A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, December 30, 2019

19 Neat Things From 2019

It's time for me to dust off the blog for my "Year in Review" post where I recap my year. As usual, the items aren't in any particular order until the top five. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wouldn't it be loverly...to see a great show in NYC?
19) 2019 started off right, with a trip to NYC with my parents to see one of the best musicals ever, My Fair Lady, at Lincoln Center. We also managed to fit in some museum time, chocolate cake french toast, and my favorite scallion pancakes.
Smiling because I only paid $100 to see this show the second time, and it was fantastic!
 18) Teaching training in Chicago in January is not my favorite, but I did find a cheap ticket to Hamilton and so I got to enjoy that show again.
Atlanta Temple

Halifax, Nova Scotia Temple

Philadelphia Temple - hate the traffic, love the temple itself!
17) Sadly for me, the DC temple remained closed during all of 2019. But I did get a chance to visit several temples while traveling - including Halifax, NYC, Philadelphia, Memphis, Atlanta, and Chicago. Excited that the Church announced the DC temple open house will be in fall 2020, hopefully the DC temple reopens by the end of the 2020 year.
16) The Nats won the World Series! I may have to stop complaining about how bad DC sports teams are (we'll always have our football team...). Baby Shark, Do Doo Do Doo...
West Wing Weekly Taping with my partner in crime, April, who loves West Wing almost as much as me
15) Went to my last taping of "The West Wing Weekly," my favorite podcast, which is about my favorite TV show, "The West Wing." The podcast is wrapping up in 2020, saddest of days! The TV series is also leaving Netflix in 2020, which makes me glad I have my full DVD set.
14) Attended "Diner En Blanc" for the third year, this time with my friend Hannah.
Our Diner En Blanc place setting this year
13) Taught the 11 year-olds at church (for 8 months of the year). We had about 10 of them, and there was A LOT of personality in that room. I always enjoy hearing the perspective of kids on the gospel, because they will tell you what they are thinking.
12) Plenty of baking/cooking adventures - I still like trying new recipes and enjoyed a few meetings of "Cookbook Club" this year. For 2020, my goal is to expand my repertoire of bread baking skills - I know how to make my mom's/grandma's rolls super well, but I want to expand my knowledge of bread in 2020.
Cambodian Pineapple Soup for Cookbook Club

Holiday Roll Baking for friends and neighbors

Peach Strawberry Gallette for a roommate reunion feast
11) Lots of doggie snuggles. Reviewing the pictures I took during 2019: 80% dog pictures, 10% food pictures, and 10% everything else. I hate taking pictures of myself, so maybe I can work on that in 2020? Probably not, Daisy is much cuter than me.
She's so fluffy I want to die!
10) Traveled internationally for work. I didn't really get to see much of India, but my Indian co-workers were unbelievably kind and gracious, and it was great to meet them and teach training in Bangalore and Kochi. It was NOT great to spend over 12 hours in the Kochi airport due to flight delays on our way home.
View from the Hotel Rooftop Pool in Kochi, India
9) Last December training in Orlando! My work has had a work training event every year in December for many years, but this year was the last hurrah - my team will be switching to training in Orlando in May for 2020 and future years. Unfortunately that means I won't get to see one of my favorite co-workers, who transferred to Atlanta and is in a different group. Luckily we were able to do one last hurrah at Downtown Disney together this year.
8) Because I neglected to paint or carve my pumpkins for Halloween, I ended up using them to write things I was grateful for during the month of November. It was a fun idea and I may do it again next year, because it really helped me maintain a spirit of gratitude during the month.
Gratitude Pumpkins
7) A new Church calling: teaching Sunday lessons and planning weekday activities for the 12-13 year old girls at Church. It is a time-intensive calling but the girls are sweet and it is good to get to know them.
6) Attended the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing presentation on DC's National Mall. I have been to some cool things in DC, but this was one of the best - they used the Washington Monument as a projector screen to show some of the footage. It was truly EPIC, as the kids (used to?) say.
Moon Landing presentation on Washington Monument in DC

5) Helped to plan "Activity Days Camp" - a three day camp for the 8-11 year old girls at Church. I blogged about it earlier in the year, but it was very fun, and a good excuse to use my party planning traits inherited from my mom.
4) Surprised my family on Christmas Eve by picking up my brother Kevin and sister-in-law Saba at the airport and having them join us for a few days. My parents had no idea, and it was so fun to surprise them!
Me, Kevin, and Saba in DC
3) As the Church transitioned to a 2-hour block of meetings (instead of 3 hours of Sunday meetings!), they also implemented the "Come Follow Me" home study program, encouraging families to study together. Rather than mope about how I don't live with my family and couldn't participate in the home study curriculum, I organized some friends for a monthly discussion group and it has been wonderful to discuss the gospel with friends, something I don't often do.
2) Organized Mormon-themed suffrage tours of Washington, D.C. (to co-opt a popular 2019 song, I am 100% THAT history nerd). It was fun to study up on the subject and concoct a tour of suffrage history that intersects with my Church. There were some tough, smart, and civically-minded women in the Mormon church and we should all know more about them. Someone who is a better writer than me should write a book/articles about it.
Cookies, part of my suffrage tour
1) Visited Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, basically fulfilling a life-long dream to travel to the Land of Anne of Green Gables. My book club celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2019 and several members decided to travel to PEI to celebrate. It was a magically delightful and beautiful place. After PEI, I journeyed on alone to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, and it was just amazing as well. The world really is so beautiful and, as Anne says "Dear old world, you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you."
The Beautiful Lupine Flowers of Prince Edward Island
Here's to more memories and fun (and a new President? Please?) in 2020!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Christmas Quotes

This year I am serving in the Church's Young Women organization, working as a class adviser to the young women ages 11-13. They are a fun bunch, and it has been a good (if at times exhausting) calling. For Christmas this year, I convinced the Young Women's Presidency and other advisers to do a craft I have done before (albeit I've never made 25 of them!). We made Christmas advent calendars for each young woman, and included a quote and a piece of chocolate for each day of December before Christmas.
Finished Advent Calendar
In the past I have made these for a friend or two, inspired by a similar thing that someone once did for me (maybe it was a YW leader? Honestly can't remember). Recently I've really felt it was important for the young women to see their women leaders as LEADERS and to recognize that women can be spiritual examples. So, I wanted to make sure that half of the quotes were from women. It was unfortunately really hard to find quotes by LDS women about Christmas (if you know of any sources I missed, please let me know!). Towards the end, I was Googling "Christmas +" the names of all LDS Relief Society presents and General Young Womens Presidents. So, I'm posting below the quotes we used, along with links to most of the sources.

