I’ve been reading a lot of blogs that are talking about conference and how amazing it was.
The First Presidency of the Church (from left to right: 1st Counselor, Henry B. Eyring, President Thomas S. Monson, 2nd Counselor Dieter F. Uchtdorft) I love these men. Love them! You cannot hear them speak without your faith being strengthened and without resolving to do a little better. P.S. Elder Uchtdorf is very handsome–it’s okay, my husband knows I think so.
I realize that some people may read those and think, “What’s the big deal?” I thought I would explain a little, simply because conference becomes more and more meaningful to me every year. I strongly feel that it’s impact is directly related to what you want to get out of it.
In high school I remember discovering my political ideals during government class senior year. It was exciting to learn so much and learn about myself at the same time. That was until I realized what a pain it was to have any kind of political opinion whatsoever. Politics are significantly less appealing to me today, but I digress.
I remember that a controversial topic came up. I don’t remember what it was, all I know is that it was controversial. My friends and I were discussing it later and I honestly didn’t know how I felt about it. I could see both sides and I was torn. I remarked that I would need to look into what my church’s stance on the matter was before making a decision. As I’m sure you can predict, I got a lot of criticism for that remark. One friend even told me that she lost respect for me because of that.
At the time, I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I felt as though I had done myself and my church a disservice by appearing to not be able to think for myself.
Today, though, I see it all very differently. Anyone who knows me knows that I have an opinion on anything and everything. I can literally tell you if I like the color of the plates that I eat on at your house to whether or not the current education reform is a good/bad call. I am opinionated and I certainly am able to think for myself.
When I am forming an opinion on educational things, though, I talk to various people. My mind may lead one way but I will ask my principal, fellow teachers, and parents in my district their opinions on matters before I solidify my opinion (most times).
I realize now, that even though I was still young and my testimony was only budding, I had a testimony of the leadership of the church. I knew that those men were men that talked to God and were set apart to give us counsel and instruction in our day–specific for our needs.
I don’t always agree with everything that happens at church. I may not understand the church’s stance on some things. But I do trust those men and I have a testimony of their power because of that. I don’t mind one bit admitting to you that if there is a controversial matter, I do look into what those who lead the church say on it.
And that’s what all the hype is with conference. We get to hear from the men and women who hold positions in the church. Simply put, it is wonderful and uplifting. It strengthens faith and helps us to set knew goals to improve and become better, become more Christlike.
Here are some basic facts about conference:
*It takes place twice a year (October and April)
*The First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles always speak, the other speakers hold various other callings and they vary from conference to conference
*Conference runs 8 total hours (2 hours on Saturday morning, 2 hours on Saturday afternoon, 2 hours on Sunday morning, 2 hours on Sunday afternoon with an additional Priesthood session for the men on Saturday night). It sounds like a long time. It is a long time. But honestly, I’m sad that it’s over. It truly has been a peaceful and uplifting weekend as we’ve spent it focused on gospel and family time.
*It’s often referred to as “The Mormon Superbowl” Why? Because we get together with others and we make food and watch it…that’s all. And it’s only referred to that by members, not the church itself
*It can be seen on television, viewed on the internet, or read online or in a special conference edition of the church’s magazine The Ensign.
Zach and I make time to watch conference online on Saturday and we join my parents on Sunday for conference. So far the tradition is: Zach and I make breakfast for everyone at my parents’ house on Sunday morning and mom makes dinner. It’s pretty fun. We don’t go all out or anything. This time Zach and I made pancakes–chocolate chip for everyone but dad–(I got this recipe from a lady in my ward. I love them. They are the only pancakes I eat–equal parts self-rising flour, water, and egg), turkey bacon (sprinkled with cayenne pepper and brown sugar), fruit, milk, and orange juice.
If you’ve made it this far, I commend you. Now that I’ve given you this random assortment of details, why should you care? Because, you don’t have to watch conference in a weekend like I did. You don’t have to be a member to enjoy some of the messages. I read a blog called the Dashing Dish, she is a Christian but she is not LDS. I love reading her Dashing Devotionals where she talks about her faith. As such, I hope that maybe someone will gain something as I share my thoughts.
As I’ve been married and been part of a family ward, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of preparation in our ward for conference. Meaning a lot of people in our ward have told us that they think about a particular question they have or trial they are going through and they pray about it before conference. They have promised that they always find answers. Always. I’ve been trying it out now for the past few conferences and I have to say, it’s true.
In the future, I will share with you my questions before conference, but this time I’m sharing them with you after conference as I didn’t think to do this before then. But my answers were just soooo spot on that I couldn’t help but share.
