Category Archives: Conference notes

Sister Beck’s story about educated women sitting in a park with children

Something in one of Sister Beck’s talks stuck me years ago, and I’m realizing I’m in a ward where it applies very well. She describes sitting in a park with some women who were very well educated, but who had also decided to become mothers. But these weren’t two separate parts of their lives: they were using their gifts and bright minds to think through mothering. She doesn’t say whether or not these women also worked for some portion of their time; that isn’t the point of her comment, I think. The point is that they saw that their work in the home deserved much thinking just as their advanced education did.

Here’s the part of the talk “A Mother Heart” that includes this story:

Female roles did not begin on earth, and they do not end here. A woman who treasures motherhood on earth will treasure motherhood in the world to come, and “where [her] treasure is, there will [her] heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). By developing a mother heart, each girl and woman prepares for her divine, eternal mission of motherhood. “Whatever principle of intelligence [she] attain[s] unto in this life, it will rise with [her] in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through [her] diligence and obedience than another, [she] will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (D&C 130:18–19).

I was recently at a park where I met a group of women with mother hearts. They were young, covenant-keeping women. They were bright and had obtained advanced degrees from respected universities. Now they were devoting their considerable gifts to planning dinner that evening and sharing housekeeping ideas. They were teaching two-year-olds to be kind to one another. They were soothing babies, kissing bruised knees, and wiping tears. I asked one of those mothers how it came about that she could transfer her talents so cheerfully into the role of motherhood. She replied, “I know who I am, and I know what I am supposed to do. The rest just follows.” That young mother will build faith and character in the next generation one family prayer at a time, one scripture study session, one book read aloud, one song, one family meal after another. She is involved in a great work. She knows that “children are an heritage of the Lord” and “happy is the [woman] that hath [a] quiver full of them” (Ps. 127:3, 5). She knows that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily mothering is far more lasting, far more powerful, far more influential than any earthly position or institution invented by man. She has the vision that, if worthy, she has the potential to be blessed as Rebekah of old to be “the mother of thousands of millions” (Gen. 24:60).

Every girl and woman who makes and keeps sacred covenants can have a mother heart. There is no limit to what a woman with a mother heart can accomplish. Righteous women have changed the course of history and will continue to do so, and their influence will spread and grow exponentially throughout the eternities. How grateful I am to the Lord for trusting women with the divine mission of motherhood. Like Mother Eve I am “glad” (see Moses 5:11) to know these things. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Holland on Home Teaching (Oct 2016)

Now, as for what “counts” as home teaching, every good thing you do “counts,” so report it all! Indeed, the report that matters most is how you have blessed and cared for those within your stewardship, which has virtually nothing to do with a specific calendar or a particular location. What matters is that you love your people and are fulfilling the commandment “to watch over the church always.
My brethren of the holy priesthood, when we speak of home teaching or watchcare or personal priesthood ministry—call it what you will—this is what we are talking about. We are asking you as home teachers to be God’s emissaries to His children, to love and care and pray for the people you are assigned, as we love and care and pray for you. May you be vigilant in tending the flock of God in ways consistent with your circumstances, I pray, in the name of the Good Shepherd of us all, whose witness I am, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

President Uchtdorf: Learn from Alma and Amulek

I didn’t hear this talk since it was given in the Priesthood Session. But it was so good, I’m simply including it in its entirety.

Alma the Younger

Among the most unforgettable characters in scripture is Alma the Younger. Though he was the son of a great prophet, he lost his way for a time and became a “wicked and an idolatrous man.” For reasons we can only guess, he actively opposed his father and sought to destroy the Church. And because of his eloquence and persuasiveness, he experienced great success.1

But Alma’s life changed when an angel of the Lord appeared to him and spoke with a voice of thunder. For three days and three nights, Alma “was racked with eternal torment, … even with the pains of a damned soul.” And then, somehow, a faint memory brought light to the darkness of his mind—an eternal truth, taught by his father: that Jesus Christ would come “to atone for the sins of the world.” Alma had long ago rejected such concepts, but now his “mind caught hold upon this thought,” and he humbly, earnestly placed his trust in Christ’s atoning power.2

When Alma emerged from this experience, he was a changed man. From that moment on, he devoted his life to undoing the damage he had caused. He is a powerful example of repentance, forgiveness, and enduring faithfulness.

Alma was eventually chosen to succeed his father as head of the Church of God.

Every citizen of the Nephite nation must have known Alma’s story. The Twitters, Instagrams, and Facebooks of his day would have been filled with images and stories about him. He probably appeared regularly on the cover of the Zarahemla Weekly and was the subject of editorials and network specials. In short, he was perhaps the most well-known celebrity of his day.

