

Christians of all denominations will thoroughly enjoy these free Bible videos and find each one helpful in sharing the tender account of the birth of Jesus Christ with family and friends. These videos can also be used in church Sunday School lessons and would also be great for use in LDS Family Home Evenings. With so many people now sharing and reading scriptures online, these videos are a wonderful addition to the printed scriptures, and with a little creativity can be used interchangeably very well.

To have the best experience watching each video, I find it most effective to read the verses of scripture that are depicted in each Christmas Bible video prior to watching -- included here. This would make a nice individual, class, or family activity.  I'm thinking Christmas Eve!

You can also share these videos by clicking on the share feature located on the face of each video, and send to your Facebook wall, Twitter or email.

Video: An Angel Foretells Christ's Birth to Mary

Luke 1:26-38

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Video: Mary and Elisabeth Rejoice Together

39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Video: Mary and Joseph Travel to Bethlehem

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Video: Shepherds Learn of the Birth of Christ

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Video: The Christ Child is Presented at the Temple

22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)

24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,

28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Video: The Wise Men Seek Jesus

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Also, please enjoy this beautiful new video, just released, that compiles different scenes from each of the above Christmas videos, as well as from some of the other Life of Jesus Christ Bible videos,  combined with inspired Christmas messages from the First Presidency to tell the overall story of the birth and mission of Jesus Christ.

Tidings of Great Joy: The Birth of Jesus Christ

As we reflect on the birth of our Savior, may our faith in Him increase so that we might receive a greater desire to apply the principles the of gospel in our lives. And as we enjoy these beautiful videos that recount that beautiful story, I hope that His Spirit will more fully enter into our lives during this very special time of year.

Merry Christmas!

Kathryn Skaggs


Like Mary, the Mother of Jesus...

If God Called You Home... Today

LDS Bible Videos: The Life of Jesus Christ 
Watch for new videos to be added monthly as we assemble one of the finest collections of Bible videos in the world.

Video: Prayer Of The Children - Sandy Hook Elementary Tribute

A very special video tribute in loving memory of the innocent children who were taken from us, far too soon, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012.

Video: Prayer of The Children - Sandy Hook Elementary School

(Produced by: Raymond Campbell, Music: Kurt Bestor, Prayer of the Children)

Cut and paste this link to share video: http://youtu.be/MBb31JlIHbc 

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Madeleine Hsu, 6

Catherine Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison N. Wyatt 6

The only true source of comfort and peace to the sorrows, the losses and the soul wrenching pains of mortality is through Jesus Christ. And as difficult as it may seem for us to understand, it is during these times that human nature is prone to seek for a source greater than self to be comforted when there are no reasonable answers, or solace to be found. When we are tormented with grief unspeakable, asking questions where seemingly no answers are to be found.


Kathryn Skaggs

The Only True Source of Comfort and Peace

The only true source of comfort and peace to the sorrows, the losses and the soul wrenching pains of mortality is through Jesus Christ. And as difficult as it may seem for us to understand, it is during these times that human nature is prone to seek for a source greater than self to be comforted when there are no reasonable answers, or solace to be found. When we are tormented with grief unspeakable, asking questions where seemingly no answers are to be found.

I think of this as each of us having a sort of homing beacon, planted deep inside. I believe our spirits innately know there is more, and therefore there is a constant yearning, imperceptible, until the answer appears before us. And when it does, it is pure revelation. Light. And that, to me, is what happens in how the gospel of Jesus Christ often comes into individual lives for the very first time. It comes when a person is prepared. It comes because they need it. It comes because they will value it. It comes because they will recognize it. It comes to provide answers. It comes to comfort. It comes because of faith.

He comes to heal.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) we are so, so very blessed with a perspective that is truly beyond this life; that enables us to find comfort and peace when the sorrows of mortality become nearly unbearable.

Through the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ we will live again, with a sure knowledge that all things will be made right. But we also have a wonderful understanding of God's Plan of Happiness, which gives us understanding of His overall eternal plan for families. This goes beyond what other Christian faiths teach about life after death, and can bring great comfort to those who have cause to mourn.

Like many of you, my heart is heavy for those who are suffering at this time. Many tears have been shed. I have no words that can adequately express my sorrow for what too many are going through. There are no reasonable explanations that would offer comfort. Only prayers, and more prayers for children returned too early to their heavenly home -- who will not be home for Christmas with their families.

