Can you feel it in the air? General Conference is just days away. And it’s about time.

Conference seems to come just when we need it, just when our collective well is running dry. What if it were one week later? We’d never make it!

I can hardly wait to spend the weekend in my pajamas, making crepes with strawberries and whip cream, pouring out the entire 10 gallon container of legos on my living room floor so the kids can create while they ‘listen’ and drinking in the counsel and comfort of our leaders.

What will they teach us this time? What do you want to learn?

The first time I truly looked for guidance in General Conference was as a teenager. I was absolutely convinced that the brethren would change the mission age for girls to 19(um, yeah, what was I thinking?).  So every April and October I sat with baited breath waiting for the great announcement. The age change, as you well know, never came; but the April after I turned 19 President Benson gave his great, classic talk on pride. As I listened to his words, “The proud cannot accept the authority of God giving direction to their lives….” tears ran down my face. Perhaps God has a better plan for me than the one I had in mind.

Predictably, I got married just days before my 21st birthday but I retained my belief that the words of General Conference were written expressly for me. When I was struggling with babies I heard talks on motherhood, when I had family issues President Holland gave me “The Other Prodigal,” when I felt my uber-talented ward didn’t need me the brethren assured me they did.

Recently, my friend Allison introduced me to the General Conference Challenge: take your worries and your questions and write them down. As you watch conference, your questions will be answered. ONE BY ONE.

Monday morning, right here, wear your workout clothes or your cocktail dress(we won’t know), let your kids watch Barney(we can’t hear them) and let’s discuss conference. What were the themes? How were your questions answered? Who surprised you? I love talking about conference with like-minded people because they always find the jewels that I missed.

And today, please tell me your questions (if you dare!) or tell me your favorite conference talk of all time. Is there a speaker that you always look forward to, whom you can always count on for inspiration? What are your conference traditions?

Michelle L.

(Blog Team) I'm the kind of mom who drives through mud puddles, throws pumpkins off the roof and lets the kids move the ping-pong table into the kitchen for the summer. Despite (or probably, because of) my immaturity, my five sons and one daughter are happy, thriving, funny people. I'll climb a mountain with you, jump into a freezing lake hand-in-hand or just sit with you while you cry. I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ will heal the earth. Founder of scenesfromthewild.net and rubygirl.org.

42 Comments

  1. Dalene

    October 2, 2008

    Elder Jeffrey R. Holland always knocks it out of the ball park for me. He is bold and eloquent and sincere.

    One of my all-time favorite “over-the-pulpit” moments happened during the Priesthood session. My husband and two deacon-age sons were all watching when Monte J. Brough gave this address in which he told a story about my father when he was a deacon. The effect it had on my boys to hear that story about the grandfather they had never met–especially to learn about something he did when he was their age–was so touching to me. I always meant to write him a thank-you note for that. Maybe I still should.

  2. cheryl

    October 2, 2008

    I’m with Dalene. Elder Holland always leaves me with a natural high. I feel the same way about Elder Oaks and Elder Bednar!

    My questions:
    1. How come I don’t have a calling, yet?
    2. Will we ever get out of this personal financial crisis? (not talking about the National one!).
    3. If we’re really supposed to have our 5th child, then why can’t I get pregnant? Was the personal revelation wrong?
    4. Am I screwing up my children?

    I adore General Conference. Love it. Love it so much, in fact, I turned down a family outing offer with our good friends because I have to watch Conference. I have to.

    This year, I’m making cinnamon rolls (frozen; I’m not “making” making them!) and the kids are going to watch with me (well, they’ll be encouraged to). I love your lego-dumping idea! I’m going to have try that for the Saturday sessions. Good thing my expectations are low (my oldest is only 7 years old)!

  3. EmRuss

    October 2, 2008

    One of my all time favorites was by F. Burton Howard titled “Eternal Marriage” (April 2003 conference). He told the story of the silverware his wife so lovingly took care of and said “If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. … It becomes special because you have made it so.” I love that story and quote. I think of it often in my life.

    I also love Elder Bednar and Elder Eyring. (Though I still miss Elder Maxwell!)

  4. anon

    October 2, 2008

    Oh, so many questions that need to be answered, here are the main two:

    1. personal finance worries
    2. how to get my husband to spend more time with the kids and enjoy it

    I too love watching general conference, but with little kids, I struggle with being able to pay attention. Thanks goodness for the conference edition of the Ensign.

  5. b.

    October 2, 2008

    I think I will take you up on the challenge (although, I’ll stop short of putting my questions here)!
    Great idea!

    Yes on Elder Holland.

    But if not…favorite talk so far.

