Sabbath Revival: “Pioneer Day Fatigue”


Today’s revival post, “Pioneer Day Fatigue,” was written by Emily M. on July 23, 2007. Reading it took me back to where I was during the sesquicentennial of the pioneer’s 1847 arrival in the Salt Lake Valley: I was working as an editor/writer for the Liahona, and, like Emily, I was thoroughly tired of being immersed in pioneers, both the 1847 versions and the modern-day versions. Yet I look back now and remember all of those stories that I edited over and over again for each different round of the magazine’s editing process. They became a part of me and of my association with the word “pioneer.” This post by Emily will join those stories in my psyche because Emily uses a talk by Tessa Meyer Santiago to reframe the pioneer emphasis on journey rather than destination and on spiritual journey rather than physical:

“Ten years ago the Church celebrated the sesquicentennial of the 1847 arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. I missed all the hoopla, the documentaries and nationwide news coverage”“I was on a mission in Ecuador. I got echoes of the festivities through letters and weeks-old copies of the Church news. Also it seemed like every month’s Ensign that year had something about the pioneers in it. But I felt disconnected from it all.

A few months passed, and so did the Church’s pioneer emphasis. I entered my most challenging time as a missionary: a difficult companionship situation, an area I had hoped to avoid serving in, and the general fatigue that set in after months of full-time service. We were working hard, but very few people progressed, and I felt frustrated and guilty. If I knew how to be a better missionary, maybe I’d be able to baptize more people. If I had more faith. If I were more obedient. I couldn’t see clearly the good things I actually did; instead I felt depressed over my lack of quantifiable results.

During this time, my mother sent me this talk,“Under Covenant Toward the Promised Land: Section 136 as a Latter-Day Type,” given by Tessa Meyer Santiago at a BYU devotional during that pioneer summer, July 1997.

Santiago speaks about covenant journeying to the promised land, and how the pioneer accounts are “types from the beginnings of our religious and cultural heritage that tell us as a people how to act if we will reenact the literal journey in our spiritual lives.”

This resonated with me, as I was in the middle of an important spiritual journey, and I wanted to break out of my depression and journey well. Santiago teaches:

Saints under covenant must be devoted to the concept of journeying, not destination. The ultimate covenant under which the Saints journeyed is simply expressed in D&C 136:4: “And this shall be our covenant–that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord. Note the covenant is not that they will walk in the Lord’s ordinances until they reach Zion. There is no mention of destination when we walk in the way of the Lord’s ordinances.

I needed those words! I needed to see my mission right then as a covenant journey, not a goal-oriented destination. I read them over again, and pondered them. They helped me begin to find joy in missionary life, in that daily journey, instead of frustration that I did not live up to the perfect missionary I had imagined myself to be.

That first section of her talk was my favorite, the one that strengthened me the most during my own mission journey. But as I read it over again, I think this talk is for anyone who gets pioneer fatigue, or has ever wondered why we celebrate this Pioneer Day every year.

So what do I find in this pioneer journey that helps me identify with the early Saints? I find something that can help all of us in enduring to the end.

I realize that my awe and reverence and sometimes disbelief–these people were too much, too unbelievable–is perhaps a result of my reluctance to admit that I, too, am capable of such devotion, such sacrifice, and such commitment to the kingdom of God. . . .”

Storage Wars

Don’t mess with a woman’s storage space, or the result will be a stake-level intervention.

Over the last month, I’ve had numerous conversations with ward members about the policies and practices regarding the cabinets in our meeting house.  Those with a vested interest include teachers, counselors, presidents, and sisters who organize food for ward activities.  Real estate in these cabinets is at a premium, so the rules for allocating space are occasionally scrutinized and challenged, usually when there’s a change in leadership.

Our building has a row of cabinets along the north wall of the Relief Society room that are used by two family wards, a student ward and the seminary teacher.

Five years I was given the code for one column of these cabinets.  (My then-11-year-old son watched me use my code, inferred a pattern for the rest of the cabinets, and hacked into the whole row of them. But that’s another story.) Since then, I have seen a variety of items stored and retrieved from our ward’s column of cabinets, which consists of two sets of doors revealing 8 shelves total.

When you open these cabinets, you find dry erasers, magnets, church manuals, bookmarks, reams of paper, DVDs, table cloths, silk flowers, vases, framed pictures, and other items used to support Sunday teaching, midweek meetings and meals for funerals and for ward activities.

In an effort to maximize the space allotted to our ward’s use, I recently worked with a counselor in the Relief Society presidency to remove obsolete items and straighten up the placement of the remaining items.

