Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Category: Self-Improvement (page 3 of 4)



“Honestly, I just love how you…you…” –I couldn’t quite think of what it was—“ you live so unapologetically. Yes, you are so unapologetically yourself.” I didn’t realize it was this, all along, that had drawn me to one of my best friends. We were sitting in my kitchen, all of us girls, chatting about boys. Invariably, the conversation had led to us to one of those chick-flick worthy heart-to-hearts, building each other up after a confusing day with our crushes. I remembered the first time I had met this friend, the one who lived unapologetically. I had been somewhat skeptical of her bubbliness and kindness and ability to open up people so swiftly and easily. I learned very quickly this was no façade, but just an incredible, high-spirited girl.

And it was true; she was unapologetically herself. People couldn’t help but gravitate towards her confidence and sincerity. Yet, I couldn’t help but be skeptical of the idea. Live unapologetically? I mean, it’s a nice idea, but I have flaws—imperfections— parts of me others might find rather annoying. From what I understood, to live unapologetically meant to embrace all of those things. All throughout childhood I was told to be aware of my shortcomings, change my bad habits, and become a better person, which ultimately meant abandoning the person I am now and striving to be another. How could I truly embrace myself if “myself” was always in a working state of change?

It didn’t help that saying sorry was a bad habit of mine. It was like one of those automatic responses people give even when it doesn’t make sense, like when someone says “Happy birthday!” and the other responds “You too.” I apologized for everything: in the middle of conversations when I felt like I was talking to much, when I tripped up the stairs (when no one was there), and even when people complimented me. I was the epitome of living apologetically, and though I wasn’t happy, I still wasn’t satisfied with the idea of fully embracing myself—imperfections and all—quite yet.

I couldn’t quite understand this concept until the understanding of my identity—true identity—shifted. To live unapologetically means to embrace our truest selves, and we are, in the truest sense, sons and daughters of God with a divine nature and divine potential. We are not our imperfections, nor are we our mistakes. We are defined by our ability to change. We are a work in progress, and we need not apologize for this fact.

Jessica Olsen, Editor, Stance

Sharing Hope

Heather Von St. Clair

Heather Von St. James

“I thought it was all post-partum symptoms,” Heather said about her cancer signs. Three months after giving birth to her daughter, Lily, Heather Von St. James was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, a relatively rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Heather’s exposure came from the coating of asbestos dust on her father’s work coat. Particles settled in the lining of her lungs, called the pleura, causing a tumor to grow. She experienced extreme fatigue, coughing, and shortness of breath, and she was losing weight rapidly—five to seven pounds a week.

“I didn’t know any different since Lily was my first baby. But when I passed out on the sofa one morning after bringing laundry up from the basement, I knew it was more.”

“It was a very scary time,” Heather admitted. Mesothelioma doesn’t manifest itself until years after exposure, so most patients don’t live more than 15 months after diagnosis. Heather’s first fear was “that I would die and leave my husband and baby. Other fears and concerns were all the financial ones. Would we lose our home? Everything we had worked so hard for? None of it mattered if we could find a way to save my life.”

Despite the exhaustion and the worries, Heather found pockets of hope throughout that time. Her specialist in Boston, Dr. David Sugarbaker, said he would do everything he could for her. “Dr. Sugarbaker gave us the hope that we so desperately needed in facing this disease,” she said.

Another small blessing: “No hair loss! I was pretty happy about that one,” Heather exclaimed.

Other blessings came from her family, who acted as her support system throughout that time. Before her diagnosis, Heather’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law came to stay with her. And when she and Cam made the decision to go to Boston, where she was given chemotherapy, radiation, and an extra pleural pneumonectomy, they left Lily with Heather’s parents.

Heather, Cam, and Lily

Heather, Cam, and Lily

After surgery, Heather went home to her parents and Lily while Cam worked in Minnesota. Living apart from Cam was hard for both of them, but the support from her family helped everyone.

“It was just what we had to do to get through,” Heather explained. “We knew that. Knowing Lily was going to have consistent care and love by my parents was exactly the peace of mind I needed to make it through surgery. Then, going to live with them after and have the help with Lily was such a weight lifted. It was a huge part of my recovery.”

Even Lily played her part. “All I had to do was look at my daughter,” Heather said. “That sweet little face with those big eyes was all the motivation I needed to keep going in my darkest times. When I wanted to throw in the towel, I would cry out to God, and He carried me through by showing me my daughter.”

To those who know someone struggling with mesothelioma, Heather councils: “There is so much out there that dashes the hopes of people, so being a support and an information gatherer is a great help. Offer to clean, grocery shop, watch kids, or just be with the patient. Be careful of what you say. Think before you ask personal questions, especially about finances. A great way to help is to organize a benefit. I can’t stress how much that helped us with expenses. Praying is always a good thing too. And one last thing . . . stay positive.”

