How do YOU do home church during COVID?

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

photo from ComeUntoChrist.org

In a recent Christian Science Monitor article called “Virtual Sunday School: Where faith endures during Lockdown”, Rachel Lambourne of Fremont, CA, responds to a question about how having church at home works for her and her young family during this age of COVID.

Rachel says, “I think the peace that we generally feel when we are together, when we are praying together – that peace is the only thing that can really transcend all of the worry and confusion.”

Sister Lambourne is a bright, creative, talented Latter-day Saint with four children and a fine husband. (Full disclosure: she is also my niece.) Her family adapts to church at home by inviting the children to pick songs and give talks.

People from other faith traditions in the CSM article mention the added challenge of now being responsible for the religious education of their children.

Read More

Tallying Comments in Relief Society

By Karen Austin

I talk a lot. In fact, my anxiety disorder (GAD) manifests itself primarily through compulsive talking. Also, I have worked as a college teacher for decades. Consequently, I have to create systems in order to check myself.  For example, when I’m in small group settings, I often keep tally sheets to ensure that I’m not …

Read More

Explaining MLK Day to my Kindergartner

By Elizabeth Cranford Garcia

Last week my 5-year-old daughter came home from kindergarten and showed me her Martin Luther King, Jr. worksheet. On the back they were to draw a picture about a “dream,” and of course, she drew herself and her toy elephant. She didn’t have much to say about the pictures of civil rights marches inside, so …

Read More

Be humble and learn something

By Michelle Lehnardt

This past year, my oldest son began taking professional photography work. I’ve spent several years in the business and in addition to teaching him technical and artistic skills, I’ve guided him towards the best photo labs, websites for proofing and sunlit locations. Over and over he’s called me for bits of information, opinions and critique …

Read More

Greater Good

By Kathyrn Lynard

(Chiasmus) Prelude: Hymn #85, Verse 1 How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in his excellent word! What more can he say than to you he hath said Who unto the Savior for refuge hath fled? I. A Token (2004) NEXT TO MY MIRROR hangs a small plaque: …

Read More

Lessons Learned

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

Mrs. Rainwater's 2nd grade class
Mrs. Rainwater’s 2nd grade class

Children are back in school. I have seen the Staples commercials and know that it’s the “hap-happiest time of the year” for many families. In honor of this season I wax nostalgic about lessons I learned through the years. Not all of these lessons are noble, but like too much sun exposure in my youth, their effects linger.

Read More

A Spiritual Litmus Test

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

Adorable “snack cakes” from Hungry Happenings

“Most people don’t come to church looking merely for a few new gospel facts or to see old friends, though all of that is important. They come seeking a spiritual experience. They want peace. They want their faith fortified and their hope renewed. They want, in short, to be nourished by the good word of God, to be strengthened by the powers of heaven.” Jeffrey R. Holland, April 1998 General Conference, A Teacher Come from God.

I wish there were a litmus test – or one of those fancy chemical sprays used in CSI – that could determine when the Spirit is really present in our meetings.

It’s such a delicate balance. Last Sunday’s Lorenzo Snow Relief Society lesson included passages reminding us that we have to bring the Spirit with us to our sacrament meetings. One reading of this could be, “Bored in a meeting? It’s your own fault.” Another take could be “Search for the pearls of wisdom, regardless of the grammar, unstructured rambling, and limited preparation of the speakers who aren’t professional orators after all.” Or less cynically, “You get out what you put in.”

At the same time, Elder Holland reminds us:
“Are we really nurturing our[selves] and our new members in a way that will sustain them when the stresses of life appear? Or are we giving them a kind of theological Twinkie—spiritually empty calories? President John Taylor once called such teaching ‘fried froth,’ the kind of thing you could eat all day and yet finish feeling totally unsatisfied.” (Holland, A Teacher Come from God)

Read More

Early Morning Seminary

By Angela Hallstrom

I’ve been teaching early morning seminary for a few months now, and so far I’ve learned a few things:

1-I truly believed before I started teaching that I could get all my prep work done if I gave myself an hour a day. I look back on those innocent days of summer, and I laugh and I laugh and I laugh.

2-No matter how good your kids are — and I have some really good kids — they will try to text during your lessons. I’ve tried to develop my kindly-but-also-disapproving face for such occasions (you know the one, with the raised eyebrows and the cocked head and the little half smile) and it kinda works. Temporarily.

3-The Old Testament is fascinating. Complicated prophets. Bold, sassy, decisive women. Incredible miracles. God’s exasperated scoldings. Intrigue, mayhem, redemption. Good times.

Read More

A Woman, but Never a Young One

By Linda Hoffman Kimball

My United Methodist Confirmation Class. I'm on the right in the front row.

I know this may be tempting the fates, but I have never yet served in the Young Women’s program. When I joined the church in college in Massachusetts, I joined a university ward that only had adult programs. I had all manner of wonderful role models – male and especially female. I had mentors of great wisdom, devotion, intelligence and commitment. Rather than saying I stand on the shoulders of giants, I like to think I was nurtured in the laps of sages.

There’s a gap for me, though. What is it like to grow up in the Young Women’s program? Would I view things differently if I had? What did I miss?

Read More

Behold Your Little Ones

Today’s guest author is Nan.  Her three little boys keep her hopping. It is a good thing that she likes camping, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Legos almost as much as they do. Or more. She is always up for an adventure, as long as she remembers to pack plenty of snacks and diapers. Besides doing the stay-at-home-mommy thing, Nan likes to read, write, work on scrapbooks, kiss her husband in the kitchen in front of the boys and cook. She blogs under the name scienceteachermommy at Nomad where neither politics nor religion are taboo subjects.

Years ago we lived in a rapidly growing area of the Church. Less than a year after being put into a new stake, two wards in our area were re-configured to make three. Our neighborhood was in the brand new ward.

The contributions from the original wards could not as have been more different—our section was mostly comprised of families with parents under age thirty, each of us dragging our little stair-stepped broods to church each week. The other portion contributed families fifteen years further along the spectrum. Their data sheets read like so: one grandchild, one married, one in medical school, one in college, one missionary, and one teenager.

Though ages in between were a little bit spotty, there were easily seventy kids in the ward under age eight and fifteen full-time missionaries on the bishop’s brag board. It was an interesting arranged marriage, to say the least.

The honeymoon period was mostly amicable, with one issue continually acting as the pea under the mattress—reverence. I remember sitting in one ward council meeting staring at my notebook, face burning with shame while the well-meaning brethren discussed various complaints from people in the ward regarding the noisy children. I also remember a sister’s comment from the pulpit in a testimony meeting about not having been in such a noisy ward since her married housing days at BYU. She followed her comment with, “I love all these little ones, of course.” I had my doubts. Of course.

Read More