Thursday, May 24, 2012

Women's Conference 2012 - Talks

President Sohm gave us this message when we asked for a copy of his talk:

"Please tell the sisters that I don't have a written copy of my talk.  Please let them know that I sure love the sisters, and that I know the Lord does too!"

Stake Women's Conference 2012 Talk
Given by Barbara Sweat
What a feast to be able to assemble together again in this chapel, so recently after being privileged to hear from Elder L. Tom Perry, an apostle of the Lord from this very pulpit. I have been on a spiritual high ever since.
Recently we as a Stake Relief Society presidency were orienting a new Ward Relief Society presidency, and although I can't remember exactly how she stated it,  one of the sisters popped out with "I don't know why I have this calling. I'm just a flighty, artistic hair dresser!"
Oh how I loved her! Because we can all fill in that sentence with our own descriptions of who we are!

The Lord wants you - YOU, yourself. and that's all you can give. You can't be someone you aren't. You can't give someone else's gift.

The Lord requires "the heart and a willing mind." It doesn't say "an organized utensil drawer, a husband, and the ability to look the gospel doctrine teacher in the when they ask a question.

He wants our whole heart, and for good reason. Real power does not lie in external forces, but in your heart and your willing mind....."Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

I have loved pondering our theme "The Secret to having it knowing you already do" and the power of holding that thought in my mind in all of its simplicity, gratitude and joy.

In Philippians, Paul had learned the secret when he states, "...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, THEREWITH to be CONTENT...I can do all things through Christ - which strengthened me!"

The Lord understands our fears. He tells us 85 times in the Bible not to be afraid. In the past few months I have learned something about my own fears - which interestingly enough for me - have come in the form of church callings. I used to live in fear that I would be called as Activities Chairman and they did away with that calling.
For you it may be illness, accident, loneliness, fear that you will never marry; fear that you WILL marry!  fear for dear ones.

The other day, one of my newest champion swing-setters, 3-year-old Vivian broke her leg (on a tramp). When she found out that her leg was going to be in a great big cast for a month, the first thing she said to her mom and dad and the doctor was "Oh no! I won't be able to pump!"

As a Grandma, I find myself watching my grandchildren playing on the swingset in our back yard.  When I was a mother I would applaud for them as they would say "look how high I can pump!"  Now as a grandma I just want to make sure no little one walks behind the swing into the onrushing swing of an older one.

And it made me think of one of my very favorite poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, and one I say to them when I push them before they can pump:

The Swing
How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue? Up in the air and over the wall, Till I can see so wide, Till I look down on the garden green, Down on the roof so brown-- 
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing Ever a child can do! 

River and trees and cattle and all Over the countryside-- 
Up in the air I go flying again, Up in the air and down!
I am grateful for the opportunity to "pump". Grateful for the opportunity to experience the ups and down of life "encircled in the arms of his love" which is very real, and most often comes in the form of YOUR arms, your love, your prayers and faith, your example -  YOU - covenant women of God, members of the Relief Society - the greatest women's organization in the world.

This year, our Stake theme is centered around becoming more like the Savior by developing a deep love for the Book of Mormon..............testimony of the power and peace that I felt in every ward conference.

The Book begins with the story of a family..........who, led by their father Lehi, a goodly parent.........finds themselves leaving everything and heading out into a wilderness..................and in Chapter 2 Verse 15 Nephi captures it when he says in that one lonely verse "And my father dwelt in a tent."

It doesn't even include "....and it came to pass!"

and it should have said "and my mother dwelt in a tent too - and she swept it out - A LOT...!

The graphic of the tent that we have for this conference, and all that brings to our mind and heart. Sometimes it's when we are in our most humble circumstances "dwelling in a tent" emotionally, physically, spiritually, that we are the most receptive to the promptings of the spirit AND the most willing to act upon them.

In 2nd Nephi. Nephi is writing shortly after his father's death, in what is almost an opera of the human condition. I call it Nephi's "nevertheless" tutorial:

Nephi begins by saying:
"Behold, my soul DELIGHTETH in the things of the Lord..."


