What we get so excited about is that for 8 hours over a single weekend, we listen to talks given by the leaders of our church (including our prophet and apostles) about different spiritual topics. I never know in advance what they're going to say, but I know that I'll end the weekend feeling inspired to do better.
Here, in no particular order, are my 7 favorite highlights of General Conference weekend from our house.
1. When my prayer was answered 17 minutes into the first talk.
Since my 5-month-old was born, or even before that if I'm honest, I've fallen out of the habit of daily scripture study and prayer. I've felt the effects of that, and I know that for me the next step to get closer to my Savior is to establish those habits again.
I want to get back on the wagon (or is it off the wagon? I have no idea what that phrase even means) but it's hard. For some reason, things that are good for me (like exercise and sleep, cough, cough) are always hard.
We Mormons are told that if we approach Conference with a prayerful question it will be answered, so that's what I did. My question: How can I get and stay motivated?
I was planning on listening for my answer for the next 8 hours, but it turned out I only had to wait 17 minutes before the very first speaker said: "May our motive be our love for God."
Well, that was easy.
His entire talk was excellent, probably my favorite from the whole Conference. If you've ever found yourself taking God's amazing love for granted, you need to watch/read this talk.
2. When my family hung out in the same room for 2 days and still liked each other at the end of it.
Don't be fooled: there were several minor squabbles, a few mischievous someones trying to bug a sibling without being noticed by a parent, and one stomping-upstairs-and-slamming-the-door incident over a certain color of marker.
But overall, we spent Saturday and Sunday together watching Conference and we enjoyed it.
|Mormons: watching TED talks before that was even a thing.|
One particularly sweet moment happened when I was distributing Smarties candy to the kids (random candy bribes appeared to further the "happy family togetherness" cause.)
The 2-year-old stuck his hand in the bag, and since he'd already had one I yelled "Uh uh uh!" This happens to be the exact same noise my mom makes at her dogs when they're being naughty. He looked at me with big eyes, pointed at Phillip, and sputtered, "Dad!"
Aww, he wasn't taking candy for himself; he'd noticed that Phillip didn't have any and was getting one for him.
3. When Elder Bednar called me out and laid the smack down.
So here's a little thing about me that I find intensely frustrating: I find it easy to know something without knowing it.
Like, I can logically accept that God is forgiving but I will beat myself up over a bad judgment call as if that same forgiveness isn't equally extended to me. Intellectually I believe that God answers prayers, but I don't always trust that my prayers specifically will be heard and answered.
I told you it was frustrating. This 3-minute snippet describes it so perfectly:
At 12:38: "We often testify of what we know to be true, but perhaps the more relevant question for each of us is whether we believe what we know." Yep, I'm going to have to think about that one some more.
4. When my kids created some fantastic artwork.
If my kids aren't sitting around reading, they're sitting around drawing. So they do a lot of coloring and doodling while they're listening to Conference.
There was the aforementioned door-slamming incident and also a blue marker that went rogue and drew all over the upstairs carpet (no one confessed but we found the culprit and made them clean it up anyway,) but there was also this:
All I can say is, regardless of style I like drawing a lot more when the canvas is a piece of paper than when it's the bedroom carpet.
5. When Elder Cornish gave us some serious encouragement.
Oh my gosh, you guys, this talk was so uplifting. The general gist of it: God believes in us even when we don't believe in ourselves.
If you've ever felt discouraged because you have so many shortcomings, or if you've ever wondered if you're acceptable in the sight of God, you've got to listen to this talk.
Some of my favorite quotes:
"We must stop comparing ourselves to others... if we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today, or even to how we want to be in the future."
"The God of Heaven is not a heartless referee looking for any excuse to throw us out of the game. He is our perfectly loving Father who yearns more than anything else to have all of His children come back home and live with Him as families forever."
"The only opinion of us that matters is what our Father in Heaven thinks of us. Please, sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us."
6. When the kids went nuts over a 99¢ package of cookies.
For the past few years, we've attached a picture of each of our prominent church leaders to different bags of snacks and laid them out on the piano bench during Conference. The kids listen to the talks and as each one speaks, they get to eat the snack with that person's picture.
|Conference snacks. I'll have you know those gummy worms are organic, so stop judging.|
Trust me when I say my kids love this. I showed my 4-year-old one of the leaders' picture a few weeks ago and asked, "Do you remember this guy's name?"
She answered "No, but we got popcorn after he talked last time." Keep in mind this was 6 months ago, which is 1/8 of a 4-year-old's entire lifetime.
|Elder Cookies, circa October 2016|
7. When Elder Rasband reminded me not to forget.
Years ago, I used to read my scriptures with a notebook and two pens at my side. In black I took notes on what I read, and with colored pen I wrote down ideas that came to me as I read. Some were probably my own thoughts, but I think many of them were God talking to me as I read His words and was open to hearing Him.
I haven't done that for a while, namely because these days I can hardly sit down without a child trying to eat my notebook paper or running away with my pens in their mouth (which is a recipe for an E.R. visit if I ever saw one,) but maybe I should start again.
Ronald A. Rasband's talk reminded me of how easily we forget. When we go through a spiritual dry spell or a crisis of faith, it's easy to doubt God's very existence or second-guess/forget about all the spiritual experiences we've had. Making it all the more important to remember them and write them down.
Our General Conference weekend was filled with spiritual enlightenment, art bombs everywhere, and of course, cookies. I was sad to see it end.
If you're Mormon, what do you love about General Conference? If you're not Mormon, what are your favorite ways to be inspired to do and be better?