General Conference was a good experience and I need to talk about a few addresses that really struck me. (And I remember that I still need to discuss addresses from October's conference still. Sigh!)

The main thing holding me back from talking about conference is that I can't shake the deep disappointment I feel because Elder Bednar did not give a talk during any of the general sessions. He spoke at the priesthood session, but usually the Apostle who speaks at the priesthood session still speaks in the general session.

Conference was really great but this sadness is keeping me from fully appreciating it right now. I guess I was super excited to hear from him after the great help his book (or, more specifically, following the counsel in his book) had given me. (And I still need to talk about that huge obstacle I overcame because I followed Elder Bednar's counsel!)

I was eagerly looking forward to more teaching and edification from him.

So yes.  Talks to discuss still:

A Time to Prepare by Elder Ian S. Ardern from October 2011 conference
It is Better to Look Up by Elder Carl B. Cook from October 2011 conference
President Eyring's talk from the Saturday morning session (March 31)
President Uchtdorf's talk from the Sunday morning session (April 1)
President Monson's main address during the Sunday morning session April 1)

And I'm sure there is at least one more.

Hopefully I'll get these all done during the week.
 
 
I am not sure what happened. I don't know why it's been so long since I wrote a blog entry. My bad.

Since last I wrote, I have come to the conclusion that both President Uchtdorf and Elder Bednar are in my head. I wonder if they will ever get out.

President Uchtdorf has been there for I don't know how long. All I know is whenever he gives an address at General Conference it is exactly what I needed to hear. Also 99.9% of the time his first presidency message in the Ensign is also what I needed right at that moment.

I didn't think that so much when it came to Elder Bednar, but it turns out I was wrong. His talk from General Conference in October struck a chord with within a week and has sent me on a journey to get my family history work done and get the names submitted to the temple for ordinances. It didn't really speak to me so much on the day he gave that address but it turns out I wasn't listening withe right ears so now I can say Elder Bednar has been in my head since the April general conference (2011).

The biggest indication that Elder Bednar is in my head, though, is that just as I was 1) seriously planning a return to school (via online degree program) and 2) I was wondering why the spiritual progress I had been making in leaps and bounds had suddenly all but stopped, out came his book "Increase in Learning: spiritual patterns for obtaining your own answers" Wow! This book was totally written for me! This book has caused so many epiphanies that I can hardly keep up with them.

The book has also given me a new mantra: "Endowed with agency we are agents, and we are primarily to act and not simply be acted upon." Though I will reword it so it's not a word-for-word repeat of his words. I think I may have it, though it may still be an exact quote. I am an agent with the capacity and power to act and not merely an object to be acted upon.

I think I had stopped acting and that is why my spiritual progress slowed down. Things are getting better and I am more motivated and yearning to learn more as I've been studying this book.

Deseret Books is holding a weekly online discussion on this book that is very interesting. It's great to see other people's insights on Elder Bednar's words. (Anyone interested at 1:00 pm Mountain Standard Time every Wednesday through March 21 at seek.deseretbook.com/learning. You have to scroll down to find Emily Watts' start of the discussion and refresh your screen to see all of the comments, but it was worth it. I cannot wait for next week's discussion. This week was chapter 1 and the questions he gives us to ponder. Next week is the related reading material for chapter 1. I am excited about this and can hardly wait for next week's discussion.

So this has me wondering if Elder Ardern and Elder Carl B. Cook are now in my head, since the general authorities seem to start their stay in my head by giving an address on something I trully needed to hear at that point.

And I really do need to write about my feelings and thoughts on the talks of the latter to general authorities. I am starting to master my time, somewhat. I have to if I am going to be attending online classes to get a degree. I have a doable schedule, I think, but I won't really know until I actually start the classes to see if I've allotted enough time for school work. I am trying to live by that schedule now but I have slipped a little. Partly because I did not anticipate that I would join the woman's basketball team at church.

Also I've been having a hard time getting to work early, but I believe I'm back on track with that now.

Mostly at this point, while I wait to see if my schooling plan will come together as I hope, I will be spending a lot of time studying Elder Bednar's book. (And re-reading and studying over and over again.) I am using the Gospel Library App, which allows me to get my online study notebook, to record my notes and thoughts and such. It's very handy actually. So this book has me all excited.

I am just facing the possibility of not being able to start classes when I had hoped, unless I go to plan B and start at another college and have those credits transferred to the school I really want to "attend". The problem is none of the other schools had disciplines that were in line with what i am looking for so I don't know what classes I could take that would be helpful for the other school.

I don't know. I'll have to start really pouring my heart out to Heavenly Father and more earnestly seek the company of the Holy Ghost to help me figure this all out.

It doesn't help that instead of waiting until next year to move to Salt Lake City and hopefully work for the church, that I'd really, really prefer to do it near the end of this year. Again, I have to do it in the Lord's time. I just don't know what His time is yet. I need to find out - especially since I'll have to make a decision about a lease for my apartment by March 1.

So I need to more earnestly apply the principles Elder Bednar is teaching in his book.

I highly recommend that everyone get this book. It is that fabulous and that helpful. Again it's "Increase in Learning: spiritual patterns for you obtaining your own answers. It's available from Deseret Books. You can get the Deseret bookshelf version, the actual book or the kindle version. I don't know if you can stream the videos (which to me are an essential part of cementing the principles Elder Bednar is teaching) on the Kindle Fire. I know, from comments at seek.deseretbook.com/learning that you can't on the older kindles.

So go forth and buy this book. I doubt you will be disappointed!

(And hopefully this weekend I will write my entries on "A Time to Prepare" (Elder Ardern's address) and "It is Better to Look UP" (Elder Carl B. Cook's address.
 
