Dance classes, music classes, sports, before school activities, after school activities, homework, orthodontist appointments, parent-teach conferences, all day date-dances, gym memberships, book clubs, neighborhood association meetings and on and on. Do you feel like you are running at a constant sprint just to make it through the day?
I have often thought of how ridiculous our schedules are. We spend endless hours away from home and it seems that our life’s purpose is reduced to acting as chauffeurs that stop for a hamburger-dinner in-between Johnny’s soccer practice and Sally’s dance class. Is this what the Lord had in mind when He created us? How does this kind of schedule help ourselves and our families become partakers of the divine nature as opposed to the natural man?
“One of the great challenges each of us faces every day is to not allow the concerns of this world to so dominate our time and energy that we neglect the eternal things that matter most. We can be too easily diverted from remembering and focusing upon essential spiritual priorities because of our many responsibilities and busy schedules. Sometimes we try to run so fast that we may forget where we are going and why we are running.”
Why are we running? Where are we going? What are our goals? If your family is like mine, your answer to these questions might be: “to get my children a scholarship”, “to help my children ‘find’ themselves”, “to give my children confidence” …. and the list goes on. Are any of these goals what we truly desire for our children? Elder Bednar sets our sights a little higher as he teaches us that God has given us “exceeding great and precious promises” so that we can be “partakers of the divine nature”.
The other morning, after showering, I had a conversation with my husband about a cleaning product that I use that has changed my life. It went like this:
Him: Why are you spraying down the glass? It’s clean.
Me: Because, if I use this every day, crud won’t build up, and it won’t get all spotty, and I won’t have to scrub all this glass to get it clean.
Him: But it’s not dirty at all.
Me: (holding up the bottle and shaking it in the air) It’s not dirty at all because I use this every day!
It’s true. If I use this product as directed – each day after I shower – my glass stays relatively clear. Though not perfectly streak-free, believe me, it looks great, and holy cow – it saves me a ton of time scrubbing hard water spots off. It’s a beautiful thing!
After my exchange with my husband, I immediately saw a spiritual object lesson.
How quickly things can change.
Alma, the head of the government and high priest over the church, described his people, the Nephites, who had suffered many afflictions, like this:
“they were awakened to a remembrance of their duty. And they began to establish the church more fully; yea and many were baptized … and were joined to the church of God…and there was continual peace in all that time.” 
But just one short year later things were turning in a different direction within the church. Alma records that pride had taken hold of the hearts of the Nephites and they began to…
“set their hearts on the riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful…to persecute those that did not believe…there began to be great contentions among the people of the church; yea, there were envyings, and strife, and malice, and persecutions, and pride…and thus the church began to fail in it’s progress.” 
This heartbreaking situation causes him to leave his governmental responsibilities and focus solely on the problems within the membership of church.
“Can ye feel so now?”
Alma travels to the cities and villages throughout the land hoping to rekindle and reawaken the testimonies of his people. He reminds them of the miraculous things God has done for them, how they felt in the past as the spirit burned within them, and how their hearts, and the hearts of others, had been changed. Then he asks this penetrating question:
“if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” 
With love, but with boldness, Alma then teaches and encourages them in the things they must repent of and the practices they must return to, in order to once again have their hearts softened and their testimonies burn brightly.
Are we them?
Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, likened the Nephite’s situation and Alma’s teachings to us in our day in this way:
“It is not surprising that some in the Church believe they can’t answer Alma’s question with a resounding yes. They do not “feel so now.” They feel they are in a spiritual drought. Others are angry, hurt, or disillusioned. If these descriptions apply to you, it is important to evaluate why you cannot “feel so now.”
Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices. Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants. Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes. Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.” 
A Little Effort Each Day.
Courtesy of Echotech Glass
It doesn’t take me much time at all to spray down the glass after each time I shower, and those couple of extra minutes are time well spent. If I neglect to do so, I’m looking at a good chunk of time spent scrubbing in the future when the hard water spots have really built up.
So, it is with our testimonies. Things can build up quicker than we think and before too long we are in a place of complacency or even doubt. A little time spent on them each day will save us a whole lot of difficult time, and pain, trying to restore their brilliance in the future.
Here are some suggestions of things you can do in just a few quick minutes daily that will help keep your testimony from dulling:
Read your scriptures.
Say your prayers.
Read something from the Ensign or other Church magazines.
