28 June 2022

This post is part of the General Conference OdesseyThis week covers the Saturday afternoon session of the October 1997 conference.

Addresses by Apostles Neal A. Maxwell, Robert D. Hales, Joseph B. Wirthlin and Richard G. Scott are all worth reviewing. From the Seventy we heard great talks by Richard D. Allred, Eran A. Call, and Richard J. Maynes.

Elder Wirthlin visited my mission (Florida Tallahassee, 1979-80) and presided at our Zone Conferences. However, we were not allowed to greet him or shake hands; there were no interviews or other personal contact. I don't know if he wasn't feeling well or if his schedule was too tight or what. I've always been envious of the missionaries who got to speak to, greet, and shake hands with apostles. In spite of that, I loved hearing from Elder Wirthlin and considered him "my apostle". 

One thing from his talk "Valued Companions" stood out to me because of where we live in rural Southern Minnesota. We drive about 40 minutes to church each week; it's just shy of two hours to the stake center. My husband and I have no problem with these distances, considering them to be part of living the laws of obedience, sacrifice and consecration. We have been blessed often to get better gas mileage, or to find gas for less than expected. We totally enjoy meeting new friends at stake functions and seeing old ones. Others, however, think the distances rather inconvenient and attend the branch sporadically, and never attend any stake functions.

Elder Wirthlin said, "One of the many benefits of membership in the Church is that of companionship with the Saints. During the time of my assignment in Europe, we held memorable stake conferences for the military servicemen in Germany. Many of our good brothers and sisters drove long distances to attend the meetings. A number of them arrived the night before and slept on the floor of the cultural hall. No matter the sacrifice, they came with glad hearts seeking the companionship of fellow Latter-day Saints and the chance to be instructed and edified by Church leaders."

Oh that more could see the value and blessings of meeting with a large body of Saints. It is strengthening and encouraging! It is worth the sacrifice of time and money to attend!

21 June 2022


This post is part of the General Conference Odessey. This week covers the Saturday morning session of the October 1997 conference.

President Gordon B. Hinckley opened the conference with a short address including this statement:
You need not worry that I do not understand some matters of doctrine. I think I understand them thoroughly, and it is unfortunate that the reporting may not make this clear. I hope you will never look to the public press as the authority on the doctrines of the Church.

Elder Boyd K. Packer gave a talk "Called to Serve" that is often quoted.
It is not in the proper spirit for us to decide where we will serve or where we will not. We serve where we are called. It does not matter what the calling may be. 

There's been only one time I did not accept a calling. We had just moved to a new ward, from Washington state to Virginia. We had three little children, ages 5, 3 and 1. We had just begun to homeschool our oldest. One evening my husband said that a counselor from the bishopric was coming over to issue a calling to me. I asked, with trepidation, "What it the calling?" It was to work in Primary. I spontaneously burst into tears. My husband worked long hours and I was with children 24/7. I just couldn't face being with them on Sunday. I really needed to be with adults for a few hours. So my husband explained the situation to the counselor and Brother Brown said that if they'd known our circumstances they wouldn't have decided on that calling. Several months later when our stake was reorganized and boundaries changed, I was called into the Stake Relief Society presidency as a counselor. That calling fit our circumstances much better and I enjoyed building friendships throughout the stake. I even had two more babies while serving in that calling.

Elder Packer further said, 
While we do not ask to be released from a calling, if our circumstances change it is quite in order for us to counsel with those who have issued the call and then let them decision rest with them. Nor should we feel rejected when we are released by the same authority and with the same inspiration by which we were called.

Elder Richard B. Wirthlin (younger brother of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin) said something that certainly applies to today:
We cannot cope with the confusions and the challenges of this world unless we use a clear and consistent moral compass that will unerringly take us through our own personal trials and the tugs and pulls of our own temptations--a compass that will chart our way to peace of mind, self-worth, and joy.
Elder Carl B. Pratt made this observation about members in the Latin American countries in which he and his family had served:
We have watched humble, devoted priesthood and auxiliary leaders strive to build the kingdom and to bless the lives of the Saints, but without having the advantages of telephones or personal vehicles.

I wrote in the margin of my copy of the Ensign, "We are so spoiled, and lazy!" We have every modern technological advantage and we still don't minister and take care of each other as we should. (I know there are many who do, but not near enough!)