This year, hopefully we add another few great talks via the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional, scheduled for a week from today. Merry Christmas, everyone!

"Each year at Christmas we add our witness to that of the shepherds that Jesus Christ, the literal Son of the living God, came to a corner of the earth in what we call the Holy Land. The shepherds reverently approached the stable to worship the King of kings. How will we worship Him this season? Endlessly shopping? Hustling about and adorning our homes? Will that be our tribute to our Savior? Or will we bring peace to troubled hearts, good will to those in need of higher purpose, glory to God in our willingness to do His bidding? Jesus put it simply: ‘Come, [and] follow me.’” (Ronald A. Rasband, “Glory to God,” 2013 Christmas Devotional)


“The wonder and awe of Christmas is just a beginning. Christmas reminds us that the babe born in Bethlehem has given us purpose for living, and what happens next to us largely depends on how we embrace our Savior, Jesus Christ, and follow Him. Every day we invite His Spirit into our lives….We look for reasons to gather, to include, to serve, and to lift, while we learn what it really means to know our Savior, Jesus Christ….Through Christlike and childlike faith we seek Him and we feel His influence.” (Rosemary M. Wixom, “What Happened Next?,” 2013 Christmas Devotional)

"As the Christmas season envelops us with all its glory, may we, as did the Wise Men, seek a bright, particular star to guide us in our celebration of the Savior’s birth. May we all make the journey to Bethlehem in spirit, taking with us a tender, caring heart as our gift to the Savior.” (Thomas S. Monson, “The Real Joy of Christmas,” 2013 Christmas Devotional)

"How happy I am for this Christmas season to sing songs that have a special message from the Savior of the world for those with aching hearts. I promise you…if you think about the words you sing this season, you will find a divine message tailored especially for you that will lift and comfort you.” (Sharon Eubank,“Silent Night, Loves Pure Light,” 2018 Christmas Devotional)

"The Christmas season seems like an ideal time for us to thoughtfully evaluate the status of our own heart. For example, you might ask yourself, “Is my heart prepared to receive the Savior?” At Christmastime we often sing, “Let every heart prepare him room.” How can you prepare room in your heart for Christ, especially during this busy yet wonderful season?... This requires more than just pleasant Christmas greetings that fall from our lips….During this Christmas and throughout the year, our kind deeds and good works are the best indication of our love for the Savior, written in our hearts.” (Gary E.Stevenson, “Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room,” 2018 Christmas Devotional)

“I believe that each of us can re-create that familiar scenario in Bethlehem in our own lives. We can have a star to follow just as the Wise Men did… The scriptures can light our way, and our testimonies can be a light from within. The voices of angels can be the voices of our beloved prophet and His servants. We can kneel at the feet of our Savior just as literally as the shepherds and the Wise Men, but we do it in prayer. The gifts we bring are our talents. We can shout “Hosanna” like that angelic choir and spread the good news by bearing our testimonies.” (Betty Jo Jepsen, “By Way of Invitation,” October 1992 General Conference)

“Success in giving joy at Christmas usually involves help from others. It is rarely found in solitary effort. Joining with others spreads the joy and makes it more lasting. And perhaps most important, invoking faith in the Savior, the Creator and source of all lasting happiness, invites the pure love of God, which is the greatest of all gifts and the sure source of enduring joy.” (Henry B. Eyring, “The Perfect Gift,” 2012 Christmas Devotional)

“…[W]ithout the risk of new experiences and challenging calls to serve, we fail to grow, and are not as useful in the work of building the Lord’s kingdom as we need to be. Just as the shepherds left familiar terrain in dark of night for a new experience, we are called to leave secure and comfortable settings to serve and to gain experience.” (Betty Jo Jepsen, “By Way of Invitation,” October 1992 General Conference)

“...[T]he gift that we celebrate at Christmas is a gift of love—God’s gift of His Son….Our mortal concept of love is a speck of sand on a vast seashore compared to the love God feels for us. His love is infinite and inexhaustible compassion. Divine love fills eternity. It overflows with eternal grace. It reaches out and lifts up. It forgives. It blesses. It redeems. Divine love transcends differences in personality, culture, or creed. It refuses to allow bias and prejudice to stand in the way of imparting comfort, compassion, and understanding. It is completely devoid of bullying, discrimination, or arrogance. Divine love inspires us to do as the Savior did: ‘succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.’” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Scatter Your Crumbs,” 2017 Christmas Devotional)

Christmas is the season to give forgiveness. Forgiving others brings peace and joy to our lives….In order to receive forgiveness for our sins, we need to forgive others. Forgiving others allows us to overcome feelings of anger, bitterness, or revenge. And who wants to feel those feelings at Christmas? Forgiveness can also heal spiritual wounds and bring the peace and love that only God can give. Our Father in Heaven wants us to repent and forgive everyone—including ourselves.” (Christina B. Franco, “Christmas-A Season to Love, Serve, and Forgive One Another,” 2017 Christmas Devotional)

“Focusing on the Lord and everlasting life can help us not only at Christmas, but through all the challenges of mortality….My message tonight pertains to the only source of true and lasting peace, Jesus the Christ—our Prince of Peace….Jesus taught us how to live, to love, and to learn. He taught us how to pray, to forgive, and endure to the end. He taught us how to care about others more than we care about ourselves. He taught us about mercy and kindness—making real changes in our lives through His power. He taught us how to find peace of heart and mind.” (Russell M. Nelson, “Jesus the Christ—Our Prince of Peace,” 2013 Christmas Devotional)

“As we contemplate and celebrate this [Christmas] season, perhaps we can keep several things in mind. One is a little Primary song that many of us memorized and sang as a child. The words are simple but applicable to each of us…. They begin like this: ‘Jesus was once a little child, A little child like me; And He was pure and meek and mild as a little child should be. So little children, Let’s you and I, Try to be like Him, Try, try, try.’” (Elaine S. Dalton, “Christmas Presence,” Church News, December 15, 2011)

