Honoring the Prophet on his Birthday

Today is President Monson’s 90th birthday. Tonight we will be holding our Family Home Evening in his honor. We will talk a little bit about his life, and review his teachings from General Conference in recent years. Here are some of the highlights:

Recent Teachings of President Thomas S. Monson

April 2017

“If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so.”

“I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will in a position hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.”

October 2016

“We are blessed to have the truth. We have a mandate to share the truth. Let us live the truth.”

“This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

“I testify of the great gift which is our Father’s plan for us. It is the one perfect path to peace and happiness both here and in the world to come.”

April 2016

“If we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice.”

“May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”

Oct 2015

“We become examples of the believers by living the gospel of Jesus Christ in word, in conversation, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. As we do so, our lights will shine for others to see.” (see 1 Timothy 4:12)

“As we make Christ the center of our lives, our fears will be replaced by the courage of our convictions.”

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt 5:16)

April 2015

“As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace.”

“The blessings of the temple are priceless”

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

October 2014

“Ponder the path of thy feet” (Proverbs 14:26).

“The Savior’s example provides a framework for everything that we do, and His words provide an unfailing guide. His path will take us safely home.”

April 2014 GC

“Love is the very essence of the gospel, and Jesus Christ is our Exemplar.”

“Love should be the very heart of family life.”

“As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.”

Reaching out in love and service: Highlights from the April 2016 General Women’s Session

The General Women’s Session of the 2016 April General Conference was inspiring and motivating. Each of the speakers addressed the need to reach out to others in love and service. I am prayerfully studying these messages and seeking the Lord’s help to be a better tool in his hands. Here are some of the key messages from the talks that I want to highlight and remember for myself and my family. 

Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, “He Asks Us to Be His Hands”. 
Scriptures: John 13:34, acts 10:38, Luke 9:24

Be someone who reaches out to know and serve others–throw away the mirrors and look through the window.

When children learn how to love and serve others when they are young, they set a pattern of service for the rest of their lives. Often children teach the rest of us that showing love and service doesn’t have to be big and grandiose to be meaningful and make a difference.

Sisters, some of you listening may feel stretched to capacity ministering to the needs of family members. Remember, in those routine and often mundane tasks, you are “in the service of your God.”

Others of you might be feeling an emptiness that could be filled as you look into your neighborhood or community for opportunities to help ease another’s burdens.

All of us can incorporate some service into our daily living. We live in a contentious world. We give service when we don’t criticize, when we refuse to gossip, when we don’t judge, when we smile, when we say thank you, and when we are patient and kind.

Other kinds of service take time, intentional planning, and extra energy. But they are worth our every effort. Perhaps we could start by asking ourselves these questions:

  • Who in my circle of influence could I help today?
  • What time and resources do I have?
  • In what ways can I use my talents and skills to bless others?
  • What might we do as a family?

I have come to know that it is the love of God and neighbor that give meaning to life. May we follow our Savior’s example and His admonition to reach out to others with love.

Sister  Neill F. Marriott, “What Shall We Do?”
Women and sisters, what shall we do?

We build the kingdom when we nurture others.

Love is making space in your life for someone else.

Mothers literally make room in their bodies to nurture an unborn baby–and hopefully a place in their hearts as they raise them–but nurturing is not limited to bearing children. Eve was called a “mother” before she had children. I believe that “to mother” means “to give life.”

We also build the kingdom when we speak up and testify of truth.

Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society general president, taught: “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life. … It requires a conscious effort.”

I am glad to be a mother, and I promise you I will do everything in my power to nurture my children in such a way that they will make the world a better place.”

Sister Linda K. Burton, “I Was a Stranger”.
There are more than 60 million refugees, including forcibly displaced people, worldwide. Half of those are children.

The First Presidency invited individuals, families, and Church units to participate in Christlike service in local refugee relief projects and to contribute to the Church humanitarian fund, where practical.

Each member of this worldwide sisterhood has covenanted at baptism to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.

With these truths in mind, we have organized a relief effort called “I Was a Stranger.” It is our hope that you will prayerfully determine what you can do–according to your own time and circumstance–to serve the refugees living in your neighborhoods and communities. This is an opportunity to serve one on one, in families, and by organization to offer friendship, mentoring, and other Christlike service and is one of many ways sisters can serve.

And the Savior said: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me.”

