President Nelson, in his talk, gave four challenges and I think that sometimes, we kind of beat ourselves up and we need a safe place to be, a safe place to gather, and I pray that this will be a safe place for us.

One scripture that has helped me is Mosiah 24:14 “And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”

As we go through this talk, I want you to remember that this is not another burden, this is not another thing that we have to put upon ourselves, and that we’re not supposed to guilt ourselves. We’re supposed to be unified and become stronger.

After enduring some difficult times one summer (at 17 years old), I went to Young Women’s camp. There was a dear sweet sister and she didn’t know all the things that were going on in my life, but she gave me a hug. I will always remember that hug and that strength and I felt like I was at home. I had peace, nourishment, friendship, and I truly believe that in Relief Society and in our sisterhood, you can find that. We have power and strength in Relief Society to be able to boost each other up and that love is what I would really love for us all to feel as we come and discuss the things that President Nelson talked about. I know we all have weaknesses and things that we struggle with and we’re all imperfect, but we can have a perfect love. We can love each other.

President Nelson started by talking about his children and he had a “Freudian Slip” – who remembers what that was?

  • He called himself ‘mother.’ The mother of ten children.

He did, he said he was the mother of ten children. It was kind of cute! He has this respect and this love of mothers. He said that a lot of the times that he was asked why he chose to be a medical doctor, he would answer, ‘because I could not choose to be a mother.’ He wants to make it clear that, “anytime I use the word mother, I am not talking only about women who have given birth or adopted children in this life. I am speaking about all of our Heavenly Parents’ adult daughters. Every woman is a mother by virtue of her eternal divine destiny.

So tonight, as the father of 10 children—nine daughters and one son—and as President of the Church, I pray that you will sense how deeply I feel about you—about who you are and all the good you can do. No one can do what a righteous woman can do. No one can duplicate the influence of a mother.”

And I want to convey that same message. He goes on, “Men can and often do communicate the love of Heavenly Father and the Savior to others. But women have a special gift for it—a divine endowment.” I think that is so true.

“Women see things differently than men do, and oh, how we need your perspective! Your nature leads you to think of others first, to consider the effect that any course of action will have on others.” It’s strengthening to know how much our prophet loves us.

Something that stuck out to me, before we get to the four invitations he issued, was this paragraph, “My dear sisters, you have special spiritual gifts and propensities. Tonight, I urge you, with all the hope of my heart, to pray to understand your spiritual gifts—to cultivate, use, and expand them, even more than you ever have. You will change the world as you do so.”

The word that stuck out to me was ‘propensities.’ Does anybody know what that means?

  • It’s like a natural tendency.

Yes! I’ll read the definition and then if you can think of anything to expound upon it.

pro·pen·si·ty, /prəˈpensədē/

noun, plural noun: propensities

  1. an inclination or natural tendency to behave in a particular way.

Think of your propensities.

  • I think of my granddaughter and how she plays with her doll. She just naturally talks to that doll as if it were a real baby. She treats her little brother much the same way, ‘come on baby, you need to do this.’ She’s four years old and she already has that mothering instinct.

The thing that I got from this that I really liked, “you [all] have special spiritual gifts and propensities.” That means were not all the same. We each have our own special ones. So, think for a moment, what might be some of your propensities? What are your tendencies in the way you behave? Sometimes it can be good and sometimes it can be bad. Sometimes I don’t have all the good propensities and I may want to change those, but I think it’s nice that we are endowed with good ones and those are the ones I’m thinking about today. Anyone have any propensities that they enjoy seeing in themselves or others?

  • I have a propensity to be loud and bossy and sometimes that’s a really good natural gift, but sometimes it’s hard for me to know when to wield that natural inclination and when I need to back off and let others have a say and let others who know far more than I do take the reins. (But what a great gift that you can call upon and use when the Lord needs you to.)
  • Sometimes when our children can be stubborn, someone mentioned to me that that just shows that they have good leadership skills. So, I’ve tried to train my mind into thinking, ‘ok, they’re being stubborn, which means they’ve been given this gift- how do I use it and turn a negative into a positive?’ (Yeah, because there are both ends of the spectrum when it comes to a special gift, there can be negatives to it too. Like if you think of Alma and the sons of Mosiah, Paul and Saul, they were super, super amazing leaders and missionaries, but before they were, they were using their gifts in a negative way. Children are still developing, we’re still developing in our spiritual gifts.)
  • You’re talking about learning experiences and I feel like that’s one of the gifts in my life. The experiences I have had in my life helps me to have empathy for others that are going through something similar. I can relate and listen.
  • I’m sure everybody has heard the comment, ‘oh he’s changed, he’s really mellowed.’ Or, ‘she’s changed, she’s really mellowed.’ Well, if you live long enough, [laughter] that probably happens because you develop some of those skills, you have enough life experiences and hopefully, develop that empathy and to mellow a little bit.