  6. wendy

    October 2, 2008

    Michelle, I was in the MTC when President Benson gave that wonderful talk. Too bad they never changed the age!

    I’m up for the challenge, too. Besides the financial questions, I will be thinking about balance, personal discipline, and a few more things I’ve got to sort through.

    Oh, I got this term from a former boss . . . General Conference days are Pajama Church Days.

    I enjoy the tradition with my in-laws of all the women and children getting together while the men go to Priesthood session and out to dinner afterwards (they come home in between to pick up the eager male children). Sometimes we watch chick flicks, sometimes we decorate birthday cakes for whoevers birthdays are going to be celebrated the next day, sometimes we just eat and talk.

    I sometimes do a really big breakfast for Saturday morning session. Some years I don’t make it, but it always feels better when I do.

  7. Maddison

    October 2, 2008

    I agree. General Conference always comes at the right times for me too and I always feel rejuvinated afterwards, like having gone to a day spa or something (not exactly the analogy I was looking for, but just meaning to say that I feel so refreshed and ready for the next 6 months after GC.)

    Only having been a member of the Church for just over two years now, I’ve not seen all that many Confrences, but I always enjoyed President Hinckley’s addresses, and President Monson’s ~ he is so sincere and righteous, I am totally captivated whenever he speaks. And this will be the first Gen. Con. with Prophet Monson, right?

    Off to compile my list ~ Thank you for the challenge, this will be great!

  8. Giggles

    October 2, 2008

    I do a slight variation on the challenge. I pick three to five topics that I have questions on or need to know more about at that time in my life. I write those on a post-it note and keep it at the top of the page in my journal where I’m writing my notes so that I can always see it (keeping my notes in my journal means I don’t lose them). There are always two or three talks addressing those topics perfectly for me.

    One year I had as one of my topics, “forgiveness.” By the end of General Conference I felt like every other talk had been about it in one form or another, and I had learned what I needed to learn.

    I think my favorite talk would be one during the April 2007 Saturday morning session. It was not what was said by the speaker, but it was during that talk that I received personal and direct revelation about what to do next in my life. It was as if the speaker had paused in his talk and said a sentence directly to me. If I hadn’t been listening to Conference, I doubt I would’ve received that revelation.

    Next month I offer another challenge, read the entire General Conference edition of the Ensign before the next General Conference. I have been working on that for two years now and it makes General Conference last the whole six months in between for me. And what I get from reading the talks is never the same as what I got when I listened to them live.

  9. Blue

    October 2, 2008

    I loved Allison’s idea, and can’t wait for Tuesday. I grabbed a couple extras to take to my VT’ies, and need to stop by and tell them about the challenge. As for my personal questions:

    * what should I be doing with my life now? I mean, the kids are both in school all day, the husband is in school all day and night. I work a few days a month…but what about the rest of it? I’m sure there’s got to be more in store for me. It’s scary to contemplate giving up the lazy freedom I presently enjoy, but without doing so I won’t be progressing as much as I could. I want to cherish the days of my life, not wile away the hours given me.

    * what’s the deal with my parents? what should I do about that situation?

    * How can I be a better mother to my particular children? What areas do I need to focus on with them?

    * Is there anything I need to do/should do/could do differently with Doc? A way I could be that would help him?

    These are the questions that are always in the back of my mind. So I’m grateful Allison gave us those little cards and the challenge. I don’t want to miss a minute of GenCon Fall ’08!

  10. courtney

    October 2, 2008

    I agree– I always look forward to Elder Holland’s talks.
    I always go to my parents’ for Conference, and I am glad we are breaking the regular tradition of hoagies this year. I’m sick of hoagies! This year we’re making swedish pancakes. Yum!
    I have heard of making a list of concerns/questions before, but I’ve never done it. Perhaps I will make it a first this time. And, I will admit, I still have a hard time staying awake all of conference (I’m more of a visual learner); I think I will take the challenge to read the entire conference Ensign by April’s conference to make up for what I sleep through.

  11. Michelle L.

    October 2, 2008

    Ooh, I’m loving your responses (and spending half the morning reading your favorite talks).

    Elder Holland. I try not to play favorites but on my list of top ten sermons, 5 of them are his.

    After Elder Uchtdorf’s address in RS meeting last week I hardly feel like I can ask for more but I do have a list of questions….

    Cheryl, we speak so much about difficult callings but so little about feeling unneeded in a ward. I think that’s worth an entire discussion.

    Giggles– thanks for the counter challenge! You’re on!

    I agree with missing Elder Maxwell. I’m still missing President Hinckley too. Is that OK?

