Making God Your Divine Center

by Christina Shelley Albrecht

You know that President Benson quote, “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can”? Have you ever wondered how to do that on a day-to-day basis?

I recently read a book that I consider to be a must-read for every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s called The Divine Center, by Stephen R. Covey. It addresses the confusion you sometimes feel as a member of the Church about the proper role of God, church, marriage, family, friends, making a living, and other things in our lives.

Have you ever heard someone say something at church or in conference that didn’t quite sit right with you? Did that person present his or her opinion as a general consensus or as an accepted doctrine, leaving you wondering if everyone else thought the same way and you were an outsider because you didn’t agree? Did you ever feel pressured to do something you didn’t feel right about inside? What do you do when you feel that way?

The answer given in The Divine Center sounds simple, and it can be, once you develop a trusting relationship with God: God is always first in your life, and He will let you know what to put second. And that won’t look the same for everyone. If you follow the Spirit and act in accordance with the guidance you receive, you will feel peaceful about your choice, regardless of how others respond. You will see God’s hand in your life as you move forward, acting on promptings you receive, and you will be amazed at what God is doing with you!

For example, a lot of aspiring Mormon women feel called to serve in the marketplace. Whether they are married or not, this can be a cultural challenge because of the emphasis placed on marriage and family. Many people see the role of motherhood as being a “full-time job.” The assumption is that if you’re doing it right, then you aren’t doing much of anything else, like spending a lot of time with your career. So, if you feel inspired, as I have, to dedicate tremendous amounts of time and energy on a mission you feel God has called you to do, how do you deal with the cultural feedback, silent or vocal, that what you’re doing is wrong?

You go back to God and make sure you’re on the right track, let His love and guidance strengthen you, and bask in the love and peace you feel, letting go of any concern that others may judge you for your choices. It’s not between you and them. It’s between you and God.

Putting God at the center of your life affects everything for the positive. It’s also possible to put things like marriage and family at the center of your life to your detriment, again, whether or not you are married. If your self-worth is based on your marital status, you’re on shaky ground, regardless of your marital status! There are obvious problems with being money-centered, possession-centered, pleasure-centered, friend-centered, and enemy-centered. But even becoming too centered on church activity and callings can be dangerous. The point is that the only abundant life is the life that is centered on God. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

While of course none of us is perfect, there are things each of us can do to always strive to be God-centered—especially when it comes down to the day-to-day time management needed to make our lives God-centered. Prayerfully planning my week ahead of time helps me sense what God would have my priorities be for that week. I schedule those priorities and then try to live flexibly, because I’ve noticed that the Spirit does a lot of in-the-moment guiding.

For example, a couple of Sundays ago, I woke up with this impression: Give your book to someone in the stake Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society presidencies. My response? “Okay.” I had no idea who was in the presidencies, how I would get their contact information, or how I would get them my book, but God knew, so I didn’t worry. And I was able to give them each a book within a week!

Recently, I prayed about what the Lord’s top priority for me to do that day was, and I felt I should email a former BYU professor of mine about a talk I’m developing. The working title is “12 Things from Church History that I Want My Kids to Know Before They Leave Home.” Actually, I want every member of the Church to know these things, which is why they’re all included in my book and I’m developing a separate talk on them. When I emailed my professor, I was shocked to get an immediate response! But, should I have been? The Lord knew my professor’s schedule. He knew when would be a great time for me to contact him so he’d get the email and have a chance to respond. Still, I find myself amazed that the Lord is involving Himself in the details of my life in such a visible way. It’s humbling and exhilarating at the same time.

I want to end with President Benson’s full quote:

Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4).

So, go for it! Prayerfully ask if you are doing your best to put God at the center of your life and how you can do it even better, and then act on the guidance you receive. I can tell you from personal experience that as I strive to put God at the center of my life, it’s more adventurous and fulfilling than ever.

Christina Shelley Albrecht graduated from BYU with a degree in linguistics and a master’s certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). In the course of getting married and having children, she realized the need for books to support parents in having practical, effective, and fun family home evenings and daily scripture study. She originally compiled FHEasy: A Year of Weekly Teachings and Daily Devotionals for her family but also shared it with some friends. The feedback was so positive that she decided to publish it for all LDS families to enjoy. She has been surprised and delighted by the positive feedback she has gotten from single adults and empty nesters as well as families with children at home. She invites you to visit her website at

Personal Finance: Estimated Taxes – Do I need to worry?

By Jonyce Bullock, CPA

The 2016 tax filing deadline is barely in our rear view mirror and you probably don’t want to think about taxes for a long, long time.  However, now is exactly the time to start thinking about your 2017 tax liability so you can avoid penalties and tax liability surprises come next year.  Estimated taxes can be intimidating; but armed with an understanding of the requirements you can take charge of your personal tax liability and be better prepared!  If you are self-employed, thinking of starting a business, or find yourself having to write a check to the IRS each April – read on!

Paying Estimated Taxes? When You Should

It’s not just the self-employed who must submit estimated taxes. IRS obligations are pay-as-you-go.

Much as we may grumble about them, estimated taxes and payroll withholding are good things. Imagine preparing your taxes in April having not paid in anything through the 12-month tax period. Chances are, a large percentage of taxpayers would be filing extensions (which doesn’t get you off the hook for paying by the April deadline: You’re still expected to submit an estimate of the tax due).

