GCBC Week 24: “Blessings of the Sacrament” by Elder Don R. Clarke

It’s the next-to-last week of GCBC, and then we get to hear another round of general conference (yay!).  Here is a video you can use to invite friends, family, strangers, and foes (no, really) to join us in hearing a living prophet and apostles speak. It is one of the coolest things on God’s green earth.

I believe that this will be my last round of GCBC. I have done it for every general conference since 2009, and I’m feeling like it’s time to “retire,” but I’ll do a post-conference post about how to start up or do-it-yourself host a similar club because I still love the concept and hope to keep up with the reading schedule on my own.

Okay, this week’s talk was one I really liked, and you can find it here:

Blessings of the Sacrament by Elder Don R. Clarke

This quote in particular was my favorite:

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I’ve thought about that concept a lot, and even thought about it today while I took the sacrament. (And also this talk by Elder Perry.) I thought how every week I should walk away from sacrament meeting a better person than I have been before. My life should be in closer harmony with the gospel. My offering should be my heart and my will and all my sins as a sacrifice before God, with the desire to cling to my covenants and lay claim on their promises through my obedience. That’s pretty powerful stuff to happen in a 10-15 minute period of time, but isn’t it merciful of God to make that possible? And every week?

What stood out to you as you studied this talk? How can you make the sacrament more meaningful and transformative?

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

GCBC Week 18: “The Atonement” by President Boyd K. Packer

Already at week 18. Crazy. This week’s talk is President Packer’s powerful testimony from the Saturday a.m. session of conference. “My message is directed to those among us who are suffering, burdened down with guilt and weakness and failure, sorrow, and despair.” The knowledge of Jesus Christ, His plan, and the Atonement can help us cope with the challenges of life and overcome them.

The Atonement by President Boyd K. Packer

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What are some of your thoughts after studying this talk? How has your own testimony of Jesus Christ been a strength to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

GCBC Week 5: “Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also” By Elder Shayne M. Bowen

Welcome Back. I’d love to “hear” from more of you in the comments because it’s always great to get each other’s insight about these talks. For week 5 of general conference book club, we’ll be studying Elder Bowen’s talk from the Saturday A.M. session:

“Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also”

By Elder Shayne M. Bowen

Because of Him, even our Savior, Jesus Christ, those feelings of sorrow, loneliness, and despair will one day be swallowed up in a fulness of joy.

Elder Bowen shares an experience of teaching a woman on his mission who had lost an infant, and how much relief she found through the doctrines in the Book of Mormon.

He then recounted a personal tragedy about the loss of his own 8-month old son who choked on a piece of chalk. He highlights the stages of his mourning and grief and the role that those same doctrines he had taught years ago as a missionary played in his healing and recovery from such a tragedy.

Elder Bowen shared this beautiful quote from Preach My Gospel:

We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

What did you find meaningful or powerful in this talk? How has the gospel helped you to find hope in very desperate circumstances?  Discuss in the comments below.

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club:  You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

When Founded upon Christ, by Becca Riding

Cover me, I’m going in…

I am a mother of 4.

In Jim Gaffigan’s most recent stand-up routine he says “Want to know what it’s like having 4 kids? Just imagine you’re drowning…and someone hands you a baby.” Mother of Four is a new title for me, having only recently acquired that Fourth, and I’m still getting used to the water, as it were.

It is a Thursday. I get up bleary eyed and stumble to my kitchen to dig out some stale cereal for the hungry masses to eat for breakfast. There, on my kitchen counter, is a box of peaches waiting to be canned. Half a bushel. Staring me down. “Yes,” I think, “I will get to those today.”

Cue the shrill cry of a distressed newborn. I throw a handful of cereal in my mouth, take a gulp of milk, and go scoop her up. And what’s this? Crying baby…who….won’t open her eyes?? This is new. Four kids, and the surprises keep coming. Quick call to my pediatrician to take advantage of the fact that I’ve now paid enough co-pays to buy him a car. Baby who won’t open her eyes? He has no idea. So, you know, we’re figuring that out. As I’m talking on the phone, holding Baby Four in one arm, I’m using the other arm to wash peaches in the sink.

