Lesson 42: “I Will Write It in Their Hearts” #BCCSundaySchool2018

Orthodox_icon_of_Prophet_Jeremiah_largeLesson Objective: To encounter jeremiads with open hearts.

Scriptures: Jeremiah 162329; and 31. [Read more…]

Lesson 39: “How Beautiful Upon the Mountains” #BCCSundaySchool2018

1920px-Antonio_Balestra_-_Prophet_Isaiah.jpgLesson Objective: To seek a “teacher’s tongue” and an “open ear.” To be moved to our feet in spreading a message of peace.

Scriptures:Isaiah 50–53; Mosiah 14–15 [Read more…]

Lesson 34: “I Will Betroth Thee unto Me in Righteousness” #BCCSundaySchool2018

ProfitisOsie01Lesson Objective: To appreciate and comprehend the Book of Hosea, which describes an ultimately loving, merciful, and forgiving God to the children who repent and rely on Him. [Read more…]

Lesson 31: “Happy is the Man that Findeth Wisdom” #BCCSundaySchool2018


“Give me Shelter” by Kate Langlois

Lesson Objective: To appreciate and comprehend the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

Scriptures: Proverbs and Ecclesiastes

What are these books and where do they come from?
Proverbs is a compilation of folk wisdom passed down for many generations, recorded and compiled by various authors, but generally attributed to King Solomon, the son of King David and Bathsheba (who may have said many of these proverbs, but whose name is attached to the book in large part to establish the text’s authority, and not necessarily because King Solomon said or wrote all of the proverbs). [Read more…]

Fragmented Thoughts from a Former Breastfeeder


“The Flower Girl,” by Sir James Jebusa Shannon, 1900.

Breastfeeding did not come easily for me. Growing up, I was never close to any woman who breastfed, nor had I ever seen a woman breastfeed without a cover. I read several books about childbirth and breastfeeding and postpartum motherhood as my body swelled and my garments no longer met over the middle of my body. I remember being surprised to see so many photographs of naked women in labor, and I wondered if I should be embarrassed at seeing pictures of breasts and nipples as I read about different latching positions and breastfeeding troubleshooting tips. It had not occurred to me so plainly until then that I had no need to feel shame or shyness about these body parts that are designed for growing and feeding new little lives. Although I had always prided myself for being able to appreciate nude art in museums, the realization that my own private body parts were not just sexual objects was still something of a revelation to me. [Read more…]

Lesson 25: “Let Every Thing That Hath Breath Praise the Lord” #BCCSundaySchool2018

This week’s lessons covers Psalms—as in, all the psalms. Here are some things to keep in mind as we get started:

  • “Psalms” in Hebrew means “praises,” or תְּהִלִּים; “Psalms” comes from the Greek ψαλμοί or psalmoi, which means “songs” or “words that accompany music.” The Book of Psalms is the Bible’s songbook, full of emotion, prayer, pain, gratitude, despair, and praise. As Blair wrote last month, the psalms “sanctify our joy and grief, our anger and doubt, as well as our hope and faith.”
  • There are 150 psalms, written by various authors, many of them written by David. However, because in some cases the psalms have been translated out of their original poetic format, and because of copyist errors, etc., scholars debate how the psalms should be numbered, or what their original formats might have been.
  • The psalms are old, and they were written over a span of possibly five centuries.

[Read more…]

Sunday Mixtape


“For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart.” (D&C 25:12)

“If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (Article of Faith 13)

I learned in seminary as a young person that keeping the Sabbath day holy included listening only to hymns and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Sundays while avoiding any “secular” music. I realized even then, though, that the line between “secular” and “sacred” is not clear cut. [Read more…]

Lesson 20: “All the City . . . Doth Know That Thou Art a Virtuous Woman” #BCCSundaySchool2018


Lesson Objective:To understand and encourage class members to emulate the righteous qualities of Ruth and Naomi.

Scriptures:The Book of Ruth[1]

Introduction: The story of Ruth and Naomi is about sisterhood, immigration, family, and a powerful female partnership. It is also involves Ruth as a foreign Other, Ruth being purchased as a commodity, and Ruth bearing a child as a handmaiden for another woman who could no longer bear children. It is as much TheHandmaid’s Taleas it is Gilmore Girls. This story does not take up much space in the Old Testament, but it has meant something considerable to me since I was very young, if only for that it is a woman-centric narrative peopled with female characters who have names and desires and actions not necessarily directly related to their relationships with men. [Read more…]

10 Reasons Why Mormons Should Love “A Quiet Place”


This post contains spoilers-ish.

