My friend Krista started a fabulous program called "The Smile Challenge" with her YW last spring. She extended an invitation after October's conference for others to join in the fun and after a little hesitation (I didn't want it to fall into that "one more thing" category and become an obligation when I knew the potential was there to be an amazing experience), I accepted the challenge and as a result have been reading one conference talk each day (or very nearly every day....sorry Krista! I'm coming clean here!).
I had that feeling of great potential and excitement as I got started on the 1st of November. I decided to print each talk and keep it in a 3-ring binder so as not to mark up and muck up our family copy of November's Ensign. Doing so has also given me ample space to write notes and impressions as I've read. Love that!
The first big thing that struck me, though it took a couple of days to do so, was the inspired order in which the talks are presented. The very first talk, "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance" by Elder Scott was about gaining the ability to recognize the Spirit in our lives. That was followed by Sister Matsumori's talk, "Helping Others Recognize the Whisperings of the Spirit". Based on this order, the principle that we first must learn for ourselves before we can share with others is emphasized. Amazing!
The final speaker on Saturday morning was President Uchtdorf. His talk was entitled, "The Love of God". He spoke about our love for God being the factor that most completely rules our behavior. It was a great way to end that first session.
The first speaker of the Saturday afternoon session was, after the sustaining of church officers took place, Elder Oaks. The title of his talk was, "Love and Law". Here we heard about God's love for us (in contrast to our love for Him in President Uchtdorf's talk), and how it balances perfectly with his perfect adherance to the laws of the Gospel. These two talks, technically in succession, were again evidence of the inspiration each speaker received as they prepared to present their talks.
Now I am reading Sunday Afternoon's talks, and just re-read Elder Hollands powerful (whoa!) words regarding his testimony of the Book of Mormon. We were driving home from UT and had Conference on the radio and I remember feeling each of his words penetrate my spirit. I knew, because of the way I felt, that he was speaking the truth. I knew that he spoke with all the energies of his soul because he too knew what he was saying was true.
I've been glad to re-read the talks that came after Elder Holland's, because I remember feeling badly for whoever spoke next. I sat through the next few speakers still recovering from Elder Holland's direct and powerful testimony.
Re-reading their words (Elder Cook's talk on Stewardship and Elder Brent Nielson's talk on missionary work) now have been edifying parts to my days.
My next goal is to go back through what I've read and study the footnotes and write more completely about the impressions I receive. Maybe some of that will show up here. Stephanie over at Diapers and Divinity is having some fabulous conversations on various conference addresses. They, along with her other amazing posts, have been great to read.
I know Krista would love to have anyone join her Smile Challenge. Along with a daily conference talk, participators are reading a chapter in the Book of Mormon, along with saying their morning and evening prayers. Originally started for her YW, it's an awesome way to lift your day.