Monday, January 30, 2012

GCBC - Elder Ballard

General Conference Book Club - Week 18
Elder M. Russell Ballard
"The Importance of a Name"

Would you believe I didn't take any notes at all while listening to this talk originally?  However, that doesn't mean it wasn't a good one, and I definitely took some notes while reading it again.  Elder Ballard's main point was that we need to use the full, proper name of the church.  After all, it was given to us by the Savior himself.  As was quoted, "The use of the revealed name is increasingly important in our responsibility to proclaim the name of the Savior throughout all the world."  I'm still amazed that people have a hard time believing we're Christians.  I guess that means we need to do a better job at following Elder Ballard's counsel.

Note: This isn't a new phenomenon.  President George Albert Smith had the following to say nearly 100 years ago, in 1924: "I have found many in the world who have not known that we believe in the divine mission of our Lord, and I have been led to say upon more than one occasion that there are no people in the world who so well understand the divine mission of Jesus Christ, who so thoroughly believe him to have been the Son of God, who are so sanguine [confident] that at the present time he is enthroned in glory at the right hand of his Father, as the Latter-day Saints."

I also appreciated his comments that nicknames are okay.  After all, many of us don't use the name on our birth certificate all of the time.  It's a sign of love and friendship to be given a nickname, even if it starts as teasing.  (The story of how Wayne's grandpa went from Wetzel to Judge is a great example.)  It's okay to be known as Mormons.  Mormon was a wonderful prophet and a great example to all of us.  However, I also appreciated Elder Ballard's counsel that the church is not the "Mormon Church" because it's not Mormon's church, it's Christ's church.  I think there's a great distinction we need to make there.

The full name may be 9 words long, but that's okay, and I liked that he pointed that out.  Primary children love singing "I Belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" and we should love saying the whole thing as well.

Finally, this was my favorite sentence of the talk - "Saint simply refers to those who seek to make their lives holy by covenanting to follow Christ."  I need to remember to become a better saint by striving to be more holy each and every day, and that happens as I keep my covenants.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Oak Tree

Elder Ballard shared this poem in our stake conference broadcast this morning. We miss the "mighty oaks" from our yard in Brandon, but at least we can always remember them, especially when we're reminded of the lessons that we can learn.


A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke.
How can you still be standing Oak?

The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs, and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew.

By Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

GCBC - Sister Dalton

General Conference Book Club - Week 17
Sister Elaine Dalton
"Love Her Mother"

This was my absolute favorite talk from conference this time.  I had so many thoughts running through my head while it was given.

First, I was grateful for my own father.  He's absolutely the best.  I never felt unwanted or unloved or unbeautiful (I know that's not a real word), and because I knew without a doubt that my earthly father loved me, it was easy to know that my Heavenly Father did too.  That's really the greatest gift I've ever received and I'll cherish it forever.

Second, I was grateful for the father of my children.  He's absolutely the best too!  He's a great father of sons, and it's been a challenge to father a daughter, a challenge that has pushed him out of his comfort zone. There really is a difference between boys and girls.  However, he's following all of Sister Dalton's advice, so I hope listening to this talk helped him feel better about that role.
Third, I was grateful for my son who is a new father of a daughter.  I remember how touched I was with the picture he sent of him meeting her for the very first time.  I'm grateful that he's been taught how to be a great father, and I'm looking forward to seeing the future unfold.  He's already doing a terrific job!!

Last, I kept thinking about the next grandchild that will be joining our family shortly.  In October we didn't know if it would be a boy or a girl, but my intuition felt it might be a girl.  And since I needed a project to work on during conference, and I knew someone expecting a baby girl that could use it if my intuition was wrong (it wasn't), I went with a pink baby afghan.  As I stitched I thought of these sweet little girls that are just about to begin their journey on earth. They are so blessed to have parents who already love them, love the gospel, and are anxious to help them return to Heavenly Father.  And I'm grateful for living prophets and leaders who are there to help us too.
I am grateful to be surrounded by men who "are not ordinary men," men who take their responsibility to be "guardians of the home" seriously, men who love women, whether they're little girls or aging grandmothers. What a marvelous blessing!