[Read more…]

Lesson 12: Fruitful in the Land of My Affliction #BCCSundaySchool2018

To help class members understand that if we are faithful and obedient, God will consecrate our afflictions for our good.

Genesis 40-45

Genesis 40-41 takes place in prison, with a butler, a baker, and a candlestick mak— er, I mean, Joseph. The butler and the baker have troubled dreams in their prison cell and wake up sad. Joseph tells the butler that his dream about a three-branched vine that makes grapes for the Pharaoh’s cup means that the Pharaoh will forgive the butler in three days and give him his job back. Unfortunately for the baker, Joseph’s interpretation of his dream about three baskets full of bakemeats that get eaten by birds instead of by the Pharaoh means that the Pharaoh is going to hang the baker in three days. The dreams come true—the butler is forgiven and the baker is hanged. [Read more…]

Stephen King Should Not Have Been My Sex Education Teacher


The Losers Club, a group of friends I strongly identified with in Jr High

“You would have [a girl] be tenderly and delicately nurtured, like a hot-house plant—taught to cling to others for direction and support, and guarded, as much as possible, from the very knowledge of evil.” —from Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

[Read more…]

Lesson 8: Living Righteously in a Wicked World #BCCSundaySchool2018



Guido Reni’s “Lot and His Daughters” (1615)


Genesis 13–19 (but mostly chapters 18 & 19)
Ezekiel 16:49–50

Learning Outcomes

Students will more capably and confidently live their lives with integrity, peace, and hope, even when their world around them is harsh, upsetting, and seemingly without love. [Read more…]


I spent the night on an outdoor couch on the front stoop of a boy’s apt at BYU-Idaho in the summer of 2001. We had worked together at Hogi Yogi, and he was beautiful. I had only ever been kissed one other time (when I asked a friend of a friend to teach me how) but this boy was the first to hold my hand (at the Bar J Wranglers Chuckwagon in Jackson Hole). He fell asleep holding me, and I loved being in his arms so much that I decided to just fall asleep, too. The next morning, I woke up and slipped back to my own apartment, where I WAS WRACKED WITH ALL THE PANGS OF GUILT AND HELLFIRE AND SACKCLOTH. [Read more…]

Lesson 4: “Because of My Transgression, My Eyes are Opened” #BCCSundaySchool2018

Learning Outcomes

To help each class member understand that the Fall was a necessary part of Heavenly Father’s plan for us.



I have always had something of a conflicted relationship with the Adam and Eve narrative. I take it more metaphorically than how it is typically taught in LDS chapels and conferences, and I am not comfortable in how we use scriptures from this section of Genesis and Moses to justify husbands holding “presiding” power over their wives. I know my readers might disagree with me here, and that’s okay—I just want to be up front about the perspective I’m coming from as I study this lesson.

[Read more…]

A Churchgoer’s New Year Resolutions

I am committed to going to church and being active in my LDS faith. I hold callings, take my children to Primary, and do my visiting teaching. I hold a current temple recommend. However, lately, I haven’t always felt inspired or filled or strengthened by my church attendance. In fact, I admit that sometimes church has felt draining and exhausting instead of replenishing (and this is in spite of having a fantastic and kind bishop, the ideal visiting teaching partner, and a chapel right across the street from my house). So here are some resolutions for the coming year that I think will make my church experiences something to look forward to, because I believe I have more agency in my church experience than I’ve recently been admitting to myself.  [Read more…]

We’re Walking in the Air


The first time I ever watched The Snowman, an animated version of Raymond Briggs’ picture book with no words, it was on a laserdisc at school and I’m fairly certain we watched it during recess on a day when it was determined too cold to play outside. I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, an age when I still believed in Santa in spite of my suspicions that he was perhaps a lie after all. The Snowman haunted me that day we watched it at school, because in spite of depicting the very kinds of magic I indulged in as a kid, it also hinted at the inevitable disillusionment that lay ahead of me. [Read more…]

Advent Sunday: Finding Hope at the End of 2017

advent-week-1.jpgToday is the First Sunday of Advent, and the candle lit today represents Hope—specifically, the hope we have in Christ, that He was born, that He lived, that He suffered, that He died and lived again, and that He prepared a way for us to follow Him. These musings are part of the Mormon Lectionary Project.

