GCBC Week 20: “Learning with Our Hearts” by Elder Walter F. González and “One Step Closer to the Savior” by Russell T. Osguthorpe

Whoa. Week 20 already? This week we will look at two talks because they go nicely together and because we need to pick up speed a little to cover everything before the next conference sneaks up on us again. These two talks are a nice fit because they address how learning and teaching both play a role in conversion.

Learning with Our Hearts By Elder Walter F. González

Walter-Gonzalez

One Step Closer to the Savior By Russell T. Osguthorpe

russell-osguthorpe

What are some of your thoughts after studying these talks? What kind of learning has affected your own conversion? In what ways have the teaching of others helped your testimony to grow? And how does this affect your own teaching, whether in a classroom setting or with your own children? 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.)

In which I become a cat lady and say controversial things.

A while back, I was severely sleep deprived and a neighbor found some stray kittens. In my weakened state, I gave into my children’s impassioned pleas, and we became the reluctant owners of “Lizzie” (inspired by Pride and Prejudice, don’t tell my kids). I have never had a cat. I never wanted a cat, and never planned to want one.  I just want to report that it has been surprisingly much more pleasant than I imagined. Lizzie is way easier than any of my children have ever been, so despite all the new expenses required for the care of my “free” kitten, I guess I don’t regret it.  This is the part where I post a picture of my cat and cross to the dark side:

You may not have noticed, but this week there was an election. Some people are ecstatic with the results; some have dusted off their Apocalypse survival kits. Either way, feelings run high, and I’m weary of the discussion of it. (I remind you I hold the power of the delete button in the comment thread.) I will sum up my non-partisan feelings this way:  I love this country. I hope for this country. I’m worried for this country. And I know better than to place all my faith and/or fear into one political candidate. I will not bore you with the scriptures and quotes you’ve all seen floating around the internet, meant to vilify or glorify our current national condition. I will, however, share a quote that I’ve loved before and love today. Barbara Bush said this in 1990, and it puts the responsibility for this nation back where it belongs–with us:

“Your success as a family … our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”

And that is what I’m feeling strongly. I’ve read several articles lately that statistically show the trends of our nation (break that down to its ingredients: individuals, homes, families) moving farther away from specific Christian principles. The news claims that our country is increasingly more secular than religious. I believe, in the context of prophesy, that we are in danger of losing God’s promised protection if we, individually, do not try harder to embrace truth and righteousness and make our homes into little greenhouses of goodness. I was reading about Captain Moroni today, and these were some of the characteristics that made him “impervious” to the moral decay around him: he gloried in God, he had faith, he protected his people, he kept the commandments, and he resisted iniquity. It was/is a simple and powerful list. The scripture declared that Satan would have no power over the hearts of men if they were all like Moroni.

Faith and family are both consistently losing value in modern society, so we must strengthen them and value them and testify of them in as many ways as we can. I personally feel a battle cry to make my home a bunker– to arm my children with truth, doctrine, faith, testimony, confidence, strategies, and a knowledge of how to use the Spirit in their lives. I am not a doomsdayer; I do not believe that the horsemen of the apocalypse have been let loose, but I DO recognize how confusing our world has become.  It’s a bewildering place if you don’t have foundational principles to cling to and navigate by. If it’s confusing to me and other adults, it must be overwhelmingly distressing for children. So that’s where I’ll start. With mine.

1green·house, noun \-ˌhau̇s\

Definition of GREENHOUSE

1: a structure enclosed (as by glass) and used for the cultivation or protection of tender plants

GCBC Week 22: “Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit” by Brother Matthew O. Richardson

I got to substitute teach the 5-year-olds in Primary today.  It was great.  I love to teach. I love to bear testimony.  I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I’m grateful for the Holy Ghost that makes the message more powerful than the teacher or the delivery.

The Spirit has been an important part of teaching experiences I’ve had with my children, too.  Last week, during all the carpool hours, I had great opportunities to discuss some important principles with my kids.  I could feel the Holy Ghost helping me and helping them.  It gave me the confidence to testify about things I know are true.

Teaching after the Manner of the Spirit by Brother Matthew O. Richardson, 2nd counselor General Sunday School Presidency

“While we are all teachers, we must fully realize that it is the Holy Ghost who is the real teacher and witness of all truth. Those who do not fully understand this either try to take over for the Holy Ghost and do everything themselves, politely invite the Spirit to be with them but only in a supporting role, or believe they are turning all their teaching over to the Spirit when, in truth, they are actually just “winging it.” All parents, leaders, and teachers have the responsibility to teach “by the Spirit.”2 They should not teach “in front of the Spirit” or “behind the Spirit” but “by the Spirit” so the Spirit can teach the truth unrestrained.”

What points stood out to you as you studied this talk?  Share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.

FOUR talks left.  Can you believe it??

To anyone who is checking out GCBC for the first time, the goal is to read one General Conference talk a week and discuss it together as an on-line “book club.” If you want to learn more, go here, and join the discussion here each week.

Preparing children for General Conference (+ packet links)

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It’s no surprise to anyone who has visited this blog before that I love General Conference.  I know many of you do, too.  To any readers who might not be familiar with General Conference or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, go here or here to learn more about both.  Today I wanted to share a few ideas of how we can help our children appreciate and look forward to General Conference.

