Nostalgia. Not.

I already posted this on Facebook today, but thought I’d immortalize it on the blog. The following is an email my mom forwarded to me today. Matt wrote it to her in August 2004. She had just gone home from helping me after Clark’s birth, and wanted to know how we were holding up now that I was on my own. Grant was 19 months old. Behold:

“I just got a call from Steph. By 9:58 a.m. today, Grant attacked Clark with a strangle throwdown chokehold, off the couch. This led to immediate spankings. Grant sneaked off and ate the nightlight lightbulb from the nursery. Fortunately, he didn’t swallow it. Grant hid behind the recliner while Steph fed Clark. He wrapped the baby monitor cord around his neck. When he started crying, he wouldn’t come over to Steph. She got up and found him ‘plugged’ to the wall, unable to move.

While Grant was destroying something in the nursery, she laid Clark on the bed for a moment. He projectile vomited 5 feet across the new duvet cover. Grant then scattered all the diapers in the linen closet down the hallway. At least 100 of them. For his midmorning snack, Grant tried eating Clean & Clear face lotion.”

All that in about two hours’ time. And this was a typical day. This, my friends, proves that it is a miracle that we are all still alive and that I did not turn to whiskey. And by the way, I don’t ever remember spanking my kids, but after reading this, I don’t feel guilty one bit.

And then, in a conversation with another friend about abhorrent car behavior by children, she asked me to repost this gem from 2008:

Evil Genius

Step aside, Super Nanny. I’ve found the trick to controlling children’s behavior in the car.

Don’t look so surprised. Oh yes I did. And there’s a button for it.

When your children are acting like crazy freaks in the car (yelling, wiggling, kicking, fighting, etc.), just point out the rear defrost button on your dashboard. Warn them that your vehicle came with an eject button that can shoot them out the window. If they act dubious and say, “you’re just kidding, right, mom?,” let them take a close look at the button. There are clearly three lines representing three children being thrown out the window.

defrost button

Then spend the next five minutes in peaceful solitude while your children begin to let this new reality sink in. Imagine the phone calls that will come soon from Super Nanny’s producers. You’re welcome.

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General Conference Scripture Mastery, October 2013

GCSM

Well, we have some new scriptures to study.

Really. Remember general conference? (Wasn’t it so great???) The talks are all available for study now. You can find them here. President Howard W. Hunter said this about general conference:

“Much inspired counsel by prophets, seers, revelators, and other General Authorities of the Church is given during general conference. Our modern-day prophets have encouraged us to make the reading of the conference editions of our Church magazines an important and regular part of our personal study. Thus, general conference becomes, in a sense, a supplement to or an extension of the Doctrine and Covenants. In addition to the conference issues of the Church magazines, the First Presidency writes monthly articles that contain inspired counsel for our welfare” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1997], 212; emphasis added).

Oh, and President Joseph Fielding Smith said this:

When one of the brethren stands before a congregation of the people today, and the inspiration of the Lord is upon him, he speaks that which the Lord would have him speak. It is just as much scripture as anything you will find written in any of these records, and yet we call these the standard works of the Church. We depend, of course, upon the guidance of the brethren who are entitled to inspiration.

Elder Richard G. Scott has talked a lot about the importance of memorizing scriptures. Here’s one of my recent favorites:

If you young people would review a verse of scripture as often as some of you send text messages, you could soon have hundreds of passages of scripture memorized. Those passages would prove to be a powerful source of inspiration and guidance by the Holy Ghost in times of need.

So in light of all this new scripture a.k.a. general conference and “let’s memorize more scriptures” business, I put together some scripture mastery of simple and powerful statements that we’re going to try and study in my family over the next six months. Did you ever notice before that there are always just about the exact number of talks from the four general sessions of general conference that if you study one talk a week, you’ll finish up right in time for the next general conference?  I love that. So here are some quotes from each talk. I chose one to memorize with my kids each week. (Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I think the effort is worthy.)