  12. Justine

    October 2, 2008

    I have already received some very direct answers to some very direct prayers through Elder Uchdorf, but am so so excited to listen to Conference this weekend and be edified and strengthened.

    I love listening to Elder Bednar speak. He and Elder Eyring always speak right to my heart. I’m already praying fervently that my kids will be quiet and attentive (or at least occupied) so I can listen.

    I love re-listening to conference during the interim months on my iPod while I run.

  13. eljee

    October 2, 2008

    Elder Holland is my favorite speaker, hands down. I feel so bummed when his assigned talk falls during the priesthood session!

    My questions this year:

    Should dh and I continue on our current course of job-hunting and possibly a long-distance move in the face of the current economic climate and housing market?

    How can I continue to heal from some of the childbearing losses I’ve experienced and be completely content with my current mothering situation? What should we be doing at this time to bring another child into our family? How can I get motivated to do whatever I need to do to make that happen? How can I get rid of the envy I feel toward other people who have what I want?

  14. Michelle L.

    October 2, 2008

    I love it when people admit envy eljee, ’cause I feel it fairly often! You’ll remember Elder Holland–“If envy were a fever, all the world would be ill.”

    Praying that you get your answers.

  15. cheryl

    October 2, 2008

    Eljee-
    Oh, man, I hear you. I sooooo hear you…

    Michelle L.-
    That would be a good topic! “Give me a Calling” or “What?! Patience Again!?”
    🙂

  16. Blue

    October 2, 2008

    okay, i just listened to the whole thing. I missed it on Saturday. It was fabulous! Just even the talks at Women’s Conference were filled with insights that apply to some of my questions. It almost reminds me of the whole Horoscope thing…you know how you can read one and find a way to make it apply to your life in some way? Not that I place any stock in astrology whatsoever…but I’ve often been amused at how “applicable” this or that horoscope has been to something I’m thinking about (though it’s more often than not completely un-relatable). Okay so that sounds really dumb…but I honestly think approaching anything, whether it’s our personal scripture study, prayer, sacrament meeting, other church meetings, and especially general conference, seeking inspiration and guidance on something specific, will make us all that much more receptive to the things that Heavenly Father wants to bless us with. So it’s not magic…just a matter of seeking with real intent.

    At least that’s my spin on it.

    That choir director was delightful! What a joyful experience being in that choir must have been. Makes me wish I could have been part of it…only I can hardly ever get through songs like those without losing my composure.

    I’m looking forward to Saturday even more now!

  17. FoxyJ

    October 2, 2008

    When I was deciding whether or not to serve a mission I received revelation about it during General Conference. None of the talks were on missions exactly, but the spiritual setting was an appropriate one for revelation. Last year I was surprised during the spring session when several of the talks specifically addressed issues I was struggling with at the time. It was definitely a blessing.

    The main thing I struggle with at the moment is watching conference when my husband no longer participates in church. I have two small children and it’s hard to keep them interested when I’m the only one watching it on my little laptop screen. I think I might just watch the Saturday sessions by myself, and maybe not even not live. But I will ask my five-year-old to watch with me on Sunday and figure out some ways for her to participate if possible.

  18. Mommom

    October 2, 2008

    I am SO ready for conference and I think the challenge is just what I need. I did hear someone else mention it so now that I’ve heard it twice I’m not going to wait for a bigger bat to hit me before I do it.

    I just hope I ready for the answers!

  19. Lindsay

    October 2, 2008

    This challenge – and this Conference – may very well be what I’m needing right now. This year has been draining, really draining, on my testimony and resolve to endure. Not just endure, but endure well. I feel that when I initially converted, I brought everything to the table and the things I didn’t get, I was willing to accept on faith. Now, that faith “credit card” has come due and I feel like I’m starting from scratch.

    My question would be how to re-gain and then effectively strengthen my testimony. Not just of the Gospel, I get that, but of some of the parts I’ve struggled with over the years courtesy of really bad experiences and my own untimely neglect. Kind of a big one but I SO need a payday. Maybe one of the speakers will bring along a drill so I can get it in my head real good this go-round. 🙂

  20. elizabeth-w

    October 2, 2008

    FoxyJ–my husband isn’t a member, so I have some sense of how that goes. I always feel a tiny bit weird sitting around the living room for 2 days straight–that is very much not the typical routine–so what I have done is invite myself to someone’s house who is going to be watching it–maybe that would be easier for you to do on a Sunday?? Invite yourself to someone’s house who also has kids who probably won’t do much watching, either. Offer to bring snacks. This time, I’m watching Saturday at home, and on Sunday I’ll go (with my children 8 and 5) to my parents’ house.
    My topics to hear about–
    temple anything
    faith faith faith faith faith
    but really, more about just being open to hear what I really need to hear

  21. m&m

    October 2, 2008

    I love this.

