GCBC Week 13: “Finding Joy through Loving Service” by Elder M. Russell Ballard

Believe it or not, we are already about halfway through the talks.  Crazy, huh?  This talk is one of many from conference that reminded me about the importance of charity.  There seemed to be a lot of emphasis on service.

“Finding Joy through Loving Service” by Elder M. Russell Ballard

May we show our love and appreciation for the Savior’s atoning sacrifice through our simple, compassionate acts of service.

One of my favorite quotes from his talks was in his introduction of his topic of charity:

Brothers and sisters, the gospel of Jesus Christ is simple, no matter how much we try to make it complicated. We should strive to keep our lives similarly simple, unencumbered by extraneous influences, focused on those things that matter most.

This is a principle I am struggling with a little bit right now, and I know that, just as he said, I simply need to focus on “what matters most.”  It’s so easy for those details to get lost, just like the story he told about the gold flakes.

What stood out to you as you read?  In what ways do you think he’s asking us to apply this message?  Share your thoughts and conversation in the comment thread below.  If you’re new to GCBC, check out the club here.

GCBC Week 5: “Opportunities to Do Good” by President Henry B. Eyring

This week’s talk is “Opportunities to Do Good” by President Henry B. Eyring.  My family is going to study it tomorrow in Family Home Evening and try to come up with ideas to seek out more service.  I think we can come up with some ways to make sacrifices and bless others’ lives more than we have been doing.

What do you like about this talk?  What messages and goals stand out to you.  Please share comments in the conversation below.  If this is your first time to General Conference Book Club,  go here to learn more.

Snippets

Today’s post is a random mish-mash of thoughts and announcements and such.

Most importantly, we found out on Saturday that Matt passed the Bar exam.  I can’t begin to express what a hallelujah moment that was for us.  I was dreading gearing up for single parenting again if he didn’t pass, and I did. not. want to.   I mean, it’s been a looong road.  Here’s what our boys looked like when we started the law school journey.

Then, once we’d moved, started school, and Matt was in his first semester of law school taking finals, Natalie was born.

And now, we’re finally done.  Look how our family has grown up (and grown old) since then.  Can’t believe how the days and weeks can be so long, but the months and years just fly past.

Anyway, congrats to Matt and hooray for me.  🙂

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Natalie’s been taking medications for a long time.  Prescriptions are part of our daily routine.  She hates medicine, and every day it’s a bit of a battle.  She actually has a sinus infection this week, so there are even more prescriptions.  She cries and doesn’t want to take her medicine because she’s too cold or feels yucky, and I try to tell her that’s why she needs the medicine.  It will help her fever and help her feel better.  She still hates it.  Today I pulled the medicines out of the cupboard and I saw her sneak from the room out of the corner of my eye.  I called her again and again.  No answer.  Finally I found her in the office hiding behind the couch.  I thought how funny it is that she tries to hide from what’s going to help her get better.  That made me think of this quote from general conference and realize that we’re all as silly as Natalie in some ways.

“Sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop strength without any struggle. But growth cannot come by taking the easy way. . . .  We must be careful that we don’t resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature.”  –Elder Paul V. Johnson

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I can’t really explain this, but lately I’ve had an increased sensitivity to the elderly.  Maybe it’s because Matt’s grandma stayed with us for a little over a month while her husband was in the hospital.  I don’t know, but I’ve just noticed them more around me, and my heart has been drawn out to them.  I imagine that they have great wisdom from life’s experiences and probably many family members and happy memories.  But I wonder how much they struggle with loneliness or sickness, mourn the loss of spouse or loved ones, as well as the loss of their own strength, health and maybe independence.  Yesterday as I left the pharmacy, I saw a man who used to be my Stake president 18 years ago at BYU.  He set me apart for my mission.  One time he called me up out of the audience to bear my testimony at Stake Conference.  He also taught a mission prep class that I attended.  I greeted him, introduced myself and said hello, but as I got back into my van, I had a surge of those memories and I felt a wave of emotion and gratitude.  I wished I’d told him he was an important part of a really developmental stage of my life and my testimony.  I saw him as an 80 year old man now, much thinner and more frail, carrying away a prescription that was probably for him or maybe his ailing wife, and I thought, “maybe he doesn’t know what a great life he has lived and shared.”  I went home and looked him up on whitepages.com and found an address for him.  So I wrote him a letter, and it felt so great, and I hope it will somehow give him a little bit of joy.  Anyway, I’m not telling that story because I want you to think that I did some great thing; I just had a strong feeling and the thought that I should share it, so I did.  But maybe you know someone older whose day could be brightened by a note, a phone call or a visit.  Your kids can help too.  I don’t really know my point, but it’s just been on my mind lately.

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I have a cousin who suffers from chronic migraines.  Matt asked about her the other night at the dinner table, so then my children were curious about her.  We explained that she’s had a really bad headache for literally years.  Grant was shocked and cried out, “Why?!!  Are her kids really annoying?”  I thought that was so funny.  I told her about it and we had a good laugh.  She assured me that if that were the real problem, they would have been gone long ago.  🙂  It also reveals a lot about what Grant understands about their behavior and my well-being.  Smart little whipper-snapper.

Why I might let Clark teach FHE every week

Occasionally I get into a funk where I know exactly what I should be doing in my life, but I feel a little bit too lazy to do it. I try hard to have realistic expectations for myself, so I’m not referring to to-do lists. I’m talking about the basics: Reading my scriptures, praying, serving my family with the right kind of attitude and fulfilling my role as the kind of mother I know the Lord wants me to be. Some days I feel worn down– and just lazy, I guess– and I rationalize that I need a break. I only feel like doing stuff I want to do, not the stuff I should do (which is obviously self-defeating because I’m denying myself the very blessings I need to get back on track).

Clark is 6. Last night he taught our family home evening lesson about service.  He bore his testimony at the end of his lesson:

“So if you know you should do service, but you really don’t want to because you just don’t feel like doing service even if someone tells you to, you still have to do it. Because service equals love.”

And that’s when the Holy Ghost reminded me of a lesson I learned earlier this year: When I struggle, I need to pray to love what the Lord loves. When I see the love, I see the joy.

We discussed the service we do for each other in our family, and Clark said that “if Mom was gone from our family, that would be horrible.  I would starve to death.”  He told us all to draw a picture of service and then we showed them to each other.  This is what my husband drew:

He said (pointing to the right side), “This is mommy putting socks in the washing machine,” and (then pointing to the left) “This is Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.”  The kids all giggled at his artwork, but I understood what he meant, and I love him for it.

“Follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.” (3 Nephi 31:12)

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

So, Clark pretty much got it right, didn’t he?  Service equals love.

GCBC Week 6: Reflections on a Consecrated Life

“Reflections on a Consecrated Life”
D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes. True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes (see John 17:1, 4; D&C 19:19). In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny.”

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.