Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Get Ready For It - Women's Conf Day Two!

So I believe that my last post (the first day of women's conference) is the most commented one so far, which is amazing because it is one of the longest and, in my opinion, least entertaining posts so far. I mean, there were no embarrassing faux-pas, no blood (or swingsets) involved, no kids saying/doing anything funny/mean/stupid, etc. None of the cheap tricks I normally use to ensure readership. Here's my theory: I threw down the proverbial gauntlet and issued a challenge, and you were compelled to read my conference report out of some innate need to prove your manliness. And then you commented, just so that everyone knows that you are manly men (and manly women, of course.) So congratulations on the new manly hair on your chest and great big muscles, your new-found ability to read maps and sadly, not being able to find things you lost in the house. And you can rest easy in the knowledge that with your new manliness you can beat up the other readers of my blog that chose the girly way out, and couldn't finish the whole thing. Way to go!

Here is the second installment of women's conference. I wrote these notes a little clearer, so I could transfer them whole to this blog, which means this is going to be incredibly long. Good luck, and may the force be with you.

Day two started out with a headache - maybe my brain wasn't used to all of this spirituality and it couldn't handle it all. Well, I was not to be deterred. I got to the conference really close to on time (which is still late, but not late enough to beat myself up over) and made it to a seat on the wrong side of the Marriott Center, so that I was staring at everyone's backs. But I was so high up anyhow that it's not like even if I was facing their fronts that I could see facial expressions or anything. They could stick their tongues out and do a big 'neener-neener' and I'd only know from watching on the Jumbotron.

I can't remember if someone spoke before Julie B. Beck, the R.S. General President, but I started writing down my own thoughts before I had any notes from her talk. Here's what I started with, then on to Sis. Beck's talk.

Sometimes I think that we do as much as we can in order to prove how much the church means to us. Instead of making our devotion being shown by our actions, we need to focus on our inward focus of our spiritual commitment and relationship with God. Our service in the church is more about how serving others can change our hearts, not about getting a job done.

It’s not about staying home with my kids so that I can call myself a stay at home mom but so that my time at home can benefit my kids and that I can benefit myself through service. Service! That is an amazing concept - it is service and serving my family that will cause my growth, not just the fact that my body was home during the day.

Julie B. Beck
If our kids go to school, we have the responsibility to strengthen our school so it is a fortification for our children.

Alma 48:7 - 10 Alma prepares his people for attack from the Lamanites, and it gives a good model for how we should prepare our homes and families for attacks from Satan.
1. preparing the minds of the people
2. strengthening the armies of the nephites
3. erecting small forts
4. putting greatest concentration of men where they were the weakest.

Story of Mary and Martha - we can do all the busy stuff, or we can focus on the thing that will never be taken away from us. The work of the gospel is half ours; our job is to influence, which is better than managing. We have to create places of resort, small forts because our enemy is deceitful and determined. Prioritize, do what we can, we have a job to do.

I didn't take a lot of notes during her talk, but she quoted a lot of scriptures. My favorite part was the small forts - make my home a small fort that is safe for my family to dwell in, strengthen them, prepare ourselves for the attack, and focus on our weakest areas, whatever they are. I loved this concept.

"Feed thou our Soul" Melanie Ashton - Class on prayer

Pres. Kimball said remember is the most important word, because when you remember how much the lord has done for you you know how much he loves you.

Doesn't the lord wish we had the overwhelming desire to get back to our heavenly home? We can find ourselves in a lockdown condition when we fail to take advantage of inspiration and revelation from the lord.

When you choose the gospel of Jesus Christ you get rid of a lot of worldly choices. You only have to choose once to live the principles. You should choose to pray, it would help you narrow down your choices of good, better or best.

You can't make a withdrawal without having made a deposit. When you want an answer to your prayer, how much oil have you put in your lamp?

Thank for blessings, seek inspiration, help with a goal for that day, then at night check back. He would be pleased that you included him in your day.

