Tuesday, April 1, 2014

If a Tree Falls in a Forest...If a Prophet Speaks

My friends came over for General Conference Book Club today, as they do every Tuesday! 

Since it's the last meeting before the next Conference, we chowed down on some good food and took this General Conference Quiz.  It's a cross-word puzzle that I put together for my kids.  

If you'd like to try it out, click here.  It can be printed off or taken online.

As the group left, my friends were trying to remember how long we've been doing this.  After a quick search of my journal, I confirmed that we have been holding General Conference Book Club in my home every Tuesday for three years, starting after the April 2011 Conference.  That's 156 meetings of the minds, give or take a few, and we almost never miss!

Studying the words of the prophets these three years has completely changed me.  Completely.  

Of course, a lot has happened in my life during that time, but it's more than that.  

There are a lot of things I've been able to come through because of the wise counsel of the prophets, because of hard work and commitment to following their teachings, and because of the kindness and understanding ears of my friends who've faithfully come each week to Book Club to help me and others to progress along the covenant path and along the individual personal paths that each of us must travel.

Covenant Path.  That's a fairly new-ish catchphrase in the church these days, but these women have been helping me and each other along that path for a long time now.  I am so grateful for that.  Grateful beyond words.

I am also grateful beyond comprehension for the wisdom that I have gained from studying the words of the prophets.  

Re-arranging my weekly schedule so that there is a designated time to turn to their messages has helped me to--as Elder Hales taught--"gain great strength to bless [myself] and [my family] for generations to come."  For this I am deeply grateful.  

General Conference is such a blessing.

Because I have dedicated so much time to studying the words of the prophets each week during Book Club, that commitment has been passed down to my children.  

I was delighted a few weeks ago while we were listening to Elder Cook's talk, to hear Autumn suddenly yell out and echo his words..."bondage!"  

It was a reminder to me that little eyes are watching and little ears are listening.  And little people are learning how to follow the Prophet by observing what we do.  

I loved the article in the April 2014 Ensign called "Follow the Prophet."  In it Elder Walker shares some very touching examples of the kind of man President Monson is...how he loves children, how he cares for others and is ever so thoughtful, cheerful, and good.  

Elder Walker says, "I testify that there is a God in heaven who knows us and loves us.  He has given us a prophet--to guide us, to teach us, and to lead us in these latter days.  I believe the Lord expects us to love the prophet, to sustain him, and to follow his example." 

I was struck by his testimony.  "I believe the Lord expects us to love the prophet."  I think many of us know we are expected to follow the prophet, but do we feel that the Lord wants us to love him as well?

Watching General Conference has become a family affair for us.  We have had our children watch all four sessions of Conference since they were very young (probably since birth) mainly because I wanted to watch them all.  

The older they get, the more input my children have into how we watch General Conference and other things in our house.  Last night during FHE, we had a General Conference "brainstorming" session, so that everyone could offer up their own ideas of how we could get the most out of Conference and what activities they would most enjoy to do as we watch.

We asked what they'd like us to do for our Reverence Stations during Conference, and there were some good ideas offered up.  Someone suggested that at one station, someone could listen for ideas of things we could learn about during family home evening, at another we could listen for things we might want to change in our family.

Guy--wanting to side-track us, I'm guessing, and be silly--suddenly said, "Mom, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?"  I smiled and answered his question with a question of my own.  I said, "Guy, if a prophet speaks at General Conference, and no one listens, did a prophet of God still speak?  Does the fact that we didn't listen have any bearing on the truth of what was said?"

The answer needed no explanation.  Whether we listen or not, a prophet of God is still speaking to us.  His words still "make a sound" and have bearing on our lives, and we would be wise to listen and heed what they say.  

Every family approaches General Conference viewing differently.  My philosophy is that it's my job to create an environment in my home where the spirit can be felt by all (both parents and children.)  Feeling the spirit together is paramount.  Making memories together comes second, and having fun while we are doing it is just par for the course!  Fun and feeling the spirit go hand-in-hand in my book.  Any device that I can use to bring my children to Christ is welcome in my home. (And I have created a gathering place for these little traditions here on my General Conference page.)

Now as a reward for anyone who managed to read through this long post, I have a giveaway for you!  I have been asked to review a new Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD called "He Is Risen," out just in time for Easter.  

It's an abbreviated selection--six songs--that will surely get you in the right mood for Easter as well as General Conference viewing.

The choir sings one of my now favorite Easter songs "In the Garden."  I included it on my Easter Song List three years ago (Remember my Easter Play List?)

