GCBC Week 21: “The First Great Commandment” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and “Being a More Christian Christian” by Elder Robert D. Hales

I think I forgot GCBC completely last week. Sorry about that; I just got busy and distracted, I guess, and didn’t realize it until the week was almost over. To make up for it, this week we get TWO fantastic talks that are powerful and inspiring. Plus, they went so well together, you almost wonder if they worked on them as a team.

The First Great Commandment By Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

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Being a More Christian Christian By Elder Robert D. Hales

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What stood out to you as you read these talks? What are the action items that these brethren would like us to take away from their messages? 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 4: “An Unspeakable Gift from God” by Elder Craig C. Christensen

For week 4 of general conference book club, we’ll be studying Elder Christensen’s talk from the Saturday A.M. session:

An Unspeakable Gift from God

By Elder Craig C. Christensen

In this talk, he told several memorable stories: about taking his son through the Bountiful Temple open house, about the death of his grandfather at a family reunion, and about President Monson talking to the woman hiding under her sheet in the hospital.

I remember when Julie Beck taught about personal revelation being the single most important skill we need. I thought of that several time as I read this talk, and how important it is to learn how the Holy Ghost guides and speaks and prompts us personally. I liked this quote:

I’ve noticed that as I really pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that come into my mind and heart, and then act on them (when they are obviously in line with gospel principles I already know to be true), I usually learn quickly that the prompting came from the Holy Ghost. That assurance tends to come through feelings of satisfaction and a sense that I’ve done the right thing, or through the sometimes obvious positive consequences of that choice to act.

I really liked the blessings he listed that come from the gift of the Holy Ghost: “added capacity and spiritual gifts, increased revelation and protection, steady guidance and direction, and the promised blessings of sanctification and exaltation in the celestial kingdom.” Other than the exaltation bit, which is a work in progress throughout mortality, I’ve really felt those other blessings in my own life, and I’m so thankful for the influence of the Spirit.

What stood out to you? What are your thoughts about the role of the Holy Ghost in your life and in your testimony?  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.)

GCBC Week 3: “I Know It. I Live It. I Love It.” By Ann M. Dibb

Welcome to week 3 of general conference book club. Today we will be studying Sister Dibb’s talk from the Saturday A.M. session:

I Know It. I Live It. I Love It.

By Ann M. Dibb

As always, you can find links to watch, listen, read or download from her talk at the link above (Click on the talk title).

Sister Dibb taught,

We are followers of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Such conversion and confidence is the result of diligent and deliberate effort. It is individual. It is the process of a lifetime.

I loved this quote because I think it’s so important that we turn to the scriptures and gospel study to gain insight into whatever it is that we are dealing with or struggling with in our lives.

Please share what you learned from this talk. What do you know? live? and love about the gospel of Jesus Christ? Tell us what this talk encouraged you to do or be.

(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.)

Marriage Is Essential, by Michele Stitt

A few years ago, our LDS Bishop called me into his office where he was counseling a newly married young couple.  “Tell them what it means to be equally yoked,” he directed.  “Tell them why you and Jeff are happy in your marriage.”  At the time, I mumbled something about horses and wagons and pulling together.

…Let me see if I can be more clear now.  I’ll start by quoting the Proclamation:

“Marriage between man and woman is essential to God’s eternal plan.  …Fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

Elder David A. Bednar once said:

“Righteous marriage is a commandment and an essential step in the process of creating a loving family relationship that can be perpetuated beyond the grave
1. [because] The natures of male and female spirits complete and perfect each other, and therefore men and women are intended to progress together toward exaltation and
2. By divine design, both a man and a woman are needed to bring children into mortality and to provide the best setting for the rearing and nurturing of children” (6/06 Ensign, 82-84).

It has been said that in a contented marriage, partners have 5 positive feelings or interactions for every 1 negative one.  Since Jeff and I have been hitched to the same wagon now for nearly 15 years, I thought I’d share 5 POSITIVE THINGS he does that reinforce our partnership.