    I second the challenge to read the whole conference report before the next conference. It makes a difference when I do that.

    I remember before Elder Eyring came to our stake conference that I had specific desires to understand prayer better. Our stake presidency encouraged us to prepare spiritually for our conference by pondering, praying, reading the scriptures, and attending the temple. I made some specific effort in that regard, and had seriously one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. Oh, and then-Elder Eyring talked about prayer. In a powerful way.

    I know things always won’t be life-changing, but that really gave me the conviction that MY effort to prepare myself made a difference.

    So even thinking about that motivates me to prepare to receive.

    I can’t wait!

  22. ThomasB

    October 2, 2008

    EmRuss,

    We need to hang out because you wrote my post. I miss Elder Maxwell discussing the elements of the Atonement. He helped me to grasp it more than I had ever comprehended before. Elder Burtons talks is one of the most underated talks of all time (if there is such a thing).

    I think if I had to sit down and listen to 4 straight it would be Elder Bednar speaking first followed by Elder Oaks, Holland and President Erying in the clean up position (if I may use a baseball metaphor which is quite rare for me).

    Michelle – Thanks for putting down your thoughts. I have got a tear in my eye just thinking about what I have learned in the past and what lies ahead this weekend. Thanks!

  23. jendoop

    October 2, 2008

    This weekend is my girlfriend weekend, we thought it would be good timing because we wouldn’t need subs for our callings and etc. But this challenge has me regretting it. What a sweet experience to have family pj church, in whatever fashion you choose. It will be so hard to miss it, I guess I’ll appreciate it more next time. Of course it will be TIVOed but it’s not the same.
    Great challenge, our stake Pres asks us to do the same thing when we go to the temple.

  24. mormonhermitmom

    October 2, 2008

    I have never written down questions before, though I have prayed to hear something I needed. I’ll have to try that this year, so here goes:

    1. Do I go back to work or not?
    2. Does hubby go back to school or not?
    3. How much of this life is doing it yourself to grow, and how much is letting God handle it, and when do you know it’s time to let go?

  25. HiD

    October 3, 2008

    Wow, I love the reality check that SO many women are going through the same things as me. Cheryl/Michelle, I totally know the feeling of needing a calling and feeling useless. I asked the Bishop for one (I know! who does that?!) and was sufficiently humbled but enjoy the new callings (yes, plural).

    As for conference, favorite speaker would be Elder Bednar.

    I’ve been really thinking hard about Allison’s challenge, and let’s be honest…I’m afraid of getting an answer to some of my questions. (ya know, you ask for patience–you get experiences to test it) But I think that part of the power is having the courage to verbalize it, so here goes.

    1. Hubby’s school situation: more school now or later? Which direction should we go when we do?

    2. Integrity to live above what people think of you

    3. Overcoming self: self doubt, bad habits, fear

    4. Where does the Lord want my energy focused to best serve him at THIS point in my life?

  26. JM

    October 3, 2008

    My most memorable conference talk was by David Bednar in Spring of 2005. He spoke about the tender mercies of the Lord. Ever since that talk I have noticed those little miracles in that happen in my life every day. Tender mercies that get us from one day to the next and, hopefully, right back where we belong.

    Questions I have for conference:
    1. Is our family really complete?
    2. Am I really strong/worthy enough to do this calling the way the people I serve need it to be done?

  27. Shimmy Mom

    October 3, 2008

    Questions:
    1. How badly will my extended family be affected by the current economic crisis. How/What will I do to help?
    2. How do I find joy in the new calling that I don’t really want to be in? (I’d rather have my old one back)
    3. How do I give my self the motivation to do FHE, scripture study and prayers on a CONSISTANT, regular basis?

    My favorites were always Neal A. Maxwell (I loved his big vocabulary, I felt smarter every time he finished a talk.) Of course, Pres. Hinckley, and Pres. Monson. His stories always touch me and I love how he finds a way to see a religious lesson in every aspect of life. I am very excited to hear him speak this time.

    Thanks for the fun challenge.
    *hugs*

  28. Janet

    October 3, 2008

    Thank you for this challenge and helping me prepare for Conference with an open and teachable heart.

  29. Susan

    October 3, 2008

    Our family loves to don shoes and run around our house 3 times at “halftime”. It really helps us wake up for one more hour.