As we consider the “pressing calls” of those who need our help, let’s ask ourselves, “What if their story were my story?” May we then seek inspiration, act on impressions we receive, and reach out in unity to help those in need as we are able and inspired to do so. Perhaps then it might be said of us, as the Savior said of a loving sister who ministered to Him: “She hath wrought a good work. … She hath done what she could.”

President Henry B. Eyring, ” Trust in That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good”. 

The feeling of greatest importance is love.

A second feeling you have had tonight was the influence of the Holy Ghost. “And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good–yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit” (D&C 11:12).

The third feeling you have had tonight is that you want to be closer to the Savior.

The first thing you must commit to do is to go and serve, knowing that you do not go alone. When you go to comfort and serve anyone for the Savior, He prepares the way before you.

The second thing you must do is remember the Lord as you go in service for Him.

The third thing I hope they will do is to be personally modest about their good works.

My prayer for the sisters in the kingdom, wherever they may be or in whatever circumstances, is that their faith in the Savior and gratitude for His Atonement will lead them to do all they can for those God asks them to serve. As they do, I promise that they will move up the path to become holy women whom the Savior and our Heavenly Father will welcome warmly and reward.

I witness that we grow closer to the Savior as we, out of pure love, serve others for Him.

Prioritizing Our Lives to Find Joy: A Lesson for Relief Society

I had the opportunity to teach the lesson in my ward Relief Society today. The focus of my lesson was adapted from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Of Regrets and Resolutions” (October 2012). Here are some of the highlights.

President Uchtdorf once related the experience of a nurse who cares for the terminally ill. As her patients have prepared to depart this life, she has often asked a simple question: “Do you have any regrets?”

How would you answer that question?

I would like you to reflect for a moment, and reflect personally on your own life. If you knew that your death was imminent, how would you answer that question? Do you have any regrets? (Give a minute to ponder this).

In his conference address from October 2012, “Of Regrets and Resolutions” President Uchtdorf discussed the top three responses to that question.

I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I Love

When this life ends and we pass onto the next, the only thing we take with us is the knowledge that we have gained, and the meaningful relationships that have enriched our lives.

One of my favorite teachings of President Monson is this:

“what is most important almost always involves the people around us.”

How we treat others, the love and kindness we offer, is what is most important.

It isn’t always easy to focus on what is most important. Too often we get caught up in the endless tasks of day-to-day life. Now, at this stage of my life, My life feels like a series of unfinished projects. Do you ever feel the same way? To illustrate:

Monday is usually my day to recover from the weekend and get the house back in order. This week, among the usual tasks of laundry and dishes, etc, I worked on sorting through my baby boy clothes that Adam has grown out of, so that I could pass them along to a sister that has a new baby boy. I had to work quickly, since 10-month old Adam was at my side, pulling items out of the box almost as fast as I was putting them in. I got the box ready to go and planned to deliver them that day, but by then it was lunchtime for Adam and myself. After feeding Adam, I mixed up a batch of granola to go with the smoothies I had planned for after school snack. The granola was in the oven and I started to work on the lunch (and breakfast dishes), but by this time Adam wanted some attention. I sat down with him and read him a few board books. Once he happily crawled off my lap, I turned my attention to the laundry that had just finished drying. I put the sheets on the bed, but then the timer beeped for the oven-baked granola, before I could put away the rest of the clean towels and cloths. I had hoped to deliver the baby clothes that day, but it was now time to load up the baby for the walk to the bus stop and meet my big kids. Once they get home it is whirlwind of activity as I balance the needs of four children: snack, chores, homework (27 spelling words to practice!), piano practice for all three, a lesson for me to teach, trying in vain to get the baby to take his afternoon nap, prepare dinner, eat, FHE (thankfully it is Jared’s turn for the lesson, and truthfully I snag a two-minute doze on the couch while he engages the children in an activity). By the time the kids are washed and read to and in bed, I walk past the clean laundry that is still sitting half-way out of the dryer and spilling onto the floor, and the dinner dishes that aren’t finished. I focus on dishes, in between comforting my five-year-old son who is having trouble sleeping because of a knee that he fell and scraped earlier in the day. At 10 p.m. I crawl into bed with him until he is sound asleep, leaving the laundry for yet another day.

Does this sound familiar to any of you?

President Uchtdorf taught:

“Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Is it?”

“I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.”

