Being a Powerful Woman (part 2 – Spiritual Gifts)

(This cake was created by my daughters to celebrate Father’s Day last year. While not perfect, it’s amazingly creative for girls making it from scratch [that’s homemade fondant] and without any prompting on my part!)

My dear sisters, you have special spiritual gifts and propensities. Tonight I urge you, with all the hope of my heart, to pray to understand your spiritual gifts—to cultivate, use, and expand them, even more than you ever have. You will change the world as you do so.

Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel, President Russell M. Nelson, October 2018.

To continue my discussion about how I am training my girls to be powerful spiritual women, I want to talk about spiritual gifts and propensities as well as physical talents.

I believe that the keys to “cultivate, use, and expand these gifts” are to teach them to practice and to be creative.

The power of small moments

The first is be wise with time. The thief of developing talents is not be in the habit of daily practice. Are we truly aware of the difference that small moments (15 minutes or so) can make when taken advantage of each day? (And obviously, if I am in a consistent pattern and miss a day here or there, it will still be okay as long as I continue.) Practice must be intentional. With all of the distractions of life, talents and gifts can be procrastinated out of existence!

I’m encouraging my children to find what they like, and to work on those things daily (while they’re young and the days are more unstructured than life will be when they reach older teenage years and adulthood). When I see them on a device, we run through a list of things that they need to do (homework, chores, etc.) and then areas in which they would like to improve (music, art, special projects, creativity, etc.). We made a calendar so that they could track daily practice to see progress.

Perhaps these things are little, but I think too many women are engaged in the smallness of spending life scrolling on social media, or shopping sites, or binge watching, or playing games – constantly comparing, constantly looking for the “newest and the best”, constantly being entertained – rather than living life. (And, yes, I’m pointing the finger at myself here too! 🥴)

Creativity to develop gifts

The second area that will train my girls to “cultivate, use, and expand these gifts” is to learn to be creative.

Let me give two examples of this.

In our family of daughters, it’s pretty easy for my husband to feel overwhelmed. Last year, our youngest daughter (age 4 at the time) finding out that it was Father’s Day, decided to “throw him a giant party!” She enlisted the help of her older sisters and they decorated, made gifts, games, and food and we had a special day celebrating their Dad. (See the picture of the cake above.) The amazing thing was, they didn’t enlist my help or money. They did it all themselves with things that we had around the house. Creative ingenuity and problem solving will be a blessing in developing gifts and talents.

Second, with the many blessings that technology has brought to us, there are myriads of creative ways that one could use to help develop talents. If I don’t have money for dance lessons, I could look for YouTube videos on the basics of dance and practice at home. And if I couldn’t find videos, I could look for books at the free public library that taught basic dance steps. And if I couldn’t get to the library, I could play music and create dance steps. And if I couldn’t play music, I could sing and then dance. (You get the picture!)

I believe powerful women take advantage of time and opportunity to creatively develop and train themselves. In this way, they improve and beautify the world, both around and within themselves.

We are expected to develop ourselves

From here, I could move on to talk about the parable of the talents, (Matthew 25:14–30) and how if we don’t develop them we could be in serious trouble when the judgement comes. I love the fact that though the parable talks of talents (as in money from that time period) it is easy to use the parable to teach about talents (as in gifts, propensities, etc.). I will leave you, the reader, to explore and ponder this parable in light of the discussion.

Not just physical talents

At the end of the day however, physical talents are not the only thing that a powerful spiritual woman needs to cultivate, though these are important.

There is a whole world of spirituality that will bless her life and the lives of many for the eternities. If I teach each daughter to be aware of how the Holy Spirit prompts her individually, our home now and her future will be rich. The Spirit will refine her and help teach internal beauty such as how to be kind, how to listen, how to reach out and put another’s need above your own, how to love and befriend those who are difficult to love and befriend.

She will then follow in the footsteps of the Savior who spent His days and His gifts and talents, blessing and serving all around. There is no denying how the Lord’s unique ministry and teachings have blessed and lifted the world.

Internal goodness and spirituality are qualities that this world desperately needs but the world at large is seldom, if ever, teaching women to gain. At least, I rarely see these qualities taught in video games, online shopping, news articles, or in music, movies and shows. They would craft women to be self-serving, self absorbed, self obsessed, and even violent. “Sex and violence sells” so they tell me, but these qualities don’t have the power to lift and bless. So, if my works never sell, what does it matter? I’m looking to generate the true spiritual power of womanhood that I believe can change the world for good. And if all I change and better is my little corner of this vast universe, so be it.

Moving forward

My next job is to help guide my girls to uncover and develop those spiritual gifts and teach them to use the gifts (both the physical talents and spiritual gifts) for uplifting and edifying others (as is taught in Doctrine and Covenants 46).

And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God. (D&C 46: 26).

And that will be the topic of my next post. For now, thank you for reading and I welcome your comments. I’d especially love to hear your thoughts, scriptures, and quotes about spiritual gifts.

Just A Little Humor To Brighten Your Day!

