Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Need a miracle? See the sixth item God wants us to REMEMBER.

This is the full version of the talk I gave a year ago after my 30-day Book of Mormon challenge. I got it ready to post today, and then realized I had posted a short version of it. 
Guess how many times people in the Book of Mormon used the word “remember” or something like it? It was 240 times.

Why is remembering so important to Heavenly Father, and what does He want us to remember?  I’d like to share six things I think God is telling us to remember, and then I’ll share some personal experiences of why I think these are important. 

1. The first: Spencer W. Kimball said: “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be ‘remember.’" 

Because all of [us] have made covenants … our greatest need is to remember. That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every Sabbath day—to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that [we] ‘… may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given [us].’… ‘Remember’ is the word” (Circles of Exaltation [address to religious educators, Brigham Young University, 28 June 1968], 8). So first thing to remember is Jesus Christ. 

2. A second thing to remember is to build our foundation on Christ, and that protects us from Satan. 

Helaman used the word “remember” over and over as he taught his sons Nephi and Lehi. He tells them, “My sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12).  

3. Third, President Eyring, back in 2007, taught us to notice God’s hand in our lives each day, and to find a way to document and remember it. 

He kept a gratitude journal where he would ask himself each evening, “How have I seen God’s hand in my life or my family’s life today?” And then he would write it down. So a third thing to remember is that God loves us and His hand is involved in our lives every day. 

4. A third thing to remember comes from Nephi's tree of life vision. Remember to hold tight to the iron rod, or the word of God. 

He saw four groups get on the path toward the tree of life and it’s fruit, which represent Christ’s love and atoning sacrifice for us – the greatest of all God’s gifts, the most beautiful, white, desirable, joyous, precious, sweet, purest fruit ever. So let’s see what happened to these four groups. 

  • The first group started on the path toward the tree without grabbing the iron rod, or the word of God, and when they encountered mists of darkness, or temptations, they wandered off and were lost. 
  • Second group clung to iron rod but once got to tree, noticed great spacious building (which represented pride, wisdom of the world, and worldliness), felt embarrassed, let go, fell away into forbidden paths, were lost.  
  • Third group continually held onto the iron rod (word of God), made it to the tree, ate that delicious fruit, and stayed there. They didn’t leave Christ’s delicious presence. 
  • The fourth group were headed for the great and spacious building. Some drowned in depths of fountain, others lost and wandering in strange roads. 

Continually holding to the iron rod, or the word of God, will lead us to Christ’s love and atonement. Of course the word of God comes in different forms  – scriptures, prophets, guidance from local church leaders, promptings from Spirit. 

5. And the fifth thing to remember is to Keep our eye on the tree of life, or Christ, and off the building, or worldliness and caring about what the world thinks of us.  

Lehi told us “For as many as heeded them [those in the building fell] away” (1 Nephi 8:34). 

6. A sixth thing to remember is that God is a God of miracles. Remembering the many times that God has make the impossible become possible, against all odds, fuels your faith and courage that God will help you now.  

This message shows up in Nephi's repeated pep talk to his doubting, murmuring, resisting brothers Laman and Lemuel. Nephi used the pattern of remembering. He reminds his brothers how God helped Moses free the Israelites from Egypt, part the Red Sea so they could cross on dry ground, drown the Egyptian army, feed the Israelites with manna so they wouldn’t starve, and smite a rock to get water so they wouldn’t thirst to death. He reminds Laman and Lemuel how God saved their own family by having them leave Jerusalem before it got destroyed. (See 1 Nephi 17, among others.)  There is something transforming about remembering the many times that God has made the impossible become possible, against all odds. It rekindles and fuels your faith and courage that God can and will help you now. 

One place this is described is in Nephi’s tree of life vision. Nephi saw the future Gentiles who would sail across the ocean out of captivity, and that God’s power would be with them. He was seeing the pilgrims seeking religious freedom (which is being threatened in America today). Nephi saw the Americans’ “mother Gentiles,” the British, would be going battle against the Americans.  And he saw that God’s power would be with the Americans, and against the British.  Nephi saw 2,400 years ahead of the event, that the Americans would be “delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.” (1 Nephi 13:16-19). Modern prophets have told us the main purpose for God helping America win the Revolutionary War and become an independent nation with a Constitution based on religious and other liberties was to pave the way for Joseph Smith to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ here in America.

I just read the book 1776 by David McCullough. Once I studied the details of that war, I see more than ever before that the ONLY way the Americans could have won the Revolutionary War was because God was on their side.  In our book discussion we marveled that the American army had any successful battles, let alone winning the whole War. Especially after so many losses. It wasn’t logical. It didn’t make sense. They had less men, supplies, food, weapons and ammunition. They had less training, discipline, tents, clothing and ships. And the British had the most powerful army in the world. But as one person in our book discussion said, “God is more powerful than the most powerful army in the world.” And it’s true. 

