Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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?

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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?

On Family

I will be keeping a collection of quotes about families from the April 2010 General Conference on this post. Check back, as I will add quotes as I go through each talk.

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 Harold B. Lee stated: “It seems clear to me that the Church has no choice—and never has had—but to do more to assist the family in carrying out its divine mission, not only because that is the order of heaven, but also because that is the most practical contribution we can make to our youth—to help improve the quality of life in the Latter-day Saint homes. As important as our many programs and organizational efforts are, these should not supplant the home; they should support the home.”

President Joseph F. Smith made this statement about the priesthood in the home: “In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount. To illustrate this principle, a single incident will perhaps suffice. It sometimes happens that the elders are called in to administer to the members of a family. Among these elders there may be presidents of stakes, apostles, or even members of the first presidency of the Church. It is not proper under these circumstances for the father to stand back and expect the elders to direct the administration of this important ordinance. The father is there. It is his right and it is his duty to preside. He should select the one who is to administer the oil, and the one who is to be mouth in prayer, and he should not feel that because there are present presiding authorities in the Church that he is therefore divested of his rights to direct the administration of that blessing of the gospel in his home. (If the father be absent, the mother should request the presiding authority present to take charge.) The father presides at the table, at prayer, and gives general directions relating to his family life whoever may be present.” . . .

Now, fathers, I would remind you of the sacred nature of your calling. You have the power of the priesthood directly from the Lord to protect your home. There will be times when all that stands as a shield between your family and the adversary’s mischief will be that power. You will receive direction from the Lord by way of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The adversary is not actively disturbing our Church meetings—perhaps only occasionally. By and large we are free to assemble as we wish without much disruption. But he and those who follow him are persistent in attacking the home and the family.

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.

Every law and principle and power, every belief, every ordinance and ordination, every covenant, every sermon and every sacrament, every counsel and correction, the sealings, the calls, the releases, the service—all these have as their ultimate purpose the perfection of the individual and the family, for the Lord has said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

– President Packer

There has grown in me an overwhelming testimony of the value of daughters of God. So much depends on them. In my visits with the sisters, I have felt that there has never been a greater need for increased faith and personal righteousness. There has never been a greater need for strong families and homes. There has never been more that could be done to help others who are in need.

– Sister Julie Beck

A Prophet of God

Reading: “Welcome to Conference,” President Thomas S. Monson, April 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

Every time I have the opportunity to listen to conference I come away inspired and uplifted. We get to listen to a prophet for our times, and many others who all have received inspiration to talk to us about things we need to hear. In his introduction to conference President Monson said,

Now, brothers and sisters, we have come here to be instructed and inspired. . . Many messages, covering a variety of gospel topics, will be given during the next two days. Those men and women who will speak to you have sought heaven’s help concerning the messages they will give.

Modern revelation is a great thing. Not only do we believe in God, but we also believe he speaks to us today through a prophet and directly to us through the Spirit. I would have a hard time believing in a God who stopped talking to his people many years ago, when we are so plainly in need of his help.

What does it mean to you to have a prophet speak to you? What has the prophet said, in this last conference or otherwise, that has been of particular help to you?

A Temple of God

Reading: “‘Ye Are the Temple of God,” Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, Nov 2000, 72-74

After having a baby, one thing every mom wants to do is to get back in shape. For the past couple weeks I have been starting to work on that goal. However, today as I read President Packer’s talk I was reminded of an important thing: my body is a temple. While it is great to treat your body well and strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is also important to remember that a body does not have to be ideal to be special. My body is my temple no matter what it looks like or feels like.

In his talk President Packer emphasized chastity more than body image, but his simple message about the importance of the body helped to remind me to treat my body with respect. Although it is good to try to get healthier, it is not good to think or feel negatively about my body – which is a precious gift from God.

How do you maintain a positive attitude about your body?

The Importance of Motherhood

Reading: Sheri Dew interviewing Elder Richard G. Scott and his daughter Linda Scott Mickle in the latest episode of Conversations, a podcast/radio show done by the Mormon Channel

This past weekend I got to listen to the latest episode of Conversations, where Sister Sheri Dew interviews Elder Scott and his daughter about his life.  In the interview they talk about Elder Scott’s life, marriage, and insights.  It is a great opportunity to get to know Elder Scott better.

The part of the interview that particularly stood out to me were Elder Scott’s words to mothers.  When Sister Dew what one piece of counsel he would give to women to help them live in this time of confusion about the role of women he said:

I think I’d begin with the fact that they should recognize that it wasn’t until after the creation of women as the final act that the Lord declared his work was done and it was good. The need to recognize the tremendously important role that the Savior himself places on womanhood. The woman is a nurturer just by the way she’s created and I think some women begin to wonder about how effective what they do is, and they shouldn’t. They should realize how extremely important they are in all the plans of his Father in heaven…

I think wherever it is at all possible to be done, a man will bless his children more by making it possible for his wife to be in the home with them as they are growing. They need, if it is at all possible, a mother in the home with them.

It is easy to get so wrapped up in the day to day drudgery of being a mom that you forget the real purpose of what you are doing.  Hearing an apostle say directly that what I am doing is important, that staying home with my children is important, and that I am doing a great work really touched me and comforted me.

I encourage you to listen to this podcast if you have some time.  There are lots of great things that I learned about Elder Scott and he had a lot of great things to say to us as an apostle of the Lord.

What has been the importance of the mothers in your life?

Pure Doctrine

Reading: “Keeping Doctrine Pure,” Mormon Identity, Mormon Channel

This weekend I got to listen to a few shows from the Mormon Channel that they just recently made available as podcasts. One show, Mormon Identity’s discussion on pure doctrine, particularly stood out to me. In this podcast they discuss what constitutes the accepted doctrine of the church, and why we should focus on those doctrines as we teach at church and in our homes.

