Listen to Learn – by Russell M. Nelson

Today I’m studying the talk Listen to Learn, by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 1991 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I wish I could say that I’ve always been the best listener…That I’ve been the kind of person who quietly listens to what is happening in the world around me – rather than wrapped up in my own anxieties or ideas. Or, that I’ve been the kind of person who was engaged and truly listened to what others said to me – rather than quietly waiting to say what I want to say.

Even though I know that I have a lot to learn when it comes to listening, I do value it, and I have been trying to be a good listener for years. I have also found myself, as a mother, often telling my children “You have one mouth and two ears so that you can listen twice as much as you speak.” They kind of roll their eyes, just like I did when I was younger. But it is such a wise saying.

In his talk, Russell M. Nelson quoted the proverb:

““Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise.” – Proverbs 19:20

He then explained:

“Surely wisdom will come as we listen to learn from children, parents, partners, neighbors, Church leaders, and the Lord.” – Russell M. Nelson

I’m not going to go through every point that President Nelson mentions. You can read it for yourself here. I will pick a few points out and write about them.

Learn to Listen, then Listen to Learn from Children

Russell M. Nelson stated:

“A wise father once said, “I do a greater amount of good when I listen to my children than when I talk to them.” – Russell M. Nelson

I have four children – my oldest is nearly 17. My youngest is 7. Though I’m not an expert by any means, being a mom is something I’ve done longer than almost anything else now. I’ve been “in the trenches” of motherhood for 17 years now. And I think that I’m really beginning to learn the truth of the above statement. I’m a better mother when I listen.

I have noticed, when I lecture, the glazed expressions that come over my children’s faces. At first, I’m tempted to get a little frustrated. Are you even listening to me?! I have even asked.
“Yes,” was the answer – usually mumbled!

Thankfully, the gift of the Holy Ghost brings everything to our remembrance. The kids look bored out of their minds because lectures are boring, and I’ve had enough boring lectures in my life to know that.

So, I’ve been trying to listen to my children. Of course, we can do this by hearing them. Sometimes that might even require putting our phones down. (hehe). But there are other ways to listen, too. Often our children say more in their behaviors than they do in words.

Things have been a little unsettled for our family for a little while now. We are in the transition of moving, but that transition has taken months. It is not easy for anyone – even though we have been infinitely blessed along the way.

Additionally, it is June. The days are getting longer, the nights shorter. The kids tire themselves out to the bone playing each day, but don’t seem to get a whole lot of sleep.

The physical tiredness and the “up in the air” feeling of our lives sometimes results in cranky or emotional kids. It could be easy to just tell them to snap out of it. It could be easy to lecture or yell. But it would be completely ineffectual.

Instead, by listening, the Spirit has helped me to see the real reason why my kids might be cranky. The words of a small tantrum are rarely the real reason a child is throwing it. Instead, if we listen – not only to our kids words, but to their actions, their concerns, and if we listen with the Spirit, we will see the truth of what they are “saying.”

My daughter, Sasquatch, was having a particularly hard day, and I was able to recognize, She needs sleep. She needs stability. She needs love. I wasn’t able to put her to sleep at the moment (she is 9, so she didn’t need a nap. I just needed to be sure she went to bed a little earlier that night). And yes, she needs stability, but we are still in the middle of a move, so that is out of my control. What I could offer her was the stability of a mother’s love.

Instead of lecturing her, I firmly told her to take a deep breath and stop crying. (Fits are not really allowed). Then, I scooped her up in my arms, hugged, her, and said “I think that you need some time with just me.” She went with me as I did errands, and I was able to be with her and just listen to her.

Now..it can be a bit easier to listen to a cute little kid rather than a teenager sometimes. President Nelson taught:

“The time to listen is when someone needs to be heard. Children are naturally eager to share their experiences, which range from triumphs of delight to trials of distress. Are we as eager to listen? If they try to express their anguish, is it possible for us to listen openly to a shocking experience without going into a state of shock ourselves? Can we listen without interrupting and without making snap judgments that slam shut the door of dialogue?”

He continues:
“Parents with teenage youth may find that time for listening is often less convenient but more important when young people feel lonely or troubled. And when they seem to deserve favor least, they may need it most.” – Russell M. Nelson

I love this quote.

And I admit, I have it easy. I have two teenage daughters, and they are simply amazing. Yet, being a mother is exhausting, and sometimes I’m not all that eager to listen.

When I am listening, sometimes I’m jarred by the fact that my teenagers are their own people with their own opinions. I’m startled when I realize that soon, they won’t be living with me anymore. That they don’t think I’m an expert. I still have a 7 year old son who thinks I’m the number 1 source of all knowledge and wisdom in the world! But my teenagers are keen on the fact that I don’t really know all that much.

Compound a healthy dose of skepticism with a not-quite-developed frontal lobe, and you have teenagers that sometimes say things that…drive you a little nuts.

But, if we listen, if we really listen, then we will understand. In fact, we might even learn something. I’ve learned so much from my children. They are patient, submissive, faithful. They want to do what is right. They are trying to negotiate this crazy world, and they are doing it so much better than I could have if I was a teenager right now.

When I listen to learn, then I’m actually better able to parent. Listening is really interesting. The more I listen to learn from my children, the more that they have been willing to listen to learn from me. True listening (not being a dumb doormat, but real listening) opens a door of trust.

Learn to Listen and Listen to Learn from Spouses

President Nelson stated:

“…some couples seem not to listen to one another. Taking time to talk is essential to keep lines of communication intact. If marriage is a prime relationship in life, it deserves prime time! Yet less important appointments are often given priority, leaving only leftover moments for listening to precious partners.” – Russell M. Nelson

I think that I’m a noticer. Sometimes being a noticer isn’t that good of a thing. In fact, sometimes being a noticer tempts me to be a little judgmental. But I’m a noticer still, and there are times when it is helpful. Sometimes I notice things like how men and women, husbands and wives interact with one another. There are some couples I want to emulate. Others not as much.

One couple that I really admire is my biological father and his wife.

Catania0052 - Jack and Regina Cacciato
Regina and Jack

I haven’t had as many experiences with them as I would like, but I’ve had enough to really learn from them.

Every time I’ve been in their home, there is a palpable feeling of love. Does this mean that they are all cheesy and mushy? Sometimes Yes! Other times, they gently tease one another. They have dealt with hardship and difficulty. They have also enjoyed victories and triumphs.

Their ability to listen to one another even literally saved a life. One evening, after falling asleep, Regina awoke to a strange noise. She said that Jack was doing some strange “monster” breathing. She said that sometimes he snored from time to time, and she would nudge him. He would then shift positions or whatever, and the breathing would go back to normal. But this time it was different.

I feel fairly confident that if they were not the type of couple that really listened to one another and cared for one another, then what followed would not have happened.

Jack didn’t stop his strange breathing, and he wasn’t particularly responsive to Regina. This is because, unbeknownst to her, he was having a heart attack. She didn’t just roll over, ignoring this man that slept by her side for over 30 years. It’s so easy to ignore the person closest to us. Instead she was alarmed.

She tried to get Jack’s attention, but still the strange noises. Her daughter (my sister) and husband (my brother-in-law) happened to be staying the night with Jack and Regina. And my brother-in-law happens to be doing his residency as a doctor. Matt, my brother-in-law, came to the bedroom and immediately recognized that Jack was having a heart attack.

Regina was a champ. Despite the high emotions of the situation, she listened to her children – to her son in law. He gave everyone there directions on what to do – call 911, open the door and look for the ambulence, etc. He directed Regina on how to help him move Jack off the bed, and then how to assist him with CPR. She listened. And she saved Jack’s life.

This is a fairly extreme example. And it is an obvious example on why we ought to listen.

We, in the Mormon faith, believe in eternal marriage. When we are married in the temple, the verbiage of the marriage covenant not “until death to you part.” It is an eternal covenant, an eternal marriage.

There are some people who are in insufferable marriages – for decades. And that’s not even a fraction of eternity! Gross! Terrible!

I’m a noticer. I have noticed one couple who have a low-grade fight at all times. (Yes, there are times when the fight escalates, but it is never gone completely. How incredibly exhausting.) Because of this low-grade, neverending fight, there is no room for true listening – the kind of listening that teaches and informs. Instead, “listening” is a weapon. The husband and wife of this marriage are almost like bots – listening for keywords that can help them in their fight to destroy one another. This marriage has lasted decades, and I can’t even imagine the strain.

Not only have I noticed the terrible marriage, but the effects on the individual is also unmistakeable. Because of decades of refusing to listen, love, and understand, they have become changed beings. It’s kind of like getting a sliver that then gets infected. After a certain point, the entire being is septic – not only the source point that started the infection.

It’s so depressing.

Contrast that with a couple like Jack and Regina, who may not always see eye to eye, but they have chosen to be loving and accepting to one another. They have chosen to listen to one another. They don’t make assumptions about one another. Listening is used to increase their joy in life and to build up their marriage – rather than as a tool to destroy one another.

Which situation would you want to be in for eternity?

Learn to Listen, then Listen to Learn from the Lord

Honestly, we could start and end the blog post with this. When we learn to listen to the Lord, and we listen to learn from the Lord, everything else will flow naturally.

When we learn to listen to the Spirit and actually listen to learn from it, we’ll also listen to learn from our children, parents, companions, neighbor, and church leaders.