Sister Mary Ellen Smoot, Relief Society General President, gave this counsel:
My desire is to plead with our sisters to stop worrying about a phone call or a quarterly or monthly visit, and whether that will do, and concentrate instead on nurturing tender souls. 

Wisdom we need today when ministering to each other. 
Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke of Spiritual Capacity. 
While the body may reach the peak of its maturation in a few years, the development of the spirit may never reach the limit of its capacity, because there is no end to progression.

He used President Hinckley as the model to follow in building spiritual capacity. He talked of how, "As a young father, he learned how to build. He acquired the skills necessary to remodel a house and make needed repairs. And more important, he has built and maintained the trust of his wife and their children."

President Hinckley was my ideal--spiritual, intellectual, great sense of humor, and a skilled handyman too!

The last speaker of the session was President Thomas S. Monson who told a delightful story that is not included in the printed version in the Ensign. He told of receiving a large, heavy package that had to be checked by security before he could open it. Inside he found a large pair of roller skates with the note that the sender had also sent a pair to President Faust so they could both keep up with President Hinckley!

Perhaps someone could do the same for Presidents Oaks and Eyring!

As always a delight to listen to, read and realize that eternal truths sound and feel fresh whenever we encounter them. 

15 June 2022

I Concur

This post is part of the General Conference Odessey This week covers the General Young Women session of the April 1997 conference.

Marilyn, who blogs at light-in-leaves, wrote eloquently the very things I thought and felt studying the talks in this session. Check out her blog post to read it.

I, heartily, concur!

07 June 2022

". . . life was very different . . ."

This post is part of the General Conference Odessey This week covers the Sunday afternoon session of the April 1997 conference.

Elder L. Tom Perry began his talk, "After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, the Mormon pioneers found establishing settlements in the desert to be a real challenge." Ya think?

I'd find it a real challenge today! I can't imagine their mindset and determination. He goes on to say, "Daily they encountered trials and hardships that kept reminding them that their new life was very different from the one to which they had been accustomed." I can relate to that!

The political landscape of the United States of American has changed so rapidly that life is very different from the one we used to know. 

Elder Perry gives us the key to navigating our new landscape. The Gift of the Holy Ghost. He quotes Elder LeGrand Richards from a 1979 conference address, ". . . the gift of the Holy Ghost is as important to man as sunshine and water are to plants." That's pretty darn important, as in life sustaining. Elder Perry continues, "Gifts have only limited value unless they are used. The Holy Ghost will be our constant companion if we submit ourselves to the will of our Father in Heaven, always remembering Him and keeping His commandments."

This talk brought to mind President Eyring's address in the Saturday morning session of the most recent conference. Speaking of the Atonement he said, "Our natures change to become as a little child, obedient to God, and more loving. That change will qualify us to enjoy the gifts that come through the Holy Ghost. Having the Spirit's companionship will comfort, guide, and strengthen us."

As we live through days of increasing spiritual darkness we will, as President Nelson said, need the constant companionship fo the Holy Ghost. We can be grateful for prophets and apostles to instruct us on getting and keeping that precious gift.

31 May 2022

Pioneer Journeys

This post is part of the General Conference Odessey This week covers the Sunday morning session of the April 1997 conference. 

When I was serving as a missionary (1979-80) in the Florida Tallahassee mission investigators would sometimes say, "I'm not sure if I can join the church, I don't have any pioneer ancestors." To which I would reply, "Neither do I; but I will be forever grateful to my grandpa who joined the church in Norway in 1905 and immigrated to Zion. You will be that grandpa (or grandma) in your family, and your descendants will love and honor you forever."

Elder M. Russell Ballard said this:
We are all bound together--19th- and 20th-century pioneers and more--in our great journey to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and to allow His atoning sacrifice to work its miracle in our lives. While we all can appreciate the footsteps of faith walked by Joseph Smith and his followers from Palmyra to Carthage Jail and across the Great Plains, we should ever stand in reverential awe as we contemplate the path trod by the Master. His faithful footsteps to Gethsemane and to Calvary rescued all of us and opened the way for us to return to our heavenly home.

Handcart Pioneer Statue, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, by Torleif Knaphus (my great-uncle)

17 May 2022

Take Your Pick

This post is part of the General Conference Odessey This week covers the Saturday afternoon session of the April 1997 conference. 