If you’re a salaried or hourly employee of a company, it’s up to your employer to collect and submit an estimate of your income tax obligation every pay period, based on the withholding information you provided on your W-4.

The number of allowances you claim affects how much money is taken from each paycheck for taxes. If an insufficient amount is withheld, you may need to pay estimated taxes to avoid penalties.

But if you’re a freelancer or contractor who has no money withheld, the burden is on you. The IRS expects you to do the same thing an employer would: periodically (every three months) make a payment that approximates what you would owe for that quarter. Then, like everyone else, you’ll include that information when you prepare your income taxes, at which time you’ll either get a refund or have to pay in.

Everyone Is Subject

What this means is that the IRS expects all taxpayers to keep up with their taxes throughout the year. If you’re not having enough taken out of your paycheck, you should be submitting estimated taxes. You’ll avoid paying penalties, and you probably won’t have to file an extension.

Even if your withholding is working well for you, there may be times when you have extra money coming in because of things like alimony, interest and dividends, and prizes. You’ll need to factor this into your income. If you’re a sole proprietor, partner, or S corporation shareholder, and you believe you will owe $1,000 or more in taxes for the 2017 tax year, you’re expected to make quarterly payments. For corporations, the cutoff amount is $500.

Note: The IRS has different requirements for farmers, fishermen, certain household employers, and some high-income taxpayers.

Unless you’re paying electronically, you’ll need to visit this IRS page to print your estimated tax vouchers.

A Complex Calculation

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for calculating the estimated taxes you should pay every quarter. That’s why they call them “estimated.” And changes to the tax code aren’t finalized by Congress until the end of the year, by which time you should have made three payments (April 18, June 15, and September 15, 2017; your final quarterly payment is due January 16, 2018).

You can use the worksheet that the IRS supplies (you’ll find payment vouchers here, too). If you’re using accounting software or a website, it’ll be much easier to assemble the numbers. If your financial situation hasn’t changed much since the previous year, you could use your most recent return as a model.

The IRS offers multiple ways to make your quarterly estimated payments electronically. In fact, the agency encourages it.

Don’t Forget State

Do you live in a state that requires you to pay income taxes? If so, you’ll need to check with your state tax agency to see how to handle state estimated taxes. The Small Business Administration (SBA) maintains an online directory that you can consult to locate the appropriate website.

There’s no reason to add penalties to your tax bill when paying estimated taxes can help you avoid that. Although there is no quick answer for everyone on how much to pay; just knowing what your payment requirements are is an important step in planning for and managing your taxes each year.  If you need help calculating your estimated payments seek the advice of a trusted CPA.

Entrepreneur Feature: Rachelle, Counseling Practice

I’m Rachelle, and I am a Clinical Social Worker and an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker in private practice.

I started my own counselling practice, Happy Me Counselling, about 11 years ago in Melbourne, Australia. I felt inspired so I quit my job at a non-profit organisation and started my own counselling practice – with just one client! I now have a team of three counsellors (including myself) and an Administrative Assistant.

Through my counselling work with young children to adults, I have become really passionate about getting the most helpful and right tools that will make a huge different in their lives. As a result, I decided to launch an online shop.

The Happy Me Shop is an online website that lists the products I personally select – ones that I know can help families and educators. I use my expertise and clinical skills to test and then select unique and fun products to help with anxiety, stress, depression, ADD, autism, sensory issues, problem solving, fine and gross motor skills. I primarily focus on products such as fidget tools, books and toys that build skills and bring more calm and happy into people’s lives.

I also use blogging and my social media presence to advocate for normalising mental health and encouraging people to seek clinical treatment as they need.

What is your best advice for other (LDS) women entrepreneurs?

Never, ever, think you cannot do it. (And when you do, challenge that thought!) You are never inferior to anyone else, regardless of positions or callings. Believe this. Assert yourself when needed. And….get yourself a fantastic mentor!

There is no easy path, but if it’s the right path for you – it will work out. Maybe not how you expect, but it will work out.

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

For my personal circumstances, it’s often been about sacrificing time. Having to prioritize time with my children and still juggle work, or even things like cleaning and shopping getting put on the back burner – again, and again, and again.

To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?

I actually run a workshop that is called the “Five Keys to Private Practice Success.” I developed it around my learning from having a private practice. I will just share a few thoughts in each area.

  1. You – work HARD and believe in yourself, learn, learn, learn
  2. Your Practice – have processes in place and continually refine them
  3. Your budget and Income – be wise in how you spend money and always review this. Everything in business financially will impact your personal finances and vice versa.
  4. Your Clients – develop a niche that is needed within your field and become the expert
  5. Your Connections – utilize all your supports and connections, keep a list of who they are to remind you. Say “No” when it doesn’t work for you and “Yes” when you need help!

Career Day: Midwife

Tell us a little about yourself and about your job?

My name is Eve German. I’m from Hockessin, Delaware, and I currently live in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am a Certified Professional Midwife, meaning that I am a midwife who specializes in and was specifically trained to attend birth at home and in birth centers, as well as to provide comprehensive care in pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum and newborn periods for normal, healthy, low risk women and newborns. I have a bachelor’s in English Literature with a minor in editing from BYU, and a master’s in midwifery from Bastyr University, which is in the Seattle area of Washington State. I practice at The Birth Center in Salt Lake.

What does your job entail?

