Miriam is finishing her PhD at the University of Oregon and en route to begin a career at the University of Memphis as a professor of Criminology. She has 3 daughters, one of whom complains regularly that they have to constantly read scriptures written by men and quotes from General Conference by men. She made these little lesson plans for that daughter – hoping her daughter knows that women’s voices matter. They’ll be reading these excerpts over the dinner table this week and discussing as a family how they feel:
Excerpt 1: Let’s talk about our relationship with God:
We are commanded to love God:
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
God loves us completely:
Sister Susan H. Porter First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency said, “Brothers and sisters, do you know how completely God, our Heavenly Father, loves you? Have you felt His love deep in your soul? When you know and understand how completely you are loved as a child of God, it changes everything. It changes the way you feel about yourself when you make mistakes. It changes how you feel when difficult things happen. It changes your view of God’s commandments. It changes your view of others and of your capacity to make a difference.”
Questions to ponder/discuss:
1. What are some possible reasons God commands us to love Him?
2. How does knowing that God loves us completely impact our lives?
3. When have you felt God’s love?
Excerpt 2: Let’s talk about perseverance:
The Israelites persevered, learned, and progressed during their 40 years in the wilderness:
2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.
Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Former Young Women General President, said, “Several years ago now, I went running with my husband. Toward the end of our run, we reached a long, steep hill. As we started up the hill, I watched as my husband sprinted ahead. Halfway up the hill, I was exhausted and I knew I couldn’t go any further. So I called to him and said that I was going to turn around and run back to the car and wait for him there. I hadn’t gone very far when I felt my husband’s hand on my shoulder. He stopped me and said, “Elaine, don’t you know that you never make a decision to turn around or give up when you are in the middle of a hill?” Then he took my hand, and we ran together to the top. Once there, I realized that I would have missed the beautiful view of the city below and the stunning sunrise to the east had I turned around. I would have missed the feeling of elation and accomplishment that comes from doing hard things. I learned a great lesson that day from my husband in the middle of a very steep hill: Never make a decision to turn around or give up when you are in the middle of a hill. Great things await those who endure.”
Questions to ponder/discuss:
1. When have you been blessed through perseverance?
2. What are you currently persevering through and what are you learning?
Excerpt 3: Let’s talk about remembering our blessings:
The Israelites were commanded to remember the time they’d persevered and relied on God, even after they were through the harship things were going better:
11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, said in a social media post, “As the Lamb of God, Jesus was about to fulfill the meaning of Passover by giving His body to be broken and His blood to be shed in sacrifice so that with His stripes, we would be healed. Luke says of Jesus Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane that night that His sweat became like “great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Most of the realizations in my life don’t come until after the fact and I am looking back, fitting the pieces together. Thinking back now on the events that happened more than 2,000 years ago, my witness is that nothing ever was the same again. Jesus Christ forever changes all mankind in all ages, He has forever changed me, and He will gladly receive anyone who comes to Him with a willingness to change.”
Questions to ponder/discuss:
1. What blessings have you seen when looking back at your life?
2. In what ways has God changed who you are?
3. In what ways does God continue to change who you are?
Excerpt 4: Let’s talk about obedience:
The Israelites were commanded to turn to the Lord with all their hearts and souls:
9 … for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
10 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
What might turning to the Lord with all our heart and soul mean?
Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis said, “You and I know that almost every world religion has a call to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus picks up the Jewish mandate to love neighbors and to love strangers. Love God with everything. Don’t leave anybody behind. Don’t do anyone harm. Don’t withhold that which you need for yourself from someone else.”
Questions to discuss/ponder:
1. What does it mean to love God with everything?
2. What might this mean on an individual basis? What might this mean politically?
This is wonderful, Miriam. Thank you so much.