This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Saturday Morning Session of the October 1981 Conference.
President Hinckley gave a great talk in this session about faith and certainty. I can't do it justice, but it was bold and stirring and inspiring—an impassioned rebuttal to someone's statement that "certitude is the enemy of religion." On the contrary, President Hinckley shows how faith and certitude and conviction unleash power in our lives and in our church.

But, since I can't adequately sum up that talk, I will instead share a (somewhat related) story I liked from President Marion G. Romney's talk, about his wife:
My wife was reared in a home where they had prayer night and morning; where, almost daily, they discussed gospel principles around the family hearth. She loved education and wanted to go to college. Her father, however, thought college was for boys. In her struggle for an education, she developed an attitude of awe toward people who had been through college. As a member of a stake Sunday School board in Idaho Falls, she taught a class. There came to the class a nonmember of the Church, the wife of one of the brethren on the board. This woman had received a college degree from the University of Idaho. My wife, having not yet received her degree, was a little timid in the presence of this woman. 
One of the lessons in the course dealt with the First Vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith. As she made her preparation for the lesson, there came into her mind the realization that this nonmember would be present in the class. This realization was followed by the question, “What will she think of me, an ignorant girl, saying that the Father and the Son actually came down from heaven and appeared before a fourteen-year-old boy?” The thought terrified her, and she concluded that she couldn’t do it. She went to her mother, crying, and said, “Mother, I can’t teach this lesson. I don’t know that Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son. I know I have been taught it all through my life by you and Father. I have believed you, but personally I don’t know it. This woman will ridicule me. I just can’t stand up before the class with this woman present and teach this lesson.” 
Now, her mother had not been to school very much. She was not an educated person by the world’s standards, but she had faith in God the Eternal Father and in Jesus Christ, his Son, and she said to her daughter, “What did Joseph Smith do to get that vision?” 
“Well,” she answered, “he prayed.” 
“Why don’t you do that?” she said to her daughter. 
This young girl returned to her room and there, for the first time in her life in fact, she went to the Almighty with a sincere desire to know whether he lived and whether he and the Savior actually appeared to the Prophet Joseph. Coming out of that room, she went to her Sunday School class and taught that lesson with joy, with knowledge, with conviction. She had been born of the Spirit. She knew.
There are some things I know, too. And even though I feel (pretty much all the time, especially with my children) as if I don't and can't know ANYTHING very certainly—this is a good reminder to hang on to what I DO know. Much of that has to do with God and His love for and interest in me. And as I start with my certainty in those areas, I can grow toward a knowledge of all the other things that unsettle me as well.

Random Conference Thoughts

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week we take a break from older sessions to cover the just-finished October 2018 Conference.
I haven't read any other reactions to last week's General Conference, so I don't know if what I felt was what everyone else felt too. I am still processing, and don't feel like I can really summarize or organize my impressions yet, nor am I ready to talk about them. So, in no particular order, here are just some random observations that came to me as I watched the October 2018 General Conference:

• President Nelson is a powerful, powerful speaker. I can feel his energy every time he speaks. Sam said President Nelson's talk about the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reminded him of Mormon's discourse on infant baptism. Fiery, reasoned, and bold!

• There was a lot said about making our homes into sanctuaries of peace and love and learning. Obviously I would love to do this, and I am always trying. And I know I can have a strong influence. But I wish I had more influence! As my children get older, they do so much to set the tone in our home—and I can't control whether they do it for good or ill! Each family member can make such a difference. I wish I could get them ALL to feel the desire I feel to keep it a place of peace and kindness.

• In that vein, though, President Eyring promised we could have the Spirit "at any family gathering, if you pray and plan for it." I would like to believe it (though I don't know if I can…see above…). But, did he mean even Family Home Evening?!? 😁

• Elder Oaks is so…forthright! I like him. Always have. And he is FUNNY, when he wants to be. He came to our stake conference once and we were laughing our heads off during the Saturday night session!

• Elder Ballard's talk was probably my favorite he's ever given. I loved hearing the background story on Joseph F. Smith's vision of the Spirit World. The quotes from JFS's journal and letters were so raw and emotional! And though Elder Ballard remained straight-faced and composed as he always is, I could detect the strong emotion behind his words, too, in a way I haven't in the past. I came out of that talk seeing and loving both men (Joseph F. Smith and Elder Ballard) in a new way.

