Have you ever had one of those thoughts that just won’t seem to leave you alone? I have. This one came while I was first brainstorming and designing the YW 2016 theme kits and posters back in early Fall. I was chatting on the phone with a dear friend who is currently serving in Young Women and this thought popped in my head and jumped out of my mouth before I could stop it. (if you want to read the rest of the story on how the Women of God series came to be, start here.)
Everyone’s path is different – as women, its nice to know that we’re all cheering for each other, and it’s nice to know that there are women who have blazed the trail before us who are cheering us on as well. Especially when we’re having one of those days that makes us feel inadequate or not who or what the world says we should be.
How much more could we do if we were consistently being reminded that despite our differences, we’re all covenant keepers and focused on building the kingdom of God in the way He sees best. What type of confidence could we help instill in our Young Women if we shared the stories of these amazing women – women who were living the lives God wanted them to live all while keeping their covenants and standing as witnesses of Him?
With the 2016 theme talking about pressing forward, I thought it might be a great supplemental idea for Young Women groups, to present the girls with a profile of an amazing and inspiring woman who pressed forward in the work God had for her to do. There are so many to choose from, but those featured throughout the next year will include pioneers, as well as those that have lived and served in the church in the last few decades as well. Each are unique in their talents and the way they served their Father in Heaven. This aspect of individuality combined with a strong commitment to their covenants is truly inspiring and I hope it gives women everywhere a broader sense of understanding that women with a variety of skills are needed to continue the work of God.
I hope what you find here in these monthly posts is exactly what you need – that it inspires you as much as it has, and does, inspire me. That you can use it to encourage and inspire the women and girls you serve and interact with; and that at the very least, it can be a reminder to you that what you’re doing matters and to keep on – knowing that there are so many other women doing the same.
Mary Fielding Smith
- Born July 21, 1801 in Honidon, Bedfordshire, England. Moved to Canada when she was 33 to be near her brother and sister
- Taught and baptized in 1836 by Parley P. Pratt, moved to Kirtland, Ohio 1 year later to be with the Saints
- wife to Hyrum Smith – cared for his 5 children whose mother had died previously, had 2 children, Joseph F. Smith (6th President of the Church) and Martha Ann
- went West with the Saints after her husband was martyred with the Prophet Joseph
- had trouble with her oxen several times on the trip West. 1) They had gone to pick up supplies for the trip while still in Missouri and they woke up to find the oxen had strayed from camp. They searched all day, but Mary prayed and then headed toward the river and found the oxen in a clump of willows. 2) Mary’s son was given the task of driving the oxen, they didn’t have enough oxen, so they tied 2 wagons to the team. The wagon master told her she’d never make it – she declared “I will beat you to the valley and will as no help from you either.” 3) On the trek west, one of her best oxen became sick, laid down and appeared to be near death. She asked priesthood bretheren to administer to the ox and the ox stood after the blessing ready to pull the wagon. Two more times other oxen became ill and they were healed instantly after priesthood blessings because of her faith.
- strong testimony of tithing – the first winter in Salt Lake was hard for their family. Food and shelter was scarce and once Summer came they finally had a crop. Mary insisted that they pull a full tithe (in those days tithes were often payed in goods). Sister Smith selected her best potatoes and headed to the tithing office. William Thompson, a tithing clerk, questioned her need to pay tithing because she was so poor. Her response “William, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? I f I did not pay my tithing I should expect the Lord to withhold His blessings from me; I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God but because I expect a blessing by doing it.”
- Her son, President Joseph F. Smith, said of her at her funeral, “Nothing beneath the celestial kingdom can surpass my deathless love for the sweet true noble, soul who gave me birth – my own, own mother! She was good! She was pure! She was indeed a Saint! A royal daughter of God.”
*All information about Sister Smith via lds.org. You can read the article here. Top painting – Mary Fielding Smith and Joseph F. Smith Crossing the Plains – Gospel Art Kit, LDS church. Second painting – Not Alone, depicting Mary Fielding Smith and her son Joseph alongside their wagon by Minerva Teichert.