He actively loves (which I’m sure often involves “praying with all the energy of his heart” for charity).  He makes sure we have a weekly date; he brings home newspapers from his travels for me to read and discuss with him; he always shares his chocolate.

He listens.  He understands that I cannot sleep if the kitchen is a mess, so no matter how late he got home from work or how tired he is, he works beside me until the last dish is loaded in the washer.  He understands unspoken cues like—pulling-the-blanket-over-my-head-on-Saturday-morning means “Please feed and dress the kids and make sure they’re ready to go to soccer/piano/scouts/etc. by the time I get up.”

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught

“I am satisfied that the application of a single practice would do more than all else to [strengthen marriages…It is that] every husband and every wife would constantly do whatever might be possible to ensure the comfort and happiness of his or her companion… Argument would never be heard. Accusations would never be leveled. Angry explosions would not occur. Rather, love and concern would replace abuse and meanness.”  (11/04 Ensign, 82).

Jeff gets this.

Jeff forgives and moves on.  When Jeff and I were first married, I backed his brand new car into a cement pole.  When I called Jeff to tell him the bad news, I expected the first big trial in our fledgling marriage.  But do you know what he said?  “Are you okay? Don’t worry about the car.  It’s a car.  But you—how are you?”

Do you know what is even more wonderful to me about this story?  In all the time since this accident, Jeff has never complained about our insurance rates going up.  He never stands behind and beside the car waving his arms (like missionaries do), to help me back up.  He forgave and forgot about it.

As I think about Adam and Eve, they inspire me as people who certainly had trials but who “got over it” and moved on as equal partners.  To quote Marie Hafen:

“Adam and Eve fell that they might have JOY.  But they didn’t skip merrily out of Eden singing and wishing everyone a nice day.  They walked in sorrow into a lonely world, where they earned their bread by the sweat of their brows and learned about joy in the midst of misery and pain.”

Just as we have no record of Adam constantly bringing up Eve’s transgression in their two hundredth year together, Jeff has never once mentioned the totaled back-end of his car.

Jeff remembers who I am.  He tells our children by word and action that I’m a beloved daughter of God.  He remembers I’m his best friend by calling me in the middle of the day just to see how I’m doing; he relishes telling every new dinner guest our “how-we-met” story; he is the first to give me credit as his partner for any success he experiences in his career.

So there—5 good things about Jeff.  I’ll have to get back to you on a negative one.  In the meantime, I’ll just keep gratefully pulling along right beside him.

Michele is a wife and mother of two who currently resides in Alpine, Utah. She and I became friends in Minnesota, and she has been a mentor and example to me for many years. Thank you, Michele, for sharing these great ideas and insights.

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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.

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 gift certificate from Family Tree and Me redeemable for any of their Photo Family Proclamations, including the shipping cost. Readers of the Family Proclamation Celebration can receive a 25% discount off the price of the print if you use this code: Family Proclamation Celebration.25 The discount is good until September 30th. All those comment on posts will be eligible for the giveaway.

Family Tree and Me delights in creating customized keepsake family photo art and would love the opportunity to make a meaningful art piece for you to display in your home. You provide the pictures and we create the art!

We have four categories of art with a variety of options available within each one: Photo Family Trees, Photo Family Proclamations, Missionary Photo Art, and Photo Family Mission Statements.

In Love and Righteousness, by Melanie Jacobson


I love the Proclamation to the World because it talks about the most sacred thing on the planet: the family.

I love my family more than anything, both the one that raised me and the one that I’m raising. It is the primary tool that God gave us to understand His love for us. I’m not sure there’s any other way to comprehend God’s love without functioning within some kind of a family.

Everyday I fail at something as a mother. I rack up the same mistakes over and over again: impatience, impatience, impatience, and impatience. And also impatience. But nothing else I’ve ever done could ever school me to develop patience the way my family can. And being a mother and wife is also working to refine my spirit in ways that nothing else in the whole breadth of my experience could. And my experience is really, really broad. I’ve helped my own parents die. As a teacher, I’ve nurtured hundreds of other people’s kids along a path that was about so much more than grammar and verb tense.

