Tag Archives: service

The Essence of the Gospel is Service

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.


Balm of Gilead by Ann Adele Henrie

“The essence of the gospel is service.” So sayeth Sis. Bonnie L. Oscarson this past Oct. 2017 conference. She also raises these challenging questions:

  • What good does it do to save the world if we neglect the needs of those closest to us and those whom we love the most?
  • How much value is there in fixing the world if the people around us are falling apart and we don’t notice?

Challenging questions indeed! With so much turmoil in the world, sometimes it’s easier to just fall down and give up, exclaiming, “What in the world can I do?” Jesus Christ simply stated, “This is my gospel; … for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do” (3 Ne. 27:21). As we all know, Jesus Christ didn’t travel across the world to serve, do any big humanitarian service project, or juggle a hundred different obligations. His service was simple, sincere, and singular. And this is all that He asks of us. Starting in our own families.

Continue reading

Welfare: At The Bishop’s Door

This is a General Conference Odyssey post.


This week we read the Welfare session of October 1976. I’m not sure why they stopped having these sessions because it seems to me we need to discuss welfare issues more than ever, before they arrive at the bishop’s door.


When we lived in downtown SLC, we were surrounded by welfare problems. Right after Sacrament meeting, lot’s of people would rush to get in line at the bishop’s door. It was so overwhelming, other programs of the church kind of fell by the wayside because if you need help taking care of yourself, you certainly can’t be thinking about much else.


Bishop Victor L. Brown listed the six basic elements of personal and family preparedness in order of importance, in his talk:


  1. Literacy and education
  2. Career development
  3. Financial and resource management
  4. Home production and storage
  5. Physical health
  6. Social-emotional strength


I guess that old adage–If you teach a man to fish–really holds true. An educated person is more likely to find a job. And once income is coming in, anyone can learn how to take care of necessities and save for later needs. When all of that is in place, you simply feel better about yourself and life.


Sis. Smith’s talk touches on a subject that happens to be one of my pet peeves. She suggests topics for Relief Society homemaking mini-classes that would benefit families in their welfare needs. Back in the day, women got together and learned skills that could be used in the home to protect, bless, and secure the family. Now, it seems all we do is have parties and promote/sell the latest fads while our families are falling apart.


She also mentions the importance of Relief Society sisters working with the priesthood brethren as they seek to bless their ward members. Often, the bishop won’t have a specific goal he would like the ward to focus on, or offer any direction to the Relief Society president. And often, the Relief Society president doesn’t listen to him anyway, because she wants to do what the sisters all want. In either case, homes, marriages, and families are being neglected until a crisis happens–at the bishop’s door.


Pres. Marion G. Romney was as direct as I’ve ever heard him. He said,

“As our modern societies follow the course which led to the fall of Rome and other civilizations which succumbed to the deceptive lure of the welfare state and socialism, I think it not inappropriate for me to emphasize again the Lord’s plan for the temporal salvation of His mortal children.”

All the wars our country has fought was to gain and keep our freedoms and liberties. But sadly, all of that is being ignored as we sit back and allow “the welfare state and socialism” to encroach. The Lord’s plan can take care of us, but there is something expected of us first.


Pres. Spencer W. Kimball’s talk was entitled “Loving One Another,” but you know what that talk was really about? Teaching others how to work. This is the message I get from reading it:

Welfare Square
Salt Lake City

Teaching others how to work is how we love one another best. There is nothing wild or crazy about that statement. For me, it really is about love.


He started his talk with these words:

“I know that we did not come here to be entertained, we came here to be instructed.”

He shared how he grew up on a ten-acre farm. When they first moved there, the entire ward came to help them prepare it for cultivation. While his father was the stake president, it was known that the former stake president had an orchard he could no longer take care of. Pres. Kimball (the father) gathered his children up and took care of the harvest. Welfare service is just that, service to others.


Caring for elderly parents was mentioned next. Because the parents have spent years working and saving, they often have something left. A story was shared that the children of one family came along and took that money leaving their mother, destitute and on federal aid, in a rest home without a visit from any one of them.


Another story told was of a father complaining about all the work he had to do on the farm growing up. “Then he concluded with this statement: ‘My boys are never going to have to do that.’ And we saw his boys grow up and you couldn’t get them to do anything.”


The lesson:

“Idleness is of the devil, and we are not kind to our children when we become affluent and take from them their labors, their opportunities to serve and to be trained and to do things for themselves and for other.”

What would he think of our obsession with electronics today? Or our Relief Society meeting activities? Or not magnifying our callings? Or our debt? Or anything that takes us away from the work of the Lord and the building of His kingdom and His people?


I found this session to be extremely direct, yet loving (in spite of perhaps some guilty feelings), in its pure desire to help us fit our own desires with the Lord’s, which ultimately always comes back to blessing us ten-fold.


The Happiness Lie (Part 1)

“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.

