This week during my personal study time I decided to study President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s general conference talk “Of Things That Matter Most.” I have studied it every day this week and I am still not done! It is just amazing how much is really there to gain from and apply to my personal life. Here are my notes and thoughts taken straight from my study journal. They probably won’t make sense to anyone else but I find that writing them out again really helps me. ;D (all quotes are from Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk unless otherwise noted)
“It is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions. This is a simple but critical lesson to learn.
There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions.
For example, it wasn’t long after astronauts and cosmonauts orbited the earth that they realized ballpoint pens would not work in space. And so some very smart people went to work solving the problem. It took thousands of hours and millions of dollars, but in the end, they developed a pen that could write anywhere, in any temperature, and on nearly any surface. But how did the astronauts and cosmonauts get along until the problem was solved? They simply used a pencil.”
I remember laughing when I first heard this. A couple of my children even asked while Pres. Uchtdorf was telling the story, ‘Why didn’t they just use pencils?’ Reading it again this week brought to mind all the stress and worry of the past month. We are trying to find a good high school program for the girls to do. They have been doing BYU Independent Study but it is so expensive! We having been looking at and researching other options, trying to find ones that aren’t as expensive but are properly accredited, provide Honors or AP courses or are willing to accept the dual credits they can receive from our community college. Simply put, I was going CRAZY. Then on Friday (February 25) out-of-the-blue it dawned on me that there is a very simple solution to our problem that I had overlooked because of its simplicity. Nevada Virtual Academy is available to us – for free. It is accredited and offers Honors and AP courses. So simple. The stress dissolved immediately.
“I think most of us intuitively understand how important the fundamentals are. It is just that we sometimes get distracted by so many things that seem more enticing.
“Printed material, wide-ranging media sources, electronic tools and gadgets—all helpful if used properly—can become hurtful diversions or heartless chambers of isolation.
“Yet amidst the multitude of voices and choices, the humble Man of Galilee stands with hands outstretched, waiting. His is a simple message: “Come, follow me.” And He does not speak with a powerful megaphone but with a still, small voice.“
Oh how I love that last paragraph! Are my days so filled with busyness, distracting diversions, and other fluff and stuff that I cannot hear Him calling to me?
Changes I can make right now:
- turn off the noise and distractions (tv, music, internet)
- reduce trips to town – consolidate shopping to one day a week, make due with what we have until then.
- don’t add anymore commitments or “extras”
- increase religious observance in our home
- focus on that which is “virtuous, lovely, and of good report.” (Article of Faith 13)
“The holy scriptures and the spoken word of the living prophets give emphasis to the fundamental principles and doctrines of the gospel. . . These simple, basic principles are the key to living in harmony with God and man. . .We learn over and over again the importance of four key relationships: with our God, with our families, with our fellowman, and with ourselves. As we evaluate our own lives with a willing mind, we will see where we have drifted from the more excellent way. The eyes of our understanding will be opened, and we will recognize what needs to be done to purify our heart and refocus our life.”
Am I ready and willing to see what course corrections I need to make? Can I make the commitment to follow through?
“First, our relationship with God is most sacred and vital. We are His spirit children. He is our Father. He desires our happiness. . . To strengthen our relationship with God, we need some meaningful time alone with Him. Quietly focusing on daily personal prayer and scripture study, always aiming to be worthy of a current temple recommend—these will be some wise investments of our time and efforts to draw closer to our Heavenly Father. Let us heed the invitation in Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Changes I need to make:
- Go to earlier(by 10 pm ) so I can waken earlier to study, pray, and meditate MADE IT FOUR DAYS THIS WEEK!
List topics I need to work on or studyDONE! Create scripture topic journalDONE!
- Read my patriarchal blessing weekly, if not more
- Set goal to attend the temple at least six times before the baby is born (Reno Temple is three hours away)
- Have more meaningful prayer
- Recognize the ways the Spirit speaks to me
In my patriarchal blessing I am told I will be able to communicate with my Heavenly Father through prayer and will be able to hear His directions and answers to me through the impressions which will come into my mind. I need to have more meaningful, direct prayers.
“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.
Christians are taught to pray in Christ’s name (John 14:13–14; 15:7, 16; 16:23–24). We pray in Christ’s name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ—when his words abide in us (John 15:7). We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent his mind, but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart.” (Prayer – Bible Dictionary)
What I have learned from this:
- Prayer is natural and instinctive.
- The object of prayer is to secure blessings God is already willing to grant – I need to ask!
- Be specific. Stop thanking or asking in generalities.
- Prayer is a form of work.
- We obtain the highest blessings through prayer.
- We pray in Christ’s name – when our mind is the mind of Christ, when our wishes are the wishes of Christ
- Some prayers are unanswered because they are not done in the name of Christ.
- Some prayers are unanswered because they spring from the selfish desires of man’s heart.
Along with more meaningful prayers I need to be more in tune with the Holy Ghost, to recognize the impressions which will come into my mind.
“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. . .Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it.” (Doctrine & Covenants 8:2-4)
“. . you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. . .But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must cask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. . .But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought.” (Doctrine & Covenants 9:2-4)
The Holy Ghost speaks to us by thoughts in our minds as well as feelings in our hearts (burning in our bosom). It is a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12) and can easily be overlooked or not heard if we are distracted by noise and other things.
1 Kings 19:12 ” . . . and after the fire a still small voice.”
cross referenced with
Helaman 5:30 “And it came to pass when they heard this voice and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul—”
cross references with
Doctrine & Covenants 85:6 “Yea, thus saith the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, and often times it maketh my bones to quake while it maketh manifest.”
Part B will come next week. This post is already too long!