This is a video from a comedy sketch TV show that I am pleased to say, I can watch with the whole family! I love laughter, absolutely love comedy, but it seems that there are so few comedians, shows, and especially movies that don’t wind down a really crude road.  I mean seriously, when did all of the comedic films suddenly become -R rated and the creepy horror flicks become -PG-13?  Is it me? OR is that just really messed up?

There are some of course that are wonderful (please post your favorites in the comments section – I want to find more to laughter!) and Studio C is one of those rare shows that can make me gut laugh and not feel ashamed at having watched it!  Now bear in mind, some of it can be a little cheesy (like the last line in this sketch, but it did provide a talking point to the girls).

Enjoy Studio C’s  Shoulder Devil

My favorite line is “behold the awesome power of temptation!” when the shoulder devil is in a precarious position. So funny! 😉

JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis – Story Truth

Several years ago, I got an article from a friend called “Stories within Stories: Finding God in The Lord of the Rings,” by Jim Ware (written for Focus on the Family, December 2001).  I’ve held onto it over the years because it spoke to me.

It begins discussing the relationship between CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien (Professors from the Magdalen College, Oxford circa 1931).  They were talking about how amazing trees are, and how the word ‘tree’ falls short of expressing what a majestic thing a tree is.

Tolkien said, “Just as a word is an invention about an object of an idea, so a story can be an invention about truth.”

Now I quote from the article, “Their long talk about symbols and verbal inventions was just the beginning. Through the years, Lewis and Tolkien spent long hours refining their ideas and incorporating them into literary art in order to find ways of pouring the steaming, bubbling, heady stuff of the Real Story [that of the Savior – the Christian story] into molds of their own invented stories.”

The author discusses CS Lewis stating; “Lewis made no secret of his intentions.  He once asked himself, reflecting on the nature of God, the sufferings of Christ and other fundamental Christian truths: Supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday School associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? This, he said, is exactly what he was trying to do in the Chronicles of Narnia.

About Tolkien, he wrote to a friend saying, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Christian work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in revision.”  Ware went on to quote from Tolkien’s authorized biographer, Humphrey Carpenter,  who stated that Tolkien’s work is that of a very religious man and that God is essential to  everything that happens in LOTR.  “Without Him, Middle earth couldn’t exist.”

Finally, the author finishes with the following: “A late night in the spring [1931] …, Lewis’ sitting room is strewn with papers books, and empty teacups, Lewis yawns and stretches.  “Tollers,” he says as Tolkien gets up to leave, “There is too little of what we like in stories.  I am afraid we shall have to try and write some ourselves.” ”

I couldn’t agree more!!!

Time Dollars and Talents

Tonight we had a Family Home Evening on talents.  My babies are young – five and two, so FHE night has to be quick, fun, and entertaining.

I set up a display table with a bunch of items that one can use to develop talents; sporting equipment, books that I’m writing, a book on drawing, one on crafts, a book of Mormon in Bulgarian, etc.  That got the attention of the family!

We began by each sharing a talent – playing the piano, dancing and my husband sang.  Then I shared scriptures about talents, Doctrine and Covenants 60: 2, 13 (my five year old said that it meant that we needed to give our talents to Heavenly Father.  I liked that).

We acted out the parable of the talents Matthew 25: 15-29, in this case talking about talents not as money but as skills.  (I used colored pencils as the talents, the girls really loved it).

Then we wrote down the talents that we felt that we had been given from the Lord and the ones that we were going work on developing this week.

The idea that really stuck out to me was the end of verse 13 from the Doc & Cov scripture –  “Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known.”

That got me thinking about a concept.  Several years ago, my cousin and I began to talk about the commodity of the eternities.  What will purchase the most after this life?  We discussed the fact that the thing that will “buy” us anything at all,  is the time that we spend here.

So we came up with the idea of time dollars.  Everyone is given the same amount of time dollars each day – to use as we see fit.  However, we are accountable for what we do with the time dollars.  Some spend them more wisely than others.  And, the way that we can make it back to live with our Heavenly Father again depends entirely on what activities we do with our time here.

I believe that one of the best things that we can spend our time on is in developing our talents.  Then we can “divide our gifts from [the Lord] with every brother that [we] see” (Hymn # 219 – Because I Have Been Given Much).

It also gives us joy when we use our talents, so why do we spend so much time in idle activities?  I’m trying to give up nasty time-sucking habits, and putting in their place the things that will help me feel better about myself and most importantly, those that will help me throughout the eternities.


Create

I have been so touched by this video that was made by the Church for youtube (in the Mormon Messages section).  It’s based on the Elder Uchtdorf talk from Fall 2008 Relief Society General Session.  Both the talk and this video are breathtaking and have given me the desire to create more, and help others to do the same.

Arise and Build

Last night I found a scripture that describes my feeling about embracing the creative part of my life right now.

“The God of Heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build”  Nehemiah 2:20

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of creation.  The thing that separates us from animals is the ability to create – like our Father in Heaven.  Everything that lives on this earth has the basic needs of food, shelter, rest,  and survival –  but mankind has a level of ability that transcends those basic needs.  It makes me want to embrace that ability that makes us more like Him.