" HEART exclaimeth "O wretched man that I am.....when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins....!"


"I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness (DWELLING IN THAT TENT) and then our scriptural theme "Rejoice, O my HEART (there's that heart again) and cry unto the Lord and say, "O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will REJOICE in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation."

Nephi had learned the secret.

Now, you and I know what the world tells us about "having it all."

In an interview just a few weeks before she was released, Sister Julie B. Beck (my sister called me when she was released and said "Wasn't Sister Beck great? When she really wanted to get her point across, she didn't just talk, she didn't use one hand like President Hinckley used to, she used BOTH hands!"

Sister Beck warned the sisters of the church about the worldly myth of "having it all"

"Nobody can have everything, and you especially can't have it all at once. So how can we know if our choices are correct? First, ask yourself, "Am I aligned behind the Lord's plan for me? How do I feel? Is the Spirit confirming my choices? Balancing is best done by revelation. I'm surprised what I can get done in a way when I'm "aligned."

And this important wisdom to all of us "Sometimes I miss opportunities to do important things..........but I've learned to minimize guilt. I used to be a very guilt-ridden person, but I learn from experience and then next time if something didn't feel good, I do it another way. Don't carry it around your whole life......(or as my friend Shari Gibbons says "throw it over the fence!).

Sister Beck continues, "I've learned that the world teaches us that you can have the dream now. They express the dream as what Adam and Eve had in the garden - you don't have to work for anything and everything is peaceful and happy. That's really where the adversary still is. But we chose to have a mortal experience to prepare for the real dream, and that dream is eternal life. Eve was willing to go through a long, hard mortal experience in order to work toward the promise of the dream - I don't think most women realize this. What we get here is the EXPERIENCE!"

In closing, I'd like to add something I've learned from observing President Sohm. We will be hearing from him in a minute....our own King Benjamin. Our Stake Presidency recently completed a wall in the High Council room that I hope every sister will be able to see - it depicts beautiful paintings of women. They were so careful in choosing the paintings, so excited to see it when it excited to have Elder Perry see it!  They love us. They serve, honor and respect us as equal partners. They emulate the Savior as stated in the beautiful blue book, "Daughters In My Kingdom" "The world's greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ."

I think President Sohm is nearly perfect. At BYU Women's Conference Sister Ardeth Kapp told of serving with her husband while he was a mission president. The sister missionaries loved their mission president. One day a couple of them said, "Sister Kapp, how did you ever find A MAN LIKE THAT?" She knew what they were asking, and answered, "Oh, I didn't FIND him like that!" So, I know nobody perfect, but President Sohm comes pretty close.

Of the many traits that President Sohm emulates, is that he has time for everyone.  I once needed to ask him a quick question, and followed him out of the chapel, knowing he was late for another meeting,  He stopped, and he had all the time in the world for me. It seemed to me as though time stood still.

It was a great lesson in a secret to having it all.

I, who often guard my time like a seagull from "Finding Nemo" "MINE, MINE, MINE" have learned a secret from President Sohm. "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God." And time becomes my friend.

There is a poem by Emma Lou Thayne:

Each of us wants to be friends with time,
Comfortable waiting for toast to pop.

Pleased to pull at the garden knowing
no reason is going off without us.

the trick is to find out
whether a minute is worth more

crammed or empty.
And, either way, to get on with it.

"The secret to having it knowing you already do." And so, as I've carried on with the words to our theme in my mind, and in my heart, lately I've developed a habit of telling myself to slow down and wait for the toast to pop, and whenever I see one of those flashing speed limit signs, and I'm always going a little too fast, I slow down, I align myself to 25 mph, and I say a silent prayer of gratitude for the opportunity of having this EXPERIENCE.  

I love having something to look forward to - And we do "D& C 84. "For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth my Fahter; and he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father's kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him."

"Rejoice, O my HEART  and cry unto the Lord and say, "O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will REJOICE in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation."