P.S.  Don't forget to read all the other comments on this talk!

Sodom and Gomorrah

Last night for family night Wayne expanded upon the lesson he gave a few weeks ago (the one I missed because I was sick) by sharing a quote he heard on Sunday.  Here's what President Packer taught:

"I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now."

We do live in a wicked world.  However, we don't have to be wicked ourselves.  We have the ability to rise above the filth and stand in holy places.  President Packer spoke on this theme again at the seminary commemoration broadcast on Sunday.  I loved that talk as well.  Remember to pray and repent, and then follow the promptings of the Spirit, and you'll be able stay on the right path.

Note: The source I found for the quote Wayne heard was an address given to seminary teachers in 2004.  I attended that meeting and it was great reading the talk again.  Here are some of the other quotes that made an impression upon me then, and again today.

"This shield of faith is handmade in a cottage industry. What is most worth doing ideally is done at home. It can be polished in the classroom, but it is fabricated and fitted in the home, handcrafted to each individual."

"Spiritual diseases of epidemic proportion sweep over the world. We are not able to curb them. But we can prevent our youth from being infected by them. Knowledge and a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ are like a vaccine. We can inoculate them. Inoculate: In—'to be within' and oculate means 'eye to see.' We place an eye within them—the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost."

"You are not responsible to cure the world’s environment. You can, with parents and priesthood and auxiliary leaders and teachers, send young Latter-day Saints out as leaven into the world, spiritually nourished, immunized to the influences of evil."

"Our youth can look forward with hope for a happy life. They shall marry and raise families in the Church and teach their little ones what you have taught them. They, in turn, will teach their children and their grandchildren."

"I do not know now any more surely that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father, than I did then as a soldier boy sitting on the cliff on that tiny speck of an island. There is one difference—now I know the Lord. I bear witness of Him and invoke His blessings upon you who teach, as fathers and mothers, as grandfathers and grandmothers, upon your families, upon your classes, upon your work."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

GCBC - Elder Callister

General Conference Book Club: Week 16
Elder Tad R. Callister
"The Book of Mormon - a Book from God"

Although I'm teaching a CTR class in Primary, I am aware that the adults are studying the Book of Mormon in Sunday School this year.  And so I'm trying to stay caught up a bit with that as well.  It was nice to review this talk and be reminded of the importance of the Book of Mormon.  He's so right that it's either from God or the devil; there is no middle ground.  And I'm grateful for my testimony that it's from God.

I also absolutely loved his visual for why we need this second witness to the Bible - a line with one dot or two.  (You can go here to read it, because I'm not explaining it very well.)  If the dot represents the scriptures and the line represents our interpretations, we can see that with just the Bible there are a myriad of interpretations, but if the interpretation has to agree with both sets of scriptures, there is only one.  That's the beauty of the Book of Mormon - it enlightens our understanding of the gospel and leads us to Christ.

GCBC - Elder Hales

General Conference Book Club
Elder Robert D. Hales
"Waiting upon the Lord"

I read this talk last week (here it is) and have been thinking a bit about trials and adversity.  In fact, that was the topic of our FHE lesson this week.  No matter how well we may be doing at keeping the commandments (and there's always room for improvement in that area), we will have challenges.  That's one of the purposes of life.  So, I appreciated Elder Hales reminder that we are fully capable of coping with adversity.  Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need, and he is always there to help us endure.  And the better we get at aligning our will with His, the easier it gets.

For some reason, I also really like the word "wait" instead of "be patient."  And I loved all his examples of what that means:

  • hope
  • anticipation
  • trust
  • faith
  • diligence
  • confidence

Like Elder Hales, I am grateful for adversity, mainly because of the blessings that come as we faithfully endure our trials.  And I pray that I will always remember to "wait upon the Lord" no matter what happens.

