O, General Conference. How do I love thee? Let Me Count the Ways!

I’m a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it.

Since we get General Conference a week late here in Sydney, Australia, a lot of the surprise is taken out of some of the more notable and memorable talks, but it never changes the impact of the words when I hear them for the first time as the speakers have intended. For the past week, I’ve seen Pins of all sorts of memorable quotes taken from the most recent Conference, the ones that have had the strongest impact on people, and let’s admit it, the ones that sound really pretty. As I have looked at these quotes with  some of the disappointment a child might feel when they realize that it’s actually their parents pretending to be Santa, I have also anticipated hearing them in their entirety, in context, as part of a whole.

Let me just tell you that I was not disappointed. Last Sunday morning (I’m ashamed to admit) that I went to bed at almost 4am because I was attending to some stuff that could not wait until morning (even though technically it was morning – you know what I mean. Yeah?) Anyhoo, as I (literally) crawled into bed, I took a cursory glance at Facebook and saw the announcement on the new ages for missionaries on several friends’ walls. A little deflated that part of the surprise was ruined, I nevertheless celebrated the news. When I walked into the chapel yesterday, the Prophet had just begun speaking. Moments later, he made the announcement. Tears ran freely down my face as though I had never known this news was coming. The Spirit bore such a powerful witness to me that this was, indeed, the will of the Lord for the furthering of His work on this earth. How grateful I was for the witness of the Spirit of the authority and keys of one Thomas Spencer Monson. With all my heart and soul I sustain him as the Lord’s Living Oracle.

This singular event set the stage for the rest of the Conference for me. Each talk left me almost breathless, as they seemed to share a running theme. I couldn’t believe how similar and powerful each of the talks were. My daughter, Zoe, was taking her notes next to me and as we discussed the impressions we’d received, it was enlightening to know that even though there were vast similarities in the things that had our attention, we had also received specific revelations for the questions we had taken with ourselves to this Conference.

Was is just me or were the topics of service, conversion and submitting our will to the Lord, the most prevalent topics? If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that they had all co-ordinated their talks!

Some very poignant questions were posed to us at this General Conference. Some of the ones that had a marked impact on me were:

  • Do I understand the first and greatest commandment?
  • How did the Savior teach?
  • What better place to ‘first observe then serve’ than in the home?
  • Would I sell my soul for     (insert choice of short-comings)   ?

…and many many more.

I can honestly say that I left that last session feeling completely rejuvenated and raring to go. I cannot thank my Heavenly Father enough for the enrichment to my life that comes from attending General Conference. I thank my God for a living prophet and for other moral, intelligent and honorable men that lead us in these Latter Days. I sustain them wholeheartedly and with all the conviction of my soul. Indeed it has been, a ‘beautiful, bright, millenial day’.

What questions did you leave General Conference with? What talks made the greatest impact on you?

p.s. Is it weird that I’m having withdrawals already? 🙂

Covenants and Cake

For the past few months, my little girl has been preparing for her baptism. When asked what she was most excited about for her eighth birhtday, her prompt and enthusiastic response was always, ‘Getting baptized!’

In the lead up to the day, we talked a lot about the Plan of Salvation and our place in it, and the gospel of Jesus Christ – Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. In all of our interaction, she demonstrated so much maturity and awareness that there was no doubt in my mind of the presence of the Holy Ghost in all these interactions. I kept marvelling at how ready she was.

On the day, which was Saturday, 22nd September, she woke up so giddy with happiness that she was almost literally bouncing off the walls! Her happiness was so contagious that I felt like I was floating on clouds, and although there were things that threatened to derail that happiness, I felt consistently buoyed by the sheer joy radiating from her. She could not stop smiling!

This smile is so characteristic of how she was looked that entire day. And I love how the sun’s rays are casting a spotlight on her in this picture.

As we walked into the bathroom to change her into the dress she would wear into the font, she exclaimed, ‘It feels like a dream, but I know it’s real!’ I swept her into a hug because I knew what she meant, except for me, the delight was in knowing my child had a love for and a testimony of Jesus Christ.

She walked into the font (she later told me the water was so cold that it gave her brain-freeze but it didn’t matter because she was so happy!) I went around to watch the ordinance. As I watched her, I was filled with a powerful feeling that she was at the right place at the right time and I felt the Spirit bear an undeniable witness of my Heavely Father’s approval. That moment had to be the highlight of my whole day – that and the squealing hug my little girl gave me when she came out of the font!

She had chosen to sing ‘When I Am Baptized’ at her baptism. She sang with such conviction that I had goosebumps. Her sweet, angelic voice carried to my heart the simple message that a child of God was on her way to live the life he had sent her to earth to live, and it began that day with the very first covenants she would make in this life.

My kids and I have always loved going to baptisms. I jokingly call us ‘baptism groupies’. But seriously, there is such a sweet spirit present during a baptism that I just can’t articulate.

When the congregation sang the closing hymn, ‘A Child’s Prayer’ I was so overwhelmed by the Spirit again. The songs we’d selected had special meaning to us.  They were the songs I’d sung to her as I had put her to sleep as a baby and the songs that she would sing to me in her baby lisp when I would stay up with her on the nights she was sick. How grateful I am for those memories, for music, for motherhood.

The image she had chosen for a cake held a lot of significance for her.

Rainbows, raspberries, Little Ponies and mother-and-child affection all held significance for her.

At the end of that day, I realized that it was one of those days where I could truly say, ‘My cup runneth over.’ I’m so proud of my little girl for making such an important decision with such conviction. I’m so grateful for the example she has set. I’m so grateful for generous friends. Most of all, I’m grateful for covenants and cake and how they all came together on this one perfect day for one perfect little girl.