What Is General Conference?

I get this question sometimes, from people who aren’t members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  What is General Conference? They wonder why I’m so excited about a conference. 

 For members of the church,  General Conference is an opportunity to be uplifted and instructed through living apostles and prophets.  Imagine if Moses, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob came back to talk to a group of people, delivering specific messages from the Lord.  I’ll bet their conference would be fairly well attended, even today.  For me General Conference is about the fact that the Lord still speaks today. 

It is a meeting that happens twice a year in the spring and the fall.  It is a time when leaders in the church speak words of instruction, counsel, and strength from the Lord to the Saints.  In my family, we watch conference on BYU-TV.  I usually make breakfast casseroles that I never seem to have time to make the rest of the year.  There are piles of markers, crayons, pens, and pencils in the middle of the floor.  I print off conference packets for the kids to take notes with.  Some of the kids prefer to take notes on 3×5 notecards.  I run around cleaning, organizing, and getting things ready.  At the last minute I’ll grab my mechanical pencil, notebook, or my new favorite note taking form and slip onto the sofa just as the choir begins singing.  Then I’ll take a deep breath and wait to get revelation specific and personal to my life.

There will be some talks that don’t seem to apply, even though there will be portions at least that inspire me, or make me think about someone else in my life who would truly benefit from the counsel.

There will be moments when someone steals the only green crayon in the pile from someone else.  In these moments, I love having TiVo and a pause button. 

And then once “The Great Green Crayon Drama” has been resolved there will be a talk…a talk I’ve been praying to hear for the last several months…a talk that I need to hear…I won’t even be able to take many notes during this talk.  I may be crying, or staring at the screen.  More often than not, I’m saying silent prayers of thanks for a loving Father who knew exactly what I needed.

Over the course of the weekend, there will be many moments like this. Until finally the closing song and closing prayer at the last session on Sunday are done.

 I’ll spend the next six months studying, listening to, and rewatching talks…letting them sink into me and become part of my life.  Then it will be time for another conference and the process will start all over again.

Have you ever taken vitamins to boost your immune system and keep yourself from getting sick? 

 That’s what conference is to me.  It’s a regular opportunity to boost my spiritual immune system, to fix problems sometimes before they have even begun, and to feel the divine love of a Father in Heaven who has instruction and messages for His beloved daughter. 

That’s why I get so excited.

Visiting Teaching

My visiting teachers are amazing. Each time they visit I receive confirmation from the Spirit that Relief Society and Visiting Teacher are inspired of  God. Women in this church are amazing. We have been counseled to ‘stand strong and immovable’ and to be ‘ambitious to do good’. And let me just say that in every ward I have been to around the world I can see how the Visiting Teaching program has changed the lives of many women.

A few months ago my mother send me this fun little hymnal-style tribute to the women in the churhch. I do not know who the author is (so I apologize for not giving credit where credit is due).

Glancing through the Hymnal last Sunday I noted that as Sisters in Zion, we who are called to serve are all enlisted to go marching, marching forward because the world has need of willing men to all press on scattering sunshine. We wonder if we have done any good in the world today because we have been given much and want to do what is right, keep the commandments, press forward with the Saints, choose the right, and put our shoulders to the wheel going where He wants us to go. However, as the morning breaks high on the mountaintop, truth reflects upon our senses, and while we still believe that sweet is the work, we also realize that we have work enough to do ere the sun goes down.And thus we askThee ere we part, where can we turn for peace?

Thank you, unknown author.

General Conference vs Math

During General Conference I prepare notebooks for every child.  I print off conference activity books.  I replace the ragged nubs of wax in our crayon boxes for brand new mega deluxe crayons.  Everything is ready so that we can take notes during all the sessions of conference.

Although I encourage the kids to listen to the talks and take notes on what is actually being said, I’m often content to let them draw pictures of any gospel principle during the sessions of conference.  This is especially true of the younger kids.