Here are the words of the refrain:

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

I love this idea of an intimate moment alone in the Garden with the Savior.  When I study the messages of General Conference, when I hear the Spirit speaking their words to my heart, I feel that He is walking with me and talking with me.  And as I strive to follow their words, I think the Lord finds ways to tell me personally that I am "his own."  And in that, there is a joy that very few have known, except those who take up His cross and follow Him.

I will give away one copy of this CD "He is Risen" to one of you faithful readers.

All you need to do to be entered is leave a comment about a time that you have felt the Lord speaking to you through the words of His prophets.  Similar testimonies regarding General Conference viewing or study are also welcome.

Thanks, and good luck!


  1. So many ideas come to mind but a few years ago I went to the special broadcast for Institute and Seminary people and I am not gonna lie, I was having a tough month, I was feeling down. I sat in that meeting and thank goodness they turned down the lights because Pres. Eyring started to talk and my tears just flowed. His love and concern for us. His encouragement he offered, it was just what i needed. I am so thankful for those moments when God lets me know He hears me, and loves me and the prophets are definitely one of the ways he accomplishes that task!

  2. Last October during the Saturday morning session, when President Monson was telling about the now 80,000+ missionaries serving, I just bawled. Now is truly the time for missionary work. I'm not good at it, but I need to open my mouth and invite!

  3. I loved Elder Bednar's talk a few years ago. My kids were young, and I felt like FHE and scripture study was an epic failure most weeks. Usually I ended up in or near tears by the end of each night since no one seemed to be paying any attention or were being silly and irreverent during my well planned lessons. Elder Bednar talked about similar situations in their home when their children were young. He said the important part was that we were holding FHE and studying the scriptures. He told us that our children wouldn't remember specific evenings as much as they would remember that FHE and scripture study was important in their home. After having a particularly frustrating experience the week before, I felt like he was talking specifically to me. I can't describe the peace and comfort his talk brought me. When I start to get frustrated during FHE and scripture study since then, I remember his conference address and it helps bring my focus back to what is truly important.

  4. Like Terra I have been studying Elder Bednar's: More Diligent and Concerned at Home. It tied in well with some things we have been discussing in High Council. I have a firm witness of his counsel about consistency. Little ears are listening and eyes are watching, even when they are climbing the walls and seem disinterested. Like most everyone our daily scripture study, FHE and meetings are imperfect, squirmy and bouncy, but I know my family will be blessed by our genuine love and consistency.
    Jocelyn, your zeal for Conference is awesome, and it seems to show in the genuine desire your children have for it too. It is easy for parents to incorporate the doctrine from GC into their own lives, but to have the consistent patience to work with your children and their participation rather than say "they'll get it into it someday" is stellar. It reminds me so much of father Lehi longing for his family to partake of the fruit.

    I'm lucky enough have to be near Salt Lake this week and to have tickets. Wish I could take the Christensen family with me.

  5. So hard to narrow that one down because I feel like every Conference there is SO much I get out of it. I was just talking with a friend about this but I think in general I really appreciate lately their UPLIFTING spirits and messages. There is so much going on around the world that is evil and progressing away from the ways of the Lord, there is so much ANGER and RAGE against people who believe in Christ. So when the Prophet and Apostles come to speak to us during General Conference and they are so UPlifting and not so gloom and doom, it is really inspiring. I have really gained a lot from them as they have talked a great deal about our roles as women and how inside us is the gift of nurturing. I love having that reminder because it makes me realize that I need to always be developing my nurturing side.

  6. I was really impressed last conference by Elder Holland talk on depression sharing his own experiences and how to overcome this common problem of many.

  7. In 2005, President Hinckley gave a challenge to members to read the Book of Mormon by end of the year and we would be blessed. I knew after President Hinckley gave us the challenge and if we obeyed that our prayer for a child would be answered. My husband and I did finish reading the Book of Mormon together in December...we did receive our first greatest blessing (we know have 3 :) ). After 7 years of being married, we found out that I was pregnant with our first child in January 2006.

  8. Just tonight I was listening to Elder Scott's talk from April '13 about peace and it was just the soothing that my heart needed. Life feels very, very difficult to me right now and I am so grateful for the comfort I felt hearing his words.
    BTW, I have been reading your blog for years now, and you are one of my most favorite. :) It was cool to recognize your kids in the Friend before I even read their names! Thank you for sharing your strength and testimony with all of us.

  9. Saturday, while listening to the General Women's Session, I was having a pity party for one, when the exact thing I was pity partying about was talked about...!!! Duly noted...duly noted...

