I diligently watched almost all of the first session - until I needed to do a couple of things in preparation for Melon Man's birthday cake and our Easter dinner. I took the Rhodes rolls (yeah, I'm not EVEN going to try to make homemade rolls!) out of the freezer and let them start rising. Then, I made Melon Man the Pioneer Woman's Texas Sheet Cake for his cake - yes, I actually made a homemade cake - completely from scratch! With homemade frosting, no less! I hope he likes it. He wanted chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, but I didn't have a cake mix nor did I have a good recipe so I made one that I KNOW a LOT of people really like. We'll see how we like it...
Since Melon Man had to work yesterday and was unable to watch Conference, we DVR'd it and will watch it together after we come back from Uncle Bob's funeral. I was able to watch/listen to part of it online yesterday afternoon while I worked on our taxes. Thank goodness for widescreen monitors that let me have 3 different windows open at once to where I could see and do all I needed to do while still being able to view Conference! I'm also going to download it to my iPod so we can watch/listen to it while we travel this week.
I now decided to sit down and blog a little about my emotions today regarding Conference and Easter. I actually shed quite a few tears today. Maybe the Spirit just overcame me so much that the tears were actually able to flow freely. I'm so glad because I was so greatly touched.
President Uchtdorf's talk titled "You Are My Hands" was phenomenal. I can't tell it the way he did, so I have copied and pasted it here in a shortened and slightly edited version to save space. The entire talk can be referenced here.
A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: “You are my hands.”
There is a profound lesson in this story. When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation. As we emulate His perfect example, our hands can become His hands; our eyes, His eyes; our heart, His heart.
I am deeply impressed by the way our Church members extend themselves to others. As we hear of your selfless sacrifice and overwhelming compassion, our hearts swell with gratitude and happiness. You are a shining light to the world, and you are known for your goodness and compassion all around the globe. Unfortunately, from time to time we hear of members who become discouraged and quit coming to and participating in our meetings because they think they don’t fit in.
When I was a young boy, during the aftermath of World War II, Germany was broken and in ruins. Many people were hungry, sick, and dying. I remember the humanitarian shipments of food and clothing that came from the Church. I can still remember the smell of the clothing and I can still taste the sweetness of the canned peaches. There were some who joined the Church because of the goods they received at that time. Some members looked down on these new converts. They even called them an offensive name: “Canned-Food Mormons.” They resented these new members because they believed that once their temporal needs had been met, they would fall away. While some did leave, many stayed—they came to church, tasted the sweetness of the gospel, and felt the tender embrace of caring brothers and sisters. They discovered “home.” And now, three and four generations later, many families trace their Church membership back to these converts.
I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so they feel, at long last, they have finally found home. Let us love at all times. And let us especially be there for our brothers and sisters during times of adversity.
I also loved Richard G. Scott's talk, entitled "He Lives! All Glory to His Name!" Again, edited for space and content meaningful to me, but full talk here.
True love requires action. We can speak of love all day long—but until we manifest that love in action, our words are nothing. Christ did not just speak about love; He showed it each day of His life. Being amidst the people, Jesus reached out to the one. He rescued the lost. Without this love for God the Father and our fellowmen we are only the form of His Church—without the substance. What good is our teaching without love? What good is missionary, temple, or welfare work without love? Love is what led our Savior to the Garden of Gethsemane to make Himself a ransom for our sins. Love is the grand motive of the plan of salvation; it is the source of happiness, the ever-renewing spring of healing, the precious fountain of hope. As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. As we contemplate with reverence and awe how our Savior embraces us, comforts us, and heals us, let us commit to become His hands, that others through us may feel His loving embrace.
This Easter, as you remember the Resurrection and the price paid and the gift given through the Atonement, ponder what the scriptures teach of those sacred events. Your personal witness of their reality will be strengthened. They must be more than principles you memorize. They must be woven into the very fiber of your being as a powerful bulwark against the rising tide of abomination that infects our world.I loved this talk because it truly helped me feel of the spirit of the Atonement and the Resurrection and how important this gift is in our lives - not only mine, but for all mankind. What an incredible gift to give us - the sacrifice of one's own life so we can return to our Heavenly Father, even after committing sin (and repenting, of course)!
I believe that it is instructive to try to imagine what the Atonement required of both the Father and His willing Son. Three of the challenges the Savior faced were:
First, an enormous sense of responsibility, for He realized that except it be done perfectly, not one of His Father’s children could return to Him. They would be forever banished from His presence since there would be no way to repent for broken laws and no unclean thing can exist in the presence of God. His Father’s plan would have failed, and each spirit child would have been under the eternal control and torment of Satan.
Second, in His absolutely pure mind and heart, He had to personally feel the consequences of all that mankind would ever encounter, even the most depraved, despicable sins.
Third, He had to endure the vicious attack of Satan’s hordes while physically and emotionally pressed to the limit. Then, for reasons we do not fully know, while at the extremity of His capacity, at the time the Savior most needed succor, His Father allowed Him to shoulder the onerous responsibility with only His own strength and capacity.