We found remnants from activities past:  a dozen manuals for last year’s Relief Society / Priesthood curriculum, bookmarks with the teaching schedule from 2012, a record of compassionate service rendered in 2011, handouts from lesson taught over many a Sunday past, and a cassette player.  Yes, cassette. Digging further back, I expected to find craft kits for making macrame scripture totes.

Then there were the illegal items: candles, mounting putty and various items that are supposed to be stored in the meeting house library.

Our organizing efforts resulted in a bag of trash, a Xerox box worth of materials belonging to other auxiliaries or the library and one box of oddities—such as a dozen large ice cream bowls.  I took the oddities home to store for a year before giving them away. I have no idea who knows this code and expects to retrieve the oddities that were stored there. They have a year to claim them.

Last week, a facilities management employee gave me a tour of all the building’s storage space—ward cabinets, stake cabinets, and church maintenance cabinets. There are also eight cabinets in a closet off the stage. Who knew? It was as though he had knocked on a wood panel and a hidden room was revealed.

I have heard a few tales about the use and allotment of the cabinets in our building (not just for Relief Society, but for Primary, youth, and scouts). These anecdotes convince me that this additional space would be much coveted. But I won’t relay these stories because they might be tedious, confidential and/or controversial.

As far as I understand, these cabinets will remain empty until someone on a stake level calls a meeting to assign them to some or all of the interested parties.

At this point the facilities manager told me that he is recusing himself from the decision: “After years of working with church women over cabinet allocation, I refuse to get involved anymore.” He’s leaving that to priesthood leadership. I have decided to put the issue of requests for more space from sisters in our ward on the back burner for now.

I’m hoping all the people in charge of our building can find the Wisdom of Solomon regarding cabinet allocation when needed.  So far as I know, conflicts over storage have resulted–not in blows–but in no more than a kerfuffle.  In the mean time, I advise my son in strong terms to stay out of the other wards’ cabinets.

parenting reboot

Before a baby ever rests in our arms, most of us seek out parenting role models– people who have climbed the mountain ahead of us and can offer a few bits of wisdom. In books and in person, I’ve modeled my parenting after dozens of other families a few years or a few decades ahead of me.

Now, my kids are getting older (ages 10-22) and I still seek out families a few steps ahead of me (I’ve already targeted some fantastic mother-in-law and grandparenting role models) but I also make an effort to step back, spend time with younger families and learn from them. Continue reading

Faces of Latter-day Saint Women: A Conversation with Dr. Christina Hibbert

On Monday, we featured a book review of Dr. Christina Hibbert’s memoir, This is How We Grow, the story of how she and her family adapted and changed after her sister and brother-in-law died and the Hibberts adopted their two sons. Today, we’re resurrecting a feature we used to have in the print journal, the “Faces of Latter-day Saint Women” interviews, and I was delighted to be able to have this conversation with Dr. Hibbert:

Talk a little bit about the process of writing the memoir. When you were writing in your journal while you were going through the process, did you think that you might eventually turn this experience into a book?

I had wanted to write a book for many years prior to the experiences I share in This is How We Grow. I’d even begun writing a book about my little sister, McLean, who died when she was 8 years old from cancer. But then, my sister Shannon died just two months after her husband had died. I suddenly had six kids, and my life changed completely; I thought, “I’ll never be able to write a book now.” 

A few months later, as I was journaling (I’ve been an avid journaler for as long as I can remember), I had a feeling, Someday, you will write this story. I didn’t tell anyone about it, but it was in the back of my mind with every journal entry from that point on. Even though life was too full to add any career pursuits, including writing a book, I soon figured I could at least write a little each day. Each night I’d write in a notebook (not my journal) for 10 minutes about whatever topic was on my mind at the time.  Continue reading

Restaurant Reality


This article has been making the rounds on the internet.

Basically, an unnamed restaurant in New York compared surveillance footage from diners in 2004 with footage from 2014, trying to figure out how service has devolved in ten years. SPOILERS: It’s the diners’ fault. Most were preoccupied with their phones to the point of slowing down the meal and impeding with prompt service.

I have to admit—I’m guilty. I try not to take pictures of food, and I try to engage in conversation with the actual people present than with those available through email or social media, but there are still times when I find a lull in the conversation and a sneak a look at my messages. Or when I’m so consumed with reviews on Yelp that I add thirty minutes to the meal, just figuring out what to order.

But it’s interesting when you consciously try to avoid technology over the course of the meal, and you realize that others in your party are having just as difficult a time ignoring it. I’ve waiting patiently for one particular friend to finish texting, to find that he’s kept his phone on the table, face up, to continue the conversation throughout the meal. I’ve winced as another friend documented every dish with a post on Instagram (including the plates I ordered). Continue reading