Until Three starts puking on the carpet, raising the question: What in the world did she eat so early in the morning that is THAT color purple??? Awesome. But at least it didn’t seem to bother her; she never even took her eyes off “Yo Gabba Gabba.” Plunk Baby Four in her bouncer to fend for herself for a bit. I am on my knees, humming as I scrub the carpet.  The peaches on the counter roll their eyes at me.

I am going to get those darn peaches canned.

Two trips to the doctor and several hours later, I have pawned One and Two off on a Christlike Protestant neighbor, but Three and Four are both screaming at the top of their lungs. They are miserable. They want to be held, by me and only me. They cannot be comforted, but I alternate between one and the other, back and forth, as they continue to shriek. My eardrums are, quite honestly, over it.  I am trying, very hard, not to lose it utterly.

Which is when I lay them oh so lovingly and gently on the carpet, wrap an apron around my courtesy-of-your-children waist, and bottle those peaches. Happy little slices, sprinkled with Fruit Fresh, and packed neatly into their gleaming jars.  Perfect. Just like the good little Mormon I am, I am canning to the sound of misery and outrage, the soundtrack of this moment in my life. And as I stand here, white knuckle gripping my sanity and pouring sugar syrup into each jar, I think “Oh, please. Just let the Savior cover this day. Let Him cover my inability to do and be everything I need to be and can’t be today. Please let the atonement cover it.”

And the greatest thing is? It does.

Becca Riding was born and raised in Utah but calls North Carolina home. She served a mission in Switzerland, married her very best friend, and has four kids. She recently completed her first-half mile jog, which she’s pretty excited about, and she seriously needs a nap.

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Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue through Sept. 30.

Every time you leave a comment on any of the Proclamation posts or participate in any of the Blog Hops, you are entered in a drawing to win a giveaway prize.

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In the Image of God, by Shantel Gardner


I had an experience with my daughter several years ago. When I was thinking about what I wanted to write about the Family Proclamation, this experience came to me. I pushed it aside, but the impression kept coming back. The Family Proclamation does not tell us what to do– it tells us who we are and what our relationship is to God and Jesus Christ. It also gives us incredible insight into the character of our Heavenly Parents. We are meant to learn how to be like our Savior in family units, and this is how it happens for me. God is good. So Good.

This is my daughter Ella. Isn’t she just cute?? And so big, making her own PB & Chocolate (Nutella. She calls it chocolate–I guess she thinks she is getting away with something.) sandwich for lunch. I took this picture to remember. Here is the story:

On this particular day, Ella was having a bad day. She has Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of Autism. Most people in her world are not even aware that she has this. I don’t notice it most days, but this day I did. On her bad days she gets stuck in a rut, with a need for structure and for things to be and look a certain way. These days normally end up with her alone in her room, organizing her toys, until she feels better. My mood on this day was of no help to her. She had come home from school, and wanted to make her own lunch. I usually have her lunch pre-made, so it is waiting when she walks through the door. I had a crazy morning, so this did not happen. When Ella is having a bad day, she will not compromise or rationalize, or she is not even able to have a two-sided discussion. She will even lose her language if it gets really bad. I have found the best thing to do is give her what she wants as reasonably as possible and try to curb bad behavior with distraction. Anyway, here was our dialogue:

Me: Ella – Do you want peanut butter or circle sandwich for lunch? (Circle is Bologna – long story)

Ella: Peanut Butter Chocolate – I want to do it!!!!!! (High-pitched scream)

Me: o.k. Ella – let me help you.

Ella: No! I do it!!!!!!! (Scream)

Me: o.k.