My job entails providing healthcare for women during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period, as well as providing newborn care* for the first two weeks of each baby’s life. This breaks down into two main parts in terms of my schedule. 1) During the week I have scheduled clinic hours just as you would have in any medical office, where I see clients** for prenatal visits, postpartum and newborn visits, and well woman visits for non-pregnant women. This involves the actual face-to-face time with clients, performing any blood/lab work that they need done, and then charting each visit afterwards, and reviewing all lab results for the regular lab work and ultrasounds that are performed for our clients. I also facilitate a Post-Cesarean Support Group, which is held monthly, and provides support and healing for women who have felt traumatized by birth via c-section. I am also the Clinical Director for our clinic, and so I have regular administrative work of ensuring that our staff and midwives are meeting the highest standards of safety and care as they practice in our clinic. This involves regular chart reviews, where I review how cases were managed, regular individual meetings and group trainings with staff to review and discuss how practice and safety can be improved, and regularly reviewing and revising our practice’s written safety protocols and procedures to ensure that they are up to date, and reflective of the highest standards of care in midwifery and out-of-hospital birth. All of these responsibilities we call “clinic.” That’s about half to three-quarters of my job, depending on the week. The other part of my job is 2) being on call. This involves having my work cell phone with me at all times (I carry two cell phones: a personal phone, and a work phone for clients to reach me on), so that I can immediately receive any calls or texts from clients who have a need, and respond accordingly. The bulk of my call time I spend attending labors/births, primarily in our birth center (about 80-90% of births I attend at the birth center in any given month), but also at home for families who choose home birth (10-20% of our clients in any given month). Most births happen in the middle of the night, so call and births involves missing sleep on a fairly regular basis. While the bulk of my call time is given to labors and births, it also includes providing any care or answering any questions that our clients might have, from urgent to non-urgent needs and questions at any point in pregnancy or the postpartum, as well as general women’s health questions and concerns.

*At our clinic (and at every midwifery clinic that I have ever worked in) we treat moms and babies as a dyad, a single unit, conducting their follow-up care in the postpartum by seeing them together, and thereby treating them as the unit that they are. I and my colleagues are licensed and trained in newborn care for the first two weeks of life, and routinely perform all the tests, checks, and assessments that would be performed by a pediatrician during that time frame (PKU tests, newborn hearing screenings, congenital heart defect screenings, weight checks, jaundice checks, etc.), while also offering extensive breastfeeding support, and frequent checks of and support to the mother’s physical recovery, and her physical and emotional transition into the postpartum/newborn period.

**We midwives prefer the term “clients” to “patients,’ because we believe it is language with less of a power differential between healthcare provider and patient, and also reminds us as the healthcare provider that the client has hired us, we work for them, and as such we should treat them with respect, equality, and our best services, rather than taking a “Doctor knows best” approach.

What drew you to midwifery?

God. That is the whole answer for me. I never would have chosen this field for myself; it’s too demanding and the responsibility too crushing. I seriously didn’t even know that it was an actual profession. I thought it was illegal in the U.S., and that it was a practice so outdated and so unsafe that it would only be practiced in third-world countries if it was practiced at all. Like most people, what I imagined about midwifery, and what midwifery actually is, were two totally different things. I had no idea that it was an established, respected field, with outstanding outcomes for mothers and babies. I was shocked when I learned that research consistently shows that midwifery care at home and in birth centers is actually safer for healthy, low-risk women than delivering in a hospital is. And that was just the beginning of what I had no idea about.

Midwifery has been and is a calling for me. And I don’t mean that in the aggrandized sense of that word. I mean it in the burden/duty sense of the word. Don’t get me wrong; I love my work, I love midwifery, and I love. love. love working with families. But more than I love my work, I believe in my work, and more than I believe in my work, I know that this is the work that God wants me to be doing–whether I like it or not. I know this because of the experience that first led me to choose midwifery as my career.

I was a missionary at the time, serving my mission in the New Zealand, Wellington Mission. I had been out about a year, had been recently transferred into an area that my companion and I were opening up as a sister missionary area for the first time, and was working to get the work going in this previously very quiet area. On this particular day, we were going to knock the doors of very old “Potential Investigators” contacts that we had found in an Area Book that hadn’t been touched in about five years. I can still see the name and where it was on the page: “Dale, [his address], ‘has good questions.’”

Our area was very rural. In fact, the population of sheep and cows quadrupled the population of people. Dale lived in a tiny, little railroad track town, where there was one small corner store, a dance hall, and maybe fifty houses, all cut right down the middle of town by a busy railroad freight line. We knocked on Dale’s door, which was about 15 or 20 feet from the railroad track. The conversation was running its course. We must have been trying to set an appointment with him to come back and teach a full lesson, because he started to talk about what he had to do that next week. He mentioned that he had to watch his granddaughter that week so that his daughter could take an exam for her midwifery course.

