Tonight my heart is full. It's been a busy month but I feel like so many blessings have come during this month...small blessings, nothing huge, but little reminders that I am known and loved by my Heavenly Father.
Today my dear friend Sara called and told me that someone had given her tickets to the General Women's Meeting but she was unable to go and asked if I would like the tickets. I gratefully accepted and was able to take my girls plus our friend/neighbor, Kate. Traffic was terrible and we were a few minutes late getting into the Conference Center, but oh how I loved the spirit that was there. I love being a woman in this church! I love knowing who I am and that I have a purpose. I love feeling the love that my Father has for me. I love helping my children know that their Savior lives and loves them. I'm so glad we could share that time together. I loved the beautiful talks. Sister Bonnie Cordon spoke about the blessings that come from service. Oh, how I have a testimony of that! Sister McConkie spoke about holiness and Sister Burton spoke about "certain women" who are convinced, positive, confident, firm, definite, assured, and dependable...I want to be counted among those certain women who can confidently testify of Christ and live as one of his disciples. Then President Eyring spoke about peace and the Holy Ghost. Such an amazing meeting!!
On Thursday, the ward council was meeting to make some visits in preparation for a special missionary sacrament meeting that our ward is holding tomorrow. I went with Somer, our newly called Relief Society President. We were able to visit a couple of sisters and then we were able to visit with each other for awhile. I came home feeling so happy! I really loved talking with Somer, and I really, really loved doing visits. That evening had me reflecting on having served as our ward Relief Society President...both because Somer asked me some questions about how I did visiting teaching and because I was able to do visits. I truly love visiting the members of my ward in their home.
I reflect often on the privilege I had to serve as RS President (this is a post about what I learned from serving as RS President) and what I learned from that opportunity. It's been a little more than 2 years since I was released and I give thanks on a regular basis that I had that chance. It stretched me in so many ways. I learned so much about the enabling power of the Atonement of our Savior...how when we put the Savior and His work first in our lives, "all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives." (President Ezra Taft Benson said this...but I can testify it is true!) When I am consistently reading the scriptures, praying, serving, and striving to keep the commandments, I am better able to handle my other responsibilities...better able to complete them in a timely manner. The Savior literally makes me able to accomplish more than I can on my own. It doesn't make sense to my mortal mind that if I am spending time on scripture study, prayer, service, callings, etc., I will have MORE time for my family and my job...but that is exactly what I have found to be true.
It's not an exaggeration to say that I was changed by serving as RS President. I see myself differently...and much more importantly, I see others differently. I often felt lonely or a bit isolated from ward members before my call. I was (and still am) working full time and had a family. So I didn't feel like I got to socialize much and I would sometimes feel like I was almost friendless. Now I almost never feel that way and on the rare occasions when I do, I know to find someone else to serve and those feelings dissipate pretty rapidly. I feel blessed to know and love so many amazing people!! Truly I am so blessed. And while I have friends from outside of my ward, friends that I love dearly, there is something special and deeper about relationships within the church built upon shared service and shared love for and dedication to the Savior. I can't really explain it but I can feel it.
For the past 2 years since my release, I have been serving as the 2nd counselor in the Young Women's Presidency. I really, really love the YW and I love serving with all of the great leaders...we really have a great time together and with the YW. I love the YW and see such great potential in them. It is such a blessing to serve in the church. While this calling hasn't stretched me as much as being RS President did, I have learned invaluable lessons from this opportunity to serve as well. Most importantly, I have developed a deep love for those I serve and those I serve alongside. I have developed study habits during this period that have been a blessing to me...I've loved studying Come, Follow Me...and I also joined a group on Facebook that studies the Conference talks for 40 days following conference and I've really been blessed by my participation in that group. My testimony of our divine nature and individual worth has been strengthened as I have taught and testified of these principles to the young women. I'm learning better and better how to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost and to respond to them. I have loved being in YW as my oldest daughter has been a Beehive and being able to teach her and attend activities with her and go to girls camp and so on. In a few weeks, Ella will turn 12 and I will be able to teach her and attend camp with her. It has strengthened my relationship with Michelle to be involved in this way and I hope it will with Ella as well.
A few other things I've learned from serving in YW:
*Heavenly Father knows ME and loves ME. He sees me differently than I sometimes see myself and He has a plan and purpose for my life.
*A series of events last summer caused me to really search the scriptures and study the ministering of angels. While I haven't had any miraculous events occur, I do believe in the the ministry of angels and believe that we are ministered to by angels, seen and unseen, as Elder Holland describes.
*Our youth are strong and good and incredible and capable of great things. From time to time, I hear people bemoan the state of the children/youth today. I don't believe it. In fact, I believe it is false, false, false. Sure there are many temptations and the youth face daunting challenges. Sometimes they falter, struggle or fall away (as do adults!) But I see their goodness, their strength and their courage. They are inspiring!
*How inspired our leaders are! The Come Follow Me curriculum is inspired. The personal progress program is inspired and inspiring! Seminary. Having midweek activities...at a period in their life when they are busy and could be filling their time with so many other activities, good and bad, we gather them together to have fun but uplifting activities that strengthen their faith, increase unity, and help remind them of who they are and who they are meant to become.
*Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.
*Each of us has something to contribute.
I know I have learned other lessons that aren't coming to mind at the moment. And I know I will continue to learn additional lessons as I study, pray and do my best to serve. How thankful I am for this glorious gospel!