I’d like to share three experiences of my own about how REMEMBERING God’s past miracles and divine help gave me the faith and courage that He will help me again now. 

The first experience happened in the fall of 2011 when God prompted us to homeschool our children. 

I didn’t want to, I didn’t think I could, and quite frankly, I was terrified. But I kept remembering Nephi’s story, and it gave me faith and courage to “go and do what the Lord has commanded” knowing that God would prepare a way for us to accomplish what He commanded us. 

  • I remembered how God told Lehi’s family to leave their comfort zone of Jerusalem, just as he told us to leave our comfort zone of school.  
  • I remembered when Nephi tried to get the brass plates, after two failures and two death threats, he remembered his commitment not to return without those plates. He still went forward, trusting that the Spirit would guide him how to get those plates. This helped me stay committed to obey, even when it felt scary and I wasn’t sure how to get started.  
  • To fuel my faith and courage to do something hard that God had asked me to do, I asked my family to help me brainstorm a big list of scripture people for whom God had made the impossible become possible, and helped them succeed against all odds. People like Nephi, Abinadi, Alma and Amulek, Samuel the Lamanite, Captain Moroni, Enoch, Ether, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Joseph in Egypt, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Abraham, Elisha, Paul, and of course Jesus Christ. Then we brainstormed others we could think of -- family and friends, and ourselves. Writing this list was remarkably faith-building to help me believe God would help us do something we didn’t think we could do. 

The second experience happened recently. The past couple weeks our family felt inspired (and desperate) to conquer a weakness our family has struggled with – bedtime.  

I had to remind myself and my family that no matter how many times before we have tried and failed to make that weakness into a strength, with God’s help, we can conquer this. This is nothing compared to the brass plate miracle, right?  Well, maybe not. Certainly if God can help Nephi get the brass plates against all odds and after two failures and two death threats, surely God can help the Edwards family conquer bedtime... maybe.  Just kidding. Of course He can!  I’m happy to report that this past week, the Edwards family has seen some miracles in our home, like the whole house being dark and quiet and everyone being in their beds or bedrooms before 9 pm. It is music to a mother’s ears. And there is no question to me that we are seeing God’s power in our lives, because we tried about 1.2 billion times to conquer bedtime before. And now we’re doing it with God’s help. He is making the impossible become possible for us. 

The last experience I’d like to share is that a loved one of mine recently fell away and lost her testimony, bringing her husband and young children. 

She and her husband are both returned missionaries. This was heart wrenching to me. After the shock, the pressing question that kept going through my mind was how to protect me and my family from anything like that. I was fasting to ask that question on December’s fast Sunday, and that’s the day my son Adam told me about his seminary teacher's, Brother Chang's, challenge to read the whole Book of Mormon in 30 days. I felt right about it, and it wasn’t easy. 

But at the end, I realized that was the very best thing I could have done to reaffirm and fuel my own faith, testimony, and conversion, and to REMEMBER how deeply I know this book is true, and this Church is true, and Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and President Monson is true prophet today. 

And that God is at the head of it all. I know that more than I’ve ever known it before, and I am committed to keeping up the habits that will help me keep remembering these things. I invite you to do the same. 

May I invite you to remember these things too.  What does God want you to remember?

Is there a hard thing God is prompting you to do? I testify that remembering God’s hand in your life in the past, and remembering how God has helped scripture people, family, friends, and yourself in the past, will fuel your faith and courage that God will help you accomplish the things He has commanded you to do today. 

How has remembering God's miracles for you blessed you with faith and courage knowing God will help you again? 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

As important as boarding the ark...

"The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah." (Ezra Taft Benson, "Prepare for the Days of Tribulation," Ensign, Nov. 1980)

This is maybe my favorite quote about preparedness. I just discovered that someone created a motivating video about how our day is similar to Noah's day. Watch it and see if it motivates you too!  "Just as foretold, our days actually are fast resembling the days of Noah." (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, 1993)

Video created by David Christenson, "We live in the Days just as the time of Noah: LDS Mormon Prophets and Leaders warn and prepare us." 

32 Great quotes of God's most important things. Plus an FHE guessing game.

Here are 32 power-packed quotes and a family guessing game that's for older kids or couples. Whether or not you play the game, I invite you to invest a little time in reading these quotes and to feel the Spirit of what God is telling you. Which quote stands out to you the most? What do you feel God wants you to do about it?  

"Most important." "Greatest." "Ultimate." "Most correct." "Overarching." 

President Monson recently said, "The greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and His children obey, they will always be right."  (Ensign, Jan. 2015; May 2005; May 1986.)  This made me curious. What other "most important" type of statements could I find from the scriptures and Church leaders?  

Here's what I found...