Here are some interesting points (just from memory, so forgive me if they aren’t exact):

  • Mainstream doctrine constitutes teachings that appear in both the scriptures and in modern discourse by the leaders of the church
  • Any publication by the church is carefully vetted by general authorities to make sure it is in line with current doctrine.
  • Something that was said once by a church leader a long time ago may not necessarily be part of mainstream doctrine.
  • Something can be true and yet still not be taught as part of the mainstream doctrine of the church.
  • The mainstream doctrine of the church focuses on the most important concepts which will help us live the gospel.
  • Teaching doctrine is more effective at changing behavior than trying to change behavior directly.

All in all this was a great discussion. I do worry sometimes that too much false doctrine, that feels good, yet has no support in the teachings of the church, is passed about as truth. There is a reason the brethren are so careful to make sure that we stay focused on our core beliefs. I also know from experience that learning doctrine helps me to change the way I act more than charts and goals and so on. This will definitely be an important thing to remember as I teach my children.

Today I am going to try to see if there are times I can explain to my daughter why she should or shouldn’t do certain things, instead of just giving her orders.

What helps motivate you to change the way you act? Are there any doctrines of the church that are particularly special to you?

Every Member a Missonary

Reading: “Bring Souls Unto Me,” Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2009 General Conference, Sunday Afternoon Session

Recently I had a discussion about people we knew who had fallen away from the church.  We agreed that in many cases all it would have taken was a small amount of fellowshipping from ward members to get these people to come back to church, but in too many cases this friendship was never extended.

I, personally, am certainly not perfect in this area either.  I struggle with shyness, and while I am working to overcome it, I still often feel guilty that I don’t reach out to as many people as I could. I worry that I am missing the opportunity t

Faith And Doubt Do Not Mix

Reading: “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder Kevin W. Pearson of the Seventy, April 2009 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

Everyone at some point (or more likely, several points) must find out for themselves the truth of the gospel.  The world is full of ideas and experiences that cause us to doubt gospel teachings, and one must live in a hole in the ground in order to avoid them.  Other times our own behavior can cause doubt to come into our lives. In his talk Elder Pearson encourages us to strengthen our faith and to overcome the doubts that enter into our hearts and minds.  He says,

Faith and fear cannot coexist. One gives way to the other. The simple fact is we all need to constantly build faith and overcome sources of destructive disbelief. The Savior’s teaching comparing faith to a grain of mustard seed recognizes this reality… We do have a choice. We get what we focus on consistently. Because there is an opposition in all things, there are forces that erode our faith. Some are the result of Satan’s direct influence. But for others, we have no one but ourselves to blame. These stem from personal tendencies, attitudes, and habits we can learn to change.

Elder Pearson then talked about how doubt can lead to downward cycle where our doubt leads to discouragement, which leads to distraction, which leads to lack of diligence, which leads to disobedience, which lead to disbelief.  In order to turn the cycle around we must make choices that help our faith to grow, such as greater obedience, praying for greater understanding, studying the scriptures, and so on.

Lately I realized that there is one area where I often have doubt.  I doubt that each of us as children of our Heavenly Father has potential to change and become more like God.  Sometimes this doubt is caused by the actions I see others take, and sometimes it is caused by my disappointment with my own choices and lack of improvement.  This doubt inevitably leads to discouragement as I feel bad about my own perceived lack of worth.  Discouragement leads to distraction, which seems to confirm my original fears of my own and other’s hopelessness.  However, when I read or do things that help remind me that we are all children of God and that the Savior suffered the Atonement so that all of us can repent and become better with his help then I am able to strengthen my faith and overcome the cycle.

Today I am going to thank Heavenly Father for my flaws and ask for help to see my potential and the potential in others.

Is there some doubt that continually causes you trouble, or that has caused you trouble in the past?  How can you help your faith grow to be greater than that doubt?

Give Even When Your Need Is Great

Reading: “Adversity,” President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the General Presidency, April 2009 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

In the current hard times faced by many people across the world, it may be hard to think of giving.  After all, if you are suffering yourself then it seems as if you shouldn’t be required to also help others since you don’t have much to give.  In this talk, however, Elder Eyring encourages us to do just that:

That may seem much to ask of people in such great need themselves. But I know one young man who was inspired to do that very thing early in his marriage. He and his wife were barely getting by on a tiny budget. But he saw another couple even poorer than they were. To the surprise of his wife, he gave help to them from their scanty finances. A promised blessing of peace came while they were still in their poverty. The blessing of prosperity beyond their fondest dreams came later. And the pattern of seeing someone in need, someone with less or in pain, has never ceased.

Today when I was running errands a woman came to me and asked for cash to buy some gas to get home.  I hardly ever carry any cash with me, so while I would have been more than happy to give her some cash I didn’t have any.  After she left, as I was preparing to drive away, the thought came that I could offer to drive with her to the gas station and buy gas for her (she had said she only had just enough gas to get to the gas station).  However, I also thought of how my own husband was waiting for me to get home so I could let him into our apartment (his keys were locked inside) and how my one year old was very hungry and very tired, our errand having run long past lunch time and nap time.  In the end I decided to go ahead and go home, reasoning that surely she would find someone else who could help her.  As I read this talk I realized that I missed out on the opportunity to do real service for someone.  I now wish I would have chosen to offer my time, rather than running on my way.

Today I am going to pray for help recognizing need around me, and for help to have the courage and correct attitude to offer that help where I can.

Have you ever seen someone help others, even though their own suffering was great? How do you balance your own needs with your desire to help others?