Pray when you are alert, awake, unhurried.

The more you pour yourself out in personal prayer the more you will know there is someone on the other end. He knows you but you must be willing to come to him in humility.

Isaiah 48:15-16
Lamen3: 25 - wait for him

1John 4:18 - fear is torment

What about when you don't get an answer? If you are living righteously and acting with trust, act on your problem. The lord will give you the stupor of thought or a feeling of peace. He won't let us go too long without letting us know.

Preach My Gospel - ch 4 - how to recognize the spirit

Jacob 3:1-2

Prayer should be the first response and it will be when we remember.

After we pray then seek the lord's will. Prayer is the act when we communicate our will and the lord's will. Prayer is a form of work; some work is required to receive blessings allotted to us. (Bible dictionary)

Ezra 7:10
We have to prepare our hearts, and then when we receive direction, we must act on it.

Choose to pray then commit to obey.

Don't pray for tasks equal to our power, pray for power equal to your tasks.

2nd speaker - Shelley Davies

In her home, every day she asked her children to tell her their “happies and sads” – some happy things and sad things that happened to them today.

Who cares about your happies and sads? When was the last time you were in a genuine encounter with your heavenly father? Do we get so involved in the daily tracings of our life that we forget who is there, ready to save us, ready to take us? Have your prayers ever been repetitive?

3 n 24:7

Weariness, laziness, self-solutions, guilt stops us from praying.

Exercise takes work
Be thou humble and the lord thy god will lead thee by the hand
Dc 112:18

If he is going to lead me by the hand, I have to reach up.

There is an innate desire in us to connect. Even better than connecting with other people is our desire to connect with heaven.

Proper stretching to heaven strengthens our knee muscles and lengthens our reach

1. Go to gratitude well
2. Remember relationship
3. Offer and offering for others
4. Wait on his will

Spells “GROW”

1. Go to gratitude well. My soul doth magnify the Lord. Pray a prayer just of gratitude. Anger bitterness, jealousy, the ‘why mes?’, the ‘I wants’ spill out as the heart enters the waters of gratitude, awe, thanksgiving, love take the place. Sadness is replaced with new purpose. The lord will anoint your eyes to see his hand in everything.

2. Psalm of Nephi.
Intertwining of lives and relationships began in the pre existence.
He knows us, he knows our names, our struggles, the desired of our hearts, and we are intertwined eternally. He knows our voice.

Nothing will startle us more than we pass through the veil and realize how much we know him, how we know his voice.

Pause to remember, picture a loving father, and then talk to him. Be specific and honest will give us specific and honest counsel.

In our self-putdown sessions we obscure who we really are. (WOW!!)

3. Make an offering for others. Enos is an example of praying for others.

A cleansing request to forgive. A need for understanding. A prayer for his power on their behalf. A prayer that lands us on their doorstep.

4. Wait on his will.
Aligning our will with the father, praying to know what to pray for. The miracle is in the fact that god gave us an answer.

Isaiah 30:41
Run and not be weary etc

"I'll Follow Him In Faith” Carmel and Lloyd Newell

Establishing spiritual patterns in the home through family home evening - Carmel Newell

If for no other reason, we hold fhe because the prophet tells us to.

1. Prepare
Do you spend as much time planning for your family’s success as you do with your social or work life?

Here are some easy resources:
-Lessons for church callings
-Church magazines
-Gospel doctrine reading assignment
-Faith in god, duty to god, for strength of youth
-Preach my gospel manual
-Elderly family or ward members, have fhe with them
-Church website
-Scripture reading

2. Be Creative
Give it a little thought and prayer, most of this stuff you're already doing.

We know our family better than anyone; we know what they need, their weakness and strength.

Create a pleasing environment, clean, nice smells, pretty.

3. Teach Doctrines
Instead of preparing a talk, prepare to speak. Prepare our hearts to teach instead of preparing what to say and then force feeding it to our kids. We need to have a soft heart and a correct attitude in order to teach at fhe.