I couldn't discern a theme for this session; all of the talks were wonderful, and spiritually filling.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke of bishops and how we can sustain or help them.
Elder Henry B. Eyring spoke of listening to and following prophetic counsel.
Elder Monte J. Brough spoke about knowing your calling is from God.
Elder Sheldon F. Child spoke about honesty being the only policy.
Elder Dennis E. Simmons talked about how Jesus' peace is different from the world's.
Elder Jerald L. Taylor expressed gratitude and bore his testimony.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave his now classic address on motherhood.

So take your pick! Any of the talks could have been given at this last conference. I especially felt comforted by Elder Simmons, "It should be noted that Jesus promised His peace--not the peace that the world gives. The world cries out for freedom from war, from violence, from oppression, from injustice, from contention, from disease and distress. That the Savior did not expect such worldly peace is clear from His concluding remark as He finished His special teaching to His Apostles: 'These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.'" (John 16:33; emphasis added)

Elder Simmons also said, "His peace is that peace, that serenity, that comfort spoken to our hearts and minds by the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, as we strive to follow Him and keep His commandments."

We can't have peace following the ways of the world, we must follow the Savior and keep His commandments to have His peace! What a much needed concept in today's world.

Marilyn has more at Light in Leaves.

10 May 2022

Getting Members to the Temple

This post is part of the General Conference Odessey This week covers the Saturday morning session of the April 1997 conference.

We sustained a new branch president earlier in the year who announced that his vision for our branch is to get members to the temple. He felt that his calling from the Lord is to help all those who haven't ever been to become worthy and go to the temple, and encourage those who have been to keep their recommend current, and attend as often as they can.

President James E. Faust began his talk in this session telling about Brigham Young working hard to get as many through the Nauvoo temple as they could before they had to leave. He spoke of one particular couple, "humble, new converts to the Church, without wealth or position." This couple were ancestors of Pres. Faust. 

President Faust spoke of temples and their importance in giving strength to members as we face challenges.

Our challenges are more subtle but equally hard. Maintaining our spiritual strength is also a daily challenge. The greatest source of that spiritual strength come, as it did in their time, from our temples.

I urge all who have not yet received these greatest of all blessings within the walls of the temple to do whatever may be necessary to qualify to receive them. To those who have received these blessings, I invite you to savor again the experience of being within the sacred premises of the holy temples of God and have the visions of life eternal open again to your hearts, minds, and souls.

I went to the St. Paul temple just before this year's April General Conference and drank in the spirit and beauty, peace and calm that is found there.  It had been about three years since I'd been there and it sure felt good to be back.

Marilyn at Light in Leaves has more General Conference Odessey. 

03 May 2022

The Divinity Which is Within You

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the General Relief Society session of the October 1996 conference.

Four years ago Noble was awarded an AS degree.
This week she's just finished her second year of a Masters.

At the time of this session I'd just had our fourth child, and though I was in a Stake Relief Society presidency I didn't feel up to attending the reception and viewing of the session at the stake center.
This week has been a joy to listen to and read the talks given then. As always they are timeless in their application. President James E. Faust of the First Presidency was the concluding speaker. His words were just what I needed to hear Monday evening.

Your God-given appreciation for the spiritual, the lovely, and the beautiful is part of the divinity which is within you. You make life so much more pleasant and worthwhile for all of us.

As my dear Ruth faithfully attended Relief Society over the years, our home and family was blessed with more of spirituality and peace. Things seemed to go smoother because of the spiritual enrichment she received.

For the daughters of God, doing the Savior's work . . . include[s] building faith by testimony and example. It includes teaching the doctrines of salvation. It includes following the Savior's example of love for all mankind. It includes ministering to others. . .

The bearing of testimony benefits both the one testifying as well as the one listening. Regular temple attendance will help us meet all our challenges. Accepting calls from priesthood leaders as well as visiting teaching assignments from the Relief Society president will be a great strengthening experience. In rendering compassionate service individually and as a group, you lose sight of your own problems and do the work the Savior did.

When the pressures of measuring up to worldly standards of excellence and achievement begin to overwhelm it's comforting to hear the words of a prophet reminding me of the worth of eternal things and efforts. 

Marilyn at Light in Leaves has more General Conference Odyssey.



26 April 2022

"Peaceable Things"

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Sunday afternoon session of the October 1996 conference.