Yet, because of my knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I am turned to Him for comfort and peace.   Only He can make all that is wrong, and evil, and hurtful, and unfair, and disappointing, and sad about mortality, eventually made glorious! As hard as that is to imagine in times of deep sorrow. And for that, I am profoundly grateful. Personally, my Christmas will be different this year, for many reasons --  but events of this week are the clincher.

It will be a little more sober. Not without rejoicing, because the Atonement heals the seriousness of life in the end. The Victory. Children will still laugh and make us forget, for a moment, the sorrow of the little ones not with us any longer. (We can't allow evil to rob us of joy.) Santa will still come with gifts to remind us of the Greatest Gift of All. But this year...this year will be different.

Mortality is setting in... The times are speeding up. The new year will bring greater challenges. More will be brought to Christ through adversity. The Lord is hastening His work. The train will leave many behind. Lamps need to be kept lit. Temples our refuge.

As evil increases, the Lord will use that to bring His children to Him. It is the law of opposition and it is magnificent! It requires of those who follow Him an increase of faith -- as things don't always appear as they really are. With those who have eyes to see, you shall!

This year, this Christmas, as I ponder upon that baby, lying in the manger, I will, more so than ever before, humbly and reverently, understand that He truly is KING OF ALL KINGS!

Kathryn Skaggs

Mormon Newsroom:  First Presidency Expresses Condolences in Wake of Connecticut Shooting

Mormon Feminists Plan Demonstration in Sunday Worship Services

Devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) consider their Sunday worship services, formally called a Sacrament Meeting, to be the most sacred, public gathering in the LDS Church. Each week, on the Sabbath, members and nonmembers are invited to attend a worship service in one of our many local meeting houses, which are different than an LDS temple.

The reason the Sacrament Meeting is considered sacred to members of the LDS Church, is because the ordinance of the sacrament is administered to baptized members during this meeting, in remembrance of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church. It is the only Sabbath meeting the entire family can attend together. Its content in addition to the sacrament should always be planned and presented to focus our attention on the Atonement and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Dallin H. Oaks

With this understanding, it is no wonder that many LDS Church members are alarmed to find that a small group of Mormon feminists have organized a growing demonstration, encouraging the wearing of pants to Sacrament Meeting, hoping to bring attention to their quest for equality. And unfortunately, as is usually the case, the liberal media have picked up on their story, and with the help of social networking is spreading rampantly; gaining the attention of the general membership.

I heard about this demonstration a few days ago, and at that time had decided not to respond, as these types of issues tend to be hyper-sensitive and the risk of offending is unfortunately very high. However, after being contacted privately by over a dozen of my readers, upset and/or confused, wanting to know my thoughts, and more importantly, sharing their thoughts with me (And frankly, seeing the conversation pop up everywhere.), I began to think differently.

First of all, it's no big deal for Mormon women to wear pants to church. No rule against pants. It's just not the norm. Most women wear dresses or skirts. So, if a woman did show up in pants, perhaps someone might notice. But really, most would not. And if someone did, who cares? The only guideline is that we dress in a reverent manner, taking into consideration that the meeting is a worship service.

Now, mind you, not every member is upset. Some think it's just silly. Others detect the many complicated layers involved.

However, most members agree, and find deeply disturbing, the fact that this group of feminists, members themselves, are willing to boldly disregard the importance and sacredness of the Sacrament Meeting, and the very personal nature of the ordinance administered to individual members of the Church, in order to draw attention to their cause.

To the sisters that reached out to me, and the majority of those that I have observed their responses, the overarching concern is not why this group is demonstrating or how they are doing it, but where and when -- our Sabbath day observance and in our Sacrament Meeting. 

And in fact, many LDS women expressed love and compassion toward women who describe themselves as Mormon feminists, who feel the need to demonstrate in this manner, at this level, suggesting a desire to reach out in kindness and understanding if some sisters do show up wearing pants in their own wards and branches. I was touched by that level of Christlike love. Mormon women have a great capacity to love one another.

One sister expressed it this way, "More than anything, I feel sadness for the sisters that feel hurt and confused enough to feel they need to participate in this, because it means that they have not yet gained a true testimony of the divinity of womanhood in the Lord's plan of happiness, and how ESSENTIAL we are to that plan. There is only one way to find true knowledge and attain true peace when we are troubled... by laying our burdens at the foot of the cross and seeking peace from the only True Comforter... not through means which wish to convey attention in a sacred setting to an agenda, rather than the Savior."