2 Nephi - we teach of Christ, we talk of Christ, we prophesy of Christ. It is the best example of what to teach at fhe.

With so little time and so few opportunities what words of doctrine from me will fortify them against the attacks of their faith which are sure to come? (Eyring talk)

4. Who should teach?
Not lectures, designed to promote discussion and participation by everyone.

Teaching no greater call
Testify in family night

5. Play together
Opportunity for application of principles taught.

The best activities don't have to cost money or take a lot of time, but they will make the best memories.

Lloyd K. Newell

Building Spiritual Patterns in the Home

The effort is more important than the outcome.

The greatest job in the world is to build a home - the spiritual environment.

Spiritual patterns:
Scripture study
Family prayer
Family councils
Temple blessings
Sacred music
Paying tithing

Spiritual Patterns:
They fortify during trial
Strengthen against temptation
Evolve over time
Passes from one generation to the next
Help define who we are
Give us a glimpse into joys of eternal family life

Can unite family members
Give sense of stability, security, identity and cohesion; calm us during struggles and challenging times.

Need not be burdensome. Try watching kids act out scripture stories

Barriers to creating spiritual patterns:
Lack of immediate compensation or reward
Wonder if children are benefiting from efforts
Unrealistic expectations
Forgetting or too busy
Paralyzed by unreal picture of perfection in other families
Previous failed attempts

If all of our problems were hung on a line, you’d take yours and I'd take mine. (I don’t remember the point he was making with this, but what a great quote!)

Children respond when they see parents trying, doing their best.

Overcoming barriers:
Persistence is key
Gain a testimony of spiritual pattern
Work ahead of distraction
Make a specific plan
Involve all family members in the process

Making time for private religiosity along with church activities – private religiosity is more effective for teens

Lds youth view spiritual patterns in the family as a security and strength

No matter the outcome of our sincere efforts, the lord blesses us for trying

What we are becoming because of our efforts and desires is how we will be judged. He will make up the difference.

The lord's way of love and acceptance is better than Satan’s way of force and coercion, especially in raising teenagers.

Establishing spiritual patterns can help make our homes peaceful, joyful, and sanctuaries from the world.

Our families will be armed with spiritual power and protection.

We can't use outcome-based evaluation. We can't be judged on our children’s actions, just on our own efforts.

Musicandspokenword.org has all spoken word messages.

Third Class - A Partnership of Equals

One of the mistakes we make is going right at the thing we think is going to make us happy - we are never going to have a perfect marriage if we aim at the perfect marriage. We have to have service, righteousness, and doing the right thing at that moment. Turning our will over to God, the only thing that is yours to give and you can actually give to him.

What are the primary enemies of equal partnership?

Self doubt

The opposite is temporary, that covenants are not eternal.

We are never harsh with each other in our home.

Each harsh word or misunderstanding dragging each person down. Causes you to say why try?
I can’t do it (exercise, study scriptures, temple attendance) so why try?

If we buy one more thing, we'll be happy. Trying to satisfy each urge as if it would make them happy. Addiction to material goods. Addiction causes equality to end because both must avoid self-indulgence. Addiction to failure has so much self-doubt that it turns into an indulgence.

This show isn't that bad, this book’s language is bad but I like this, I deserve these shoes, why not?

So focused on personal problems that they were able to more forward in their relationship. So involved in their own problem don't look at anyone else's problems. I hate that boss, my husband won't help with the kids, I never got what I deserved, my husband is gone all day Sunday, why me?

Instead of self-doubt, why try, say “I can do it”
Self-indulgence, why not, “I can take control”
Self absorption, why me, “I can forget myself”

We must turn to the Lord, place our faith in the savior, and can have the atonement heal our spirits.

Both must give everything to the lord, so they can give everything to each other. How?

1. Say what He wants said
2. Do What He wants done
3. Sing redeeming love

Say what He wants said. The words he puts into our hearts, our relationship will flourish. Speak with tongues of angels, conversation that will lift and edify our hearts.