“A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man, did he become, from the night of that fearful dream. On the Sabbath-day, when the congregation were singing a holy psalm, he could not listen, because an anthem of sin rushed loudly upon his ear, and drowned all the blessed strain. [Read more…]

How do you reconcile your love for those who behave badly?

Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer’s cohost on Today, asked, “How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly?” This effectively captures how I feel about the multiple men in my professional life who have sexually harassed me as my teachers, mentors, and colleagues. [Read more…]

To Mourn with Gay Friends that Mourn

When Alma baptizes at the waters of Mormon in Mosiah 18, he preaches to these covenant-makers exactly what they will be promising to each other as a community. In his instructions, Alma says that in order to “come into the fold of God” and “be called his people,” they must also be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light, “to mourn with those that mourn,” and to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” We love to share these scriptures in Sunday School, particularly when we are aware of fellow ward members suffering from a death in the family, from sickness or unemployment, or if we have a family that needs help moving into or out of a home. One of the things I most love and value about my LDS church family is how we are there for one another.

I have noticed, though, that it is harder for us to be there for the LGBTQ members of our congregations, who are many of them hurting and not understanding what their life inside in the Church should look like. [Read more…]

BYU-Idaho Faculty Conference Keynote

Here are the remarks I had the opportunity to give this morning at the fall faculty conference here at Brigham Young University-Idaho. The presentation is titled, “We Were Voyagers: Embracing Our Latter-day Saint Pioneer Legacy as Educators.”

In the film Moana—which, if you have young kids, you have probably watched ad nauseum this summer, like I have—the eponymous heroine is a young woman preparing to someday lead her people. Moana and her village are islanders, and the island provides everything they need to sustain and fulfil their lives: fish, coconuts, water, culture. There is one rule on the island that Moana’s father underscores repeatedly: “No one goes beyond the reef,” or, in other words, don’t swim or fish too far from shore, because the waters are dangerous, unfamiliar, and risky beyond the reef.

Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 12.06.49 PM.png [Read more…]

Sister Wives Series #12: Mary Larsen (the 11th—and final—wife)

Mary Larsen

Sidsie Marie “Mary” Larsen Gardner (1850–1921)

Part 12 in a series; see the rest of the series here.

To commemorate Pioneer Day this year, I am returning to the Sister Wives Series I began to commemorate Pioneer Day last year. Today I am writing about Archibald Gardner’s 11th and final wife, Mary Larsen from Denmark, who married 55-year-old Archibald Gardner when she was 19 years old and would have 8 children with him. Archie was possibly her second husband. [Read more…]

Ponder on the Beauty of an Earth Made Clean Again

Michigan Republican Representative Tim Walberg said in a town hall meeting last Friday, “I believe there’s climate change . . . I believe there’s been climate change since the beginning of time. I believe there are cycles. Do I think man has some impact? Yeah, of course. Can man change the entire universe? No. . . . Why do I believe that? Well, as a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us. And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.” This is a sentiment I have heard countless times from members of my wards throughout my life. As a newly returned missionary, even I told my non-religious sister who expressed anxiety about climate change that, “I have faith that God is in charge and that during Christ’s Second Coming, He will heal the earth and make things right.” She frankly and rightly responded: “That is the most despicable thing I have ever heard you say.” [Read more…]

Intimidated by Immortality; Or, a Mormon Girl’s Fear of Eternity

And thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity. —Moses 6:67

 Therefore, eternity was our covering and our rock and our salvation . . . . —Abraham 2:16

16500feetmilkywaykc2_brunier.jpgI didn’t realize that apeirophobia had a name until my husband forwarded this Atlantic video my way last month, with the comment, “This seems important.” [Read more…]

This is Not Us

“The president’s order, enacted with the stroke of a pen at 4:42 p.m. Friday, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“The Department of Homeland Security said that the order also barred green card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States. In a briefing for reporters, White House officials said that green card holders from the seven affected countries who are outside the United States would need a case-by-case waiver to return.” — New York Times

[Read more…]

Sister Wives Series #11: Elizabeth Dowding (the 10th wife)


Elizabeth “Betsey” Dowding Gardner Hall (1851–1921)

Part 11 in a series; see the rest of the series here.