And from another sister, "I just heard about the women wearing pants to church to show they are progressive and want more equality in the church. I read their reasons and I just don't understand where they are coming from. To me, their reasons are that they don't understand the basics of the gospel. They don't understand the priesthood and womanhood. And that this is the Lord's church. They don't understand the symbolism of the temple. And by doing this demonstration in such a sacred room meant to become one with our Heavenly Father, to me, is totally inappropriate. It's really bothering me. Our stake presidency the past couple years has been putting such an emphasis on what we all can do to create a more sacred experience. And by doing this demonstration it essentially will distract from the meeting and ordinance. In the end it is my choice to let it effect me during the sacrament. I am just really struggling with this. This is the Lord's church, not ours. He is in charge of it, not us. I will still love these sisters, but I don't understand why they want to push the leaders to change. If they are so unhappy why do they stay, and not find another religion that suits them. Can you help me know what to say to these sisters, I was never good at expressing myself. I don't want conflict..."

I think what these sister's feelings demonstrate, which many of us share, is a sincere desire to have our sacred space, and time, protected from inappropriate demonstrations, while at the same time a desire to understand, with compassion, those who have opposing feelings to things we hold sacred -- a difficult maneuver, to say the least.

I am left with only one thought, encompassed in one word: CHARITY. May we all seek to obtain this most needful gift of the Spirit.

Any who may have thought it a small thing to partake of the sacrament should remember the Lord’s declaration that the foundation of a great work is laid by small things, for “out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Out of the seemingly small act of consciously and reverently renewing our baptismal covenants comes a renewal of the blessings of baptism by water and by the Spirit, that we may always have his Spirit to be with us. ~ Dallin H. Oaks

Due to the very sensitive nature of this topic I have decided to discontinue approving ALL comments. Please accept my apologies.

Kathryn Skaggs

Newly Called Sister Missionaries Unite and Create EPIC Video

Sacrament Meeting FAQ:

Bishops have a sacred responsibility to ensure that the Sacrament Meeting is planned and conducted by the Spirit and that the Spirit is maintained throughout the meeting.

The tone of a Sacrament meeting is intended to be reverent, with as little distraction as possible. It is intended to be an atmosphere where the Spirit can be felt and where those seeking inspiration from heaven may do so, with minimal distraction.

The Sacrament Meeting is the one meeting that members attend together as a family -- the basic unit of the Church.

Members are commanded to attend the Sacrament Meeting -- -- receive the sacrament and renew covenants.

Newly Called Sister Missionaries Unite and Create EPIC Video

Since President Monson's historic October General Conference announcement that Mormon women are now eligible to serve fulltime missions beginning at age 19, there has been a flurry of excitement as instantly eligible female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have eagerly submitted applications and are now receiving calls to serve throughout the world in what is speculated to be record breaking numbers!

One sister on Facebook reported, "In our tiny branch of less than 100 people, we have 5 sisters who have been called since Pres. Monson's announcement, and one more who is expecting her call this week! None of them were old enough to go before Oct."

Another friend reported that his daughter, currently serving  in the Florida Tampa Mission, wrote to say that over the next three months 80 new sister missionaries will be arriving and she will be involved with their initial training.

And yet another friend shared that his sister ,who is serving in the California San Diego Mission, reports that 120 new sister missionaries are scheduled to arrive during the months of December and January.

If you've been paying attention to what's going on with these faithful younger women of the LDS Church and how they are responding to a prophet's invitation to serve the Lord as fulltime missionaries, you've got to be blown away by their faithfulness, enthusiasm and willingness to jump right in and get to work. These young sisters seem to have come from the pre-mortal world wired to respond spontaneously to the voice of the Lord at this very time when He is hastening His work, and in need of all hands on deck. One has to believe that this generation of Mormon women were truly sent to earth "for such a time as this"!

One of these incredibly valiant women is Ali Nicole Vincent, of Pleasant Grove, Utah, newly called to serve in the Argentina Bahia Blanca Mission. (pictured above) Ali will report to the MTC on February 13, 2013. Ali recently joined a brand new Facebook group: Many Are Called... But Few Are Sisters. (Don't you just love that!) The group description: "For those sisters about to submit papers or those who have already received calls, so we can share our experiences and help each other prepare". Well, I'll let Ali tell you what happened next...