Now, ten years later, Heather is a healthy survivor and an active patient advocate in the mesothelioma community. Her voice reaches out to those looking for answers and encouragement. Mesothelioma brings uncertainty and fear, but Heather’s message offers hope to patients and their families. “If one person is inspired and gets hope and help from my story, I’m happy.”

To learn more about Heather’s story with mesothelioma, please visit her blog at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

—Sarah Perkins, Senior Editor, Stance

Sabbath Message: Whom Will Ye Serve?

“[C]hoose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).family-walking-along-beach-1117003-print

I’m not sharing this scripture because it is my favorite, or because it changed my life when I memorized it in Seminary. I think this is one of my dad’s favorite scriptures, and I remember enjoying it when I read it for the first time in Seminary. But it’s never been one of those scriptures that stuck with me. It’s never been my go-to

Although it has never been that scripture for me, someday I want it to be one of the most applicable and meaningful scriptures in my repertoire. Someday, when I have a family with little children who depend on me for so much—I will want this scripture to have meaning. When I have a family I will teach my children the gospel of Christ. I will teach them right from wrong. I will train and guide them in all that they need to know. I will teach them who to serve. When I have a family, we will serve the Lord.

—Shelby Olsen, Stance

Feel the Savior’s Love

Did you have a good weekend? I did. I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoys Valentine’s Day. Weird, right? It’s because of my mom.

Growing up, my mom made sure that we knew that she loved us on Valentine’s Day. Every February 14th we ran down the stairs to the kitchen table almost as excitedly as we did on Christmas morning. Without fail a candy bar or tiny heart-shaped box of chocolates was a personalized gift sitting atop a bright red tablecloth at each of our places at the table. It wasn’t big, but we knew we could count on Mom being our valentine. I understand that not everyone feels loved all the time, and during holidays, it is hard to feel happy when you don’t have someone special to share it with. For us, Valentine’s Day wasn’t a romantic holiday, but just a time for my mom to reaffirm how much she cared about us.

One of my favorite Primary songs has been running through my head for the last week. “I Feel My Savior’s Love” gives me a chance to remember why Valentine’s Day has survived as a holiday.

Jesus comforting

  1. I feel my Savior’s love

In all the world around me.

His Spirit warms my soul

Through ev’rything I see.



He knows I will follow him,

Give all my life to him.

I feel my Savior’s love,

The love he freely gives me.


  1. I feel my Savior’s love;

Its gentleness enfolds me,

And when I kneel to pray,

My heart is filled with peace.

  1. I feel my Savior’s love

And know that he will bless me.

I offer him my heart;

My shepherd he will be.


  1. I’ll share my Savior’s love

By serving others freely.

In serving I am blessed.

In giving I receive.


I know I’m crazy, but do you see what I’m getting at? Even when there aren’t any chocolates sitting on a brightly-colored tablecloth, when kind valentines expressing affection or gratitude do not await you, and when no one is physically present to say “I love you,” you can still feel our Savior’s love. It will warm your soul, enfold you in gentleness, fill your heart with peace. No matter what holiday it is, whether Christmas, Easter, or Valentine’s Day, the important thing is knowing that the Savior loves you. And like my mom, His love is freely given.

—Ariel Peterson, Stance

I Feel My Savior’s Love

Words: Ralph Rodgers Jr., 1936-1996; K. Newell Dayley, b. 1939; and Laurie Huffman, b. 1948

Music: K. Newell Dayley, b. 1939

(c) 1978, 1979 by K. Newell Dayley. Used by permission.

Valentines Day is For Lovers…Or Not

Today is the day—St. Valentine’s Day, that is!

Whether you love it, despise it, are indifferent to it—it is here and we might as well live it.

Many people think of Valentine’s Day in the romantic sense. I think that’s why so many people are bitter about the hearts and the chocolate. I remember sitting in my dorm room my freshman year of college. My roommates and friends had boyfriends and were out, it was my first year away from home, and I was sitting all alone thinking, “This. Stinks.”

Planning to mope the rest of the night, I heard a knock at my door around 8pm. When I opened the door, something amazing happened. Prince Charming on his horse came riding by! Well… no. When I opened the door, there was a girl who Helping hands, helping heartslived next door in standing there in her pjs.

“Any plans tonight?” she asked. “No… I feel like everyone’s gone,” I replied. “Well let’s do something,” she said. “I’m tired of waiting around.” I hardly knew her, but we decided we should watch a fun movie. We knocked on the other apartment next to mine. Then the one next to theirs. Then the next one. Pretty soon, there was a whole group of us who had been thinking everyone else was out but us! We had an awesome, fun-filled night with movies, popcorn, chocolate and more. All because one person decided to look outside of themselves. She was the reason that we all had a great Valentine’s Day. And we all became great friends after that!

