Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I delight in being prepared for general conference.

general conference april 2013
salt lake city, ut

Loving general conference has been a process for me in life and for the past 12 years or so, its been a process I've been actively trying to improve. Over these years, I've learned a lot of things that for me, make a difference and some years, it has made all the difference. For me, life seems to collide around general conference. There are a lot of times when things have come together and I have just said,..."thank heavens it's almost conference." My heart fills with gratitude as I think about general conference.  I'm so grateful to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and now I add, I know it, I live it, I love it, thanks to Sister Dibb's talk this time last year!

While preparing for this general conference, I have made a list that I call, "10 Principles of Learning at General Conference." These are a few things that for me have made all the difference in my conference experience. It is by no means intended to be a comprehensive list and over time I anticipate it will still change.  But if you're seeking for ways or ideas to help conference mean more to you, maybe you can take some principle away from my list, apply it and see how conference blesses your life a little bit more.

1. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
This preparation happens in a lot of different ways...I'm going to throw a bunch of things out that have helped me prepare

  • Writing down questions and taking them to the Lord through prayer and keeping them visible throughout conference. This is critical. If nothing else, do this. I have been working on my questions for a while now and I've been taking them to the Lord in prayer and pondering them in my heart. This has made all the difference for my conference experience.
  • Frequently listen to general conference talks. Listen to previous conferences to prepare for future conference. Let the Lord tutor you in how he talks to you. You're also showing the Lord how much you treasure His word.
  • In the week prior to conference, do 4 things: 1. Fast, 2. Attend the temple, 3. Serve, 4. Right a wrong. One of my former bishop's wives was in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She shared that this is what they are asked to do the week prior to general conference. I still remember the distinct impression I had as she shared this that this was a critical formula.
  • Get adequate rest. Enough said.
  • Watch as much of conference live as you can. Be where you can be taking notes. I find that the first time I listen to a talk is when I get the most out of it and if I can listen live I tend to get more out of it as well.
  • Be in a clean, spirit conducive environment. I need to listen in "peace and quiet" as my sister would say.  While not always possible, it is a good thing to strive for.
  • Get "other stuff" done before so you can focus on conference. I like to multitask which at times has made this one hard; however, its so so worth it. Plus your mind is at rest when as much of that "other stuff" is done and can be out of your mind. 
  • Pray about how to get the most out of conference. The Lord will help you know how best to help yourself prepare.
  • Decide how you're going to take notes at conference. For me, this is exciting because I am a lover of all things "school supplies!" Notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, whatever it is, I just love it. If I am starting a new study journal, one that I'm likely going to carry around the next 6 months, I usually take notes in there, if I'm at the end of a study journal and its not going to last till the next conference, I usually take notes in a small journal I can carry with me in my scripture case for the next 6 months so I can refer back to it, remember, and use what I learned.
2. Be ready to listen and learn
  • Again, get enough sleep. 8 hours is a long time, and brethren, 10 hours in one weekend is a challenge. It takes some spiritual and physical endurance. For those of us who have the opportunity to watch from the comfort of our own homes, sometimes this is a blessing and sometimes it is a curse because we can watch it wrapped up in our blankets and quilts. So be well rested so you can get the most out of the time you're devoting.
  • Look the part. This historically and presently has been difficult for me. I have looked to conference as a break from getting ready; however, I am a huge proponent of dressing the part. I'd dress up to take tests (sometimes*) in grad school because I wanted to look successful to tell myself I was going to be successful. I believe the same applies. I feel like I'm going to get more out of it when I look the part.
  • Have snacks. Done.
  • Be spiritually ready. Really here I think the biggest thing is to know how the Lord talks to you. If we are being consistent in studying the scriptures and praying, this is generally easier in my opinion. Do whatever you need to to be ready to hear and feel what he has to tell you through the Holy Ghost.
  • Have a pen and paper ready. Coming from this compulsive note taker...this is critical. Write down the thoughts you have because you might not have them again. 
  • Go on walks in between sessions and prior. Again with the being awake concept. :)
  • Turn off the stuff. We live in a society of smart phones, laptops and ipads...we check facebook automatically, instagram, pin things, whatever...leave your phone in the charging station or away from your fingers. An entire talk could have come and gone before you realize how much time you've spent communing with your phone rather than listening to the prophet. Eek!
3. Review your questions frequently.
I really like to have my questions on a note card or some place in my notebook that is easily accessible so I can review them frequently. 

