It Really Isn’t Complicated

I recently read a BYU devotional talk titled When Shall These Things Be? by M. Russell Ballard. Although it was given 25 years ago, it could easily have been given today! It is definitely worth reading! Something he said really resonated with me. “Are you going to follow the true and living prophets or not? It really isn’t any more complicated than that. Keep your eyes riveted on the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We will not lead you astray. We cannot.”1

This weekend is general conference and I’m so excited! One of the ways I like to prepare is to read the talks from the previous conference. I read them often throughout the six months, but there is something powerful that happens when I read them all in just a few days. It is almost like putting a puzzle together. Each piece adds to the next. When I am done, a beautiful masterpiece is before me. But it only remains a beautiful masterpiece if I apply what has been taught.

In a contentious and convoluted world, what an incredible blessing it is to have calm and concise voices guiding us through the confusion! With our eyes riveted on the prophet and apostles, we are protected. What an amazing promise!

David A. Bednar suggests this helpful pattern for us to follow as we listen to conference, “[I]dentify the fundamental doctrine or principle that’s being taught, find any invitations associated with and related to that doctrine or principle, and then … recogniz[e] the promised blessings, if we act in accordance with that invitation.”2

As you listen to conference this weekend, I encourage you to make a list of the things our leaders are inviting us to do. As you look at the list, think about Elder Ballard’s question. “Are you going to follow the true and living prophets or not?” Following them is acting on those invitations. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

References:

1.  When Shall These Things Be? – M. Russell Ballard

2. Church News Podcast: Episode 24 – David A. Bednar

Count It All Joy

Count it all joy – what a great scriptural reminder we find in James 1:2! President Russell M. Nelson has taught that joy is “a principle that will only become more important as the tragedies and travesties around us increase.”1 Does that sound a little like this year? Interestingly, the entire scripture reads, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.”2 In the Joseph Smith Translation, the last few words are “when ye fall into many afflictions.”3 Many afflictions? Absolutely! What about different temptations? I’m sure there have been at least a few times this year when we’ve been tempted to complain, to get upset, to give up, to be unkind. And yet, we are to count it all joy.

President Nelson reminded us that “joy … as little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives.”1

When everything started shutting down, I found myself focusing on what I couldn’t do. I could no longer go to the temple or to church, go on vacation or out to dinner. I was allowing restrictions—circumstances—to blur my focus. Places, as wonderful as they may be, are not the source of my joy.

Luckily it didn’t take me too long to get my focus where it belonged. Never before have I  felt such a longing to be in the temple, been more anxious to hear from the prophet, so excited for general conference, and more eager to go to church. The sacrament has become more sacred, the temple more cherished, family more valued, and the living prophet more important.

Through this year of tragedies and travesties, temptations and afflictions, I am more profoundly grateful for my family, my faith, and my friends. Yes, I can count it all joy.

References:

1.  Joy and Spiritual Survival – Russell M. Nelson

2.  James 1:2

3.  James 1:2 – Joseph Smith Translation

I Can & I Will!

I absolutely loved general conference! It did my soul good! In President Russell M. Nelson’s opening message, he said, “Unusual times can bring unusual rewards.”1 And in his closing message he said, “Despite the world’s commotion, the Lord would have us look forward to the future ‘with joyful anticipation.’”2 I love the optimism in these statements. We can all agree that we have been living in unusual times. Have we taken the opportunity to consider the unusual rewards that have come to us? And are we looking with joyful anticipation to what lies ahead?

The words “can bring” really resonated with me. You will notice President Nelson didn’t say, “Unusual times do bring unusual rewards.” The “can” reminds me that both my actions and my reactions matter. I can choose to act or react in ways that will make life rewarding despite the commotion of the world. I can choose how I respond to the challenges that I am given. I can keep going, even when it’s hard. I can trust in good things to come. And always, I can trust in Heavenly Father and His promises.

Optimism coupled with faithfulness, obedience, perseverance, and patience will bring unusual rewards.

To me, one of the greatest blessings, especially during these unusual and chaotic times, is having a living prophet of God! I can choose to follow the prophet.

I can choose to follow Jesus Christ.

I can embrace the future with faith.

I can choose to let God prevail in my life.

I can keep an eternal perspective.

President Nelson encouraged us to do many more things during conference this past weekend. Those were just a few! May we take some time to carefully read through each of his talks, taking note of the things he is asking us to do and highlighting the promises for doing them. I am always amazed at the prophetic promises!  