In a period of about 4 days over 1900 future sister missionaries joined the group from all over the world. We shared our mission calls with each other and some advice on where to shop, what to study, etc. One girl, Anna Finneran, had the fantastic idea that we should all meet up together at Temple Square to send a picture to the First Presidency to show how excited we are to serve. About 50 other sisters gathered at the Rexburg Temple at the same time in Idaho as well. As we gathered we sang hymns, took the picture, and found other girls going to our same missions. It really was such a spiritual experience to be surrounded by so many worthy young sisters who are so enthusiastic about serving the Lord in their designated area. The world is changing and the work is hastening. We are all needed in God's army whether we're going on missions or not. I honestly am so excited about my call that I received to Bahia Blanca Argentina. I can't wait to get out and serve the people there and I'm sure all the other sisters feel the same way!

FYI: To date the group formed on December 5, 2012  has now 2231 members and growing...

I asked Ali if she wouldn't mind inviting this outsider into the group so that I could have a quick look around, and I have to tell you it was an amazing spiritual experience! Truly a vision! Scanning down the news feed, entry after entry, it read something like a beauty pageant roll call of sorts, but of course these were daughters of the King, officially called to His service... (They have even created a Google Doc where each girl has recorded her name and mission.)

Newly Called Sister Missionaries Roll Call:

Meghan DeLee Simonson, Peru Lima North Mission

Jessica Tew, Colorado Denver South, Spanish Speaking

Loa Chantelle Thompson, Billings, Montana

Ariel Halton, Finland Helsinki

Sara Nicole Hansen, Guatemala, Guatemala City Central Mission

Emily Warren, California San Fernando 

Lauren Simpson, Beijing, China Mission - Update: I have no excuse for not questioning this, other than the fact that I was writing this post at 1am. But it seems as though Lauren is somewhat of a prankster and basically punked me, so to speak, by posting this as her mission call prior to posting the actual call right below --  which is to... drum roll please....  California San Fernando! All I can say is San Fernando is going to have their hands full with Sister Simpson! ; )

Madeline Macey, Vina del Mar Chile

Kelsie Jo Anderson, Leeds England Mission

Katie Jensen, California Anaheim Mission

Bryn Lewis, Ukraine, Kyiv Mission

Alli Wright, Montreal Canada Mission

Katelyn Bytheway, Ecuador Guayaquil South Mission

Steffany Dudley, Portugal Lisbon Mission

I wish I could list them all but you get the idea.

Now, stop and watch this amazing video before you read any further....

Video: Called to Serve - Future Sister Missionaries Unite

If that didn't send goosebumps up and down your spine, as it did mine, then I don't know what will! I hope that you will share this video with your family and friends, because we've all got to find our own way to make sure that we, too, are on the Lord's mission to hasten His work -- and this new force of missionaries, male and female, are going to require a great deal of member assistance to accomplish their task.

Here's something else you might find interesting to know about Ali: A year ago she actually wrote the First Presidency, requesting that they consider lowering the age requirement for women to serve fulltime missions. Oh yes she did! You can read more about that on her personal blog, here. Thank you Ali, for sharing your story with my readers and for making this wonderful video, certain to go viral throughout the LDS community. You are an inspiration to us all, along with all of these wonderful, newly called sister missionaries who will be serving throughout the world.

I'd also like to introduce you to Jessica Carlson, who was with Ali on the day they made the video and who actually took the adorable picture of her that I've used for this post. I tracked her down to get her permission. Jessica is currently waiting to receive her own mission call on Wednesday, and is anxious to see where the Lord needs her to serve. I asked her if she wouldn't mind sharing some of her thoughts about her own experience with the making of the video and for her specific feelings about the lowering of the age for missionary service for women in the Church?
I was in the video Ali made. I am one of the girls who was taking pictures and actually am the one holding the tripod in the first couple of shots with the big cream colored scarf and gray/green backpack. Ali and I were already friends, and we drove up together. 
Being up there with all those future missionaries was, to say the least, incredible. Standing with others fully invested in the Lords work is an amazing feeling and the spirit burned within my heart knowing that what we were all doing was good, and it was right. Being able to serve a mission is a great blessing that I have been offered and I cant wait to get out into the field to let people know there is a Savior and he invites all to come unto his true and everlasting gospel. 
I think that being able to serve at 19 is a great opportunity for girls. Many find it hard to get to 21 with out being seriously involved in a school program or boyfriend relationship. This now gives us the option to go and serve before things, like the ones I mention, get too serious; allowing us to serve but to also come home and not of missed out on anything. And also, as it was said by Elder Holland, "the Lord is hastening his work," and as you saw in the video, we sisters are proud and ready to heed the call.
I'll definitely update this post on Wednesday when we find out where Jessica has been called to serve!

