Women’s Voices of the Restoration

While working on her dissertation, Janiece Johnson came up with the idea to create a resource for members to use while preparing lessons. She felt there would be value in infusing women’s voices into our gospel teaching.

Women’s stories have traditionally been shared in biographical format, but Janiece’s idea was to piece these testimonies together in a more easily accessible format. Five years later, she and her coauthor, Jenny Reeder, have put together a collection of thoughts arranged topically that is now available through Deseret Book.

Author Jenny Reeder points out that this format allows us to identify common themes. No two pioneer women lived the same experience. They approached the gospel in different ways. Like now, there was not one “right way.” These differences should not only be noticed but also appreciated, validated, and understood.

Knowing a bit about the lives of these women adds punch to their testimonies. Life wasn’t perfect for these women. They had stuff going on in their lives similar to us now, but they were resourceful and did the best they could in their circumstances.

Join Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast for a journey back in time as we get to know a little bit more about some of the incredible women of the early Church.

Be sure to check out LDS Perspectives to access an excerpt from the book.

1 thought on “Women’s Voices of the Restoration

  1. I look forward to reading this book!

    One of the delights of in depth study of pioneer history is to get the sense of how the lives intertwined with each other. You mentioned the woman whose husband was disabled by the Haun’s Mill attack, and her struggle to accept her son going with the Mormon Battalion. I need to dust off some research I did, but a similar story (possibly involving the same young man?) arose for two young women who had become Wilford Woodruff’s plural wives at Winter Quarters. The known story is that the two young women would spend their nights out with other men. When Wilford demanded that they stop the scandalous behavior, they refused. Wilford sent them packing and I think the men were whipped. But what most don’t bother learning is that these young women went on to become “first wives” themselves who granted their husbands plural wives. And in one case, the young woman went on to marry a veteran of the Mormon Battalion, suggesting that the late nights out with male friends was typical teenager angsty conversation worrying about their peers who had gone off to war.

    One minor note. The term “heart rendering” was used in the snippet at the front of this piece, as well as in the interview itself, of course. The common phrase is “heart rending,” or to tear the heart. To render meat is to put it over heat to simultaneously dry the material and separate the fat from the protein.

    My female Mormon ancestors were governesses and school teachers (and other things at the same time), so I’m entirely sure that they would have corrected my usage, had I or my forebears used it.

    One last. My oldest daughter and I have discussed various gifts of the spirit we have. One she has is the prompting of the spirit to find just what is needed either for free or at a discount. For example, the handle of our stove had broken. I had fixed it using ceramic knobs and screws, so it functioned. But one night, my daughter demanded that we take a walk around the block (which we rarely do). As we walked, we ended up taking a turn along the back yards (which we never do). There my daughter spied that someone was throwing away a stove that was the same make as ours. I didn’t believe her and insisted on measuring. But sure enough, the stove (and its handle) they were discarding was a perfect match for our stove.

    I, on the other hand, have dreams and visions. They are mostly useless aside from confirming to me that God knows our future. I’ve mentioned my 1994 dream of seeing my three daughters together, a time when I only had one daughter and was pregnant with my son, who would die. Another time I had a dream of being under attack from a sniper, a dream that involved a large military building and a berm. Some time later I emerged from the Pentagon metro to see them installing berms. Though I would not realize it at the time, that coincided with the beginning of the rampage of the DC sniper(s), which had us properly terrorized for the three months it took to apprehend them. I don’t have that dream documented in a journal, but I was concerned enough that I mentioned concern about sniper activity at a military conference I attended that August.

    My mother has had much more useful dreams, such as the repeated dreams of an intruder which prompted her to lock her door more securely. When the night came that the intruder attempted to enter her home, she was able to escape harm.

    As for tongues, Elder Nelson spoke in tongues in Rome when I was there as a missionary in 1985. That is also when I first clearly experienced the power of doubt to strip us of our gifts. It was not that Elder Nelson doubted, but that he used an uncommon construct while speaking in tongues (in Italian). To me, it felt like a tangible wave of doubt swept the room, emanating from the missionaries. I had studied Latin prior to my mission and had above-average facility with Italian, so I knew that what Elderr Nelson had said was perfectly correct. But to the average missionary, a combined lack of experience with the gift of tongues combined with the oddity of hearing tongues spoken in a Utah accent to set the stage for disbelief. When they thought the “gift” was prompting Elderr Nelson to say grammatically incorrect things, doubt bloomed fully. When the wave of doubt hit Elder Nelson, he switched back into English mid-sentence. I had perceived the wave of doubt and suspected it’s cause, but it was the conversation of the missionaries themselves after the fireside that confirmed that they hadn’t understood that everything Elder Nelson had said was grammatically correct. For what it’s worth, that evening was covered by an Italian periodical. They called it the gift of tongues.

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