I have reflected back on this experience many times. It wasn’t so much that that girl was looking for some fun and needed me. It was that I was moping around and needed her. And I am so grateful that she decided to do that!

So what is Valentine’s Day really celebrating? It’s celebrating LOVE! And in my opinion, that’s worth the celebration. Whether it’s getting your friends together for a fun night out (or in), meeting your family for brunch, heart attacking your friends with nice notes, giving a stranger a nice treat—that is what it’s all about. Connecting with one another, being there for each other, and spreading the love.

So what are you going to do this Valentine’s Day to show your love? It’s not too late! After all, my entire day was made on a lonely night at 8pm.

Happy Valentines Day!!

-Emmaline Frost, Blog Editor

4 Tips to Stress Less

Serving a Mission

I recently returned home from a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On a mission, one is constantly on the go. There is always something that can or should be done, and there are always people to see or things to study. As I was coming home and trying to get back into the swing of things, I half expected the transition to be easier. I mean how much harder can it be? It’s actually a lot harder than I expected.

The Article

In a recent article by Chisanga Mukuka entitled “How to Stress Less and Love More,” I found a few helpful reminders of how to lower my stress levels and enjoy my life. These tips are all things I learned while serving a mission, so if you have served a mission, you will find these tips familiar. If you have not, you will find these tips just as helpful. No matter your life experiences, I hope you will be able to apply these simple things in your life to help avoid stressing and improve living.

image from here

 4 Tips to Stress Less

  1. Plan. Make an outline of things you need to do for the day, things you would like to do for the day and a few back up plans. Remember to prioritize them because there simply are things that must get done.

    image from here

  2. Exercise. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are active and enjoying it.

    image from here

  3. Serve. Look outside of yourself and your problems. Even if you are only able to do little things here and there, do things to help those around you.

    image from here

  4. Meditate and breathe. Life really is busy and goes by quickly. It will fly by even faster unless you take the time to appreciate it. Set aside at least five minutes each day to relax, reflect and be grateful for what you have.

    image from here


Remember, enjoy your life and help others enjoy theirs. Life is a gift; don’t waste it.

Playing Favorites? Response to Parental Favoritism

I used to joke about being the “forgotten one.” Mostly because of this picture taken at my first Christmas. The focus of the picture was actually on my older sister opening her presents; however, there I was falling over in the background, “forgotten.”

I am not sure a parent could actually forget his or her child, especially mine, but apparently there is a possibility of favoritism. Favoritism meaning the parent shows a higher interest in one sibling above all the rest. How does this make the siblings feel?

To these siblings, as shown by the results of a recent study by Professor Alex Jensen, this favoritism in families can actually have an adverse effect on the children as they grow older. Effects including an increased drug and alcohol use as the children grow older. Jensen found that it isn’t actually that the parents would intentionally treat the children differently, but it is important what the children perceive.

267496_10150248781023877_1501226_nThere may have been times that I actually thought I was the “forgotten one” or second best compared to my sister. But the truth is that my parents and many others don’t really have favorites. How can they? We are all so different and unique that they will appreciate and acknowledge different things about each child. Parents should constantly be trying to find each child’s niche, or thing that the child excels at or enjoys, and then they should support the child in every way that they can.

One of the best ways to show support is finding the time for one on one informal interviews, or just time together. Building that bond is important and will help the child have the confidence and trust in the parent and the parent’s love for him or her. Each child will perceive a relationship how they want, but parents can try their best to make sure the child knows that they love them and that is what is important.

By Karee Brown

4 Steps For Preserving Family History

chelsea1Every so often an event happens that puts everything into perspective. All those stressors—education, family, careers, and hundreds of other things—become hushed and fade into the background. Just a couple weeks ago, my family found out that my great aunt, who we love and adore, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a couple of precious months to live. I spent the last week with very little sleep and no breaks editing my great-grandfather’s autobiography in-between classes and work, so that my Aunt Audrey could read her dad’s story before her sight is taken and eventually her life.  This experience taught me the joy and love we can feel as we learn about our families and preserve our history.

Here are four ways to preserve our family history:

1. Keep your own history

President Spencer W. Kimball, a man who had 33 black binders of journals when he was called to be President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, had an incredible testimony of writing a journal.  He said, “get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity.  Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, you impressions and your testimonies.  Remember, the Savior chastised those who failed to record important events.”*

Start today and write for one minute. Include as many events and feelings as you can. Do not try and play catch up with the last five years of your life. It will stress you out and you’ll quit. Make a goal to write once a week or however often you can that will stretch you but not set you up for failure.

2. Take pictures

There is nothing like looking at family photos and reliving memories. Most of us have phones with decent picture-taking abilities. Remember to use them and backup those pictures. It is also fun to make a photo album. There are lots of ways to create them online or slip photos into an already-prepared photo albuSummer 09 654m.

