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LIFESTYLE

FOUR YEARS.

four years.

Rarely have things gone as planned. We have had trials after trials after trials. He is the Best Anniversary Gift Giver…

{Year one -a gun
Year two – moved to Texas (my home)
Year three – our little Diesel puppy}

We both almost had our fourth anniversary gift in the form of a little one. But shortly after moving to Austin & an emergency room trip that gift was postponed. We’ve faced hard times but I know that the ones we faced early on helped build our relationship. We’ve faced some similar trials & some we’re new to, but there is No one I would rather have by my side through it all. We can handle Anything because of how we together have learned to take on trials. I have cried harder than I’ve ever cried, laughed harder than I’ve ever laughed (most of those being at the same time lol), & I have Never been as happy or whole without my honey. I can’t give enough thanks to my Heavenly Father for putting such an extraordinary loving, God fearing, hardworking man in my life. Not to mention one who loves guns, Texas & puppies as much as I do!! I Love you Darlin Happy Anniversary!!

MY FAITH

CONFERENCE COUNTDOWN – SESSION 1

How is your countdown to conference going?

Here is my recap & some things I loved from the first session (Saturday morning session of the October 2014 General Conference).

WELCOME TO CONFERENCE- {President Thomas S. Monson}

Most people skip over this & I intended to as well but as per my goal I was going to read every bit of conference. So I did. As I read over the welcome President Monson gave, it confirmed my gratitude in the speakers & just this great conference where we have a rare opportunity to hear from an inspired group of individuals. As President Monson states

…All who have been asked to speak feel a great responsibility in doing so. As we listen, may our hearts be touched & our faith increased…

THE REASON FOR OUR HOPE – {President Boyd K. Packer}

President Packer starts with a story of when he & sister Packer were looking for records of an ancestor at Christ’s College at Oxford. President Packer continues in telling of the experience he had in sharing with the head of the College the truthfulness of the scriptures & how the standard works truly go hand in hand with one another & how they

…are a consistent, harmonious witness to the divinity of the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ—His birth, His life, His teachings, His crucifixion, His resurrection, & His Atonement.

He continues in providing peace in that

…Those who listen to & heed His words & the words of His chosen servants will find peace & understanding even in the midst of great heartache & sorrow.

Touching more on the subject of the Atonement, President Packer states a profound statement of truth

…the true success of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be measured by the spiritual strength of its individual members. We need the strength of conviction that is found in the heart of every loyal disciple of Christ.

If that doesn’t inspire you to strengthen yourself spiritually & to strive for pureness of heart, I don’t know what will. I love that. All I know is that I would want more than anything to be measured than to be on the out of that strength. Not solely for that needed strength but that I too need that strength in my life.

***WHICH WAY DO YOU FACE*** – {Elder Lynn G. Robbins}

READ THIS TALK! This is one of my favorites from this Session & Conference. I could go on & on about this message but seriously just read it!

THE SACRAMENT — A RENEWAL FOR THE SOUL – {Cheryl A. Esplin}

I loved this talk. (You will hear me say that a lot but its because I truly do!) This talk totally touched on & had me reflecting on a past goal that I work on every week in making the sacrament more meaningful in my life. Here are some things that stuck out to me…

‘One of the invitations inherent in the sacramental ordinance is that it be a truly spiritual experience, a holy communion, a renewal for the soul.’ -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

…The sacrament becomes a spiritually strengthening experience when we listen to the sacrament prayers & recommit to our covenants. To do this we must be willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ.

“That means we must see ourselves as His. We will put Him first in our lives. We will want what He wants rather than what we want or what the world teaches us to want.” – President Henry B. Eyring

Sister Esplin midway shares a story of a Young Woman leader who set a goal to focus on the words in the sacrament hymns & prayers; making the sacrament more meaningful in her life & applying all parts of the Atonement as well.  A phrase that stuck out to me was…

…She was forgetting all the times the Savior helped her to be who she needed to be…

Reading this the other day this part stood out to me in a way I never thought it would 6 months ago, because six months ago I was fully unaware we would be moving & that there would be a loss of a child in our near future. Reading those words “the Savior helped her to be who she needed to be”… several times over I reflected upon this & I recorded it on the pages of my copy of the ensign…

I thought I knew the type of mother I wanted to be. I always knew the type of woman I longed to be. But in a short sweet time a loss taught me more about the Atonement & the woman I needed to be, the woman I can be, & the woman I am. I am eternally grateful for that little person & a lesson in Love that will Never be forgotten.

That was something in this whole process of recent trials I came to realize at a very spiritual moment a couple weeks ago, that I have been reminded of daily.