When we learn to listen to the Spirit, we will develop discernment because listening doesn’t mean that we blindly follow everything that our children, parents, companions, neighbors, or church leaders say. Sometimes they are wrong! Sometimes they are even hurtful! We have to be wise.

The best way to be wise – learn to listen to the Spirit and listen to learn from it.

I have found that if I’m listening to the Spirit, then I can live with no regrets. Even if things don’t seem ideal, I can feel confident when I’m following the Lord in my life.

I love the following scripture:

“Hearken and hear, O ye my people, saith the Lord and your God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest of all blessings, ye that hear me; and ye that hear me not will I curse, that have professed my name, with the heaviest of all cursings.” – Doctrine and Covenants 41:1

Often, I focus on the part that says whom I delight to bless with the greatest of all blessings. It helps me to know that God loves to bless us. But this verse also tells us about our role in being blessed.

We need to hearken and hear.

President Nelson explained:

“Scriptures recorded in all dispensations teach that we show our love of God as we hearken to His commandments and obey them.14 These actions are closely connected. In fact, the Hebrew language of the Old Testament in most instances uses the same term for both hearkening (to the Lord) and obedience (to His word).” – Russell M. Nelson

Hearkening and hearing isn’t passive. When we hearken and hear, we actively obey. We repent, we change, we proceed, we strive. Hearkening and hearing means that we let His words become a part of us as we put them to the test in our lives.

Finally, President Nelson advises:

“Carefully listen to learn from the Lord through the still small voice—the Holy Spirit—which leads to truth. Listen to learn by studying scriptures that record His holy mind and will. Listen to learn in prayer, for He will answer the humble who truly seek Him.” – Russell M. Nelson

Listening to the Lord often requires us to “tune in.” We really have to turn the dial and adjust the volume if we want to hear what He has to say to us. This is done when we study the scriptures, when we pray, and when we act according to what He teaches us.

I know that this is true. There have been times when I haven’t tuned my heart or soul in to the Lord. When this is the case, I stumble along through life – surviving. But, I’ve got to admit. I’m not all that interested in merely surviving. I want to thrive, and I know that the Lord blesses in abundance. He wants us to thrive, too.

I have learned that when I prioritize my health – physical and spiritual – I’m better able to hear the gentle promptings of the Spirit. I have learned that when I then trust what the Spirit is guiding me to do, then I’m strengthened and blessed abundantly. When I learn to listen to the Spirit, I’ve come to realize that He is all around me! That everything testifies of Christ and His love for me. That He showers His tender mercies on me in my life – even if I’m not always capable of recognizing them.

Through learning to listen and listening to learn, I have come to realize that the Holy Ghost truly can be and is my constant companion. That He is always gently speaking to me – of the Love God has for me, of my value and worth.

Can you hear?

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Russell M. Nelson at Church

If you read this blog, then you know that recently I’ve been reading and then writing about the talks that President Russell M. Nelson has given since he was called as an apostle. It has been a great experience so far, and I plan to continue with this, but today I’m going to take a quick break.

Yesterday, at 12:45PM, my family and I packed up in our vehicle and headed off to church. There were dark skies, it looked like it would rain at any minute. Right now, I’m staying with my in-laws in a small valley in Utah, and I have to admit that I love when the skies are moody – with the threat of a mountain thunderstorm.

In my mind, I began to sing, “When dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us, and threaten our peace to destroy…there is hope smiling brightly before us, and we know that deliverance is nigh…”

We headed off to church, and the song felt like a tender mercy. It was a reminder that even when life feels a little overwhelming, we can have hope – deliverance is nigh.

Sunday in Heber Valley

We got out of our car, walked into the chapel, and it felt so weird. It was sooo quiet and reverent. This is a big ward, and usually on Sunday, it is humming like a beehive, but everyone was seated and quiet. We were there 10 minutes early, but it felt like we were late.

I scanned the congregation, looking for my mother and father-in-law and my daughters, who had left a few minutes before Homey and I did with the younger two. I found them, headed to our seat, and was still feeling disoriented as it was so quiet and reverent.

While walking to our bench, I noticed someone seated on the stand. A couple of familiar faces.

President Nelson and his wife!

President and Sister Nelson
This isn’t a picture I took…I got found it here

President Nelson is not a member of my in-law’s ward. He is not a usual visitor. No one, to my knowledge, knows why he chose to visit our ward’s sacrament meeting this week, but he and his wife were there. The reverence made sense, and I found myself encouraging my children to be a little more reverent. I found myself sitting up straighter, singing louder, and taking the whole experience of sacrament meeting a little more seriously.

WHY??????!!!

As soon as I found myself taking everything at church a little more reverently and seriously, I was disappointed in myself. Sacrament meeting this week was no different than any other sacrament meeting. I was there to participate in the ordinance of the sacrament and fellowship with the saints. Why do I need to be reminded of its sanctity by the prophet?

Why can’t I take church more seriously, why can’t I be more reverent on my own accord?!

I committed to make my worship more meaningful.

Sacrament with the Prophet

I couldn’t help but find myself watching the prophet as the sacrament was administered. I felt like a child watching a parent – looking for cues on how to act, what to do. How does the prophet partake of the sacrament? I wanted to watch and know.

So I did. Well, kind of. I mean, I tried to be a little more subtle than a toddler. And I realized that I already know how to be reverent in sacrament. But I still found myself observing the prophet.

And he acted just as I suspected he would. He shut his eyes, he bowed his head.

As I watched him, I followed suit. I would peek up every once in a while. It almost felt voyeuristic because I could see that this was a very personal experience for him. It made me realize that my sacrament experience isn’t quite as personal for me. I take it, I’m grateful. But am I really internalizing it each week?

Watching the prophet also gave me a feeling that is very hard to express. The word/feeling that kept coming to mind is:

This is real.

Nervous Speakers

The bishop, when conducting, openly admitted that he was “a bit terrified.”

The youth speaker didn’t really mention her own nerves, but gracefully gave an amazing talk. She had no idea the prophet would be there that day. She gave a talk about having the Spirit with us always. She bore testimony. It was a sublime talk and a gentle reminder to me that I need to do more to sue for the Spirit each day.

The high councilman, who had just been called to his position was giving his first talk as a high councilman. Usually, they try to find a return missionary to travel with the high councilman as he speaks. He didn’t have another speaker, and was worried. Until he found that there indeed would be another speaker (or two!) that day. He was a bit flustered, but gave a good talk about family history work and how he has approached it.

Though the talks were good, I think my thoughts probably reflected the same thoughts everyone in the congregation had that day. I want to hear the prophet.

Imagining

You can’t help, in those quiet moments during talks, during songs, etc. You can’t help but wonder, how long is the prophet going to stay? Will he meet each of us? Will he shake our hands? Can we just stay in sacrament meeting instead of our other classes? Can we just ask him questions and hear his answers?

You can’t help but imagine more…I would love to tell him Thank you. I sustain you. I would love for him to look into my children’s eyes and smile – so they can meet a true prophet of God.

Of course, my imagining was interrupted by my rationality. He and his wife probably won’t stay. This is a huge congregation. How could he possibly shake all of our hands. You need to respect him and his wife and their time, Catania.

I realized something in that moment. The ache that I felt, to meet the prophet, to shake his hand, was representative another desire. The ache I felt to be close to the Prophet is actually the ache I feel to be close to the Savior.

jesus-with-mary-martha-39572-gallery
This is where I want to be one day.

I realized that President Nelson, he is the mouthpiece of the Lord. And he is here with us – in the flesh. And that, even though he is a mouthpiece, he isn’t actually the Savior either. I realized that my desire, to meet the prophet, is righteous but inaccurate. Really, I want to meet the Savior. I want to shake his hand. I want my children to meet Him. I want to worship Him in the flesh.

Again the thought came This is real.

I felt comforted to know that the ache I felt was really an ache for the Savior. It is a good feeling. And that although the Savior doesn’t dwell among us now, He has sent us a prophet. This is real! President Nelson really is a prophet of God. He really has had a witness, a special witness of Christ. President Nelson is a prophet, seer, revelator. No, we don’t worship him. He doesn’t want to be worshipped. But he does represent the Savior and the Savior’s power in a special way by virtue of his calling.

And because I could see President Nelson sitting there, a prophet of God, I could also rest assured that Christ is real! That at a future point, I will meet my Savior. I will worship Him in person. I will shake His hand, and I’ll probably cry instead of do anything meaningful or gracefulMy children will meet Him.

This is real.

Everything – everything that I’m doing in my life is because the gospel is real. The Savior is real.

I love learning things – principles – that help us to have better lives. And often I learn about these principles in books and on podcasts. And while they are very good things to learn, while they have made my life better, without the Savior no type of self improvement is even possible.

This is real! Over and over again, that was the feeling I had.

The Sacrament is a real ordinance.

The Prophet is a real man, called of God. He’s sitting up there. He looks older in person, but also realer.

The Savior is real. This is His restored Church. Every good thing in this world is possible because of Him.

Sister Nelson Speaks

After the High Councilor spoke, the Bishop announced that Sister Nelson would speak to us and then the Prophet would speak to us. He also asked us that, after the closing song, we would remain seated as the Prophet exited.