Update as Promised: Sister Carlson has been called to serve in the Germany, Frankfurt Mission! This is where her brother also served. Congratulations Jessica! We are so happy for you!

I think what these sisters are doing is fantastic! I am just so inspired by their goodness and desire to make incredible things happen. I've been reflecting on the words of President Kimball all day as I've thought about this generation of women in the Church, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to observe them in action.

"Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different-in happy ways-from the women of the world."

Photo of Newly Called Sister Missionaries in front of Salt Lake City Temple
Taken for First Presidency

(I'm not sure who to give credit for this photo -- if you know please speak up)

A brief scan of the group right before I published this post turned up this amazing photo, posted by Anna. From what I'm learning, these newly called sister missionaries had similar meet-ups at various locations on the same day as the Salt Lake City group!

Here are all the locations! Salt Lake, Provo, Rexburg, La'ie, and Logan.

God speed to all of our missionaries throughout the world. Our prayers of love and support are with you as you give of yourself in the service of the Lord. Thank you!

Kathryn Skaggs

Latest From WBMW:

If God Called You Home... Today.

Today Marks a Very Personal Day of Remembrance for Me

Mormon Leaders Launch New Website to Address Homosexuality

If God Called You Home... Today

Have you ever stopped to consider what suddenly leaving this earthly existence would mean to not only you, but to those you leave behind? Because frankly, there will come a day when each one of us will do exactly that -- die. And because we don't get to take anything with us, we don't need to concern ourselves with our stuff. However, we do leave behind those who will later follow and for whom we have concerns while we are briefly apart, and until we meet again.

One of the uncomfortable things about this eventual departure is that none of us know exactly when that will be. For those of us who have issues with control, it is often easiest to simply not think about the unthinkable. But for some reason, today, as I found myself drowsy from lack of a good night's sleep, and beginning to nod off while at my computer, as I laid my head back for a brief rest these thoughts crept into my mind. What if...

It's an interesting thought, really. I found myself initially drawn to my Christmas responsibilities, odd as that may seem. I pictured the pile of Amazon boxes piled up next to the front door. (You do know Santa wears a brown suit, right?) I wondered, would my husband be able to figure out which presents I had selected went to which grandchild? I then realized how silly and temporal a thought that was and tried to turn to what was really important -- even though many other little undone things were unsettling. I then counted my temple recommend as current and noted that I had partaken of the Sacrament on Sunday -- both immediately giving me assurance of my standing before the Lord. Check. I then reflected on the love that I have for my family and what each one of them mean to me. I felt a comfort for the time I spend spending time with my family. They are the center of my life here and I trust that those relationships will be eternal.  Heaven could not possibly be heaven without them. Finally, I had peace knowing that I had applied the Savior's Atonement in my life, and to each of these relationships, to the best of my ability -- although not perfectly. And that, for me, was the clincher.

That clarity of mind brought me out of my drowsy condition, back to my computer and to wanting to write this post . A sense of gratitude has filled my soul that I feel a need to express. Life is not perfect. Relationships are not perfect. We don't have all the answers. Our lives aren't perfectly organized the way we would like them to be. Some things cannot be forced. Agency rules.

No doubt that the day I depart, I will, for a fleeting moment, feel that I have left important things undone and likely have momentary distress for what those left behind will need to manage without me. I can't say that I envy anyone that has to go through my things after I'm gone. I'm going to work on that after the first of the year. I promise. You heard it here!

There are a multitude of things in our lives that could cause us to have regrets about our time here in mortality. However, if we have utilized the Atonement to the best of our ability we can be at peace each and every day of our lives, and when the times does comes to depart, and we are required to leave the people we love behind, we can be assured that through Jesus Christ all those we love, and even those things that seemed important at the time, will be managed.

This understanding should give us reason to rejoice even amidst the challenges and trials that we face on a daily basis and help to keep us from being weighed down by things we may very well have to leave tomorrow -- unchanged. Today, we will allow the Atonement to work its miracle -- which is that because of Jesus Christ we are assured that all things will work together for good -- or in God's way and time.