“…I invite each one of us to find, during this Christmas season, a moment in the quiet of our souls to acknowledge and offer heartfelt gratitude to “the Generous One.” Let us consider the compassionate, beloved, and boundless mercy of our Father in Heaven. As we shop for gifts—as we give and receive them—may we also take time to quietly contemplate the bountiful gifts God has showered upon us, His children.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Generous One,” 2015 Christmas Devotional)

“As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this season, let us also celebrate all that His birth symbolizes, especially the love. When we see shepherds, may we remember to be humble. When we see wise men, may we remember to be generous. When we see the star, may we remember the Light of Christ, which gives life and light to all things. When we see a tiny baby, may we remember to love unconditionally, with tenderness and compassion. May we open the doors of our hearts and reach out to those around us who are lonely, forgotten, or poor in spirit.” (Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Christmas is Christlike Love,” 2014 Christmas Devotional)

“At Christmastime we talk a lot about giving, and we all know that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” but I wonder if sometimes we disregard or even disparage the importance of being a good receiver…. Every gift that is offered to us—especially a gift that comes from the heart—is an opportunity to build or strengthen a bond of love. When we are good and grateful receivers, we open a door to deepen our relationship with the giver of the gift…. I hope that this Christmas and every day of the year we will consider, in particular, the many gifts we have been given by our loving Heavenly Father. I hope we will receive these gifts with the wonder, thankfulness, and excitement of a child.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Good and Grateful Receiver,” 2012 Christmas Devotional)

“…I absolutely love sacred Christmas music. If we were to make a list of our favorites, near the top would surely be “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful.” Its “joyful” and “triumphant” lyrics beckon us to “come,” “behold,” and “adore” our Savior, Jesus Christ—the “King of angels.” I feel certain that, as premortal spirits learning of the plan of salvation, we not only beheld and adored but also shouted for joy when He voluntarily and humbly offered Himself as the Savior of the world.” (Linda K. Burton, “Oh Come Let Us Adore Him—And the Plan!,” 2015 Christmas Devotional)

Finding the real joy of Christmas comes not in the hurrying and the scurrying to get more done, nor is it found in the purchasing of gifts. We find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season. We can keep Him in our thoughts and in our lives as we go about the work He would have us perform here on earth. At this time, particularly, let us follow His example as we love and serve our fellowman.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Christmas is Love,” 2012 Christmas Devotional)

“Come unto Christ. Was there ever a more glorious call to action? At this Christmas season, come adore Him, come worship Him, and come follow Him. Receive the blessings of His love. As faithful Saints of the Lord Jesus Christ, we may come unto Christ and feel His peace and know His perfecting power.” (Carol F. McConkie, “Come Unto Christ This Christmas Season,” Church News, December 27, 2013)

“True happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service.” (David O. McKay)

“When we serve together, we are all blessed. Dear brothers and sisters, don’t focus on making your service ornate—simply reach out as the Savior would to lift the strangers in your midst. As you serve, you will feel of His love for you. May you be inspired by our Savior’s example as you seek to serve this Christmas season.” (Linda K. Burton, “Reach Out in ‘Small and Simple’ Ways This Christmas Season,” Church News, December 8, 2016)

“In every season of our lives, in all of the circumstances we may encounter, and in each challenge we may face, Jesus Christ is the light that dispels fear, provides assurance and direction, and engenders enduring peace and joy. Many of our memorable and enduring Christmas traditions include different kinds of lights—lights on trees, lights in and on our homes, candles on our tables. May the beautiful lights of every holiday season remind us of Him who is the source of all light.” (David A. Bednar, “The Light and Life of the World,” 2015 Christmas Devotional

“The spirit of Christmas is Christlike love. The way to increase the Christmas spirit is to reach out generously to those around us and give of ourselves. The best gifts are not material things but gifts of listening, of showing kindness, of remembering, of visiting, of forgiving, of giving time.” (Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Christmas is Christlike Love,” 2014 Christmas Devotional)

“The peace of Christmas is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.”… At this blessed season of the year, we—more than ever—seek peace through the Giver of all gifts. I desire tonight to share just a few of the many ways we can increase the peace we experience this season, throughout the year to come, and throughout our lives. First, like the angels who sang on the night of His birth, we can feel peace as we celebrate our Savior, Jesus Christ….Second, like the shepherds who saw the Christ child and “made known abroad” the glad tidings of His birth, we can teach peace to our families and others whom we love. We do so best when we open the scriptures to their minds and hearts….Third, like the Wise Men, we can give gifts of love and peace as disciples of the risen Lord.” (Henry B. Eyring, “Gifts of Peace,” 2016 Christmas Devotional)

“The blessed Christmas season turns our hearts in wonder and joy to the steadfast love of the Savior for each one of us. We are also reminded of the love of our Heavenly Parents, who seek our eternal progression and who hold back nothing from the goal of increasing our opportunities to grow spiritually—no, nothing was withheld, not even the life of their cherished and beloved son, Jesus Christ.” (Chieko Okazaki, “Stars: Reflections on Christmas,” Page 1)

“Let us make Christmas real. It isn’t just tinsel and ribbon, unless we have made it so in our lives. Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. It is peace because we have found peace in the Savior’s teachings. It is the time we realize most deeply that the more love is expended, the more there is of it for others.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Christmas is Love,” 2012 Christmas Devotional)


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Raise The Stakes

Here's the scripture I was thinking about in Church today, even though it had nothing to do with the topics being discussed:

Isaiah 54:2: Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

Perhaps you have always considered that scripture to be about the geographic reach of the Church. That is certainly how I interpreted it as a missionary in a far-flung area with few church members. To me it has signified that the "tent" of the church increases in size as more physical areas have missionaries/churches/temples. In my mission area there are still cities without missionaries - this is one way that the church "tent" has the potential to increase in size.

But as I thought about it today, the scripture can have another meaning that hadn't occurred to me before today. It was partially inspired by reading this blog post on the Exponent blog. As the author of the post mentions, many members (including me) find it sad when someone leaves the Church. I feel a lot of sympathy with the author - I don't know all her specific reasons for leaving the church, but I am sure it was a wrenching choice, as she describes. 

Yet as I pondered on this author's words, I realized that one reason I was sad was that I feel like the Church will miss the richness of her experience. It's a selfish sadness, but one that I feel whenever I learn someone has left the Church. Even if I'm not in their ward or stake, the Church as a whole will miss out on their insights, wisdom, and experience. 