I try to imagine what an intensely poignant moment it must have been for our Father in Heaven when the Savior cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I don’t believe Father in Heaven forsook His Son on the cross. I do believe the cry was motivated when that Son felt removed the sustaining support He had always enjoyed from His Father. His Father recognized that the Savior needed to accomplish the Atonement totally and completely on His own, without external support. The Father did not abandon His Son. He made it possible for His perfect Son to win the eternal fruits of the Atonement.
None of us can ever adequately appreciate in mortality the full beneficial consequences of the Atonement.
There is an imperative need for each of us to strengthen our understanding of the significance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ so that it will become an unshakable foundation upon which to build our lives. As the world becomes more devoid of foundational standards and as honor, virtue, and purity are increasingly cast aside in the pursuit of appetite, our understanding of and faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ will provide strength and capacity needed for a successful life. It will also bring confidence in times of trial and peace in moments of turmoil.
I energetically encourage you to establish a personal study plan to better understand and appreciate the incomparable, eternal, infinite consequences of Jesus Christ’s perfect fulfillment of His divinely appointed calling as our Savior and Redeemer. Profound personal pondering of the scriptures accompanied by searching, heartfelt prayer will fortify your understanding of and appreciation for His priceless Atonement. Another powerful way to learn of Jesus Christ and His Atonement is through consistent temple attendance.
As you ponder—not just read but ponder and meditate—on scriptural passages, the power of the Holy Ghost will distill truths in your mind and heart as a secure foundation in this uncertain time in which we live. As parents, prepare your children for the challenges they will encounter. Teach them truth, encourage them to live it, and they will be all right no matter how severely the world is shaken.
Resolve to make the Lord Jesus Christ the living center of your home. Be sure that every decision you make, whether it be of a spiritual or physical nature, be guided by the thought “What would the Lord Jesus Christ have me do?” When the Savior is the center of your home, it is filled with peace and serenity. There is a spirit of calm assurance that pervades the home that is felt by the children and adults alike.
The next talk I really enjoyed was by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, entitled "Turn to the Lord." The full talk is here. I was so deeply touched by this talk. It affected me so directly because of things in my own life and in the lives of my family members.
Throughout the world and among the membership of the Church, there is great joy and great pain. Both are part of the plan. Without one, we cannot know the other.I was so touched by this talk because we often take such offense to the things other say or do to us, but we shouldn't. Everyone has faults and everyone makes mistakes. We are to turn to the Lord and forgive those who trepass against us. It matters not what has been said or done. We should love one another and forgive.
Some are overcome by major problems; others let small matters become big. Symonds Ryder was a Campbellite leader who heard about the Church and had a meeting with Joseph Smith. Moved by this experience, he joined the Church in June 1831. Immediately thereafter, he was ordained an elder and called to serve a mission. However, in his call letter from the First Presidency and on his official commission to preach, his name was misspelled—by one letter. His last name showed as R-i-d-e-r, not the correct R-y-d-e-r. This caused him to question his call and those from whom it came. He chose not to go on the mission and fell away, which soon led to hatred and intense opposition toward Joseph and the Church. In March 1832, when Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were ripped from home during the night by an angry mob and tarred and feathered, a voice was heard to shout, “Simonds, Simonds [sic], where’s the tar bucket?” In less than 10 months, Symonds Ryder went from an eager convert to a mob leader, his spiritual decline starting with the offense taken over the misspelling of his name—by one letter. No matter the size of the issue, how we respond can reset the course of our life.
The Prophet Joseph Smith provided a model in handling personal tragedy and opposition. Revealed to him while in the inhumane surroundings of the Liberty Jail was this divine direction (which, in part, was a description of Joseph’s life to that point and also a forewarning): If “fools shall have thee in derision, . . . if thou art called to pass through tribulation; . . . if thine enemies fall upon thee; . . . if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, . . . and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good”. Then the profound statement: “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”
If you feel you have been wronged—by anyone (a family member, a friend, another member of the Church) or by anything—deal with the matter directly and with all the strength you have. And, without delay, turn to the Lord. Never let an earthly circumstance disable you spiritually.
Later in the evening, Melon Man had a ginormous piece of his birthday Texas sheet cake. The frosting was uber-sweet and I didn't care much for it. He was a little disappointed that he didn't get his favorite - chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I will make it for him though when we have his birthday party finally after everything with the upcoming funeral calms down, etc.
For his present, I gave him a new solar/crank radio. His had recently broken, so I think he was pretty happy to get this new one. It will even recharge iPods and cell phones! As another small gift to him, I sat and watched an episode or two of the Three Stooges with him. Not my favorite show in the world, but I did it for him. (I honestly don't find them funny at all.).
It was a good Easter Sunday. Quiet and filled with the spirit.
Happy Birthday Melon Man. I love you.