  10. I was inspired by your blog to start my own general conference book club. It has had such a wonderful effect on my home, so thank you! I really love elder soares talk from October about being meek. It guided me to change my attitude and even the way I speak and has brought increased peace to our home.

  11. Many years ago I really struggled with decisions regarding the use of my time, and what responsibilities I should take on... When the Proclamation to the Family came out my life was changed. I had been struggling and praying so hard for help that it seemed to have come out - just for me (or at least, a part of it seemed just for me). It has been a guiding light and inspiration and direction for me and my family ever since! :)

    Thanks for posting...
    Corine :D

  12. you do remember that song, In the Garden, was my mom's fav. When does the prophets' voices speak to me...in just about every talk.I feel a kinship with Elder Holland everytime. There has to be some connection there. He has my back and he knows my mind/heart.

  13. The talk "Safety for the Soul" by Elder Holland is an all time favorite. I remember the power I felt listening to that talk. He has the ability to make you feel like you were there witnessing things and I love how he doesn't mince words. He always inspires me!

  14. I love that the prophet's voice recorded in the General Conference Talks can be heard everyday as we diligently search them. Even if i have heard it many times, each time i do read or listen to the prophet's voice it always gives me the feelings of assurance or reassurance that what i am doing is right and that i am heading the right way. And I love your analogy of the tree falling in the forest and the prophet of God speaking...good job Jocelyn!

  15. I remember sitting down watching the October 2010 General Conference. My daughter was a newborn with upcoming heart surgery and has Down syndrome. I prayed right before the opening speaker that I would get some help and comfort. The first speaker was Elder Holland and he talked about how much he loved and appreciate us. Then he said how loved and appreciated were those who were parents to children with special needs. It was just what I need.

  16. So many times come to my mind but the one I will write about here is Elder Bednar's talk on Family History. I have four children, three of which are old enough to attend the temple and participate in baptisms for the dead and next year my baby will turn 12 and all of us will be able to go as a family. We love Elder Bednar's words and his promises are sure. My children love going to the temple and I have found their hearts changing and thinking about their ancestors. My favorite was last month for my daughter's 13th birthday "party" she wanted to go to the temple to do baptisms for her family.

  17. I always love listening to conference. I have felt the words of L. Tom Perry about his mother and how she taught him. His messages are a wonderful example of what I am striving for.

  18. Oh I love Conference! Every year there seems to be a talk that really sticks out just for me. Last Fall it was Elder Hale's talk!

  19. Ok this may be long but please read. This morning I woke up thinking about what message I would give a new convert that I am meeting with today. She is having some "residual" Law of Chastity issues. 'Listening to the Prophet's voice' came to mind, particularly on the family proclamation. I thought about how blessed we are to have a living prophet on this earth that we get to hear from twice a year. But if we ignor his counsel is he still speaking to us? I actually thought "If a tree falls in a forest....If a Prophet speaks to us and no one listens...." So.. I thought I'd give that a rest for a while and sit down at my computer and catch up on some of the blogs I follow but haven't had time to read lately - because I'm serving a mission.- but I'm a Sr. missionary so computer time is allowed : ) I scrolled down my list and saw the title of your post. It basically answered my prayer to Heavenly Father to help me know just what to say to this young new convert. Talk about a tender mercy! I am nearing the end of my mission, and I am still amazed each time I realize that Heavenly Father is mindful of me...of EACH of His children. Thank you for this post, and for your uplifting blog. ~K. ourmissionispossible.blogspot.com

    1. Hi Kathy - Thanks you for your comment! That is so neat! You are at least the second person who has come forward and said they had those same words enter their minds..."If a tree falls in a forest..." This is the law of witnesses. Exciting! Thank you so much for sharing. And good luck with your convert friend!!!

  20. You constantly inspire me. We have a small ward where I live and there isn't a lot of unity. I want to be able to start a general conference book club as well out here. Do you have any suggestions, thoughts, or tips that could help me out. I would love to hear them.

    1. Hi there - I would be happy to give you some pointers. Have you read the post I did about how our book club works? http://beinglds.blogspot.com/2011/05/general-conference-book-club.html

      It works well if you have a few trusted friends who are stalwart and solid in their testimony and can come very regularly, every week if possible. That I think is what made ours very successful. It creates a mentoring between women and as you share and learn from the prophets you come to trust and bond with one another as well. Read my post linked above and let me know if you have more questions. You can always email me directly too. Good luck!