4. Focus on your thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes I almost transcribe the whole talk...but that's not the point. The point is that I write down the inspiration I receive. The words that they say will be posted but the impressions I have will never be published unless I write them down.

5. Note patterns and things that stand out. 
One of my favorite activities is to write down summaries of each conference. What themes stood out? What recurring thoughts did I keep having? What patterns are in my notes as I review them? What was the Lord trying to tell me? What do I need to change? What does he want me to observe in myself? I then love later going back and comparing what themes stuck out to me initially and then what themes stick out 6 months later.

6. Write things you're going to do because of what you have felt and learned.
Coming from someone with a perpetual to-do list, this is key for me. I like to keep a list of do impressions as it were that I can tape in my journal and go and do as a result of conference. Sometimes, I've also called this my focus list, just things to focus on over the next 6 months.

7. Re-read, re-listen and re-view.
Never be afraid to go back and ask the Lord, is there more? Even after studying talks for 6 months, I still learn new things, different things still impress me and even now sometimes I I remember this talk? Because different things will end up standing out to me. I love that we can go back, that I can dial up a talk and listen to it while I drive, while I get ready in the morning, anytime. Its an easy way to fill my life with good things!

8. Keep your commitments. 
If there was a change you felt prompted to make, make it. If you felt like you needed to do something as a result of what you heard or felt, do it. Remember that the Lord blesses us by what we do with what we are given. And where much is given much is required. If it was right on Saturday afternoon during conference, it will still be right on Monday evening.

9. Keep conference in your heart.
Review your notes. Its also always a personal goal of mine to re-read every conference talk by the following conference. This time I'm going to try to watch, read, or listen to a conference talk everyday  between conferences. And before you discredit a world of technology and smart phones, its SO easy to listen to talks as we exercise, garden, commute (that's what I do), get ready, shower, prepare meals, etc. There are so many ways we can keep conference in our hearts, just find a way that works for you to do it.

10. Express gratitude to the Lord for living Prophets and Apostles. Pray for them for the following conference.
These good brethren need our prayers. I can't imagine all the time, effort, labour and diligence they put into preparing these talks, and for the first presidency to prepare two, even three talks...I just can't even imagine. They need our faith and prayers! Also it is so important to thank Our Heavenly Father for what we have learned, for living prophets and for the blessings that come into our life as we listen and learn from latter-day prophets. 

Now it's your turn. What works for you? How do you prepare for general conference? What is something new you will try to prepare for this general conference? 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I delight in being prepared for fall.

perfect fall leaves
sardine canyon, utah

I love fall. Everything about it, the colors, the temperature, the feeling in the air. There is just something about all the senses of the season that come together and really make perfection for me.

With that being said, there's a lot to prepare for in the fall because winter (that dreaded, cold, suck the life out of me season) is a'comin.

I recommend making a list of 10 must do's for the fall season.

1. Shop at a farmer's market or local fruit stand.
I'm pretty lucky because this one is an easy one for me. I live right by Utah's Fruit Way. There is something about buying local and meeting the farmers who grow my food that makes me happy. There's also something about finding a pumpkin that fits my personality.

2. Make meals from your garden.
I'm already failing at this one this year. Historically (while living away) I would come home on the weekends and stock up on everything I was going to eat for the week which usually involved tomatoes, tomatoes, and tomatoes, a few onions and more tomatoes (can you guess what we have the most of at my house?) Again, there is something about eating something that comes from your own backyard that is so rewarding. And may I recommend a caprese pasta delicious! Oooo and don't forget the pesto!

3. Buy some hot chocolate
Whether it is stocking up on the powder stuff for winter, stocking up on the evaporated milk so you can make the extra delicious kind like my roommate in college or stopping by your local hot drinks spot...enjoy a cup of some holiday cheer. Hot chocolate makes me feel assured that everything is going to be okay because I have a way to keep my very insides warm.