The guessing game: We did this guessing game for family home evening a couple times in a row. You read each question and see who can guess the answer. Don't let anyone feel bad if their guess wasn't accurate - acknowledge their good sense. There are many answers that could make sense for the questions. After telling them the answer each Church leader said, you can read some of the quotes and discuss some together. Have fun with it!  And as always, a family home evening lesson ends best with a testimony born and each person choosing one thing to act on. 

1. What do you think is the most important skill we can acquire in this life? 

“The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life." (Julie Beck, Ensign, May 2010) 

2. What do you think is the most important meeting? 

The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church. (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 2008)

3. What is a supremely important world event coming up?  "Today I have felt prompted to speak of the importance of preparation for a future event of supreme importance to each of us—the Second Coming of the Lord." (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 2004)

4. What do the scriptures say is the greatest of all of God's gifts? 

"If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God." (D&C 14:7) 

5. What is God's most important work? (Hint: This is a seminary scripture mastery verse.) 

"This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39).  "If they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness." (Mosiah 2:41) 

6. What do you think are some of Satan's main threats today? 

"Satan’s greatest threat today is to destroy the family, and to make a mockery of the law of chastity and the sanctity of the marriage covenant." (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 227)

7. In Nephi's tree of life dream, what was the most important thing for the people to hold onto? And what was the most important thing to ignore? 

Hold onto the iron rod and keep your eyes on the tree! People who held onto the rod and made it all the way to the tree partook of the fruit. The only people who stayed at the tree and didn't leave were the ones who ignored the mockers in the great and spacious building. (See 1 Nephi 15:30-36)

8. Besides God and the Spirit, who do you think it is most important to stay in harmony with? 

After Elder Faust was called as an Assistant to the Twelve Apostles, "President Hugh B. Brown counseled me that the most important thing I should do is to always be in harmony with my Brethren. President Brown did not elaborate.  He just said, 'Stick with the Brethren.' ... Spiritual guidance in large measure depends upon being in harmony with [those who are] prophets, seers, and revelators. I do not know how we can expect to be in full harmony with the Spirit of the Lord if we are not in harmony with the President of the Church and the other prophets, seers, and revelators. (Elder James E. Faust, Ensign, November 2005)

9. Our most important and powerful assignments are in the _______ (fill in the blank). 

"Our most important and powerful assignments are in the family."(President Henry B. Eyring, Ensign, May 2010)

10. Where do you think is the most important work we will ever do? (If you guessed temples, that's an awesome answer, and it's coming up soon, but guess again on this one.)

“The most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee [2000], 134).

11. What do you think is the most important part of serving as a gospel teacher? (This is a tricky one.) 

"The most important part of your service [as a teacher] will be your own daily spiritual preparation, including prayer, scripture study, and obedience to the commandments. We encourage you to dedicate yourself to living the gospel with greater purpose than ever before." (Teaching the Gospel in the Savior's Way) 

12. What do you think is the most important ingredient in teaching? "The Spirit is the single most important ingredient in this work." (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1987) 

13. What is a little paper that the prophet said is a most important goal? 

"There is no more important goal for you to work toward than being worthy to go to the temple." (President Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, May 2011)

14. What is the most correct book on the earth? 

“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:461; Book of Mormon introduction).

15. What do you think was the greatest event ever? 

"That Atonement, wrought in unspeakable pain, became the greatest event of history, an act of grace for which men gave nothing but which brought the assurance of the Resurrection to all who have or would walk the earth. No other act in all of human history compares with it. Nothing that has ever happened can match it. Totally unselfish and with unbounded love for all mankind, it became an unparalleled act of mercy for the whole human race." (President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1990)

16. What kind of learning do you think is the most important kind?  

"We must let spiritual training take first place? ...The secular without the foundation of the spiritual is but like the foam upon the milk... The seminary courses should be given even preferential attention over the high school subjects; the institute over the college course; the study of the scriptures ahead of the study of the man-written texts; the association with the Church more important than clubs, fraternities, and sororities; the payment of tithing more important than paying tuitions and fees? Can you see that the ordinances of the temple are more important than the PhD or any and all other academic degrees?“ (Spencer W. Kimball, ”Beloved Youth, Study and Learn“, in Life's Directions: A Series of Fireside Addresses [1962], 190)

17. Whose name is the most important name under heaven, and why is it important? 

"There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12, see also D&C 18:23)

18. Which do you think is most important in preparing for the Second Coming -- food storage or spiritual preparation? 

"We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult—the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value."(Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 2004)

19. What do you think is possibly the most important word in the whole dictionary? (Hint: This is from President Kimball.) 

“When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be remember. Because all of you have made covenants—you know what to do and you know how to do it—our greatest need is to remember. That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every Sabbath day—to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that they ‘may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.’ Nobody should ever forget to go to sacrament meeting. Remember is the word. Remember is the program” (“Circles of Exaltation,” CES Training, June 28, 1968).