As soon as he had said the words “midwifery course,” three things happened simultaneously: 1) a fast train suddenly roared by, totally drowning out any sound but itself, so none of us could talk to or hear each other, 2) Dale turned inside to look for a book he’d been telling us about, while my companion turned away from me and looked the opposite direction towards the street, and 3) a feeling hit me, directly in my chest, harder than any feeling had ever hit me before. It was electric, and it reverberated up and down my body many times over. The feeling was so strong, so physical, and had hit me so suddenly and so unexpectedly that I actually stumbled back a little bit, and stood wide-eyed as the feeling coursed through my body. With the feeling, came an overwhelming and an undeniable message. Clearer than words could ever dream of being, this message was communicated directly to my soul. Its meaning was so clear that I could never question it, wonder what it meant, or doubt that it had really happened. To translate that message into words, it was, “You should–and you will–receive training as a midwife. This is your next mission.” The train was fast and loud, and so it passed relatively quickly. It took maybe 15 or 20 seconds for me to be hit with that shock wave, stumble, receive the message, be slightly bent at my waist panting and both wide-eyed and teary-eyed, and then collect myself and start acting normal again, at which point the train was gone, everything was quiet again, and Dale and my companion turned back in to continue our conversation.

The timing of that train was so cosmic, and so filled with a heavenly love and compassion for me, because it gave me privacy: a rare and precious moment of privacy. For one, the almost total lack of privacy that comes with missionary life was one of the hardest aspects for me of my mission experience. I know that Heavenly Father knew that, and that He gave me that moment of privacy as a tender and personal gift to just my heart. But more important than that, that privacy, a few moments with no eyes on me, gave me time to fully receive and react to that message that would change my entire life from then on, without having to quickly recover, cover up, act normal, and divide my mind between breathing, acting, and talking normally, and trying to interpret this powerful feeling and the message that came with it.

It took me five years from that day to fully transition or adjust to my new life as a midwife. Those years were really hard for me. Birth was amazing, the women I worked with, trained with, was trained and mentored by were even more amazing, and I knew that I was lucky to witness and participate in the things that I was involved in day to day in my work. But it was hard, too; it was stressful, exhausting, and occasionally terrifying. In addition, life on call, never knowing when I might be called away or when I might be back, was really hard and really sad, because it took a heavy toll on my closest relationships. I spent five years feeling sorry for myself on a pretty regular basis. When people would gush and tell me that I “have the most magical job in the whole world! You must be like a magical birth fairy.” I would just stare back at them, having no idea how to communicate the raw, painful reality of my work, let alone the energy to try to convince them otherwise.

I was single for the first two years of my three-year master’s program, and I had made a solemn oath that I would never partner with anyone or have children, because I didn’t feel like I could inflict on my family the pain of leaving them so often, and during the times when most babies are born: nights, weekends, and holidays. But God had other plans, and along my partner came, and with him the only other feeling in my life that has ever been as strong as that feeling that called me to midwifery: the feeling that I should marry him.

I married him three months before I graduated from midwifery school. We dated and were married long distance while I finished school. After graduation, I moved from Washington State to Salt Lake City where he lived, and got a job at the birth center where I’m currently working. A year and a half later, I gave birth to our first baby, and took a seven month maternity leave. It was my son who taught me, showed me, how miserable I had been making myself by feeling so sorry for myself all the time about how hard and demanding my work was. For years I had ideated about having “a normal job,” with “normal hours,” and I felt sorry for myself because I didn’t have that. Through those early newborn days of taking care of my son (who had a terrible time learning how to sleep), I realized that I was feeling sorry for myself a lot. It was a revelation to me. As familiar and frequent as that feeling was, I had never called it “feeling sorry for myself.” I think if  I had, I would have realized a lot sooner that I needed to change my attitude. But as it was, that feeling had remained subtle and unnamed for years, stealing my power, blocking my joy, and stunting my growth as a person. As I felt sorry for myself that my son struggled with sleep, I realized that I was showing several symptoms of postpartum mood disorders. As I triaged myself and problem solved how to remedy my struggles with mood, I realized that I could be in the exact same circumstances and either feel sorry for myself, and therefore be weak, depressed, anxious, daunted, and depleted, OR I could feel willing–sincerely willing–to do the work of serving my son, and immediately feel strong, peaceful, content, and equal to my task. The circumstances were the same, but my heart was totally different. The Spirit taught me, gently and gradually, that I had been doing the same thing in my view towards midwifery, and that it was time for me to be different. It was time for me to be willing, sincerely willing, to serve in my work, and to therefore have true and unhindered joy and satisfaction in my work for the first time. *I want to be really clear that I am in no way saying that “being willing” is an adequate treatment for postpartum mood disorders. This is just one isolated part of my individual experience.

I had enjoyed and loved my work before, but always it had been overshadowed by my own self pity for how hard it was. I have been back to work for eight months now, and as much as the work is the same as it always was in terms of demand, I can honestly say that I have joy in it, that I love it all the way now and not just part way, and that I would choose this work now for myself, in a way that I never would have for the first five years that I was a part of it. Each day, each week, each labor and birth, each night away from my baby who still co-sleeps and nurses to sleep (and nurses to stay asleep), I see the direct correlation between my joy, my ability to be spiritually guided in my work, and my ability to strangle the self pity out of my heart, and let true willingness grow there. It is this practice, the practice within my own heart, that I believe is the reason why God called me to practice midwifery. There are so many others who can do the things that I do for families. They don’t need me. Not really. Someone else could do the same things. But only midwifery can provide the treatment to my heart that it most needs. I feel that midwifery is a calling given to me to transform me, and to accomplish my own personal Plan of Salvation. Midwifery is given to me to save me, to create me, to break me, and re-make me. And this year, for the first time, I realize that the gifts of midwifery are so much more, in quantity and in quality, than the things that midwifery might take away from me. And among the greatest of those gifts is having so many families to fall in love with, having such good, gentle, and important work to do for them, and having the sacred privilege of keeping them safe, and treating them the way that I would want my family, my baby, my body, my heart to be treated in the process of bringing my babies Earth-side.

