Author: Alison Moore Smith

Alison Moore Smith was born in 1964 in Provo, Utah, and handed over to her real, loving parents two days later in the Skaggs parking lot. That’s what we call a blue light special. In 1985 she married her dream man, Dr. Samuel McArthur Smith, in the Salt Lake Temple. She graduated from BYU in 1987, three weeks after their first child was born. They are now the proud parents of six children: Jessica, Belinda, Alana, Monica, Samson, and Caleb. Alison is now in her 20th year of homeschooling her children. Jessica is an official graduate of the Smith family homeschool, affectionately known as Oakwood Academy. She graduated from BYU majoring in film production with an editing emphasis and minors in computer science, graphic design, and ballroom dance. Belinda is a junior at BYU majoring in American Studies. Alana was just accepted to BYU and to the Music/Dance/Theater major to begin in the fall of 2011. The younger Smith children are equally brilliant, talented, and beautiful and still attending Oakwood Academy. Alison loves singing, writing, programming, blogging, reading, holidays, karate, and rice crispies with sugar free chocolate milk powder and skim milk. She ran (using the term loosely) the Top of Utah Marathon to celebrate her 40th year on earth. Her first book, The 7 Success Habits of Homeschoolers will be published this year — if she gets the charts done. She speaks at conventions for homeschoolers and women’s groups across the country. She is the founding editor of Mormon Momma and owner of PopCred. She would love to have you friend her on FaceBook so that one day she can claim more virtual friends than her teens!

Does Gender Matter?

Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. ~ The Family: A Proclamation to the World Gender is part of who we are and who we have always been. It is important. It matters. The church uses gender to delineate authority, callings, and 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. ~ The Family: A Proclamation to the World Last night my third daughter graduated from seminary. On the back of the program, I noticed all those in the seminary “chain of command” for her seminary program. There were 24 people listed from the Timpanogos Region Board of Education, the Utah Valley North Area, the Church Educational System Executive Commitee, and The Church Board of Education. Of those 24 people, two were women. (Those two women — Sister Julie B. Beck and Sister Elaine, S. Dalton — were the only people listed without an official title or position. But that’s another post.) In her four years in seminary, there has been one female seminary teacher in her school’s program, but she was never assigned to her class. (We live in Utah where “released-time seminary” — with full-time, paid teachers — is typical. The only time my kids have been taught seminary by women was…

Are These Rooms Modest?

Follow up questions: Is it possible for any room to be immodest? Can (lack of) functionality render something immodest? Can extreme departure from the norm render something immodest? Would rooms designed to draw a lot of attention be immodest? Can cost make rooms (or houses) immodest? (I don’t know how much these rooms cost, but a lot more than my family room!) If so, what is the price cut-off for modest rooms/houses? Just in case it isn’t clear, this post really isn’t about these rooms. It is about the parameters of modesty. Also to be clear, this isn’t about judging the house sitting next to yours that has rooms like this. Or maybe it is because, really, do you have a house next to yours with rooms like this? Tell it! [Note: Hat tip to Julie. OK, complete plagiarization of Julie’s shoe modesty post with minor edits for which I, alone, am responsible.]

What About Portable Temples?

In his Sunday morning session remarks in general conference, President Monson told stories of great sacrifice offered to reach temples for sacred ordinances. He told of those in the Amazon who travel thousands of miles to the temple in Brazil. He told of the dedicated Tahitian man who — with his two sons — spent a total of six years, living away from the family, working in nickel mines to earn the money to get the family to the New Zealand temple. Given the recent local emphasis from the church on keeping families together, I was surprised to hear a story of a father and two sons leaving the mother and eight other children alone for six years being presented as a good thing. I had to wonder if there wasn’t a better way. President Monson said: No sacrifice is too great, no price is too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to over come, or too much discomfort to endure. I understand the sentiment. If there were no other choice, then sacrificing our lives to have eternal life would be the reasonable choice. But the stories led to a discussion about “temple doctrine” and, to be honest, I’m not sure what our doctrine about ordinance geography is. The early saints performed ordinances in all sorts of places, like spare bedrooms. Ancient Israelites had…

