gc fills me up

Apr 6, 2014

Ahhhh, I love General Conference. We have spent the past two days camped out in front of our computer watching and listening to the leaders of our church teach us about living Christlike lives, giving our hearts to our Savior, family life, repentance, forgiveness, hope, courage, covenants, and love, most of all, love.

I usually take my children and several of their friends to Salt Lake for Conference, but my body has not permitted me to have such a big adventure the last few conferences. I can’t walk as far as is required to make it through the building and I don’t dare try to sit anywhere without having Richard with me to rescue me if I pass out. So, I stayed home and tried to create some memorable experiences with conference donuts, bingo cards with M & M’s, coloring pages, conference crowns, paper dolls, and lots of snuggles.

Today, in between conference sessions, we celebrated Jesus’ birthday with creamed eggs, ice cream, and gifts for Jesus. Having a birthday party for Jesus is one of my favorite family traditions. We usually have cake with a huge pile of candles we all blow out together, but my foot was so worn out on Friday and Saturday that I couldn’t bring myself to stand on it for more than thirty seconds at a time, so we had ice cream instead. Everyone writes down a present they want to give Jesus, then we share a little message about His life, sing to Him, and then eat the party fare.

This conference seemed to be custom-made just for me. I’m sure it touched other people’s hearts as well, but so many of the talks seemed to be written specifically for my benefit that my heart welled up with gratitude for a loving Father in Heaven who is aware of my heartaches and questions and poured out His answers to me in abundance. Now prepare yourself for the longest post ever. It is far too long for a blog post, but bear with me. Someday my children will read these words and know I loved them, God loved them, and there mother’s mothering prayers were answered with guidance on how to teach them.

Conference Top Ten

1. Elder Holland’s talk inspired me to live more courageously for truth AND to love more deeply, passionately, and purely those around me and to spread that love as far and wide as I can. Some notable quotes:

“You may wonder if it is worth it to take a courageous moral stand in high school, or to go on a mission only to have your most cherished beliefs reviled, or to strive against much in society that sometimes ridicules a life of religious devotion,” he said. “Yes, it is worth it, because the alternative is to have our ‘houses’ left unto us ‘desolate’ — desolate individuals, desolate families, desolate neighborhoods and desolate nations … (see Matthew 23:37-38).

His “comfortable Gods” section hit home with me…cosmic humanism has lots of good things that resonate with me, but loving others and becoming aligned with our inner selves isn’t all that is needed in this life, those things aren’t enough to save us and believing in a comfortable God that requires nothing from us doesn’t ring true to me.

“Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods and smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds. Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes — and this seems the greatest irony of all — these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of ‘comfortable’ God. Really?”

Loved his section on love changing the world.

“Christlike love is the greatest need we have on this plane in part because pure Christlike love was always supposed to accompany it.”

“Pure, Christlike love flowing from true righteousness can change the world.”

Then he said something with such power I felt his words leap into my soul. He spoke of the Priesthood keys and then testified with these words,

I am more certain that those keys have been restored and that those ordinances are once again available through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than I am certain I stand before you at this pulpt and you sit before me in this conference.

Oh, his whole talk was wonderful, I loved it!

2. I loved President Eyring’s talk on choices, following the Spirit, and putting our family and family lines first in our lives.

Every day and every hour, you can choose to make or keep a covenant with God.

Words of scriptures and hymns will stay with our children. Fill their hearts when they are young.

3. Russell M. Nelson’s talk on letting our faith show…typing those words makes me burst into the new hit song from Frozen with a teensy change, “Let it show, Let it show!”

50,000,000 people CAN be wrong.

This really drove home the point to me that right and wrong are not defined by us as individuals, nor by popular majority. They are defined by God.

4. Richard G. Scott’s talk on focusing on the atonement of Jesus Christ as we teach our children about God and His plan for us sunk deep in my heart. The atonement is our everything and far too often I think we can get distracted from the central tenet of our faith. I remember in Little Men when Jo is teaching Nat about Jesus in such a beautiful way that Nat falls right in love with Him. This is what I strive for with my own children and his talk helped remind me to focus on teaching from a solid, personal, doctrinal foundation.

As a companion to that love, trust them. In some cases, it may seem difficult to trust, but find some way to trust them. The children of Father in Heaven can do amazing things when they feel trusted. Every child of God in mortality chose the Savior’s plan. Trust that given the opportunity, they will do so again.

Your personal testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is a powerful tool….there is no doctrine more fundamental to our work than the Atonement of Jesus Christ. At every appropriate opportunity, testify of the Savior and the power of His Atoning sacrifice. Use scriptures that teach of Him and why He is the perfect pattern for everyone in life. You will need to study diligently. Do not become so absorbed in trivial things that you miss learning the doctrine and teachings of the Lord. With a solid, personal, doctrinal foundation, you will be a powerful source for sharing vital truths with others who desperately need them.

