Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Thoughts about LDS Women and the Priesthood

There is a small but vocal group of LDS women who have requested tickets to the priesthood session of General Conference next week.  They wanted to attend priesthood training because they are hoping to receive the priesthood themselves. 

I’ve never heard of this happening before. It made me ponder the different ways people choose to handle something in the church that they don’t fully understand. As a teenager I didn’t understand why LDS men held the priesthood and women didn’t.  But I’m at peace with it now. 

Here are a few ways I've noticed people reacting to something in the church they don’t understand:

1) Let doubt overshadow faith. 

Some people pick up that little pebble of “I don’t understand this part of the church” and hold it so close to their eyes that it fills most of their vision, covering the things they know are true. If they hold it there long enough it’s only natural to start forgetting and questioning what they once knew as true.

2) Work hard to receive the truth from the source.

Some people pick up that little pebble of “I don’t understand,” hold it out and away from their eyes to keep things in eternal perspective, and ask God what the truth is in that matter. They pray, study the scriptures and words of the prophets, fast, and attend the temple until they get a witness from the Spirit of the truth.

3) Set it on a shelf for now. 

What if you have a pebble, an “I don’t understand” question, and don’t receive an answer yet? My advice is to pick up that pebble and set it on a shelf.  Don’t pretend it’s not a question, because questions are good. That’s how we got most of the sections in the Doctrine and Covenants. Joseph Smith asked many inspired questions and got revelatory answers from God. 

The key is not to hold the pebble so close to your eyes that it covers the big boulders of what you already know, like that Jesus is my personal Savior, that the Book of Mormon is true and has changed my life, that the Holy Ghost guides and comforts and helps me find lost items, that God is my father and loves me, that President Monson is a true prophet called of God. These are boulders of truth that I cannot deny. The Spirit has witnessed them to me.  

For my shelf, I have a metaphoric list, a list of things I don’t quite understand that I plan on asking God one day. Like why are women rarely mentioned in the scriptures. I don’t give my list much energy really, until one of those subjects comes up again, and I remember that it’s tucked safely away on my list.  I know I’ll understand these things later, when my mortal brain isn’t getting in the way of understanding the things of God.

After all, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).  In that context it’s understandable that we don’t fully understand every detail.

Why do LDS men hold the priesthood and not LDS women?  

I don’t know why, but I do know that Heavenly Father is in charge and that is how He has set things up.

I do know that Heavenly Father is our God and He is all-knowing and all-powerful, and He is in charge. His Son Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and He is the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. God has called prophets again to the earth, just like in Bible times. 

Today that prophet is President Thomas S. Monson, and He follows the will of Heavenly Father and Jesus for the rest of us.  I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ, and backs up the Holy Bible. I know that Christ’s priesthood power is restored, which is the power and authority that seals families together forever in holy temples. 

I also know that God has given mothers and fathers equal value with different roles. 

"By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners." ("The Family: A Proclamation to the World")  

"Preside" doesn't mean to boss, control, or manipulate. It means to be a spiritual leader in the home, to show the family how important God is to Dad by calling them together for family prayer and scripture study and family home evening.  

To nurture doesn't mean just being nice, although that's important. I dare you to take out a notebook and brainstorm as many ways you can think of that mothers nurture. It may take you hours. Nurturing includes nourishing hungry teen boys' bellies with filling dinners, teaching your children the topics you're passionate about, kissing toddler's sore elbows, hugging crying children or a worn-out husband. I really believe the luckiest children in the world are those who have the blessing of both roles actively engaged in their home, mothers and fathers, with their unique and divine roles. I don't want my children to have two mothers or two fathers. I want them to have one of each, magnifying their God-given roles, the ideal. 

And did I mention that I know God is in charge, and wiser than the rest of us? 

As Neal A. Maxwell said, “What we already know about God teaches us to trust him for what we do not know fully.”  

And Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. ... Don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle.” 

Please understand. I am not writing to criticize these women. From what I’ve seen they are doing what they believe is right, and I’m grateful they’re choosing peaceful means to get their points across. I am impressed that they keep coming to church even if they disagree with on this issue of priesthood. Watching their deep discontentment with how things are fills me with gratitude that God has helped me find peace with this issue and anything else I don’t fully understand. I pray that these women will find a peace through the Holy Spirit that things are as Heavenly Father has set up, even if they don’t fully understand why. 

Besides, in the years that my husband has been serving as an LDS bishop, I wouldn’t want that responsibility!  I’ve carried plenty of other responsibilities in the church, but when I watch the load he carries with this one, I’m grateful my husband has it and not me! 

Update from Elder Oaks.  

