Monday, September 28, 2015

General Conference Preparation

You may not have noticed, but General Conference is here!

I can say that since President Uchtdorf did tell us that what used to be just referred to as the "General Women's Meeting" (and before that was the General Relief Society and General Young Women's Broadcasts) is, indeed, General Conference.

(Here's me getting on my soapbox: YES, Heavenly Father loves the girls/ladies just as much as the menfolk. We're reminded of this lots and lots. No, we don't have the exact same roles and responsibilities, but our Heavenly Father loves ALL his children perfectly.)

Now, I'll confess, I missed taking my older daughter to watch the broadcast at the Stake Center. I plain forgot that it was even happening! (Naughty, naughty Sister Cox!! ... but, do realize that I've never told you that I was perfect. Because I'm SO not. I have PLENTY of room to grow and develop before I reach my goal of perfection.)

After I got through allowing Satan to get me down and berating myself over a dumb mistake, I (figuratively speaking) brushed myself off and allowed myself the chance to repent.
And my daughter and I brought up the broadcast on the internet and watched it at home.
It was very nice ... especially since Brother Cox has never had the opportunity to attend a Women's Conference session before (and, young men, let me tell you, he did have some "holy envy" [this is a phrase taken from Lutheran Bishop Krister Stendahl. "Holy envy" refers to, when you observe and study other religions, trying to understand it, you should leave room for finding things that they have which are worthy of emulation -- Example: I have holy envy for the beautiful, uplifting stained glass windows found in many buildings of other faiths. I also love how many other faiths have practices that, though different than ours, are lovely and help foster charity and unity in their congregations]. Brother Cox especially enjoyed the musical numbers performed during this Women's Conference.

(Because this broadcast is available to all people online, you can easily watch it, regardless of your gender. Just sayin'. I keep thinking about watching the broadcast of Priesthood session while my husband attends at the Stake Center ... I should actually DO it this time, instead of just reading the talks from that session after the fact.)

OKAY, getting back to the point ... There are things that you can do to help yourself prepare for listening to/attending/participating in (I'm making this argument, since we DO have the opportunity to sustain our leaders of the WHOLE church) General Conference.

We can pray and study our scriptures, in an effort to help us be in tune with the Holy Spirit. I hear great stories of people who, as they take notes during Conference, they write down something ... that isn't at all stated in the printed talks (or when rewatching the talks). It would be pretty amazing for that to happen, to know that you received revelation just for you (whether for your life or for dealing with those around you).

We can make a special effort to be reverent while watching/listening to Conference.
(As for me and my house? I find this to be a challenge. Even when my kids are playing "quietly," they're not THAT quiet. :P)
I do my best to focus on the talks and take notes. I try to be charitable and NOT YELL at my (noisy) children.

Another thing that I need to do is to try and make my home (where I will be watching Conference) into a place where the Holy Ghost can be more comfortable. In short, I should clean my house. Not only will it create a better atmosphere here in my home, but I, personally, will be far less distracted if I don't have to stare at messes all over my house.

Brother Cox would remind me to say that we should come up with some questions that we'd like answered. We might not get a whole talk devoted to our questions, but, as we listen, we might hear something that would be a response ... or even just receive impressions as we listen to our loving leaders.

If you didn't watch our first session of Conference, being the Women's Conference, here's the link to that broadcast.
If you're in a hurry and just want to know what was discussed, here's a link to the summaries of the talks given: Conference at a Glance.

I'll miss getting to see you all next week, since I'll be watching Conference at home.
But I am praying that you'll all have a great week and a wonderful Conference experience!

I'd love it if you took some notes so that we can discuss things that stood out to you when I see you again on the 11th!

(And, if you want to read ahead, the outlines for October's discussions are in the links on the left column of the screen.
No pressure ... other than it IS crazy-helpful if you do choose to read and familiarize yourself with what we're discussing. Don't worry! I'll be working at doing the same!)

Happy Conference! See you soon!
     Sister Cox

Sunday, September 27, 2015

How Can I Help Others Understand My Standards?

