Keep My Commandments

Reading: “When the Lord Commands,” Elder Bruce A. Carlson of the Seventy, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

The Lord has given us a set of commandments in order to help us to be safe and happy. Sometimes we may think we don’t need to follow a certain commandment. Elder Carlson discusses three reasons people have for not following a commandment. These include:

  1. This Commandment Doesn’t Apply to Me
  2. This Commandment Is Not Important
  3. This Commandment Is Just Too Hard

Elder Carlson discusses a story in the scriptures of people who used these excuses, and then suffered the consequences. He encourages everyone to weed out such thoughts and to obey all the commandments of God.

Recently I have been renewing my efforts to establish a home food storage. As I have been planning my efforts (so that I can do so wisely and efficiently) I have been plagued with thoughts that it’s not really important, and that we don’t have room (we have plenty, but will have to sacrifice some space) for storage, or time to go down to home storage center (which is about an hour away) just to buy things I can by at the grocery store across the street (items bought at the grocery store, though, would be more expensive and would not be properly packaged for long term storage). I also have thought that since it hasn’t been mentioned in General Conference lately, maybe it’s not important anymore. This talk, and my own pondering, helped me to realize that it is still a commandment even though it may not be convenient. If it hasn’t been talked about in our meetings, it’s probably because so many people right now are not in a position to collect a food storage. We, however, are in the perfect position to build a food storage, despite my little excuses, and so I will continue to work on it.

Do you have any commandments you are ignoring right now for one of these reasons? Would you benefit from a re-examination of your reasoning?

Helping Hands

Reading: “Helping Hands, Saving Hands,” Elder Koichi Aoyagi of the Seventy, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

Elder Aoyagi knows the importance of reaching out to our fellow members in the church. In his own crisis of faith it was the kind encouragement of his future wife that brought him back to the church. In his talk he encourages all of us to reach out to others:

Sometimes we feel that we are weak and lack the strength to rescue others, but the Lord reminds us, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

Sometimes I feel like I am unable to help others because I am too shy, or too busy, or lacking in some other resource. Reading Elder Aoyagi’s talk helped me see that even I can help others when I listen to the Spirit. Heavenly Father wants to help us keep all of his commandments, especially his commandment to help others.

Have you ever been the recipient of someone’s kindness? What did it mean to you?

Searching the Scriptures

Reading: “The Blessing of Scripture,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

In 1536 William Tyndale was put to death for publishing and English version of the bible. Today, the bible is available in almost every language and anyone can obtain a copy for not very much money. Modern media outlets such as television, magazines, and the internet make it possible for us to hear an unprecedented amount of information from our spiritual leaders. However, today fewer and fewer people are interested in hearing the word of God. Elder Christofferson says,

Scripture tutors us in principles and moral values essential to maintaining civil society, including integrity, responsibility, selflessness, fidelity, and charity. In scripture, we find vivid portrayals of the blessings that come from honoring true principles, as well as the tragedies that befall when individuals and civilizations discard them. Where scriptural truths are ignored or abandoned, the essential moral core of society disintegrates and decay is close behind. In time, nothing is left to sustain the institutions that sustain society.

For the past few days I have been listening to an audiobook about the recent subprime mortgage loan crisis. This was largely caused by banks giving loans to people who could not afford them so that they could then sell those loans to others for a profit. As a result, many of the recipients of those loans went bankrupt, as well as the companies who bought the loans, and our entire world financial system was shaken. It seems to me that it is through a lack of scriptural truths, which teach respect and love for your neighbor, that our financial institution was wounded. As our society continues to disregard scriptural truths we can only expect such deterioration to continue.

The scriptures have been a great source of help in my life. Through the scriptures I have learned how to make choices that will make me happy in the long term, instead of choosing instant gratification that will lead to trouble eventually.

Can you think of any other examples of society problems being caused by a lack of scriptural truths? How can you personally better build your life on the foundation of the scriptures?

Home School

Reading “Mothers Teaching Children in the Home,” Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

Elder Perry had a marvelous mother. Elder Perry shares stories that show how her constant dedication to teaching her children manifested in their lives. Families today also need to teach their children the gospel. He says,

Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home.