At this stage of my life, while I am busily in the throes of “young motherhood”, there is a phrase that I tell myself almost daily “this is what God gave you time for”. It comes from a talk by Elder Andersen in Oct. 2011:

“Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”

Eventually the laundry and dishes will get done. I may not be crossing off many things (or anything!) on my to do list, but as I hold my napping baby in my arms, as I help my eight-year-old with her math problems, as I read a book with my five-year-old, and as I teach my 11-year-old how to cook something in the kitchen, I remember that “this is what God gave you time for”. The relationships I have with my children and spouse are what is most important.

No matter what stage of life we are in, we would do well to remember this teaching from Sister Linda Reeves, in the April 2014 General Conference:

“The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.” (Linda Reeves, April 2014)

I Wish I Had Lived Up to My Potential

Another regret people expressed was that they failed to become the person they could and should have been. They realized that they never lived up to their potential.

President Uchtdorf is clear. He is not speaking of “climbing the ladder of success in our various professions”. We don’t need to be the most famous author, the most successful businessperson, or the scientist who discovers the cure for cancer.  Instead, he is “speaking of becoming the person God, our Heavenly Father, intended us to be”.

As we reflect on our lives and the way that we spend our time, consider this teaching of President Uchtdorf:

“Discipleship is the pursuit of holiness and happiness. It is the path to our best and happiest self.”

“Let us resolve to follow the Savior and work with diligence to become the person we were designed to become. Let us listen to and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As we do so, Heavenly Father will reveal to us things we never knew about ourselves. He will illuminate the path ahead and open our eyes to see our unknown and perhaps unimagined talents.

The more we devote ourselves to the pursuit of holiness and happiness, the less likely we will be on a path to regrets. The more we rely on the Savior’s grace, the more we will feel that we are on the track our Father in Heaven has intended for us.”

I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier

The last regret that we will focus on is this: “They wished they had let themselves be happier”.

“So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.

The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.

We do matter. We determine our happiness.

You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.”

“We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect.”

From his most recent address, in the story of the Summer with Great Aunt Rose, he reminded us that “God didn’t design us to be sad. He created us to have joy!”

I love this scripture found in the book of Psalms 118: 24 “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Each day is a gift. What do you do to find joy each day?

“To avoid some of the deepest regrets of life, it would be wise to make some resolutions today. Therefore, let us:

  • Resolve to spend more time with those we love.
  • Resolve to strive more earnestly to become the person God wants us to be.
  • Resolve to find happiness, regardless of our circumstances.

It is my testimony that many of the deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today. If we have sinned or made mistakes—if we have made choices that we now regret—there is the precious gift of Christ’s Atonement, through which we can be forgiven. We cannot go back in time and change the past, but we can repent. The Savior can wipe away our tears of regret and remove the burden of our sins. His Atonement allows us to leave the past behind and move forward with clean hands, a pure heart, and a determination to do better and especially to become better.”

Teachings about the Sabbath Day from the October 2015 General Conference (FHE plans)

One of the current Prophetic Priorities set by the Prophet and First Presidency of the Church is to focus on Sabbath Day observance to strengthen individuals and the family. During the October 2015 General Conference I asked my children to specifically listen for speakers who mentioned the word Sabbath. We counted at least nine talks! For a recent FHE lesson I compiled all of the references into one sheet. We picked one to really focus on for the week, and an accompanying scripture (we say it every morning during the drive to school). For the rest of the week at dinnertime we picked an additional quote to discuss.

Our focus quote for the week came from Elder Claudio R. M. Costa: “The Sabbath and the Sacrament become much more enjoyable as we study the stories of Christ.”

Scripture of the week: “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God” (Ezekiel 20:20).

To help our family remember I created a poster using this meme, and also included the scripture on the bottom.

Here is the compilation of teachings about the Sabbath day from the October 2015 General Conference.

Elder M. Russell Ballard
Another important doctrine that we should cling to is to observe the Sabbath day. This helps us remain unspotted from the world, provides us with physical rest, and gives each of us the spiritual refreshment of worshipping the Father and the Son every Sunday. When we delight in the Sabbath day, it is a sign of our love for Them.

