Monday, September 29, 2014

Sisterhood and The Priesthood Man

These talks were great and although you'd think they were separate gender talks, they actually go hand in hand.

Sis Linda Reeves recently quoted from Pres Eyring's talk and wrote in the Church News, "Each of you will be a model of a priesthood man [or woman], whether you want to be or not. You become a lighted candle when you accepted... priesthood [covenants].

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Christ Centered Home

My husband and I both loved this talk! It was in a way, and affirmation of things we instilled in our own family years ago and are still trying to do (and convince our children at times) every day.
How do we lead our children to deep conversion and to access our Savior’s Atonement? I love the prophet Nephi’s declaration of what his people did to fortify the youth of his day: “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, [and] we prophesy of Christ … that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”4

How can we do this in our homes? Some of you have heard me tell how overwhelmed my husband, Mel, and I felt as the parents of four young children. As we faced the challenges of parenting and keeping up with the demands of life, we were desperate for help. We prayed and pleaded to know what to do. The answer that came was clear: “It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.”

Years ago during preparation for our first USAF deployment,  we prayed and pondered how we could ensure safety for my husband and safety and special care for those of us left at home. We came to the conclusion, and a firm testimony with each succeeding deployment, that if I wanted, and fully expected, the Lord to bless my husband and family, that I needed to give him no reason NOT TO bless us and keep us safe.  That meant doing all I was asked and making sure we were following the commandments regarding our home and family life-- family prayer, scripture study, and magnifying my callings in the Church.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Joyful Burden of Discipleship

I used Elder Rasband's talk in FHE this week.  It was excellent!

Elder Rasband gave us a gentle reminder of what it means to sustain our leaders and to help ease their burdens. To be the Lord's hands to life and strengthen those around us.
"To sustain our leaders is a privilege; it comes coupled with a personal responsibility to share their burden and to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ
"We are the Lord's hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children.  He is dependent upon each of us..."
 I talked with the kids in FHE about the title and what it means to have a burden be joyful.  They are such good kids! My 11yr old readily explained how serving others and the Lord is something that makes you happy!
"Focusing on serving our brothers and sisters can guide us to male divine decisions in our daily lives and prepares us to value and love what the Lord loves.. When we are engaged in His work, we feel His Spirit with us. We grow in testimony, faith, trust, and love."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grateful in Any Circumstance

I hope that dispute my lack of blogging isn't keeping you from your reading. The schedule has some great talks over the last couple weeks.  I am especially "grateful" for Pres Uchtdorf's talk.

I love that he points out that real gratitude doesn't come in being grateful for the things we've been give or have received, but rather "seeing gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation.... being thankful in our circumstances- whatever they may be."

He says,
"This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us.  It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair."

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ensigns are here!

We received our Ensign and other church magazines today! Did you? 
We were also able to order one of each of our kids from the Distribution Center online.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Living Prophet

If there was ever a need for a living prophet, it is today.  I was in Gospel Principles on Sunday and they talked about this very subject. I am so grateful to know of the love my Father in a Heaven has for me, for the people of this time.  I know that because He has given us living prophets to teach us, lead us, and warn us.

Must admit that I was a little disappointed to hear Pres Monson say he wasn't going to be announcing any new temples this Conference.  It made me think of all the changes in the last few years, and that perhaps we're being allowed a chance to take a breath, digest what's happened and is happening, so that we may be prepared for more in the future.

"Although we are currently concentrating our efforts on completing the previously announced temples and will not be announcing any new temples in the immediate future, we will continue the process of determining needs and of finding locations for temples yet to come. Announcements will then be made in future general conferences. We are a temple-building and a temple-attending people."

His closing remarks were brief but full of so much counsel: read, re read, and ponder the conference talks, be kind and loving to those not of our faith, follow Christ's example.

"May heaven’s blessings be with each of us. May our homes be filled with love and courtesy and with the Spirit of the Lord. May we constantly nourish our testimonies of the gospel, that they will be a protection for us against the buffetings of the adversary. May the Spirit we have felt during these past two days be and abide with us as we go about those things which occupy us each day, and may we ever be found doing the work of the Lord."