4. Enjoy the outdoors
Walk, kayak, go hiking. For fellow summer stragglers, fall is the best time to get out and about. I melt in the heat so hiking is tricky for me in the dead of summer. I love fall because a) I feel like my surroundings are even more photogenic and b) because its cooler, there aren't as many people and I can just enjoy it more. Now is the time of the year to travel to some of the summer "destinations" like yellowstone, arches, zions, and blanding.

5. Go on an intentional "I'm going to love the beauty of the season" drive.
This one is such a stretch for me. My family loves to drive and go for rides but for me to be the instagator of such a thing is a rarity. Plus because I spend a lot of time commuting, driving is sometimes the last thing I want to do on the weekends. I do however love a good adventure and going for a nice drive is just the ticket. Last year it was sardine canyon. I didn't need to go to Logan, I just needed to see leaves. This year I'm taking a new route with friends, up emigration canyon and down through east canyon. Its going to be incredible...incredibly brown because the leaves just aren't as fantastic this year (the joy of living in a desert) but it will still be fun because of the other traditions and experiences we have built around it (e.g., going to trader joes, eating breakfast at Ruth's diner).

6. Have a campfire.
Nothing, I repeat nothing will make fall more "fall like" that having a campfire on a cool evening while staying toasty in a hoodie. It is perfection. Just do it and thank me later.

7. Go on walks while wearing hoodies regularly
Can you tell I have a thing for hoodies? As a teenager, I lived in them. Now, not so much; however I do know how to appreciate one. This shapeless, thick, hooded piece of clothing keeps me warm and brings back oh so many memories of the hoodie fall time's of years past. I reminisce old holey hoodies as I wear new, yet to be holey hoodies.

8. Find a place to watch the perfect sunset.
I haven't actually done this one; however it was recommended to me by a new friend I met at institute last week. She told me she liked to find sunset spots. I immediately recognized and reported that this was something I could really get behind. I love the sun (just look at how many pictures I take of it.) And so, this is a new one I am adding to the list.

9. Prepare for the winter.
The only thing I don't like about fall is that it means winter is a coming. I am not a winter girl. I don't really care much for any winter sports (although one of these years I think I should do something about that and just learn to like to ski). So that means we must prepare for the winter with craft projects. No one wants to be going out for thread or glue in the snow just to finish a project. I get more craft/sewing projects done in the winter because I'm not out doing other things so it means that now is the time to check my inventory/stash of stuff to make sure I'm prepared.

10. Get ready for general conference
That leads us into the next list. General conference is my most favorite thing.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I delight in preparation.

indian paintbrush
monte cristo, ut
july-ish 2012

This is the introduction to a two part series. Don't worry both parts are already written and scheduled to be posted. This is not an empty promises blog post like some previous posts (what can I say? blogging is not high on my list of priorities). With that being said, when I feel inspired to write actually gets done.

I delight in preparation--being prepared for anything, a trip, taking notes, breaking down on the side of the road, my friend needing a tissue at an unexpected moment, a pen, you name it, I want to be prepared for it.

With my favorite season upon us, I decided there are two major things we need to be prepared for this time of year (and I'm not talking shopping for the holidays):

1) enjoying the best season of the year (fall)

2) being ready for LDS general conference

With that being said, I've been thinking about these two things as of thought and felt like I should share what I have been studying and learning.

Enjoy and please add how you prepare for these occasions in your life.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I delight in the command to fear not.

Today I had the opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting today which is the main meeting in my church. I spoke with three other women in the congregation who I have the opportunity to serve with right now. We all spoke on the scripture from Isaiah 41:10,

 10 aFear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I amthy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Some things I learned were this, 

  • We ought not to permit fear and uncertainty to distract us from doing what we ought. 
  • 2 Kings 6: 13-17
 13 ¶And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.
 14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
 15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his aeyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses andbchariots of fire round about Elisha.