So as I sat listening to talks, I noticed that our seven-year-old son was making a chart comparing and contrasting the attributes of cats and dogs.  Impressive for a seven-year-old who’d rather draw that write any words, but not exactly relevant to General Conference.

I leaned over and whispered, “Since you’ve finished your chart, maybe you could listen to the talk and write notes or draw a picture about it.”

He replied, “I really just want to do math.”

I gently reminded, “It’s really important for us to hear what our leaders are telling us.”

And then I left him alone to make his own choice.  5 minutes later, I noticed that he had opted to do a word problem.

“Thomas S. Monson has 4 cows.  He eats one cow for dinner.  How many cows does he have left?”

And that my friends, is an example of a compromise.

The Gifts of the Spirit

General Conference is always so uplifting. I always walk away saying, “That was just what I needed.” This time was no different. As my husband, L, and I were talking about the messages he said to me, “They gave a lot of great advice on how to serve others didn’t they? Almost everyone seemed to talk about it in one way or another.” I had to laugh because I’d been thinking the over all themes had been Prayer and Unity. Later I talked to my mom who mentioned she’d loved all the wisdom given on the principle of faith. Thank heaven for men and women who teach with the Spirit and then let Him do His work.

Conference: An Opportunity to Change Our Hearts

I think the story of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon is one of my most favorites.  King Benjamin called all of his people together to declare his son Mosiah as the king who would reign after him.  He wanted to tell his people about the promises available to them if they would be diligent in keeping the Lord’s commandments.

In Mosiah, Chapter 2, verses 5-6 we learn how the people responded to this call.

5 And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his afamily, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another.
6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his atent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them;
This weekend, we have an opportunity to  listen to vital words from the leaders of Christ’s church.  We can learn a valuable lesson about how to prepare ourselves to receive the messages that will be delivered, by looking again at King Benjamin’s people in verse 9.
9 And these are the words which he aspake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to btrifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should chearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your dhearts that ye may understand, and your eminds that the fmysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.
I’m excited to open my ears, my heart, and my mind.  I have faith that the mysteries of God will be unfolded to me, and that messages the Lord would have me hear will be waiting for me as I pitch my tent to hear his servants speak.  I know there will be messages for you, too.

Relief Society Broadcast

My Saturdays are usually filled up, and this one is no exception.  The kids are practicing for the Primary Program that will be presented on Sunday.  My husband has church softball practice.  And the to-do list…wants to be done.  At the end of all that madness, though, I’ll be in a fabulous place.

The General Relief Society Broadcast is being held on Saturday, September 27, 2008, at 6:00 p.m., mountain daylight time.  It’s a meeting broadcast around the world for women 18 years and older.  I’ll be with many other sisters in my stake.  We’ll do a service project.  We’ll have some snacks.  We’ll laugh and lift each other up.

And then a meeting will begin where all the secret fears of our hearts will be addressed. We’ll find words spoken directly to us as women.  The Spirit will testify with power and strength about our divine parentage and potential.  Some of us will weep.  Many of us will smile.  And we’ll walk back through the door with renewed strength and purpose…made better by that all too brief time spent together.

I hope you’ll be there too.

LDS Link Buttons

I am a fan of creative people.  I admire them, I look up to them, and most of all, I want to be like them.  One of my favorite blogging sites recently came out with a brilliant idea to share the Gospel.  They are free LDS link buttons that go directly to www.mormon.org.  You can find them at:

http://leeloublogs.blogspot.com/2008/05/lds-link-buttons.html  http://leeloublogs.blogspot.com/2008/07/linkidy-link-buttons.html

I have already put one on my personal and professional blog.  They don’t take up too much space, and there are several different styles to choose from so you can even color coordinate if you’re a little crazy about stuff like that. (I did, I’m not going to lie…)  They are so wonderful, I can’t get enough of them!  What an ingenious idea!  It’s simple, fabulous, and every time I think of it I say to myself, “Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?”  I love creative people.