My children are two years old and three months old. Sometimes, I don’t feel like there is much teaching going on because things seem to be so busy. Another diaper, another meal, another mess to clean up. However, as I read this I realized I am teaching my children, especially my two year old, things all the time. She is too young to understand deep gospel topics, but I am teaching her about love and respect and kindness all the time. I also thought of many things I could do to better to teach her about the gospel, such as being more diligent about scripture study.

Here’s a more practical question for today: How do you get a two year old to do scripture study? We were doing it right before bed, but then she figured out that scripture study = going to bed, which is something she usually doesn’t want to do, so she absolutely refuses to sit still and listen, even though she normally likes to read books. If any moms read this, I could use some advice.

Here’s a more regular question: What things did your mother do that taught you? Even if your mother (or other primary guardian) wasn’t religious, how did she teach you about what was important to her? How can you help teach little children, in your family or outside?

Leading the Youth

Reading: “Help Them On Their Way Home,” President Henry B. Eyring, First Cousnelor in the Presidency of the Church, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

Yesterday I wrote about Elder Ballard’s talk about mothers helping their (mostly) teenaged daughters. Today I am writing about Elder Eyring’s appeal to the general membership of the church to help all the youth. He says,

Brothers and sisters, our Heavenly Father wants and needs our help to bring His spirit children home to Him again. I speak today of young people already within His true Church and so are started on the strait and narrow way to return to their heavenly home. He wants them to gain early the spiritual strength to stay on the path. And He needs our help to get them back to the path quickly should they begin to wander.

The youth today face a great deal of temptation. I was only a youth 10 years ago, and I know that they have it much harder than I did. When I think of the temptations I faced as a youth, I am extremely greatful that I did not give into those temptations because it has made my life right now infinitely easier. Protected by good habits, a good marriage, and faith in God I feel secure and safe.  I hope that I can find ways to help other young people make it through that hard time of tempting choices.

What temptations did you face as a youth that you are glad you did not give in to? What can you do to help the youth in your life make good choices?

Mothers and Daughters

Reading: “Mothers and Daughters,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

In the past few conference Elder Ballard has focused on family relationships. Last time he spoke to father and sons, so this time he chose to speak to mothers and daughters. He first encouraged daughters to listen to their mothers. He then encouraged mothers to teach their daughters important lessons. These inlude:

  • Find joy in nurturing children
  • Don’t gossip or casually criticize others
  • How to nurture others (by example)
  • About sexual matters
  • To be modest
  • How to recognize the spirit

My own daughter is only two years old, but I can already see her emulating my example. I am often humored, and sometimes bothered, when she says to me the things I say to her all the time. I hope I can be a good example for my daughter, and provide the nurturing that she needs to grow up wise and strong.

What things did your mother do that helped you learn the most? How can you better reach out to the young women in your life to help them learn these important concepts.

Hope

Reading: “The Rock of Our Redeemer,” Elder Wilford A. Anderson of the Seventy, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

As the Saints were forced out of Nauvoo and started their trek to Utah they had hope that the future would be better than the present.  Likewise, Saints who survived the recent earthquake in Haiti also have hope even in the midst of great tragedy. In his talk Elder Wilford encourages us to have hope like these courageous Saints. He says,

These early Saints were indeed homeless, but they were not hopeless. Their hearts were broken, but their spirits were strong. They had learned a profound and important lesson. They had learned that hope, with its attendant blessings of peace and joy, does not depend upon circumstance. They had discovered that the true source of hope is faith—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His infinite Atonement, the one sure foundation upon which to build our lives.

I remember during a time of discouragement feeling even more discouraged because I thought that having hope means never feeling discouraged.  The instruction to have hope felt like a condemnation in the midst of an already trying time. However, despite my discouragement I still continued to pray, ready my scriptures, and look to the Savior as a source of help and solace. As I stepped back and looked at my actions I realized if I truly did not have hope in the Savior I would not be doing these things. I learned that having hope is much more than just a feeling – it is a result of believing in the Savior – and it is what allows us to continue to soldier on in the midst of difficulty.