• Two people that I remember (Elder Soares and Sister Franco) mentioned how we need to make sure we are greeting and befriending and ministering to other people at church—"regardless of other concerns or assignments." I need to do better at this. After sacrament meeting I am always SO focused on just doing the next thing: gathering up the toys, throwing out the zillion tiny paper airplanes Malachi has made, helping Junie remember her scripture case, making sure the kids take their tithing up to the bishop, taking Teddy to the bathroom, checking Ziggy's diaper, quizzing Marigold on her scripture for Primary, taking bags out to the car, etc. I feel like I have NOT ONE PARTICLE of energy to spare for looking for new faces, I'm so intent on these tasks. But that's silly. The bags can wait for a second. As can all the rest of it. And I'm missing the whole point of church (or, one of the main points) if I ignore all these neighbors and (potential) friends!

• Elder Bednar's rope animations must have really spoken to my kids. A bunch of them said his was their favorite talk.

• I liked it when Elder Andersen said, "Return to the Lord's house with your wounded heart and your family names as often as possible." Family names? Check! Wounded heart? Check! Ha ha.

• My favorite talk was Elder Rasband's, on Fear. It spoke to many of my questions and feelings.

• The whole First Presidency spoke at the Women's Session! Yaaaay!

• I don't really love dogs, but I loved the dog in Elder Stevenson's story. A faithful, noble dog! Like poor Hashiko.

• This phrase from Elder Renlund: "God gives us the dignity of choosing." I'm pondering how this can help my parenting.

• I loved the story Dean M. Davies told of President Hinckley and the Vancouver Temple, and President Hinckley's cheerful response after they told him he couldn't have chosen a more difficult site to acquire: "Well, do your best!" Ha ha. President Hinckley and President Nelson are cut from the same cloth.

• My conference notebook is just a composition book with tabs for each apostle, plus a tab for each auxiliary and the Presiding Bishopric, and then a tab for "Other Speakers." Here is the page I just finished in "Other Speakers":
…and I can't honestly say that poor Jack N. Gerard didn't get short shrift. Anyway, the pages in the other tabs aren't full yet, so NOW what do I do? Try to tape in some more pages in the back? Not take notes on any of the seventies next conference?

Other posts in this series:

(Mostly just a bunch of pictures of people swimming in) San Diego

The week in August when everyone else was posting back-to-school pictures of their kids heading off with backpacks and lunch bags…but Sam still had a week before classes started at BYU…we took off for a quick trip to San Diego.

Sam and I went to San Diego on our honeymoon, but we haven't been back with the family because whenever we go to California, we always want to visit my brother's family up in Irvine instead! But seeing as they just had their second set of twins…it seemed like a good time NOT to invade their house with the 10 of us. So we got a rental house in San Diego!
When I was looking for places to stay, I started by looking at a lot of condos by the beach, since that's what I always hear about people doing. But then I saw this place up on Mount Helix, and it had a pool! And I realized…the beach isn't really much fun for babies anyway! There is sand in everything and you never can keep it out of their mouths and noses and diapers. And you worry about them getting swept off by waves. But pools! Pools are great (especially pools that come with beds and cribs for naps nearby)!

And it DID turn out great! We loved it so much. We have never had our own pool before, and there were all kinds of fun things about it…like not constantly having to worry that the kids were bothering someone (except each other, of course)…not having to all go swimming at once…swimming multiple times a day…swimming at night…even jumping in the pool for a quick swim after getting all hot and sweaty on an early-morning run. It was magical.
And the view was magical too.