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Christ the Redeemer/The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

I chose these talks for Easter weekend. It was a good reminder of the reason we celebrate Easter. 

 We had several opportunities to share with family and friends our traditions, or more especially the things we don't do and why. When our kids were small we would have a "spring egg hunt" on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. We never introduced the Easter Bunny or all the candy and baskets. That's not what we wanted our kids to remember about Easter. The reason we celebrate Easter is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Our family tradition begins with the observance of Passover. We don't celebrate it with the whole Seder dinner or prayers and rituals, but more of an acknowledgment and a reading of the story of Moses. We try to watch the movie "The Ten Commandments". Then we go through the scriptures of the last week of Christ's life, culminating with the resurrection and His visit to the American continent. Since our various trips to Jerusalem, we have actual photos to show the kids of the places in the scriptures and from the different events of the week. It's been a great tradition in our family and watching the kids each year come to understand the Atonement and learn to appreciate it more each year has been a joy!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Continually Holding Fast

This was a great talk!  I loved Elder Hamilton's reference to Lehi's dream of the people he saw along the path to the Tree of Life.
... the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi shared a vision with his family where he “saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which [he] stood.
“And … they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
“And … there arose a mist of darkness; … insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.”
Lehi then saw a second group that was “pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.” Unfortunately, “after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed” because of those in “a great and spacious building” that “were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come … and were partaking of the fruit.” These people then “fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.”2They were unable, or perhaps unwilling, to endure to the end.
There was, however, a third group that was not only successful in reaching the tree of life, but they afterward did not fall away. Of these, the scriptures say that they pressed “forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.”3 The rod of iron represented for this group of people the only safety and security that they could find, and they held fast continually; they refused to let go, even for something as simple as a Sunday afternoon ride in the country.
Elder Hamilton goes on to explain how we can be like that third group.
Continually holding fast to the rod means that whenever possible we attend our Sunday meetings: sacrament meeting, Sunday School, and priesthood or Relief Society meetings. Our children and youth attend their respective meetings in Primary, Young Men, and Young Women. We should never pick or choose which meetings we attend. We simply hold fast to the word of God by worshipping and attending our Sabbath meetings.Continually holding fast to the rod means that we strive to keep all of God’s commandments, to have daily personal and family prayer, and to study the scriptures daily.Continually holding fast is part of the doctrine of Christ as taught in the Book of Mormon. We exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, change our hearts, and then follow Him down into the waters of baptism and receive the confirming gift of the Holy Ghost, which serves as a guide and comforter. And then, as Nephi taught, we “press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ” until the very end of our lives.

It has always been impressed upon us as a family.  While living in Baltimore we were richly instructed by a spiritual giant of a Stake President.  He stressed to the members that we (even the Bishopric members) should attend all our meetings on Sunday.  It is a question asked of us in the temple recommend interview.  

It is easy I suppose to sit in the foyer of church and catch up with friends and family, to try and have a quick presidency meeting or to gather last minute preparations for our lessons during Sunday School. I've seen this in the many wards and branches we've attended through the years.  Its sad really.  There is so much to learn and share in Sunday School!

Sacrament Meeting for our family has been easy in some places to attend and in others a little more difficult depending on the ages and dispositions of our children.  But we've made sure that even during those difficult times, that our children know how important Sacrament Meeting is to us.  Even if we're sitting in the foyer so our disruptive children don't disrupt others, they know that just because we're sitting out doesn't mean we don't whisper and sit reverently.  And that training was so hard to do while they were young, but it has totally paid off!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Teaching with the Power and Authority of God

I've been searching and planning for a teaching class over the last couple of weeks (sorry for the delays in blogging) and this talk by Elder David M. McConkie has been a great resource and I've been putting stickies in my manual all week!

 What fun it's been to prepare this course. I loved this talk because it had all kinds of things that went with the "Teaching- No Greater Call" manual.

"The First Presidency has promised: 'The Holy Ghost will help you to know what to do. Your own testimony will grow, your conversion will be deepened, and you will be strengthened to meet the challenges of life.'"
I will especially use the two ways the gospel comes to men- by the word of the gospel and by the power of the gospel.

Elder McConkie reminds us of the sons of Mosiah and their very effective teaching methods in Alma 17:2-3.