Since writing this post, Elder Dallin H. Oaks clarified that when women are set apart in a calling by a priesthood leader, we are given priesthood authority to perform that calling. I love this clarity. 

“We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.” (“The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May, 2014)


I recommend a fabulous talk on this subject:  "Let Us Think Straight" by LDS Apostle Elder M. Russell Ballard.

Take a Tour of My Home for Organizing Tips

I used to teach organizing seminars. I also had groups of women tour my home to gather ideas to use in their space. 

These pictures are from several years ago when my kids were several years younger, from my old blog.  I may update these with current pictures if I find the time....or I may not. 

Click on the links below to see ideas for each area. 

Make the Best Use of Kitchen Cupboards 

Take a Peek in My Kitchen Drawers

Make the Best Use of Pantry Space

Triple Your Storage Space Just Off the Kitchen

18 Tips to Create Your Own "Liberation from Laundry" System

Organizing Craft and Scrapbook Supplies

Our Cozy Little Toy Room

Ways to Organize a Rec Room 

Kids Rooms Can Be Organized Too

Make Use of Storage Space in a Master Bathroom

Organizing Ideas for Kids' Bathrooms

How do You Organize a Master Bathroom Cubby?

How to Tidy and Restock a Mini Van

Click here for more ideas about getting organized. 

How to Make the Best Use of Kitchen Cupboards

Cup cupboard.  The most used items get the most convenient location, and least used items get the least convenient locations. We store kids' cups in a drawer where they can reach, which is why you only see big-people cups and glasses here.

My kitchen cupboards are extra tall, but still came with the normal three shelves.  So I added some extra white wire shelves to better use the space.  Many cupboards have extra space between the shelves.  Bins and labels keep small items like supplements organized and easy to pull down.

The same cupboard, with a ward directory and map on one side, and our family's "yellow pages" (most commonly called numbers) on the other side.

Baking cupboard.  Because our family makes a loaf of bread in the bread machine once or twice a day, I want all the bread ingredients in one spot, other than the yeast in the refrigerator.  Another time saver is leaving the lids off the bins we use often - wheat flour, white flour, and sugar.  One bin on the middle shelf labeled "sugar stuff" holds bags of powdered sugar, brown sugar, chocolate chips, and coconut.  Another bin on the top shelf holds small baking items like toothpicks, muffin cups, flavorings, and food coloring.

Inside the door of our baking cupboard.  Here we attach the rotating dish schedule and often-used recipes like bread and pancakes. 

The cupboard above the refrigerator can be put to good use with a rack or two that holds thin pans and platters upright.  I purchased these at Lowes.

Medicine cupboard. Each pull-out bin holds a different category of medicine, like pain relievers, skin creams, bandages, sunscreen and repellant.  Label makers can be fun, but using tape and Sharpie marker, or typing and printing labels on the computer works great too. 

Kids art cupboard.  These drawers hold fun stuff (from the bottom up): playdough with cutters, paper, crayons/markers/scissors/colored pencils, stickers, and envelopes. 

Pots and pans cupboard.  Lids are in a bin in the back. The black binder holds our CDs in one organized spot.  A strange place to store CDs?  It makes sense only when you realize our kitchen CD player is right above this cupboard.

Corner turntable cupboard.  I like food containers that nest, so I got rid of my mis-matched old ones, and purchased the new "disposable" type made by Ziplok and Glad.  I have a pile of squares, a pile of rectangles, and a pile of circle containers.

The lids are easy to find and put away nested in a bin.

Jar cupboard.  Lids in a bin, small jars in a bin below, large jars above.

Under the kitchen sink cupboard. Bins hold cleaning supplies.  We store Costco size dishwasher detergent in a two-liter soda bottle, making it nice n' easy to pour into the dispenser. We store strainers here as well as cutting boards, because they're both used at the sink.

Inside the cupboard door under the sink.  Our kids each have an assigned cup color, and they place them here between uses.  We place the whole group through the dishwasher regularly. 

Inside the other door under the sink.  Small strainers on hooks.  I love using extra space behind doors. The little hooks are attached with double-sided foam tape, which is removable.

Take a Peek at My Kitchen Drawers

Our kids' dish drawer.  Thanks to Ikea and Walmart, we assigned each child their own cup color, which makes it easy to see who didn't clear their dishes!  My philosophy is make it as easy as possible for kids to be self-sufficient.  I've used this kids dish drawer idea for many years, and it helps! 

Yes, we do have two sets of silverware.  And yes, we do use them.  We have a large family, plus our home is the party hub for both of our extended families.  Often we use plastic cutlery, but these come in handy too.  We keep a few plastic forks and spoons in a bin here for sack lunches. Other bins hold a phone headset (a life saver so a busy mom can multi-task without needing a chiropractic appointment afterward), a knife sharperner, and those tiny medicine cups.