Continue reading

Guest Post: Becoming the Woman You Were Meant to Be

Long before we accepted our temporal existence, we knew the journey would not be easy and that we would be tried over and over again to prove our worthiness for Eternal Life. Every one of us knew what we would personally have to work through, and yet, we all accepted. Often times, it’s hard to grasp that concept as we face trials that seem overwhelmingly impossible to conquer while only being able to see the earthly perspective.

Finding hope seems unreachable, and joy is ever so distant. We are bombarded with anger, frustration, fear and sadness to name a few of the many emotions. We tend to feel sorry for ourselves and ask, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”

As we know, trials come in a vast variety of experiences and are all different and personal. Luckily for us, we know that our Heavenly Father loves us and even though we feel we have been faced with the impossible. We know he would never expect us to deal with something we could not overcome. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and most importantly, he trusts us to follow his plan. Continue reading

Let’s Hear it for the Giants!

Mormon Women Stand is celebrating three years of standing strong for marriage, faith and family.  Today, I would like to take a little detour and give a shout out to all of the amazing men in our lives who do plenty of “standing” of their own.

President Nelson explained, “In the work of the Lord, we all learn one great lesson: Each of us stands tall on the shoulders of giants who preceded us.”  When good men work hard to become the giants on which the next generation will stand, they help support strong generations that can stand tall against the rising evil in this world.  It is usually by small as simple means that these giants and their powerful shoulders do this important work.

Over the years, I have seen my husband’s shoulders look gigantic when gently holding our tiny newborns, but they seemed to grow even stronger when holding his father as he took his last breath.  These same shoulders held his daughter tight as he whispered, “I love you, be good!” before she bravely left for a long 18 months.   And they were coated with mud when he worked long into the night rescuing everything from furniture to treasured family photos from neighborhood homes during the flood.  Year after year, my darling husband has kept his “shoulder to the wheel” as he meets his many, daily expectations.  He gladly takes upon himself the command to provide, preside and protect his family.  His family is blessed by his humble service. Continue reading

Guest Post: Three Ways You’re Already Standing Strong

I used to think that I had to do something amazing to help our loving Father in Heaven. It didn’t matter if this “amazing act” was done in the church or in the world. But it had to be done. I just didn’t know what.

Sisters and friends, let me save you your sanity and tell you a secret: this isn’t true. Important things are good and need to be done. But, those who have a lasting and eternal impact on standing for our Father in Heaven and His plans do so quietly and within their sphere of influence. They are the unsung heroes that the angels watch over.

You don’t have to change the world to change someone’s life. No organization you lead or leadership role you hold will have a greater impact on the world than that of the roles you hold dear in your heart.

Mother. Sister. Daughter. Friend. A daughter of God.

These roles are eternal where others will have an end. These are the roles that truly matter where all others will fail.

Let me share with you three ways how you are already standing strong in your life. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that they aren’t as difficult as you might think. Continue reading

Trust that the Spirit Will Guide You

General-Womens-Session11-2016President Henry B. Eyring continued the theme of service during the April 2016 women’s session of conference in his talk, entitled, Trust in That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good . He said that throughout the meeting, the sisters would be “inspired to do more to help our Master in His work to lift up and to succor the children of our Heavenly Father.” I hadn’t thought much about what I should do before he spoke those words, but they prompted me to say a little prayer and ask what I could do.

Like others I have heard from, I enjoyed the conference, but I too wondered how could I fit in more when my life is already so full. I had to evaluate how I use my time. I have 10 children and they all still live with me. I homeschool all but one of those children. I have a constant battle with toys, piles and piles of papers, laundry, dishes, and cooking enough food to fill my growing children. I am spending time trying to make money working from home. We recently moved to a new area and I do not know anyone… I sat back and quickly thought about how I use my time. Continue reading

Good, Faithful Servants

FenceI’d like to tell you a story about someone. We all know this person—or at least someone like him. As I tell you about him, picture the face of the man or woman in your life that is just like the man I’m going to tell you about.

I’ll give this man a name. Let’s call him Jake. Jake is smart, but doesn’t have a lot of formal education. His education came from the school of hard knocks. He’s a little rough around the edges. He’s not comfortable in formal situations. When he’s nervous, he has a tendency to talk a little too much and with a tad too much volume. Everyone likes Jake, but only those very close to him take him seriously.

LawnJake would have made a wonderful bishop because he has so much compassion for others. His organizational skills are difficult to beat. He works hard at everything he does, never complains, and doesn’t need a pat on the back or an award for proficiency. This man loves service. Jake would rather be serving someone than doing anything else. I believe he would give up eating if he could spend more time with a shut-in, or mow someone else’s lawn. Continue reading

Motherhood is Mundane

mother-children-reading-friend-1236378-printMotherhood is made up of the mundane. Doing simple repetitive tasks, day after day, to provide a place of comfort, a place of refuge for those who are most important in your life is taxing. Talk to any wife and mother. If she is honest, she will tell you it is hard work. It is real work. It takes sacrifice and a lot of love, sweat, and tears to do the same things over and over again each day. But in the sacrificing we become more. President Thomas S. Monson taught,

“When we do the mundane, the mechanical, the repetitious patterns of our lives yield to the spiritual qualities, and we acquire a much-needed dimension which inspires our daily living” (Thomas S. Monson, Gifts, April 1993 General Conference).