Elder Robert D. Hales If you will listen [to general conference,] you will feel the Spirit well up within you. The Lord will tell you what He wants you to do with your life.
Elder Ulisses Soares Meekness is vital for us to become more Christlike… Being meek does not mean weakness, but it does mean behaving with goodness and kindness
Sister Carole M. Stephens We all need each other. Sons of God need daughters of God, and daughters of God need sons of God.
Elder Edward Dube In the sight of the Lord, it is not so much what we have done or where we have been but much more where we are willing to go.
Elder David A. Bednar Spiritual and temporal blessings come into our lives as we live the law of tithing.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the …gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
President Boyd K. Packer The scriptures hold the keys to spiritual protection. They contain the doctrine and laws and ordinances that will bring each child of God to a testimony of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson It is your relationship with God, your Heavenly Father, who is the source of your moral power, that you must always put first in your life.
Elder S. Gifford Nielsen We each must develop and carry out our own personal game plan to serve with enthusiasm alongside the full-time missionaries.
Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela Let us reach out to others with faith and with love.
Elder Timothy J. Dyches As we repent and become converted to the Lord, we become whole, and our guilt is swept away.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend.
Elder M. Russell Ballard It is impossible for us to fail when we do our best when we are on the Lord’s errand.
President Henry B. Eyring The miracle of becoming one requires the help of heaven, and it takes time.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks We must not set our hearts so much on the things of the world and aspire to the honors of men that we stop trying to achieve our eternal destiny.
Sister Bonnie Oscarson True conversion occurs as you continue to act upon the doctrines you know are true and keep the commandments, day after day, month after month.
Elder Richard J. Maynes We need to study and learn the fundamental principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then we must do our very best to live them.
Elder Richard G. Scott Remember, repentance is not punishment. It is the hope-filled path to a more glorious future.
President Thomas S. Monson We learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass.
Elder Quentin L. Cook We must always remember that we do not save ourselves. We are liberated by the love, grace, and atoning sacrifice of the Savior.
Elder Neil L. Andersen The priesthood is the power and authority of God given for the salvation and blessing of all—men, women, and children.
Brother David M. McConkie Our first and foremost responsibility is to live so that we can have the Holy Ghost as our guide and companion.
Elder Kevin S. Hamilton As we continually hold fast to the rod by keeping our covenants, we will be strengthened to resist the temptations and perils of the world.
Elder Adrian Ochoa If you ever come across anything that causes you to question your testimony of the gospel, I plead with you to look up. … Let us cherish and strengthen our testimonies every day.
Elder Terence Vinson The Lord wants us to develop the faith that will help us rely upon Him in solving our problems and trust Him.
Elder Russell M. Nelson True change—permanent change—can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Here is a link to download the document if you want to print it out or tweak it: General Conference Scripture Mastery Oct13

I focused on quotes with principles that I thought were meaningful and age-appropriate for my children.

And here is a .pdf you can print out with each quote on one page that you can hang up by your dinner table or in your kids’ rooms or wherever:  Quotes from conference  We like to practice repeating ours at morning and dinner prayers.

So if you’re like me, and are already feeling a little bit of general conference withdrawal, this is one way to keep the messages alive in your heart and home until the next conference rolls around. Enjoy.

Some thoughts on General Conference and the joy I feel to be a Mormon woman

General conference is upon us in two days. Two days, people. Around here this is as exciting as Christmas. The other day, Grant (10) said, “Mom, I wish we could blip ahead 3 days so it would be general conference already.” Me too, son, me too.

I have two things I want to say about general conference because they are the ideas that are burning the brightest in my heart right now every time I think about this biannual event.

1. We have a living prophet! A. LIVING. PROPHET. I just can’t wrap my heart around how blessed I feel to know that our Father in Heaven still communicates with us today. He knows our day, our times, and the circumstances of our lives. He loves us and wants to help us navigate this scary world with the tools that will help us to succeed and to avoid sorrow and sin. And when I say “We” have a living prophet, I don’t just mean the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I mean THE WORLD. Just as in ancient days, God sends prophets and apostles to declare his gospel to the whole world. Just yesterday I read this quote and a “Wow!” went off in my brain:

“In the [several] two-hour sessions … , truths were taught, doctrines expounded, exhortations given, enough to save the whole world from all its ills—and I mean from ALL its ills. A rather complete education in eternal verities was given to millions with a great hope that there were ‘ears a’hearing and eyes a’seeing and hearts a’throbing,’ convinced of truth.” –President Spencer W. Kimball

In the class I teach, we recently read this story about Hugh B. Brown. My students loved the way he logically drew attention to the need for continuing revelation:

President Hugh B. Brown (1883–1975) of the First Presidency described a conversation he had with a member of the British House of Commons and former justice of the Supreme Court of England, who was not a member of the Church, about the need for living prophets and the revelation they receive:

“[I said,] ‘I am submitting to you in all seriousness that it was standard procedure in Bible times for God to talk to men.’

“[He responded,] ‘I think I will admit that, but it stopped shortly after the first century of the Christian era.’

President Hugh B. Brown

President Hugh B. Brown

“‘Why do you think it stopped?’

“‘I can’t say.’

“‘You think that God hasn’t spoken since then?’

“‘Not to my knowledge.’

“‘May I suggest some possible reasons why he has not spoken. Perhaps it is because he cannot. He has lost the power.’

“He said, ‘Of course that would be blasphemous.’

“‘Well, then, if you don’t accept that, perhaps he doesn’t speak to men because he doesn’t love us anymore. He is no longer interested in the affairs of men.’