3. Visit with the sages

Take the time to talk to your grandparents and other aged people in your family (and the younger ones too). Record your conversations with them as they describe what life was like for them. This weekend I spent two days recording conversations between some of my aunt’s thirteen siblings. They were sharing stories, laughing, and singing together. The stories I captured on my phone (thanks to smart phones, we have no excuses!) are so special, and I hope to add them to my great-grandfather’s autobiography so other members of my family can read them and pass them on.

4. Share with others 

Thanks to technology, we have so many ways to share our family history. We can create a family website, blog our experiences, or email stories and pictures. Online sharing is also a wonderful way to share family recipes and keep up traditions. The Internet is an incredible blessing to photothose who fill it with good things and use it for good purposes.  

Now that you’ve taken the time to read this post, go take the time to do its tips. Happy doing!


By Chelsea Jamison

*See more of President Kimball’s words here and here.

How to Have Peace

Finding Peace?

In the constant, daily struggles of everyday life, it can be difficult to feel peace. Whether it’s an upcoming exam or worries about the future (family, career, etc.), feeling peace can seem impossible.

In Doctrine and Covenants 19:23, it tells us how we can individually have peace:

Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.

So how can we have peace?

  1. A person must learn of Christ.
  2. A person must listen to the words of Christ.
  3. A person must be meek.

This world is full of confusion and turmoil. There are wars; there are rumors of wars. There are murders and fighting, divorce and hatred, unkindness and theft. But the Gospel truly does offer peace to those willing to accept its teachings.

1. A person must learn of Christ.

Learning of Christ seems pretty straightforward. Sometimes actually learning of Christ is hard when we get busy with life. Studying the scriptures, the Word of God, will help all of us learn of Christ. Going to the temple brings us closer to him.

2. A person must listen to the words of Christ.

In Doctrine and Covenants 1:38, the Lord declares the following:

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

This scripture seems to prove that General Conference is extremely important. When apostles and prophets speak, it is what the Lord would have declared because they are his servants.

Last Sunday in sacrament meeting, my bishop talked about General Conference, which will be happening this weekend. He said that across the church, it is the least attended meeting by the members. I was shocked! General Conference is probably my favorite spiritual weekend every April and October.

Bishop Jackson told the members of my ward eight concepts that we would learn if we would listen to General Conference.

8 Concepts We Can Learn if We Listen to to General Conference

  1. The importance of remembering our covenants
  2. Our need to seek for eternal truth
  3. How we can avoid confusion/being misled
  4. Why we should resist evil
  5. The need to sustain one another
  6. The importance of attending church meetings
  7. The importance of guarding our virtue
  8. Why we should develop good qualities

President Monson

3. A person must be meek.

I know that as we listen to the words of the prophets, we must be meek. If we are meek, we will be more likely to accept what they have to say as truth. And if we accept the words of the prophets and apostles, then we will be more likely to implement their teachings into our lives. Being meek is not being weak—being meek will make us humble and stronger.

Post written by: Katie, Editor-in-Chief

General Conference: #PreparetoShare

As LDS General Conference approaches, I find myself sniffing around for cinnamon rolls and setting out my favorite pair of pajamas. However, this weekend means a lot more than sleeping in and overeating. We have been told by authorities in the Church that if we will prepare for General Conference by listening with questions to be answered and minds open to receive, we will be enriched and enlightened. That is awesome.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gives us two more steps in preparing for Conference. He said, “don’t discount a message merely because it seems familiar,” and “The words spoken at general conference should be a compass that points the way for us.” If we keep these two things in mind during our viewing of Conference, we will find that we will get a lot more out of it that we would have otherwise. (Read Elder Uchtdorf’s full talk here)

But there is one more step I hope we take while preparing for General Conference. Elder David A. Bednar alluded to it when he spoke at BYU Education Week this summer. He said:

“Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.” (Read of watch Elder Bednar’s full address here)

We should be preparing to share the messages we hear and the feelings we have during Conference, especially on social media. Using hashtags such as #LDSconf and retweeting quotes from accounts that live-tweet Conference are great ways to do so. You could also create a cute picture with your favorite quote and pin it on Pinterest. Or share a video of your favorite talk on Facebook. The possibilities are endless.

If you’re feeling nervous about sharing, start by simply following the LDS Church on Twitter and Instagram, and liking the page on Facebook. President Thomas S. Monson and other general authorities also have social media accounts that you can follow. This small act can indicate to others your beliefs, and perhaps encourage them to talk to you about them.

Due to Elder Bednar’s exhortation, I feel that we all have responsibility to share “authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy” messages. And Conference weekend is a great place to start.

Happy Conference Weekend to you all! #PreparetoShare

Sam Lund, Social Media Advisor

P.S. See here  or here for other great ways to share the gospel through general conference.

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