Monday, September 26, 2016

I delight in women's conference and being given what you need.

Every 6 months, my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church) has what we call General Conference. This is a time where during 6, 2-hour sessions the body of the Church is addressed by General Church Leadership. 4 sessions are General Sessions, intended for everyone, 1 session, the General Priesthood Session is for men ages 12 and up who hold the Priesthood, and 1 session, the General Women's Session is for women ages 8 and up. All sessions are broadcast and posted for any and all to listen to.

Last night, it was the General Women's Session.

I think every talk was just for me. Here are some of my notes:

Jean B. Bingham

  • One of the greatest forms of charity is withholding judgement. 
  • I will bring the light of the gospel into my home. 
  • Commit to do whatever is kind and human, to cheer and to bless in humanity's name. 
  • Look for and share positive things about others.
Carole M. Stephens
  • We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ. 
  • With an increased understanding of the doctrine of Christ, the Plan of Salvation, and the Savior, then we have to apply it and our love for the Savior will grow. Despite perceived differences, we all have need for his infinite atonement. 
  • He meets us where we are.
  • He can give us living water where we need it. 
  • He will comfort and strengthen us when we experience pain.
  • Hope and help are not found in darkness and secrecy. 
  • He is the master healer. 
Bonnie Oscarson
  • We should not be surprised by our day. 
  • Moroni asked, "What are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ?"
  • We have many reasons to rejoice and be optimistic!
  • It will take concerted commitment.
  • We need foundational testimonies: 1) acknowledge centrality of God, our Heavenly FAther and Jesus Christ, 2) understand the need of restoration of doctrine, organization and keys of the priesthood, and 3) understand temple ordinances and covenants.
  • Through temple ordinances and covenants, the power of God is manifest in our lives. Are we drawing upon this power?
  • See yourself as an essential participant in the priesthood
  • Understand the plan of happiness.
  • Let us also use our common sense and sensitivity in teaching essential gospel truths and do so clearly.
  • We must be willing to speak up.
  • It is our responsibility to teach correct doctrine.

President Dieter F. Uctdorf
  • There are more ways to see than with our eyes. More ways to feel than with our hands. More ways to hear than with our ears.
  • Distill the voice of the Spirit
  • Challenge: to develop faith in a literal world
  • Faith is powerful and often it does result in miracles
  • 2 things faith cannot do-- 1) cannot violate another person's agency, 2) force our will upon God.
  • The purpose of faith is not to change God's will but to empower us to accept/trust God's will.
  • Follow someone who can see what I cannot. Trust and act accordingly. 
  • Trust in his love. Know that everything in the end will make sense. 
  • Walk by whatever faith we have.
  • Faith comes to those who pay the price of faithfulness.

I think my major take aways were these...
1) There are a lot of things that have become awkward subjects. Same sex attraction and marriage, gender identity, the family unit, and the roles of men and women, just to name a few. How have they become awkward? Well, honestly in my growing up experience, there wasn't the need to really discuss them like there is today. Not because we were ignorant, but because it wasn't as prevalent and everything in life wasn't so public. We live in a time where black and white just don't cut it for most. All shades of gray are expected to be accepted. In an effort to not offend, to be "up on the times," to be "kind" to all, to be open and non-judgemental, we may come across as being accepting of things. For me, the challenge is to teach that there is a balance between loving the person always; and yet, being aware that their beliefs and choices, may not coincide with mine.

As a parent, I don't know how to walk that fine line or how you teach that to your children. But I do know that I was raised by parents who taught me how to love others who were different than me. How to love them in spite of their weakness and how to be a friend to those who were struggling, no matter what the struggle. I believe that we must become these things, live these things. The only way we can teach those around us is by becoming it ourselves. 

2) The role of faith is crucial. We live in a literal world where proof is expected. Where immediate results, immediate gratification and immediate validation are expected on so many levels. I post something on social media and I can get all of the above right? But what are we really seeking? And how will it get us where we need to go? Well social media won't get us anywhere that we want to go. But God can help us get everywhere we need to go. I love when President Uctdorf said, "the purpose of faith is not to change God's will but to empower us to accept/trust God's will." I love that! God is great! He sees all the things that we can't see. He is our eyes from on high, our ears that can always hear and it is his hands which constantly reach toward us. 