Sister Nelson got up to speak. She was wearing a purple jacket and a black scarf thing. She looked pretty but not high maintenance. “Neat and comely” is exactly how I would describe her.

As she walked up to the podium, I started to realize that so much of what “matters” to me is trivial. I’ll be absolutely honest with you, so please don’t judge me. I noticed that she is a woman, an older woman. She doesn’t have what one would describe as a “perfect body.” But she was radiant.

She radiated strength, knowledge, and testimony. She looked intelligent.

She began to speak, and everything she said reflected what she radiated. I don’t know much about her, but I felt an overwhelming amount of respect for her.

Here are a few points of what she said to us:

  • Family History work is important – she echoed the message we heard from our high councilman. … She had done a lot of family history work in her life. She had even gone to sites and found artifacts. She knew so much about her family. But for years she had never taken the time to research her family history and do temple work for her kindred.After hearing the talk The Joy of Redeeming the Dead by Richard G. Scott, she knew she needed to make a change. She told us how that talk resonated with her, and within a month of him addressing us, she had read the talk nearly a hundred times.

    Since 2012, she has read or listened to the talk over 250 times. I can’t say that I’ve ever read any conference talk so much!

    But even more important than reading a talk repeatedly, she was moved to action. She began to do the work for her family. She went to the temple. She had special experiences.

    She said that she was doing the work for the dead, then remarked, “And they don’t like being called ‘the dead,’ by the way!”

    I have been able to do work for my ancestors and family, and immediately I felt comforted by what she said. I have had my own experiences and I know that though our friends and family who are inhabiting the Spirit World may be “dead” physically, the end of our mortal lives is not the end. They are still alive – spiritually. They are working, learning, and waiting. I know that they are praying for us, and that the connection we have with our family doesn’t end with death. What a beautiful sentiment for her to share with us.

  • President Nelson is a prophet of God. She shared with us that she has had two very special and strong experiences that have testified to her that President Russell Marion Nelson is indeed God’s Prophet, Seer, and Revelator on the earth today.No, she didn’t share these experiences. She didn’t need to. I don’t need to know the details of her experiences. The Spirit confirmed to me that what she said was true. He is the prophet. I’ve had my own witness, and now I was listening to the witness of another.

The Prophet Speaks

It only took me 1,989 words to finally get to this point! After Sister Nelson was seated, President Nelson spoke to us. As he approached the stand, I put my son on my lap. I encouraged my children to listen to a Prophet of God. I wished that I would be able to record this experience. I prayed that the Holy Ghost would help me to remember what the Prophet said to us. I am still praying for that blessing now.

The Book of Mormon is the Word of God

The Prophet said a bunch of nice things to us and our ward – things that I’m sure 1) He says in every ward/branch/stake he visits 2) things he MEANS in every ward/branch/stake he visits.

Before I go on, I want to share an interesting thing…President Nelson is a normal old man. Really, I kept looking at him, looking for a shining light or halo. But he is a 93 year old man, and he looks like an 93 year old man. Well, maybe an 87 year old man. Not sure.  I’m reminded of the scripture in Isaiah:

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” – Isaiah 53:2

This scripture is a description of the Savior, but it applies also to President Nelson. “There is no beauty that we should desire him.” He isn’t glittery or shiny. And with our natural eyes, he has no form or comeliness.

Yet, when I looked at the prophet, and let the Spirit in my heart, I began to see him a different way. I saw him with my spiritual eyes, and that is when I could really see the man he is. Then I could see that from his countenance emanated the love that he has for everyone – and the love that the Lord has for us all.

I guess I want to share this because if President Nelson is so special, why isn’t everyone just converted to the gospel when they meet him? It’s because we have to choose to see.

President Nelson started to tell us about an experience he recently had – meeting with some of the dignitaries of the NAACP. Before they met together, President Nelson wondered if they should present these dignitaries with a gift, and if so, what should that gift be?

It was concluded that they would give a gift. They decided to present these dignitaries with personal leather-bound Books of Mormon – with their names inscribed on the cover.

When they presented these Books of Mormon to the NAACP Representatives that met together, President Nelson explained that this was the most valuable and precious thing in his life, and the most valuable and precious gift that he could think of to give.

The Book of Mormon, he explained, is a testament of the Savior from the ancient inhabitants of the Americas.

He said, the Book of Mormon is far more valuable than money, diamonds, emeralds, rubies. Do we realize this?!

President Nelson mention that in one day, Joseph Smith was able to translate roughly 9 pages of the Book of Mormon. This was without a computer, word processor, spell check, etc. In fact, Oliver Cowdery was writing 9 pages of Book of Mormon text with a turkey feather quill and ink!!!!!!!  Can you even imagine? Then the Prophet continued, “And we feel accomplished when we can read one chapter in a day!”

I love the Book of Mormon, and I have a testimony of it, I felt inspired by the Prophet’s testimony, but I also felt a gentle rebuke. It IS worth more than diamonds, rubies, or the riches of the earth. And I have one. I have one on my phone. I have at least a dozen or so small “missionary” Books of Mormon – in boxes, in my suitcase. I have owned at least 3 sets of “nice scriptures” – the quads that contain all of the scriptures in one place. I have so much of this abundance in my life, that I kind of forget its value!

I read the Book of Mormon with my family, but my own personal study has suffered during our moves. What is the reason for that? Mostly it’s because I’m kind of spoiled. I forget. I forget that…

This is real!

It’s real! The Book of Mormon is real! It really came from Nephi and Jacob, and Alma and Mormon and Moroni by the command of God. The experiences related in its pages are real. The Savior really did visit the Americas after his resurrection. The Book of Mormon really will bring us closer to Christ than any other book.

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ Love Each of Us

I wish, how I wish I could remember everything that the Prophet said verbatim. But I can’t.

After bearing testimony of the Book of Mormon, The Prophet encouraged everyone – and especially the youth – to study it, to read about the gathering of Israel. That his upcoming youth devotional will address the gathering of Israel, and that reading the Book of Mormon will help them to prepare for it.

He then expressed the Love that Heavenly Father has for us. I felt like the Prophet was looking right at me when he said, “Heavenly Father knows you and loves you, personally. Jesus Christ knows you and loves you, personally.” He knows our circumstances, He understands us.

I can’t remember the Prophet’s exact words, and maybe they aren’t as important as what I felt. I can remember what I felt. Often, when I receive a blessing from Homey, there is a mention of the Love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for me. Especially if this is a blessing of comfort when I’m sick or overwhelmed – there is a recognition of Heavenly Father’s and Jesus Christ’s perfect awareness of my situation – my trials, my worries, etc. In fact, I’ll share the verbiage of this type of blessing because I actually think it applies to us all:

 I bless you with peace. I bless you with the knowledge that your Heavenly Father and Savior are aware of your situation and the details in your life and in your challenges right now. I bless you that you will be able to feel their love for you, and a strong spiritual comfort that you have been led and guided by them…

As the Prophet spoke of the Love that our Heavenly Father and Savior have for each of us, I felt it specifically. I felt exactly as I feel when I receive a Priesthood Blessing.

On Saturday night, I didn’t get much sleep. We are in the middle of a big transition, a big move. This transition really has taken years of effort. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had with my family. I am grateful for the guidance of the Spirit. I’m grateful for the chances I’ve had to make sacrifices and choices. And when I’m wide awake, I’m really capable of maintaining faith and courage.

Then night comes. And I start to fall asleep. The voice of my subconscious seems to be louder and more persuasive than my rational or spiritual voices. Any of the challenges that I’m experiencing loom darker and heavier at night. Thankfully this doesn’t happen every night. Most nights I say my prayers, give Homey a kiss, and get some sleep.

But you know how it is. Sometimes there are those nights when your brain won’t turn off. The hours passed, and I finally decided to read conference talks – President Nelson’s talk about revelation, specifically.

I didn’t have any shattering revelations. Instead, my mind was occupied enough to finally doze into sleep.

As I went to church, I saw the dark clouds hanging over the valley. I felt assured that though I was overwhelmed with metaphorical “dark clouds” the Lord’s deliverance is nigh.

Then, when I heard the prophet speak, I felt reassured – yes, Heavenly Father is aware of every specific detail of my life. He will not forsake me or my family. He loves me and supports me. He loves and supports all of us. He allows us to experience hard things because the only way to the top of the mountain is up.

empire pass
It isn’t easy getting here. God knows that, and He wants us to climb anyway – because it is totally worth it!

The Lord lets us experience hard things because they give way to happy things. The Lord has blessed us with a Prophet. The Lord has given us the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He has given us the Priesthood. He has given us a Savior.

This is Real

We All Stand as the Prophet Leaves

 

The Prophet finished his remarks. He sat down. We sang a closing song. (Hymn 220 – Lord I would Follow Thee, a favorite!) After the closing prayer, we stood up and remained in our places.

The organist was a total champ. He played “We Thank Thee, Oh God, For a Prophet,” as the Prophet shook hands with the Bishop, the speakers, as the prophet slowly and happily walked down through the chapel and out the doors.

I wanted to sing out loud.

Tears fell down my cheeks – because I was consumed with the knowledge that the Savior and Heavenly Father love us, love me! They love us enough to bless us with a prophet. Tears fell because I realized that there are people who love the Lord enough to dedicate their entire lives to serving Him.

