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Take the General Conference Challenge!

By Michelle Lehnardt

Can you feel it in the air? General Conference is here. 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.

Today, I invite to you take the General Conference Challenge: gather 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 Arthur(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?

About Michelle Lehnardt

(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 buildyourteenager.com, scenesfromthewild.net and rubygirl.org.

25 thoughts on “Take the General Conference Challenge!”

  1. favorite conference talk of late: Elder Bednar's talk regarding consistency in the home. Just what i needed to hear.

    as for questions? it would be really nice to know what we should do–my husband's job has become a 70-80 hour work week for the past 12 or so months. While i'm not complaining that we're gainfully employed, the situation isn't "working" for our family and our relationship and for my husband's health, quite frankly. SO, in the words of The Clash, should we stay or should we go now? Find a new job (where? what?)? Stick it out and hope it improves as we have been? Etc., etc.

    I'm just looking forward to hearing the words of the Prophet, feeling the Spirit, refilling my well and gaining more perspective in my life. And i'm especially grateful for the Ensign so that i can read the talks in peace and quiet later when my 3 little ones aren't squawking around me!

    Thanks for this post!

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  2. Jeffrey R Holland's “The Grandeur of God'', from April or October 2003, was my favorite conference talk in living memory. Although I have earlier ones that I also love, this is one that I recall him driving home to me very clearly, about the nature of our Heavenly Father's character and how we often misinterpret him as more distant than Jesus.

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  3. Sunday will come. Oh, how I need(ed) that. And when President Hinckley said "God loves you." Every time. I need(ed) that. Lately it seems like Elder Holland is speaking right to me. I am off to write my questions!

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  4. "Seeking the Spirit of God" by Douglas Callister is the talk that sticks with me the most. I loved the encouragement to seek out beauty and spirituality.

    I'm still not sure what my questions are today. Probably something about starting a family and finishing up my degree.

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  5. I hope to find answers to the biggest and pending questions in my life right now. All revolving around marriage, moving, and the Gospel. Big stuff, and so so so unfortunately I have to work today… I am really bummed about it but I couldn't get out of it so I'll have to catch up tonight. Luckily, I have tomorrow off so I'll be able to enjoy with everyone else.

    Happy Conference, all!

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  6. I don't get as far as questions, but I do write down three topics I need to know more about on a post-it and keep it with me as I take notes. Ever since finishing the Ensign from last Conference I've been trying to think of what I need help with this time. Probably prayer, service, charity, and patience. Definitely with the charity.

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  7. What I want to know is How does the process of forgiving, of letting go, of accessing the atonement really happen? Where does one go to have that change of heart? Is there some magic word, some secret that I haven't heard about?! Is it a moment, or an evolution? I've wanted nothing more for as long as I can remember. But I think I am still kind of terrified, immobilized. So I'm hoping to hear more about how to bring about that change of heart. I've been to countless therapists to work through the damage, talked to bishops, prayed for help. I've listened to every church talk, education week, conference talk and inspirational fireside/devotional on BYUB.org. But I don't know how to access the the peace that the atonement promises. I've said the words "I forgive you" and then tried forcing myself to act as though I'd forgiven them, but faking it has only resulted in more internal strife.

    There has already been one talk about forgiveness. Perhaps there will be more. But this is my big question for this conference. And I can think of nothing more that I would like to have this Easter than peace at last. My faith that it will come any time soon isn't very strong though. Maybe that will change.

    They've already sung my favorite song! Wish that the church would, at least ONCE, break out vs. 4, 5, & 6 of How Firm A Foundation, because they are favorites, but am happy they've finally added in vs. 7.

    Happy Easter everyone! ♥

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  8. President Uchtdorf's talk 'The Love of God' is, at this point in my life, my favorite talk I have ever heard on conference (and that is saying something as I always have a million favorites). It is absolutely beautiful. And it makes me cry every time.

    I can't sign off though, without mentioning Elder Wirthlin's 'Come What May, and Love It.' I have a magnet on my fridge, given to me by Elder Wirthlin's daughter and granddaughter, that says those words. (I don't put anything on my fridge, so you can tell this means a lot to me.) That talk has given me peace and hope, over and over and over again in my life.