We probably could have spent our whole four days swimming in the pool and sitting outside on the patio in the perfect 78-degree temperatures. We did fit in a visit to Sea World, and the Wild Animal Park, and the San Diego Temple. And we had a great time. But I would say the relaxed, unstructured time in the pool was hands-down everyone's favorite. And I took a million pictures because it was just so beautiful!
Baby Ziggy quite liked swimming around like a little kicking motorboat. And it was so great because when he got tired or cold, we could just take him right inside and no one else had to stop swimming!
The house had a great yard. Cute little rock gardens and patios.
It was hot the day we went to Sea World. But the park was almost deserted, so it was fun to go on all the rides a million times. Apparently it's all about the rides now. When we went there on our honeymoon, I don't remember ANY rides! But they were fun and the kids loved them. (And they do still have the shows, which are my favorite. I love the dolphin and orca shows!)
The boys went on this monstrosity. I would never! I can't handle anything so scary. Look at them going upside-down! I can hardly stand to look at it!
Daisy was so happy she got to see REAL PENGUINS. She has seen the Gentoo Penguins at our aquarium, and she loves them. But here at Sea World they had Emperor Penguins and King Penguins and Chinstraps and Little Blues…all the ones she has seen in books. It was so exciting!
There were some areas with rides for the younger kids, too.
Teddy was reminding me of Sebby, with the way he went around trying to figure out how everything worked. I think in this picture he was trying to figure out if there was a speaker hidden in this wall (and there was).
The next day we went to the Wild Animal Park, although it's called something else now. Zoo Safari, maybe? Anyway, it was Marigold's first time ever seeing real elephants! They are her favorite animal, and she was so excited as we walked up the road toward their enclosure, she was actually trembling! When she caught a glimpse of one of the elephants emerging from behind a wall, she let out this little involuntary scream of excitement and happiness and awe. It was pretty cute.
And there was a baby! Just a few weeks old. Isn't he darling?
There was a baby giraffe, too.
My sunglasses broke and Abe fixed them for me with a bandaid. What resourcefulness!
People in pots. I don't really know why.
Seb biting Zig's feet. I do know why. Because it makes Zig shriek with laughter.
We fed the lorikeets. With varying degrees of enthusiasm.
We saw a kangaroo with a joey in her pouch! I have helpfully indicated where the baby's leg is dangling out, so you can see it. I didn't realize the pouches enclosed the babies so completely! All you could see was that funny stray leg.
It was another hot day, so our favorite parts of the park were places where there were misting fans spraying out water. This amphitheater had some, and we all wanted to just stand there in the mist forever. Teddy jumped happily up and down the stairs 500 times.
I liked this little fwuffball-y flowering tree.
Marigold had saved some birthday money from her grandma, so she bought this tiny "I am a little elephant" book at the Wild Animal Park! When we got home she matched it with the big version of the book she already owned. So cute!
I was really hoping to go with the boys to the temple, and naturally when the time came all kinds of things went wrong and…ahem…certain parties lost their tempers with certain other parties, and there was all kinds of trouble and not everyone ended up going in to the temple…but, not to dwell on that—we did make it there by the skin of our teeth! (Or is it noses one makes it by the skin of? I always forget. It seems odd to say teeth, since what have teeth to do with skin? Hmm.) And in spite of everything, it was wonderful, as the temple always is. Sam and I got to do sealings there, which was fun.
When we go on trips, the girls always like sleeping snuggled together like peas in pods. Or bugs in rugs. They start out the nights arranged nicely…
And end up draped all over each other. Or falling out of the bed. But no one minds too much.
Sam and I managed to get away one night (leaving the kids with Costco pizza, which really is the best pizza) for a dinner date down by the harbor. And this dim and blurry picture is to remind me of one of the best meals I have ever eaten. I love fresh seafood! And I love eating it with Sam (and NOT having a baby yowling at me to shovel food into his [the baby's, not Sam's] mouth faster!). It was such a wonderful evening!
Here are the kids saying goodbye as we drove off on our date.
But—as I said—really, the very best part of the whole trip was the pool at our house. And here are more pictures of it in every conceivable light to prove it.
THIS was the terrifying sight that greeted you whenever you looked in a window and Ziggy was in the house. He was fascinated and enthralled with the pool, and wanted to get to it by whatever means necessary! He would press his nose up against the window and look longingly out whenever he was left inside. We knew if we ever left the door open he would be off like a bullet! So we had to watch him very, very carefully (and make sure he was sleeping in his crib during naptimes!).
Everyone taking pictures of the pool :)
Grey early mornings
The kids probably liked swimming at night most of all. It just felt so…unheard of! Even at hotel pools, you can't just swim whenever you want. But here…we could! It was so much fun.
On our way back to Utah, we couldn't pass up a chance to visit my brother's new baby twins! We tried to be as little trouble as possible, but Allison ended up cooking us two delicious meals anyway. We always eat the best things at their house! We went swimming with the cousins at their neighborhood pool too, so it really was The Week of Constant Swimming for us. But best of all were the BABIES! Even with two, there weren't enough to go around—everyone wanted to hold one all the time!
And that was our trip to San Diego. Over too soon. But a wonderful memory to look back on as we started Real Life (with a vengeance!) the next week!
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