I love Women's Conference and for quite a few years when my children were young I would make the effort to travel from California to Provo so that I could attend.  Thankfully, I have a husband that has always been supportive of my frequent girl trips.  Going to Women's Conference was always an uplifting experience.  I have the sweetest memories of the faithful LDS women that I had the privilege of going with over the years, and how we were each strengthened as we returned home inspired, with a renewed desire to better understand our faith, and live it with full purpose of heart.

If you've ever had the opportunity of going to Women's Conference, you will be familiar with what it feels like to gather in one place, with 15,000+  Mormon women - who share a testimony of the gospel and are devoted members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It's an experience never to be forgotten!

I don't know about you, but I truly appreciate the strength I gain by interacting with other women with strong testimonies, who also enjoy studying the gospel and discussing it in depth.  I think this is one of the reasons that I enjoy following up with what has been taught each year at Women's Conference.   As we await this year's transcripts I have appreciated blog reports from LDS women who did attend.  As well, I loved hearing the reports via Church News, etc...

I am particularly interested in listening and reading Sister Julie B. Beck's Friday morning address to the sisters.  As reported on Church News and Events, Sister Beck made a few comments that have had me pondering lately, and I really need to hear her talk in full context to hopefully better understand her message.

In regards to the forthcoming Relief Society history, soon to be released:

“As we have prepared this history for you, there have been many opportunities to learn,” Sister Beck said. “There are some things that have come out in that preparation that have delineated some themes for learning. It’s not so important to have a linear history in the Church, but it is important to know our spiritual heritage and history, what themes emerge in that spiritual heritage, and what the Lord wants us to accomplish. … History helps us learn who we are and our importance to the Lord.”

About what she and others had learned in preparing the history:

“Our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, love, value, and rely on their daughters,” she said. “God’s daughters have equal importance in His sight with His sons.”

This is one of the things she said about the Relief Society:

“Relief Society isn’t just a feel-good, get-together, let’s-enjoy-each-other, do-anything-anytime-anyplace-for-any-reason” organization, she said. “This is part of the Lord’s work.” 

About the inspired organization of the Relief Society:

One hundred years ago when the Relief Society general presidency selected ‘Charity Never Faileth’ as the Relief Society motto, they knew what they were doing,” Sister Beck said. “This motto was distilled by women who had been taught by Joseph Smith and understood the purpose of Relief Society. Joseph taught them about becoming holy and using this organization to learn how to become like the Savior.”

On the relationship between the Relief Society and Priesthood Sister Beck made these interesting comments, that when pondered alongside Boyd K. Packer's General Conference address, The Power of the Priesthood -- well, it causes one to consider deeply exactly what she is trying to teach us:

“I’ve learned through studying the history of Relief Society that we have and live with inseparable connection to the priesthood,” Sister Beck said. No one need confuse the idea of those who hold the priesthood with the gifts, blessings, and privileges associated with the priesthood, she explained.
“The priesthood is God’s power,” she said. “It is His power to create, to bless, to lead, to serve as He does.” The priesthood duty of every righteous man is to qualify to hold the priesthood so he can bless his family, while the priesthood duty of sisters is to create life, nurture God’s children, and prepare them to make covenants with the Lord.  
“Don’t confuse the power of the priesthood with the keys and offices of the priesthood,” Sister Beck said. “The power is limitless and is shared with those who make and keep covenants. Too much is said and misunderstood about what brothers have and sister’s don’t. This is Satan’s way of confusing men and women so that neither understands what they really have.” 
Our responsibility, Sister Beck said, is to make sure that our homes are blessed with priesthood power, as the Primary song says, “every hour” (Children’s Songbook, 190). “It isn’t just when Dad is there. It isn’t just when Mom is there. It isn’t just when a priesthood ordination or blessing is being performed. It’s every hour as covenants are made and kept.”

Well, I'm not sure how these words of a living prophetess resonate with you, but my heart wants to sing in anticipation of what is in store for the women of the Church!

Sister Beck concluded by telling sisters that she hoped that as the Relief Society history becomes available to them, the strength of these things will settle upon their hearts and that other things the Lord has to teach them will emerge in their study.  “Rather than prepare for a product (the forthcoming book), prepare yourselves,” she said. 
“Prepare to receive the Lord’s message for you. Go to the temple. Pray. Live to become what the Lord would have us all become.” 
“I am grateful for Relief Society not only for its beginnings but for what it is today,” Sister Beck said. “I’m just beginning to have a glimpse of what the Lord has in mind for His daughters. The vision that comes to me sometimes is so glorious and staggering and humbling and thrilling that it is difficult to contemplate. It’s part of the vision of Daniel and the stone rolling forward to bless the whole earth (see Daniel 2:34–35). The Lord expects and requires His daughters to be involved. 

This year, as I wasn't able to attend Women's Conference on April 28-29, 2011 - I've needed to find a way to experience it from home.  I'm excited to read and watch the proceedings via modern technology.  I figured that the majority of women who read my blog are most likely in the same position as I am, so I thought I would post some of the resources and information to make this easier for you.

Thanks to MormonWoman.org for sharing a partial broadcast schedule of Women's Conference beginning May 16-18, on BYUtv.org 

May 16, 2011 (8:00 to 11:00 a.m. MDT)
“By Small and Simple Things”
Virginia H. Pearce
“Ideals Are Stars to Steer By: They Are Not a Stick to Beat Ourselves With”
Barbara Thompson
President Cecil O. Samuelson
“The Best Measure of True Greatness Is How Christlike We Are”
Kathy K. Clayton
Elaine S. Dalton
Friday Morning (April 29) Opening Session
Julie B. Beck
May 17, 2011 (8:00 to 11:00 a.m. MDT)
“We Are Going to Do Something Extraordinary”
Elaine L. Jack, Bonnie D. Parkin,
Mary Ellen Smoot, Barbara Winder,
Sharon Eubank (moderator)
“The Legacy of Relief Society”
Susan W. Tanner
John S. Tanner
“Visiting Teaching: Making a Difference by Small and Simple Means”
Bridgette Blackwelder Server
Mary Ellen Edmunds
May 18, 2011 (8:00 to 11:00 a.m. MDT)
Friday Afternoon (April 29) Closing Session
Elder David A. Bednar
“The Plan of Salvation: One of Heaven’s Best Gifts to Mankind”
Rosemary M. Wixom
Jean A. Stevens
Cheryl A. Esplin
“I Did Frankly Forgive Them”
Lolly S. Osguthorpe
Russell T. Osguthorpe

Watch LDS Women's Conference On Demand at BYUtv!

Although this year's Women's Conference transcripts are not available yet -- HERE is the link to keep your eye on for when they are posted.  Meanwhile you can enjoy past year's transcripts.

Here are few more links with follow-up reports:

Elder Bednar Teaches Women the Spiritual Pattern of Small and Simple Things

*Chocolate on my Cranium* took some great notes from Women's Conference that I just have to share.  I also recommend you follow this blog.

I look forward to the coming months as we learn more about our Relief Society history and have the opportunity to discuss these things...

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