Tears fell down my cheeks because This is Real!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t just a nice way to gather with like-minded people. It isn’t simply a social organization. It isn’t a society of people dedicated to making this world better.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s church. He is real. His son is real. He created this earth. He knows each of us by name and loves each of us individually. The Savior really came in the meridian of time to atone for our sins, so that we could live in joy forever. The Savior really has revealed to His prophets – to guide us, teach us, and testify to us. The Savior is still revealing to His Prophet – to guide us in these latter days.

I’m so thankful to God for a Prophet. I will never forget the time I was able to partake of the Sacrament with Him. I will never forget what I felt – that this is Real. I hope that by sharing my experience with you, you are also strengthened in your knowledge that this is real. That God Loves you. That He has given us a Savior – Jesus Christ. And that we have a prophet who dwells among us on this earth today.

“Thus Shall My Church Be Called” – Russell M. Nelson

Today I’m studying the talk “Thus Shall My Church Be Called,” by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 1990 General Conference.

***

First of all – I’m excited – I made it to the 90s! We still have a long way to go until I’m reading President Nelson’s current talks, but getting to a new decade is still pretty exciting. At the time President Nelson gave this talk, I was 11 1/2 years old. I’m sure that I watched this when I was a kid, but I have no recollection of this talk or of any of the talks that I’ve read up to this point. I have absolutely loved reading and studying these talks now.

***

I Belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

This talk is about the name of our church. It seems like we hear these types of talks every once in a while.

I remember hearing a part of an interview of the creators of the Book of Mormon musical. They were laughing about how awkward the name of our church is, there are too many prepositional phrases in it. I hate to say it, but I kind of understood what they meant.

I lived in Texas until I was almost 15 years old. Then I moved to Pennsylvania until I went to college. Most people hadn’t heard of my church, and if they had, they always thought of us as “Mormons.” If someone asked me what church I went to, I often found myself answering, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Often, I was met with a blank stare and clarification. Then I’d say, “I’m a Mormon.”

Though I don’t say, “I go to the Mormon Church,” and I know the true name of our church, I can see why it is good for the Apostles to give talks like these from time to time. This talk is a good resource for us to share with others when they may have questions about the name of our church. It is also a good reminder to us – to remember the name of our church and what it means.

Saints

President Nelson begins by teaching us what the word “saints” actually means – as far as it is used by the Savior and in the Bible. He taught:

“Despite its use in ninety-eight verses of the Bible, the term saint is still not well understood. Some mistakenly think that it implies beatification or perfection. Not so! A saint is a believer in Christ and knows of His perfect love.”  – Russell M. Nelson

Though people commonly think of a saint as “one officially recognized especially through canonization as preeminent holiness,” this is not how we use the term. Instead, we use the term in a more biblical sense. In the Bible, those who were Christians were considered Saints.

A great example of this is through reading the epistles of Paul. As President Nelson noted:

“Paul addressed an epistle “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 1:1.)

To recent converts there he said, “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Eph. 2:19; see also Eph. 3:17–19.)

In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul used the word saint at least once in every chapter!” – Russell M. Nelson

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we consider saints to be individuals who are converted and who are striving to be the kind of people the Savior wants us to be. We are living. We are imperfect. We are faithful.

Latter-day

“Latter-day” has never really been a difficult concept for me to understand, but then again, I grew up in the church. President Nelson explained:

“The term latter-day is an expression especially difficult for translators who labor in languages in which there is not a good equivalent term. Some translations may suggest last day.

It is true that scriptures foretell the final days of the earth’s temporal existence as a telestial sphere. The earth will then be renewed and receive its paradisiacal, or terrestrial, glory. (See A of F 1:10.) Ultimately, the earth will become celestialized. (See Rev. 21:1; D&C 77:1; D&C 88:25–26.) But its last days must be preceded by its latterdays!

We live in those latter days, and they are really remarkable. The Lord’s Spirit is being poured out upon all inhabitants of the earth, precisely as the Prophet Joel foretold.” – Russell M. Nelson

So – if the “last days” are the final days of the earth’s temporal existence (hard to get my mind around – I guess that’s Armageddon), then this current time could be considered the days right before the last day. So, the latter days.

Late, but not last.

Maybe if I was thinking of this in terms of a baseball game, we are in the latter innings – post 7th inning stretch, but the game isn’t over.

The game isn’t over, but it’s wrapping up.

So – when we think of the name of the Church, the name that the Lord gave, then we understand that we are the saints of the last days – we are not the saints of the meridian of time. We are not the saints of the early days of the church. We are the saints that are “playing” during the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings.

One other point stood out to me in this talk regarding the latter days. President Nelson stated:

“Surely the hand of the Lord is apparent. He said, “I will hasten my work in its time” (D&C 88:73), and that time of hastening is now.” – Russell M. Nelson

I’m currently typing my thoughts on a laptop computer. I read this talk on my iPhone – a computer that essentially fits in my pocket. I have more information accessible to me than I can process. I can do family history work, I can call and communicate with the other side of the world. I can facetime family and friends who live in other time zones.

I can drive across town, I can fly across the country. I can watch TV, movies, etc. I can wash my clothes in a machine. I wash my dishes in another machine.

I don’t butcher my food, but I go to a grocery store that sells me both local and exotic foods.

The changes in our lives and technology in these “latter-days” is astounding and quite mind-boggling. It is especially so when you compare the current rate of technology with any other period of time.

I believe that these changes are evidence that these are the “latter days” – when the Lord is hastening His work.

Jesus Christ

President Nelson explained:

“By divine directive, the title of the Church bears the sacred name of Jesus Christ, whose church this is.” – Russell M. Nelson

This Church is the Church of Jesus Christ. We worship God in Christ’s name. He is central to our faith and our salvation. Without Jesus Christ, there would be no need for any other part of our church’s name. Without Jesus Christ, there would be no Book of Mormon (it is a Testament of Jesus Christ!) Without Jesus Christ, there would be no Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As President Nelson shared:

“We revere the name of Jesus Christ. He is our risen Redeemer.” – Russell M. Nelson

Jesus Christ created the earth.

Jesus Christ was Jehovah of the Old Testament.

Jesus Christ came to this world to do the work and the will of His Father. He lived a perfect life, taught, served, suffered, died, and was resurrected – so that we could find hope and Salvation.

Jesus Christ lives and loves us.

Jesus Christ will one day return.

The Church

Sometimes I wonder why we need to have an organized church. There are so many people I know, love, and respect who are smart and spiritual people that don’t believe in an “organized religion.” Sometimes this idea is pretty attractive to me – to simply believe in Christ but not be a part of some kind of organization.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is very individualized. We are to counsel with God. We are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Yet, we are also commanded to gather together often as saints.

President Nelson taught:

“The Church is the way by which the Master accomplishes His work and bestows His glory. Its ordinances and related covenants are the crowning rewards of our membership. While many organizations can offer fellowship and fine instruction, only His church can provide baptism, confirmation, ordination, the sacrament, patriarchal blessings, and the ordinances of the temple—all bestowed by authorized priesthood power. That power is destined to bless all children of our Heavenly Father, regardless of their nationality:

“The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth.” (D&C 65:2; see also Dan. 2:37–45; D&C 109:72.)” – Russell M. Nelson

Though the idea of a personal, spiritual quest with mountain top church and without social structure sounds kind of nice, it is actually not ideal. It is not what the Lord has organized for us. It doesn’t offer the ordinances and covenants that we need in order to receive salvation.

We need the Church because we need each other. We need to bear one another’s burdens. I’m uplifted when I help to lift others. And I know that I have been the recipient of love and comfort from others, too.

We need to comfort others, we need to serve others. We need the chance to bear our testimony and hear the testimonies of others. Through the organization of the Church, we are able to get these things that we need – to help with our spiritual and emotional nourishment.

Of course, we are imperfect, which sometimes means that “The Church” is imperfect. Despite this, the Savior has commanded us to be a Church – to nurture and love one another. Sometimes the “imperfect” thing is exactly what we need. We need each other – we need The Church.

***

Finally, it is crucial to remember that the name: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is what the Lord named the church. It wasn’t a name made up by Joseph Smith. It was given to Joseph Smith by the Lord. We read:

“Thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” – Doctrine and Covenants 115:4

***

I’m so grateful to be a member of this Church. I know that it is a blessing that I’ve been given. I haven’t done anything to deserve it. I’m not more righteous or special than anyone else. Yet I have the light and truth of the gospel in my life. I’ve been able to make covenants that have blessed me and my family. I’m so grateful to be able to proclaim, “I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

I’m also grateful to know that our prophet understands the name of our Church and that the name was given by the Savior. President Nelson isn’t under any kind of presumption that this is his church since he is the prophet. This is Christ’s church, and I’m so grateful to know that President Nelson understands this and what it means to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

SaveSave

Woman – Of Infinite Worth – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying the talk Woman – of Infinite Worth, by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the October 1989 General Conference.

I actually read this talk first on Mother’s Day. It was so appropriate!

Grandma and Me
Grandma and Me – My Grandma is one of the women I most admire.

I hate to admit this, but sometimes I’m a little ambivalent when I hear “women” talks. I don’t know if I can totally express what I feel. In some ways I love them. In other ways, I wonder why we need these kinds of talks. Can’t we all just be more confident in our purpose on this earth – without worrying so much about what the world around us might say? In some ways I like the recognition of my importance as a woman from a church leader. Yet, in some ways I feel like, why do they feel like they need to stroke our ego.

