i received an email that was a huge surprise to me a few weeks ago... i was asked to speak at the saturday night session of our stake conference! totally unexpected, but i was thrilled to be asked. i was given a topic of how i as a mother, sister and daughter in the gospel could implement the principles in the evenings theme, which was based on two talks:
reducing and simplifying by elder lynn g. robbins and
good, better, best by president dallin h. oaks
sounds like a mouthful right? but it wasn't too bad. i felt very strongly about revisiting a relief society lesson i had given last year and it worked perfectly in with the theme. so for those of you who missed it, here you go!
Good evening brothers and sisters. What a lovely surprise it was to be assigned to speak this evening! I have been asked to focus my talk around how I, as a mother, sister and daughter in the gospel can implement the principles from the talks “reducing and simplifying” and “good, better, best.”
As a teenager I had a teacher who used to recite a little saying over and over, which stuck in my head. It was the first thing that sprung to mind when I received my speaking assignment: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is your best.” It’s something that I’ve kept in my mind, hoping to be able to continuously improve myself.
When I was called as our ward Relief Society President almost two years ago, I wondered how the heck I was supposed to do all that and be a wife and a mother. Then came the sweet words of reassurance as I was set apart in my calling, that I was first and foremost a mother. That my responsibility would be first to my children and my home and that everything else would fall into place. Guess what?… It HAS!
President Gordon B. Hinckley pleaded that we “work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.” Sister Joy D Jones the Primary General President said, “Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate.” As parents, the very best thing we can do, is to quite simply, “fill our lives with light!”
When asked what they do, many women in todays world will respond with some variation of “I’m just a mother” Excuse me? JUST a mother? There is no such thing as JUST a mother. As women, we have an opportunity not given to all. To lead and guide, teaching our children to love the Lord and to follow his example, allowing them to find true happiness in this life and the life to come.
In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the First Presidency called on parents “to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles. The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place in this God-given responsibility.” They further declared that “however worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.”
I can speak from the viewpoint of a mother and a woman in the gospel, but so that my talk is relevant to all, in his talk “Good, Better, Best from 2007, President Dallin H Oaks said “I ask you men, particularly, to pause and take stock of yourselves as husbands and fathers and heads of households. Pray for guidance, for help, for direction, and then follow the whisperings of the Spirit to guide you in the most serious of all responsibilities, for the consequences of your leadership in your home will be eternal and everlasting. We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”
Simplifying our lives, increases the probability of achieving the most important things in life—the best things. In 2nd Nephi 25:4, Nephi said, “My soul delighteth in plainness”. While Nephi was referring to keeping writing simple, the virtue of simplicity will help us to avoid cluttering our lives. One who has mastered the virtue of simplicity defends the best things in life from the intrusion of too many good, but unnecessary things.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf also spoke of the wisdom of simplicity. “Sometimes,” he said, “the truth may just seem too straightforward, too plain, and too simple for us to fully appreciate its great value. So we set aside what we have experienced and know to be true in pursuit of more mysterious or complicated information. Focus on the basic doctrines, principles, and applications of the gospel. I promise that God will guide and bless you on your path to a fulfilling life, and the gospel will definitely work better for you.”
Last year I gave a lesson in our ward Relief Society encouraging the sisters to simplify. To go “back to basics” and to focus on the most important things in their lives, to allow us to better live the gospel. I feel as though with our busy lives these days, time is simply flying by and sometimes we forget the simple things we should be doing. The idea for the lesson came whilst watching the Sunday morning session of the April 2017 general conference, during Elder L. Whitney Claytons talk, “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it!” He recalled an experience speaking with a bishop who had suggested that members of his ward struggling with every day trials and issues do simple things to help, but that they thought the things he spoke of didn't apply to them! He then spoke about how Naaman was told to do something so simple to be healed, but that he didn't want to do it, because it seemed too easy! It really stuck with me and I felt that I should focus on those "simple and basic things"
So what are some things we need to do in the gospel? I am sure you all know the standard answers to every question in primary.
READ YOUR SCRIPTURES
GO TO CHURCH
ATTEND THE TEMPLE
PAY YOUR TITHING
HAVE FAMILY HOME EVENING
KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS
and my husbands favourite, BE GOOD TO YOUR MOTHER. This is always a good idea.
So if I may, let’s briefly cover them. I feel like writing these down a year ago and focusing on them changed things for me. I truly believe that by simplifying our lives to ensure we do these little things, our lives will gain greater insight and purpose and we will draw closer to our Father in Heaven day by day.
