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


To the Mothers

I would like to keep track of all the things said to mothers in April 2010’s General Conference, so I will do that here. Check back, as I will add quotes while I write about each talk.

Some years ago I gave a talk entitled “What Every Elder Should Know: A Primer on Principles of Priesthood Government.” Later, when it was to be published, I changed the title to read “What Every Elder Should Know—and Every Sister as Well.”

I include the sisters because it is crucial for everyone to understand what is expected of the brethren. Unless we enlist the attention of the mothers and daughters and sisters—who have influence on their husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers—we cannot progress. The priesthood will lose great power if the sisters are neglected.

– 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. . .

A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence. But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently. . .

When women nurture as Christ nurtured, a power and peace can descend to guide when help is needed. For instance, mothers can feel help from the Spirit even when tired, noisy children are clamoring for attention, but they can be distanced from the Spirit if they lose their temper with children. . .

The second general Relief Society president, Eliza R. Snow, said this to the sisters: “We want to be ladies in very deed, not according to the term of the word as the world judges, but fit companions of the Gods and Holy Ones. In an organized capacity we can assist each other in not only doing good but in refining ourselves, and whether few or many come forward and help to prosecute this great work, they will be those that will fill honorable positions in the Kingdom of God. . . . Women should be women and not babies that need petting and correction all the time. I know we like to be appreciated but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due, what matters? We know the Lord has laid high responsibility upon us, and there is not a wish or desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts in righteousness but will be realized, and the greatest good we can do to ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling to qualify us for those responsibilities.” . . .

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.

– 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?

Thoughts on General Conference

Reading: April 2010 General Conference

This past weekend I was uplifted and inspired by our General Conference. The unmistakable theme in this conference was family.  I remember in a previous general conference being very excited when a single talk was directed at mothers, but in this conference it seemed like every other talk had quite a bit to say to mothers. Since being a mother pretty much encompasses my whole life at the moment, it was great to have so much instruction and encouragement.

Listening to this conference has made me feel more confident in my choice to be a mother in a time when motherhood is not greatly valued by most of society. I feel more keenly the importance of what I do every day with my little children. I also feel motivated to try harder to teach my children about the gospel, and especially talk more about Jesus with them.

One thing about having little children is that I don’t get to sit and just listen to conference like I did before I had kids.  So, I am really looking forward to going through each talk and writing about it here on my blog.  I look forward to digging deeper into what the leaders of the church had to say to us.

What messages did you get from conference? There was a lot said to mothers compared to other conferences, but there was still plenty said for everyone else, too. What changes do you feel inspired to make after listening to conference?

Healing Through Jesus Christ

Reading: “Healing from Depression Through Jesus Christ,” Carrie Wrigley, 2005 BYU Education Week

One Feb 16 I gave birth to a wonderful little boy. So, for the past few months I’ve been focusing on that rather than my blog. Hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be able to get back into the habit. Although my free time has greatly diminished, I love how much writing this blog brings the Spirit into my life.

Today I wanted to share a video I watched a while ago on the LDS Media Talk blog. In this video Sister Wrigley, a professional counselor, talks about using faith and study to overcome depression.  This video resonated with me because as I have lived with my own anxiety problems it is when I have combined my faith with a study of practical techniques that I have improved the most.  Often I find the one being reinforced by the other, as practical techniques increase my faith, and the Spirit helps motivate me to put into practice the practical techniques I have learned.

I remember about three years ago feeling completely overwhelmed by my anxiety, and wondering at the time if I would ever have a “normal” life. At the time I felt very distinctly the Spirit telling me that the Savior can heal all things, even my anxiety. It still took a lot of work and a lot of suffering and a lot of practice, but today I am having that wonderful “normal” life I longed for.  I have two children, and a wonderful family, and anxiety has a presence but it does not rule over my life like it used to.  It is  through doing what Sister Wrigley recommended – using faith and study – that I am able to say that today.

Have you ever had the experience where your spiritual experiences mingled with practical, worldly experiences to create something greater than either could be alone?

A Christmas Creed

Christmas is coming up and it seems like every year I get carried away trying to do everything. I feel like it is my job to make Christmas special for my family, but since we do not yet have any firm traditions, I end up trying to do everything.  In the past I’ve ended up feeling stressed out and like I’m missing out on the Christmas spirit.

So, this year I am adopting a new Christmas creed: celebrating Christmas is about our family. Yesterday I was looking at my plan for Christmas I realized that most of the activities I had planned were things I had seen other people do, but that really didn’t matter much to our family. For example, after visiting the bishop’s beautifully decorated home, I wanted our home to be beautifully decorated, too. And, after seeing the products of one woman’s Christmas bake-off I also wanted to bake lots and lots of Christmas goodies. Yet, at this point the only one in my family who cares about Christmas decorations are me, and it’s okay with me if everything isn’t quite perfect yet, nor do we have the funds right now to go all out like this other woman had. And, there aren’t enough people in our family yet to eat lots of Christmas goodies – we can hardly make it through a single batch of sugar cookies! A Christmas bake-off also would not help our goal of eating more healthy.

