Labor Day weekend 2015. Bear Lake, Utah is the place. Paddle boarding is the reason. It's the only vacation we're taking this summer and we've waited all summer to go. Why? Everyone else is having so much fun, going to Disneyland and on Alaskan cruises or to the Oregon Coast. Well, it sounds peculiar, living in Utah as we do, but we have never gone camping at Bear Lake. We've been to Disneyland, the Oregon Coast a few times, and even on an Alaskan cruise. Not to mention our other wild adventures to distant places we can talk about later. The kids wanted to do something we haven't done and we only had the weekend. They're all grown up now, with jobs and responsibilities of their own. It's hard to find time to get away. Their dad is the bishop so it's hard for him to get away, too. But we rented some paddle boards, loaded up everything that could possibly fit into the Subaru and even brought along Frank, the little rescue dog.
We got to the campground late. It was dark and putting the tent up was challenging, but with the help of flashlights and car headlights, and four sets of arms and hands, we got the job done and were soon roasting marshmallows over the campfire. I settled down into my chair and inhaled the delicious smell of campfire and slowly enjoyed the perfectly golden brown marshmallow that was completely liquefied sugar in the middle. What could be better than this, I wondered. Not much, I answered to myself. My biggest and most beautiful blessings were nestled around the fire beside me: my husband of 30 years, my handsome son and beautiful daughter, and even our little rug-rat dog. My testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was burning like a bonfire in my heart and my feelings of love and gratitude were just barely under the skin. I had so much to be happy about. I had a temple marriage to my best friend and two miracles for children and a knowledge and belief in God and His Son Jesus Christ. I had a living prophet to look to for counsel and I thought of my temple covenants and the Priesthood power that binds our family together through eternity, if we are worthy.
We brushed our teeth, had family prayer, and nestled into sleeping bags for a good sleep outside under God's stars. It took me a long while to get sleepy. I really wasn't uncomfortable and it was nice and cozy in the tent, until the dog started running around, trying to get to the kids who wanted to sleep out under the stars. My heart was so full of gratitude. I did a lot of wondering that night. Wondering about what it will be like next summer, when our son has moved away to graduate school. Will our daughter move away too, when she starts her first teaching job? How far away will they be? How often will we get to see them? How much money will that all cost? After next summer, whenever we want to see our son, for sure, it will cost money, for someone to fly to see the others. I wondered, when will the kids get married? Who will they marry? Is there anyone good enough for them? Are they good enough for someone else? Have we taught them everything they need to know? Will they stay true to who they are? Most importantly, will they continue to listen to the prophet? Will they stay true to Jesus Christ? Will their spouses stay true to Christ? Will they raise a righteous posterity? What will be the opposition against them as they try to do this? How hard will it be? Am I ready to support them in the difficult things that will still come their way? Am I strong enough to be a worthy grandmother? And on and on and on until I started to get a little weary.
Then in a silent prayer of gratitude and awe at how blessed I truly am, a sweetly complete peace enveloped me from head to toe. I knew all would be well. I knew that although we are not perfect parents, we have been steady, consistent, supportive, and loving parents. Our children have strong testimonies. They have already shown bravery in standing up to peers about their beliefs. They have a sure foundation, not built upon us, but upon their Redeemer, Jesus Christ and they love Him. They make good choices and I know they will continue to do so. I didn't need to worry about them, but about me. My only job is to work on myself. I have to make sure that I'm strong, that I stay true to them, to my husband and to Jesus Christ. I have to keep my covenants. I have to follow the prophet. I have to be worthy of the Holy Ghost to guide me in everything I do and testify to me of what is true and warn me of what is not.
I started repeating to myself the words of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. It seems like yesterday that it was read in church aloud, as we studied it and pondered the significance of it in all of our meetings and at home as a couple. At the time, I was a young and naïve Primary president and my children were 4 and 1. Our little girl hated the nursery and begged John to go with her each week for "a couple minutes" until she settled in. John will tell you how he felt on the day that was read in Priesthood meeting. He recognized the significance of it. It is the word of God, spoken to us by prophets and apostles. We both knew it and knew what it meant for our future and the future of our then little children: the family is under attack.
In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, in the very first paragraph, it says:
General Conference is coming up. What will be said those two days is inspired and it is from the Lord. Jesus Christ is at the head of this church. He will direct and influence the apostles, prophets, and other leaders who speak to us in what they should teach us. It will be as if He were speaking to us Himself. Will we be present? Will we listen? Will we do? Will we take the truth to be hard, like Laman and Lemuel? Will we be happy and excited about the gospel and the humbly receive the counsel we are given? I came across this passage today as I was reading the Book of Mormon. I had always focused on verse 2, but today, with conference on my mind, I paid particular attention to verse 3. Could we not apply this to how we receive prophetic counsel? Could we not also apply it to how seriously we take The Family: A Proclamation to the World?
Nephi said he knew what he was teaching was hard--he never said it was going to be easy. It's also true for us. No one ever promised in conference that what we were asked to do would be easy, but we are promised we'll be blessed. Look at Nephi's words:
"IF ye were righteous and were WILLING to hearken to the truth, and give HEED unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would NOT murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us."
So, if we are trying our best to do what is right and be obedient, if we are repenting daily and striving to have the Holy Ghost for our constant companion, we will not think the things the prophets and apostles ask of us are hard. We will happily do them, without question.