And I have a couple stickies for the words by Elder Holland to missionaries where Elder McConkie replaces the terms missionaries and investigators with the terms teachers and students.

I will definitely use the following words of Elder McConkie:
"After you have prepared yourself and your lesson to the very best of your ability, you must be willing to let go. When the quiet promptings of the Holy Ghost come, you must have the courage to set aside your outlines and your notes and go where the promptings take you. When you do this, the lesson you deliver is no longer your lesson, but it becomes the Savior's lesson."
I did this in a lesson a few months back, not out of a prompting, but because for some strange reason, the lesson I had been preparing over the last month and reading everyday and going over and over even the night before, seemed to disappear Sunday morning and couldn't be found anywhere.  I left for church knowing that I was not supposed to use the lesson from the manual.  And it was a great lesson! Not the one I had prepared, but the one that needed to be given.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Drawing Closer to God

Drawing Closer to God

We had a lot of running here and there this week. And although I read two of the three talks I didn't find time to post until tonight.  I really enjoyed Elder Vinson's talk Drawing Close to God
There have been many times in my life when I've wondered "Why me?" or why the Lord didn't intervene instead of waiting for me to "move [my] carriage". 

Elder Vinson said, "In both of these instances, the weather could have been adjusted to eliminate the dangers. But here is the point—rather than solve the problem Himself, the Lord wants us to develop the faith that will help us rely upon Him in solving our problems and trust Him.Then we can feel His love more constantly, more powerfully, more clearly, and more personally. We become united with Him, and we can become like Him. For us to be like Him is His goal. In fact, it is His glory as well as His work."

It has been in those moments of "why" that I have gained a deep testimony of the reality of my Savior and have truly felt the love of my Heavenly Father.  I love this talk!!

Friday, February 28, 2014

I Will Not Fail Thee or Forsake Thee/ We Never Walk Alone

I was so grateful this week for having a reading schedule of the Conference Talks.  Especially the talks from last week and this week. I've spent the last few weeks visiting RS sisters who are experiencing great trials.  I marvel at the testimony of one and am even more grateful for a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, the Great Plan of Happiness.  It is clear this sister has built her spiritual stamina and is relying on the strength of her testimony as she moves through her trials. 

This week I especially appreciated Pres Monson's General Conference talk about his experience of losing his dear wife.  

"My brothers and sisters, may we have a commitment to our Heavenly Father that does not ebb and flow with the years or the crises of our lives. We should not need to experience difficulties for us to remember Him, and we should not be driven to humility before giving Him our faith and trust.
May we ever strive to be close to our Heavenly Father. To do so, we must pray to Him and listen to Him every day. We truly need Him every hour, whether they be hours of sunshine or of rain. May His promise ever be our watchword: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
 Pres Monson's talk in the RS Session was wonderful!!!

I loved the story of the bread.  Although I've never experienced a prompting like this, I hope if I did I would respond as Sherrie did.

"My dear sisters, your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.
As we seek our Heavenly Father through fervent, sincere prayer and earnest, dedicated scripture study, our testimonies will become strong and deeply rooted. We will know of God’s love for us. We will understand that we do not ever walk alone. I promise you that you will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Be Ye Converted/ Strength to Endure

These were both great talks.  As a mother to two youth and having spent the last couple of years working with the youth, I enjoyed Sis Oscarson's remarks to the youth of the Church.  I especially look forward to using this one in FHE soon.

Conversion is something that has been a big topic lately in General, Stake, and Ward Conferences- at least where we live. :)  Sis Oscarson describes:
"conversion to gospel principles comes through righteously living the principles of the gospel and being true to our covenants with the Lord."
 She then shares a story from her family history of such conversion and the sacrifice involved.  Her great-great grandmother had "come all the way from Scotland and had gone through tribulations and trials for the Gospel, and she did not intend, if humanly possible, to let a child of hers lose what she had come so far to gain.”

Elder Maynes talk was good talk.  I especially liked it since it's middle of winter and I'm getting a little frustrated with the cold and clouds (although yesterday it was beautifully bright and shiny!).  A talk on enduring to the end was just what I needed to renew my focus and give me encouragement.
"So whatever challenges you wake up to each morning, remember—with the spiritual strength you develop, coupled with the Lord’s help, at the end of the race you will be able to enjoy the confidence that the Apostle Paul expressed when he said:
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day."

