Time Out for Women (TOFW) is an event put on annually by Deseret Book Company at various places in the United States and a few places nationally. I attended the event in Anchorage three times over the past 10-15 years, the most recent time being last weekend – Friday evening and all day on Saturday. I invested about 13 hours, including travel and lunch time, in TOFW, and I found my investment paid great dividends.
I am impressed with the program. Even though TOFW is not a function of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the event started with prayer. That was a great statement to me, and it set the stage for the sharing of many spiritual thoughts and experiences.
Each year TOFW chooses a theme for its annual tour, and the tour runs nearly all year, from February through November. The 2017 theme for TOFW is “Arise.” A video is available of the best presentations of the tour. The program pamphlet states the following.
We have been expecting you, planning for you, praying for you, and we are so glad you’re finally here. We know women come to TOFW for different reasons. Some of you are seeking answers. Some of you are seeking peace. Some of you are just sincerely seeking a break. We hope you get whatever you are looking for. And we want to invite you to join us in seeking something more.
So, this weekend is a call to ARISE. It’s a call to DISCOVER. It’s a call to BELIEVE that God has plans for your life. This weekend we invite you to see what it means to “Live unto the Lord” (Romans 14:8).
The theme was taken from a statement made by Sheri Dew, CEO of Deseret Book Company, at Brigham Young University. She says, “It is time for us to wake up to the potential magnitude of our full influence as latter-day women of God and then to ARISE and do what we were sent here to do” (“Awake, Arise, and Come unto Christ,” BYU, 2008).
As attendees we were invited to clear our minds of “noise, stress and worry” and to open our hearts to the “possibilities.” We were also invited to ponder two questions during the weekend: (1) Where is my greatest personal influence at this season in my life? (2) What is my ministry? Each presenter, whether in words or music, reminded us of the two questions.
The music for the Friday evening event was presented by David Archuleta. I have to admit that I was not a fan of David previous to this event, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his music and his comments between songs. I am impressed with this young man and expect him to go far and accomplish much in spreading the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of David’s comments are: (1) Before singing “Begin” David told us that we should connect with something bigger than ourselves. Beauty comes from light. We must know who we are. Doctrine and Covenants 50:24 tells us that light grows. Doctrine and Covenants 88 tells us that light cleaves to light. (2) Alma 37:6-7 tells us that small and simple things can change the course of the future. Ether 12:25-26 says that fools mock but God will show us our weaknesses in order for us to be humble and become strong. He sang “Invincible” and told us to take a breath and move forward. We do not have to think everything to death. We do not have to be invincible. (3) Music has power for good or evil. His song “My Little Prayer” came to him in a dream.
The first speaker of the evening was Virginia H. Pearce, the second daughter of President Gordon B. Hinckley and Marjorie Pay Hinckley. She has a master’s degree in social work and is a former member of the general Young Women’s presidency. She starts her talk with a question: What do you plan to do with your life? She states that life is a little different for women and men in the LDS Church. Men seem to have a set pattern as to when they do things: receive priesthood (age 12), go on mission (age 18), obtain education to support a family, get married, have children, etc. There is more ambiguity for women because women tend to live their lives conscious of how their decisions affect other people. She used Eve as an example. Surely, Eve questioned how her decision would affect her posterity and whether or not she had posterity.
Sister Pierce says that we should consider this ambiguity as an opportunity and gives several suggestions. (1) We can rejoice in ambiguity. We can expect revelation to help in our decisions because revelation is part of our baptismal covenant. Even though revelation is not predictable, its confirmation comes with feelings of joy. She quoted Sister Ruth Renlund who said, “There is no one way to be an LDS woman.” When we are sure of our path, we become less critical of ourselves and of the paths chosen by others.
(2) When we face ambiguity and review the uncertainties of it, we should remember the talk about “certain women” given by Sister Linda Burton, former general Relief Society president, in the April 2017 General Conference. “Certain women” center their lives in Christ. “Certain women” willingly sacrifice and keep their covenants. “Certain women” remember and prepare to celebrate the return of Jesus Christ.
(3) We should slow down because grappling with ambiguity takes time. Take time to steady the course and focus on the essentials.
(4) Carve out regular quiet spaces and places. Sister Pierce quoted Elder Russell M. Ballard who said, “As an Apostles, I ask you: Do you have any personal quiet time to have a regular personal interview with yourself? We should sit back and listen for the Savior because it is hard for God to talk to us when we are too busy.” She quoted Emma Smith as saying, “I desire to understand myself.” We need the Sabbath Day to renew ourselves. She quoted President Hinckley as saying, “You need quiet times. We are entitled to some time with ourselves. We have one wild and precious life given to us by Heavenly Father.”
The second speaker scheduled for the evening became ill, and Alissa Parker substituted in her place. Alissa is the mother of six-year-old Emilie Parker who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. She shared what she learned from this terrible experience. She quoted
1 Corinthians 10:13, where God tells us that he will send no temptation to us but will help us to overcome it. She said that God promises to give us the tools to get through our trials, and we have to learn to use them. The first thing that she learned was that she had to take care of herself first. She learned to forgive. She quoted Doctrine and Covenants 82:23 where God says to leave judgment with Him. She learned to recognize the tender mercies that were coming from God. She learned that we have a choice to either remain in the dark or to let the light in. She chose to let the light in and was blessed for her decision. She wrote a book about her experiences and shared some of them with us. The book is titled An Unseen Angel: A Mother’s Story of Faith, Hope, and Healing. It was released this spring by Deseret Book. I did not take many notes because my eyes were filled with tears, and I was spell-bound by her story.
The evening was inspirational and filled some holes in my soul. I came home with a greater appreciation for the strengths of people around me as well as for the great blessings given to me by my loving Heavenly Father. More of my TOFW experience will continue tomorrow.