Unfortunately, you're on your own to come up with examples of "Do what he wants done" and "Sing redeeming love" because this was the point at which I was about to faint with hunger so I left to track down some food. Everyone kept coming into the Marriott Center with salads from Costa Vida (a Chipotle-type of Mexican restaurant) and it looked so good. I left my stuff at my seat, figuring I'd only be gone five minutes or so, and got in line at the stand. This official BYU lady then turns around and says, pointing at the person in front of me in line, "She's the last one!" They were closing, and had been attempting to close for 30 minutes, and the lady had kept letting 'one more person' through the line, but I was the last straw, I guess.

I'm usually pretty good when I miss a meal, especially when I'm good and distracted like today, but I was so disappointed to find all of the Marriott Center food places closed, that I almost started crying. Sign of low blood sugar, anyone? Yikes. I also had a really hard time deciding what to do next - walk somewhere else to get food? But what about my stuff which I left by my seat? How far am I going to have to walk? Should I just walk to my car and go home? But what about my stuff? I even went so far as to start walking one direction, get about 100 yards, stop, turn around and walk back to the Marriott Center, turn around, etc. I finally decided to walk to the Wilkinson Student Center where they have a great big food court. It is approximately the distance between Winter Quarters and the Salt Lake Valley, or at least it felt that way when it's the end of two really long days and I haven't eaten since the snickers bar at 11:00. I ended up grabbing some taco bell, hiking back to my seat, and collapsing there about ready to die from hunger and exhaustion. I know, you'd think I'd just run a marathon, but given my current level of inactivity, I almost had.

The nice, and not unexpected, thing was that my stuff was all still there. I didn't expect it to be stolen, but I could have seen someone moving it so they could sit there. The previously empty seats next to me now had three ladies sitting in them, who were just as friendly as could be. They must have thought I was an absolute pig for the way I scarfed down my food, but it didn't occur to me to attempt to restrain myself until afterwards.

If you want an extra strong dose of the spirit, be in a room when 20,000 go dead silent and rise because the prophet of the lord just entered. I was sitting near the top of the stadium and didn't see him enter, but knew the second he came in. Someone must have been watching for him. What if no one had seen him enter? What if he had walked in silently and no one noticed? Someone had to be the one to see him walk in first and stand up so everyone else would also stand. When the time comes that Christ comes again, will I be one who sees him come in, or will I not notice until everyone around me stands and blocks my view? Worse yet, what if I'm the one who keeps sitting and talking, not knowing the power and majesty of the one who is in our presence? I need to prepare my family to be watching for Christ’s coming, so we can be the ones who let others know he has come.

Pres. Monson

I wonder how many peanut butter sandwiches have been prepared for the men to eat while you have been gone?

Washington Irving poem 'that one is woman' who takes more joy from other's joy than their own, hides other's infirmities better than their own.

Common threads that weave through all our lives:

1. Each one is living a life filled with much to do. Don't let the important things in life pass you by. Find joy in the journey now, instead of looking forward to the day when you can do it all. There is no tomorrow if you don't do something today. Don't procrastinate what matters the most. Don't save something for a special occasion, every day of your life is a special occasion. Use crystal glasses and wear new clothes to the grocery store if you want to. Every day say to yourself that today is a special day.

Try to keep the list of things you regret missing short. Childhood won't last long. The bitterest tears shed over graves is for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. Harriet Beecher Stowe.

2. Adversity
Why would the Lord allow you to go through the trials you have? It’s not difficult to be happy on those perfect days, but life wasn't meant to be easy or always perfect. We learn through heart breaking challenges and difficult choices.

To finish life's race means enduring challenges to the end of life itself. Like stones in a tumbler, we can become more beautiful from the things we suffer, endure, and overcome.

With enduring comes a willingness to press forward.

No pain that we suffer is wasted. It helps us learn patience, fortitude, and humility. (Orson f. Whitney)

The stronger the wind, the stronger the trees, the further the sky the taller the tree. Poem.