I love the quote, "Our ability to endure to the end in righteousness will be in direct proportion to the strength of our testimony and depth of our conversion."  

He teaches us how to build a strong testimony.  
"A testimony, like your body, needs to be in shape if you want it to endure. So how do we keep our testimonies in shape? We cannot get our bodies into good basketball shape by simply watching basketball on television. Similarly, we won’t be able to get our testimonies in shape by simply watching general conference on television. We need to study and learn the fundamental principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then we must do our very best to live them. That is how we become disciples of Jesus Christ, and that is how we build an enduring testimony."
Elder Maynes shares how to spiritually prepare and to work on our spiritual stamina.  
"When we develop spiritual stamina, the false traditions of the world, as well as our personal daily challenges, will have little negative impact on our ability to endure in righteousness."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

To My Grandchildren

I'm not yet a grandparent, but I can appreciate what it is to try and teach your children about making good choices, choices that will lead to their own happiness.  I liked how Pres Eyring said,
"Heavenly Father has made each of us unique. No two of us have exactly the same experiences. No two families are alike. So it is not surprising that advice about how to choose happiness in family life is hard to give. Yet a loving Heavenly Father has set the same path to happiness for all of His children. Whatever our personal characteristics or whatever will be our experiences, there is but one plan of happiness. That plan is to follow all the commandments of God."
Pres Eyring shared questions that have helped him make good choices. “What choices have led me toward loving the Lord with all my heart and soul and with all my mind?”   He goes on to talk about how different we all are and yet how we are all the same- children of a loving Heavenly Father.
"Heavenly Father has perfect foresight, knows each of us, and knows our future. He knows what difficulties we will pass through. He sent His Son to suffer so that He would know how to succor us in all our trials."
And then he shared a quote from President George Q. Cannon, a quote I wish I had with me yesterday.  A sister on my Visiting Teaching route had a child pass away recently and is feeling such sorrow and anguish.  She is angry and abandoned by God and has so many questions.  All of which are normal grieving steps.  I could definitely relate and tried to share the testimony I gained from losing my child- a testimony of the love of our Heavenly Father and the one true source of comfort, our Savior, but she's a little too angry right now.  Perhaps I'll make a card with this quote on it and mail it for V-Day.
“There is not one of us but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed. There is not one of us that He has not desired to save, and that He has not devised means to save. There is not one of us that He has not given His angels charge concerning. We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God, and that He has actually given His angels—invisible beings of power and might—charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping.”

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bind Up Their Wounds/ True Shepherds

Pres Eyring starts off with something I've been trying to instill in my children (sibling rivalry is reaching my maximum tolerance lately).
"All of us are blessed with responsibility for others.  To hold the priesthood of God is to be held responsible by God for the eternal lives of His children."

Even when life gets crazy and things get tough, we are still required to help those around us.
"The Lord knew you would have such days when He called you to this position, so He have you a story to encourage you... [the] parable of the Good Samaritan... is really the story of a great priesthood bearer in these busy, difficult last days.
"In the Lord's words the Samaritan, when he saw the wounded man, stopped because 'he had compassion.'"
Compassion is described as a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.  I tried to get this point across when we went over Elder Holland's talk Like a Broken Vessel. I think I got through to them in the moment, but it may have been fleeting.  So we'll have to use this talk soon to keep making the point.

I loved the assurances Pres Eyring outlined that can come to those who are called into positions where much is required.  I remember the time my husband was called as Bishop, during his 2nd year of Law School (night student at Georgetown) and while he was serving as the General's Executive Officer at the Pentagon- he had to be in the office before the general and couldn't leave until after the general left- and we lived in Baltimore where the commute was an hour train ride...  Many of these assurances were tender mercies- miracles- in our family.