I wonder if part of "enlarging our church tent" is making room for many different kinds of belief and non-belief. For example, is there a place in the church for those who don't believe the events in the Book of Mormon literally took place on the American continent? How about those who struggle with an all-male church leadership? Or our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who feel like they have to choose between two parts of themselves? I do hope that the tent of gospel love can encompass them all.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Mission: Possible?

I wanted to post about Activity Days Camp, because it was a good time. For those uninitiated, "Activity Days" is the name of my church's activities for girls ages 8-11. For the past year or so, I've been helping to plan these activities. Before we take a break for the summer, we have a day camp for three days, and this year we had an awesome camp!

The theme this year was from Luke 1:37: "For with God, nothing shall be impossible." As we are near DC (and I have Pinterest) this translated to "Mission: Possible" with a "Secret Agent" theme.

Our first day was at the church building all day. For the first activity as the girls were arriving, they got "passports" and got to pick a Secret Agent name from a jar of adjectives/nouns.
Passports, made out of construction paper and "modge podge"

Set up outside the room when the girls arrived

For the record, my code name was the "Gentle Panda" which was pretty hilarious to me for some reason - maybe it's because panda describes my body physique pretty well. I used this blog post for the badges inside the passports, which also had some good ideas for adjectives/nouns for code names. Throughout the day, we had stamps that the girls got in their passports for each of the activities.

Our opening spiritual thought was on faith and we adapted this lesson from MormonActivityDays.com, which has some good lesson and activity ideas. I liked the idea about the apple seeds.

We then split the girls into two groups and switched between two activities - a cooking class and craft class. The cooking class made pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. While the muffins were baking they also did a "secret agent" activity where they had to guess what a fruit was by smelling it (the bowls were covered with tinfoil so they couldn't see what was inside). The craft class got to do two crafts - homemade bath bombs (inside Easter eggs!) and decorating sunglasses with beads/sunflowers/puff balls and hot glue guns. Both activities were lots of fun, and not pictured because I try not to post pictures of other people's children on the internet.

THE SCAVENGER HUNT!
I don't know why, but Primary leadership had asked us to somehow incorporate Family History into the camp, and so I came up with a fun activity (basically a Frankenstein monster of parts of this blog post and this blog post). The girls did a "Scavenger Hunt" with clues all over the church building. At each clue, the girls got another piece of their "puzzle" which was one of these blank puzzles that I had traced a blank family tree on to - each girl had her own puzzle with her name written on the back of all her pieces.

We divided the girls into two teams so they could race and gave each team a "clue box" with helpful resources to solve clues along the way. The clue box included Articles of Faith Cards for each team member, magnifying glasses, invisible ink pens, normal pens, notebooks, small copies of the Children's Songbook, and various decoders mentioned. The girls also got an envelope to collect their puzzle pieces.

Given that we have some very competitive girls, we laid down the following rules BEFORE handing out the clue boxes:
1) The entire team has to stay together (I didn't want the older girls to leave the younger girls behind).
2) Don't go in the Chapel - there are no clues in there (as I knew the girls would be running and yelling, didn't want them to be irreverent in the chapel).
3) Don't disturb the other teams clues (We had a "purple" and "pink" team - they had to leave the other teams clues where they found them...again, our girls are SUPER competitive).
4) Do the clues in order - don't open clues that you may see along the way to your assigned clue.

Here are the stops on the puzzle route:

Clue #1 - Mason Cipher
Both teams received this clue at the beginning as we met in the Relief Society Room. They got a Mason Cipher and a coded message to send them to their next clue (I split the route up so the girls did the clues in different order).
Mason Cipher and Substitution Cipher

Clue #2 - Mirror Image Clue
The team doing the clues in order found their next clue at the High Council Room. This clue was printed in mirror image so they had to go the bathroom to read it, and it sent them to the Bishop's office (idea from this One Creative Mommy blog post, but I didn't use her printout but created my own)

Clue #3
This stretchy word clue (courtesy of this One Creative Mommy blog post) sent them to the fridge in the Kitchen.

Clue #4 - Articles of Faith Fingerprints
This one was entirely my idea (and I'm pretty proud of it) - I made up some "fingerprints" that had the the Articles of Faith in very small type in between the lines of fingerprints. They had to arrange the fingerprints in order and then flip them over to reveal the message sending them to their next location. The message was "It is time to ACT" - this sent them to the stage for their next clue.
Fingerprints Clue!

Clue #5 -  Scytale Cipher
At the stage was a long strip of paper with their next clue - this one was hard for them to figure out, but both teams eventually realized that in their clue box was a paper towel tube, and if they wrapped the strip of paper around it, it sent them to their next destination: the Young Women's room. This was another clue idea from the One Creative Mommy post linked above.

Clue #6 - Article of Faith Recitation
In this room they had to figure out which two Articles of Faith have the same number of words, and then recite them in unison to the Leader we had stationed in this room - she verbally told them where to go next. For the record, Article of Faith #1 and #12 both have 18 words, and Article of Faith #9 and #11 both have 32 words, so there were two possible answers. This clue was a good place to split the teams, but the team doing the clues in order went on to the Primary room next.

Clue #7 - Substitution Clue
In the Primary room the girls were given a sheet with values like "B1" - which corresponded to grids in their substitution cipher (pictured above and part of their clue box). Once decoded, this clue sent them to the foyer (we had to specify which one because there are two in our building).

Clue #8 - Song clue ("Book Cipher")
For this clue, the girls had to use their Children's Songbooks - they were given a series of three numbers (for example, 18-27-4) which referred to the page number (18), word number (27), and letter of the word (4). That series of numbers spelled out their next clue, which took them to the Nursery.

Clue #9 - Circular Cipher
This was a "wheel within a wheel" cipher, where the clue told the girls to align "A" with a certain Article of Faith so they could decode the clue. Once decoded, the clue led to the Gym.

Clue #10 - Books of the Bible Footprints
Construction paper footprints had books of the Bible on them - they had to arrange them in order, then flip them to spell out the next clue. We were kind and gave them a hint to use song # 114 in the Children's Songbook, which has the books of the bible in order. This clue sent them to one of the Primary classrooms.