  • "I'm here, I have always been here." He has always been with us and he always will be. What do we have to fear when He is with us?
  • What fears do I need to stop taking councel from?
  • Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. 
  • Sometimes we want strength without struggle
  • We can't pray to be painlessly incapacitated so we can get out of things. We need to rely on the Lord and keep in mind that we are always accountable to our Heavenly Father.
  • Failure is not an option to the Lord. 

I shared about my "almost encounter" with a bear and talked about the many ways the Lord has sent me assurances that have kept me moving forward in times of fear. One of those is the story of the people of Alma from Mosiah 23-24. That story saved me as a missionary time and time again because it reminded me that the Lord doesn't deliver us from the things that make us fearful or that are hard but he makes it so we can handle it, he strengthens our backs to carry the load if you will.

I found another scripture in Isaiah 43: 1-5 that struck me so deeply, it states,
But no thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, that I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

When thou passes through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour…

Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.

Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring ty seek from the east, and gather thee from the west.

I love how Christ emphasizes here, not that he is the Savior of the World, although he most certainly is but here, talking one on one, ministering one by one as he does he says, thy Saviour. He reminds us at so many times and in so many ways that he is our Savior. I am grateful to know the true character of Christ, that he cares, is compassionate and that he wants me to rely on him and fear not. He is my Savior and your Savior.

Monday, September 2, 2013

i delight in buoyancy

In sciencebuoyancy /ˈbɔɪ.ənsi/ is an upward force exerted by a fluid that opposes the weight of an immersed object. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus a column of fluid, or an object submerged in the fluid, experiences greater pressure at the bottom of the column than at the top. This difference in pressure results in a net force that tends to accelerate an object upwards. The magnitude of that force is proportional to the difference in the pressure between the top and the bottom of the column, and (as explained by Archimedes' principle) is also equivalent to the weight of the fluid that would otherwise occupy the column, i.e. the displaced fluid. For this reason, an object whose density is greater than that of the fluid in which it is submerged tends to sink. If the object is either less dense than the liquid or is shaped appropriately (as in a boat), the force can keep the object afloat. This can occur only in a reference frame which either has a gravitational field or is accelerating due to a force other than gravity defining a "downward" direction (that is, a non-inertial reference frame). In a situation of fluid statics, the net upward buoyancy force is equal to the magnitude of the weight of fluid displaced by the body.[1]

Thank you Wikipedia.

My knowledge of buoyancy is minimal. Let's be honest, physics was not a strong suit for me, but better than calculus so....I don't know what that says.

What I do know is that physical laws that govern the earth (e.g., gravity, buoyancy, etc) can have some parallels to life. Or at least I like to pretend that the do. For example...

For the principle of buoyancy to work there has to be a weight that causes an object to become immersed. So, if I am the boat then the weight in my boat could be a compilation of my callings in life (e.g., sister, daughter, friend, daughter of god, lover of children) and subsequently the things associated with carrying out these roles. That list varies at times depending on the weight of particular roles but nevertheless, there are always things to be done, people to be loved and lessons to learn. These weights at times can be significant.

So what is it that keeps us afloat? What is it that keeps us from sinking? Well, if our density is greater than that of the fluid it is submerged in, it it has to be less dense than the liquid. The difference in that pressure results in a force that drives the object upward. And so...upward we go, and upward we want to be (I don't want to rot on the bottom of the ocean floor).

Our fluid has to have some weight to it. To me, the fluid is the gospel. We can go through the motions, we can appear to be on track and on target, but it doesn't mean that we always are. We must be watching ourselves because we are the ones who really know the condition of our hearts. It is the gospel which bears me up. It is knowing that I am not the only one with this load to carry but that the Savior is right there willing to help me all the way. It is knowing that when I put first things first, everything else falls into place. It is knowing and seeing how he helps me to put first things first.

While I'm sure some physicist would look at this analogy and say, this girl doesn't know physics at all, well that's okay because I don't profess to...but I could teach you how to say your /r/.  :)  What I'm really saying here is that we have to make sure there are active forces in our lives driving us upward, preventing us from sinking.

There will be and are times when we begin to sink. When the weight gets too much to bear. It is no coincidence that we have a "saver" or at least a Savior. He will help us carry the burdens which are placed upon our backs. He will help us make it back.