2012 South Jordan Utah River Stake Relief Society Conference
Given by Sheri Winkelkotter

We have probably all heard the saying: “The secret to having it all, is believing that you do.  I love our Relief Society Conference theme this year that changes just one key word: knowing.  The secret to having it all is really knowing that you do.  With the understanding that the gospel of Jesus Christ provides, we can truly know that we have everything we really do NEED to find joy in our earthly journey and the eternal joy that has been promised to us if we are faithful.

The world’s definition of “having it all” includes things such as: “living the dream,” having a successful career, owning a beautiful (and beautifully furnished) home, having “perfect” and accomplished children, taking exciting vacations, enjoying a lucrative bank account. The Lord’s definition of “having it all” would more likely include words such as: faith, testimony, charity, gratitude, and love.

In preparing for this talk, Sister Sweat asked me to think about women from the scriptures or from my own life that I feel truly emulate this theme.  Probably because of the tent graphic they used on the posters and invitations for this conference, my mind immediately went to Sariah in the Book of Mormon. I’ve often wondered what her first impressions were when Lehi discussed the plans to uproot their family and journey to a promised land that was completely foreign to them. I am afraid that, had it been me, I might have thought that perhaps Lehi had lost his mind.  She was going to leave her beautiful home, their belongings, her friends,

and their position in the community to dwell in a tent in the wilderness. 

If we had her journal entry recorded in the Book of Mormon, I wonder if it would have sounded like this:

I do not like to dwell in tents; This journeys making me so tense. It is oh so hot and hardly rains, And Laman and Lemuel are such pains! I’m afraid the trip will never end; And I don’t even have a friend. Nephi’s bow is broke and we’re out of food; You bet I’m in an angry mood! And now we’re told to build a boat And just have faith that it will float. The days are long; I’m lacking sleep; No wonder I just want to weep.

Actually I am sure that isn’t how her journal would sound at all... it is more like what mine would have probably sounded like! I know that like each of us, Sariah had challenging days and discouraging times; but she really did take everything with her that she truly needed for her journey. She took her faith, her family, her testimony, and her love. Her family certainly didn’t have everything they WANTED, but everything they really needed...they took with them.

When I was home from college one summer, one of my roommates called and invited me to visit her for a week in Arizona.  I really wanted to go and asked my parents if it would be okay if I drove to Arizona to visit her.  They gave permission but didn’t want me to go alone so I took my younger sister with me.  I know that we had a fun time in Arizona but I really can’t remember everything we did that week. We went to a concert and the drive-in movie and I am sure we did other things as well.  What I do remember just like it was yesterday, however, was the drive. My younger sister just happened to also be my best friend.  We took our favorite junk food and our favorite music. We sang to our favorite songs, laughed a ton, and talked about serious things as well, increasing our bond as sisters and friends.  When I look back on that experience, the greatest part of that whole trip really was the ride.  The joy was in the journey, not just the destination.

In the Book of Mormon we learn about many of the challenges that Lehi and Sariah and their family faced and many of the miracles that happened to them as well.  However, their lives were made up of moments, days, months and years just like ours. I am sure that they laughed together and teased each other. They celebrated special days.  They rejoiced when good things happened and cried when things were hard.  They relied on the Lord to lead and guide them.  They were not determined to be unhappy until they reached their “promised land;” they found joy in their journey.  If you are always focused on where you want to be or what you think you need to be happy, you miss all of the joy that comes along the way.

I am convinced that for the most part, happiness is really a choice. We learn in the scriptures that “men are that they might have joy.” My dad used to tease that, “Men are that they might have joy and women are that they might provide it.”  While he was teasing, it is true that women have the ability to create much joy for themselves and their families if they choose to.  We can focus on what we do have instead of what we don’t. We can concentrate on what really matters. We can be willing to forgive; we can change unrealistic expectations; we can remember to enjoy and appreciate the simple joys in our lives.