We all know what prayer is. It is our method of communication with our Father in Heaven. We can speak and he will listen. We can pour out the desires of our hearts, our gratitude for our blessings and draw closer to him. As parents, we can help safeguard our children by arming them morning and night with the power of family prayer. Children are bombarded every day with the evils of the world. We can protect our children from daily worldly influences by fortifying them with the powerful blessings that result from family prayer. Family prayer should be a non-negotiable priority in your daily life.
I was told once, “If you are too busy to say your prayers and read your scriptures, you are busier than God ever intended you to be!”
2. SCRIPTURE STUDY
We are forever being reminded of the importance to daily study the scriptures. Our beloved prophet President Monson’s very last instruction to the world took the time to remind us of the importance of studying the scriptures, in particular, the Book of Mormon.
He said “The importance of having a firm and sure testimony of the Book of Mormon cannot be overstated. We live in a time of great trouble and wickedness. I maintain that a strong testimony of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and of His gospel will help see us through to safety. If you are not reading the Book of Mormon each day, please do so. If you do not have a firm testimony of these things, do that which is necessary to obtain one. It is essential for you to have your own testimony in these difficult times, for the testimonies of others will carry you only so far.
Elder Richard G Scott said: Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!
3. GO TO CHURCH
This is pretty self-explanatory. Church is not a museum for saints, it is a hospital for sinners. Go to church not for others, but for yourself. It enables us to renew our covenants each week by partaking of the sacrament and allows us to learn more of the gospel and the teachings of the Saviour. If for any reason you cannot attend every week, go as often as you can. The Lord knows our hearts and understands our circumstances.
4. ATTEND THE TEMPLE
Go to the temple. We all know there is no more peaceful place on this earth than in the House of the Lord. If you don’t have a temple recommend, qualify to get one. When you have a recommend, use it often. Make it a goal to have a recommend at all times, even if you cannot make it to the temple for any reason. Schedule a regular time to be in the temple, for example, once within each calendar month. Do not let anyone, or anything prevent you from being there.
Raise your children to love the house of the Lord. Ensure they know where you are headed. Take them to the grounds so they also become familiar with the temple, talk about it in Family Home Evening. One of the most wonderful experiences of my life was taking my daughter to visit the Salt Lake City Temple last year and watching her stare up at that amazing building with pure awe in her eyes.
5. PAY AN HONEST TITHE
The basic purpose for tithing is to provide the Church with the means needed to carry on His work. The blessing to the giver is an ancillary return, and that blessing may not be always in the form of financial or material benefit. The scriptures tell us in Malachi 3:10 that by faithfully paying our tithing, “the very windows of heaven will be opened unto us, to pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
I can testify to the blessings that come from tithing. My husband and I certainly are not rich, but we have always had enough. I know it is from faithfully paying our tithing, even during the hard times.
One Sunday each month Latter-day Saints observe a fast day. On this day we neither eat nor drink for two consecutive meals. All members who are physically able should fast. When we fast each month, the Lord asks us to help those in need. One way we do this is by giving through the proper priesthood authority the money we would have spent on food during our fast. We should give as generously as we are able. Through our fast offerings we become partners with the Lord in assisting with the needs of our less-fortunate brothers and sisters.
7. HAVE FAMILY HOME EVENING
There are so many awful things in the world today, beating down our doors and trying to sneak their way in, to destroy our homes and families. To strengthen your family and cultivate peace, remember this tool: weekly family home evening. Decide that on Monday (or another appropriate night) your family will be together at home for the evening.
Sister Linda S. Reeves boldly declared: “I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes.”
8. KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS
There are 10 of them. Some rules and regulations if you will, that God gave us to make sure we are safe. I am sure you are familiar with. It’s not that hard. I often like to refer back to something a Sunday School teacher in my teens said, “They are called the 10 commandments for a reason. If God wasn’t that fussed over them, he would have called them the 10 suggestions.”
I am certainly not suggesting that all of life’s struggles will disappear simply by simplifying your life and doing these things. We came to mortal life precisely to grow from trials and testing. Challenges help us become more like our Father in Heaven, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to endure those challenges. I testify that as we actively come unto Him, we can endure every temptation, every heartache and every challenge we face.
Brothers and sisters I urge you to simplify your lives, focus on and do the things that will bring you closer to your Father in Heaven so that the harder things become easier… and the difficulties in your lives seem bearable. Please do what you can, when you can, and build yourself up as you follow the Saviour and fill your lives with the light of the gospel.
I know of the truthfulness of the gospel. I know that blessings come to those who come unto Christ and allow him to shape their lives. I am truly grateful to be a wife and a mother and to have the gospel to guide the way I go about it. I would be lost without the simple guidelines that our Father in Heaven has given us and am so grateful to know that I never have to do this alone.