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."