This post covers the April 1977 General Conference.
I have always struggled to focus while taking the Sacrament on Sundays. When the kids were small, pondering was an impossibility, but now that they’re grown, I still find my mind occasionally wandering at lightening speed. It’s simply too easy to be distracted. At the recent passing of my daughter, I have a renewed incentive to change my life. There is always room for improvement and I’ve decided pondering the Sacrament is a necessary place to start.
“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)
“Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley)
I recently came across an opinion that believed that enduring to the end contradicts happiness. This opinion believed that one can’t be happy while enduring; therefore, one must choose, and happiness (the world’s definition of happiness) is the better choice. Sentiments like this one are quite common today. Happiness has been redefined to meet the world’s standards. And according to the world, happiness redefined trumps following the Lord’s commandments.
I’m sure that most of us have listened to or read phrases such as, “Doing (fill-in-a-choice-contrary-to-the-commandments) makes me happy, and God just wants me to be happy” or “God would rather see me happy than force me to (fill-in-a-commandment-that-they-are-avoiding).” Of course our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. The Plan of Salvation is also called The Plan of Happiness, and throughout the scriptures the message of the gospel is commonly referred to as “glad tidings.” But this idea that the world’s version of happiness is the kind of happiness that God intends for us is a lie perpetuated by Satan. Satan wants us to think that the temptations he is throwing at us will lead to true happiness. But that is not true. What leads us to true happiness can be found in the words of the scriptures and our modern day prophets, not in the philosophies of men.
This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Sunday morning session of April 1976.
We talk about the work of God, but what exactly are we doing about it? Below is a list from Robert L. Simpson, who spoke on “These Four Things.” He didn’t just talk about the work of God, he asked us to remember our vow when we promised we would actually perform the work necessary to bring salvation to all of Heavenly Father’s children.
First, the obligation to prepare one’s self and one’s immediate family for the presence of the Lord;
He explains how important it is to take care of one’s own spirituality first. We have to complete our own ordinances first. We have to know and understand the doctrines of Jesus Christ’s saving gospel first. We have to commit to righteous living first if we are ever to convince anyone else.
If you’ll recall this past conference, Pres. Russell M. Nelson challenged all of us to “consecrate a portion of [our] time each week to study everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the standard works.” After completing his own challenge he said, “I am a different man!” (Apr. 2017)
This month, our Relief Society Visiting Teaching message has been on the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. Taking Sis. Burton’s challenge, I read and studied it and was really happy to learn some wonderful things.
Simply put, the oath and covenant of the priesthood (found in D&C 84:33-44) is a two-way promise; that when ALL faithful members willingly receive the priesthood (and all its responsibilities) Heavenly Father will, in turn, give us ALL that He hath. Read on to discover how this involves women.
It’s true! Celebrating our Relief Society’s 175 years renews our conviction. We are all daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. As Julie B. Beck said, the Lord is counting on His daughters to
“… do our part as women under the Lord’s plan, we must stand strong and immovable in faith, strong and immovable in family, and strong and immovable in relief. We must excel in these three important areas which set us apart as the Lord’s disciples. Through Relief Society we practice being disciples of Christ. We learn what He would have us learn, we do what He would have us do, and we become what He would have us become. When we gather with this focus, the work of Relief Society is relevant whatever your circumstance—whether you are 18 or 88, single or married, have children or not, or whether you live in Bountiful, Utah, or Bangalore, India.” 
We are God’s Female Army. So,
Russell M. Nelson really means that “the kingdom of God is not … complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them. 
Sheri Dew really feels that by “unleash[ing] the full influence of covenant-keeping women, the kingdom of God would change overnight.” 
Jeffrey R. Holland really believes that “something is going to be asked of this dispensation that’s never been asked before.” 
Relief Society sisters need to step it up. As Sister Dew put it eighteen years ago,
“This is a call to arms, it’s a call to action, a call to arise. A call to arm ourselves with power and with righteousness. A call to rely on the arm of the Lord rather than the arm of flesh. A call to ‘arise and shine forth, that [our] light may be a standard for the nations’ (D&C 115:5). A call to live as women of God so that we and our families may return safely home.” 