Listen to a General Conference address (as you clean your shower 😊)
Share something gospel related on your social media site.
Read your patriarchal blessing.
Write a paragraph on a gospel principle.
Keep a journal of how you see the Lord’s hand in your life each day.
Fill your home with beautiful gospel music.
The possibilities are endless. You can probably come up with ten more lickety-split!
If your testimony has begun to fog over – if spiritual things aren’t as clear for you as they used to be, if negative feelings come up easily towards Church leaders, standards, or doctrines, and honest questions have become doubt – then more time and effort will be needed to restore your faith to it’s former brilliance. But it can be done. It has been done by others, many others. And, if you’re really willing to scrub too, you won’t be the exception. The road may be long. Repentance may be needed. But, the Lord promises those with “real intent” that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” 
The Nephites, us, and shower glass.
Just like my shower glass, if we do not take care of our testimony each day, things can get pretty cloudy pretty quickly. We are just as prone to the trappings of pride as the Nephites were, and perhaps even more so due to the luxury, abundance, and vast amount of worldly knowledge we enjoy in our day. With daily care, though we won’t be totally streak free, our testimonies will remain strong and bright, and we won’t be easily deceived by the philosophies of men or societal pressures.
In his recent General Conference talk entitled, “The Priesthood and the Savior’s Atoning Power,” Elder Renlund uses an analogy wherein he compares the priesthood to a rocket. The rocket is used to deliver cargo, or payload, which in this case is the opportunity to benefit from the Savior’s atoning power. The rocket of the priesthood delivers this cargo to all worthy members of the Church who desire it, regardless of gender, age, economic status, or any other factor. The Savior’s atoning power is made available to all, and all are invited to receive it.
What is the purpose of the priesthood?
Elder Renlund describes the purpose of the priesthood in this way: “For Heavenly Father’s purposes to be accomplished, Christ’s atoning power needs to be made available to God’s children. The priesthood delivers these opportunities. It is the rocket. Priesthood is essential because necessary ordinances and covenants on earth are administered only by its authority.”
The opportunities delivered through the priesthood include baptism, confirmation, partaking of the sacrament, healing of the sick, blessings of comfort, setting apart when receiving a calling to serve, and the opportunity to make covenants in the temple. Each of these opportunities are available to men and women alike. We, as women, miss out on nothing even though we are not the ones to administer these ordinances. The sacrament is meaningful to me because of the covenants I make as I partake each week. Those covenants have no greater importance to those who administer the ordinance. The priesthood holders who bless the bread and water and pass the trays to members of the congregation simply make it possible for us to make these covenants, and for that I am truly grateful.
It is true that there are great blessings associated with being a worthy priesthood holder, but those blessings come because they keep themselves worthy to administer these opportunities to other members of the Church. The priesthood is used in the service of others; for example, priesthood holders cannot give themselves blessings or set themselves apart for a calling. Similarly, women and young women also receive great blessings from maintaining their worthiness and devotion to the Savior’s work and the service of those around them.
What comparable blessings do women receive?
Elder Renlund also stated, “I have come to realize that the purpose of . . . using the priesthood of God in any way, is to assist Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in Their work—to provide the opportunity for redemption and exaltation to each of God’s children. Like the rocket whose purpose is to deliver a payload, the priesthood delivers the gospel of Jesus Christ, enabling all to make covenants and receive the associated ordinances.”
Some young women wonder if they are less important than those who hold the priesthood and administer the ordinances of salvation. Indeed, exercise of the priesthood is very visible in the Church. It is easy to see that our wards and stakes are led by men who have this authority. Women often seem to have roles that are less prominent. However, prominence is not synonymous with importance. We need to help young women understand that they, too, have a role in bringing about the salvation and exaltation of God’s children.
When young women turn twelve years old, they have the opportunity to go to the temple and perform baptisms and confirmations for deceased ancestors. They have the opportunity to do research and find those ancestors who need these saving ordinances performed. In fact, our female ancestors can only be saved by the work of other women and young women in the temple. They need us, and we need them. Our twelve-year-old girls also enter the Young Women’s program and begin their Personal Progress. This program is designed to help them become women of faith and virtue. Each value and characteristic they develop will prepare them for future service in the Church, and especially for their role as mothers.