Let Me Talk About Duty

Reading: “Our Path of Duty,” Bishop Kieth B. McMullin, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishophric, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

Each of us has a duty to obey God in return for all that he has done for us. Bishop McMullin states,

The duty of which I speak is what we are expected to do and to be. It is a moral imperative summoning forth from individuals and communities that which is right, true, and honorable. Duty does not require perfection, but it does require diligence. It is not simply what is legal; it is what is virtuous. It is not reserved to the mighty or high in station but instead rests on a foundation of personal responsibility, integrity, and courage. Doing one’s duty is a manifestation of one’s faith.

Bishop McMullin refrains from giving a list of our duties, or specific instructions on how to fulfill our duties. Instead he asks us to pray for that instruction, and to pray with the Spirit:

It is as important to be guided by the Holy Spirit while praying as it is to be enlightened by that same Spirit while receiving an answer to prayer. Such prayer brings forth the blessings of heaven because our Father “knoweth what things [we] have need of, before [we] ask him,” and He answers every sincere prayer.

Just this afternoon I felt a prompting for a specific prayer. For the past two days my two year old has refused to take a nap. She has played by herself in her room for hours rather than go to sleep. Today as I was putting my daughter down for her nap I felt a prompting to say prayer with my daughter that she could sleep. And, today, she went right to sleep and is sleeping right now. This may seem silly to you, but it was a huge help to me. First of all, it has been a stressful week of very little sleep (for me) and it was an encouragement to see an answer to prayer like this. Second, after those two days I was seriously wondering whether she was starting to outgrow her nap and whether I should stop trying to get her to nap altogether (which would mean a huge change in her daily schedule and mine), but today I am sure that she still needs a nap and I should not give up on them.The Spirit can guide us to pray for the right things so that we can get the answers we need to fulfill our duties, such as making sure a two year old is getting the rest she needs to be happy and healthy.

Has the Spirit ever guided you to pray for something that helped you? Has the Spirit ever helped you to fulfill your duties better than you could by yourself?

A Measure of Success

Reading: “And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit,” Sister Julie Beck, Relief Society General President, April 2010 General Conference

Although this is only the second talk I have written about, I feel safe in saying that this is the most personally moving and meaningful talk I heard in all of conference. There was so much here that I felt was personally directed at me, and Sister Beck answered questions I didn’t even know I had yet.

In this talk Sister Beck asks sisters to measure their success appropriately. She says,

Good women always have a desire to know if they are succeeding. In a world where the measures of success are often distorted, it is important to seek appreciation and affirmation from proper sources. To paraphrase a list found in Preach My Gospel, we are doing well when we develop attributes of Christ and strive to obey His gospel with exactness. We are doing well when we seek to improve ourselves and do our best. We are doing well when we increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help others who are in need. We know we are successful if we live so that we qualify for, receive, and know how to follow the Spirit. When we have done our very best, we may still experience disappointments, but we will not be disappointed in ourselves. We can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when we feel the Spirit working through us.9 Peace, joy, and hope are available to those who measure success properly.

I often have a difficult time measuring my own success. There are so many things to do in a day, whether it is running errands, cleaning house, making dinner, entertaining a toddler, or interacting with a baby, it all seems important and I can never do it all. At the end of the day I often feel like I am drowning in a sea of things that can never get done, and it is hard to feel that I have accomplished all I should. It is a huge help and inspiration to hear from Sister Beck the true measures of success, and to be reminded that all those little things I do each day do have great meaning and importance. When I am focused on what is really important, then I can truly feel I am succeeding.

How do you usually measure your success? Are there any measurements that need adjusting?

A Call to Arms

Reading: “The Power of the Priesthood,” President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

Reading this talk reminded me of how important it is to go back and review the talks given in General Conference. Somehow when I listened to this talk I missed the powerful call to arms for the Priesthood to protect and defend their families. President Packer states,

The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.

President Packer then goes on to explain that main role of the Priesthood is found in the home:

The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children might be happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood.

I was moved by this talk to better support my husband in his Priesthood role.

What role has the Priesthood played in your home, now and/or in the past? What can you do to help strengthen the Priesthood at home, and in the church?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.