I was talking to a family member about the purpose of the things that President Nelson has asked of us and they’re not new. They’re things that he has asked us to do before and she said, ‘I may not accomplish all of them exactly the way I want, but maybe what I can do is set a new spiritual pattern.’ I think we can all set those patterns now and eventually they will work for your good. The ultimate goal is to set a new spiritual pattern and not to shame ourselves and not to be guilty, but to have that spiritual pattern so that we can become the clay in the Potter’s hands.

President Nelson said, “[…] tonight I’m extending a prophetic plea to you, the women of the Church, to shape the future by helping to gather scattered Israel.”

Does that sound like a call to action? What does that make you think of right now?

  • Urgency.

He says, “Where can you start? May I offer four invitations:

First, I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind. Pray to know which influences to remove during your fast.”

He then asked some questions intended for the end of the fast. Some of you have completed the fast and some of you need or want to do it again, or need to do it in the first place. What I need to do is to pray to know which influences to remove during the fast. I think that’s key and we might be surprised at which ones they are.

Question #1: “What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit?”

For those of you that already participated in this fast, what did you notice?

  • I’m not really a social media person, so that to me wasn’t that big of a deal. Even Pinterest I only use it a s a place to store recipes, but I decided I would fast from that too. Somebody had said [in this class] about a month or so ago about getting rid of Candy Crush, and I love Candy Crush and I realized that’s really where my weakness is. I didn’t get rid of it entirely, but I put in a folder and I haven’t touched it since and my life is not any worse off than it was before. Turns out, you don’t need Candy Crush every day. Like I said, I don’t use a lot of social media, but I did go on Facebook and Instagram the other day and I started to feel bad about myself, seeing what all these people are doing and I realized that this is what he was talking about.

Yes, so this is what I really liked he says, “[any media] that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind.” When I first heard that I thought of sexual thoughts or things that are not worthy, but when I read the talk, I thought this applies to anything that demeans your value as a daughter of God and is impure, then it should not be in our lives. That is what he is wanting us to get out of our lives- thoughts that demean our self-worth and the worth of our children and the worth of our families, or the worth of our roles as mothers, anything that brings you to feel less than who you really are is a negative or impure thought. It’s not just the moral dilemma of the world, it’s anything that brings your self-worth down. Any other thoughts?

  • I heard something really cool the other day that in the Bible whenever God refers to Himself it is “I Am.” So, when you put that in the context of taking the Lord’s name in vain when you say ‘I am stupid, I am worthless, etc.’ I just thought that was a good way to look at it.

How crushing is it to our Father in Heaven to have these beautiful women demean who they are because of social media? Because they are comparing themselves, or judging themselves, judging other people. He sees your value.

Here’s the next question: “Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy?”

I’ll just start this one off, I’m not huge on social media, I use it once in a while to check on people and I love the ward Facebook page because I do like to check things on there, so I think there’s a good use for it, but I deleted [the Facebook app] off my phone, so now when I want to check Facebook, I have to go to my computer, which is fine and not a big deal. But I was surprised at how convenient it was to have on my phone. {After it was removed] I found that I wanted to spend more time reading with my children. It’s when you have those little moments waiting to pick up a child in the car, and instead of letting the kids just sit in the back and me getting on my phone and checking something, I started talking to my child. Just having that app off of my phone, I realized how much I missed a lot of opportunities to connect with those around me. Anyone else have a change that you want to share?

  • At first, I was trying to reason with myself that he didn’t mean me because I don’t spend that much time and then I took it off and I had it off for two weeks and I realized that I spent more time than I realized. Then I put it back on and I thought, ‘it is like a crutch’ that out of boredom, what do I do? I think that again, I need to take it off and have it harder to look at because I’m reasoning back again, ‘it’s ok because I only look at it once in a while.

Do you know how often the Spirit speaks to you when you’re bored, or when you’re not being distracted? If the adversary can take those things and fill up all of your time, those are tiny moments when you might have had an impression to call someone or do something good for someone else.

Last question: “Have any of your priorities shifted—even just a little?”

Does anyone have anything on this, maybe we’ve already gone over this?

So, that was the first thing he asked us to do. How does that relate to gathering Israel?

  • I feel like with this he had asked us to join the battalion, he had asked the men in the conference before, and I think he was gathering all of our attention to this calling. Get rid of social media or distractions and focus on what he is telling us to do. I have noticed that instead of grabbing my phone to go pick the kids up from school, I grabbed my scriptures instead and then I could read and that’s been more inspirational than those five minutes of checking Facebook. I do use it to keep in touch with my family because some of them live overseas and it was during some of those inspirational moments that I realized that I need to talk to someone.