3. Service, love, kindness to others.

We feel inadequate and ineffective because we can't do all we think we need to do. Instead reflect on the things we do.

I was happy walking in the sunshine after the conference. It felt so nice to have the weight of life lifted from my shoulders. Over and over again these two days I was told, let it go, don't try to be perfect, don't feel guilty, set priorities and arrange your life so you are putting your energy and time into things that will bring you closer to those priorities.

I sat with a group of ladies during pres. Monson's talk that had traveled from California and Colorado to be here. Their take on the conference was that it focused a lot on how we can be an influence for good, how we have to be an influence because the world will be too and you know what the world is going to influence our family with. I definitely got a lot of that as well, but I think we also take from it what we need, and I think for me that was priorities. How am I spending my time?

It was poignant to realize that the badge of honor doesn't come with being a stay at home mom - to comes to any mom who, working or not, devotes their life to being an influence, teaching and training their kids, sacrificing the non-essential for the essential, no matter how fun the essential is. I kind of thought that I got special kudos for giving up a career. But that was just one decision and it doesn’t mean that then whatever I do with my time will automatically be right.

I also realized that there is not one thing about my life that if I just got rid of it, I'd be set. Ryan is not a big TV watcher, so he would always get on me for how much TV I watched. The thing is, though, TV isn't the problem. Neither is reading blogs on the Internet, playing solitaire, listening to my ipod, working on scrapbooks, or doing crossword puzzles. These are all symptoms of my problem, not the problem itself.

I think the real problem is that I am always looking for something to fill my time. If there is a lull, I'm turning on the TV. If I have free time, I'm working on a hobby. If the kids are playing quietly without me, I'm doing something without them. I multitask. If I could get an ipod surgically implanted, just for convenience, I might consider it. None of these things take a lot of energy, and they can be fit into a day surrounded by all the things that have to get done. But they don't just fill in time; they fill every nook and cranny of my day like melted butter on an English muffin.

There's not a minute that goes by that I’m not doing something - even if it's as minor as lying on the couch and listening to an audio book or doing a crossword while I'm waiting for the next women's conference class to start. I don't like time that's not filled, so I fill it with fluff and time wasters and feel like it's not a bad thing because I'm not doing something bad with my time, but I'm also not doing something good with my time either. Reading one more article on the Internet is not going to turn me into a wise and informed citizen. Watching one more episode of House is not going to get me closer to a medical degree. I fill time with things that are not going to get me any progress on my priorities.

Here's where some serious reflection will do me some good. What do I do with this knowledge? I know for an absolute fact that I could banish the Internet, TV, and ipod and I will just find something else to fill the time. Bad habits aren't dropped in a vacuum - they are only replaced by other habits. Part of me knows what that should be - I should sit on the floor and play with my kids. I should invite them to cook dinner with me. I should read to them and color with them and get craft projects out for them to do. I should read my scriptures more and pray more and meditate more. But all of those things sound like the 'perfect mom' concept that I also need to let go of. I can't do it all, and the idea of doing all that is overwhelming.

Regardless, I feel good. My spiritual bucket has been refilled, I have some reserves now to draw on when things are frustrating. I have a good perspective on life and family, and my only hope now is to make this last as long as possible. I read a quote today that said, Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be
in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. I am feeling that right now, and I'm hoping I can make that last. Otherwise, they're going to have to hold Women's Conference more often. (Although I doubt you stalwart blog-readers could handle that!)


COMcewens said...

Another great post! Your notes contain SO much more detail then amy of ours did! Thanks for posting these!!!

Kim said...

reading about women's conference was very uplifting and really helped me to feel the spirit and connect with things that I need to do in my own life. Thanks!

rachel said...

Well, Emily, I think I just need to print these notes and read them from time to time. I was feeling frustrated today, and this helped remind me of what is important. Thanks for posting these. There are a lot of good quotes in there!