I needed that understanding today. It has helped me to put life with its many challenges into better perspective. It has caused me to be more grateful for that precious infant whose life we celebrate this Christmas Season -- Jesus Christ, and His Peace given to all who trust in Him.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Kathryn Skaggs


Without CHRIST There Would Be NO Christmas!

Like Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Mormon Beliefs About Heaven: Before and After Life

Of Regrets and Resolutions: Dieter F. Uchtdorf (This talk came to mind)

Today Marks a Very Personal Day of Remembrance for Me

Each year, on December 7th, for now 24 years, I have had deep cause to reflect on a very personal experience that changed my life -- forever. There is a significant reason that I am able to mark the number of years since that day: it is the current age of my youngest child, Alton, then my almost one-month-old newborn -- and, it is Pearl Harbor Day. Clearly, God intended this day, for me, to be one that I would never forget and that would cause me to, at the very center of my soul, poignantly Remember Him.

On this day, as I reflect on that life-changing experience, I am immediately and easily brought to a gentle weeping of tears and am tenderly reminded that God is mindful of me, hears me and has 'saved' me -- both physically and spiritually! For that pure knowledge, I am deeply humbled. So piercing was that experience that I have shared it with my son, almost yearly, since he was old enough to understand. Perhaps not in detail, which is what has caused me to decide to write about it now. I pray that he will ever be mindful that his life is precious and has important temporal meaning in the blessing of being given this time in mortality to grow and progress.

The year was 1991. The month December. The day, the 7th. It was a rainy day and my husband's car was in desperate need of new tires. The closest Costco to us then was over 30 miles away and since I was so concerned for his safety, needing to drive that distance in the rain, we decided I would follow behind him to ensure a safe arrival. My accompanying him also gave me a perfect opportunity to do some holiday shopping. Traveling with me, seated securely in his infant seat behind me, was my newborn son.

But let me go back a bit so that you might understand the significance of what happened to me that day. I had been privately very troubled by the upcoming dedication of the close to completion San Diego Temple, scheduled for April 6, 1993. My husband was currently serving as the bishop of our ward. Our stake had been counseled to prepare for the dedication by setting our  personal and spiritual houses in order. I took this counsel very seriously and desired to have the promised experience if I would prepare myself.

As most in our stake had never attended a temple dedication, myself included, detailed instruction was given as to what we might expect and how we should prepare for the day. When I first heard of the Hosanna Shout and what that entailed I found myself somewhat uncomfortable with such an outward and public display of adoration for Diety. I didn't feel that I was ready, in my heart, to participate in such an open and public form of worship. It really bothered me that my pride, or lack of faith, might be a stumbling block to participating in what was said to be the highlight of a temple dedication.

As I contemplated upon this lack in my spirituality, I also found myself with serious doubt that if I were to stand before my Savior, would I feel compelled to fall on my knees and worship Him, as did the Nephites who had that sacred experience following His resurrection and much anticipated visit to the American continent. I had a very strong testimony of Jesus Christ, but for some odd reason this concerned me deeply.

On more than one occasion, I took this sincere concern to my Heavenly Father and tearfully confessed my lack of faith, in myself, that I could/would/was genuinely humble and grateful enough for the Atonement that I would be compelled to such adoration.

As I carefully drove behind my husband on that rainy December day, I was so concerned about his safety. It was an intense drive as I recall. Suddenly, without warning, my car hit a pool of water and began to spin out of control. It is amazing how much information one can assimilate in a matter of mere seconds. As my car continued to spin out of control I realized a very large motorhome was heading straight for us and I knew that without divine intervention my son and I were about to be killed.

I immediately shouted to the top of my lungs for my Heavenly Father to help me! That guttural cry came from the rawest part of my soul, utterly spontaneous, without any hesitation whatsoever. I was calling on the only person that I knew, without a doubt, who would hear my desperate plea and rescue me in my dire circumstance.

As my car finally came to a stop in the fast lane, heading right into oncoming traffic, I readily realized that there was nothing that the driver of the oncoming motorhome could do to prevent the inevitable. Any attempt to swerve to try and go around me would have likely caused the motorhome to flip or go off the side of the road -- at the very least. I had a full understanding that my life was about to end.

As in the blink of an eye that motorhome continued on its way and I was left in shock that I was still sitting there, alive, physically unscathed, with no other cars around me. I quickly pulled myself together, turned my car around and drove just a bit further down the road to where my husband, also in shock, had helplessly pulled over.