20. What do you think is central to God's plan of happiness? (Besides the Atonement.)

"A most important part of God's plan is families, by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. "The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. ... Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995). 

21. When you're studying the gospel, who or what is the most important thing to be taught by?  

“Your gospel study is most effective when you are taught by the Holy Ghost. Always begin your gospel study by praying for the Holy Ghost to help you learn. He will bring knowledge and conviction that will bless your life and allow you to bless the lives of others. Your faith in Jesus Christ will increase. Your desire to repent and improve will grow. This kind of study prepares you for service, offers solace, resolves problems, and gives you the strength to endure to the end. Successful gospel study requires desire and action. ‘For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well as in these times as in times of old’ (1 Nephi 10:19). Like Enos, as you hunger to know the words of eternal life and as you allow these words to ‘[sink] deep into [your] heart’ (Enos 1:3), the Holy Ghost will open your mind and heart to greater light and understanding. Learning the gospel is also a process of receiving revelation (see Jacob 4:8).” (Preach My Gospel, [2004], 18)

22. What do you think might be the greatest spiritual gift to pray for? 

"Cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all..." (Moroni 7:46) "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." (1 Corinthians 13:13). Here are my thoughts about this precious spiritual gift. 

23. What do you think is the very most important commandment for you right now? 

“The most important commandment is the one you have difficulty keeping today!  Now, if you have made mistakes, make today the beginning of a change in your lives.  Turn from the thing that you have been doing that is wrong.  The most important of all the commandments of God is that one you are having the most difficulty keeping today.  If it is one of dishonesty, if it is one of unchastity, if it is one of falsifying, not telling the truth, TODAY is the day for you to work on that until you have been able to conquer that weakness.  Put that aright and then you start on the next one that is most difficult for you to keep.  That’s the way to sanctify yourself by keeping the commandments of God.” (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 73-74)

24. What do you think is the universal sin, and is really important to overcome? (Hint: this is from a classic conference talk by President Benson.) 

"Pride is the universal sin, the great vice. Yes, pride is the universal sin, the great vice." (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1989)

25. What do you think Joseph Smith said is our greatest responsibility? 

“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:313).

26. What do you think Joseph Smith said is our most important duty?  “After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 113).

Okay, let's pause here for a minute. Does it seem to you that the last two statements contradict each other? I have no problem with them. Right now the Lord is hastening the work in both of these areas: family history and temple work, and missionary work. And aren't those things leading to the same end -- bringing souls to Christ, so they can return live as eternal families in heaven? 

27. What do you think is the ultimate purpose of all gospel teaching? 

“The ultimate purpose of all we teach is to unite parents and children in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ... that they are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, linked to their generations, and assured exaltation in the presence of our Heavenly Father” (“The Shield of Faith,” Ensign, May 1995).

28. Which sin activates all the cardinal sins and breaking the ten commandments? 

"Selfishness is much more than an ordinary problem because it activates all the cardinal sins! It is the detonator in the breaking of the Ten Commandments." (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, Nov. 1990)

29. It's really important that we put whom first?  

"We must put God in the forefront of everything else in our lives. He must come first, just as He declares in the first of His Ten Commandments: 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me' (Ex. 20:3). When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities. We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives. (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1988)  “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can.  He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life to God will find he has eternal life.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Dec. 1988) 

30. It's the daily _______ and ________ things that lead us to heaven. 

“The purposes of the Lord in our personal lives generally are fulfilled through the small and simple things and not the momentous and spectacular. . . . Do we realize that small events and choices determine the direction of our lives just as small helms determine the direction of great ships? (see James 3:4; D&C 123:16). . . . “. . . We need to have family and personal prayers; study the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon; hold family home evenings; follow the admonition of the Savior to love one another; and be thoughtful, kind, and gentle within the family. Through these and other similar small and simple things, we have the promise that our lives will be filled with peace and joy.” (Elder M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, May 1990)

31. Speaking of small and simple things, what do you think is one of the most important things to immerse ourselves in? 

"One of the most important things you can to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently. Feast upon the words of Christ. Learn the doctrine. Master the principles.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1986)

32. In the last General Conference, Elder Scott told us that one small and simple thing should be nonnegotiable. Do you remember what that was? Hint: We're supposed to do it twice a day. 

"Parents, help safeguard your children by arming them morning and night with the power of family prayer. Children are bombarded every day with the evils of lust, greed, pride, and a host of other sinful behaviors. Protect your children from daily worldly influences by fortifying them with the powerful blessings that result from family prayer. Family prayer should be a nonnegotiable priority in your daily life." (Elder Richard G. Scott, Ensign, Nov. 2014) 

Believe it or not, I found many more than 32 "most important" type of statements, but I didn't want to have the world's longest blog post. :) 

This was a fun way to study the scriptures!  Another idea I might try the next time I have a breather from seminary teaching is to find three word sermons, like "Come follow me," "Come unto Christ," "Feed my sheep," "O be wise."  I also like the idea of studying the last words of various prophets in the scriptures, or modern leaders. I like mixing up scripture study and studying by various topics or themes sometimes. Aren't God's words awesome?