  1. Start now to express your excitement for conference.  Today, on two different occasions in the car, I said, “Only 5 more days until General Conference.  I’m so excited!”  Use the opportunity to bear brief testimony of living prophets and how their messages have made a difference in your life.
  2. As you say family and meal prayers, remind your children to pray for the prophet and apostles as they prepare for their conference talks.  We can ask Heavenly Father to help them be inspired as they speak and to help us be inspired as we listen. Continue reading

The completely non-essential mid-week report

I taught at EFY this week and got back tonight.  The first day of teaching was kind of intimidating because there were only 3 teachers, and the other two besides me (him and him) have both published books and talk tapes and fancy stuff like that, and I– well, I have a blog and I can teach a mean FHE lesson . . . ugh.  Plus I had some technical difficulties with my slide show, and when mentor #1 gave me constructive feedback for my first day of lessons (which I asked for), what he said was absolutely true and stuff I already knew about my teaching style (99.5% doctrinal, .5% entertaining), but because I was already feeling a little insecure, I interpreted it to mean .5% interesting.  I worried that I wasn’t holding the kids’ attention.  He told me today he had a dream last night that I was offended by his feedback and didn’t show up for the second day of classes.  I wasn’t.  I appreciated it.  And I showed up.  It helped me tweak a couple of things for my last two classes that I think made them better.  I bought a smokin’ new outfit to wear for that first day of teaching (smokin’ modest of course).  I loved it until I actually started teaching.  The cute hot pink blouse happened to fit under my armpits in such a way that it was like a giant receptacle for nervous sweating and I had the hugest, wettest armpits all day long which was all kinds of not awesome.

Day two went much better.  I made sure to wear about five levels of clothing plus a blazer to contain my failing antiperspirant.  I taught about two of my favorite topics– missionary work and the Atonement.  The morning devotional given by the aforementioned mentor was about not comparing ourselves to others, which frankly was a tender mercy for me and helped me re-establish my confidence in myself. I was a little more emotional than I like to be (I came home with one of those cry-headaches), but I just can’t help myself when I start talking about stories from my mission, and hello, who can be all straight-faced and emotionless when you’re testifying about the doctrine of the Atonement and how much the Savior loves us?  I got some neat feedback from some of the youth and was able to walk away knowing the Lord had helped me to answer some questions and build some testimonies, so I felt good.  I’m always traumatized by the EFY experience; it stretches me a lot in a good-but-hurting way.  I tell myself that if one or two youth were improved by something I said then all the worry and angst was worth it.

So that’s it.  I will now recover by loading up all my children in a pop-up camper and retreating to the mountains for four days.  Yeah right, if recovery equals taking a worn-out body and mushed-up brain and making them worse.  It’s okay though, some good memories will be made and Matt will let me take a nap every day.  Right, honey?

Thanks for tuning in to the completely non-essential mid-week report.  Carry on.

GCBC Week 5: Gospel Learning and Teaching

“Gospel Learning and Teaching

David M. McConkie

First Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency

 

Today in church, I leaned over to Matt and said, “I miss teaching.  I’m a much better learner as a teacher than I am as a learner.”  I found it interesting to approach this talk simply in my role as a mother, since I don’t currently have the opportunity to teach a class.  I liked his example about directing questions to the handbook, and doing the same in turning our children to the scriptures.  I’d like to do more of that, and it’s obviously easier to do the more familiar I am with the scriptures myself.

The other point that stood out to me the most, because it’s a point I’ve been reminded of in many ways lately because I must need the reminder, was the challenge to ask the Lord’s help to know and meet the needs of my children.

“The promises of the Lord are certain. If you earnestly search the scriptures and treasure up in your minds the words of life, if you keep the commandments with all of your heart and pray for each student, you will enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost and you will receive revelation.”

What stands out to you as you study this talk?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What did the talk make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it, and then join us.

GCBC Week 3: Stay on the Path

“Stay on the Path”
Sister Rosemary M. Wixom
Primary General President
Saturday Morning Session

Sister Wixom’s talk is a great reminder about the sacred responsibility that parents have to anchor themselves and their children on the path of righteousness.  She uses several different phrases that highlight both the urgency and the purpose of spiritual parental guidance.

“If they understand the Plan, and who they are, they will not fear. … We begin to make the plan known to our children when we hold tight to the iron rod ourselves.”

“The world will teach our children if we do not.”

“When we are intentional about holding them and teaching them of Heavenly Father’s plan through prayer and scriptures, they will come to know where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going.”

I was struck by how important it is to be purposeful in our parenting, to take the seemingly meaningless experiences of the day and let them point children toward a better understanding of gospel truths and their own important role in God’s plan.  Her message reminded me of several previous talks about intentional parenting that have inspired me as well.  Perhaps you may want to read some of these this week to enhance your study of Sister Wixom’s talk:

A Prayer for the Children by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

More Diligent and Concerned at Home by Elder David A. Bednar

Watching with All Perseverance by Elder David A. Bednar

Nourishing and Protecting the Family by Sister Julie B. Beck (link to download and print talk)

How about you? What are your favorite moments or quotes from Sister Wixom’s talk?  Is there anything you learned here that you had not considered before?  What stood out to you as you studied it?  And, most importantly, what did it make you feel or want to do?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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(If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club, click here to learn more about it.)