Elder Quentin L. Cook
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, honoring the Sabbath is a form of righteousness that will bless and strengthen families, connect us with our Creator, and increase happiness. The Sabbath can help separate us from that which is frivolous, inappropriate, or immoral. It allows us to be in the world but not of the world. In the last six months, a most remarkable change has occurred in the Church. This has been in the response of the members to renewed emphasis on the Sabbath by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve and to President Russell M. Nelson’s challenge to make the Sabbath a delight. Many members understand that truly keeping the Sabbath day holy is a refuge from the storms of this life. It is also a sign of our devotion to our Father in Heaven and an increased understanding of the sacredness of sacrament meeting. Still, we have a long way to go, but we have a wonderful beginning. I challenge all of us to continue to embrace this counsel and improve our Sabbath worship.

President Henry B. Eyring
If you receive a spiritual impression to honor the Sabbath day, especially when it seems difficult, God will send His Spirit to help.

Elder Kim B. Clark
Simple obedience brings the Spirit into our hearts. In our homes, we pray in faith, search the scriptures, and keep the Sabbath day holy. In our chapels, we partake of the sacrament and make sacred promises to our Heavenly Father in the name of Christ.

Sister Neill F. Marriott
When we open ourselves to the Spirit, we learn God’s way and feel His will. During the sacrament, which I call the heart of the Sabbath, I have found that after I pray for forgiveness of sins, it is instructive for me to ask Heavenly Father, “Father, is there more?” When we are yielded and still, our minds can be directed to something more we may need to change—something that is limiting our capacity to receive spiritual guidance or even healing and help.

Elder Randall K. Bennett
Two essential weekly signposts that mark our journey back to our Father in Heaven are the perpetual covenant of the ordinance of the sacrament and our Sabbath day observance… If, in remembering Him each Sabbath, we turn our hearts to the Savior through these two important signposts, our efforts are again more than matched by the Lord by His promised blessings. We are promised that, with devoted Sabbath day observance, the fulness of the earth will be ours.

Elder Claudio R. M. Costa
I believe that starting a tradition of telling the stories of Jesus to our children and families is a very special way to keep the Sabbath day holy in our homes…I am grateful for our leaders, who are constantly teaching us about Christ, about keeping the Sabbath day holy, and about partaking of the sacrament each Sunday in honor of the Savior. The Sabbath and the sacrament become much more enjoyable as we study the stories of Christ. In so doing, we create traditions that build our faith and testimony and also protect our family.

Sister Carole M. Stephens
Recently, living prophets have counseled us to “remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,” and to live the law of the fast. Obedience to this prophetic counsel provides a way for us to be obedient to God’s commandment to love Him and our neighbor as we increase our faith in Jesus Christ and extend our hand to love and care for others.

After General Conference-now what?

What a wonderful General Conference weekend! All of the messages were so inspiring, and so many of them addressed concerns that I have been praying/pondering about. It was interesting to witness the calling of three new apostles. I especially liked Elder Bednars talk: with the passing of Elder Perry, Pres. Packer, and Elder Scott I had gone back to review their recent messages. I have also been curious to hear what the last counsel of a prophet/apostle is before he dies, but hadn’t studied it out yet. It was heart-breaking to watch Pres. Monson struggle to deliver his message–we prayed for him as he spoke, as I am sure many others were doing. He truly is a man who has given his life to serving the Lord and His purposes.

meme-bednar-truths-1578560-printNow begins the wonderful task of studying and integrating the messages in our lives. In just a few short days the talks will be available on the Gospel Library app. I usually read 1-2 talks a day until I have made it through all of the sessions, highlighting key sections. I mark the messages that we should study further as a family, and we discuss them usually through Family Home Evening lessons.

I am planning to teach my children that apostles testify of Jesus Christ by sharing the following video:

Apostles Testimony MontageApostles are called to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ. Hear the first testimonies of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve after being called to their sacred roles.

Posted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Monday, October 5, 2015

We will also continue to teach our children about the apostles, and especially help them get to know the new apostles.

I liked the ideas for General Conference recap shared here.

What will you do to make General Conference a part of your daily life?

My Favorite Resources for General Conference Weekend

General Conference is almost here! I am so thankful that twice a year we get to sit at the feet (so to speak) of living prophets and apostles. Last week I was able to lead a discussion for a Relief Society activity where the theme was “Celebrate General Conference”. I truly believe that General Conference is special and something worth celebrating.Read on for the ways that we are celebrating General Conference in our family this year.

“Oh, how we need general conference! Through conferences our faith is fortified and our testimonies deepened” (Elder Robert D. Hales, source).

Last Sunday evening we watched the following video as a family to help put us in the mood for General Conference. We have also been doing our nightly countdown–we have missed some nights, but we just do two the next night to catch up.