  30. Susan

    October 3, 2008

    For you with little kids, we would make up a conference packet (like http://rustysblog.com). The children would work on that at their piano bench desk during conference. We copied and hung a picture of the general authorities (from the center of the last conference Ensign) under the TV, and we’d circle the pictures of who talked at what sessions (different colors). I myself like to cut up an extra copy of the general authorities and paste the picture of the speaker on my paper by the notes I take. It keeps me playing but listening, too.

    Your favorite speakers are mine, Maxwell, Bednar, Oaks, Eyring.

    I’m listening for how to do missionary work.
    How to keep kids productivity active.
    How to do more things with my family.
    Get closer to my extended family.
    How to grandmother the little girl who is too far away.
    How to have husband stop watching sports every night.
    Survival in these economic times.
    Strengthening my “not eat so much” resolve.
    stuff like that

  31. Kathy

    October 3, 2008

    My seminary teacher challenged this during my junior year of high school. Now, 20 years later, I am still doing it. I promise, it works. I am always amazed at the answers that come. I can’t wait for Conference!!!

  32. Grace

    October 4, 2008

    I am looking for words of hope and faith while being married to a nonmember and I need it that my husband will change his ‘I’m not-interested’ attitude. I need his active support raising our family according to gospel standards.
    I know, in my PB, I was promised a faithful servant of the Lord to be at my side, when I would be faithful.
    I really feel that I NEED THE FULFILLMENT OF THIS PROMISE. I want our family to be an eternal family…so there’s quite some work to do.

    I always love GC and try to watch as much as I can either on the computer or with friends.

  33. Shalee

    October 4, 2008

    I love love LOVE Gen Conference..ohhh I just heard on TV that it could be snowing in SL this weekend…Glad I am in FL.

    Anyway, back to the challenge..My favorite speakers are Utchdorf, Bednar, Holland, Eyring & of course of beloved Prophet Monson. I can’t wait to start watching. I take notes in my planner or “Conf Notebook” and it helps me focus on things that are important to me.

    I will be listening for:
    1-patience in callings (Enduring until you are released and learning why you have the calling you do)

    2-preparing my kids for the world we live in.

    3-Temple work and blessings of going with or without your spouse.

    4-Sharing the Gospel with others

  34. Teri

    October 4, 2008

    Wow, what a nice challenge. I will be watching conference at home on the computer and I love all the ideas you have for keeping my kids occupied!
    My questions are the same as many of yours. We need to decided if my husband is going back into the Military, about his schooling or maybe my schooling.
    I need help with being a more effective parent to my children in their teens.
    I need to decided about a medical procedure I am considering.
    I need encouragement to me more consistent in having FHE, family prayers and personal study.
    I am not happy in my calling and want to know how to find the joy in it.
    Have a great conference weekend everyone

  35. Darlene

    October 4, 2008

    Love G. Conference. Love, love love it.

    I need:

    1. Peace to accept the state of my health or guidance about how to change it.

    2. Guidance about how to control computer game usage in our house without fostering yucky feelings.

    3. Guidance about money: what should we do with any extra we can scrape up–pay down debt, work on cash stash, or fix various house problems?

  36. m&m

    October 4, 2008

    1. Peace to accept the state of my health or guidance about how to change it.

    Oh, Darlene, how I relate!

    (I sent you an email way back when — did you ever get it?)

  37. Migs

    October 4, 2008

    I might just give this challenge a try–a little late, but what the hay…or hey…

    Fav. all time conf. talks…toughie.

    Holland–An High Priest of Good Things to Come
    AND today’s talk on angels–amazing.
    Wirthlin–The Abundant Life and Sunday Will Come
    Bednar–Tender Mercies of the Lord (c’mon, that’s a given right?)
    Oaks–Divorce
    Maxwell (not conf. talks but devotionals, but whatevs)–Grounded, Rooted, Established, Settled and Meek and Lowly

  38. michelle

    October 4, 2008

    Thanks for your great list Migs– more treasures to reread. And yes, “Tender Mercies” is such a classic that I was surprised that only you and JM mentioned it.

  39. Blue

    October 4, 2008

    One of my all time favs was Cast Therefore Not Away Thy Confidence. It helped me to trust the spiritual experiences I’ve had in the past when I was going through a time of being tempted to toss the baby with the bathwater so to speak.

    Beware of Pride~another classic.

    I loved all the talks today. And I love this website. I often put these on the computer during the week. I’ve listened to all of them at least once, most of them more. In case you might not know about it I thought I’d post it here. This is a link to the top talks on the site…but there are countless others once you work your way through this treasure trove:
    http://www.byub.org/findatalk/toptalks.asp

    ♥ and enjoy tomorrow all!

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