These spiritual qualities are made manifest in the care we give to our families. In an article titled Mothers are not Wimps, Stephanie Nielson said,

Motherhood is natural. We know what we are doing. Deep within us we are born with a maternal instinct, and we carry traits of honesty, faith in God, duty, respect for others, kindness, self-confidence, and the desire to contribute and teach love to our children’s minds and hearts. We are kind and soft and brave and powerful (Nielson, Stephanie, Mothers are not Wimps, NieNie Dialogues via Deseret News (Nov. 10, 2014)).

Motherhood is mundane. Or rather, most of the tasks of motherhood are mundane. So why do we keep going? Why do we keep doing what we are doing? We are teaching our children, showing our husbands that they are valued, they are worth it. At the end of a long day at work or school where do people long to be? Still at work, or stuck in a car in traffic, or sleeping in a hotel? No! The place that beacons them is home. Home, where someone is waiting for them with eagerness. Home, where the mundane brings comfort and reassurance. Continue reading

Delight in Service and Good Works

visiting-teaching-901054-galleryThe Relief Society Declaration says that we are women who delight in service and good works. I am truly blessed that I have had such good role models of service in my life—men and women. My parents were always doing things for others.

My mother was a leader in a youth organization for years, and later served on the organization’s Board. Mom was a great seamstress and made a lot of our clothes. I remember one summer she took the sewing machine up to our family’s cabin in the mountains.   She set it on a huge rock underneath a big pine tree, and strung a long cord through the window to plug it in. She made all my school clothes that summer—fighting the curiosity of the Blue Jays and the chipmunks that wanted to dive bomb all the bright red and orange fabric. I hope Mom knew how much I appreciated her and loved her for that act of service.

Dad was always doing something for a neighbor or a friend in need. I remember the summer my grandfather (Pa) retired and didn’t know what to do with his free time. Pa decided that he and Dad should build a rock wall that Dad had dreamed about for a while. Dad was a salesman who worked solely on commission, and he really couldn’t afford to take time off work to build this rock wall. He did it anyway—not because he really needed the wall built, but because Pa needed to do it to keep busy.

Chilean ReliefI remember Dad setting up flood lights around his lilac bushes one spring to keep them from freezing so that my sister would have lilacs for her wedding. He babied those lilacs for days trying to save them. He and mom cut some of them and put them in buckets in the house to try and save some in case the ones left on the bushes froze. Between the two of them, my sister had lilacs for her wedding.

Many others have been examples of service to me. I’ve watched friends serve their families and members of the community for many years.

No one has made a better impact on me of the importance of service than my husband. He has quietly given service all his life. He never asks for anything in return; never needs a pat on the back. Even now that he is retired, he continues to serve. He regularly mows lawns for family members who are struggling to get everything done while raising their children and serving in their respective church callings. He pruned bushes at the church for a long time. He still does it occasionally, but at 71 years old, I now encourage him to let some of the younger people take care of that.

As I have watched both the men and women in my life serve others, I have grown to love serving others myself. Service isn’t something that is gender specific; it is a Christ-like attribute. We can all give service—and we all have specific talents to give.

It took me a long time to figure out what kind of talents I have. It was silly, really. I spent too much time comparing myself to others to realize that not all of us are musicians or artists. We don’t all have college degrees. We aren’t all teachers. I spent so much time looking at all the wonderful talent surrounding me that I was blinded to my own unique talents. Now that I’ve sorted it all out, I use those talents to serve others.

Service changes people. It refines, purifies, gives a finer perspective, and brings out the best in each one of us. It gets us looking outward instead of inward. It prompts us to consider others’ needs ahead of our own. Righteous service is the expression of true charity, such as the Savior showed (Derek A. Cuthbert, The Spirituality of Service, Apr. 1990 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1990/04/the-spirituality-of-service?lang=eng&query=service).

Volunteer holding childAs I have watched my husband’s quiet service over the years, I have often thought about how it brings out the best in him. It also brings out the best in our family as we have learned to serve beside him. He taught our children how to quietly go about the business of good works. As Elder Cuthbert said, I’ve watched service refine and purify him.

This example of good works from him (as well as many others) makes me want to serve in a similar manner. It isn’t just the service that impresses me; it is the nature and genuineness of the giver of that service. Christ didn’t heal the sick and then say, “What do I get out of it?” He gave with no thought of His own reward.

As sisters in Zion, we should delight in service and good works. There is a lot of work to do around us. No matter what your individual situation is, there is always someone who is in greater need than yourself. We all are in need of something—just not all the same things. It’s just a matter of keeping our eyes open to the need around us and then finding ways to use our individual talents to help.