It’s still there- you know when we have a fast from food, it’s not like we’re never going to have food again. We’re going to get food, but we’ll take it with more gratitude. Same thing here, we can go back to the social media and connecting with other people with a renewed effort to have it in proportion and be grateful for it and keep all the impure stuff out.

The second invitation is one that our family took to heart, but it’s also a hard one. It’s one that I pray that no one feels guilty over.

“Second, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year.”

It’s interesting that with each one of these invitations, you’ll notice he gives you a challenge or invitation and then he gives you suggestions. On this one he asks us to read the Book of Mormon and then he suggests to mark the scriptures. It was kind of an awakening to me because I was kind of overwhelmed at marking stuff and I started to feel guilty because just reading through the scriptures is a lot for me with my family responsibilities.

I was talking with a family member and she was overwhelmed by this challenge. I know that President Nelson doesn’t want us beating ourselves up. He wants us to establish greater spiritual patterns, better spiritual patterns. Reading the Book of Mormon can help you gain knowledge in a couple of ways and I had to explain this to my daughters who were concerned about reading it so fast.

Learning about truth can be imagined like this line —————————- Eventually, it will be one big circle, it goes across forever and goes down forever- just envision a big, huge circle of knowledge. Let’s say you read the Book of Mormon and study it by topics like charity and you only focus on charity and you study it deeply and now your knowledge of charity goes down deep. You get all of this knowledge and it’s great, it’s a depth of knowledge. Then let’s say you study to get breadth like reading the Book of Mormon in a short amount of time, you will get something from it. The depth and breadth will meet and the knowledge will fill in. You need both. Right now, I’m working on the breadth and that’s ok because sometimes we need that and sometimes, we need to go down deep too.

  • I remember doing a challenge a few years ago in reading the Book of Mormon in 60 days and I didn’t like it because I felt like I couldn’t get it, I was just reading. But then I realized, there is something to be said about reading it quickly because the stories become cohesive. You actually get the stories. This time I really feel like I’m getting the stories.
  • What’s been interesting to me is it has forced me to get up earlier and really concentrate on reading, so I’ve developed a better habit of reading. And another thing that’s interesting, and this has happened about three times, where I’ve read a scripture and had a better understanding and then while listening to the conference talks over and over, and the same subject was covered in a conference talk and it’s reinforced. (And that reinforces the depth because you’re getting it from another source.)

He challenges us or invites us to read the Book of Mormon and then he invites us to mark scriptures in any place where you see the Savior mentioned. I have done a little bit of that and when I do, it’s awesome. It’s so amazing to see how Christ is mentioned so many times in the Book of Mormon.

Then he said this, which I did not remember, “Then, be intentional about talking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ, and preaching of Christ with your families and friends.” To be intentional about that. Have you had an experience since this talk when you have intentionally spoken of Christ or the things that you are learning?

  • A lot of my coworkers are members and we had talked about the challenge and I just gotten the email from [one of our presidency members] with the printout of the reading schedule, so they asked me to print it off for all of them. We’ve become each other’s’ accountability partners We ask, ‘how is it going?’ ‘Where are you at?’ ‘Are you still doing it?’ I feel like this challenge in particular, I feel like President Nelson, I’ve never met him, but I feel like he knows me because he knew this challenge was for me. I needed it because in my life I have read the Book of Mormon, I’ve gone to seminary, I’ve read it and studied it, but it’s been a really long time since I read it with purpose and prayed to know of its truthfulness. I know it’s true, but I feel like we’re living in a time where we can get complacent. If we’re not off the path, maybe we’re still not going forward. We’re just coasting. I felt like this challenge in particular helped me to be intentional with my scripture study. I can share it with my kids and they will ask if I have read today. They are excited for the challenge for me. I’m not marking the scriptures as well as I probably should be, but I listen to it before my kids leave for school and it’s just me and then I go to work. I feel like it’s changing my heart in a way and I absolutely love that he did this for us. I feel like it was meant for our time and for us right now.
  • I kind of feel the same way. I printed it off and I have a couple of friends and a sister who are trying to stay together with it. We have kind of an accountability by texting, ‘this is what I learned today…’ And share some of our insights like, ‘this applied to me today,’ And it’s been really neat to be able to share that with them. I’m enjoying reading it and that cohesive story, I’ve really enjoyed it.