Sisters, our power comes from priesthood power. Our early sisters understood it, lived it, and set the standard for it. Now, it’s our turn to understand how the priesthood works through us. Consider these suggestions made by President Linda K. Burton:
“Two sections have been especially revelatory to me. I recommend them to you for your careful and prayerful consideration. First, the oath and covenant of the priesthood, which can be found in D&C 84:33–40. I invite you to memorize those eight verses, sisters. By doing so, I promise you that the Holy Ghost will expand your priesthood understanding and inspire and uplift you in wonderful ways.
Secondly, I would invite you to ponder Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–46 [the doctrine of the priesthood]. Look for the principles in these verses that govern the righteous exercise of priesthood power. Look for warnings and promises from the Lord, and apply them to yourself.” 
I wish I could say I have some powerful, testimony-building experience of “standing,” but I don’t. I’m not an incredible wordsmith or talented debater like so many I know on social media who are able to eloquently and gracefully state facts and defend beliefs, but as I stopped to ask myself if and how I “stand,” I read something that President Russell M. Nelson stated in his 2015 General Conference address:
“Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.”
I stand when I defend my home against the adversary with regular Family Home Evening, regular temple attendance, dedicated Sabbath worship, daily prayer and scripture study, both personal and family. It is in these small and simple daily moments that I am trying to make important things happen, courageously defending morality and family, shepherding my little ones along the covenant path, striving to receive personal revelation, seeking to call down the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen my family, and trying to teach fearlessly. This is how I stand. Continue reading →
When I first heard the news that my husband, James, had been offered a job working in overseas embassies, I was elated. My joy was even more full when I discovered that our first posting would be in Frankfurt, Germany, where a commute to the temple was only 20 minutes. I am from rural Utah where a commute to our temple district of Manti took two hours. The temple became very important to me after James and I, as newlyweds, were called to be temple coordinators in our married student ward in Cedar City. To move to Frankfurt where I could attend the temple weekly with other sisters in the ward strengthened my love and testimony of the Lord’s holy houses. I learned quickly, however, that I would not always be so close to a temple.
Our next three overseas assignments were in countries where a House of the Lord had not yet been built. I realized quickly that I would need to do as the Bible Dictionary states and make my house “compare with the temple in sacredness.” We did this in many ways and it was a process years in the making. First, we started deleting a song here or there from our music library that we realized was not in keeping with gospel standards. Once we became more comfortable with the idea of erasing those things from our lives, whole albums we had grown up on were tossed. Then we tackled the movies, throwing out all the movies that contained language and other content that would drive the Spirit away. Continue reading →
Have you ever boiled an egg in a paper cup by placing it in a campfire? If you have, you have probably marveled at how the water keeps the cup from becoming ashes. This phenomenon has been the source of study in the home of Michelle Boulter, a mom from St. George, Utah, and her boys this week. Michelle is always on the lookout for a fun science experiment and it didn’t take much convincing to encourage a household of boys to try to set things on fire. Flames were lit under latex balloons, paper cups and plastic sandwich bags all filled with water. All of these normally flammable items stayed perfectly intact when filled with water, but without water, they burned and melted in seconds.
The Boulter boys went on to study the science behind why the water was so protective, but it was their inspired mom who explained the spiritual connection of Living Water: “But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.” (D&C 63:23). Continue reading →
There is a unique war raging all around us. It’s unlike any war we can remember and it is so cleverly disguised that most do not even recognize that it’s happening. This isn’t a war that is designed by men; with big artillery, armor, trenches, and an army that is fed by C-Rations. Instead, it’s a war designed by women; with words as it’s weapons and under the leadership of anyone with a microphone or a blog who is willing to feed us the emotion we are so hungry for.
If this war took you by surprise, you are not alone. Most families who are busy raising and providing for their children and serving those around them did not see it coming either. As we have tried to wrap our heads around what is causing so much anger and frustration, we have been quite startled to see that the attacks were starting to come our way, very personal attacks against our womanhood, our family and our religion. It feels like we have been dragged into a war we did not want and we are not quite sure how to fight it. Continue reading →
In it, he prophesied that “attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase.”
Then he named the sort of women needed to withstand these attacks. He said, “we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity. We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.”
There are five main traits, President Nelson told that women they need to have:
Women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.
Women who can detect deception in all of its forms.
Women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers
Women who express their beliefs with confidence and charity.
Women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.
Myself, like many others, have probably asked how. “How can I become that woman?” After some pondering and visits to the temple, these are my initial answers to how we can become the women President Nelson described: Continue reading →