    I love conference. I'm so grateful we have prophets.

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  9. My heart has been yearning for some counsel and peace in regards to my relationship with my children. Elder Ballard's talk this morning was just what I needed; I felt like it was given just for me. I really do love Conference.

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  10. Lately, it seems that Elder Holland is speaking right to me. I especially loved his talk "The Ministry of Angels" from October 2008 conference.

    I've also grown to love Elder Uchtdorf's talks. "The Love of God" is a talk of his that definitely stands out to me. And (the person above me mentioned this) I also love Elder Wirthlin's final talk, "Come What May, and Love It." How grateful I am for prophets and apostles who listen to and respond to the direction of the Spirit.

    As for questions/worries, I'm feeling inadequate and nervous about my new calling to be the RS president in my branch. I want to feel love for the sisters and help them to strengthen their testimonies. But, what if I'm not good enough? What if I don't have what it takes? I would just like assurance that everything will be okay. Deep down, I know it will be, but I would just like to hear that assurance once again.

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  11. My questions this conference:

    What should we be doing to bring a third child into our family? Since we seem to be receiving no direction, are we supposed to be content with no direction, or are we missing the direction?

    Will I ever be healed from my infertility (not physically, but spiritually and emotionally)? When and how can I come to complete acceptance of God's plan for my life as a woman and mother?

    Should I homeschool my children, and, if I do, is the method I'm interested in the right one for our family?

    There are other questions, too, relating to my personal spirituality and my parenting, concerns about my children, etc.

    I have to say that virtually every talk so far has hit on my concerns, with the focus on parenting, spiritual strength, and seeking personal revelation.

    I'm not sure I have one favorite conference talk of all time, but I eagerly eat up anything said by Julie Beck, President Uchtdorf, Elder Bednar, and Elder Holland. And those who have spoken have come through today! Recent talks that have influenced me profoundly have included Sister Beck's "Mothers Who Know" and President Uchtdorf's talk on women and creation.

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  12. Blue, I'm with you – loved hearing HFaF with the 7th verse. Last week we sang it in church and I cried because it addressed issues I am concerned about. Then to hear it again today with the last verse added, that was so applicable, powerful. Then I spoke to my sister who is far away and she said that it struck her strongly as well.

    I don't really have questions for Conference, I know what I'm supposed to be doing, but I'm scared. So I really need strengthening. It's like I'm one of the ten virgins and it's time to prepare my oil. That strength could also come in handy because my parents and my in-laws are visiting right now, at the same time, for a whole week 😉

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  13. I'm so torn up right now that listening to anything that smacks of easy answers makes me want to steamroll my television set. I want no platitudes. I want real, I want depth. But I can barely concentrate enough to get anything out of anybody's talk.

    I know it's not them, it's me. But it is still hard.

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  14. Anonymous – conference can be incredibly hard. You're not alone in that experience. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

    The past 2 years of general conference have answered many of my prayers, and while there were talks that seemed to pat and neat, in others there were big hefty chunks of answer and strength that I desperately needed.

    Here in Australia, the Stakes and Districts record the conference onto DVDs, and each stake/ward/branch watches it over a weekend the following week or fortnight. I'm going to be watching it through the internet this week, and can't wait.

    My biggest question for conference is "What do I do now/next?" My second biggest question (which is a constant) is "What can I do for my sons, how can I be a better mother?"

    I'm looking forward to the answers.

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  15. My question was what is it that I'm supposed to be remembering and doing at this stage of my life? Even though much if not most of the conference was aimed at adults who are at a different stage of life than I am, sure enough, tucked into the middle of one of the shorter Saturday afternoon discourses, was the beginning of an answer that the Holy Ghost then fleshed out for me.

    Hooray for personal revelation.

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  16. Actually, Conference bummed me out. So many, many talks about raising and teaching kids/youth, and I feel like I'm so alone in that task. It's such a huge burden; so daunting and so scary. My dh is a good man, but not into the Church so much anymore, and it was painfully obvious today as he completely avoided even being mistaken for catching a word or two of Conference. Just a hard day overall, and disappointing to feel so low and burdened at the end of General Conference. Plus my dh's total ignoring of Easter, too.