I guess it is important to remember that these talks are given by inspiration, and there is a lot of misunderstanding about the roles of mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, women, men. These reminders help us to focus on our purpose so that we can have joy.

So the point is – sometimes I’m ambivalent. I hope that with this knowledge, you will read the rest of what I write with an open mind. Today, I’m just going to pick out a quote and then make an observation. So – maybe not the most organized…Sorry…and Thanks!

Quote One

“At a recent news conference in an Eastern European country, I was asked about the potential for women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I replied that perhaps the Church does more to enlighten understanding about and to lift the cause of women than any other institution on earth. It provides the path to her eternal destiny.” – Russell M. Nelson

Okay – so with this quote, I have ambivalence. On the one hand, in a way I kind of feel uncomfortable that a man is being asked that question, and that a man is answering it. I know that I’d feel differently if it was Sharon Eubank, or Julie B. Beck, or maybe Sheri Dew answering that question. But I can’t help the scenario someone asked a man not a woman, so I need to simply be more humble because the fact is:

I totally agree with President Nelson.

I’ll share an experience I had several years ago.

I was a single working mom, and was caught up in an annoying swirl of office politics. I was naive. This was my first “real job.” I had only been working for a few months, so I think that there were some people at my company that were trying to figure out what kind of person I was. In fact, there was a woman (not my boss, but in my department), that – I think – was ready to mentor me. (I see this looking back on it).

Anyway – the details don’t matter, but there was some confusion between my boss and this other woman with whom I had a dotted-line relationship. There was a little bit of turmoil, in fact. I, this young malleable woman, was in the cross-hairs of this little political charade, and I was naive enough to have no idea what was going on.

Ultimately, as I started to gain insight on what was happening (thanks to my patient and kind boss), I decided to stay loyal to my boss, the woman to whom I reported directly. I figured that this was just a job. I had two kids at home. I didn’t have a husband. I knew that I would need to be smart about how I behaved at work because I had no idea how long I’d need to work. This might need to be a career for me, and I wanted to build bridges rather than burn them.

I felt comforted by the Spirit as I walked away from some opportunities that my “dotted line” boss was offering me – even though these opportunities included going to France and perhaps some upward movement in my company. Instead, I resolved to simply bloom where I was planted and work hard so I could go home happy and assured that I was living in a Christ-like way.

Okay… So, here’s where it relates to the quote above.

One day, while my boss was out, the other woman in my department wanted to talk to me. I still had projects I worked with her on, so this wasn’t out of the ordinary. We talked about our project, then she kind of put the pressure on about how this whole mess – and where I stood. She was still kind of offering me a way to go under her wing – she could create a position for me because she was leaving the department to head up another department it would be a big opportunity for me.

And I told her I wasn’t sure that I was interested. The situation I was in was good for me and for my family.

And then I left her office.

About half an hour later, she stopped by my cube and said simply, “What a disappointment, Catania. I thought you had ambition.”

It was kind of a blow, but before I had the chance to really feel upset by what she said, I felt something else in my heart, I DO have ambitions, but they are eternal.

It was such a freedom for me to realize this! In fact, I’m grateful for the humiliating situation. From that point on, I never felt unsure about any decision that I have made – as long as I’ve made it with the Spirit. My ambitions are eternal, and though they may not make sense or garner much praise in this world, I don’t really care. I’m willing to pay the price now for something far greater in the future.

All of this to say, I agree with President Nelson. The gospel of Jesus Christ, within the context of His Church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has helped me as a woman more than anything I’ve ever experienced. More than women’s studies classes. More than jobs. The gospel has provided me with an understanding of who I am and what I’m capable of. It has provided me the path to my eternal destiny.

Quote Two

“Blessings of the priesthood are shared by men and women. All may qualify for baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. All may take upon themselves the name of the Lord and partake of the sacrament. All may pray and receive answers to their prayers. Gifts of the Spirit and testimonies of the truth are bestowed regardless of gender. Men and women receive the highest ordinance in the house of the Lord together and equally, or not at all (see D&C 131:1–3).” – Russell M. Nelson

I love this quote and I believe it.

There is a lot of talk about “women and the priesthood.” There are even some people who accuse the LDS church of being sexist against women because of the priesthood. I’ve never really been able to completely understand these complaints because women are blessed by the priesthood. It is not a “boys only” club. The Priesthood is God’s power that He has decided to share with us.

And we are all blessed by it.

Quote Three

“Opportunities for development of spiritual and intellectual potential are equal. Masculinity has no monopoly on the mind, and femininity has no exclusive dominion over the heart. The highest titles of human achievement—teacher, educated professional, loyal employee, faithful friend, student of the scriptures, child of God, disciple of Christ, trusted companion, loving parent—are earned under a uniform requirement of worthiness.” – Russell M. Nelson

Sometimes it can be easy to be skeptical of anyone and everyone in a leadership position (of any kind). I think that our current society has taught us that. We are skeptical of our politicians, teachers, church leaders and more.

I’m not saying that we have to trust people willy-nilly, but I can see how some of this skepticism has extended into my life. When I read talks about women, like this one, I have more skepticism about the speaker than might be fair.

But we have to remember something. There is nothing particularly noble about being skeptical.

Now this doesn’t man that we must be gullible either.

Instead, if we live worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, we can be discerning. The Holy Ghost will help us to be able to discern between truth and error. So then, we will know when to be skeptical and when to be trusting.

As I read this talk, I feel the comfort of the Holy Ghost. I feel peace in my soul, and I know that the words that President Nelson speaks are true. He isn’t giving this talk to pay some kind of lip service to women – half of the population of the church and world. I believe that he believes what he is preaching.

And what a beautiful truth.

Men don’t have more access to intelligence. Women don’t have more access to kindness. We each are required to develop the matters of the mind and of the heart, and the requirement for worthiness in developing these attributes is the same.

Quote Four

“A wise woman renews herself. In proper season, she develops her talents and continues her education. She musters the discipline to reach her goals. She dispels darkness and opens windows of truth to light her way.” – Russell M. Nelson

I will admit that I love this quote because I have a bit of confirmation bias.

I tend to consider myself a “Jack of many trades, master of none.” And I don’t really care about that. I’m not the kind of person to say, “I don’t have any talents.” (And I hate it when other people say it, too…we all have talents!) But I also know that I’m not the best at anything I do.

It doesn’t matter.

It’s just the process of developing a talent. It’s the process of learning. It’s the process of exercising discipline. We don’t have to be a master to “dispel darkness and open windows of truth.” We simply need to be hungry and to search.

I also love this quote because there are so many women who put off their own renewal and development for everyone around them. This may seem like a noble, Christlike thing to do, but we misunderstand. As the old object lesson goes – if you don’t fill your pitcher first, then you will have nothing to share with others.

I know that when I renew myself as President Nelson suggest – in proper season – then I have more to share and give to my children. My 15 year old daughter wrote me a mother’s day card. In it she said, “Thank you for teaching me everything you know.” That stood out to me, and made me feel satisfied that I have spent so much time running down rabbit holes of curiosity. I’m grateful that I have developed so many talents and interests. I’m aware of the fact that many of my “talents” are not fully developed. Some will never really “develop,” but in the chase I’ve learned more about the process of learning and I’ve come to appreciate said talents even more – because they are so hard!

I’m grateful that I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned and teach it to my children. I can’t imagine this life without curiosity, wonder, and learning. And I’m so grateful that an apostle (now prophet) has encouraged women to renew herself, develop talents, and continue her education.

Quote Five

“A righteous woman is a student of the scriptures.” – Russell M. Nelson

I love the scriptures! I love this quote!

You don’t need to be a “priesthood holder” to be a student of the scriptures. You don’t need to serve a mission to be a student of the scriptures. You don’t need study guides to be a student of the scriptures. You don’t need to go to BYU to be a student of the scriptures.

All you need are some scriptures and the Spirit of God.

I love what President Nelson follows up with “Many apply uniquely to her life.” In the transcript of this talk is a list of scriptures:  Gen. 27:46; Ps. 113:9; Prov. 31:10–31; Eph. 5:22–33; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:3–5; Jacob 3:7; Mosiah 4:14—16; D&C 25.

Now, this is when I get a little ambivalent. There are times when I truly ache for more records of women. I don’t just mean stories about women either. I mean, their words, their thoughts, their journals! How I would love to read Sariah’s story as she supported Lehi in traveling in the wilderness. She had so much faith! She didn’t have a vision to leave, she just trusted her husband!

How I wish I could read the story of Nephi’s wife (we don’t even know her name) – and how she was always saving him from his nutty brothers.

How I would love to read the words of the mothers of the stripling warriors. I know that they knew God and that they trusted Him. I know that they taught their sons. But how I would love to read about their experiences – being converted to the gospel, the change that the gospel must have made in their family life, how there were so many who became widowed (how did they deal with that?!), and how they taught their sons.

How I wish I could read the records of Mary – not only when she found out that she would bear Christ, but while she raised Him.

So – I’m ambivalent sometimes when I hear a man say that the scriptures apply uniquely to my life. How can he understand what it feels like as a woman to go to the scriptures and find the stories of man after man?