P.S. I just found another one that is too good to leave out. So here's a bonus quote. What do you think is the most important thing we can do, young or old? 

"The most important thing we can do--young or old--is develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." (Elder W. Don Ladd, Ensign, Nov. 1994) Isn't that a goodie? 

Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite "most important" type of quote. Why did you like it? 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My favorite classic talk about preparedness by Ezra Taft Benson

Make 2015 the year to really get prepared! Wanna get motivated? This talk is brimming with classic quotes that you hear all the time about preparedness. I love it. I feel the Spirit when I read it. It inspires me to take action. Now. 

Not only was Ezra Taft Benson a prophet, seer, and revelator, which is plenty reason to follow his counsel; he also had seen first hand the ravages of war and starvation in Europe right after World War II. He GETS it. I added my emphasis, but the following is his talk word for word. Click here to watch the video of this talk. 

I'm excited that President Benson is the prophet we'll be studying
in Relief Society and Priesthood meetings in 2015. He holds a special place in my heart.

Prepare for the Days of Tribulation
by Ezra Taft Benson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
General Conference, October 1980 
(Emphasis added by Becky Edwards)

For over forty years, in a spirit of love, members of the Church have been counseled to be thrifty and self-reliant; to avoid debt; pay tithes and a generous fast offering; be industrious; and have sufficient food, clothing, and fuel on hand to last at least one year.

Today there are compelling reasons to reemphasize this counsel. We heard it done effectively in that great welfare meeting this morning. May I add just a word.

Members of the Church are feeling the economic pinch of higher taxes and inflation coupled with conditions of continuing recession. Some have come to their bishops seeking assistance to pay for house payments, car loans, and utilities.

Unfortunately, there has been fostered in the minds of some an expectation that when we experience hard times, when we have been unwise and extravagant with our resources and have lived beyond our means, we should look to either the Church or government to bail us out. Forgotten by some of our members is an underlying principle of the Church welfare plan that “no true Latter-day Saint will, while physically able, voluntarily shift from himself the burden of his own support” (Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 106).

One of the first principles revealed to father Adam when he was driven out of the Garden of Eden was this: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground” (Gen. 3:19). All we obtain in life of a material nature comes as a product of labor and the providence of God. Work alone produces life’s necessities.

In saying this, I am aware of and sympathetic to the plight of many young families who are struggling to make ends meet. They are faced with the financial burden of providing for the three great necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter. I am also sympathetic to the situation of widows and other sisters who rear families alone. By revelation, the Lord made provision for their care and support. (See D&C 83:1–2, 4–6.)

More than ever before, we need to learn and apply the principles of economic self-reliance. We do not know when the crisis involving sickness or unemployment may affect our own circumstances. We do know that the Lord has decreed global calamities for the future and has warned and forewarned us to be prepared. For this reason the Brethren have repeatedly stressed a “back to basics” program for temporal and spiritual welfare.

Today, I emphasize a most basic principle: home production and storage. Have you ever paused to realize what would happen to your community or nation if transportation were paralyzed or if we had a war or depression? How would you and your neighbors obtain food? How long would the corner grocery store—or supermarket—sustain the needs of the community?

Shortly after World War II, I was called by the First Presidency to go to Europe to reestablish our missions and set up a program for the distribution of food and clothing to the Saints. Vivid in my memory are the people who got on trains each morning with all kinds of bric-a-brac in their arms to go out to the countryside to trade their possessions for food. At evening time, the train station was filled with people with arms full of vegetables and fruits, and a menagerie of squealing pigs and chickens. You never heard such a commotion. These people were, of course, willing to barter practically anything for that commodity which sustains life—food.

An almost forgotten means of economic self-reliance is the home production of food. We are too accustomed to going to stores and purchasing what we need. By producing some of our food we reduce, to a great extent, the impact of inflation on our money. More importantly, we learn how to produce our own food and involve all family members in a beneficial project. No more timely counsel, I feel, has been given by President Kimball than his repeated emphasis to grow our own gardens. Here is one sample of his emphasis over the past seven years:

“We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard.” (Ensign, May 1976, p. 124).

Many of you have listened and done as President Kimball counseled, and you have been blessed for it. Others have rationalized that they had no time or space. May I suggest you do what others have done. Get together with others and seek permission to use a vacant lot for a garden, or rent a plot of ground and grow your gardens. Some elders quorums have done this as a quorum, and all who have participated have reaped the benefits of a vegetable and fruit harvest and the blessings of cooperation and family involvement. Many families have dug up lawn space for gardens.