What kind of education/training is required? What skills/personal characteristics are important to have/develop?

One of the main issues facing midwifery in our country, is that it is not standardized. That means that there is not one pathway, or one set of requirements for becoming a midwife. There are a number of ways that someone can become a midwife, depending on what kind of midwife they want to be, so that makes this a complicated answer. I’ll try to break it down to be as uncomplicated as possible.

Certified Nurse Midwife:

Bachelor’s in Nursing, with an RN (usually a three to four year program)

Master’s in midwifery, (usually a two year program)

Certified Professional Midwife:

Meet the prerequisites for the particular midwifery school you are applying to. Typically these are about the same as the pre-reqs would be for a nursing program.

Some schools require a bachelor’s degree, some don’t.

Complete the program, which is half academic, and half clinical practice apprenticing under a trained/qualified midwife or group of midwives.

For my school, it was a three year master’s program where I was required to complete a master’s thesis, complete all my coursework, and fulfill a long list of clinical requirements (demonstrating routine and emergency skills in a series of comprehensive exams, provide documentation of attending at least 100 births, had conducted 300 prenatal visits, a certain number of postpartum visits, well woman visits, newborn checks, etc. etc. all while being supervised by a trained/qualified midwife.)

There is a second option, which is a process called the PEP process, which is apprenticeship only, self study, without attending a midwifery school. Keeping this option open as a pathway to midwifery is a heated controversy in our field, and the odds of it being closed/phased out in the next several years is high, so proceed with caution if you choose this pathway.

What kind of job opportunities are there in your field?

Primarily working either as a solo midwife in your own practice with no partners, or working in a group of midwives either in a hospital-based practice (must be a nurse midwife), or in a birth center/home birth practice.

The University of Utah, and some other schools are now offering a PhD in midwifery, which is not a very long program, and many of the midwives who graduate from these programs do only midwifery research, and do not practice midwifery in the typical sense.

There is also quite a bit of activism and legislative work to be done in midwifery, that most of us volunteer for in addition to our regular jobs. But some people do just legislative/lobbying work for midwifery. There is a specialized one-year master’s program for this type of work offered at Bastyr University.

What types of jobs have you had within your profession?

Working as a member of a group practice of midwives as a staff midwife, and as the Clinical Director of our practice/facility.

What is the best part of your job ?

The families.

What is the worst part of your job?

Being on call and missing a lot of sleep.

What’s the work/family/life balance like?

Difficult, but something that I feel very strongly has made every member of my family stronger and more selfless to have to learn how to balance. My marriage is stronger, and my partner and I as individuals are undeniably made better by the hard work that it is to regularly sacrifice for the service that we provide to families. My partner views my work as a service that our whole family provides. He often says to me, “I’m a midwife, too, because the work I do makes it so you can go and do the work you do. Our whole family helps babies to be born. It’s all of our work.” (He is an artist, and teaches middle/high school art at a local private school, so he works as well.)

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?

That midwives are unsafe, untrained, unprofessional, and without legitimate medical training and medical equipment. So, so false.

What opportunities have you had because of your education and profession?

Really, I’d have to say the whole experience has been one that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I had only ever wanted to be an English professor. And if it weren’t for that train, I would be, and would never have known or experienced any of the things that I have as a midwife, and as a student midwife prior to graduation.

What stereotypes or criticisms have you faced as an educated Mormon woman with her own career?

I don’t feel like I deal with this one much, honestly because, for better or for worse, Mormons value birth, are more likely to support midwifery, and tend to see midwifery as “women’s work,” and even as a calling, which culturally fits in much more comfortably with most Mormon’s societal views than many other professions. I’m not saying it’s right or fair that they see it that way. I’m just saying that’s the way it is.

What spiritual guidance have you felt as you have pursued your education and developed your career?

So much spiritual guidance. I have had experiences in emergent situations, where I felt as if my hands were on puppet strings, and I watched as my hands performed complicated and life-saving procedures that I had never performed before, and/or that I would not have known to do on my own. I feel the Spirit nudge me, teach me, prompt me, show me, and expand me and my capacities almost constantly in my work, mostly in the talking and listening that I do with people in their visits, though I feel it guide my hands fairly regularly too during birth. I feel that my worthiness has very little to do with the Spirit working in me or through me, but that it has everything to do with how much God loves these families, and how critical it is that these babies are born both safely AND gently, without fear. I could say a lot about this one, and tell a lot of stories, but I will leave it at that for now.

Entrepreneur Feature: Heather, Organizational Consulting

I am Heather Stone, and I have owned and managed businesses for twenty-five years. Most recently, I run a small organizational consulting firm out of a lovely little office in American Fork, about a mile from my home. I help companies figure out how to sustain a fast pace of growth without destroying their employees and owners in the process. This usually involves innovation in organizational structure, communication skills training, interpersonal coaching, and lots of possibility thinking. And I’m a word person so people always ask me to write documents for them. I am in the final year of my PhD work at the University of Utah. I expect to finish in May 2018 with a dual emphasis in Communication and Writing/Rhetoric. I am an award-winning teacher who has co-taught, taught, and assisted with twenty-three course sections in four departments. I spent the last two years observing teachers and helping them improve curriculums and learning in online and face-to-face classrooms. For my dissertation, I am conducting oral histories with women who moved from Mormon-minority to Mormon-majority communities as LDS teenagers between 1975 and 2000. I am examining the communication strategies women use to establish and sustain group membership and individual identity. You can find me at

What is your best advice for other (LDS) women entrepreneurs?