As I retyped those words, I realize he is speaking of sharing the gospel broadly, but while I was listening, I only heart him speaking of sharing it with our children. All of my thoughts were centered on teaching my children and nurturing their faith in their Savior.

5. Quentin L. Cook’s talk on family history work and temple work was beautiful. I love researching my ancestor’s lives and lines – it fills my soul on a deep, incomprehensible level. I find my feelings surrounding temple work to be almost impossible to describe – the profound peace and joy must be experienced for one to understand.

We need to be connected to our roots and branches. The thought of being associated in the eternal realm is indeed glorious.

We finally have the doctrine, the temples, and the technology for families to accomplish this glorious work of salvation.

5. President Uchtdorf’s talk, ahhhhh. Breathe, read, ponder, breathe some more. Oh, how I love that man. His words bring great calm to my soul and hope to my heart. His ability to connect with the humanness and the divine in each of us is soothing, lifting, and beautiful.

I have had the sacred opportunity to meet with many people whose sorrows seem to reach the very depths of their soul…Often their grief is caused by what seems to them an ending. Some are facing the end of a cherished relationship, such as the death of a loved one or estrangement from a family member. Other feel they are facing the end of hope – the hope of being married or bearing children or overcoming an illness. Others may be facing the end of their faith, as confusing and conflicting voices in the world tempt them to question, even abandon, what they once knew to be true. Sooner or later, I believe that all of us experience times when the very fabric of our world tears at the seams, leaving us feeling alone, frustrated, and adrift. It can happen to anyone. No one is immune. Everyone’s situation is different and the details of each life are unique. Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious.

We can be grateful!

It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach? Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances – whatever they may be.

This type of gratitude transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer. When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.

Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges. This is not a gratitude of the lips, but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.

There are some days I am able to be grateful in this situation. There are many days I am grateful for. There are many days I am full of grief and lacking hope. On those days, I am going to turn to these words and let God teach me to be grateful in.

6. Sister Stevens shared a lovely reminder of our Heavenly Father’s deep and abiding love for each of His children.

Our Heavenly Father reaches out to each of us with His infinite love.

I learned you can feel peace in the midst of turmoil.

And she shared this quote from C.S. Lewis, my favorite author, from Shadowlands,

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I am helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.

7. “It’s the load.” I need to write this on my wall so I see it every single day. These words may very well become my new mantra that helps me see more clearly and get through hard times. Elder Bednar shared a story of a man who got helplessly stuck in the snow while going to cut wood up in the mountains. He loaded his truckbed with hundreds of pounds of firewood and the weight of the wood allowed him to get unstuck.

It was the load. It was the load of wood that provided the traction necessary for him to get out of the snow, to get back on the road, and to move forward. It was the load that enabled him to return to his family and his home.

Each of us also carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: ‘Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?’

Sometimes we mistakenly believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness.

Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most.

Oh my goodness. I needed those words. I can feel the load I am carrying changing my soul. I can feel Christ transforming me, every so slowly, I am being changed. But, some days I don’t want to be changed. Some days I want to go back in time a few years to when I had a working body and could go, go, go and do, do, do. And these words “it’s the load” are going to be a source of connection for me. Connecting me to Christ. Connecting me to Father. Connecting me to their plans and purposes and desires. I can remember those three little words and allow them to work in me a softening of my heart and a greater desire and willingness to share my load with my Savior whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.

8. Elder Packer’s talk was bittersweet. He looked so old and fragile, yet his words were powerful and full of hope.

Many things cannot be taught, but can be learned.

Everything done is done in Christ’s name.

9. Elder William R. Walker’s talk kindled in me a greater desire to teach my children their personal church history story – their ancestor’s conversion stories. I know that the stories of faith, courage, and sacrifice I grew up hearing of my Rollins ancestors tied me to the Lord and gave me strength and hope when my own nuclear family fell apart. My children need those same stories. They need the stories of all their ancestor lines. And after this talk, I am determined to find those stories and share them with my children often so that they to can be strengthened by a legacy of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The more connected we are to our righteous forefathers (and I would add foremothers), the more likely we are to make wise and righteous choices.

10. Elder Oaks’ talk in the Priesthood Session on keys, authority, and women has given me much to ponder. I feel God’s plan for his sons and daughters is glorious. I trust that, deep, down in the marrow of my soul, I know He is a God of love and right. Whatever He does is right, is good, is best. I don’t understand all the ins and outs of what is going on with His daughters (or His sons for that matter) in this day and age or even in this life, but I have great faith that someday we will be taught and will understand how His kingdom operates. And at that time, I feel I will be at peace with His plans and purposes for His daughters. I am not always at peace with them now, but I feel an absolute peace that I will have peace when it is all revealed.

I felt this conference was full of messages my soul deeply needed to hear. Now, I need to spend time pondering, writing, praying, and listening as God continues to teach me from these messages.

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