This year I created my own note-taking booklets for my children. I want my children to at least focus on one key word from each apostle’s talk, and I liked this Sugardoodle packet from a few years ago. I just used the speaker note pages, cut them into thirds, and then assembled it with some colored paper and a few extra sheets of paper, as inspired by this booklet.

We always enjoy the Color the General Authority tie page from this packet by Sugardoodle.

These Conference Watches are fun.

This week I put together a binder full of activities. Most of the sheets are inserted in sheet protectors so that the children can pull out the page they want, complete it with a dry erase marker, then erase it and return it to the binder to be used by another person. The binder includes the following:

During the sessions we will create a General Conference wall:

  • Put stickers on the chart of general authorities when they see them speak. (The photo chart is in the centerfold of the conference edition of the Ensign.)
  • Hang up pictures of the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles. After they speak, we will write keywords or quotes or draw pictures on post-it notes and place it on their photo (we have the 8×10 photos available here).
  • We will be using these headband cards to help us keep track of the topics. The cards will be posted on the wall, and when a speaker talks about a topic we will write their name on a post-it note and place it near the topic.
  • Display a large world map. When countries are mentioned in conference (for new temples, stories, etc) have the child put stickers on that place on the map.

Here is our menu and activity plan for the weekend. Since we live in Florida, our viewing times start at noon and 4 p.m., which puts it exactly at mealtimes. We do our best to work around that.


Breakfast: crepes with strawberries, bananas, nutella, powdered sugar and cream.

Lunch: We are trying something new! Pesto Tomato Mozzarella Sammies

Dinner: BBQ chicken (cooked in the crockpot) sandwiches


Breakfast:biscuits and sausage (made by my husband, as is our Sunday tradition

Lunch: Finger foods–cheese cubes, deli slices, veggie tray and dip, tortilla chips, crackers, apple slices…and cinnamon rolls!

Dinner: Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Dad’s mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, and mixed veggies.

A few other tricks and ideas to keep our sanity and keep children happy:

  • Conference session spa: relax and serve each other with hand massages, hair brushing, and manicures.
  • New dry-erase markers and pens in assorted colors to make note-taking fun.
  • Make use of LEGO: construct a temple, or something else. Build a new set together.
  • Get outside in between sessions: go for a nature walk or a family bike ride. Draw with sidewalk chalk, blow bubbles, etc.
  • Remember not to be a shusher: help the children to have a positive experience. If I miss something, I can always read the talks again.

I have posted this before, but each of these messages are especially timely to review before General Conference.

Elder Robert D. Hales, “General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony”. October 2013 General Conference.

Elder Neil L. Anderson, “Teaching Our Children to Love the Prophets”. April 1996 Ensign.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “General Conference-No Ordinay Blessing”. September 2011 Ensign.

Lastly, a few ideas for Visiting Teaching friends: motivators with Gatorade or water bottles.

You can read what we did last spring here.

Every day, every day, every day! (FHE plans and quotes from Elder Pearson)

My husband taught a great Family Home Evening lesson tonight based on Elder Pearson’s recent General Conference talk, Stay by the Tree. He had the children follow a path and stopped to discuss each principle on enduring to the end from Lehi’s vision of the tree of life that Elder Pearson taught.

  1. Don’t forget to pray
  2. Come unto Christ and be perfected in him
  3. Press forward with faith
  4. The Book of Mormon is key to spiritual survival
  5. Don’t be distracted and deceived
  6. Stay by the tree

After they reached the tree (made out of Lego) we discussed Lehi’s dream a little more, and emphasized the following point:

Search the Book of Mormon and the words of the living prophets every day, every day, every day!

After dessert we ended the evening with our family study of the Book of Mormon. Up to this point we have been taking turns each reading (or repeating) a verse each day. We have been using the Gospel Library app on an iPod and passing it around to each person when it is their turn to read, but a few days ago I felt that our scripture reading would be more meaningful if each person had their own scriptures to follow along with as we read. So I gathered up hard copies of the Book of Mormon (enough for each member of our family), ready to go in our living room in a basket. Tonight we used them for the first time, and the children were excited to touch and read their own copies. We spent a few minutes orienting them to the book, and helped them find our current place in Mosiah. It was a testament to me of the power of the scriptures to see how much the children were drawn to them. I wish we had done this sooner!

