Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ten Ways to Prepare for General Conference

This weekend is the 179th Semiannual General Conference of the Church. Saints all over the world will hear the words of the prophet and apostles. It will be a weekend filled with enlightenment, peace, encouragement, inspiration, growth, love, and joy. What a wonderful event to look forward to! We cannot afford to miss it, so we must prepare.
  1. Find out what time it will be aired in your area (check at lds.org). Decide where you will watch or listen to it: at home, at a friend’s home, at the stake center, on the computer, on the radio.

  2. Try to get off work or schedule work earlier or later so that you can watch both sessions (or at least one session) of General Conference.

  3. If you must travel, coordinate all rides and times and make sure your car has gas. If you will watch General Conference live, make sure you have tickets and leave early enough to park and be seated on time.

  4. Finish all housework and homework before the weekend to avoid other obligations that may distract you from listening to the beautiful words and music.

  5. Pray that you will hear answers to problems or questions you have. The purpose of General Conference is to strengthen, nourish, comfort, and help us.

  6. Listen to, watch, and read uplifting things during this week to keep the Spirit close so that you can receive answers and promptings.

  7. Get enough sleep the night before so that you will be attentive. Set your alarm to ensure you wake up on time to watch the morning sessions.

  8. Have a journal or notebook ready to take notes on answers, thoughts, feelings, and goals. If applicable, also have activities and paper ready for your children.

  9. Prepare food ahead of time and try not to eat during the session in order to give your full attention to the words of our Church leaders.

  10. Keep the Spirit and maintain reverence in between Conference sessions and preferably for the whole weekend.

I hope your General Conference weekend is amazing. Come back next week to share your favorite talks, what you learned, and how you felt.

Challenge: Follow these steps to prepare for and get the most out of General Conference.

Photo from LDS church news.

Monday, September 21, 2009

See No Evil

I love watching movies! At home on the couch, at the theater, with friends, with family, in sickness or in health--it's all fun! But risky as well. Risky, that is, to my spirituality if I am not careful with what I choose to view. During high school, I used my best friend and a newspaper column as movie screeners. Then a former seminary teacher introduced me to a great Web site and a friend showed me another one. Both are free with a list of movies from about 15 years ago to current releases. [Click on the name for the link to the site.]

Screenit: This Web site gives a short and full summary of the movie plot and the content, divided into categories. I like this site because it is very explicit: I know what language is in the movie and how many times it occurs. Note: In order to review movies before the release date, you must become a member.

Kids in Mind: This site is similar to screenit, but somewhat less extensive (especially in the movie summary and language department).

Don't risk your spirituality; protect your kids; use these sites to test whether or not movies meet your standards. It may mean not watching some movies you were really wanting to watch, so keep an eternal perspective. And don't pass up movies because they look too childish, boring, or different. There are many I have watched that are fun, clean, and uplifing:

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (Veggie Tales)
Jonah (Veggie Tales)
The Prince of Egypt
A Man For All Seasons
Meet the Robinsons
Kung Fu Panda
Iron Giant
The Greatest Game Ever Played
To Kill a Mockingbird
Because of Winn-Dixie
Akeelah and the Bee
The Sound of MusicFiddler on the Roof
Spy Kids
Finding Nemo
Nim's Island
Night at the Museum
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
The Game Plan
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Beverly Hills Chihuahua
Monsters vs. Aliens
National Treasure
Nancy Drew
Ella Enchanted
Also, all the movie versions of the books mentioned in last week's posts are great. Other kids' movies, older movies, musicals, true stories, and sports movies are also good, but not all of them are. Just because a movie falls into one of those categories does not mean it is appropriate, so check it out first!

Sharing Time: Recommend your favorite family-friendly movies.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Best Books

In Doctrine and Covenants 88: 118, the Lord advises us to “seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom.” Besides the scriptures and doctrinal Church books, there are so many good books out there to enjoy. But finding them can be difficult. Often the bestsellers are overflowing with profanity and promiscuity. And other books are unheard of and hidden on library shelves. I wish there were edited books or a website that screens books like movies (if you are aware of one, let me know!). The best I can do for now is to recommend some very uplifting books and inspirational authors.

Richard Paul Evans—Most famous for his book The Christmas Box, Evans writes inspiring stories about change and growth. His characters are realistic and relatable. Although his books are not written for only an LDS audience, you can sense the influence of the gospel in his writing.

Josi S. Kilpack—Her books focus on serious trials LDS families experience, such as infidelity, the pressure of perfection, and abuse. I like that she ventures into more untouched territory to show her audience she understands that LDS family life is not all rainbows and “Love at Home,” like it often is portrayed and expected to be, and that blessings always await those who endure to the end.

Susan Law Corpany—She wrote a series about a young LDS widow, someone she once was. She explains the grief young widows feel and the reactions they get from other Church members. Her books are very humorous.

C.S. Lewis—Lewis’s most famous works are The Chronicles of Narnia. I love that he uses so much religious symbolism. His other works are great reads, too. I definitely recommend The Screwtape Letters. His understanding of the gospel is profound—I wouldn’t be surprised if he had no problem accepting the fullness of the gospel on the other side.

I also recommend reading children’s literature, which is full of innocence, fun, and life lessons. Unbeknown to its author, Lois Lowry, The Giver promotes agency and condemns Satan’s plan. Her other award-winning novel Number the Stars tells of heroism in the face of personal danger. Francis Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and A Little Princess focus on personal development and are sweet and warming. Holes, by Louis Sachar, is about self-acceptance and choice and accountability. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Patterson, explores the imagination and hard reality. Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting discusses mortality versus immortality. Countless other books offer clean, imaginative entertainment. We have no excuse not to be seeking out of the best books!

Sharing Time: What are your favorite good books and authors?

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Friday morning I was informed of the death of a friend as a result of a car accident. He left behind a wife of one year and a three-month-old baby girl. Once the shock wore off, the tears came—tears for the husband who left this earth so early in life, tears for the wife without her love beside her, tears for the baby who will never know her father.

But I also had tears for me because of this wake-up call. How would I react if Justin were to die today? Would I be prepared if I were to die today? In all honesty, I fear death, and for the obvious reason: I am not spiritually prepared. Why have I procrastinated so much for so long? (I admit, I am also terrified of the means by which I will die—I fear agony and pain!)

Death as a whole affects me as well. I am very sensitive to the news whether or not I know the person or people involved. I cry over the circumstances of their death, such as age and cause. I cry over their grieving family and friends. I cry over their lack of understanding the plan of salvation, if not LDS. And I cry over the pain and guilt those who are LDS feel when they doubt, get angry, or do not find comfort in the plan. Death is not an easy thing to deal with, even when you know you will be with loved ones again. I’ve read different things about interacting with those who are grieving—what to say and not say, when to help and not help, how to sympathize or empathize. But it really is different for every person.

This is the first death to really affect me since my grandpa’s several years ago, mostly because we were friends, he was so young, and his death was unexpected (not that it’s less tragic when people are old or know they are going to die). I am ok—we weren’t super close. I just cried and hugged my husband all morning. And I prayed and will continue to pray for the wife, baby, family, and friends of the husband. Hopefully they all will find comfort and peace.

Discussion: How do you feel about dying? How has death affected you?