Either way, I feel very exposed. Sharing with you my deepest concerns, struggles, and trials. At the same time, I feel as though those of you that read and comment on my blog have been very good to me and I don’t mind sharing. Especially if you could benefit from it the same way that I have.
Here are a few of the things I wanted to learn/find answers to/get council on this conference:
*Is there really a life after this? I know that there is. I mean, I believe that there is, but suddenly my faith is shaken. Please let me hear or understand something during conference that will help me to know that this is true.
Every thoughtful person has asked himself the question best phrased by Job of old: “If a man die, shall he live again?”11 Try as we might to put the question out of our thoughts, it always returns. Death comes to all mankind. It comes to the aged as they walk on faltering feet. Its summons is heard by those who have scarcely reached midway in life’s journey. At times it hushes the laughter of little children.
But what of an existence beyond death? Is death the end of all? Robert Blatchford, in his book God and My Neighbor, attacked with vigor accepted Christian beliefs such as God, Christ, prayer, and particularly immortality. He boldly asserted that death was the end of our existence and that no one could prove otherwise. Then a surprising thing happened. His wall of skepticism suddenly crumbled to dust. He was left exposed and undefended. Slowly he began to feel his way back to the faith he had ridiculed and abandoned. What had caused this profound change in his outlook? His wife died. With a broken heart he went into the room where lay all that was mortal of her. He looked again at the face he loved so well. Coming out, he said to a friend: “It is she, and yet it is not she. Everything is changed. Something that was there before is taken away. She is not the same. What can be gone if it be not the soul?”
Later he wrote: “Death is not what some people imagine. It is only like going into another room. In that other room we shall find … the dear women and men and the sweet children we have loved and lost.”12
My brothers and sisters, we know that death is not the end. This truth has been taught by living prophets throughout the ages. It is also found in our holy scriptures. In the Book of Mormon we read specific and comforting words:
“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.
“And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.”13
“Another example of revelation is this guidance given to President Joseph F. Smith: “I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. … We are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors … who have preceded us into the spirit world. We can not forget them; we do not cease to love them; we always hold them in our hearts, in memory, and thus we are associated and united to them by ties that we can not break. … If this is the case with us in our finite condition, surrounded by our mortal weaknesses, … how much more certain it is … to believe that those who have been faithful, who have gone beyond … can see us better than we can see them; that they know us better than we know them. … We live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever. For now they see the dangers that beset us; … their love for us and their desire for our well being must be greater than that which we feel for ourselves.”1
Relationships can be strengthened through the veil with people we know and love. That is done by our determined effort to continually do what is right. We can strengthen our relationship with the departed individual we love by recognizing that the separation is temporary and that covenants made in the temple are eternal. When consistently obeyed, such covenants assure the eternal realization of the promises inherent in them.”
“If the body’s capacity for normal function, defense, repair, regulation, and regeneration were to prevail without limit, life here would continue in perpetuity. Yes, we would be stranded here on earth! Mercifully for us, our Creator provided for aging and other processes that would ultimately result in our physical death. Death, like birth, is part of life. Scripture teaches that “it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness.”20 To return to God through the gateway we call death is a joy for those who love Him and are prepared to meet Him.21 Eventually the time will come when each “spirit and … body shall be reunited again in … perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame,”22 never to be separated again. For these physical gifts, thanks be to God!”
*How can I continue to overcome my body image issue? What are some things that I can do to help me appreciate my body and be kind to myself and therefore more kind to others around me?
Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.
Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is—downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him “all that he hath,”2 as the scripture says. So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard: coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live.
I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable, but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.
*How can I become a better wife? Daughter? Sister? Friend? Teacher? Etc…(I know this is a generic question and I always ask this basic question but I also always get a smattering of answers. I’ve decided this year to narrow it down to one thing from conference to focus on. Otherwise it would be totally overwhelming.)
“It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”
We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?
Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?”
“I hope to be judged as good a man as my father. Before I hear those words “well done” from my Heavenly Father, I hope to first hear them from my mortal father.”–this entire talk by Boyd K. Packer resonated with me, but this line made me cry. I want to think about being that person for future generations and I want to be judged fairly by my ancestors as well.
Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ?”2 In the final assessment, our personal discipleship will not be judged by friends or foes. Rather, as Paul said, “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”3 At that day the important question for each of us will be, “What thinks Christ of me?”
Even with His love for all mankind, Jesus reprovingly referred to some around Him as hypocrites,4 fools,5 and workers of iniquity.6 He approvingly called others children of the kingdom7 and the light of the world.8 He disapprovingly referred to some as blinded9 and unfruitful.10 He commended others as pure in heart11 and hungering after righteousness.12 He lamented that some were faithless13 and of the world,14 but others He esteemed as chosen,15 disciples,16 friends.17 And so we each ask, “What thinks Christ of me?”