Additional Quotes from Elder Pearson

Enduring to the end is a hallmark of true discipleship and is essential to eternal life. But when trials and challenges come our way, we are often told to simply “hang in there.” Let me be clear: to “hang in there” is not a principle of the gospel. Enduring to the end means constantly coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him.

Search the Book of Mormon and the words of the living prophets every day, every day, every day! It’s the key to spiritual survival and avoiding deception. Without it, we are spiritually lost.

True disciples continue to awaken unto God each day in meaningful personal prayer, earnest scripture study, personal obedience, and selfless service. Stay by the tree and stay awake.

If you are struggling, confused, or spiritually lost, I urge you to do the one thing I know will get you back on track. Begin again to prayerfully study the Book of Mormon and live its teachings every day, every day, every day! I testify of the profound power in the Book of Mormon that will change your life and strengthen your resolve to follow Christ.

Elder Kevin W. Pearson, “Stay by the Tree”. April 2014 General Conference.

Counting Down to General Conference

General Conference is just two weeks away, and we are getting ready at our home!

I saw this countdown calendar at the Red Headed Hostess and  I thought it would be a nice conference tradition to add this year. I printed off her sheets four to one page, so each countdown sheet was just 1/4 sheet. My daughters colored the numbers and glued a picture of an apostle on each page. I stapled it all together and placed it in a prominent place in our home. IMG_20150920_1043407_rewind

The plan is to pull off one countdown picture each day and briefly review what that apostle spoke about at the recent General Conference. The numbers work out pretty well since there are 14 days and 15 apostles and First Presidency (we will just double up on one day).IMG_20150920_1043260_rewind

I also decided to cover the door with the posters of scriptures and quotes that we have used for Family Home Evening lessons that were based on General Conference. It didn’t take long for my children to find them and start reading them!


“Some might say it is not the leaders who are important, but the message they bring. Yet, if our children do not know the names of the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, they most likely will not know their messages either.”

“When children are young parents must be innovative in helping them develop good habits regarding conference participation. As our children are given opportunities to observe and learn the role of these special witnesses, they will receive a spiritual confirmation of the sacred calling of their Church leaders, and they will feel a deeper love for and interest in these leaders and their message.’

Elder Neil L. Andersen, “Teaching our Children to Love the Prophets”. April 1996 Ensign.

Quick Quotes from the April 2015 General Conference

I mentioned before that I am striving to make the messages from General Conference a part of my everyday life. I went through the April 2015 General Conference and pulled out the key quotes that had the most relevance and significance to me. Having all of the quotes in one place makes it easy to review the important words. I posted the words of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles here, and today I am sharing quotes from the rest of the speakers in the general sessions.

Sister Linda K. Burton
Brothers and sisters, we need each other! As covenant-keeping women and men, we need to lift each other and help each other become the people the Lord would have us become. And we need to work together to lift the rising generation and help them reach their divine potential as heirs of eternal life. We could do as Elder Robert D. Hales and his wife, Mary, have done and follow the proverb “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together.”

Sisters and brothers, how often do we intentionally “speak kind words to each other”?

Elder L. Whitney Clayton
Every day each of us faces a test. It is the test of our lifetimes: will we choose to believe in Him and allow the light of His gospel to grow within us, or will we refuse to believe and insist on traveling alone in the dark? The Savior provides His gospel as a light to guide those who choose to believe in and follow Him.

The decision to believe is the most important choice we ever make. It shapes all our other decisions.

Elder Wilford W. Andersen
We learn the dance steps with our minds, but we hear the music with our hearts. The dance steps of the gospel are the things we do; the music of the gospel is the joyful spiritual feeling that comes from the Holy Ghost. It brings a change of heart and is the source of all righteous desires. The dance steps require discipline, but the joy of the dance will be experienced only when we come to hear the music.

Our children’s happiness depends on their ability to hear and love the beautiful music of the gospel.

If you’re not hearing the music of the gospel in your home, please remember these two words: keep practicing. With God’s help, the day will come when the music of the gospel will fill your home with unspeakable joy.

Elder Dale G. Renlund
My invitation to all of us is to evaluate our lives, repent, and keep on trying. If we don’t try, we’re just latter-day sinners; if we don’t persevere, we’re latter-day quitters; and if we don’t allow others to try, we’re just latter-day hypocrites. As we try, persevere, and help others to do the same, we are true Latter-day Saints. As we change, we will find that God indeed cares a lot more about who we are and about who we are becoming than about who we once were.