Clue #11 - Invisible Ink
This clue was a "blank" sheet of paper that had their clue written in invisible ink. In the clue box they had invisible ink pens I got from this spy set on Amazon (our girls loved having their own pens and notebooks). The pens had a light that revealed what was written in invisible ink, which was a message sending them to the next clue. (Again, this was a good place to split the teams - one team which started with clue #7 was sent back to clue #2).

Clue #12
At this point, the girls had 11 pieces of their 12 piece puzzle as they arrived back to the RS room, where we started. I told them to each start assembling their puzzle and pretty soon they all realized there was a piece missing. They were loudly wondering where the final piece could be, as I was whispering "Look at the Hymnbooks." They had to be quiet in order to listen to what I was saying to discover the final puzzle pieces hidden behind the hymbooks. I really liked using this idea to talk about the role of the Holy Ghost in Family History work and how we need to listen to the still small voice, who can show us where to find the missing pieces. It was an idea I stole from this LDS Activity Days blog post.

This scavenger hunt took A LOT of time - the girls probably spent an hour and 15 minutes on the various clues (especially since I planned the clues to go from one side of the building to the other, so they would use up some energy). Unfortunately we didn't have time for the girls to decorate their individual puzzles with their own family tree, but we let them take them home to decorate. It was also A LOT of work to plan and put the puzzles together - major props to my Dad, who came over the night before camp and helped me organize everything, which meant that I only stayed up til midnight instead of 3 a.m.!

After the scavenger hunt we had lunch - the girls brought their own but we had snacks and drinks for them as well. While they were
having lunch, some leaders went over to a hallway and set up this:

SO COOL, AM I RIGHT?!?! This was just red crepe paper (purchased at the dollar store) taped up along one of our hallways. At the end of the "laser maze" was an envelope for each girl which had in stencil: "TOP SECRET MISSION FOR: ______" and then we put each girl's code name (picked at the beginning of the day, you'll recall from above) on the envelope. Inside each envelope was a pack of gum with a label saying "Your Mission is Possible if you CHEWS to accept it" (I am so corny) and a copy of this secret service activity posted at the Fickle Pickle blog. We played secret agent music (this blog post has a good music list, but our girls' favorite was definitely just the Mission Impossible theme) while the girls navigated the laser maze to retrieve their envelopes and filled them out. We even let them do it again once they had completed their worksheet - they liked being timed to see how fast they could do it. This was probably their favorite activity of the day - we let them do it again while waiting for parents to arrive.

We switched between the laser maze and another service activity tying blankets and making cards for sick kids in the hospital.

The day went by so fast we didn't even have time for water games, but we did play one at the end where I had the two teams fill a water pitcher with a sponge (water relay). Their "reward" for winning was that they got to try to dump the water pitcher on me - I wasn't fast enough to outrun them and did get wet, but it was so hot that I didn't mind!
T-Shirts (Purple is my favorite color, can you tell?)

At the end of the day, we distributed their T-shirts and custom drawstring bags with their name of them. For the T-shirts, I used customink.com, it was easy even for graphically-design-challenged-me to design a shirt. For the bags, I used iron-on paper to transfer this message to the bags (be sure to flip the message so that it comes out right ways once ironed on - I did the first one wrong!).  I was surprised how excited they were to get bags with their name on them - this was definitely a big hit, and they used them for the other days of camp, which made it easy to identify everyone's belongings.

Drawstring Bags (I'm covering up the name...again, don't want to share personal info on the internet)

Day 1 was the most labor intensive - our other days were as follows, in case you're interested:
- Day 2: Indoor ropes course/trampoline park. While this was pricey, it was a lot of fun (we did it last year and the girls all wanted to go again). After a picnic at a local park, we did "paint your own pottery" at a local store, which the girls also enjoyed.
- Day 3: Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum in DC (the girls LOVED the Metro ride - we had a train to ourselves on the way back and they had A BALL). Then we finished the day with a pizza/pool party at a ward member's house.

Can I just say, it was fun, even if exhausting? I certainly didn't plan this alone (we have 5 AD leaders, and they all helped, along with parents). I'm glad that Activity Days Camp is only three days (unlike Scout Camp, which is 5 days). I'm sad that, effective tomorrow, I'll have a new calling and won't get to work on Activity Days anymore!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Church Diversity

At the end of March my ward had a "diversity discussion" during the second hour of church. They didn't call it that, but essentially that's what it was - a panel of ward members talking about their experiences in church and how they were different. For reasons passing understanding, I was asked to speak on the panel (actually I think they just figured out who I was from my answers to the "anonymous" survey they sent out - I'm one of the few single people in my family ward).

Anyway, I thought it was a great idea, but unfortunately if I don't plan and practice what I'm going to say I tend to get emotional when speaking publicly. That happened during the panel, and I'm pretty sure I did a disservice to my cause by being weepy and weak. So here's what I wish I could have said in response to the questions they asked (I'm recreating the questions as best I can remember them).

What makes you different than other ward members?
I am single in a church that constantly emphasizes marriage and family. That *can* be intimidating and make me feel like I don't belong here in a "family" ward.

What do you wish ward members knew about you?
That being single does not automatically mean that I am unhappy all the time. Being single is much better than being married to the wrong person! We need to create space in the church for single people to be viewed as whole and complete individuals. I do want to be married someday, but that doesn't mean I need or want your pity for "coming to church alone." We all make a choice to own our faith and live as our true selves. Single adults are adults and can be treated as such.

What can ward members do to support you?
Be a true friend. I think it is very easy for me to have superficial relationships at church. The kind where I know your name and you know mine, but we don't really talk to each other. I need to be a better friend and minister to those I interact with at church - we can all do better. As I mentioned, pity isn't helpful. I don't want pity, because I don't think it really builds authentic or meaningful relationships with others.

One of the (few?) good things about appearing on this panel has been the chance to contemplate all of the kindnesses that ward members have shown me over the time I've been in the ward. A ward member invited me to her home during the Sunday snowstorm so that I could partake of the sacrament, because church was cancelled. Another ward member came and literally planted a flowering bush in my yard. Yet another asked me for book recommendations and then discussed with me after reading. Other ward members have dropped off cookies, complimented my clothes, listened to my comments, etc.