Motherhood is another area where prominence does not equal importance. The world often demeans motherhood and puts forward the idea that women should be equal to men in the workplace and not be relegated to the burdens of home and children. In high contrast to this view, the First Presidency has said: “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels.” What powerful words are used to describe this holy calling! When we honor our role as mothers and give it our full devotion, we grow in harmony with our Father in Heaven. Our work becomes His work, which is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). This is what we need to teach our young women. They need to understand the principle stated in the Family Proclamation, that the “family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” Women have an essential role to play in the eternal destiny of mankind. We cannot let the world’s definition of equality drown out what the Lord has stated. Men and women are equal in His sight. We are not identical, but we are equal. We each have our own role to play, but the purposes of God cannot be accomplished without these roles working in harmony together.
Certainly, it is understood that not all women reach the eternal ideal of marriage and family in this life. Lessons of patience and waiting are found in one form or another in all of our lives, but it is incumbent upon us to magnify the circumstances we’ve been given and do all we can to further the work of the Lord.
In a General Conference address, Sister Sheri Dew taught of the essential role all women have as mothers. She said, “We are all mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality. Few of us will reach our potential without the nurturing of both the mother who bore us and the mothers who bear with us.” She discussed how our youth need each one of us to be an example of a righteous woman. Aunts, grandmothers, friends, primary teachers, youth leaders, and Relief Society members all have the opportunity to impact children and youth and help guide them along the path which leads back to our Father in Heaven. Women have been given the role to nurture, and this responsibility extends beyond the walls of our own home.
Women are essential to building the Kingdom of God on earth. Women are essential to leading God’s children along the path to salvation and exaltation. Women are called upon to defend the family in a world which is rapidly increasing in wickedness and moving further away from the laws of God. May we help our fellow sisters in the gospel, including our young women, to embrace and magnify their eternal role as Daughters of God. May we focus on the Lord’s definition of equality and importance and not the world’s. By doing so, we take our place alongside the priesthood in assisting Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as they “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
“And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them…”(Doctrine and Covenants, 45:26).
Our hearts are failing us
It’s happening, wouldn’t you agree? We see it everywhere; the wars, the rumors, the commotion. I used to think that “hearts failing” meant only discouragement in the Last Days. But now when I think of our “hearts failing” us, I’m seeing it another way. What I’m seeing now is that with a cultural emphasis of making decisions solely based on our emotions, we may be in danger of making bad choices. Perhaps there’s more to be considered than just the way we feel about things.Continue reading →
Remember the “Princess Bride” when Vizzini is constantly exclaiming, “inconceivable”? Inigo Montoya calls him out by saying, “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.” How often do we use words that we do not understand?
Words are powerful. As mothers, we know this, right? I don’t need to *insert cute explanation here* because we live with words every day. We feel their power, their truth, and their meaning. But what if you were to wake up one day to find that all of the words you were using suddenly had a different definition? This would be a “Tower of Babel” effect where everyone around you would be speaking the same language, but no one would understand each other.
The thought of this makes me shudder!
The chaos would be bad enough, but the loss of power would be the worst. There would be no warning of danger, no asking for help, and no way to communicate with those we love most.
We have all seen the definitions of words slip away from their original meanings throughout the years. Sometimes it is easy to pass this off as a natural evolution of words. But what do we know about the importance of holding on to the correct definitions of words?
One of our responsibilities on our mission in Moscow, Russia was to teach an Institute class in English each week. As part of the lesson one evening I planned to share a video. When the time came I asked, “would one of you mind getting up and turning on the dark?” As you might imagine, a fun conversation ensued. Because I’m such a teaser I egged them on, and we went around and round about light verses dark, and which has power over the other.
Let’s talk about the dark
I’m not truly afraid of the dark. Are you? But, being in the dark is uncomfortable – even in our own homes, a familiar place. When it’s dark we feel uneasy, we bump into things that we know are there, but we now can’t see …they become obstacles to us. We have a difficult time in making things out.
In the dark our imaginations shift into high gear, reality becomes distorted to us, and we can begin to see in our minds things that aren’t really there, and wonder if there are things lurking that might get us.
We are easily fooled in the dark, presented one thing but told it is something entirely different. (Think of the haunted houses you went through as a child, where peeled grapes were presented as eyeballs and wet pasta as brains).
How about doing a simple task in the dark, like coloring a picture? We can’t see the lines that are provided for us to stay inside of to make our picture lovely. When the lights come up we have drawn all over the page, all out of the lines; something we would not normally do. (Well, I can only speak for myself, I’ve not seen any of you color.)