We encourage you to be more self-reliant so that, as the Lord has declared, “notwithstanding the tribulation which shall descend upon you, … the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world” (D&C 78:14). The Lord wants us to be independent and self-reliant because these will be days of tribulation. He has warned and forewarned us of the eventuality.

President Brigham Young said, “If you are without bread, how much wisdom can you boast, and of what real utility are your talents, if you cannot procure for yourselves and save against a day of scarcity those substances designed to sustain your natural lives?” (In Journal of Discourses, 8:68.)

Food production is just one part of the repeated emphasis that you store a provision of food which will last for at least a year wherever it is legally permissible to do so. The Church has not told you what foods should be stored. This decision is left up to individual members. However, some excellent suggestions are available in the booklet produced by the Church entitled “Essentials of Home Production & Storage” (stock no. PGWE1125; 35¢ each). There are also booklets available on gardening from BYU.

From the standpoint of food production, storage, handling, and the Lord’s counsel, wheat should have high priority. “There is more salvation and security in wheat,” said Orson Hyde years ago, “than in all the political schemes of the world” (in Journal of Discourses, 2:207). Water, of course, is essential. Other basics could include honey or sugar, legumes, milk products or substitutes, and salt or its equivalent. 

The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah.

Elder Harold B. Lee counseled, “Perhaps if we think not in terms of a year’s supply of what we ordinarily would use, and think more in terms of what it would take to keep us alive in case we didn’t have anything else to eat, that last would be very easy to put in storage for a year … just enough to keep us alive if we didn’t have anything else to eat. We wouldn’t get fat on it, but we would live; and if you think in terms of that kind of annual storage rather than a whole year’s supply of everything that you are accustomed to eat which, in most cases, is utterly impossible for the average family, I think we will come nearer to what President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., advised us way back in 1937.” (In Welfare Conference, 1 October 1966.)

There are blessings in being close to the soil, in raising your own food even if it is only a garden in your yard and a fruit tree or two. Those families will be fortunate who, in the last days, have an adequate supply of food because of their foresight and ability to produce their own.

The counsel from Church authorities has been consistent over the years and is well summarized in these words:

“First, and above and beyond everything else, let us live righteously. …

“Let us avoid debt as we would avoid a plague; where we are now in debt, let us get out of debt; if not today, then tomorrow.

“Let us straitly and strictly live within our incomes, and save a little.

“Let every head of every household see to it that he has on hand enough food and clothing, and, where possible, fuel also, for at least a year ahead. You of small means put your money in foodstuffs and wearing apparel, not in stocks and bonds; you of large means will think you know how to care for yourselves, but I may venture to suggest that you do not speculate. Let every head of every household aim to own his own home, free from mortgage. Let every man who has a garden spot, garden it; every man who owns a farm, farm it.” (President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., in Conference Report, Apr. 1937, p. 26.)

You do not need to go into debt, may I add, to obtain a year’s supply. Plan to build up your food supply just as you would a savings account. Save a little for storage each pay-check. Can or bottle fruit and vegetables from your gardens and orchards. Learn how to preserve food through drying and possibly freezing. Make your storage a part of your budget. Store seeds and have sufficient tools on hand to do the job. If you are saving and planning for a second car or a TV set or some item which merely adds to your comfort or pleasure, you may need to change your priorities. 

We urge you to do this prayerfully and do it now.

I speak with a feeling of great urgency. I have seen what the days of tribulation can do to people. I have seen hunger stalk the streets of Europe. I have witnessed the appalling, emaciated shadows of human figures. I have seen women and children scavenge army garbage dumps for scraps of food. Those scenes and nameless faces cannot be erased from my memory.

A group of starving Polish children in the ghetto, Warsaw, Poland, 1942.
 (Photo by Pix Inc./The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
I shall never forget the Saints of Hamburg who appeared on the verge of collapse from starvation, or their small children whom I invited to come to the stand as we emptied our pockets of edibles. Most had never seen these items before because of the wartime conditions. Nor can I forget the expectant and nursing mothers whose eyes watered with tears when we gave them each an orange. We saw the terrible physical and social side effects of hunger and malnutrition. One sister walked over a thousand miles with four small children, leaving her home in Poland. She lost all four to starvation and the freezing conditions. Yet she stood before us in her emaciated condition, her clothing shredded, and her feet wrapped in burlap, and bore testimony of how blessed she was.

I cannot forget the French Saints who, unable to obtain bread, used potato peelings for the emblems of the sacrament. Nor will I ever forget the faith of the Dutch Saints who accepted our suggestion to grow potatoes to alleviate their own starving conditions, and then sent a portion of their first harvest to the German people who had been their bitter enemies. The following year they sent them the entire harvest. The annals of Church history have seldom recorded a more Christlike act of love and compassion.

Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion.

The Lord has warned and forewarned us against a day of great tribulation and given us counsel, through His servants, on how we can be prepared for these difficult times. Have we heeded His counsel?