But family is the incubator for the most vital resource this world will ever know: the next generation. And each new generation is the most important one because they will move us forward. (And if we do this right, take care of us when we’re old. I’m looking at you, Eden.) And I am called to shape that. Each of us who raise children are architects of what the world will become. This is what I believe, taken straight from the Proclamation:

HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

I want to answer before God that I brought my children up right. I’m trying to raise them up unto the Lord so that they can lift everyone around them. I feel the weight of this every day. Sometimes I try to hide from it inside books, TV shows, exercise videos, or girls night out with friends. But when I return to my kids, it always brought home to me that my husband and I were given these spirits to raise, and I can’t fail. I can’t fail in doing the most important work I’ve been given to do on this earth.

It can be hard to remember when that work looks more like cleaning up an overturned box of cereal or plucking dirty underwear from the boys’ bathroom floor. It doesn’t feel like Great Work to drive my kids between a million different appointments or supervise them outside while they play on the cul-de-sac. Then again, I don’t guess the Egyptians slapped the pyramids together in a day, either. Or even a year. I bet they took entire lifetimes to build.

So sometimes after an escape from reality, I have to remind myself that I only have a short window of time to lay the foundation for the lives my children will build for themselves. And I get back to work, one overturned bowl of cereal at a time.

Melanie Bennett Jacobson is an avid reader, amateur cook, and champion shopper. She consumes astonishing amounts of chocolate, chick flicks, and romance novels. After meeting her husband online, she is now living happily married in Southern California with her growing family and a series of doomed houseplants. Melanie is a former English teacher who loves to laugh and make others laugh. In her down time (ha!), she writes romantic comedies for Covenant and maintains her humorous slice-of-life blog. Her fourth novel, Smart Move, hits shelves in October.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

Click here to read a complete version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. The celebration will continue through Sept. 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 gift certificate from Family Tree and Me redeemable for any of their Photo Family Proclamations, including the shipping cost. Readers of the Family Proclamation Celebration can receive a 25% discount off the price of the print if you use this code:  Family Proclamation Celebration.25 The discount is good until September 30th. All those comment on posts will be eligible for the giveaway.

Family Tree and Me delights in creating customized keepsake family photo art and would love the opportunity to make a meaningful art piece for you to display in your home. You provide the pictures and we create the art!

We have four categories of art with a variety of options available within each one: Photo Family Trees, Photo Family Proclamations, Missionary Photo Art, and Photo Family Mission Statements.

Husband and Wife, by Shawni Pothier

Marriage is the keystone for everything else in a family to fit together.  If we don’t put our spouse first, it is really difficult to do all the other family stuff in the proclamation.

Here is a list of ideas to strengthen marriage. Some of these things Dave and I do great. Others are things we are really working on.

Here you go:

Go to bed at the same time. (I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but it makes a world of difference for us.)

If you go to bed at the same time, you get to have “pillow talk” which leads to belly laughs, which make me happy. (I feel so much more connected to Dave when we make time to really talk about how our day went and what’s coming up the next day.)

Find at least a few of the same things to be interested in together. (We’re always working on that one because we are so different, but I think it’s so important.)

Learn what his “love language” is from this book (I know this may sound cheesy, but seriously, it is a pretty cool concept).

Never underestimate the power of touch. Even just a touch on the shoulder or a on his knee at dinner.

Tell your kids how excited you are to go on a date together with stars in your eyes.

Hug in front of your kids.

Tell your kids what you love about their dad. All the time.

Say you’re sorry before he does.

Continue “dating” regularly forever, even if it’s an “at-home date” after the kids are in bed.

Drop everything you’re trying to juggle some evenings and just snuggle on the couch.

Watch a show you like together while sitting in front of him on the floor…he rubs your back while you rub his feet. (or visa-versa)

Text him love-notes in the middle of the day.

Tuck love-notes in his suitcase when he goes on a business trip.

Make dinner for him.