So I watched her proceed. She got a stool, climbed up to the counter. Couldn’t reach the bread. She started screaming.

Me: Ella – do you need help?

Ella: Bread!!!! (Language now down to one word – this was not headed in a good direction)

So I got up to help her. I reached for the bread.

Ella: NO!!!!!!!!

Me: DO you want the bread?

Ella: Ella Do! (Scream)

Me: o.k.

She struggled a few seconds.

Ella: Please help.

So I helped her get the bread out and laid out the slices for her. I magically and very sneakily managed to get out the jars she needed and unscrew the tops without her protesting. I handed her the butter knife.

She proceeded to dig into the peanut butter and the Nutella. She was making a huge mess. I was having a very hard time not intervening. Not only was she making a complete mess of everything, but she was getting upset. She was piling way too much on the bread, she was taking way too long, and I had a long list of other things I did not like about this situation. Finally, after about 10 minutes, she was done with one piece. It was literally a mountain of Peanut Butter. She and the counter were covered. I was not happy. I was dwelling on how my day had been so far. How she was likely going to need a bath after this and a bath would lead into the afternoon, and then the kids would be home from school –I was getting overwhelmed quickly. She started screaming again. I started to cry; I felt done. The sound hurt my ears, and my heart. I didn’t know what to do. What did she want now???

Me, through tears:  What Ella?

Ella: Fix it!

I didn’t know what she meant, so I got up and looked at the disaster on the counter. Ella very quietly (and completely unlike how she had been over the last 30 minutes) said, “Make it smoooooth,” and she handed me the knife. My despair at the situation was immediately transformed to deep peace and understanding at what I was being taught. As I followed Ella’s instructions to smooth out the Peanut Butter perfectly and make it go “all the way to the edges” of the bread, I realized that we makes messes sometimes. We take situations in life, and insist (sometimes screaming) on doing it all ourselves. We make mistakes, we misjudge, mistrust, and misuse sometimes. We cause a lot of grief to the people around us as we learn, and we judge others harshly as they learn. Then we give our slice of peanut butter bread to the Savior, and he makes it all smooth. He makes it perfect. He spreads it to the edges of the bread, and makes our work look like it was done by a professional chef. Then he lets us keep it. To savor and find joy in. As we become confident in the Savior’s ability to perfect our efforts, we become stronger– and our capacities increase.

I grabbed the camera and took the picture, and really enjoyed letting Ella make the rest of the sandwich. I enjoyed the process of watching her learn, and I was ready to step in when she needed me. Happily and patiently this time, I felt so grateful to my Heavenly Father for taking what was a mess, and making it a moment of learning never to be forgotten.

Shantel Bancroft Gardner lives in Minnesota with her husband Joel and their five children. She is a student in the honors program at the University of Minnesota, majoring in US History and Religious Studies with a minor in Jewish Studies. She is a research historian for the university and also for the Minnesota Historical Society. Shantel has published several articles and essays in both academic and LDS literature.  She serves on the Board for the Joseph Smith Jr. and Emma Hale Smith Historical Society, and travels to universities and historical sites to speak about the lives and legacies of Joseph and Emma. Her favorite place is Winter Quarters. Shantel also considers chocolate necessary to her salvation, and partakes as often as she can.

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Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue from Sept 17-30.

Remember that during the world-wide-web Family Proclamation Celebration, you can read more posts every day at We Talk of Christ, at Chocolate on My Cranium, and at Middle-Aged Mormon Man.

Every time you leave a comment on any of the Proclamation posts or participate in any of the Blog Hops, you are entered in a drawing to win a giveaway prize.

The giveaway this week is a Dream Big Family Rules Subway Art sign from Landee on Etsy. “One of the reasons we love to create things for our homes is because our favorite people live there! We love our families and want them to be in a happy & healthy environment. We always try to create products that are positive, motivating and uplifting. Stop by our shop and find that special detail for your home that you’ve been looking for!