The tiny cups reminded me... if anyone has anemia problems from low iron in your blood, we found an all-natural, good-tasting, whole foods iron supplement that is AMAZING.  It's Floradix brand liquid iron.  We had used it once before for my daughter when she was young from a nurse's recommendation. Don't ask us why we didn't think to use it on her again as a teenager when she has seemed tired so much.  She's been taking it for two or three weeks and she is like a new girl!  I'm taking it too, and feel a difference.  Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, just sharing a success story...

A drawer for large kitchen gadgets.  Bins help things stay contained.  Does it always look this tidy?  Of course not.  But it only takes a minute or two to tidy it up like this, because everything has a home. 

Who wants to fold dish rags and dish towels?  I questioned this one day, "Why," I asked myself, "if they're going to be unfolded and wet and hanging there anyway?"  I couldn't think of one good reason so I've never folded them since.  I used to label the spill rags (you know, the stained, yucky ones) with a "s" written on the corners so my youngins could tell the difference.  Now they're pretty good at knowing the difference so I don't need to.  Another idea is to separate spill rags into a separate bin or pile.  If you too are liberated from folding rags, welcome to the club!  P.S. Malia crocheted the pretty dish cloth in the top right corner for me.  Made me several.  Love 'em. 

Okay I confess.  I'm a container freak.  Which includes Ziploks. I just really like 'em.  If you don't have a full drawer to store your plastic like this, you can attach a wire rack inside your cupboard doors under your sink and store them there.  I keep a bin of clothes pins to shut bread bags, produce bags, shredded cheese bags, you get the drift. 

Hot pad drawer.  We now also call this the homework drawer.  We moved the hot pads to one side and use the other side to hold homework folders in between uses. 

Measuring cup drawer.  I am an audio book girl.  But I'm also a girl who likes a tidy counter top.  Solution:  store current audio books and music CD's in this drawer.  Check. 

We store several cookie sheets and skillets under the oven. 

Our "junk drawer" or pencil drawer.  I often bring this drawer to show groups when I speak.  It makes the point of how awful the drawer would look if I removed the bins and tossed all the items back in randomly.  Ewe.  I'm cheap, so notice most of my bins are homemade from sandwich bag boxes?  I think the cutlery tray was from the dollar store.  See, I'm cheap.  I love having napkins out of sight but so easily reachable.  The most-used tools like hammer and screwdriver are here, and the rest are in the garage. 

If anyone else has my pet peave of hating to reach into the pencil pile and pulling out several unsharpened pencils in a row, here's what worked for me:  I created a bin at the back of this drawer for all unsharpened pencils.  I also invest in a stock of click pencils each summer on the back-to-school sales.  Then when my kids bring home old-fashioned pencils, if they're sharp, they're welcome to hang out in my pencil bin.  If they're not, I nicely banish them to the back until a child gets a sharpening fettish.  Then there is a happy reunion in the pencil drawer.  And all is well. 

Kitchen gadget drawer.  Again a cheap cutlery tray (I think $2 from Wal-mart) plus a few other bins that link together. The vegetable peeler and can opener are the most commonly used items here, which mean they get the front and center space. 

Flower pot that holds our most-used kitchen tools.  It frees up drawer space, plus makes it easier to cook when you can reach spoons and spatulas without opening a drawer.  If you can't find one to match your kitchen colors, you can buy plain terra cotta and paint it with acrylic paints.  Been there. Done that.  It was fun!

Make the Best Use of Pantry Space

Make the best use of your pantry shelves as you can.  I like to copy grocery stores by lining up similar itmes together in rows.  All the canned vegetables in one section, fruit in another, meat in another, spaghetti sauce and pasta in another, cereal in another, and snacks in another.   Store smaller items together in bins. 

A food storage expert friend taught me to use plastic soda and juice bottles, cleaned and well dried, to store dry foods.  I store them on their sides so I can easily see what's in each bottle.  I'm much more likely to use foods like lentils, brown rice, split peas, and black beans when they're in a managable size in my pantry, than I am if they're only stored in big buckets in the basement.  Other dry food stored here are popcorn (we don't use our microwave), rock salt for making healthy ice cream, wheat bran for muffins, and so on. 

Buckets on the pantry floor can hold flour, sugar, rice, and grocery bags.  Make sure the buckets you access regularly have easily removeable lids.  Gamma lids make food storage buckets user-friendly. 

 Hooks can hold a broom, dustpan, mop, and duster. 