I want to tell women—especially LDS women—that it’s ok to do things their own way. So often people get trapped in the “shoulds.” I should stay home with my kids. I should work shorter hours. Or longer hours. Or go to school. Or quit school. I should look better, be better, think better, and above all, do better. Well, what would happen if you stopped trying to do all the things you think you should? A wise conflict resolution facilitator once taught me to ask, “How could things be otherwise?” If we really take time to answer that question, it may open up all kinds of possibilities. How could our lives be otherwise? I try and identify the one thing that is bugging me the most because I’ve found there is almost always a way to change just one small thing. I still remember the moment when I realized that I could get my dishes done by hiring a teenager. For $68 a month, my kitchen was cleaned to the bare counters twice a week without my having to touch a single plate. The neighbor kid who did the work was thrilled to have a flexible job he could do after football practice, and his work with me prepared him for the career position I referred him to when he got home from a mission. Far too often, the biggest barrier to having our lives be otherwise is our own limited vision as to what is possible. My brother once said that we are only as far away as the next good idea. We can think our way out of so many of the constraints in our life if we can truly believe that things can be otherwise than they are now.

What spiritual guidance have you had with developing and growing your business?

This topic of spirituality in business is a complicated one. We each interpret our relationship with God differently. When I studied hymns written by Mormon women, I found many variations in how these authors described spiritual guidance. Some women said they were inspired to write, that the words sprang into their minds fully formed. Others said they worked intellectually to create the hymn and then were guided by the Spirit to refine it so it would be consistent with God’s desires. One woman boldly owned her authorial position as she claimed that God’s part in her hymn was to grant her musical talent, which she then used to produce the song. I have been guided by the Spirit in nearly every aspect of my life, including professionally. I pray in the car on my way to every client engagement, every class I teach or take, and every meeting I attend. I believe my work is a calling given to me in my patriarchal blessing. I feel very strongly that God wants me to use my brain and my energy to do good in the world. But I usually keep quiet about my beliefs unless someone asks. I wonder sometimes if that limits my influence, but then I remember that we writing teachers really do encourage our students to “show” not “tell,” so maybe this way is ok after all.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

The thing I enjoy the most about being an entrepreneur is also the thing I hate the most: that I manage my own time! Like many others in the AMW community, I am overly busy doing a whole bunch of personal and professional things that are very satisfying. I consult with companies, teach at a university, do research for my dissertation, and try to write articles for publication. And I have four kids plus a stray teenager who joined our family a few months ago, and a husband and two cats. But oh, is my life chunked. Chunking is a concept pedagogical researchers have used to talk about why online teaching is so different from on-ground teaching. Teachers who interact virtually with their students find themselves doing that interaction continuously, in tiny snatches here and there between their other commitments.

LDS women have always chunked but our chunking was previously in a single arena because it was nearly impossible even ten years ago to nurse the baby while simultaneously participating in the business meeting. Technology has allowed work to be distributed to more locations and formats, but it has also turned us into whirling dervishes who spin from job to kid to gym to email to laundry without even stopping to think about what new responsibilities we now have for imposing boundaries and structuring our time. I’m finding the self-awareness requirements challenging in a world where I can no longer rely on familiar organizational constraints to define my relationship to people and tasks. The personal and the professional are blended together for me in ways that are sometimes really fabulous and sometimes really unhealthy. And I have no one to blame but myself.

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

Oh, don’t even get me started as I type these answers at 3:45am. I often say that parenting is not for the faint-hearted. Well, neither is entrepreneurship. One of my favorite quotes is this: “The value of all education is learning to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.” Let’s just say I am well educated. And tired. Of course, my other favorite quote is, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, ‘Woo hoo! What a ride!” I believe in living life. When I get the choice to sit it out or dance, I want to dance. Three uncited quotes in a single paragraph. My dissertation advisor would be disappointed.

Adele Cannon Howells: The Woman Behind the Book of Mormon Paintings

by Brooke Nelson Edwards

Artist Arnold Friberg’s images of Nephi building a boat or Alma baptizing new converts near the waters of Mormon have become almost inseparable from the stories contained inside the Book of Mormon. These paintings decorate meeting halls across the world and have graced LDS Church materials for decades, but they were actually not by the church or originally intended for an adult audience. Instead, they were generously commissioned by Adele Cannon Howells as a gift to the children of the Church.

Addie, as she was known to her friends, was born in Salt Lake City on January 11, 1886. She attended LDS Business College and then graduated from the University of Utah in physical education. She began her career as an English teacher and then taught physical education at the LDS Business College. She published an article about playground movement in children.

Addie also worked as a secretary for her husband, who owned a company that distributed American silent movies throughout Europe and other countries. The pair adopted three children, and the family traveled the globe together.

Addie was also committed to church service, and she was especially interested in the spiritual and cultural development of children. She wrote articles for The Improvement Era and served an editor of the The Children’s Friend magazine. She later introduced new features to the publication to try to make it more child friendly and age appropriate including coloring pages and thicker paper. She was called as a counselor to the Primary General Presidency in 1940 and then called as General Primary President in 1943. President Howells took her stewardship over the children of the Church very seriously and worked tirelessly to benefit them. She attended multiple childhood education conferences and was the idea woman behind a new radio hour for children that encouraged children to write and recite poetry. She was also involved publishing a songbook made for Primary children and a television program.