Needless to say, I was completely shaken up while at the same time could not deny that divine intervention had just occurred.  Something had happened, so not of this world, that I was compelled to the deepest humility and gratitude that I have ever experienced. I was also given to know instantly that I could, from the top of my lungs, shout HOSANNA TO THE HIGHEST and fall on my knees before my God!

For days and weeks following that experience, I wept at every thought of the love my Heavenly Father has for me and His tender mercy in allowing me to know this for myself with such assurance. I wept for His kindness in protecting me and my son because, I truly believe, I invited Him to do so. I wept for joy to find out that my simple faith that God is real was and is sufficient to bring about miracles.

Even as I sit here now, recalling that day so very long ago, the experience is still vivid. What a gift! I doubt that I have related this story sufficiently but I felt compelled to finally, after all these years, write it down and share it, today, December 7, 2012.

At times, I have reflected on why December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day? I have come to understand that by remembering the great sacrifice of others, I am immediately drawn to a remembrance of the reality of my Father in Heaven and His tender mercies to help me know Him: that He is real and that truly His Son, Jesus Christ, sacrificed everything for me so that I can return to His presence.

I know God lives. I know He loves me. And I look forward to that day of all Days, when I shall be brought to stand before Him and  I will fall on my knees in reverence and awe of His great love for me.

¶For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

On the day the San Diego Temple was dedicated, I stood on the stairs in the Celestial room as part of the dedicatory choir. I will never, for as long as I live, forget what it felt like to participate in that sacred offering: the Hosanna Shout. I took a moment to look down at President Hinckley and noted that he was looking up as if he saw that which I did not but truly, with power, felt literally His Presence. 

Kathryn Skaggs

Photo Credit: US Navy

Mormon Leaders Launch New Website to Address Homosexuality

The LDS Newsroom has just announced a new website by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that will address the subject of Mormons and gays: Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction.

"In an effort to encourage understanding and civil conversation about same-sex attraction, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has launched the website “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction” (www.mormonsandgays.org). It features a number of videos from people who share real experiences from their own perspectives on a sensitive and sometimes emotionally charged topic."

Read the entire press release HERE.

Video: New Church Website on Same-Sex Attraction 

From the website on where the LDS Church officially stands on homosexuality:

"The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God's children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters."

Personally, I am thrilled that the Church has taken on, so boldly, the topic of same-sex attraction and how we as members can better reach out to those who have been given this extraordinary challenge. Even the fact that in their official statement they have used the terms "gay" and "lesbian" to refer to members with same-sex attraction, I think, is huge.

I look forward to exploring this new website and to having future discussions that will emanate from what is presented. Too often members, myself included, are awkward in how we discuss homosexuality amongst ourselves and with those challenged.  My sincere prayer is that this wonderful effort will provide much needed guidance to help all of us better understand how to embrace one another and strengthen our individual capacity to become more like the Savior and follow His teachings.

How do you see this new website helping members to better understand those with same-sex attraction and helping them to feel more comfortable remaining active in the Church?

Kathryn Skaggs

Visit new website:  Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction

LDS Media Talk:  Explaining Mormon Beliefs: Same-Sex Attraction & Same-Sex Marriage

Mormon Leaders 2012 Christmas Message: Always Remember the Savior and His Gifts to Us

The LDS Newsroom has released a special 2012 Christmas Message from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

"The spirit of Christmas creates in our hearts a desire to give joy to others and to serve them. At this time of year we feel a spirit of giving and of gratitude for what we have been given. The celebration of Christmas helps us keep our promise to always remember the Savior and His gifts to us and, in turn, to serve others.

Each act of kindness to anyone becomes a kindness to the Savior because He loves all of Heavenly Father’s children. And because that brings joy to Him, it also brings joy to His Father, to whom we owe thanks beyond measure.

Jesus Christ taught us that there is a way to give an even more priceless and lasting gift. He said, “I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). With all the kindnesses we give for Him, the greatest we can offer is to point those we love and serve toward Him, the only source of eternal life.

We bear witness of the living reality of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May the peace and joy that come through Him be present in the lives and hearts of God’s children throughout the world this Christmas season."

Also, if you'd like to watch the 2012 First Presidency Christmas Devotional I've posted the video here, or you can click on above link to listen, watch and/or download at LDS.org.

"Christmas is the spirit of giving, without the thought of getting" 

Thomas S. Monson

Kathryn Skaggs