What about doing a complicated task in the dark? Anyone here want to undergo brain surgery while the hospital is in a total blackout?
Being in the dark causes distress, confusion, and problems. Thank you,Thomas Edison. Continue reading →
We live in a society where it is “uncool” to be ladylike, act like a lady, and especially think like one. But don’t we secretly long to see a man honor his role and a woman honor her role according to the way God created them? Neal A. Maxwell gave an inspiring talk, in praise of women, back in April 1978, that simply makes me happy to read. I like hearing praise for women being feminine women.
First, he states, “In the work of the Kingdom, men and women are not without each other, but do not envy each other, lest by reversals and renunciations of role we make a wasteland of both womanhood and manhood.”
Unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened in our world today. We don’t praise the identifying roles of womanhood or manhood. We’ve meshed them all together and created a wasteland of the human spirit, all in the name of equality.
Well, this is where I turn to the scriptures to discover what a virtuous woman should be (Proverbs 31:10-31):
Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. (Women are to be honored and praised for their womanhood.)
She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. (She tends animals and gardens and clearly works hard all the day long.)
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. (A woman’s work is never done. Some of us have help, most of us do not, nevertheless, we all share in the load of providing for the comforts of the home.)
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. (She makes important decisions and directs the welfare of her household, which extends into the community.)
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. (Her compassion knows no bounds; she takes care of all she can who are in need.)
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. (She provides for her household first, seeing that her children are dressed well and secure.)
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. (Every woman has the right to see herself as royalty.)
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. (She provides income through her talents and is responsible in that endeavor.)
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. (She is intelligent, wise, and kind.)
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (Her children and husband recognize her worth and praise her as a woman of virtue.)
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. (Faith is more important to her than vanity and appearance.)
The other day I was talking with a friend who was explaining to me her view of the world. She said she liked to be open and learn from whatever was “out there” and she opened her arms wide to show how open she was. I appreciated and understood what she was saying, but the thought came to me that I personally prefer to look deep. I further explained that I’m honestly not interested in what the world has to teach me anymore. People are free to believe what they want, but I have learned that for me I like what the scriptures teach as I find meaning in their depth.
This week, we are covering the welfare session of the October 1977 General Conference. Pres. Kimball talks about consecration and what this principle asks of members of the church. He says,
“Consecration is the giving of one’s time, talents, and means to care for those in need–whether spiritually or temporally–and in building the Lord’s kingdom.”
We’ve all heard that definition most of our lives and it’s familiar to us. Earlier this year, in Sunday School, we all had a lesson on consecration. I remember hearing from a few different Gospel Doctrine teachers that they really didn’t know how to teach anything new in this lesson. However, at that time, we were all still learning how to use the new supplemental material offered in the manual. And it gives an interesting additional view of this principle and has spurred me to study it further. In the article called “The Law,” we learn a few more details.
“In these latter days, God has restored the priesthood and organized priesthood quorums and the Relief Society to help accomplish His work (see Moses 1:39). So each Sunday when we gather in Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society meetings, we gather to discuss and plan how we will accomplish His work. That is why these meetings need to be more than classes. They are also opportunities to counsel about the work of salvation, learn together from the teachings of Church leaders about that work, and organize to accomplish it. These changes to our Sunday meetings will help us fulfill these purposes.”
The phrase that sticks out to me is “these meetings need to be more than classes.” If you’re like me, you’ve been a little frustrated with Sunday lessons for a while. I’ve heard from others that they are not feeling edified enough after a lesson. We all fall into ruts, but with this new schedule we can take on Elder Bednar’s challenge and catch the vision.
During the 2014 Mission President’s MTC training, Elder Bednar asked “if they as individuals and as a Church will choose to keep pace with the Lord’s hastening. Or will we insist on doing things the way they have always been done, or the ways we are accustomed to or comfortable with?” We all have a responsibility to prepare ourselves to follow the Lord in hastening the work.
In the closing session of October 1977 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball stood before the congregation and said,
“This has been a great conference and as each one of these wonderful sermons has been rendered I’ve listened with great attention, and I have made up my mind that I shall go home and be a greater man than I have ever been before.”
This is the prophet of our church inviting us to become better people.
Next year, our Priesthood/Relief Society curriculum manual will be the General Conference talks we have just listened to. Why? In hopes that we will go home, study them, and become better people.