 
Note: This is copy and pasted from my Facebook Note I wrote yesterday - which is actually a day earlier than President Uchtdorf's birthday. I try to limit my Facebook time on Sundays so I didn't want to write it today.

Last year, on this date, several of us Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a. Mormons) shared our testimonies in honor of President Uchtdorf's 70th birthday.

That was a very difficult thing for me to do. (And I didn't share it with ALL of my FB connections.) I figured it was just because by this time last year, I'd only been active in the church again for about 2 months.

I've come an extremely long way since then. I am not the person I was 1 year ago. I've grown so much spiritually. I made much greater progress in a much faster time frame than I ever thought possible. I still don't recognize the two people (who I was then and who I am now) as being related to each other in any way.

I am doing the things we've been counseled to do by our church leaders better than I ever did before. I am so active now in so many aspects of the Gospel. (And more of them at the same time than ever before.)

I could not have come to the place and person I am now without the great support of a wonderful ward (congregation) family. I also could not have come this far if I did not have faith to just do things I felt my Heavenly Father wanted me to do, even if I didn't feel ready to do so. (I'm not even adding any filter/restrictions/privacy settings to this note.)

I've grown and changed so much - except in one thing. Bearing my testimony is still very difficult. Actually, in the regards of bearing a testimony I seemed to have fallen several steps back. Right now I don't even feel like I can bear my testimony. I have one; I know I do. It is there as sure as I am writing this note, but it's locked or blocked or both. I've been struggling now for nearly 5 months to set this testimony free without success.

I am frustrated. I do not understand. How can I have made all the huge changes in my life and made the great growth that I have but it now be nigh unto impossible for me to bear my testimony. There have been a few times I've wanted to do it in the last few months, but nothing happened.

I do not know what to do about that. I wish there was  some magic potion to fix this. I've prayed about it. I've fasted about it. I've tried to find advice in the scriptures and in the words of our leaders about it, but have not been able to unlock it - let alone figure out why it's locked up.

And now it is President Uchtdorf's 71st birthday. If he knew about my attempt last year, I would feel that I had let him down this year.

I definitely feel I've let myself down and I don't know how to pick this part of my life back up.

I do still want to say "Happy birthday President Uchtdorf!"

I hope and pray that by his 72nd birthday, I've found the answer and set my testimony free.

Note 2: Shortly after I posted the note, a good friend I've had since 8th grade posted the following on my wall (I don't believe any further explanation is needed on this one):

 
 
This past Sunday (5/30/2011), I was still contemplating the "One Sheep" revelation. Firstly, I never explained that I think I was opened up for this personal revelation by 2 talks from April's General Conference by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor of the First Presidency, and Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. They were both on revelation.

Additionally, I had recently listened to an earlier conference talk by President Uchtdorf, "The Love of God". (I think the title is self-explanatory. It is enough to say at this point that this talk started pulling me away from Satan's desire that I think God does not love me or care about me.)

President Uchtdorf's April 2011 address was "Waiting on the Road to Damascus". It helped me to realized that although I was not looking for the angel's voice that caused the earth to tremble or a visitation such as the then 14 year-old Joseph Smith Jr. had, I WAS looking for something more than a subtle prompting or a subtle feeling. The talked helped me to see that a subtle prompting or feeling is every bit as meaningful as the major event type vision such as what happened with Saul on the road to Damascus or to the boy prophet, Joseph Smith Jr.

Elder Bednar's talk, "The Spirit of Revelation," focused also on the nature of revelation. He likened revelation to 3 experiences with light: the turning on of a light in a dark room (the immediate answer to a prayer, for example), the subtle brightening of the sky during a sunrise (the subtle promptings and feelings from the Holy Ghost for personal revelations), and how on a cloudy day it is harder to see the subtle changing of light during a sunrise (receiving revelation without realizing it). The first form of revelation is the exception rather than the rule.

Essentially, both talks gave me a much better understanding about how revelation really works. As a result, I stopped looking for something greater than the subtle way the Holy Ghost's works, and therefore I allowed myself to be more opened to personal revelation.

So then that Sunday, I was more open and more ready for the Holy Ghost to reveal somethings to me.  The sudden realization that I was the one sheep, was actually somewhat akin to the light being turned on in a darkened room.

I realized this past Sunday, however, I had been in the dark (or asleep) for so long that when the light came on in the room it was so bright that I was blinded and couldn't see everything. In other words I had missed something more sublte that was in that personal revelation. Another answer to another prayer.

Even as I reentered activity into the church, I was full of self hatred and self loathing. It had slowly started to subside as I continued moving forth in church activity, but I still wasn't convinced that I was the person so many people around me saw let alone the person who was worthy of God's love as many church leaders had testified over the years - that we are all loved by God.

What I missed in the brightness of the light being turned on was a more subtle secondary light. The one that was answering my prayers to see myself through His eyes and the eyes of those around me. What was made known to me was that with the understanding that I was the one sheep who was brought back to the fold by the shepherd (my 2 home teachers), I realized that if I weren't loved by God - if I weren't worthy of His love - the shepherd would never have come to find me. Since I was worth being found and returned to the fold, I realized that I was not the person who I hated and loathed so much.

Because of that moment in Sunday School, I have finally begun to see me through the eyes of the people around me who kept mentioning good things they saw (that I didn't) and more importantly I have started to see myself through God's eyes. I am not the "stupid loser girl" I kept calling myself. My friends do not see me as that, God does not see me as that, and now I am starting to see that I am not that.

A subtle answer to a prayer within the great light of personal revelation.