I had to take a break during my Sister Wives Series (a.k.a. my coming-to-grips-with-an-uncomfortable-polygamous-family-history series) in order to teach a fall semester, celebrate my kids’ birthdays, sew some Halloween costumes, survive an American election, eat a turkey, etc. But perhaps these excuses are just poor attempts to hide the greater struggle I have had writing about Elizabeth Dowding, another of Archie’s 15-year-old brides, a woman whose biographical details I have struggled to pin down. Even as I prepare this short bio to post on BCC, I feel that it is incomplete. I don’t feel like I am done searching for Betsey Dowding yet. But here is what I have found out so far. [Read more…]

Second Advent Sunday: Prophecy of New Hearts


Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, a day that recognizes the importance of God’s voice on earth, through prophecy and scripture. It is a Sunday that follows the first advent Sunday’s focus of hope in Christ.

As I seek to prepare my heart for this Christmas season, I’ve been thinking a lot about what a truly cruddy year 2016 has been, for a plethora of reasons (although Slate reminds me that 2016 actually hasn’t been nearly as bad as 1348, 1836, or 1919, so I should count my blessings), and I find 2017 approaching me simultaneously with the promise of a fresh slate and the dread of looming 2016 aftermath. [Read more…]

Sister Wives Series #10: Harriet Armitage (the 9th wife)

harriet armitage

This photo is frequently attributed as Harriet Armitage Larter Gardner Larter (1830–1866), however, there is some dispute that this may actually be a photo of Phoebe Marie Curtis Neach Larter (1852–1949). 

Part 10 in a series; see the rest of the series here.


This was a tricky narrative to scrap together (and consequently has taken a bit longer to write than others in this series). There isn’t much I could find on Harriet herself, and even this picture is only maybe a picture of her (some have argued that this is a picture of her first/third husband’s second wife, Phoebe—I’ll explain in a minute). In researching and writing this, it felt a bit like I was dancing and skipping all around but not quite exactly on Harriet’s own story. She is like a skip on an old record; I can almost hear her, but every time I get close the needle jumps and I’m hearing someone else’s story near her.

In the same week of June 1857 (and, according to some records, even the same day) that Archibald married his 15-year-old 8th wife, Sarah Jane, he also married his 9th wife, 27-year-old Harriet Armitage [Read more…]

Sister Wives Series #9: Sarah Jane Hamilton (the 8th wife)


Sarah Jane Hamilton Gardner Howard (1842–1924)

Part 9 in a series; see the rest of the series here.

The year after Archie was married to 34-year-old Norwegian Serena, Archie was married and sealed to his youngest—and, at six feet, his tallest—wife yet: his 8th wife, Sarah Jane Hamilton. Sarah Jane married Archibald just ten days after her 15th birthday. She was the youngest of Archie’s wives by nearly a decade, and she was a full 24 years younger than his first wife, Margaret (my g-g-g-grandmother). Two years into this marriage, Sarah Jane would give birth to a boy, James Hamilton Gardner. This would be the only child she and Archie would have together, as Sarah Jane would leave Archibald soon afterward, followed by a divorce. [Read more…]

Sister Wives Series #8: Serena Torjusdatter Evensen (the 7th wife)


Tarjer Serine “Serena” Torjusdatter Evensen Gardner (1822–1911)

Part 8 in a series; see the rest of the series here.

“Let us think with pride of our pioneer dead
And follow the exemplary lives they led.”
—Annie Gardner Francis (Serena’s youngest child)

Archibald’s 7th wife, Terjer Serine Torjusdatter Evensen, was born in Risør, Norway, an untamed land surrounded by lakes and hills, fjords and fens, wrapped round with a coastline that had already been an important fishing and shipping port for hundreds of years. [Read more…]

Sister Wives Series #7: Jane Park (the 6th wife)

jane park

Jane Park Gardner (1834–1916)

Part 7 in a series; see the rest of the series here.

Five months after marrying the schoolteacher Laura Althea, 38-year-old Archibald courted and married his sixth wife, 18-year-old Jane Park, for time and all eternity on August 24, 1852. Jane had known Archie since she was a girl; she was born in Kent County, Canada (like Archie’s first children), and her family had joined the LDS Church there. The Park family was in the same company of Saints as the Gardners when they left Canada for Winter Quarters. Jane’s family, however, stayed in Missouri for a few more years to earn money for the trek west and did not reach the Salt Lake Valley until 1850, three years after Archibald and Margaret had helped to settle Mill Creek, Utah. [Read more…]