I don’t want to put words into President Nelson’s mouth, but I think that he would say, he can’t.

And even though President Nelson is a man, I would echo and confirm exactly what he said: Many apply uniquely to her life.” I have experienced this. Every time I’ve opened the scriptures, I’ve felt uplifted and edified – not only in a general sense but in a specific sense.

The scriptures aren’t about men or women. They are about disciples of Christ. The example we see from a man like Nephi – courageous, obedient, fully puts his trust in God – is an example that benefits men and women alike.

I’m not a man. I’m not a man living in the middle east 600 years before Christ. But through the scriptures – whether the scripture is the story of a man or a woman – I have understood more about my divine identity and destiny. On more than one occasion the scriptures have applied directly to my life. The scriptures have taught me the kind of person I need to be in order to have joy and fulfillment in my life.

So – even though I may want to be ambivalent when I hear a man say Many apply uniquely to her life – in the end I’m not because I unequivocally believe and agree with it.

Quote Six

“Her self-esteem cannot be based on physical features, possession or lack of a particular talent, or comparative quantities of anything. Her self-esteem is earned by individual righteousness and a close relationship with God.” – Russell M. Nelson

I think that I could write an entire blog post just on this single quote.

I’m not much of a big believer of the idea of “self-esteem.” I know that it’s something we say a lot. We talk about developing our children’s self-esteem. But the problem I have with self-esteem is that so often it is conflated with what others do and say.

Instead of using the term “self-esteem” I prefer – confidence.

Even though President Nelson uses the term “self-esteem” (It was the late 80s after all!), I actually agree with him. Instead of getting our self-esteem from the validation of others, we can get confidence from a relationship with God.

When we choose to gain confidence in ourselves through the interactions that we have with our Heavenly Father – then nothing anyone does or says to us will deflate it. I learned this in my first marriage. I had let my whole identity get wrapped up in the acceptance and validation of my first husband.

Problem: he was unfaithful! He did things to systematically destroy my confidence! Yikes!

After my divorce, I drew closer to the Lord than ever, and I had many experiences that gave me confidence – without any validation from outside sources. And I learned that if I go to God – my loving Heavenly Father – for a sense of validation, esteem, and identity – than nothing anyone else does can destroy that.

I agree wholeheartedly with what President Nelson teaches here. Though he is a man and doesn’t understand the social pressure put on women (especially physically – by men!), he speaks the truth.

Quote Seven

“The Good Shepherd said, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15.) So a woman feeds her loved ones, providing succor and sustenance just as the Savior would do. Her divine gift is to nurture, to help the young, to care for the poor, to lift the brokenhearted.” – Russell M. Nelson

I suppose I could feel a bit ambivalent about this scripture. Twenty years ago, I would have, actually. Twenty years ago, I might have thought that it would be just like a man to say that a woman’s gift is to nurture.

In fact, I think that I did say something like that twenty or so years ago – thankfully I’ve been blessed with a personality that is always questioning everything – even what I think. Why is this a bad thing? Why has the idea of “nurturing” get such a bad rap in our world? Is nurturing others simply a way to keep women subservient? Or is being nurturing, perhaps, something else?

Usually, within the context of the gospel, the answer to the question why (if you keep asking it over and over and over again) will boil down to one scripture:

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” – Moses 1:39

Why is it a woman’s gift to be nurturing? Well, Heavenly Father has a big, important work to do – to bring to pass OUR immortality and OUR eternal life. In order for this to happen, we have several needs – both temporal and physical. We need care both body and spirit.

Heavenly Father taught us how it would get done – he gave us families. He created men and women that could fulfill certain duties that would help to accomplish His great work.

This blog post isn’t about the nitty-gritty of those roles, but as I’ve come to understand why we women have been given a gift to nurture, I’ve become more honored to have such a gift and a role.

I’m not subservient. I’m essential.

To nurture – is to nourish. Imagine trying to raise a tender plant without nourishing it! Impossible.

President Nelson continues:

“To help another human being reach one’s celestial potential is part of the divine mission of woman. As mother, teacher, or nurturing saint, she molds living clay to the shape of her hopes. In partnership with God, her divine mission is to help spirits live and souls be lifted. This is the measure of her creation. It is ennobling, edifying, and exalting.” – Russell M. Nelson

So – now instead of ambivalence – I rejoice in statements like the one made by President Nelson! I want to nurture everyone within my reach – not only my children. I want to be the type of woman who builds up everyone around her. This is a subtle art, and I have so much to learn. But I think we all know a woman like that – who is smart, loving, kind, but quietly nurtures all who come in contact with her.

Quote Eight

“A woman’s richest rewards will come as she rises to fulfill her destiny as a devoted daughter of God. To all faithful Saints He has promised thrones, kingdoms, principalities, glory, immortality, and eternal lives. (See Rom. 2:7; D&C 75:5; D&C 128:12, 23; D&C 132:19.) That is the potential for women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is exalting, everlasting, and divine.” – Russell M. Nelson, emphasis added

I could raise my “ambivalence” concerns, but this blog post is already long. My “ambivalence” doesn’t matter because like every other concern I’ve listed, the Spirit has given way for me to feel confident and unequivocal – rather than ambivalent and skeptical.

So instead, I’ll just share my excitement for the truth that is shared here by President Nelson.

I have learned for myself that Heavenly Father dreams bigger for me than I can. I have learned that I can trust Him completely. Though my earthly life may not leave much of an impact on others – I will not be powerful or famous or whatever – this doesn’t mean that my life has been a waste! Heavenly Father’s dreams for us include “thrones, kingdoms, principalities, glory, and eternal lives.” I can’t even wrap my head around that!

But I trust Him.

So even though what I do may be small. Even though I may be a “stay at home mom” and I’ll never have an important or high paying job, even though I may not gain worldly recognition, even though I may not “accomplish much,” when I live simply and faithfully, then I will do what I was sent to this earth to do. I will feel joy. And I will qualify for all that God delights in blessing me with.

***

I’m so grateful for a Prophet who guides this church and will speak the truth even if it garners ambivalent and skeptical thoughts from others. I’m grateful that President Nelson is brave enough to speak the truth even if he may feel unqualified to do so. I’m grateful that President Nelson is worthy of the Spirit so that He can deliver a message that we need to hear. And I know, because the Spirit, that President Nelson speaks the truth.

 

“With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible” – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying the talk, With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible,” by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 1988 session of General Conference.

For with God Nothing Shall Be Impossible

This talk was the perfect thing for me to study today.

I think that I’ll start with this quote, even though this came at the end of the talk:

You who may be momentarily disheartened, remember, life is not meant to be easy. Trials must be borne and grief endured along the way. As you remember that “with God nothing shall be impossible,” know that He is your Father. You are a son or daughter created in His image, entitled through your worthiness to receive revelation to help with your righteous endeavors. You may take upon you the holy name of the Lord. You can qualify to speak in the sacred name of God. It matters not that giants of tribulation torment you. Your prayerful access to help is just as real as when David battled his Goliath. – Russell M. Nelson

I have an admission, I get disheartened easier than I would like. Overall, I feel like I’m a very optimistic person. This is all centered on the fact that I know that the Lord is good, I know that He Loves us, and I know that there is no limit to His love, power, knowledge or blessings. In other words, He is a god of abundance, and He wants – no he delights – in blessing us with His abundance.

I’m an optimist, but I am also striving. I’m also trying to be a better person. I don’t believe in the concept of “perfection,” but I do want to do what I can to increase my talents, to “10x” my life. Much has been given to me in my life; much is required. I have a hunger that seems to be impossible to satiate. I have this one life to live – I love it, and I want to “get after it.”

Of course, Heavenly Father wants us to dream big and to work for those dreams. It doesn’t have to be done in some “type-A” kind of way. Look at the life of the Savior. He didn’t have meetings or “SMART” goals. He didn’t come to the earth when he impact more people globally by sending out a tweet or writing a blog. He didn’t walk into Jerusalem and force everyone to be healed. He simply served one at a time. His mode of transportation was his two feet. His mode of communication was his audible voice. Despite the fact that he wasn’t a type-A kind of a dude, he “10xed” his life. He did exactly the needful thing at each moment. He made an impact on our world that is unforgettable. He fulfilled His mission.

This is how I strive to be – I’m really happy with my life, but I’m also still hungry. There is so much that is so great about this world. There is so much to see, to experience. There is so much room for my own growth. There is so much I want to learn. I also want to do everything I can to improve my relationships. I am very serious about my role as a nurturer, and I want to be the kind of woman who is able to nurture others – both my children, spouse, and anyone else I come in contact with.

So – with this insight on my desires, there are specific goals I have. Those specific goals aren’t necessary to mention in this blog, but I guess it is important that I let you know I have them. I have specific goals – some that are easier to achieve than others. A few of them have required greater faith than I’m always able to muster. Thankfully the Lord is patient with me, and He helps me.

***

In the Book of Mormon, there is a story about a group of people: The Jaredites. Their story begins with a journey to the promised land. They originated in the city of Babel, and traveled for about four years before they were commanded to build barges and cross the sea. Finally, the barges were prepared, the food was prepared, God – through the faith of the brother of Jared – blessed them with a way to have light and comfort in these barges. And they began their journey to the promised land.