3) "Faith comes to those who pay the price of faithfulness." This reminds me of patience. Patience is a virtue and it's one that I'm trying to develop but man it is hard. I don't rock at patience. In fact, just this morning, I woke up feeling very impatient that my life was not yet what I wanted it to be. But then, I thought of this line and of what it means. I think faithfulness is acting in a manner that is consistent with what we want, not just with what we presently have. I think faithfulness is a choice that you have to make over and over again in the million tiny little decisions you make, down to every thought you think in a day.

I'm looking forward to general conference this week. I hope I can be ready to receive the impressions that are in store for me.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I delight in hope.

***I started this post a few weeks ago and have contemplated the writing of it for a while. It's one of those post that puts my vulnerabilities out there for what seems to me to be "all the world to see." However, only a few people will probably ever read this and that's fine too. There is something so meaningful for me to attempt to put complex emotions into words...but I believe in trying...

Tonight I started to mourn the end of my twenties! I'm not sure if it was just my internal alarm that went off that I was on the 60-day countdown to a new digit leading my age or what, but as I drove between my co-workers house and my own, I realized...this decade is quickly coming to a close.

This week I've been reflecting on a question someone last week asked, "What is different now than a year ago?"

I think one of the most exciting things about my twenties is that every year has looked somewhat different. College, college, college+mission, mission, grad school, grad school+externships, work+urlend, work+urlend+relief society, new ward+roommates+new job, bought a house+new ward+different new job.

As I've reflected on this decade, I can see growth and change. I reflect on the zig's, the zag's, the up's, the down's, the doubts, the fears, the wishes, the defeats, the successes, the joys, the sorrows, the challenges. But the overwhelming feeling that I feel is that of hope.

"There is hope smiling brightly before us."

"Hope is the anthem of my soul."

"Hope's a seed you have to sow."

While my #olw has been intentional, the word that has been impressed upon my soul in so many ways is hope.

While my twenties may be coming to an end, the future is full of hope in the things which are to come. My twenties may not have brought me to where I intended to be but I think I have ended up where I have needed to be. I know I have reiterated this before but the words of Kristin Oaks, wife of Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Member of the Quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once said, "Has it ever occurred to you that you are single now because you're supposed to be?" She wisely reminded us of the people that we can impact because of where we are, and what our experiences have been. She taught us that the unexpected life is no less a life.

Life up to this point has been unexpected but it has been no less a life. I know that I am where I need to be and that I have been able to influence and bless the lives of people that I simply would have not had the chance to connect with had I been married. I've received some feedback lately about friends whose daughters look up to me which is such a compliment and so kind. I owe so much of who I am to those I have looked up to throughout my life. It always makes me nervous though that I'm not setting the best example or that someone may get the wrong idea about what's important.

What I'm trying to say is that, while some may look at my life and say, "Oh see she is just having so much fun, its okay if I don't get married, or I don't need to make marriage a priority right now", I would say that lots of things get harder as you get older. Marriage is definitely in that category. My advice, do whatever you can do not to delay it but don't stop progressing. While my life is great life, I would say that happiness has come from consistently progressing and pursing the life I want. Marriage is at the top of that list. It's still on the top of that list and has been for years. I'm not just living plan B, C, D, and E. I'm more on Q, R, S, T, U... Pursing marriage is important and while I haven't pursued it maybe as aggressively as I could have or as I see some do, I think we all have our own way of going about things and pursing what we desire.

What I'm also trying to say is that, I think that God would be disappointed with me if all I did was mope around and talk to everyone about how sad I am that I'm not married and how life isn't working out. I think its important to remember that what we share publicly, aka through social media, is just one piece of our lives.

Regardless of my age, my job, my relationship status, or any other general category...what I desire most is to live a life that is acceptable to God. I want to love his children and be his hands. I want to contribute good to the world and leave things better than I found them. I want to live my life in such a way that I can return home to his presence doing all that I covenanted to do. Re-enter the subject of hope! I am so grateful for the principle, skill, and blessing of hope! One of my favorite lessons I've learned this year is that "It's never too early. And it's never too late." I think it is so powerful to realize that time is measured only to man and that God is dealing with eternity. Jesus Christ is our great source of hope and is the light and hope of the world. His way is the way to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.