This past Sunday I spoke in Sacrament Meeting about prophets and the importance of listening to and following their instructions. In this session of conference Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:

A general conference of this church is a remarkable occasion indeed--it is an institutional declaration that the heavens are open, that divine guidance is as real today as it was for the ancient house of Israel, that God our Heavenly Father loves us and speaks His will through a living prophet.

He talked about how "peace and good tidings . . . are among the ultimate blessings that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings a troubled world."

Has there ever been a time when the world wasn't troubled? Perhaps brief moments in small isolated places, such as Enoch's city, and the Nephite/Lamanite nation after the visitation of the Savior. But otherwise, mortal life has been troubled.

In relating the blessings of the gospel Elder Holland talked about repentance and said:

Closely related to our own obligation to repent is the generosity of letting others do the same--we are to forgive even as we are forgiven. . . We don't want God to remember our sins, so there is something fundamentally wrong in our relentlessly trying to remember those of others.

He finished with this beautiful thought:

The better angels of our nature. That is what much of what the Church and general conference and the gospel of Jesus Christ are about. The appeal today and tomorrow and forever to be better, to be cleaner, to be kinder, to be holier; to seek peace and always be believing. 

We need the messages of general conference everyday! They help us face the realities of mortal life with greater courage and strength. I know I couldn't make it without the guidance, light and truth of the words of prophets, apostles and other inspired leaders.

Marilyn at Light in Leaves has more General Conference Odyssey.


19 April 2022

Timeless Counsel and Encouragement

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Sunday morning session of the October 1996 conference.

Elder Faust's talk, "Woman, Why Weepest Thou?" was perfect for the Easter season. His faith and kindness comes through when he says, "I believe the kind and merciful God, whose children we are, will judge us as lightly as He can for the wrongs that we have done and give us the maximum blessing for the good that we do."  Then Elder Faust goes on to say, "To remain true and faithful through this mortal vale of tears, we must love God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves." And adds, "As we go though travail and difficulty, we may feel sorry for ourselves and despair, but with the love of Hod and the Saints, unitedly bearing each other's burdens, we can be happy and overcome evil." What more could we ask for as encouragement to keep pressing forward along the covenant path!

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke on the Holy Ghost, explaining the differences between "(1) the Light of Christ, (2) a manifestation of the Holy Ghost, and (3) the gift of the Holy Ghost."  When he explained what a manifestation of the Holy Ghost is he said they are given "to lead sincere seekers to gospel truths that will persuade them to repentance and baptism." 

This was echoed in the next address by Bishop Richard C. Edgley (2nd C) when speaking of missionaries he said, "They testify of a restoration that is so marvelous that only the hand of God could be its author--so miraculous that is can only be believed if one understands the powers of God and His love for all mankind--a story so divine that the truth of it can only be truly accepted through the personal manifestation of the Holy Ghost, which the Savior promised as His way of testifying of the truth to those who prayerfully seek it."

I love seeing patterns and second witnesses in both the scriptures and conference talks. That these occurred in successive talks in one session is a testimony that they are inspired!

Elder Hales spoke of the eternal family. His address could have been given at the last conference. He said, "The fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ brings great comfort in stressful times in mortality. It brings light where there is darkness and a calming influence where there is turmoil. It gives eternal hope where there is mortal despair. It is more than just beautiful doctrine. It is a reality in our lives that if we can be obedient and obtain the eternal rewards that God grants us, if we will draw nigh unto Him and embrace the eternal doctrine, we will be blessed." Oh how we need these reassurances today!

President Hinckley spoke to the women of the church reminding us that "The greatest job that an mother will ever do will be nurturing, teaching, lifting, encouraging, and rearing her children in righteousness and truth." I needed to hear that at the time as I had just had our fourth child and was in the throes of family life, with a fifth to come not quite two years later. I remember a particularly harrowing day when I said to my children, "You're interrupting my work!" The Spirit spoke immediately to my mind saying, "These children are your work!" Oh, right, I forgot. 

It never ceases to amaze and delight me to read past conferences and remember anew how timeless the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are, and how prophetic and pertinent the counsel is from the past.

Marilyn over at Light in Leaves has more General Conference Odyssey.

17 April 2022

Happy Easter!

 And Happy International Haiku Poetry Day!

Darkness gives way to
a kept promise of return
for He is risen!

May your day be joyous as you remember the gifts to each of us from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.