We learn how the barges moved forward toward the promised land:

“And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.” – Ether 6:6

So – in order to get to the promised land, a furious wind blew. They didn’t drift leisurely toward their destination. This was no pleasure cruise. We learn:

“And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.” – Ether 6:7

Notice the description of the sea: mountain waves, terrible tempests, fierce winds. All of this was done so that the Jaredites could make it to their destination.

I have embarked on my own goals and journeys that have required a lot of faith for me. And the Lord has used metaphorical mountain waves to push me along my path. Sometimes it’s scary. And sometimes, I see the mountain wave, am surrounded by the terrible tempest, and hear the fierceness of the wind. And I am tempted to become disheartened. Which is why I love that quote and this entire talk by President Nelson!!!

President Nelson states:

“And I admire those who strive to be more worthy by overcoming a personal fault or who work to achieve a difficult goal.” – Russell M. Nelson

Though the Lord may use “mountain waves” to push us toward overcoming personal faults or achieving a difficult goal, we shouldn’t be afraid. We should remember that “With God nothing shall be impossible.”

We have evidence of this! Heavenly Father blessed Gideon and his troops against the Midianites. The Lord decreased his troops from twenty-two thousand to ten thousand. Still, that was too many. Gideon, following the instruction from the Lord, whittled his troops down to only 300. And only then did the Lord deliver them, impossible though it seemed.

The Lord enabled Sarah to have a baby in her old age and Mary to bear a child though she was a virgin.

The Lord directed the children of Israel to the Red Sea, where they miraculously crossed it on dry ground.

The Lord brought Nephi and the Jaredites to the promised land.

The Lord brought forth His gospel – in its fullness – in the latter days starting with only a few uneducated farmers and people from rural New York. And now, it has grown and continues to grow and do good throughout the world.

Really, when think about it, nothing is impossible. This is true. It’s not just some statement meant to make you feel better as you keep trudging along in life. It is true. It is meant to be a beacon of hope and the knowledge that we need in order to embark on our own life’s missions – though they may require a ton of faith and strength that we feel we don’t have.

We can learn to achieve the impossible as we come to the Lord. President Nelson teaches how to achieve by highlighting three spiritual themes.

Faith

If we don’t have faith, if we don’t have vision, then we are doomed before we even begin. I feel like I could write an entire book about faith and why it is absolutely critical if we want to “10x” our lives, if we want to make any progress, if we want to feel any joy. It all hinges on faith.

And faith is more than just trusting in God. It’s more than believing that He can do something. Faith also means that we trust that He can empower us to do what we must. I have trouble with this, but the Lord is gently teaching me.

So we need faith. President Nelson teaches:

“Faith is nurtured through knowledge of God. It comes from prayer and feasting upon the words of Christ through diligent study of the scriptures.” – Russell M. Nelson

Yes! I love this! Nephi teaches us that His brothers murmured (which came as a result of a lack of faith) because they “knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.” (See 1 Nephi 2:12)

When we come to know the Lord through prayer and scripture study, then increased faith comes as a result. We learn that He is trustworthy, and that we can rely on Him. We learn that with Him nothing is impossible because He will empower us. Often, the way I think about it is: Well, if God thinks that I can do this, then I guess I can do it. I shouldn’t second-guess the Lord. Even though it seems like second guessing ourselves is a sign of humility, it isn’t. Second guessing our capability to do what the Lord thinks we can do is not only a lack of faith, it is pride, and a lack of understanding that God is omniscient and omnipotent. We should believe Him when He believes in us.

Focus

Oh! I love this point, too. As I’ve been climbing the path of my own goals, I have been reminded time and time again about my focus, about my vision, and how that would be a huge determining factor on my success.

I think about Peter, who walked on the water. When he began to focus on the stormy water, he lost focus on His Savior. He faltered in his faith – that the Savior would empower Him to walk on the water. Peter focused on failure, and failure followed.

This is a long quote, but I really love how President Nelson teaches us about focus:

“Imagine, if you will, a pair of powerful binoculars. Two separate optical systems are joined together with a gear to focus two independent images into one three-dimensional view. To apply this analogy, let the scene on the left side of your binoculars represent your perception of your task. Let the picture on the right side represent the Lord’s perspective of your task—the portion of His plan He has entrusted to you. Now, connect your system to His. By mental adjustment, fuse your focus. Something wonderful happens. Your vision and His are now the same. You have developed an “eye single to the glory of God.” With that perspective, look upward—above and beyond mundane things about you. The Lord said, “Look unto me in every thought.” That special vision will also help clarify your wishes when they may be a bit fuzzy and out of focus with God’s hopes for your divine destiny. Indeed, the precise challenge you regard now as “impossible” may be the very refinement you need, in His eye.

As we develop an “eye of faith,” we will be able to focus. I know that this doesn’t just happen. We have to choose to align our focus with God’s. And when you do develop focus, don’t take it for granted. Little things can blur your focus. There is an active adversarial force working against us (hint: SATAN!). Not only do we need to align our vision with God’s to give us focus, we need to keep calibrating our vision – so that it remains united with His.

Strength and Courage

I think that strength and courage come as we cultivate faith and focus. It comes when we keep our covenants – especially the covenant to always remember Him.

In and of myself, I’m not strong. I’m not courageous.

Here’s another example. In and of himself, Nephi wasn’t strong. He wasn’t courageous. He didn’t rely on his own wits. Instead, he knew the way to find strength and courage:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” – 1 Nephi 3:7

Nephi knew that he didn’t need to be strong and courageous. He needed to be open and meek. He needed to be close to the Spirit. That this meekness and openness would help him to see the opportunities that the Lord would put in his place in order for Nephi to do as the Lord commanded.

So Nephi did that. Nephi’s trust in the Lord WAS his strength and courage. That is when the Lord makes even more out of Nephi, so much so, that I feel like I’m speaking the truth when I say that “Nephi was courageous.”

I love the hymn quoted by President Nelson –

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
‘Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well! All is well!
Come, Come Ye Saints

And another hymn:

When dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us
And threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us,
And we know that deliv’rance is nigh.
We doubt not the Lord nor his goodness.
We’ve proved him in days that are past.
We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

And another hymn:

In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
How Firm a Foundation

I know that I’m not special. I know that if you are reading this, you have gone through your own trials of faith. You have had times when you wondered how to endure the impossible. I know that I’m not the only one on this earth who has had goals, ambitions, trials, and more.

Though I’m not the only one, the only testimony I can give is my own. I know that God loves us. I know that His work and His GLORY is us! It is our eternal success. I know that He delights in blessing us with his best blessings. I know that He wants us to dream big, and that really – we can’t even dream as big as He does. I know that our Heavenly Father wants us to experience joy, and that joy is related to us fulfilling the measures of our creation.

I know that if we choose to embark on the path that will bring us joy – if we will embark on the path that will help us to do what we were sent here to do, then we are not on an easy path. I know that refinement and improvement is sometimes tiring and painful. You can’t get to the top of the mountain without climbing a mountain.

But, we can do it. God thinks we can! So we can!

I love the final verse of How Firm a Foundation. It is how I feel with my whole entire heart:

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
How Firm a Foundation

I will remain with Jesus. He is the source of any power and light in my life. He is the reason I’ve been able to do anything good in my life. He is my Savior and Redeemer. His Atonement has blessed me – It has healed me from heartache and pain. It has forgiven me of my sins. It has brought me comfort in times of physical illness and distress. And it has empowered me as I have sought the abundant life He offers. The Savior has enabled me to do things that I never could have imagined doing. Through Him, I have received personal commandments, and though they seem impossible, I can echo what Nephi said. I KNOW that the Lord will not give us a commandment without a way for us to keep it.

Our Heavenly Father is not Lucy. He doesn’t set up the football with the intention of taking it away as we fall flat on our backs. He doesn’t set us up for failure. Though we don’t always see solutions to our problems, though there are times when we keep falling and failing, if we trust in God, He will guide us to the solution. We will make it to the top of the mountain.

empire pass

Long Post. (I feel like I say this every time)

***

I’m so grateful to know that we are guided by a prophet today who is confident in the Lord. I’m grateful to know that Russell M. Nelson is so confident in the Lord’s power, that he believes the Lord can make us powerful! I am grateful to know that President Nelson believes that nothing is impossible for the Lord – and that this statement is not just to puff up and flatter some jealous god, but that this statement is made for us to realize that the Lord is powerful enough to work miracles in us and through us! That His power is powerful enough to give us power!

I’m grateful that President Nelson knows this and has taught us this. I respect him, and I’m so grateful to be guided by a living prophet who has trusted God enough to truly know that with God nothing shall be impossible.

 

Keys of the Priesthood – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying the talk Keys of the Priesthood, by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the October 1987 General Conference.

I want to begin this post by saying that I’m so grateful for both the Priesthood and those who righteously bear and it.

What is the Priesthood?

President Nelson taught:

“The potential of the priesthood is so vast that our comprehension of it is a challenge. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity.”

President Brigham Young added that the priesthood is “the law by which the worlds are, were, and will continue for ever and ever.”

Priesthood is the authority of God delegated to man to minister for the salvation of men. “The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood” ” – Russell M. Nelson

The Priesthood is the power and authority of God delegated to man to act in all things for the salvation of man.