Continuing in Sister Esplins talk she quotes Elder Ballard…

“I am a witness,””That there is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, & the load being lifted. Comfort & happiness come to the soul that is worthy & truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food.”

Lastly she states a sweet image to think about each week when partaking of the sacrament,

Aaronic Priesthood holders represent the Savior when they prepare, bless, & pass the sacrament. As a priesthood holder extends his arm to offer us the sacred emblems, it is as if the Savior Himself were extending His arm of mercy, inviting each one of us to partake of the precious gifts of love made available through His atoning sacrifice — gifts of repentance, forgiveness, comfort, & hope.

RESCUE IN UNITY – {Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong}

Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong gave a beautiful talk in His native tongue of Cantonese, which of course & thankfully was translated into English haha.

{On a side note I am thrilled speakers are now able to speak in their native tongue. It truly speaks of the truth that everyone can smile & feel the spirit the same way no matter the language barrier.}

Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong related in his talk the story in the New Testament of the man with palsy, someone who was not able to move without assistance. He related this account to unity in the church & in life. Something that struck me was when he asked,

…Do we know anyone in our life who is afflicted with spiritual palsy, someone who just cannot come back to the Church by himself or herself? He or She could be one of our children, one of our parents, a spouse, or a friend.

That hit me especially the last word, Friend. I have seen my fair share of friends leave the church or feel inadequate in the gospel & struggle to return. Its been hard to experience that especially when I have been a physical witness to their true strength & pure testimony when it had been borne.

It made me want to just go & shake them & hug them & tell them I love them & so does Heavenly Father & our Savior. The realization that you cannot force someone to do something & sometimes all you can do is just pray. So I do, I have. Everyday I pray for those people who in my life I admire in or out of the gospel because I love them & think about them often.

FREE FOREVER, TO ACT FOR THEMSELVES – {Elder D. Todd Christofferson}

Here is another GO READ NOW talk. Seriously I think I will do a Separate post on each of these talks that I pretty much highlighted & marked up in my hard copy of the ensign. READ IT!!

RECEIVING A TESTIMONY OF LIGHT & TRUTH – {President Dieter F. Uchtdorf}

I’m not kidding when I say GO READ THIS TALK. If you truly open your heart to learning something or to be sensitive to the promptings of the spirit when you are trying to receive an answer, all of these will be amazing to you. But these three that I recommend in this session to GO READ just blew me away. I love blunt speakers who tell it like it is. I just felt that these linked talks just confirmed so much for me personally & were just so inspiring.

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Please I challenge you to Countdown to Conference with me. It does not have to be in the same way but do what works for you no matter your time allowance or restrictions. I know that if you do this, this upcoming conference will be unique to you! I have done previous conference prep things but I am being strict in myself to stick to the preparations I have made. I am in need of strength & continued comfort in my personal life & I have no doubt that the Lord is preparing something special for all of us as well as for me personally, that if I am prepared, I will not miss out on.

I am so excited for conference. I don’t know if I even have one person who reads this blog But to whoever this may come across, I love you. You are Loved more than you can even comprehend. Never doubt that. I will personally call you & tell you how incredible you are. Being receptive to the gospel & the spirit you can truly gain a glimpse of the Love our Father in Heaven & our Savior Jesus Christ have for each & every one of us. When you understand that your Heavenly Father & Savior are aware of You, Know You & Love you, it is easier to love others & see others how they see them. When you have that Love, it fuels a fire in one that has the power to change many through the light of Christ.

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Conference Countdown

It’s that time!!

General Conference is one month away, traditions have started & the countdown has begun!!

I wanted to share what I do to prepare myself for General Conference. Honestly I have tried so hard to be better at this & I am determined to be better prepared. I in no means do any of this to say “Oh look at me I’m so spiritual” But to help others realize what a great thing General Conference is & what a great blessing & added strength it can add to your life because of what it has done for mine.

When I was in high school attending seminary, our teachers would encourage us to write down questions we had been wondering about, whether they were about our faith or our personal daily lives. They also had different techniques they shared that encouraged us to pay attention to General Conference. It was then that I developed a true love for General Conference. I learned how to make the best of something. I used the tools they provided us to magnify my experience, & now have added upon those tools & developed my own that I have molded to my way of learning to achieve the best results for me in getting the most out of my conference experience. It may seem extreme & over the top but I sometimes don’t feel it’s enough. When I was little I thought there was only one session of General Conference not 6!! As I got older I loved that there were in fact more sessions to learn from.