The Purpose of the Prayer Roll

Today I was sent a FaceBook request to join a “prayer chain page” to pray for a woman hospitalized in Texas. I don’t know the sick woman and only distantly know the woman making the request. A similar thing happens on some email lists. People post, requesting others to pray for someone they know but those on the list do not. There are two things about this that strike me as being odd Given all the people I actually know who need help — on all different levels — it would seem a strange use of time (and spiritual favors?) to pray for people I don’t know at all. The implication is that the more people who pray for someone, the more likely it is that God will respond. These thoughts led me to the prayer rolls. For those who don’t know, the prayer rolls are lists of names that are written down and placed on the altar during temple endowment sessions. The people named on the rolls are prayed for collectively during the session. In order to place a name on a prayer roll you can: Write the name on a piece of paper at the temple and place it in the box. Call the temple in question and give the name (some have a dedicated line and voice mail where you can leave a name). Call the general Salt Lake number and leave the name (800.453.3860). You do…

United Order Vs. Communism

Looking back at last year’s MOTY post, I came across a comment I had not seen before. Having been raised hearing about the vast differences between communism and the United Order — and how communism was actually a counterfeit of God’s community — I was surprised that the comparison was being made. This was coupled with a discussion I had two days ago with Belinda, one of my children attending BYU. She just started a church history class and we were talking about the first chapter in her text. It discusses the divine nature of the founding of the United States and how this land was the only place on earth the gospel could again be restored. Given the current political climate, when more and more of America’s founding principles are seen as outdated and flawed, I thought I’d present some quotes from past church leaders on the differences between the two systems, as well as some support for the US Constitution and the government that follows. I’ve tried to keep the context as accurate as possible. I’m not a political expert — more like a coerced activist — and make no claims about the material. Just putting it out for thoughtful discussion. J. Reuben Clark, Jr. full text here The fundamental principle of [the United Order] was the private ownership of property. Each man owned his portion, or inheritance, or stewardship, with an absolute title, which he could alienate,…

How Much Does a Mormon Wedding Cost?

For a decade we lived in Boca Raton, Florida — a city with a synagogue on every corner where you were much more likely to be invited to a bris or bar/bat mitzvah than any other religious ceremony. Boca had a single ward that varied between fairly thriving (when IBM had a campus there) to barely surviving (when they moved out) and spots in between. But few in the area seemed well-versed in Mormon culture or doctrine. One day I hosted a meeting for the room mothers for oldest daughter’s kindergarten class. When the women walked into the living room, one saw a picture of a temple on the wall. “What is that?” “That’s the Salt Lake Temple. It’s where Sam and I got married.” That’s when the fussing started. They were all amazed and impressed at the grandeur of it all. It took me a minute to realize that it was the imagined cost of renting such a “castle” that had them all fawning over me. Darn. “Oh, actually, it didn’t cost anything to rent. It was free.” Sam’s response, “Yea. It only costs 10% of our income…for life.” Now, 18 years later, my daughter is engaged to be married. She is amazing. Her fiancé is a wonderful guy. They have chosen the Salt Lake Temple as the venue. And they have kindly given us until April to plan the blessed event. We couldn’t be happier. Except that we…

Leadership and Self-Flagellation: Sharing Your Sins with the World

Nate’s thoughtful post inspired a great discussion. Andrew spoke up to say: …even though Church leaders could and should stress their own imperfection before Church members, they don’t…but instead they play into this paragon of virtue imagery that people put on them. Wm Morris responded with: I have no desire to see more self-flagellation on the part of our leaders. And I don’t see the paragon of virtue imagery — when general authorities to talk about themselves as persons, they are very often self-deprecating and even talk about their imperfections. “Self-flagellation” is is kind of a stretch. Exposing our own imperfections and struggles isn’t akin to beating ourselves silly in the town square. I think Andrew makes a good point. While I’m sure there are examples to support the latter position, I can’t think of many off the top of my head. The most vivid personal example from our general leaders I can remember is the recollection of of one of the general youth auxiliary leaders about lying on the grass in the summer, staring up at the clouds and thinking about Jesus. I remember the story because my thought was, “Wow. I remember doing the same thing at that age — but I was thinking about boys.” I have seen the positive side of our leaders personal experiences so overwhelmingly expressed that I’ve concluded that either: These people really are far more perfect than any people I have ever…