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  17. Strollerblader – I'm sorry. I know how conference can be so difficult to sit through when life is so obviously hard and not like the stories told. Well done on surviving the weekend!

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  18. Just wanted to say that when you get a second, listen to Priesthood session. They post them now online in the archives on that very Saturday. Someone above mentioned patience — Pres. Uchtdorf's talk is a must. Elder Oaks talked on healing. Elder Rasband shared a rare sneak peak into how mission calls are issued. It's a gem. I wept through much of the session. Still have to really listen to the last two talks…it got late.

    I loved how Elder Andersen at the end pulled it all together — reminding us that there is no assigned topic, no coordination. That God works through His leaders to give us the messages He wants us to hear.

    But on that note, I also know that sometimes I have to come back and revisit what is said. I can be easily overwhelmed w/ all that is imperfect in myself and my life when I hear lots of the ideal. Hugs to those who felt that kind of overwhelmedness. It's part of why I'm grateful we can digest more slowly later as we get the Ensign, and continue to seek for answers and inspiration that can distill over time, too. I don't always get the answers immediately during the weekend…sometimes it takes time.

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  19. I loved this conference and felt it responded to so many of my questions and struggles as a parent and in my calling. Having said that, I understand how it could be frustrating for some listeners to have so many of the talks along the same theme if those issues did not speak to their current path. I have been there, too, and send thoughts and love to those who are in that group.

    I loved Elder Uchtdorf's talk (and, M&M, my husband raved about his patience talk as well. I'll have to go have a listen) and Elder Ballard's and Elder Holland's. I have some very concrete changes I'd like to make as a result. If I can just hold on to the inspiration and promptings…

    And that's the challenge. Within two hours after conference, where we felt fed and full, two of my children had a major blowout between them. I didn't handle it well and neither did they.

    Ah, life. The negotiation between the inspirations I receive and the realities of trying to live them sometimes baffles me. Bit by bit, right?

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  20. Now that I am rested, I *can* say that I really loved the Saturday sessions. They were uplifting and inspiring to me. (I think that part of it also was that I had no expectations on Saturday for my dh to participate at all, so no disappointments there to color the experience.)
    I am looking forward to hearing or reading the Priesthood session talks.

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  21. Blue…
    You are not alone in your quest! I am with you and have been asking friends and my husband for help in understanding HOW to access that part of the Atonement for the past two years.

    I would love a post on this! As I'm still searching…wanting to learn how to really and truly forgive. And move on with no risidual feelings.

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  22. When I have struggled w/ forgiveness, I have held onto something from Pres. Faust. It doesn't necessarily explain all the how-tos (I think that is such a personal process) but does indicate that sometimes it really is a process that can take time and patience. (I don't usually like to include long quotes, but I think this one is worth it.)

    "A sister who had been through a painful divorce wrote of her experience in drawing from the Atonement. She said: “Our divorce … did not release me from the obligation to forgive. I truly wanted to do it, but it was as if I had been commanded to do something of which I was simply incapable.” Her bishop gave her some sound advice: “Keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in.” Many months passed as this struggle to forgive continued. She recalled: “During those long, prayerful moments … I tapped into a life-giving source of comfort from my loving Heavenly Father. I sense that he was not standing by glaring at me for not having accomplished forgiveness yet; rather he was sorrowing with me as I wept. …

    “In the final analysis, what happened in my heart is for me an amazing and miraculous evidence of the Atonement of Christ. I had always viewed the Atonement as a means of making repentance work for the sinner. I had not realized that it also makes it possible for the one sinned against to receive into his or her heart the sweet peace of forgiving.” 33

    The injured should do what they can to work through their trials, and the Savior will “succor his people according to their infirmities.” 34 He will help us carry our burdens. Some injuries are so hurtful and deep that they cannot be healed without help from a higher power and hope for perfect justice and restitution in the next life. Since the Savior has suffered anything and everything that we could ever feel or experience, 35 He can help the weak to become stronger. He has personally experienced all of it. He understands our pain and will walk with us even in our darkest hours."

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