Pres Monson's talk was also great!  I loved his examples of the two types of shepherds.  And even though he was talking to priesthood bearers, Home Teachers, it could also identify with the sisters and Visiting Teaching.
"Pres David O McKay admonished: 'Home Teaching is one of our most urgent and most rewarding opportunities to nurture and inspire, to counsel and direct our Father's children ... [It] is a divine service, a divine call.  It is our duty as Home Teachers to carry the ... spirit into every home and heart.  To love the work and do our best will bring unbound peace, joy and satisfaction to [a noble,] dedicated [teacher] of God's children.'"

Saturday, February 1, 2014

You Can Do It Now!

I was studying this talk this week for a RS lesson and although it was given in the priesthood session it was so easy to imagine this being given in a General RS Broadcast. 
Pres Uchtdorf shared an embarrassing moment of when he had fallen and couldn't get up. 
   ".. there may be times in unit lives when rising up and continuing on May seem beyond our own ability... Even when we think we cannot rise up, there is still hope.  And sometimes we just need someone to look us in the eyes, take our hand, and say, 'You can do it now!'"

There have been many RS sisters who, over the years and around the world, have done just this for me.  This talk also reminded me of Winnie the Pooh.  Christopher Robin tells him one day, "There is something you must always remember.  You are braver than you believe, stronger than you think, and smarter than you think."  When Pooh has reached a difficult situation in which all seems lost, he stops and remembers (eventually) the words his best friend told him.  

Pres Uchtdorf said, ".. there will be times when you think you cannot continue on.  Trust the Savior and His love.  With faith in The Lord Jesus Christ and the power and hope of the restored gospel, you will be able to walk tall and continue on."

And he ends with an apostolic promise- "I give you this promise in the name of The Lord: rise up and follow in the footsteps of our Redeemer and Savior, and one day you will look back and be filled with eternal gratitude that you chose to trust in the Atonement and it's power to lift you up and give you strength."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Trust in The Lord/ Called of Him

There's was a big push in missionary efforts in general conference and we've heard it also in our stake conference. "Hastening the work" is the new favorite phrase of leaders. 
I like the Pres Spencer Kimball quote Elder Ballard shared 
   "..the scriptures are repleat with commands and promises and calls and rewards for teaching the gospel. I use the word command deliberately for it seems to be an insistent directive from which we, singly and collectively, cannot escape".

Elder Funk shares how we can effectively share the gospel:
   "I order to have the sororal powe necessary to open the door of the kingdom of God... you must be humble and obedient and have te ability to hear and follow the Spirit."

We've had several conversations in our house lately about how difficult it is forthe  youth of the church today to be truly humble and obedient. For the last few years we've heard a lot about how awesome the youth are, how great they are, how special they are. And although that is true, I don't think we don't emphasize enough that a lot of hard work is involved in living up to the potential of the youth of the latter-days. Being obedient and humble isn't something that is stressed a lot.  Should the message be more of how great and awesome the promises are for them if they're humble and obedient- that those are the things that will make them awesome and great. 
   "If you are humble, you will want to be obedient. If you are obedient, you will feel the Spirit. The Spirit is essential, for without the Spirit, you will never succeed regardless of your talent and ability."

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Small and Simple Things/ What We Have

We're thoroughly enjoying the small and simple things this holiday season.  So much so I forgot about posting this week. :)  But I did read the talks!

These talks were wonderful.  I love that the gospel is so simple and easy to understand and live.  Elder Valenzuela's talk was a great reminder of the small and simple things we can do to reach out to those around us.
"As members of the Church, we are able, through our own small and simple things, to '[convince] many of the error of their ways' and help bring 'them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls'."
 "I testify that many of those who need our help are there waiting for us. They are ready for their valiant brothers and sisters to reach out to them and rescue them through small and simple means. I have personally spent many hours visiting less-active members of the Church whose hearts have already been softened by the Lord, who are now ready to receive our testimonies and our sincere expressions of love. When we reach out and invite them, they will return to the Church without hesitation."

 Sister Stevens talk was very much inline with Elder Valenzuela's.
"When you love, watch over, and serve others in small and simple ways, you are actively participating in the work of salvation."

 I loved the experience of her grandson Porter and his attention to his great-grandmother and the love he has for her.

I think this will be my New Years resolution.  I don't ever make them because inevitably I break them, but this could be one to try hard to keep.