Dave and I decided right when we got married to keep any complaints or things we were bugged about between us. We promised each other that we would discuss those things and work them out just the two of us, not with our friends or neighbors. We figured it would make us stronger to work through things together and to keep that relationship sacred. And we were right. That’s one of the best things about our marriage as far as I’m concerned.

Show that you value his opinion by giving in more often. (Hmmm…I need to work on that one…)
Let him beat you at Quordy here and there :) (that’s a Boggle game on the iPhone)

Make an effort to give him a sincere compliment before you go to bed each night…something you noticed during the day. Be looking for the good instead of for opportunities to nag.

Talk about your budget often and make sure you’re on the same page with how you spend.

If you’re not on the same page with how you spend, re-evaluate. And give-in a little. Make compromises. Finances are one of the biggest stress-inducing things in marriages.

Forgive. And then Forget. Don’t hold on to grudges.

If something is important to him, make it important to you. No matter how silly it may seem in your view at first. (That’s my favorite one from my Mom and I think about it ALL THE TIME.)

Laugh. A lot. Keep a sense of humor.

Ok, and just to keep it real, here’s what NOT to do to make your husband feel like you really care about him:

Chop your hair off in a moment of mid-life crisis even though you know he loves long hair. But if he’s really nice like Dave is he’ll still love you anyway. :)

Cough all night long with allergies.

Back into your in-laws’ car.

Forget to warn him about five different conflicts you have in one night early enough that he can brace himself for it.

Text when you’re on a date.

But hey, I’m working on those, and hair grows, right? :)

Strong marriages make strong families, but they take work.

What are some things that you and your spouse do for each other that strengthens your marriage?

Shawni lives with her husband and five children in Arizona.  She takes her job as a Mother very seriously and strives to promote joy in the journey of Motherhood on her blog. Shawni’s youngest daughter (Lucy) was born with a rare genetic syndrome which causes blindness (amidst a myriad of other health problems).  Because of this, Shawni and her mother started the “I Love Lucy Project” and have become heavily involved with the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Aside from being an advocate for her daughter and relishing in motherhood, Shawni enjoys speaking at Time Out for Women and recently published her first book, A Mother’s Book of Secrets.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

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!

Love and Marriage Manual: A Free Download

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I have a little present for you.

I wanted to share with you what I like to give as a wedding gift when an LDS couple gets married.  I put together this FHE manual for newlyweds, a collection of talks and articles about topics that are important for married couples to study and discuss and understand.  There are some really great talks in there!

I print it out, hole punch it and put it in a 3-ring binder.  I print out the title page (above) and write a personal note to them about how these messages can bless their marriage and have blessed mine.  I usually get one of those binders with a clear plastic pocket on the front cover, slide in the title page, and tie up the whole thing with a pretty bow.

You can download the title page by clicking on the picture of it above, and you can download the whole manual (as an 80-page .pdf file) by clicking on the table of contents below.  When you click on either one, you will probably get a dialogue box that pops up asking if you want to save the file.  When you click Save, it will download to your computer.  Then you can open it and print it.

Anyway, I think it makes a great wedding gift, but I also think it would be a great Valentine’s gift to your husband, and something that would definitely strengthen your marriage if you study it and discuss it together.  All of the talks are by prophets, apostles, general authorities, and general auxiliary leaders.  (All are cut-and-pasted from lds.org or BYU devotionals or Women’s Conference talks.)  Even now, I can still think of more talks I love that I wish I had included, so feel free to print out your favorites, hole-punch them, and add them to the binder.  I love the doctrines and principles that are taught in these talks.  I hope you will too.

“Marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship. Yet some married couples fall short of their full potential. They let their romance become rusty, take each other for granted, allow other interests or clouds of neglect to obscure the vision of what their marriage really could be. Marriages would be happier if nurtured more carefully. . . . . When you as husband and wife recognize the divine design in your union—when you feel deeply that God has brought you to each other—your vision will be expanded and your understanding enhanced.”– Elder Russell M. Nelson