But when Alma saw that his people were forgetting God and lifting themselves up in pride and contention, he chose to resign from public office and dedicate himself “wholly to the high priesthood of the holy order of God,”3 preaching repentance among the Nephites.

At first, Alma had great success—that is, until he traveled to the city of Ammonihah. The people of that city were well aware that Alma was no longer their political leader, and they had little respect for his priesthood authority. They reviled him, ridiculed him, and cast him out of their city.

Heartbroken, Alma turned his back on the city Ammonihah.4

But an angel told him to return.

Just think about it: he was told to return to the people who hated him and were hostile toward the Church. It was a dangerous and perhaps life-threatening assignment. But Alma did not hesitate. “He returned speedily.”5

Alma had been fasting many days when he entered the city. There he asked a complete stranger if he would “give to an humble servant of God something to eat.”6

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Elder Oaks: Sharing the Restored Gospel

A quote from his recent conference talk:

We need the guidance of the Lord because at any particular time some are—and some are not—ready for the additional truths of the restored gospel. We should never set ourselves up as judges of who is ready and who is not. The Lord knows the hearts of all of His children, and if we pray for inspiration, He will help us find persons He knows to be “in a preparation to hear the word” (Alma 32:6).

I liked the point that it’s ok to realize that some are not ready. We shouldn’t pressure ourselves or those in our stewardship to go out and pick and neighbor or co-worker and do this or that assignment with them. This is a much more careful and organized process than that — because “we need [and can have] the guidance of the Lord.”

Here are his 7 points about missionary work:

  1. We need to remember “that people learn when they’re ready to learn, not when we’re ready to teach them.”5 What we are interested in, like the important additional doctrinal teachings in the restored Church, usually isn’t what others are interested in. Others typically want the results of the doctrine, not the doctrine. As they observe or experience the effects of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, they feel the Spirit and begin to be interested in the doctrine. They may also be interested when they are seeking more happiness, closeness to God, or a better understanding of the purpose of life.6 Therefore, we must carefully and prayerfully seek discernment on how to inquire about others’ interest to learn more. This will depend on various things, such as another person’s current circumstances and our relationship with him or her. This is a good subject to discuss in councils, quorums, and Relief Societies.

  2. As we speak to others, we need to remember that an invitation to learn more about Jesus Christ and His gospel is preferable to an invitation to learn more about our Church.7 We want people to be converted to the gospel. That is the great role of the Book of Mormon. Feelings about our Church follow conversion to Jesus Christ; they do not precede it. Many who are suspicious of churches nevertheless have a love for the Savior. Put first things first.

  3. When we seek to introduce people to the restored gospel, we should do this in ways that are authentic and in loving concern for the individual. This happens when we are trying to help others with problems they have identified or when we are working with them in community service activities, such as relieving suffering, caring for the poor and needy, or enhancing the quality of life of others.

  4. Our efforts to share the gospel should not be limited to our circle of friends and associates. During the Olympics we learned of an LDS taxi driver in Rio de Janeiro who carried copies of the Book of Mormon in seven different languages and gave one to whoever would receive them. He called himself the “cab driving missionary.” He said, “The streets of Rio de Janeiro … are [my] mission field.”8 Clayton M. Christensen, who has impressive experience as a member missionary, states that “over the past twenty years, we have observed no correlation between the depth of a relationship and the probability that a person will be interested in learning about the gospel.”9

  5. Ward bishoprics can plan a special sacrament meeting to which members are urged to bring interested persons. Ward members will be less hesitant to bring their acquaintances to such a meeting because they will be more assured that the content of the meeting will be well planned to enlist interest and represent the Church well.

  6. There are many other opportunities to share the gospel. For example, just this summer I received a happy letter from a new member who learned about the restored gospel when an old classmate phoned her to inquire about an illness she was experiencing. She wrote: “I was enlightened by the way he presented himself to me. After [a] few months of learning from the missionaries, I was baptized. My life has improved since then.”10 We all know many whose lives would be improved by the restored gospel. Are we reaching out to them?

  7. Our young members’ fascination and expertise with social media gives them unique opportunities to reach out to interest others in the gospel. Describing the Savior’s appearance to the Nephites, Mormon writes, “He did teach and minister unto the children … , and he did loose their tongues … that they could utter” (3 Nephi 26:14). Today I suppose we would say “loose their [thumbs] that they could utter.” Go to it, youth!