Elder Michael T. Ringwood
In a world where praise, position, power, accolades, and authority are sought on every side, I honor those wonderful and blessed souls who are truly good and without guile, those who are motivated by a love of God and their neighbors, those great women and men who are “more anxious to serve than to have dominion.”

The service that counts most is usually recognized by God alone.

Sister Rosemary M. Wixom
Answers to our sincere questions come when we earnestly seek and when we live the commandments.

Helaman 5:12

Elder Jose A. Teixeira
The Lord said, “[Seek] me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” Seeking the Lord and feeling His presence is a daily quest, a worthwhile effort.

I believe that as we deepen our understanding of the Savior, we will have an increased desire to live joyfully and a conviction that joy is possible. Consequently, we will have a greater ability to go about each day with more enthusiasm for life and for keeping the commandments of God, even in challenging circumstances.

3 habits for healthy online activity: 1)Visit the Church’s Official Websites for Resources 2)Subscribe to the Church’s Official Social Networks 3)Make Time to Set Aside Your Mobile Devices

Bishop Gerald Causse
To marvel at the wonders of the gospel is a sign of faith. It is to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us. Our amazement also produces spiritual strength. It gives us the energy to remain anchored in our faith and to engage ourselves in the work of salvation.

Elder Brent H. Nielsen
Parable of the prodigal son

We learned in our family that, after all we can do, we love that person with all of our hearts and we watch, we pray, and we wait for the Lord’s hand to be revealed.

Elder Kevin W. Pearson
Enduring to the end is a hallmark of true discipleship and is essential to eternal life. But when trials and challenges come our way, we are often told to simply “hang in there.” Let me be clear: to “hang in there” is not a principle of the gospel. Enduring to the end means constantly coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him.

Search the Book of Mormon and the words of the living prophets every day, every day, every day! It’s the key to spiritual survival and avoiding deception. Without it, we are spiritually lost.

True disciples continue to awaken unto God each day in meaningful personal prayer, earnest scripture study, personal obedience, and selfless service. Stay by the tree and stay awake.

Lehi’s vision of the tree of life is a powerful parable on enduring to the end: 1) Don’t forget to pray 2)Come unto Christ and be perfected in him 3)Press forward with faith 4) The Book of Mormon is key to spiritual survival 5)Don’t be distracted and deceived  6)Stay by the tree

Enduring to the end is the great test of discipleship. Our daily discipleship will determine our eternal destiny. Awaken unto God, cling to truth, keep your sacred temple covenants, and stay by the tree!

Elder Rafael E. Pino
Understanding the plan will help people keep the commandments, make better decisions, and have the right motivation.

The Lord knows what He wants to accomplish with each one of us. He knows the kind of reform He wants to achieve in our lives, and we do not have the right to counsel Him. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

Elder Jorge F. Zeballos
Let us press forward by learning our duty, making correct decisions, acting according to those decisions, and accepting the will of our Father.

Elder Joseph W. Sitati
Heavenly Father has charged and blessed us to be fruitful, to multiply, and to subdue the earth that we might become like Him. He has made help available that we may each, according to our individual choosing, actually grow to become like Him.

Parents are responsible to teach their children the gospel

This talk was inspiring to me, as a reminder to take seriously my role as a teacher of gospel principles to my children. My daughter Lily is turning eight next month, so we are currently planning lessons and discussions focused on the importance of baptism, making covenants, and the Holy Ghost.

“The scriptures speak of the role of parents—that it is their duty to teach their children “the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost” (D&C 68:25).”

As parents, we are to be the prime gospel teachers and examples for our children—not the bishop, the Sunday School, the Young Women or Young Men, but the parents. As their prime gospel teachers, we can teach them the power and reality of the Atonement—of their identity and divine destiny—and in so doing give them rock foundation upon which to build. When all is said and done, the home is the ideal forum for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

We might all ask ourselves: do our children receive our best spiritual, intellectual, and creative efforts, or do they receive our leftover time and talents, after we have given our all to our Church calling or professional pursuits? In the life to come, do not know if titles such as bishop or Relief Society president will survive, but do know that the titles of husband and wife, father and mother, will continue and be revered, worlds without end. That is one reason it is so important to honor our responsibilities as parents here on earth so we can prepare for those even greater, but similar, responsibilities in the life to come.”

Tad R. Callister, “Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children.” October 2014 General Conference.