What should ward members *not* do?
My friend recently attended a family member's sealing and was asked by the sealer "Why aren't you married?" The sealer didn't know her situation and that she had just gone through a very difficult break-up with her boyfriend of multiple years. She spent time crying in the car after the sealing because it hurt her. While you may think it's kind to say things like "I just can't believe you're not married - you're so great!," comments like these just cause me to wonder, yeah, I don't know why either! Also, marriage isn't a reward for righteous behavior and we shouldn't treat it as such. Marriage is important but plenty of great people don't get married.

When I was in Young Women's, one of my YW leaders told me that she had received revelation that there was a future husband for me out there. I think she wanted to reassure me that I shouldn't worry about the future, and I'm sure she meant to be kind. However, in the decades since then, it has caused me to question my life path - where is this husband she foresaw for me? Did I take a wrong turn somewhere in life and that is why he hasn't shown up yet? I would strongly urge you to NOT saying things like that to youth, it will mess them up big time.

Any other thoughts?
As a teenager, I sat at a table where a woman in our ward said some very terrible things about gay people. Because it didn't affect me directly, I didn't speak up. I later learned that some members of our ward at the time were gay. I don't know if they were at that table (I don't remember who else was there), but I wish I would have been brave enough to say something, even if her comments didn't impact me personally. Please remember to be kind in all your dealings with ward members.

*****************************************************************

The other panelists were so great! We had a Hispanic sister, an African American sister, a very thoughtful man with a son who left the church, and another woman who talked about being an LGBTQ+ ally. Anyway, that is what I would have said if I hadn't been an emotional wreck. Good thing no one has talked to me about it in the weeks since.


If I was...

(Contrast with the blog post just posted about how "Mother's Day is not about me" - this is a thought experiment about what if it was...as a sneaky and selfish way of making something that isn't about me to be about me!)

If I was a mother, I would overshare my baby's every moment on social media. Pictures, first words, witty quips, first bike ride, teenage frustrations, all of it. At the same time, I would be the mom who wouldn't let her kids use social media until they were 18.

If I was a mother, I would be scared all the time. I'd freak out about colds, skinned knees, school bullying, sleep patterns, etc. While I'd try to hold it in, I'm pretty sure I would be an overprotective and annoying and hypochondriac mom.

If I was a mother, I'd read bedtime stories to my kids. All of my favorites, over and over again. The house would be full of books. I would be so excited to read the Harry Potter series with them, and devastated if they weren't into it.

If I was a mother, I would teach my kids to bake. We'd make cookies for the neighbors and rolls at Christmas time.

If I was a mother, I would tell my kids I love them. Like way too much. An embarrassing too much. I'd write notes on their lunch napkins about how much I love them. They would roll their eyes at me.

If I were a mother, I'd get super into Halloween costumes and trick or treating. We would do theme costumes.

If I was a mother, I'd like to think I would be the fun mom, who had the cool hangout house with ping pong and TV in the basement. Who let her kids pick the music in the car, hugged their friends, and listened to their stories. The kind of mom who would surprise her kids with a trip to Disneyland or an amusement park. But really, I have a sneaking suspicion that I would be the mom who forced her kids to take piano lessons, finish their homework, and took them on educational vacations to historical sites. 

But the thing is, I'm not a mother. And I probably won't ever be. So I don't have any way of knowing whether the above is true. I probably shouldn't even think about these things, because it hurts too much. But sometimes I can't help it, especially when it's Mother's Day. I'd be a terrible mom in a lot of ways, but I could also be a good one in some ways too.

Mother's Day is Not About Me

Yesterday as I was contemplating the emotional minefield that is Mother's Day, a thought came to me: "Mother's Day is not about YOU." There's a lot of truth to that, in more ways than one.



First, Mother's Day is about my mom - she is phenomenal! She made the choice to spend her time raising four kids as a full time job, and did great (despite the way I turned out...LOL). Not everyone had a wonderful mother, and some people have mothers who have passed away. I'm so lucky that I have a loving mom, she lives only 20 minutes away, and we have a good relationship.

Second, Mother's Day is about all Mothers (duh). That includes mothers who adopted, mothers who don't have good relationships with their children, mothers who miscarried, mothers who work outside the home (and those who don't!), stepmothers, and mothers in all shapes and sizes. My friends who are mothers are such examples to me. They deserve recognition for the difficult task that is motherhood - it's a lifelong journey that shapes the destinies of all humanity. We should honor them all the time, but it's nice that they have a special day to be celebrated. Motherhood is important and valuable and HARD, and we should all recognize and support the moms in our lives.

Third, (and I can't emphasize this enough), I AM NOT A MOTHER. Church talks and well-meaning people sometimes want to say that "all women are mothers (or future mothers)." In some ways, I like and respect that thought - I appreciate that Eve was "the mother of all living" before she had children, and Deborah was a "Mother in Israel" because she led a nation. But, taken too far, this line of reasoning can conflate motherhood with womanhood. Motherhood is important and difficult work and if we water it down, it loses its meaning.

For example, I love the kids in my Primary class. I want what's best for them, and enjoy spending time with them. But, if my relationship with them is the same as their mothers', then they have a very superficial relationship with their children!

Motherhood is not equal to Womanhood. I think we do a disservice to both when we confuse the two. I know that some women without children do enjoy this aspect of Mother's Day, and I know that no one can win when writing a Mother's Day talk for church. But for me, Mother's Day works better when we focus on actual mothers and don't confuse "being around children" with mothering said children. It's easy for me to wallow in self-pity, but that shouldn't be an excuse to change the meaning of a day meant to celebrate mothers.

TL;DR version by a Twitter user:
I don’t want to be told Happy Mother’s Day today because I am not a mother, have intrinsic value outside of being a mother and I think we should celebrate the unique sacrifices Mothers make. THAT BEING SAID I wouldn’t say no to chocolate that just happened to show up at church

Also said much better in this Salt Lake Tribune piece.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

On Being Radical

One of the questions I had as I researched Mormon women and the suffrage movement was what role Mormon women played in the movement after their suffrage was enshrined in the Utah constitution in 1896. Would Mormon women care enough about other women's rights to continue the fight?

A great resource for information as I researched was Better Days 2020 Utah, a nonprofit organized to celebrate next year's 150th anniversary of Utah women voting in 2020 (suffrage was originally granted in 1870, before being taken away in 1887 and then restored in 1896). One of their blog posts introduced me to Ellen Lovern Robinson, a Mormon and member of the National Woman's Party ("NWP").