GCBC - President Eyring

General Conference Book Club
President Henry B. Eyring
"A Witness"

I loved that President Eyring started by saying his was a message of encouragement.  (Find the talk here.)  I appreciate being encouraged; I already know my faults. And I have a testimony that the Book of Mormon really does help us draw closer to God.  It can help us remember what we need to do.  After all, it was while reading the Book of Mormon this morning that I was motivated to move "do the General Conference Book Club comments" from the bottom of my to-do list to the top.

I appreciated the reminder of promises we've made - to be charitable, to become witnesses of God, and to endure.  I liked his promise that the "Book of Mormon directs us upward on the path to eternal life."  It really does.  And that's why it's so important to not just drink from its pages daily, but to follow through on the impressions we're given as we do.

GCBC - Elder Perry

General Conference Book Club
Elder L. Tom Perry
"Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear"

This morning as I read in the Book of Mormon I was reminded that the Nephites had success in defeating the Lamanites because they had listened to their leaders and followed their counsel.  And that reminded me that I need to follow through on this challenge to myself to keep reviewing the general conference talks.  How can I follow the counsel of the prophets if I don't know it?  And so, although I've been reading the talks, I haven't made the time to write my thoughts.  Today I plan on "finishing" what I've started!

I loved Elder Perry's idea that we should feel like our lives are an "open house" for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I need to always remember that I'm supposed to be a shining light on a hill, that I'm supposed to be setting a good example for those around me.  I don't need to be afraid of what others think.  I need to remember that the gospel is a gospel of love, it's good news, and that it brings happiness to me.  Why wouldn't I want others to have that happiness as well?

I liked this quote: "The message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is unlike anything else you will share with others. In the information age, it is the most valuable information in all the world. There is no question about its worth. It is a pearl of great price."

I also liked his list.  (I like lists!)

  1. Be bold in our declaration of Jesus Christ.
  2. Be righteous examples to others.
  3. Speak up about the church.
Now that I think about it, this talk goes perfectly with my last blog post.  Part of preparing our children to serve missions is to give them opportunities to share the gospel before they leave.  Parents need to lead by example.  I don't feel I've done my best in this area, but that's why repentance exists.  I know we really do have the "most valuable information in all the world" and I have a responsibility to do my part to help share that message.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Preparing Sons for Missionary Service

At our last Relief Society Meeting, I was asked to take five minutes and explain how we prepared our sons to serve full-time missions.  That assignment could easily take a whole hour-long class!  However, I did my best to keep it short.  (Another mom was given the same assignment; you probably wouldn't be surprised to know that our thoughts were pretty much the same.)  I decided a list would be the best way to go, and I thought my daughters-in-law might like this list all in one spot, so here you go.  I can already tell you, though, lovely daughters-in-law, that you don't need this list; you're doing a fantastic job on your own already!

1 - Start early.  
2 - Have high expectations.
3 - Do all the little things - family prayer and scripture study and family home evening - consistently.
4 - Attend all church meetings, and do it together.
5 - Build strong family relationships.
6 - Have regular PPI's (monthly interview with Dad to review For the Strength of Youth and set goals).
7 - Encourage completion of the Duty to God program.
8 - Use the Scouting program - help them become an Eagle.
9 - Expect them to attend seminary.
10 - Teach them that serving a mission is a priesthood duty, not an optional commandment.
11 - Teach them how to work.
12 - Teach them other skills - laundry/ironing/mending, cooking/eating new foods, playing the piano, learning another language.
13 - Give them opportunities to serve others.
14 - Provide an environment where they can gain their own testimony.
15 - Be a good example.

After making this list, I've thought of a few things that I'd like to expand upon, so you can look forward to some new posts in the future. However, I want to add one more item right now, and that is to express appreciation as your sons make correct choices.  This morning I read the counsel Alma gave to his son Shiblon.  You don't hear too much about him - he wasn't the next prophet like Helaman, and he didn't cause problems like Corianton.  But I really admire Shiblon, and so did Alma.  And his words apply to my sons as well:

"And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end. I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering"  (Alma 38:2-3).