Quote from Sis. Oscarson

“I worry that we live in such an atmosphere of avoiding offense that we sometimes altogether avoid teaching correct principles. We fail to teach our young women that preparing to be a mother is of utmost importance because we don’t want to offend those who aren’t married or those who can’t have children, or to be seen as stifling future choices. On the other hand, we may also fail to emphasize the importance of education because we don’t want to send the message that it is more important than marriage. We avoid declaring that our Heavenly Father defines marriage as being between a man and woman because we don’t want to offend those who experience same-sex attraction. And we may find it uncomfortable to discuss gender issues or healthy sexuality.

Certainly, sisters, we need to use sensitivity, but let us also use our common sense and our understanding of the plan of salvation to be bold and straightforward when it comes to teaching our children and youth the essential gospel principles they must understand to navigate the world in which they live.”

Lots of insights from MSH! (updated as I have time to add more notes)

There will be a whole ton, and they’ll be somewhat randomly ordered, but they will be tagged so I can find them again!

  • Ether 12: faith doesn’t always need to be quantified, or turned into something economic
  • Goal is to focus on Christ, not focus on faith.
    • Faith will come along the way, as a gift, as you seek for Christ. Seeking = open, ready to receive, looking,
  • “Faith is things” ??
    • Things are things AND more than things
    • Faith changes things?
    • Faith is in those very things around you but you see them differently, or you use them differently, or God uses them to teach you, etc.
    • Things = Christ’s body that he showed the Nephites?
  • “We receive the gift of faith by seeking Christ, not by seeking faith” (quoting Jenny here)
  • Ether 12:41 and Alma 32? similarities and differences…
    • faith is assumed, trust you can do things when faith is exercised. Not seeking faith, using faith.
    • Seek Christ/ plant word(Christ)
    • But Alma does see faith increasing. But then again, it’s a gift, and not what you were seeking after.


  • This is my description, after listening to Joe’s paper:
    • Sacred time= cyclical, Messianic time= future changes present (oriented to future, so linear), Secular time= just linear (no orientation)


  • word “history” only used 5 times in the Book of Mormon, and all are in small plates.
  • 2 Nephi 5, Nephi is very interested in boundaries of all kinds
  • (boundaries, history, these are secular questions)
  • First Nephi says history, then later more history part, then more particular
  • Maybe he sees that it’s tricky to separate secular and sacred
    • even when he separates them into two separate books it’s still hard to keep them a part!
  • Secular is supposedly neutral, but really, based on our discussions, we could say that secular = history+religion-religion?
  • That version is subtractive, but Nephi is additive (more history)
  • v. 32/33 pleased vs. desiring
    • admits there is a lack (of history) so some might desire history
  • Desire can disrupt sacred?
  • Lamanites have words like “seek” “toward” associated with them
    • v 19 disrupts sacred teaching
    • (note when Nephi desires something in ch 5 it is that he desires NOT to have kings)
  • Laman and Lemuel often a topic on large plates! During times when they are being lectured Nephi will stop and say that the rest of the lecture is on the large plates (Brilliant, brilliant insight by Kim!)
  • Plates sort of parallel the two groups (Lamanties/large plates and Nephitites/small plates)
  • But these divisions are overcome:
    • Book of Mormon is addressed to Lamanites
    • small/large plates are together now
  • Does a division of sacred and secular open up a space for us to do work of covenant, so we can seal it all back together in a better way?


  • BYU has a vision that Elder Holland talks about, where our spiritual life should make us better scholars, and our scholarship should make us grow in our spiritual life.
    • But, it’s hard to tell who has the vision and who doesn’t, and who can make that vision emerge in students and who can’t
    • Everyone has their own qualifications or clues
    • But maybe it’s more like Kierkegaard’s “Knight of Faith” – you can’t tell. Eats dinner the same, walks home the same, can’t tell that someone does the same things but in a different way, with a different heart, a different orientation


  • Maybe priesthood assignment itself is a circle of power for men? Given a huge task and told to figure it out!
  • Could be true too for all callings of course. Hmm


  • King Follett discourse is an example of the appeal to low/common Church mixed with High Church.
  • Introduced as if academic. Here are some thoughts, not here is doctrine or here is how to live your life
  • But rhetoric style is plain
  • but “refutes” ideas, like a paper
  • paragraph 12 has a hugely amazing doctrine, but the sentence structure treats it like it’s equal to the other things in the sentence!
  • Plain container fill it with radical ideas?
    • Family proclamation feels that way to me. Looks plain but full of radical ideas 🙂