I bear you my testimony that President Heber J. Grant was inspired of the Lord in establishing the Church Welfare program. The First Presidency was inspired when they made the first public announcement in 1936 and declared the prime purpose of Church welfare was “to help the people help themselves” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, p. 3). I bear witness to that inspired counsel from 1936 to the present day that the Saints lay up a year’s supply of food. When President Spencer W. Kimball persistently admonishes the members to plant gardens and fruit trees and produce our own food, he is likewise inspired of the Lord.

Be faithful, my brothers and sisters, to this counsel and you will be blessed—yes, the most blessed people in all the earth. You are good people. I know that. But all of us need to be better than we are. Let us be in a position so we are able to not only feed ourselves through the home production and storage, but others as well.

May God bless us to be prepared for the days which lie ahead, which may be the most severe yet. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Now let's follow President Benson's counsel and get to work. Who's with me? 

Want more motivation? 

There are many great websites with preparedness quotes, talks, and information. Here is one I really like. It's called Another good idea is to join one or more preparedness groups on Facebook. Let me know if you'd like any recommendations. 

Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite quote from this classic talk. And tell us why you like it. 

As a mom, do you feel guilty taking time to recharge your batteries? Jesus needed it too.

Someone on Facebook asked a question I think every busy, frazzled young mother has felt many times. She felt spread thin and drained spiritually, emotionally, and physically. People have given her the advice to focus on herself, but that didn't make sense to her. 

She asked, "But I just can't understand how two ideas the church advocates can coexist. How can one "fill up their own well" or "put on their own mask first" while applying the other law of "lose yourself in the service of God" and "think not of what ye shall eat or drink or what raiment you put on" and "seek the kingdom of God first". Honestly, if I took everyone's advice, and stepped back to fill up my own well and take care of me first, it would take up all of my time. There is so much I feel that I am lacking. I feel like I'd become self absorbed and selfish if I did this and that I wouldn't be "losing myself to God's work." I get the theory behind, if I take care of myself, I'll better take care of others. But right now between exercise, healthy eating, personal hygiene, meditation and spiritual feasting, creative outlets and self-fulfillment, I'd have no time to help others. What are your thoughts? I don't think I'm alone in this struggle!"

Here was my response. I won't take the time to polish it. I just wanted to post it in case anyone else is feeling this too. 

I have soooooo been there! When my five children were little and I was nursing twins, my husband left to the Iraqi war. Twice I felt like I was a breath away from having a nervous break down. Both times my home teacher came over with another man to give me a blessing so I could stop sobbing. I totally get what you're talking about. The two principles you're talking about, serving others and recharging your own batteries, do need to coexist. It's not one or the other. 

Think of times when Christ took time to go to the mountains to commune with Heavenly Father and recharge His batteries. Then He was more able to give, give, give to others. There must be both - service and recharging your own batteries. Only the Spirit knows what are the most needful things on both sides and how to most effectively meet all those needs. Be prayerful and ask God to teach you. 

Now I'm in a different stage of life. My baby twins are now 12 and I have a missionary and a married daughter. But I still need to be careful about not burning out. I have been homeschooling the past three years, and this year I've been teaching early morning seminary. Since starting with seminary four months ago, I kept feeling out of balance, like I was spending too much time on my calling and not enough time on my family and home. I have been praying to know how to balance this better. 

The day that I taught my last seminary lesson last week I arranged with my family that I was going to spend the afternoon and evening at the library, praying, writing, setting goals, regrouping, asking God for specific guidance and writing down answers I receive. I can't tell you how much that did for my soul! I came back feeling like a new woman. I remember that my husband used to do that for me every once in a while when we just had a couple little kids. He would take them to Grandma's for Saturday and I would stay home to catch up on paperwork, pray, write in my journal, set goals, whatever I needed to reconnect with God and with the path God wanted me to be on. It's easy to get so busy treading water that we may just need a few adjustments here and there to make the difference our souls need. 

The trick is, we need to make time to check in with God to be taught what those are, and to create a routine or system of meeting those needs. For example, I have struggled to say a quality morning prayer. I prayed about that, and the prompting came to make a commitment that I would leave all electronics off until after I said my morning prayer. Because that answer came from the Spirit, it also came with added power to do it. Since I made that commitment I am grateful to say that I don't think I've missed a day of saying morning prayer since then. And that had been a lifelong struggle for me. You and I both know how much difference a quality morning prayer makes when you really connect with God, and put on that armor of God, having the Spirit with you for the rest of the day. I feel more calm with my kids, I have more discipline with how I spend my time, I respond to a broken bottle of spaghetti sauce much differently than if I didn't have the Spirit. 

