Thursday, April 4, 2019

Preparing for General Conference

This past Saturday evening I was asked to prepare a 5 minute talk for the next morning on how to prepare for General Conference which is coming up this weekend, April 5-6. I was delighted! The last time I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting was 4 years ago (aside from bearing my testimony some fast Sundays) and I was happy to prepare a little something for our congregation. After I sat down, of course, I thought of all the things I forgot to include, and all the things I meant to say but didn't because of time constraints, but overall I think it went  pretty well. General Conference is something that I have grown to love and look forward to, and my testimony of it's awesomeness grows even bigger every 6 months when it comes around again.
I threw away the paper holding my notes, but here's the gist of what I said:

First off, I love General Conference. I love that every 6 months we get to stop what we're doing and listen to the inspiration and revelation from our Heavenly father through our living Prophet and Apostles and other church leaders. I love that we get to feel the spirit so strongly in our homes as we listen and watch on TV's, computers, or whatever devices we can access. This past General Conference I felt the spirit really strongly testifying to me that President Nelson truly is a prophet of God and that this is Christ's true restored church on the earth today. The powerful spirit I felt was more than I was expecting for some reason. It was almost electrifying and overwhelming to me to realize the spirit could be so powerful just by turning on the T.V. to watch General Conference. I was really grateful for that witness and testimony which allowed me to open my heart and mind to all the amazing truths I would hear that weekend. 

In preparation for General Conference we make sure our children know that General Conference is important to us as a family and is "what we do" as a family. We talk about it coming up, we talk about how important it is, and we talk about how we're going to spend the weekend watching it.  Growing up I remember watching General Conference off and on as a kid but it wasn't something we did regularly. By the time I was a young teen I didn't understand the importance of why I would sit and watch a bunch of old dudes talking for hours. It seemed boring and counterproductive (basically I would rather be surfing). However, as a young adult I started attending General Conference again with my Latter-Day Saint friends from BYU-H and was simply blown away by the beautiful and profound gospel truths I was hearing. I immediately felt joy and happiness that I was able to gain the wisdom and insights again but also a profound sense of  loss for all the years I missed out, for not understanding what blessings come from participating in GC. And, it's not just a bunch of old dudes talking, there are some amazing women, too, plus inspirational music from the Tabernacle Choir.

In our family today we watch General Conference consistently every 6 months because we believe that as we consistently participate in GC we can gain strength and unity as a family, gain testimonies of the gospel truths we hear, and teach our children the importance of listening to out Prophet and leaders. Consistency, and expecting everyone to participate, is key in preparing for General Conference. If General Conference is important to you, it becomes important to your family. Watching General Conference as a family is "what we do."
Another way to prepare for General Conference is to prepare for our young children to participate. It isn't easy for a lot of children to sit through General Conference and for many kids, it is simply impossible. It is eight hours of sit-down time, broken up into 2 hour sessions, but still, for many young families you really have to get creative.  I suggest printing off those LDS general Conference activity booklets. They help keep kids engaged with activities that help them to focus and pay attention to the speakers. There's GC themed pages to color, puzzles, BINGO, word finds, picture matching, etc to keep them entertained and engaged while listening. For the even younger crowd I always bring out the legos to keep their little hands busy as we watch, although sometimes they can be too loud. For the kids that simply can't sit still or stop talking, my husband and I take turns taking them out of the room, per session. So instead of spending two agonizing hours trying to keep a non-stop talker and mover quiet, one of us takes them to the park (or backyard or upstairs) or anywhere away from the TV room, while the other family members get to watch GC in peace and quiet, then for the next session we switch. This way, at least one of us can enjoy 
the session with the family, and then of course there are a million ways to catch up later on! 

This has worked out great for us in the past. I know someday we'll all get to watch GC all together as a family, but this is what works for now, especially with a four year old that never.stops.talking. :) It's really important to be patient with yourselves and make accommodations for your family for General Conference. Be patient as you figure out what works best for your family situation. For some families who are single parents or who don't have the support around GC that they'd like, be patient with yourselves as you figure out how to make the most with what you've got to work with. Don't be afraid to make the necessary accommodations you need while you figure it out. Any General Conference is better than no General Conference at all! And for those that can sit and watch uninterrupted for 8 hours, reveling in the power and awesomeness that is GC without little people interrupting you constantly, I am jealous, but I will get there someday!........
I am kidding because I do love watching GC with my little family. I hope they know how important it is to me and my husband and that they can feel the spirit more abundantly in their lives as they consistently participate and let the blessings of GC pour into their hearts and our home.

Watching General Conference is a choice. Nobody is making you watch it and nobody is going to check up on you to see if you watched it. Just like everything else in this gospel we get to choose if we want to reap from the blessings that are offered. We can also prepare by praying for guidance in understanding and receiving the things we need to know. As we listen to GC we can gain a better understanding of gospel principles, receive answers to questions and prayers, receive inspiration, and also receive a renewed determination to live the gospel and better follow Jesus Christ.

I am personally excited for this coming weekend's conference. I know that as we prepare for conference we can make it an enjoyable and fun tradition for our families, and even create a family culture around it that is consistent, accommodating, and long-lasting.

The End

Not in my talk but in my head right now-- I just wanted to briefly share that I am so grateful for this gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a strength and foundation in my life that I consistently rely on. There aren't many more things important in this life than following my Savior and having faith in His plan for us. I am constantly in awe of how much He loves me and how much He consistently answers my prayers and gives me guidance in my life. I am in awe of the power and strength that comes from small acts of faith such as daily prayers and scriptures. The other day as I was reading my scriptures I suddenly received inspiration about something I needed to know that had nothing to do with what I was reading in the scriptures. But I learn through those experiences that God speaks to us through our simple acts of faith in Him. As I keep His commandments and stay close to Him, he stays close to me.
This world is full of so many opinions and choices and it's easy to get lost out there. Especially on the internet. I have so many friends (who are members of the church) that are really struggling with trying to know what is real and true. They are struggling with varying societal views, with newfound feminist views, with their political beliefs, with how to raise their children, with what others think about their religion, etc... It's all good and healthy and wonderful to ask questions as we establish beliefs and develop our faith and of course we all have varying opinions about how the world works, but when it comes down to it, what is real and true is in the gospel. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the light, and He will show us what is real and true as we follow Him. As we feast upon the words of Christ through the scriptures, as we get down on our knees and pray every day to God, as we keep the commandments, stay firm in the promises me made at baptism, and listen to our Prophet and apostles, Christ will show us the way. I believe this and I know this with all my heart. I have witnessed huge blessings and miracles in my life and through the lives of others through these truths. Why is it so easy to forget? Christ won't let us forget when we stay close to Him. This I know.

Now The End for real. 


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