Alice Paul founded the NWP in 1916, to protest and drive towards a federal amendment supporting women's suffrage. Members of the NWP were the first people to protest in front of the White House in an effort to turn President Woodrow Wilson into a suffrage supporter. They began in January 1917, shortly before Wilson's 2nd inauguration, and it was considered a radical and provoking step.

Respectable suffrage supporters like Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Women's Suffrage Association (NAWSA), were scandalized when the NWP continued protesting after the U.S. joined World War I. It was considered disloyal and treasonous. Alice Paul herself was arrested on October 20, 2017 while carrying a banner with Wilson's own words: "The time has come to conquer or submit, for us there can be but one choice. We have made it."

Once Alice Paul was sentenced to 7 months in prison, her colleague Lucy Burns carried on the fight and rallied the members of the NWP. Ellen Lovern Robinson came from Utah to join the protesters on November 10, 1917. The protesters were arrested and sent to the Occoquan Workhouse in Lorton, Virginia. Lovern was there for the Night of Terror, when suffragists were brutalized and thrown into dark solitary confinement.
Silent Sentinels, with Mormon Ellen Lovern Robertson fourth from right.
I'm grateful for those who were radical enough to get arrested and risk everything for suffrage. It's especially impressive in Lovern's case, when she already had the right to vote, but was willing to fight for others' rights by protesting. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Original "Women's March"

After President Trump's election, a huge women's march was held in Washington, D.C. That march was held on the day after President Trump's Inauguration. It wasn't the first time that women had marched in D.C., however! In 1913, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns organized a massive "procession" down Pennsylvania Avenue on the day before President Wilson's inauguration. They tried to make it genteel and ladylike, and even had an official "program" for the March:

Alice Paul planned it all with meticulous attention to detail and robust respect for the pageantry of the occasion. She spent over $20,000, which at the time, was an immense amount of money. This graphic lays out the order of the thousands of women who marched in the parade, and the Smithsonian has a really good interactive article explaining each part of the parade.

One of the things that is so interesting about history is that it's all interconnected. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns are the ones who lead the way, and we continue to build on their foundation today.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Seeing the Colors of the Suffrage Movement

As I've given a couple versions of my suffrage tour, I've been grateful that people have reminded me and asked questions that bring women of color into the story. Their contributions are often overlooked, but people of color were vital in the struggle for the 19th amendment, not to mention the continuing fight for civil rights that would follow the decades after the passage of the 19th amendment.

One of the African American heroines of suffrage and women's rights is Ida B. Wells, who had to fight to be included when many white women were uncomfortable with that and actively worked against it. This article details a bit of her struggle with Frances Willard, leader of the temperance anti-alcohol movement.

This article introduced me to Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, who I didn't know anything about until I read the article last week. That article also goes into detail on the many descendants of slaves who were involved in the suffrage and civil rights fights.

D.C. natives should learn more about Mary Church Terrell, a D.C. heroine of the struggle for equal treatment of restaurants decades before the sit-ins and lunch counter protests of the 1960s. The Washington Post did a series of articles on her struggle to enforce D.C.'s anti-discrimination laws in the early 20th century, which can be found here and here.

I wish I knew more about women of color involved in the Mormon suffrage movement. So far, the only thing I have seen was this brief Twitter post on Elizabeth Taylor, a Utah African American suffragist. Would love to know more about her and others like her, so if you know of any resources, hit me up!

Monday, March 18, 2019

"The Better Man"

Martha ("Mattie") Hughes Cannon's life is often reduced to one story - she ran against her husband in an election in 1896. She won, he lost, and she served one term as the first woman state senator in the nation's history. But there is a lot more to her story, including medical school, the trials of being a plural wife, and a stint in hiding in England.

Utah's PBS affiliate put together this video which tells her story in more detail. Utah plans to honor her with a statue in the Capitol's Statuary Hall in D.C. in 2020. I'm grateful for her courage and moxie under difficult circumstances.

Utah State Senate in 1897. Mattie is standing left of center.
One of my favorite details about her election is that in a newspaper editorial endorsing Mattie over her husband Angus, the Salt Lake Herald had this to say: "Mrs. Mattie Hughes Cannon, his wife, is the better man of the two. Send Mrs. Cannon to the State Senate and let Mr. Cannon, as a Republican, remain at home to manage home industry" (emphasis added).

You can learn more about here by watching the linked video, or reading her Wikipedia page.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy Birthday, Relief Society!

My last post was about Sarah Granger Kimball, but really she deserves ALL the posts. She's pretty amazing, and there is so much to love about her story. Sarah was one of the instigators of Relief Society when she and Margaret Cook decided they wanted to form a benevolent society to make shirts for temple workers in Nauvoo in 1842. She was a secure woman in her faith - although married to a nonmember, she remained steadfast (eventually her husband, Hiram, converted).

Sarah's husband was killed in a steamship explosion while on his way to serve a mission in Hawaii, but she stayed faithful, serving as a local Relief Society President for 42 years! Now, that is what I would call dedication. One of her most ambitious projects was a Relief Society Hall for the sisters to gather and to sell handicrafts. Her Bishop suggested a site for the hall, but she didn't agree - purchasing and selecting the site herself and laying the cornerstone with her own hands in 1868. Built for the sisters of the Salt Lake 15th Ward, it was the first ever Relief Society building in the church.

In 1870, Sarah was serving as Relief Society President and was one of the instigators of several mass meetings in January 1870, convened to protest the federal government's proposed anti-polygamy measures. On February 12, the Utah territorial legislature voted unanimously to extend voting rights to women, partly as a result of the agitation of Sarah and others.