As part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of The Children’s Friend, President Howells sought to have acclaimed artist Arnold Friberg paint twelve scenes from the Book of Mormon—one for each issue of the magazine. When church funds were not made available, President Howells commissioned and paid for the paintings herself, ultimately selling some of her own property in order to pay the artist. President Howells donated the paintings to the Church as a gift. She also commissioned work for the baptistry area in the Idaho Falls temple.

In addition to her work in church leadership, President Howells was instrumental in the building of Primary Children’s Hospital and the “This is the Place” pioneer monument in Salt Lake City. She was admitted to the Salt Lake City Hall of Fame for her community contributions. She died in 1951.

Addie truly lived by the motto she taught her children, “We must not keep everything for our own comfort.” Her sacrifice and effort to make the church a more artistic place have blessed generations of adults and children alike.




Artist Feature: Natalie Hansen

Hi! I’m Natalie Hansen, and I am graduating this month with a BFA degree in Illustration and a minor in Family Life from Brigham Young University. I am a freelance illustrator, and you can view my work at and find me on Instagram and Facebook. Trying new foods, long boarding, reading, and small rabbits are some of my favorite things.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?

I need to know I can do it. Before being able to write, I made picture books and attempted to sell them to my babysitter. Illustration was the obvious choice for a major once college came. BYU’s Illustration program challenges its students and is very competitive. Mid-college I was very discouraged and seriously considered changing my major. However, I decided to stick it through to see how much development could happen. I am so glad I did. Freelance illustration is my choice in order to prove to myself that I can provide for myself with my skills. It seems to be necessary for my personal sense of confidence and satisfaction to know that I can be independent.

Where do you see yourself and your business in 10-20 years?

Maybe with some explaining of what I have done, it will reflect on where I think I’ll go with a future business. I just put up my Illustration BFA Show. It is a series of posters depicting the Young Women Values as individual women. I researched and wrote a 15-page paper on how women are depicted in art and the media, and it boils down to this: women are often portrayed in art nude or as decorative objects, and passive. They also reflect the current cultural ideal body type which is usually very limited. In my posters, I strove to put each woman in an active pose (even if it was symbolic or spiritual action). The models consisted of women who are varied in their skin, hair, and body type. I wanted to combat the message that the most important thing about women is their appearance by drawing attention away from what they look like to the attribute they are displaying or developing. This way, I could focus on the significance of women’s traits and gifts, and most importantly, their spiritual character.

That being said, when it comes to a career, two paths sound good to me currently. One path I can see myself going down is to use my illustrative and design skills to assist an organization that directly benefits people, especially women. (Part of the reason I had my mid-college crisis was because I couldn’t see how art directly helps others. Creating beautiful things for the sake of creating beautiful things or competing to be one of the best illustrators seems pointless to me.) I could see myself as a illustrator/graphic designer making posters and advertisements for a women’s organization to promote true ideas about self-respect, body image, and activities that promote their heath and wellness in all aspects. I could see myself working as a part of a team and helping others in practical and tangible ways with my art talent.

Having interned with a children’s book illustrator, I can also imagine working from home, building up my talent through freelance and then making and pitching my own story books. The next step would be marketing them and presenting at elementary schools and bookstores. In any case, I see children’s books as definitely being a part of my future, because they’ve always been a part of my life.

One thing I like to imagine is reading a published book I have written and illustrated to my children. I imagine I will be working hard to put my family and the gospel first, and continuing to actively develop my talents.

What spiritual guidance have you had with developing and growing your business? 

Because I am beginning with my business, I have a lot to learn. This is definitely a little nerve-wracking, but I would be terrified if it weren’t for some things God has told me. He has reminded me that I can bless others, and that as I am righteous and do my part to be successful, He will provide. He has told me to put Him at the center of my life. As I do this, it blesses my relationships. I have been taught that relationships are essential in business, because opportunities come more from networking than anywhere else. It’s interesting that having good relationships is essential both in the gospel and in business. I have faith that God has a hand in my application and portfolio preparation, and that he will guide me to a path that will bring meaning and fulfillment. I am grateful that he has helped me and will continue to help me develop my talent so I can help others.

Career Day: Physicist

Tell us a little about yourself and about your job?

My name is Elise Tang. I am a nuclear physicist. I am originally from Boise, Idaho, but now I live in Los Alamos, NM. I received my BS from BYU and my Master’s and PhD from the University of Kentucky.

What does your job entail?

As an experimental nuclear physicist I do many things you might not expect! Physics is all about proving or disproving theories about how our universe works. Typically experimental physicists work together in collaboration to do this. We design and carry out experiments based on predictions from our models about the way things work. To do this we have to wear many hats. First we design the experiment, which requires not only math and physics calculations, but also precision engineering design and manufacture. Then we build the experiment, which often requires actual construction and manual labor. We also build all the electronic data collection equipment and write the code to run the experiment. After (and during) taking data (sometimes for years), we analyze the data and compare it to the expectations of the model, which gives us new information about the physical world. Then we write about it so that other people know, too! So, throughout my career I have worn a hard hat as well as a lab coat, used hand tools in addition to electronics, and written code as well as equations.