I am so grateful that I was taught & learned at a young age a Love for General Conference. It’s so wonderful to hear from a living prophet, along with all the many others who speak. Being older still I too have gained an appreciation for the speakers as individuals, if you truly think about it, when you prepare a talk how much effort do you put into it? I’m sure a lot, A lot of prayer in asking for guidance, A lot of praying for those who you will speak to that you can communicate to them what the Lord would have you say. It’s really humbling that there are 6 sessions full of people called together to deliver messages that they each individually prepared Just For You. Even if a talk isn’t “for you” or at the time doesn’t seem to apply to you, if you immerse yourself in conference even during those “talks” the spirit can still teach you things the speaker isn’t saying.  These practices not only will affect your General Conference experience but from practice I can tell you it has also magnified my weekly experiences at church.

I was always shocked when people would say “oh that speaker was so monotone”, “that person is a convert what do they know about the subject”, or “honestly I just wasn’t feeling it”. . I am Not trying to bash talks of any kind! I am guilty of mustering attention to pay to… bless their heart, those who have more of a monotone way of speaking. But I have found the secret, at least the one that works for me. Turn off your cell phone, or at least the volume. No where is it polite to have your phone out messing around on your favorite app. (This too is a pet peeve of mine, when I see kids & Adults!! playing on their phones at church, why even come?? I know that’s bold but honestly!?!) Things that have helped me is I carry a journal & the latest issue of the ensign & scriptures with marking pens/highlighter. These help me if I feel I can’t hold attention to the speaker or Even if I am at full attention, the thing I have learned is that if I make an effort & prepare myself for church or conference whatever the case, If I invite the spirit, whether its what someone says or the spirit speaking To me… The spirit is there & more often than not it starts with someone who is speaking who has brought the spirit, & because of their efforts to do so, along with my preparation, I get carried off with promptings of the spirit & write them away in my Journal. These sometimes are things I need to do, answers to prayers, a memory I totally forgot about that was brought back to memory to record & apply to my life.

When the spirit is invited, It will do the rest.

That may have seem a little off topic but I hope that made sense in the fact of when you Learn how to best interpret & learn from the spirit, you can apply it to different things & make the most out of a spiritual setting & experience.

So here is what we are implementing for our tradition this year

I start off by snagging the last issue of General Conference & pop up the calendar on my phone or planner. I plan out the talks to about a talk a day.

Conference Countdown 4

Then there are some much needed tools you’ll be using for the next month.

A journal to record quotes, challenges by the speaker, etc…

Highlighters, pens, to write in your journal & copy of the ensign- I love the pilot pens for journal writing, I love a thick pen point. I also use the black & multi colored papermate felt tip markers. The papermate ones are great for scriptures & ensigns because they don’t bleed & don’t smudge.

Conference Countdown 2

If you have kids or are a kid at heart you can make a paper countdown chain, just snag a sharpie or marker of your choice, a stapler, & cut some strips of paper to interlock into a countdown chain like this one

Conference Countdown 3

As for official conference weekend stuff, I’ll do a post a little bit closer to conference & share a couple things that we also plan to do as mentioned in a previous post

Conference Traditions

You can do this Conference Countdown may different ways:

  • Read a talk a day leading up to conference
  • Go to lds.org watch individual talks & follow along in the ensign, or just watch the individual talks
  • You can listen to sessions or individual talks a day with the gospel library app
  • You can spread out the sessions over the Sundays of this month & watch a session a Sunday leading up to conference weekend

I hope this has helped, I know it may not seem realistic & time consuming, but if you think about it each session is 1-2hours & each talk is 10-15 minutes long so if you can’t do sessions, start small & do a talk  or if your a crammer, do sessions & not talks. If you’re a listener, listen, if you’re more visual, watch, & if you’re a reader, read! Do what works best for you!! It’s just my hope that others can find a love for general conference in making it more meaningful in our lives. We’re never done learning & whether your in need of comfort, encouragement, peace or need a single question answered. It never fails, I have gone to conference with one question & by the end of it all, that question(s) is answered & I come away with so much more & even answers to questions I forgot about or didn’t even know I had! This Gospel is so great! These times of years are truly superb, I don’t know what I’d do with out conference to get me through my year. There are always tons of talks that just uplift me when I need them through out the year.  Sometimes it’s just a single phrase that reminds me that my Heavenly Father is aware of me & loves me.

Do this, Do something, find what works for you, It will make all the difference. I am nowhere close to where I’d like to be, but being sensitive to the spirit & treasuring it & practicing doing so has enhanced the likelihood of me receiving further light. That is one of the best promises I could ask for that I happen to receive through that practice.

How do you countdown to conference?