Several years ago I was serving as the primary chorister in our ward. One day we were singing the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”  There was a little girl sitting on the front row who really wanted to be my helper and choose the actions for the song.  I was trying to be fair and was drawing names out of a can so that everyone had a fair chance of getting a turn.  When I didn’t choose her name, she gave me her “I am NOT happy at all” expression to let me know that she was less than pleased.  She must have decided that her expression was not enough to show how unhappy she was so as we sang, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands,” she put her hands underneath her and sat on them.  We went through several more rounds of the song and she continued to sit on her hands with the frown on her face.  She didn’t seem to realize that she was the one denying herself from participating and enjoying the song with the other children. Her defiance wasn’t really hurting anyone else.   I couldn’t help myself so I told the children, “We are going to sing the song one more time so follow me:  If you’re happy and you know it, sit on your hands.”   For a brief moment, I saw the panic in her eyes that conveyed her confusion of how to really show her unhappiness if I wanted her to sit on her hands.  While that experience was sort of funny at the time, I have thought about it since and wondered, do we ever “sit on our hands” with the Lord?  Do we ever willingly withhold our own happiness because we didn’t get our own way? Do we choose to be miserable unless the Lord gives us what we think we need to be happy?  Nobody and nothing else really has more influence over your own happiness than yourself.

One night during family scripture study, a verse that I am sure I have read many times before just seemed to jump out at me.  In 1 Nephi 17:21, Laman and Lemuel are murmuring (big surprise) and it reads: “Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy.” They wouldn’t even commit to “would” have been happy.  They were convinced that they might have been happy if they could have just enjoyed their possessions and status by staying in Jerusalem.  They certainly weren’t taking into account the fact that, if they had stayed, they would have been destroyed. They wanted to set the terms for their happiness.

Just a few chapters later, Nephi is putting his trust in the Lord forever and in 2 Nephi 4:30 states: “Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.”  Nephi and his brothers took the same journey.  They suffered many of the same hardships and witnessed the same miracles.  If anything, Nephi had an even more difficult time because he assumed much of the spiritual and physical responsibility for the journey and suffered much at the hands of his brothers.  Laman and Lemuel chose to complain and be miserable.  Nephi chose to rejoice and give thanks.  Perspective is everything!

In the scriptures we learn, there is a time to laugh and a time to cry; a time to rejoice and a time to mourn.  We will all experience some heartache and pain, grief and despair in our lives.  That is part of our journey here.  But, we can still have joy in our journey if we go to the constant source of light and joy - our Savior Jesus Christ and the gospel that He established and then restored to us in these latter days. He has invited us to cast our burdens at his feet and to rely on Him for peace.  Lehi and Sariah trusted in the Lord and accomplished the mortal journey intended for them.  If we truly had Sariah’s journal, it would probably really sound more like this:

I can ~ I WILL live in a tent... Just think of what we’ll save on rent! And I can make the journey long Because the Lord will make me strong. And when the path might seem unclear, A heartfelt prayer will bring Him near. And if I stumble on the road, The Lord will surely share my load If to the rod I firmly cling, The help I need, the Lord will bring. Then I will make it to the tree; Eternal joy depends on me!

In Lehi’s dream, Sariah was clinging to the rod and she made it to the tree and her JOY was full. The Lord is pleading with us to do the same.  He knows each of us better than we know ourselves and he knows who each of us truly needs to become by the end of our mortal journey here.  We have each been given our own personal liahona through the guiding spirit of the Holy Ghost. Remember, you will never have everything you want; but you will always have what you truly need on this journey through mortality.  And when you are at the end of your rope, the Lord will send what you need to endure exactly when you need it.  We can trust in Him.

I hope that as each of us review our daily lives and especially at the end of our journey here, that we will not be like Laman & Lemuel and think “I MIGHT have been happy IF...  I hope that we will be more like Nephi and rejoice and praise the Lord forever for loving us enough to provide guidance in our lives and providing everything we truly NEED for true joy in our mortal lives and eternal joy hereafter.

The Savior explains in D&C 84:36-38: “For he that receiveth my servants, receiveth me.  And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father.  And he, that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given to him.”  Sisters, can the Lord give us any more than “ALL that he hath”?

The secret is YOU! ... your faith, your gratitude, you willingness to trust the Lord that you have everything you truly need through the gospel of Jesus Christ and through the love of a Heavenly Father and Savior who know and love you beyond our mortal comprehension. Remember that the secret to really having it all, it remembering that you already do.

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