Sunday, September 25, 2011
We're coming upon one of our family's most favorite weekends of the year - General Conference weekend. For those of you that don't know what General Conference is, it is two weekends out of the year (always the first weekend in April and October) that we get to hear from our prophet and apostles (we believe to be the mouthpiece for God on the earth) about what we need to know for the next 6 months and beyond. We're receiving latter-day scripture. Another great part of the weekend is that we get to stay home and watch church on television in our 'jammies if we want. It's both Saturday and Sunday for two sessions - 9:00-11:00 (PST) and 1:00-3:00 (PST) on both days. It shows all over the world.
Some of our family traditions that make this weekend spectacular are:
First: Family Tent. We set up a tent in our family room. When reading about King Benjamin (a prophet in the Book of Mormon), it reads in Mosiah, 2:5, 6 "And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every one according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons and their daughters from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another. And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which King Benjamin should speak unto them;"
So we set-up our tent, place the door of the tent facing the prophet (on the television) and hear His words. It has been a fun tradition we've done for about 8 years.
Second: Food. We love to have delicious, easily fixed and easily accessed food. I don't want to spend my time in the kitchen or constantly retrieving snacks for the children so we set out a big veggie platter, fruit platter, and some cheese,meats, crackers. A crock-pot meal is made too. Of course we've got to have treats. We keep it simple, healthy and delicious. We know that good food brings people together.
Third: Conference packets. I make simple packets which consist of fun conference games print-offs, new pencils, pens and/or markers, movie -size candy of their choice to use as BINGO pieces and then eat when won, small toy to quiet play with so the children will stay in the same room with us. Carson likes to do "tally marks" for each word he hears that are on his list. For the past couple of years Jesus Christ is always the names said the most. Blake and Maddie like to play Conference BINGO and draw a picture of the person talking. I was going through Maddie's old folder today and she had a picture of Julie Beck and she has two quote bubbles above her. One says, "Mothers Who Know..." and "In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen." Those are keepers! I like how she included herself as a speaker. Priceless!
I have heard more this week than in the past "I'm so excited for conference." Mostly from Blake. I don't care if they are just excited for the candy or the toy as long as they are having a positive experience feeling the Spirit of our Heavenly Father teaching them eternal truths and also knowing that this is what we do when it is conference weekend. It's great with TIVO now because if there is something we really want the children to hear, we just replay it right then and there.
It wasn't always like this. We've had bumps and bruises along the way. One time when Carson was a baby, I decided to attend a birthday swim party during one of the Saturday morning conferences. Everyone said they were taping it and they would let me borrow the tape (obviously before TIVO days). Wouldn't you know that nobody's videos ended up working? I was so upset at myself for putting something frivolous that I could do any other time before listening to what the Lord wants me to hear. I told myself I would never do that again. Then...
Later, when Carson was older and we had Madison and Blake, Carson was playing soccer and luckily for us his game was between conferences. Yeah, we can go. We watched the morning Saturday conference and then headed over to the field. Wouldn't you know that the game was delayed for a whole hour and the silly soccer game was cutting into the afternoon session of conference? We were bummed and vowed we would never do that again.
So what have we learned? This time only comes around twice a year and we need to place greater value on it. We know when conference will be broadcast again from next year to 20 years down the road. It's not like, "Hey, I planned a vacation that weekend. I didn't know." Definitely no surprises. (But why can't I still remember that the 1st Sunday of each month is Fast Sunday? Go figure.) We block out those weekends. They are our "spa" weekends. Of course it's not pedicures, manicures and massages. It's "filling our cup" and "nourishing our souls" with goodies. I know I need this regularly! We've learned that this is the most important thing we could be doing at this time and all the other things can wait for another weekend.
We are bit of Conference Zealots, aren't we? Can't help it. Listening to conference always makes me want to do better and it makes me feel better. It's like I can hang in there for another 6 months, until we hear from our leaders again.
We want to take the children to SLC to experience conference in person when they turned 8. Carson went and LOVED it. His favorite General Authority is still Elder Hales. Maddie and I haven't been able to go yet because I was still nursing Brooke when she turned 8 and then we were planning to go this conference but we couldn't find good airfare. Luckily Maddie is a trooper and is okay waiting until next April. Thanks Maddie!
This year I've learned that you should take a question or two or three... to conference and you'll receive an answer. Kim, my sister, teaches seminary in Seattle and she challenges her students to "take a question to conference" and promises them that they will find their answer. It works every time. My friend, Heidi, called me yesterday and said her mother-in-law writes her questions down in her notebook. Another friend, Robyn, said her seminary teacher writes 10 questions to be answered in conference. Whatever questions you or I need answered, I'm excited to receive answers. I've got a lot of questions such as, "How can I know I'm being the best mother?" "How can I find more balance in my life?" etc. Try it and let me know how it goes for you. I've challenged my husband and children to do this as well. Jamie told the children, "My questions is going to be, 'Where do they purchase their ties?" Jamie!!! (By the way Jamie, it's Mr. Mac, isn't' it?)
Luckily I was able to teach the Primary children the names of the General Authorities just this past week. It's hilarious listening to Garrett sing the song and point out who is who. Do you think listening to this song 100 times has helped him? Check out the catchy tune on youtube.com
I'm blessed with family members and friends who have been marvelous examples to me and influencing me to watch, prepare and enjoy conference. My parents attend almost every conference session at the Conference Center in Salt Lake. I love the phone calls with my sisters, Marcia and Kim, as well as with my mom, Kristin, Heidi, Trista, Rachelle, Noni, Sara... where we talk about our favorite talks and inspirations we've received. It's enriching.
Needless to say, I'm totally psyched and can't wait for the weekend. I'll be posting a post-conference rap up (our quiz game that we play with a bunch of other families - trophy included - following conference). Until then, Happy Conference!!!! (Be sure to check lds.org for more information)