Awesome! You said something about, ‘changed your hearts.’ I know this challenge has softened my heart. I read this just while I was preparing this lesson, “and there was no inequality among them, the Lord did pour out his Spirit upon the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming.” When I read that, I thought of the Second Coming. I didn’t think of His first coming which this prophecy is about. That that is what we need for the Second Coming, that our minds and hearts are prepared for what is going to be taught at the time of His coming.

What are we going to need to know in the Millennium?

What are we going to need to know when He comes?

What are we going to need to know to gather Israel?

There’s so much that our hearts and minds will need and I think that’s what these challenges are trying to do.

He talked about a faithful woman who took a phone away from her son, but the point of that story was, “she took her pleadings to the temple to know how best to help her son.” That is something we can do to know how best to help our children.

The third challenge was, “establish a pattern of regular temple attendance. This may require a little more sacrifice in your life. More regular time in the temple will allow the Lord to teach you how to draw upon His priesthood power with which you have been endowed in His temple. For those of you who don’t live near a temple, I invite you to study prayerfully about temples in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets. Seek to know more, to understand more, to feel more about temples than you ever have before.”

So, if you’re unable to go to the temple for whatever reason, he wants our focus to be more on the temple. In the temple is where we can find more instructions for our lives, or just studying about the temples, learning about them. I have some friends that don’t like to go because their understanding of the ordinances isn’t enough, they don’t understand why they are to do those things. It scares them and it’s not something that they really know, so gaining more knowledge about the temples. The Spirit will teach you, the Spirit will tell you what you need to know at whatever level you are. I know that. I know that the Lord takes you where you are and He helps you to move forward. I know that learning more about this holy place and attending when possible, will bring the blessings in your life, so that you can have the power bestowed upon you to do your work here on earth.

“My fourth invitation, for you who are of age, is to participate fully in Relief Society. I urge you to study the current Relief Society purpose statement. It is inspiring. It may guide you in developing your own purpose statement for your own life. I also entreat you to savor the truths in the Relief Society declaration published almost 20 years ago.”

So, our wonderful Relief Society presidency has printed these out for you. This is the Relief Society Declaration and this is the Relief Society Purpose bookmark. We can study those and as a Relief Society, I know we can bond and we can create that haven, so that when you’re having a hard time, you can come and you can be hugged and you can be loved and you can feel your heart be softened and we can receive love from each other.

Does anyone have anything they want to share about anything they’ve experienced from President Nelson’s talk?

  • This challenge has been very dear to me. I was talking to my husband about it and I told him that I feel like I should’ve included them in the challenge, but I’m feeling like it’s personal and so I’ve been doing it and I felt like it’s something that I want to do for myself and then I can bring them along with me. My husband said, ‘you know it’s going to be the women that help to get this work going, right?’ He said, ‘if you can do this first, then you’re being an example to the rest of us. I think it’s great that the prophet and Heavenly Father know us personally and knows what we need.
  • I also feel strongly that all of the challenges he gave us are so that we are better prepared as we start this new church curriculum. That we have had the opportunity to read the Book of Mormon, to be able to intentionally mention Christ, to increase our temple attendance, to know what we stand for. So, that when we are the primary teachers, the way we should always have been, but as that role comes back to us more, that we’re prepared, that we’re teaching our children and that’s a huge responsibility. I’m grateful for a prophet who has given us the ‘heads up’ and the time to get a little head start to be ready for that.

Oh yes! I’m so excited! How many of you are so excited and yet a little scared of about the new curriculum coming up? I’m super excited. I’m excited to have more discussion in my home, more purposeful, intentional discussions and teaching my children.

These children need their mothers to teach them. They need us to know first, so I’m so grateful for a prophet that is giving us a head start, that is helping us. Also, with the comment that if the women can do it then we can do it and the women are going to bring us along, we sit here and chuckle, but listen to what our prophet says to us, “My dear sisters, we need you! We “need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.” We simply cannot gather Israel without you.” I testify that that is true.

One more thing that I want to read. In the conference edition of the Ensign is this picture and I thought it was so pertinent to the lesson today. Underneath it is this quote a good summary of this talk by President Nelson, the picture is titled, “Coming Full Circle” by Jenedy Paige, and under it is this quote,

“Tonight I urge you, with all the hope of my heart, to pray to understand

your spiritual gifts—to cultivate, use, and expand them, even more than

you ever have. You will change the world as you do so. . . .

“My dear sisters, we need you! We ‘need your strength, your conversion,

your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.’

We simply cannot gather Israel without you.

“I love you and thank you and now bless you with the ability to leave the

world behind as you assist in this crucial and urgent work. Together we

can do all that our Heavenly Father needs us to do to prepare the world for

the Second Coming of His Beloved Son.”

(President Russell M. Nelson, “Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel,” 69, 70)

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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