I know that there are many people who think that the “priesthood” is a bit sexist, but that is because they misunderstand what the priesthood is. It is not just some men’s organization.

The Priesthood is Power – God’s power – delegated to each of us.

We have to remember that God has a purpose for this world and for each of us:

“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” – Moses 1:39

Sometimes we forget this purpose of God’s, we get caught up with both the perceived and  also real injustices in this world. We forget that this mortal life is only a part of God’s eternal work – which is OUR eternal life and immortality. Forgetting this purpose is the root of why we misplace our trust in Him.

God knew that in order to accomplish His work, we would need His help. This help comes in many forms, but one major way is through His Priesthood. This is HIS Power! And He is letting us use it so that His purposes can be accomplished! What a blessing!

The Extend of the Priesthood

President Nelson taught:

“Jesus revealed the extent of priesthood authority. To his Apostles, the Savior said, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”” – Russell M. Nelson

The authority of this priesthood extends beyond mortality and into the eternities. I have had the great blessing of growing up in the church, so I have heard the above scripture quoted often. Usually, I applied it to temple marriage (which of course is extremely important). However, I don’t think that I’ve always been appreciative of the eternal nature of the power that God has blessed us with.

Let me explain.

For the past few years, my husband and I have been working really hard. At my suggestion, he quit his conventional, “safe,” corporate job, and started working for himself. It has been one of the most amazing things I’ve ever even contemplated – let alone done – in my life. It has also been a major test of my faith.

There are ups and downs in everyone’s life, and as a mother there are times when I see the sacrifices that have been made by my family which causes me to question the decisions I’ve made, even though I’ve made them with the comfort and assurance from God.

Last night, I decided to ask my husband for a priesthood blessing.

I was blessed to have increased faith, and I was reminded of the eternal repercussions that these choices have. And now, as I study these words by President Nelson, I’m reminded that the Lord gives us power to act, to have faith, to do what we need to do in this life so that we can have joy and exaltation in the next life. This power, His Power, is the priesthood power, and though I don’t administer it, the Priesthood power is fully accessible to me through the covenants I’ve made. It powers my life. And if I live in such a way that honors the covenants and commitments I’ve made, then there are eternal repercussions that will bless my family now and in the eternities.

Through the power of the Priesthood, what is bound on earth is bound in heaven. What is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven. Through the Power of the Priesthood, I have been blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost. Through the power of the priesthood, and this gift, I’ve made decisions like – going to college, having children, studying my scriptures, getting married – and these decisions have had eternal repercussions. These eternal repercussions are possible because the Lord has mercifully endowed us with His power.

Priesthood Limitations

Because of the eternal repercussions of our choices and God’s power, the Priesthood seems limitless. Indeed it is eternal, but there are still some limitations on its power.

President Nelson stated:

“To understand the power of the priesthood, we must know its limitations. If an automobile is used recklessly, future permission from parents is likely to be denied. So, if priesthood power be abused, ‘the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man'” – Russell M. Nelson

The Priesthood isn’t magic. It isn’t a carte blanche that will excuse every selfish whim and desire of man. It is God’s Power! We can remember that God is a god of order. He abides by the laws of the heavens. He has declared this law to us, and if we try to use His Priesthood in a way that breaks the laws that govern the priesthood, then it is nullified. We are powerless.

This has happened before. President Nelson shared:

“After Christ was crucified, and even before the early Apostles completed their labors, the Apostasy began. This occurred as prophesied when priesthood authority was abused and sacred ordinances were defiled.” – Russell M. Nelson

Because the priesthood was abused, the Lord took His priesthood away. What followed were the dark ages. If we want God’s power to power our lives, then we must live according to the laws that govern His Priesthood and His Power.

***

I’m so grateful for the power of the Priesthood. I know that it has been a major blessing in my life. I know that because of the power of the Priesthood and because of the men who were worthy and capable to bear it, I have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have received endowments from God. I have been blessed to be able make my life something better than I would have without such power and blessings.

I’m also very grateful to know that our prophet – Russell M. Nelson honors and respects the Priesthood that he bears.

He shared:

“Surely a sacred moment of my life occurred April 12, 1984, when the First Presidency and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles laid their hands upon my head. As had been done for others before me, all the keys of the priesthood were conferred. As it is with each member of the Quorum of the Twelve, some keys are not used until called upon by the Lord, or as directed by his senior Apostle.

I feel the weight of responsibility and the burden of timeless trust.” – Russell M. Nelson

I’m grateful to know that President Nelson feels the weight of his responsibility. I’m grateful to know that he has lived for a long time and has held various offices of the priesthood for many decades. He has learned the care must be taken in order to hold the keys that he holds. I’m grateful to know that President Nelson is both loyal to God and obedient to the commandments of God. We are so blessed to have the Priesthood blessing our lives – both on an individual basis and as a world-wide church.

Life After Life – Russell M. Nelson

Today, I’m studying the talk Life After Life, by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 1987 General Conference.

***

I’m not sure if you know this, but I homeschool my children. This year, my first grader has been studying ancient history, and we’ve been reading literature that were written during this time or are set in that time.

Much of the literature from ancient times has to do with belief systems. So, we have studied the mythology of the Greeks and Romans. We have read stories told by the people of ancient Mesopotamia (Gilgamesh). We have read a bit on Egyptian goddesses. We have read the Old Testament of the Bible. We have read books on the mythology and beliefs of other cultures as well – African cultures and Viking cultures.

As we have studied this literature, I’ve noticed themes of mortality and immortality that come up in all of them. For example, after Gilgamesh’s friend, Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh goes on a quest for immortality.

Many of these myths also explain what happens to mortals when they die. For example, the Greeks explained that the dead crosses the River Styx into the underworld and Hades’ kingdom.

There are many more examples of these ancient beliefs, but that isn’t the point of this blog post. I just wanted to mention that this question about life after death is an ancient concern and curiosity. For the most part, we love to be alive. But this isn’t something we can do forever. Each day we deteriorate. Each day, we get closer to death until the inevitable happens.

Then what? How can we escape the seemingly inescapable?

President Nelson proclaimed:

“Gratefully and positively, I affirm that there is life after life, first in the spirit world and then in the Resurrection, for each and every one of us.” – Russell M. Nelson

After our lives on this earth, we will continue to live. Our spirits will live on in the Spirit world until the time of the Resurrection. Then, when we are resurrected, we will live forever in immortal, incorruptible bodies.

President Nelson taught:

“At the time of our resurrection, we shall take up our immortal tabernacles. Bodies that now age, deteriorate, and decay will no longer be subject to processes of degeneration: ‘This mortal must put on immortality'” – Russell M. Nelson

We have reason to rejoice. We will not remain as we are right now. Think about that! We can look forward to a tim when we will not age, deteriorate, or decay. Right now, as I type this, my hands are riddled with eczema. Not the biggest deal in the world, but as I imagine a time in the future, when my hands don’t itch, crack and bleed, I’m filled with gratitude and hope. The hope of immortality and joy is available to us all.

And this is because of our Savior Jesus Christ.

President Nelson stated:

“I thank God for his Son, Jesus Christ, for his mission in mortality, and for his ministry as the resurrected Lord. He brought about his own resurrection. Testimonies of thousands, from ancient and modern times, attest to the truth that the resurrected Jesus is the Savior of mankind. He brought about a universal resurrection: ‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive'”

His sacrifice and his glory assure that ‘the spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time'” – Russell M. Nelson

The scriptures often describe Jesus Christ as a “Savior.” This is because He saves us from death – spiritual and physical

There are so many witnesses of His life after life. President Nelson recounts several instances shared in the gospel where the resurrected Lord appeared:

To the people of the Holy Land:

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The Resurrected Christ Appeared to Mary Magdalene
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The Resurrected Savior appeared to Cleopas and presumably Luke and Dined with them in Emmaus.
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The Resurrected Savior Appeared to the Apostles in the Upper Room and Showed them His Hands and Feet
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The Resurrected Savior Appeared to more than 500 people on a Mount near Galilee’s Shore

 

 

To the People of the Americas:

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The Resurrected Savior Appeared to the People who Lived on the American Continent. In attendance were at least 2,500 souls.

 

To the People of the Latter Days:

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The Resurrected Savior and Heavenly Father Appeared to Joseph Smith

 

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The Resurrected Savior Appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery  in the Kirtland temple. 

 

There are more examples of visitations of our resurrected Lord shared by President Nelson in his talk that you can read here.

President Nelson bears record:

“I know that God lives and that Jesus the Christ is his Son. He is ‘the resurrection, and the life’. He lives. He is my Master. I am his servant. With all my heart, I love him, and I testify of him, in his holy name—the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” – Russell M. Nelson

Though I haven’t had a physical, face-to-face witness of our Savior, I have experienced His power and love in my life. I know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and is in the details of our lives. I know that He has a Son, Jesus Christ, who was sent to this earth to do the work of His Father – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

I know that I have been blessed beyond measure because of Christ’s life and work. He is our Creator. He is our Savior. Because of Him I have hope and joy.

***

I’m so grateful to know that we are guided by a prophet who has had his own divine experiences with the Savior. I’m grateful for the witnesses that have been provided to us. We aren’t asked to simply believe in Christ. There are people who have witnessed of Him and who have shared their witness. These witnesses tell of his life and his life after life. And I know that because Christ lived again, we, too, can live again.