How We Press Forward
Mary Fielding Smith was definitely a stalwart Saint. The stories of her faith with her oxen, not to mention her decision to head West with the Saints just a few months after her husband was martyred, show how dedicated she was to the Gospel. After watching the General Women’s Meeting this past weekend and the video clip of When We Were Strangers , I feel like Mary Fielding is the perfect Women to study for the month of April. She lived during the events that are spoken about in that clip and despite all the hardships she pressed forward towards Christ and Zion.
There were so many aspects of her life that I felt like would be a good focus, but her determination to press forward in gospel doctrines stuck out in my mind. I especially like the fact that she was dedicated to paying her tithing. I often think that the little principles ( scripture reading, daily prayer, tithing, etc.) of the Gospel are so simple and therefore, often overlooked (not necessarily overlooked constantly, but maybe done with less thought because they’re repetitive things). As I read about her experiences, it was obvious that her testimony of tithing was substantiated by the blessings she received in times of need – I don’t know about you, or the girls or women you work with – but I think all of us could use a little bit of sustaining promise as we work to build up something great with the little everyday tasks of the Gospel and a Christ-centered life.
I love her testimony – “I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it.” I think she’d be the first to agree with Elder Holland when he says, “I testify that God lives, that He is our Eternal Father, that He loves each of us with a love divine. I testify that Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son in the flesh and, having triumphed in this world, is an heir of eternity, a joint-heir with God, and now stands on the right hand of His Father. I testify that this is Their true Church and that They sustain us in our hour of need—and always will, even if we cannot recognize that intervention. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. Of that I personally attest. I thank my Father in Heaven for His goodness past, present, and future, and I do so in the name of His Beloved Son and most generous high priest, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.”
This month I’m going to focus on simple gospel principles. I’m going to pay my tithing and look for the blessings that come because of it. I’m going to read my scriptures daily, seek for counsel from General Conference, and say my prayers and then actively look for the blessings that so subtly come at times for keeping gospel principles. I know living these principles during the good times will bless us and give us a testimony we can lean on in the hard times. Will you and your Young Women join me?
Download Mary Fielding Smith 4×6 FREE Printable
Application through Personal Progress
Good Works Value Experience #1 – Learn why service is a fundamental principle of the gospel. Record in your journal quiet acts of service you and your family perform for two weeks.
Integrity Value Experience #1 – Read the outlined sections in the personal progress book and then then reflect on how the Lord’s standards differ from the world’s standards. Write your plan on how to stay morally clean and worthy to attend the temple.
Integrity Value Experience #2 – Conduct a self-assessment of your personal integrity. Write in your journal the things you can do to improve your personal integrity and at least one new habit you want to develop.
Integrity Additional Value Experience #6 – Living the law of the fast is an opportunity to practice integrity. Practice this gospel principle by following the steps outlined in your personal progress book.
How to Use the Women of God Series with Your Young Women Group
First off, let me just give this disclaimer. No one needs to do it all. So if this doesn’t fit with your Young Women group but it still sounds like a good thing to do – I support you going with your gut and opting out rather than just adding in one more thing! These will be here on the site and might be the perfect fit down the road, or just something you want to check out and get inspired when you need a pep talk or a cheer of support from other women of God. But I honestly want to encourage everyone to do what works for them – you’ve got me cheering for you!
If you are planning to use these with your girls throughout the year – consider introducing the new Women of God as a spotlight during your Young Women Opening Exercises on a Sunday or possibly even on a Mutual Night. (You don’t even have to introduce them at the beginning of the month – maybe you’ll want to do it as a mid-month thing because you’re using the YW monthly theme cards on the first Sunday! You can read more about that by following the link.)
I’d suggest following the link that’s provided to the article on each sister that I used from the Church’s website. That website is an amazing resource.
The printable that’s included is meant to be printed at a photo lab or your favorite online photo printer. I love using Costco, but any photo lab will do. Simply download the printable, then send it off and you’ll have cute, cost-efficient color handouts for your girls, or whomever you choose to share it with (I’m thinking to take this one with a treat to my visiting teach’ees.)
The girls can hang it on their mirror, tuck it in their journal or scriptures, or add it to the binder ring that they’re keeping their Young Women Monthly Theme Cards on for the year.