As I thought about what would actually make Christmas better for our family, I realized the number one thing was just doing things together at a family. Yet, somehow I had left out those kind of activities almost entirely from my plans. Not just that but I realized that other plans I had could be changed to make them easier on me and more enjoyable for my family.

So, this year, whenever I come up with a Christmas plan I’m going to ask myself these questions:

  • Which family member(s) will get something from this activity and what will they get out of it?
  • Is the amount of work and effort I put into this activity proportional to the amount of joy and fun my family will receive from it?
  • Is there maybe an easier way to do this plan that will still bring the same benefit at the same or similar monetary cost?
  • How can I do this activity in such a way that it will bring our family closer together?

I’m already feeling much more into the Christmas spirit. I still have ideas for lots of fun things to do, but they are things that are really going to make a difference for me and my family, not things that just stress me out and bring my family little joy.

What family activities do you do that really bring the Spirit of Christmas for you and your family?

House Rules

Reading: “More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” Elder David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 2009 October General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

The Mormon religion holds at its center the family.  We spend a lot of time at church talking about how to make our homes better places.  In this talk Elder Bednar talks about three ways that we can be more diligent in making our homes a special place.  These are:

  • Express love – and show it.
  • Bear testimony – and live it.
  • Be consistent.

In our house we do our best to read scriptures every day, even when the toddler is fussy and grumpy.  We do this because I know from my own life that consistency in prayer and scripture study is better than inconsistent spurts of diligence. However, there are other areas where I could strive to be more consistent. For example, while I try to be clear with my daughter about rules of the house, sometimes when I am tired or stressed or over busy I will not think about the house rules and either punish her for things that she didn’t know she shouldn’t do, or let her get away with things that she really knows not to do.  I believe very strongly that consistency is important in all aspects of parenting because it creates a safe and known place for your children, and it was good to be reminded of this by Elder Bednar.

Which of these areas that Elder Bednar spoke of  could most help your home life improve?  Have you seen how greater love, testimony, and consistency have improved your home life in the past?

Saving Lives Through Teaching

Reading: “Teaching Helps Save Lives,” Russell T. Osguthorpe, Sunday School General President, October 2009 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

When you go to visit the doctor, you go so that the doctor can share his knowledge with you and hopefully help you find answers to a problem.  In some circumstances that doctor can save your life with his knowledge.  As Elder Osguthorpe also points out in his talk, a gospel teacher can also save your life in much the same way. A good gospel teacher shares his or her knowledge so that you can find answers to your spiritual problems.

As a mother, I often think about how I should teach my children the gospel. Sometimes I feel like I have to come up with some list of important doctrine so that I make sure I don’t miss anything.  While such an activity might be useful, over and over again lately I feel like God is trying to tell me that the most important thing isn’t a formal system of instruction, but in inviting the Spirit and following its promptings.  Elder Osguthorpe quoted President Monson as saying:

The goal of gospel teaching . . . is not to ‘pour information’ into the minds of class members. . . . The aim is to inspire the individual to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles.

Elder Osguthorpe encourages us to follow the Spirit as we teach, and to show our students that we love them and really want them to learn what we have to teach.

What teachers in your life have had a special effect on you? What was it about them that touched you?

That Your Burdens May Be Light

Reading: “That Your Burdens May Be Light,” Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy, Saturday Morning Session, October 2009 General Conference

One of the purposes of life is for us to experience pain and suffering.  This does not mean that life should be miserable – but it does mean that there will be many times where we feel weighed down by heavy burdens.  In this talk Elder Clayton encourages us to endure our burdens and to seek the help of the Savior as we do so.  He says,

Through it all, the Savior offers us sustaining strength and support, and in His own time and way, He offers deliverance.

Elder Clayton then shared the story of the people of Alma the Younger who were taken as slaves by the Lamanites.  As they sought the Savior’s help their burdens were not taken away (at least at first) but they were given the strength they needed to endure.

Sometimes I wonder why I must struggle with the same problems over time. Although it seems like it would be so easy for them to just go away, they often do not.  As I continue to seek the help of the Lord, though, I am often greatly blessed with wisdom and strength that I may not have gained otherwise.  This talk helped me be more accepting of my burdens and helped me to recognize more the hand of the Lord helping me lift up those burdens.

How has God helped you with your burdens in the past? What helped you carry on while enduring trials that don’t go away as quickly as you would like?