Hooks for holding aprons.  You can't see it but right next to the aprons is my favorite little feature of our pantry.  It's a motion detector light.  I LOVE it.  The previous owners had added it, and we were quite enamored with it.  So we (I mean my Man) installed one in our master bedroom closet, and the garage!  Cool.

  A smaller set of shelves hold appliances.

Attach a bulletin board to the inside of a pantry door.  This can hold lists of friends' phone numbers, a ward directory, family goals, and other information.

With permission, I share a friend's pantry makeover. They doubled the number shelves and made them half as deep. They also lined both of the doors with wire shelving to hold lightweight items. They love it! 

How to Triple Your Storage Space Just off the Kitchen

Some people move to a bigger house because they need more storage space. You can add loads of space to your home by using a few principles of organizing: 

  • discarding things you no longer love and use 
  • consolidating and organizing items you want to keep using containers (have I mentioned I love containers?)
  • using unused space on walls, on the back of doors, and under shelves
  • adding more shelves 

This is the stairway from the kitchen and family room to the unfinished basement.  If you haven't noticed, I LOVE hooks. Here we use them for Grandma bags.  A cool invention I learned from my mom, which is where you stash any items that need to go back to Grandma's house, or any other relative on that side of the family who shows up at the same family parties.  

The bags underneath are the kids' church bags.  See the little yellow bags?  Our stake did a pioneer trek three years ago, and my younger kids used those leftover trek bags for years. It was fun decorating them in pioneer drawings and seeing their spirits connect with the pioneers. 

The door going to the basement.  This holds winter gloves and hats. Very handy.  If you want, you could rotate this in the summer with swim suits, sun hats, and umbrellas. 

Our coat closet.  We removed the hanging rod and installed two rows of hooks -- one up high for tall people and one down low for little people.  Works great!  The nesting laundry baskets up high are for swimming stuff.  I take both nested bins to the pool, then put all the wet stuff in one bin, bringing back whatever didn't get used in the dry bin.  Nifty little system.

Do you think I own stock in plastic shoe bags?  I should!  This is the coat closet just inside the garage door off the kitchen.  The tricky part is getting kids (oh and Mom) to remember to put shoes in the pockets right when we walk in the door, and to limit each person to only a couple pairs.  The rest need to be stored in people's bedroom closets.

How to Stuff a Laundry Room into a Closet

Here is the "liberation from laundry" system I've taught moms for years. 

I designed our dream home with a DREAM laundry room. And then instead of building, we purchased a spec home, with a laundry CLOSET instead of a room.

So I went to work transforming our laundry closet into a super functional laundry “room”! 

It's amazing what a few simple shelves, bins, and a hanging rod can do to transform a closet.

Here is our empty laundry closet system. 
    This is our laundry system in use. This picture includes a couple bins missing in the picture above -- hand-me-downs and clothes that need a special wash cycle.

  • For clean laundry, each person gets their own labeled bin, plus a bin for for rags and a bin for towels and sheets.
  • For dirty laundry, there are bins for darks, lights, and whites.
  • I include a few other bins for clothes to give away, hand-me-down clothes to store in the basement, and clothes that need a special wash cycle like soaking or delicate cycle.
  • We use wall space to hang wire storage shelving for laundry supplies, and a nail in the wall to hold a sweater bag.  We use a "hang dry" sign with poster putty on the washer to remind us something in that batch needs to hang dry.

My philosophy is to make laundry as simple and quick as possible, so it won't be overwhelming and pile up. 

Here are my favorite tips to make laundry more quick and simple, and less overwhelming. I call it "liberation from laundry." 

I do very little folding!  

The mom's job is just to wash, dry, hang, and place in bins.  That's it. I DON'T fold and put all that laundry away every day.  That's the most overwhelming part that makes you walk to everyone's bedrooms each day.  So I hang anything I don't want wrinkled, and toss the rest into bins, like pajamas, underwear, socks, rags and towels. The hanging rod is also an easy place to hang dry clothes. 
I almost never put clothes away!  

Once a week each person takes his or her bin and hanging clothes and puts their own clothes away. My oldest two children do the towels and help with preschoolers’ clothes. We do this each Wednesday as part of morning chores. Another good time to do this is between family home evening and treats – you’ll be amazed at the family’s speed and cooperation when a treat is waiting!
Even a two- or three-year old can put away clothes if you make it easy enough.

  1. Place pictures on their drawers or bins.
  2. Teach them how, then do it with them until they’re old enough to do it on their own, around five years old. Of course it won’t look as good as when you do it, but remember you’re raising responsible children, not perfect drawers of clothing. An older child can be assigned to help a younger child. If your child helps draw, cut, or tape the labels on they’re more likely to put their clothes away.
I almost never mate socks!  