I specifically work with neutrons, using them to probe the basic questions of the universe, such as the forces that bind nuclei together and why there is more matter than antimatter in our universe.

What drew you to physics?

I was initially drawn to physics during my physical science class in the 8th grade. Another student and the teacher began discussing atomic electron transitions and energy levels. This quantization of energy really amazed me and I began studying every physics book I could find!

What kind of education/training is required? What skills/personal characteristics are important to have/develop?

A PhD is required to be a career physicist. However, students are paid to help with research as graduate students and even sometimes as undergraduates. Hard work is necessary for success, and you must be willing to work long hours and overtime. A willingness to learn new skills on a regular basis is essential, as research at the edge of science requires creativity to push the limits.

Patience is also important since experiments don’t always go as planned. There can be many setbacks. Often the unexpected happens and you must work hard to figure out how to fix things or do things a different way.

Being able to communicate with others of varying expertise is very useful. Often we work with people who help us with building, engineering, design, and construction, as well as other physicists with different assignments. Collaborating with all these people is easier if your writing and verbal communication skills are well developed.

What kind of job opportunities are there in your field?

The traditional career path of a physicist is to finish a PhD, work for 3 years as a postdoctoral researcher, and then begin an academic career at a university. In modern times, physicists work in many other fields, such as at national research labs, in politics and consulting, and in industries like oil extraction, in Silicon Valley, defense, and on Wall Street.

What types of jobs have you had within your profession?

My daughter was born 3 days after my dissertation defense, so since I received my PhD I have been a “volunteer” researcher working in ultra cold neutron physics at Los Alamos National Lab. I am currently going through the hiring process for a job that would work around my mothering schedule.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of being a physicist is working to solve the mysteries of the universe. On a daily basis the best part is the thrill of being able to solve problems in every part of research. It makes every day interesting.

What is the worst part of your job?

The worst part of this career is the long education and the long work hours. It takes a lot of work and dedication to be successful, as in many professions, and there isn’t much room for anything else until later in your career.

What’s the work/family/life balance like?

While establishing your career, a work/life balance is very difficult to achieve. After finishing a postdoctorate, I think it is possible to find some jobs that are more 8-5, but not usually in academia. It takes some creativity and a flexible boss to find jobs in physics that are “mother friendly”/flexible/part time. I’ve found that the search for this balance benefits from living gospel principles and asking the Lord for help. It certainly can happen. If you don’t make your family and family planning a priority, it can quickly become relegated until nonexistent. I’ve found you have to stick to your priorities, and things usually work out, especially when you have the Lord on your side.

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?

The biggest misconception about physicists (I think) is that they are all super smart. While being a genius is always helpful, it’s been my experience and observation that hard work is what makes success. Geniuses might not have to work as hard as the rest of us, but I’ve seen smart people be unsuccessful because they didn’t work hard, and normal people be successful because they did.

What opportunities have you had because of your education and profession?

I’ve had many opportunities, such as hearing lectures from Nobel laureates, traveling, giving talks at conferences, and just doing great physics. The best opportunity I’ve had due to my profession has been meeting and marrying my husband. We met on an experiment we performed at Los Alamos National Lab while we were in graduate school at different universities. He wasn’t Mormon at the time, but eventually joined the church after I followed promptings to give him a Book of Mormon. By following my heart, brain, and the Lord’s will for my life I was blessed with a husband who is a true equal, and respects my intelligence and education, something that was very difficult to find.

What stereotypes or criticisms have you faced as an educated Mormon woman with her own career?

Interestingly, I’ve felt nothing but support from most priesthood leaders and other women. I think it has been men of my age that have mostly seemed put off by my career choices. This is illustrated by an experience I had one night at an Institute activity. I was wearing a pink shirt that said “Physics” on it and a guy remarked that I shouldn’t wear it since I would scare all the guys away. I was of course stupefied by this, but certainly felt that any man that was scared off by this wasn’t worth being around anyway!

What spiritual guidance have you felt as you have pursued your education and developed your career?

I have always tried to put the Lord’s will first, and have always felt that He approved of and supported my path if it was what I wanted. There were certainly times when things were hard and I wondered if it was worth it or if I had made the right choices, but in the end the Lord blessed me, both in my career and in family life. I always felt strongly about both my career and my desire to have a family and be a mother, and I was frequently worried about one sacrificing the other, but the Lord is allowing me to be fulfilled in both ways, albeit at the expense of the “all-in” career that most physicists have. However, I find this to be an appropriate sacrifice for my daughter, who I love very much, and I am still able to be involved in the research I enjoy on a part-time basis.

Any other thoughts, advice, or stories you’d like to share with other women?

My strongest advice, especially to those contemplating life paths, is to not allow preconceived notions of what Heavenly Father wants for you to impede what He actually wants for you. There are a lot of ways our gospel “culture” insists we live that may not actually be correct. Be sure to open your mind to allow God to inspire your life in the ways He knows are best for you. Allow the instructions of prophets and the commandments to be a guide, along with prayer and a knowledge of your own self and your dreams. Along with this, realize that our life is finite and we cannot “have it all” all at once. Don’t allow mortal dreams to block out opportunities for eternal ones. It is a balancing act in expectation, one with opportunity cost, but this is something everyone deals with. Remember all this, also, when influencing young women, and be careful with how you portray it.

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