Any investments you need to make each day and week and month to connect with God and have the Spirit more fully with you will bless every single family member more than you can imagine. I used to protect nap times as my recharge time each day, when I would pray, study scriptures, write, or work at my desk. It's easier to cook or clean with little ones around than to focus on studying scriptures. You are a much better mom when you take time to do holy habits that invite the Spirit. God bless you! We've been there, and He will help you just as He has helped me and so many others through the intense time of motherhood that you are in. It's soooo worth it!

Prayer is super important with this process of deciding what's most important. I'm reminded of a nursing school student who was a busy mother of three young children. She prayed for help to cope better, and the answer that came was to attend the temple every week. What? She couldn't figure out how that was going to give her more time to do all the things she needed to do. But she obeyed the Spirit and the blessings started to flow. She started to do better with her studies, her parenting, her marriage, every area she needed help with. This was not a logical solution. It was God's solution. 

That is my advice to you. Make some time to pray and find God's solution for you. When I was struggling being a young "single" mom with nursing twins when my husband was in Iraq, one solution I needed was to let the Relief Society bring me a dinner every week. Another was to ask for more help. A sweet little grandma came over once a week to give me time for errands all by myself. And she came over on Sunday mornings to get my twins dressed so I could get my other three kids ready for church and then she sat by me at church to help. Asking for or accepting help was really hard for me, but that was what I needed to keep my head above water, and keep my mental health intact. My point is that only God knows what the specific solutions are for you at this exact stage of your life. Plead for answers from Him.

Often multi-tasking is part of the solution with meeting the needs of mom and small children. I used to exercise with twins in a stroller and chatting with a friend while we walked for an hour. I came home happier than when I left, feeling like I just got social time and therapy, being able to talk out my problems and such. I did this for years, and some of my walking partners in various homes we lived in, turned out to become some of my dearest friends. If social time with friends or sisters recharges your batteries, what can you work out that meets that need and also meets the needs of your children? Could you visit while they play? Could you have a once a month girls night out where you all bring a craft project to work on while you visit? That's another thing I've done. 

Can nursing time be time to study scriptures or read uplifting magazines or books? Spending time online can sometimes recharge batteries, but sometimes it can waste time and become a distraction and addiction, so be choosy here. Can diaper changing time be turned into time singing a fun song bonding with your baby? Can carpooling time become time to sing primary songs together or practice math facts in a playful way? Like it or not, Mom's attitude -- burdened or cheery -- can make all the difference in your own happiness in your current activity, and in your children's. With the tasks that must be done anyway, if you do the best you can to have a cheery heart, those tasks won't feel as draining, and they can actually be fulfilling. I hope that made sense. 

If you need date nights with your husband, could you prayerfully find a few couples to form a co-op date group? We did that when we had three little ones. We had four couples. so each of us took a turn each month being the babysitting party house while the other couples had a date night for three hours. Worked great! If reading recharges you, could you read while working out on a treadmill or elliptical machine? That works well for me. How about audio books or scriptures or conference talks while you drive, cook, clean, or exercise? How about letting your kids help you cook? I know it's more work and more mess, but you're teaching them skills, bonding, and helping pass along healthy eating habits. 

Would your husband be willing to take the kids one Saturday afternoon a month, to grandma's house or the library or park, or a fast food play ground, so you can look forward to a time to regroup, catch up, write in your journal, study your scriptures, blog, scrapbook, or whatever recharges your batteries, uninterrupted? Sometimes just catching up on life to feel like your head is above water is what you need most - paying bills, organizing your home, putting away that massive pile of laundry. If you can listen to some uplifting music or a great audio book while cleaning or organizing, all the better. Maybe what is needed is investing some time to create systems so your housework and life run more smoothly. Here are some ideas for that. Having your kids do regular household duties can lighten Mom's load a lot, and arm your children with life skills that are becoming a lost art. It is absoultely worth the initial investment of time and teaching. 

If your husband isn't able to help in this way, how about Grandma?  Or another mom, where you could take turns babysitting and each take a few hours every other week to recharge. Linda Eyre, who has been a mothering mentor to me for years with her wonderful books and lectures, would go to a hotel once a year, I think on her birthday, all by herself. She used that time to regroup, recharge, set new goals, get her vision and direction back for where her life needed to be headed. If she had a tiny nursing baby the baby came with her, but other than that she had uninterrupted time. 

I think God is fine with busy mothers taking time to recharge our batteries! As long as it is within the right balance and for the right reasons. Of course this can go overboard where a mom becomes selfish and cares more about herself and less about being a good mom. But when it's within balance and for the right motives, we moms come back happier, healthier, with renewed vision, hope, and direction, feeling empowered to be better than before. That blesses every member of the family! When my husband saw how much those days did for my soul when he took the kids to Grandma's house, he sometimes would see my stress mounting and offer without me even asking. Young motherhood is intense. You give so much all day, and sometimes all night. You must recharge your batteries so you can keep giving.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below about balancing serving with recharging your batteries. What works for you?