Institutionalized Lying

Currently I serve as the Primary chorister in my ward. (Call it the curse of anyone who can sing and direct music.) The assigned song for March was “Follow the Prophet.” In case you’re not familiar with the song, it was written so that children around the world can mumble through the 400 verses, followed by yelling out the chorus at the top of their lungs. One verse is about Jonah, as in the guy with the great fish problem. It has this line in it: When we really try the Lord won’t let us fail. I had long forgotten this verse until last month. To be completely honest, I felt terrible teaching this verse to the kids. It’s patently untrue. It’s bogus. It’s a setup for all sorts of future disillusionment. Why do we do this to our children? [Note: As originally posted the song line read, “If we do what’s right the Lord won’t let us fail.” As  noted in comment #19, that was late corrected.]

Do Titles Matter?

There is a long-standing tradition in the church to use honorific titles identifying priesthood positions for men at just about every level beginning when they become missionaries. Elder, Bishop, President. Women — even those who hold similarly named positions — are generally referred to as simply “sister.” In my 45 years in the church, I can recall less than a handful of times when a woman was referred to by title. When I was 19 we moved to England while my dad took a sabbatical from BYU. My mom soon made a dear friend in the mission president’s wife. We spent hours and hours helping her fulfill her various duties. (My mom out of friendship, me out of a desire to hang out with cute missionaries.) This was more than a full time job. Upon returning home, I started paying attention to the Church News announcements of new mission presidents. The notices generally told about the man who’d been called, what his career was, what callings he’d held — and ended with something like, “President Jones is married to the former Mary Johnson.” Years later the husband of a friend was called to serve as a mission president. As I witnessed the preparations to leave for three years, packing up an entire home, learning a new language, leaving friends and family, it was obvious that the woman was making as serious a commitment as the man. But she wasn’t given…

Easter Conference

I love General Conference. And not just because I get to have Couch Church. I love everything about it. We generally spend a couple of weeks in our family revving up for the semi-annual event. We’ve found lots of ways to make General Conference memorable. I love holidays. Every single one. Even Labor Day. I love the traditions and food and fun and family and music and memories. And Easter is a holiday that is filled with good things. One of my favorites was dreamed up by my mom when I was in late elementary school. She “decorated” our house for Easter by gathering gorgeous reproductions of events in Christ’s life, mounting them carefully, and placing them around the house in sort of a timeline — after our family night lesson explaining each story. Once again this year, Easter and General Conference collide. It’s always a downer for me because a big part of Easter is the act of attending church. From what I understand, Christmas (week) and Easter are the two most attended days in Christian churches — a time when even non-regulars make the effort to show up. And even though we attend every week, it’s part of the whole feel of Easter Sunday to me. Before we broke down and bought a home satellite dish (which, completely coincidentally, happened one day before a General Conference Sunday), we sat in the chapel one Easter Sunday in Boca Raton…

Sister Missionaries and Opposite-Gender Attraction

A wonderful woman who served as my Education Counselor a number of years ago served a mission for the church around the time she was 19. She fell in the fabulous loophole. Her father was a mission president, so she was allowed to serve while he served, even though she was “underage.” But George Durrant was not just any mission president.

When Prayers Become Talks

Of all completely meaningless things that annoy me, high on the list is when Young Women is referred to as “Young Women’s.” I’d spend more time elaborating on that, but I really need to finish this post so I can get on to my Relief Society’s lesson.

The Gospel of Gluttony and Sloth

Some years ago, I noticed a trend among female general auxiliary leaders. With few exceptions, they all lean (no pun intended) to the slimmer side of the LDS population at large (ahem). Much as missionaries have a particular grooming code, is there an unwritten appearance requirement for “upper-level” service?

Why Mormons Build Temples

The church has a channel on YouTube called Mormon Messages. Yesterday they posted a new video titled, “Why Mormons Build Temples.” (Comments and ratings are not open on this video.) How do you think this will work as a response to the upcoming airing of recreated temple ceremonies (accurate or not)?

Be Mannerly

In the spirit of President Hinckley’s six be’s, I’d like to submit some suggestions for visiting/home teaching etiquette. Here are my 12 be’s of assigned teaching. Please add your own!