I buy a unique package of white socks for each person, toss those into their bin, and the owner puts them away. They don’t even have to mate their own because all their white socks match the rest. If the socks are hard to tell apart, use a laundry marker to initial the bottom of each sock. Some people use a different mesh zipper bag to wash each person’s socks. Others have family members pin each pair together, using clothes pins or safety pins. If several people wear the same size socks, buy lots of that type and have a shared sock bin in the bathroom or bedroom. Now only dress socks need to be mated, and each person can mate their own, because your job is to simply toss them in the owner’s bin.

I never fold dish towels or rags! 

Just toss them in the drawer – nobody else cares. In our house “spill rags” are stored in a low kitchen drawer and can be used for spilled juice, dusting, or cleaning. This saves nice dish towels from getting stained. If spill rags are stored with the rest they can be a certain color or marked with an “S.”  
Liberate yourself from washing towels every day.  

Replace towel rods with a row of hooks, then assign each person a hook and a towel. Once a week wash the batch of towels together and rehang. If somebody wants theirs washed more often, they can throw their own in the laundry. 
Having less clothes means feeling less overwhelmed. 

Help your child choose their ten favorite outfits (or any amount) for summer, and ten for winter. Placing a D.I. box in the laundry room makes it quick and easy to de-clutter clothes that are too small, stained, or torn.

Make laundry less overwhelming by doing it more often.  Laundry never piles up, gets mildewed, or wrinkled!  

It’s no longer overwhelming now that it takes only a few minutes, so it’s easy to do a load or two each morning. The dreaded mountains of laundry are a thing of the past! You save time and wrinkles by hanging, folding, and tossing right when you take clothes out of the dryer.

Do a batch or two every morning.  Laundry never piles up, gets mildewed, or wrinkled. It’s no longer overwhelming now that it takes only a few minutes, so it’s easy to do a load or two each morning. The dreaded mountains of laundry are a thing of the past! You save time and wrinkles by hanging, folding, and tossing right when you take clothes out of the dryer. 

One mother of nine stays home every Monday and does all the laundry while she works on phone calls and paperwork. Another mom reserves Monday and Friday for laundry and cleaning, leaving the rest of the week open for errands and outings. 

Teach family members to empty their own pockets. 

Announce that Mom now gets to keep anything (money, treats) she finds in pockets.
Here's a trick not to forget rotating your laundry. 

Do you have a problem remembering to rotate your laundry, and then find smelly clothes days later?  Attach laundry to a daily task, like rotating a load after putting the baby down for naps and bedtime. Or after each meal. Another idea is to set a timer in your main living area, or use a timer on a digital watch if the dryer is too far away to hear the buzzer.
No more tangled hangers. 

If you don’t like hassling with tangled metal hangers replace them with sturdy plastic ones.  
I almost never iron!  

Here are three ways to prevent ironing: 1) remove clothes from of the dryer and hang them right away 2) buy wrinkle-free clothes 3) spray cotton clothes with a squirt bottle and smooth with hands to remove wrinkles 4) use a commercial wrinkle removal spray A way to find each person's hanging clothes faster. 

If you hang up most of your family’s clothing, make it easy to hang and to find each person’s clothes by dividing the hanging bar into sections using fun foam. Or assign each family member a different color of hangers. How to get all those hangers back from closets. 

Teach family members to hook hangers onto the hamper so they automatically go to the laundry room. No more searching for hangers when you need them. Another idea is to have family members bring their empty hangers back the day they put away their clean laundry. Teach family members to sort their own laundry. 

Have three different colored hampers: white, dark, and light. Or you may choose to havepeople use a central hamper, and you sort into piles or bins in the laundry room. Do whatever is easy for you. You might assign a child the job of bringing the hampers from aroundthe house into the laundry room, or you gather them as you pick up the house each morning. Teach family members to check clothing for spots. 

Store the pre-spot cleaner near the hamper, and spray spots when they’re fresh. Or place a small laundry bin nearby just for items that need pre-spot treatment. Teach children to do their own laundry starting around age 8-10. 

Do it with your children until they’re skilled. If your kids are too young, you can do one child’s laundry each day. I only wash whites a couple times a week (usually Mondays and Thursdays) and I often offer for the kids to bring me their white church shirts or blouses for those batches, because I don’t want my kids dealing with bleach. If you can spare a room, consider setting up a whole room as a laundry center and clothes closet for the whole family like the Duggars have.

Here's another great whole-room laundry system that my friend AnnMarie Norton  uses.