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.
Arabella “Belle” Smith
I first heard the story of this amazing pioneer women while I was a college student. The story was told at a devotional given by Elder Jeffery R. Holland. To say that his talk was powerful would be an understatement. I remember being captivated by his passion for the story but also mesmerized by the type of women he described Arabella Smith to be. Like so many pioneer sisters, their experiences, faith, and service go untold – kept to personal journals or in the memories of those that were there, enduring crossing the plains with them. It has been years since I heard this story told by Elder Holland, but it’s one that has come to my mind repeatedly when things get tough or I’m trying to find the resolve to dig in my heels and hang on.
I’m sure many are familiar with Belle’s determination to hold the wagon back during it’s decent down the gorge, but instead of retelling the story here, I’ll let the powerful delivery that Elder Holland gave, do the work. Even if you only read it, you’ll be able to hear his firm voice recounting the story of Belle.
Faith to Answer the Call by Elder Jeffery R. Holland
How We Press Forward
I can only imagine what she must have been feeling as she left her children at the top of the hill and set off to hold the wagon back. Or how she felt when her husband waved the other men off as they came upon them at the bottom of the gorge, saying that she’d taken care of it. But I do know this – I greatly admire this amazing women for her strength, courage, and facing the challenge head on. It’s determination like hers that truly builds Zion.
I love this simple reminder – that God requires our best efforts to build Zion – wherever we may be and whatever station of life we’re currently living.
This month, I’m hoping to actively look for ways to build Zion in my current circumstance. We recently made a cross country move. Everything is new. Our routines and patterns are all off. And our little family has 2 options. To either sit and hold our hands or to jump in with all the conviction we can muster and see if we can’t build up Zion in a new home and city. I’ll be keeping an eye out for ways I can serve, I’ll be volunteering in my new ward when opportunities arise, I’ll be encouraging my little brood to be happy and to make friends and count our blessings. Will you and your Young Women take the challenge with me? I’m confident that Belle Smith, and those like her, will be with us in spirit.
Download Arabella ‘Belle” Smith 4×6 FREE Printable
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Application through Personal Progress
Good Works Additional Value Experience #6 – Select and spend 3 hours outside of your family in service to others. A few ideas might be to babysit so a couple can attend the temple, clean the church house or pull weeds at a widow’s home, etc.
Good Works Value Experience #3 – Read the required scriptures and list 3 ways in your journal that you can help others bear their burdens – then perform those acts for those in need.
Individual Worth Additional Value Experience #6 -Work on your Family History. Visit with living relatives to find out all you can about your family and complete a pedigree chart noting the temple ordinances that have been completed for each person.
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.