Yes, these are unusual times we are living in. But unusual rewards, even miracles, have been promised. There is so much to be grateful for! I can and I will look forward to the future with joyful anticipation!

References:

1.  Moving Forward – Russell M. Nelson

2.  A New Normal – Russell M. Nelson

Listen For His Message

I always love general conference, but I don’t recall a general conference I have looked forward to with such anticipation. President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation this year has been to hear the voice of the Lord in our lives. General conference is the wonderful time to hear His voice through His servants. President Henry B. Eyring has promised, “If you trust God enough to listen for His message in every sermon, song and prayer in this conference, you will find it.”1

Enjoy general conference! I will be posting new quotes daily. You can find them on my Instagram and in the General Conference section on the gallery page.

References:

1.  Trust in God, Then Go and Do – Henry B. Eyring

Filling Our Hearts & Homes

The Women’s Session of our last General Conference had such a powerful impact on me.  I was profoundly grateful for the incredible women who boldly declared and defended God’s truths.  I left that meeting with a greater desire to do my part, however small that might be.  Their words and their examples have made me want to be a more devoted disciple of Christ.  Here are just a few of the things that inspired me most.


From Cheryl A. Esplin’s talk “Filling Our Homes With Light and Truth”1


“When filled with the Spirit and with gospel truth, we have the power to withstand the outside forces of the world that surround and push against us.
Families are the Lord’s workshop on earth to help us learn and live the gospel. . . .  Strong eternal families and Spirit-filled homes do not just happen. They take great effort, they take time, and they take each member of the family doing his or her part. Every home is different, but every home where even one individual seeks for truth can make a difference.

As we fill our hearts and homes with the Savior’s light and truth, we will have the inner strength to withstand in every circumstance.”


From Carole M. Stephens’ talk “The Family is of God”2:

“The Savior knows the difficulties of the way and can guide us through whatever sorrows and disappointments may come.

As we use our time in mortality to study and apply the Savior’s teachings, we become more like Him. We come to understand that He is the way—the only way—we can overcome mortal challenges, be healed, and return back to our heavenly home.

If we are to be successful in our sacred responsibilities as daughters of God, we must understand the eternal significance of and our individual responsibility to teach truths about our Heavenly Father’s plan for His family.”


From Bonnie L. Oscarson’s talk “Defenders of the Family Proclamation”3:

“We need to boldly defend the Lord’s revealed doctrines describing marriage, families, the divine roles of men and women, and the importance of homes as sacred places—even when the world is shouting in our ears that these principles are outdated, limiting, or no longer relevant. Everyone, no matter what their marital circumstance or number of children, can be defenders of the Lord’s plan described in the family proclamation. If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!

There is no greater honor, no more elevated title, and no more important role in this life than that of mother or father.

Our homes should be places where the Spirit of the Lord is felt in rich abundance and where the scriptures and the gospel are studied, taught, and lived.”

I can’t think of a greater blessing for us or our families than to have a home where the Spirit of the Lord dwells.  As Sister Esplin said, that takes time and effort.  If we do nothing more than listen to the words of our leaders, then they are nothing more than beautiful words.  We must plant them in our hearts and then have the faith to live them, even when it seems hard.  It does take effort.  But the rewards are great!   Especially now, it is essential to have a testimony of our Savior and invite His Spirit into our lives and homes.  By relying on our Savior and living His gospel, we will have the strength needed to endure the trials we will face in this life.   Heber C. Kimball said, “To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light.”

I look forward with great anticipation to the next two weekends!  I love general conference!  For me, it is a time of rejuvenation, reflection and recommitment.  Robert D. Hales said, “Oh, how we need general conference! Through conferences our faith is fortified and our testimonies deepened. And when we are converted, we strengthen each other to stand strong amid the fiery darts of these last days.”

The only way our faith can be fortified and our testimonies deepened is if we act on the impressions we receive while listening to conference.  If we spiritually prepare ourselves, conference can be a very personal, even life changing, experience.  Just as Paul V. Johnson said, “In order for the messages of general conference to change our lives, we need to be willing to follow the counsel we hear.”

References:

1.  Filling Our Homes With Light and Truth – Cheryl A. Esplin

2.  The Family is of God – Carole M. Stephens

3.  Defenders of the Family Proclamation  –  Bonnie L. Oscarson