On February 19th, at a "Ladies Cooperative Retrenchment Meeting," Sarah said the following (per the minutes, available here):

Said that she had waited patiently a long time, and now that we were granted the right of suffrage, she would openly declare herself a womans rights woman, and called upon those who would to back her up, whereupon many manifested their approval. Said her experience in life had been different to that of many, had moved in all grades of Society, had been both rich and poor, had always seen much good and inteligence in woman, the interests of man and woman cannot be seperated, for the man is not without the woman or the woman without the man in the Lord. She spoke of the foolish custom which deprived the mother of having control over her sons at a certain age. Said she saw the foreshadowing of a brighter day in this respect in the future, said she had entertained ideas that appeared wild that she thought would yet be considered woman’s rights. Spoke of the remarks made by bro. Rockwood lately, who said women would have as much prejudice to overcome in occupying certain positions as the men would in letting them, said he considered a woman a helpmate in every department of life.
(emphasis added by me)

I love that she declared herself a "woman's rights woman"! She also called up the audience to back her up - I love her feisty personality. And I love that she admitted that she had ideas that "appeared wild" with regards to women's rights! More than two decades later, at a 1895 conference celebrating the enshrinement of women's suffrage in Utah's constitution (where she was introduced as a speaker by Susan B. Anthony herself), Sarah would recount how she was a reader of Susan B. Antony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton's paper, "The Revolution," which was published from 1868-1872:
Susan B. Anthony and Anna Shaw visit Utah in 1895
Sarah Kimball is standing and holding a handkerchief in the center, behind Susan B. Anthony
I read an article ridiculing a little paper that was published in the City of New York called the “Revolution ” in which I saw the names of Elizabeth Cady-Stanton and Miss Susan B. Anthony. I looked at the little article of ridicule and I said “There is something I see in that which strikes me and I want it,’’ and I reached out after the little paper I was very much struck with it. It was very peculiar and said very many strange things, but I learned from that little paper the theory and object they had in view was to create thought, their idea was if you can get the people to talk upon this subject, if you can get them to agitate the subject, agitation produces reform. Now this is going to be a reformation and we are going to do all we can to produce this reformation and we are going to labor in our own way. Now 52 years ago I would not have dared to say the bold, grand things that Miss Anthony said, it would have made me so unpopular and I hardly dared to shoulder it; but the seed was planted within my soul and I have been laboring for the same cause — I felt that it was uplifting, that it was necessary for the nation, and as time rolled on we were very careful. (Emphasis added, read full speech and proceedings here)

I don't know for sure, but I like to think that one of the reasons Sarah Kimball declared herself a "Women's Rights Woman" in 1870 was due to the influence of reading "The Revolution." I can't think of a better way to celebrate today's birthday of the Relief Society than by celebrating Sarah Kimball, a true pioneer and one of my heroes!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Spitfire Sarah Kimball

One of the delights of researching suffrage is reading the words of the women who participated in the movement. Sarah Kimball was one of the instigators of the Relief Society in Nauvoo, then moved west with the saints to Utah. At age 73, she responded to an anti-suffrage opinion column published in The Woman's Exponent in 1891. As part of that response, she write the following:

Women as a rule have listened to the asserting voice of men and have been led by their precepts too long. It has slowly dawned upon woman's understanding that man as a ruler is weak; in many respects very weak and unreliable, (remember we love him still,) and she has been compelled for the good of the great family to explore new paths leading to broader fields of helpfulness. Women will make mistakes, and profit by them, all along the unbroken pathway, but never so fatally disastrous mistakes as men have made while holding exclusive power.

You assert that suffrage advocates take a wrong shoot, start out on leaves, or small branches, and they must change tactics, etc., this reminds me of early Colonial history. Did our forefathers when they struck for freedom, ask their usurping oppressors what shoot they should take, what tactics they should adopt?

In her editorial, Kimball also argues in favor of women judges and women police forces. You can read her whole editorial here. There's also a full length article about her here

Friday, March 8, 2019

Happy International Women's Day!

If you can vote, thank a suffragist!

I thought I'd share a quote from Eliza R. Snow. She actually was more of a traditionalist than I realized - not overall a huge women's suffrage fan, but once Utah women were granted the vote in 1870 she got on board.

She said in 1873 that "[God] has given us the right of franchise...and it is as necessary to vote as it is to pray."

Words to live by!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Heber J. Grant, the Suffragist!

One of the fun things about research is little quotes you find. Heber J. Grant, during the 1895 Utah constitutional convention deliberations, wrote his friend a letter and he said "I am as ardent a women's suffrage man as can be found." Makes me wonder what we would find if we were to read the emails of today's General Authorities!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The 35th State

Some of you may know about the final state to ratify the 19th amendment, Tennessee. There is a dramatic last minute "change of heart" story about Harry Burns, a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, which will be part of my suffrage tour. We won't have time to talk about the penultimate state, West Virginia.

At the time the 19th amendment was passed by Congress, the U.S. had 48 states, which meant that the suffrage supporters needed 36 states to ratify the amendment in order to get the 3/4ths majority required by the Constitution. Suffrage supporters organized themselves across the country and actively campaigned for special sessions to ratify the amendment before the 1920 election so that women could vote in that election. Early on, some states came easily - suffrage states like Utah and Colorado were easier than the eastern states. However, some states rejected the amendment, including many southern states. My native land, Virginia, voted down the amendment.

Suffrage was not super popular in West Virginia - just a few years earlier, in 1916, women's suffrage had lost a referendum by a 2-1 margin. In February 1920, Governor Cornwell called a special session of the West Virginia legislature to consider a tax issue. At this point, 34 states had already ratified the 19th amendment. Some interests pressured the governor to limit the scope of the session so that the legislature couldn't consider suffrage - he ignored them, and included the 19th amendment in the agenda for the special session. . The amendment passed the House, and was sent to the Senate.

In the West Virginia Senate, the vote deadlocked, 14-14. However, Senator Jesse Bloch, on vacation in California, wired a telegram to Lenna Lowe Yost, the woman leading the suffrage supporters, "Just received notice of special session. Am in favor of ratification." He immediately boarded a train, but it would take him a few days to arrive, which meant that suffrage supporters had to hold half the senate hostage so they would not adjourn.

While Bloch was traveling back from California, anti-suffrage forces tried to get the governor to reverse the resignation of Senator A.R. Montgomery, who had resigned and moved to Illinois eight months before. Senator Montgomery would have voted "no" on the amendment. The Governor refused. Bloch finally arrived after more than a week and a half of travel, and the amendment passed 15-14!

Thus West Virginia became the 35th state to ratify. This story reminds me that progress is often a "nail-biter" - even something as obvious to me as the 19th amendment is hard to get passed - it was only through the determined work of dedicated men and women (and a slow train from California to West Virginia) that I am able to vote today. So grateful!

Senator Jesse Bloch's campaign poster

Source: "Suffragists in Washington, D.C.: The 1913 Parade and the Fight for the Vote," Rebecca Boggs Roberts, pages 125-126