“‘No,’ he said, ‘God loves all men, and he is no respecter of persons.’

“‘Well, … then the only other possible answer as I see it is that we don’t need him. We have made such rapid strides in education and science that we don’t need God anymore.’

“And then he said, and his voice trembled as he thought of impending war [World War II], ‘Mr. Brown, there never was a time in the history of the world when the voice of God was needed as it is needed now. Perhaps you can tell me why he doesn’t speak.’

“My answer was, ‘He does speak, he has spoken; but men need faith to hear him.’

“Then we proceeded to examine what I may call a ‘profile of a prophet.’ …

“The judge sat and listened intently. He asked some very pointed and searching questions, and at the end of the interview he said, ‘Mr. Brown, I wonder if your people appreciate the import of your message. Do you?’ He said, ‘If what you have told me is true, it is the greatest message that has come to this earth since the angels announced the birth of Christ’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1967, 118, 120; emphasis added; see also The Profile of a Prophet, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Oct. 4, 1955], 4–5, 8; or “The Profile of a Prophet,” Ensign, June 2006, 36–37, 39).

I invite you to tune in to what God is saying in our day by listening to prophets and apostles. General Conference is this weekend, Oct. 5 and 6, and will be broadcast live on KSL, BYUTV (available via Dish and DirectTV), and streamed on mormonchannel.org and lds.org. The four general sessions will be both days at 10 am and 2 pm, Mountain Daylight Time. (1 hour earlier in California, 2 hours later for east coast.) If you just want to tune in to one session, the Sunday morning one is your best bet because the prophet and president of the Church will give his address during that session.

Come listen to living prophets

2. We can get answers to our prayers and the concerns of our hearts as we listen to general conference. One of the reasons I love conference so much is that it recharges my spiritual batteries and prepares me to face the challenges of my life with more courage and determination. In the days leading up to conference, I spend time thinking about and praying about things I want to learn and questions I want to have answered. I can testify that, without exception, I have found what I need in the words of the conference speakers– sometimes the answers come in direct counsel, other times in quiet whisperings in my mind and heart as I listen, but the answers always come. I love this promise by Elder Holland and I believe it with all my heart.

conferenceisforyou-conference[See a two minute video about conference that includes this quote here.]

Finally, I love being a woman and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You may have caught wind of some noise in the news lately of a small faction of LDS women who feel some discontent because the men of the Church are ordained to the priesthood and they are not. I do not wish to disparage them or assume anything evil of them, but I want to state for the record that they represent a small minority among LDS women. The great majority of the millions and millions of women in the Church feel that their contributions, with or without any formal ordination, are equal and significant. We know of our value to God, His kingdom, and His church. We feel the great responsibility of our influence and power both within the Church, in our families, and in our communities. God’s daughters are no weaklings; He knows how to use us and puts great faith in us to further His work. And even though this small faction of dissent is a minority within the Church, they have every right to find answers to their questions, just as I do to my own personal questions. I can only assume that at general conference this weekend, whether directly or indirectly, the mind and will of God on this issue will be revealed as it has been many times in the past*. His doctrines will be reiterated and made clear. I hope that we can all listen with “ears to hear” and look for ways to apply these principles in our lives and personal testimonies. I recently came upon this quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley, and in light of some of these recent conversations, I was struck by how we are each given an equal opportunity to choose to sustain our leaders or not:

When President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) was sustained as the President of the Church, he explained the commitment we make when we sustain our Church leaders: “This morning we all participated in a solemn assembly. That is just what the name indicates. It is a gathering of the membership where every individual stands equal with every other in exercising with soberness and in solemnity his or her right to sustain or not to sustain those who, under the procedures that arise out of the revelations, have been chosen to lead.

“The procedure of sustaining is much more than a ritualistic raising of the hand. It is a commitment to uphold, to support, to assist those who have been selected.  …

“Your uplifted hands in the solemn assembly this morning became an expression of your willingness and desire to uphold us, your brethren and your servants, with your confidence, faith, and prayer” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 70–71; or Ensign, May 1995, 51; emphasis added).

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to hear from our general Relief Society presidency (the women’s organization of the Church) and they reiterated the great power and eternal blessings that come into women’s lives as we make and keep our covenants and participate in temple service. Our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, emphasized the love of our Heavenly Father and testified that it never changes. I personally have felt in my own life the power, the blessings, and the love that He offers to His daughters, and I am proud to be a woman in His Church.

*There are several talks that have addressed the matter of women and the priesthood directly, but this most recent one is my favorite as it concisely summarizes the doctrines and policies, as well as states clearly the importance and value of women in God’s work. It is called “Let Us Think Straight,” by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, given in August of this year. (You can read or watch the talk in its entirety here.)