Well, the goal was to discuss helping others (especially those friends of other faiths) to understand the WHY behind the reasons we don't always do things the world does (or the way that the world does them). [Feel free to follow the link to the outline given for this week's lesson.]

Instead (and I have a feeling that this is going to be a recurring theme ... which isn't a bad thing at all), we vaguely discussed that while covering some other topics in more detail.

One thing that we discussed quite a lot was following the prophet and the need for personal revelation in our lives.

The Lord doesn't want us to follow Him or the leaders of His church blindly.
We are commanded to seek after our own confirmation for what commandments and suggestions we receive from our prophets (ancient and modern).

Moroni tells us:
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Moroni 10:4)
Also, after Lehi told his family of his vision of the tree of life, when Laman and Lemuel asked Nephi about it, his first question to them was "Have ye inquired of the Lord?" (1 Nephi 11:8).

Also, think of Joseph Smith ... he followed what was written in James 1:5
 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
Asking questions is GOOD. Praying to know answers for yourself, so that you can develop your own testimony is GOOD. Praying and asking questions or for confirmation so that you can strengthen and build your own testimony? That's GOOD.

(Seriously, if you're able to start doing this now while you're in your teenage years? You all are going to be spiritual powerhouses. Remember how today in his Sacrament meeting talk, Brother Anderson was talking about his mission companion being a mix of Abinadi and  Chief Captain Moroni? Yeah, that'll so be you.)

We also discussed modesty, from For the Strength of Youth.

Remember that your body is sacred. It is a gift from your Heavenly Father.
Your body enables you to partake of some of the most amazing blessings in Heavenly Father's great plan of happiness (aka "the plan of salvation").

The commandments and guidelines we've been given (Yes, they apply to the adults, too!) are to help us to protect ourselves from temptation and to have the freedom (full use of agency) to partake in this great work of salvation.

Our bodies are amazing. Never let anyone (not even yourself) tell you otherwise.
And our bodies are necessary for so many parts of the plan of salvation.
Satan is pretty jealous that we have bodies and he does not.
He wants us to disrespect our bodies or think of them solely as tools for our desires.

We have loving leaders (like our prophet, apostles, our bishop, your teachers, and your parents) who are here to help us learn and grow and develop into the best people we can be.

And, if we respect our bodies (and other people's bodies, remembering that we are more than just a body. We are SOULS and we should treat our bodies as our own personal temples), we are better able to perform the jobs that Heavenly Father gives us on our journey to become more and more like Him.

Remember that YOU are a beloved, precious son or daughter of our Heavenly Father.
Seriously, if you need someone to let you know that you are loved and valued, let me know. I'm more than willing to tell you. And, I'll warn you, there may be tears.

I have a strong testimony that most of the bad things going on in the world wouldn't be going on IF we could just remember that each one of us is a child of God, that we are all loved beyond human comprehension, that each one of us is infinitely treasured by our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ; that we are all worthy of compassion, caring, love, and respect. ... Seriously, if we can just strive to remember that in how we deal with each other, the world would be a much better place.

Okay, I think you get the idea, right?
(But, really, if you ever need someone to let you know that you're important, come see me. Give me a call. Send me a text. Email or Facebook message me. I'd be honored to have the opportunity to let you know that you are important/awesome/needed. Really.)

We had some discussions about what is modest and how modesty isn't just about what you're wearing ... it's about your attitude. If you're wearing something or acting in a way just to draw attention to yourself, that's not in the practice of modesty.

When I was your age (many, many moons ago), one of the questions my ward's Youth leaders requested that we ask ourselves was "Would I feel comfortable wearing this in front of the prophet?"
I would change that to "Would I feel comfortably/appropriate wearing this/acting like this in front of the Savior?"

Brother J (our Sunday School president) had a good example of how we can choose to show our values to others, even when it requires doing things differently than an established way -- He told about how some women who've participated in beauty pageants chose to wear one-piece swimsuits instead of the (rather revealing) two-pieces that were the norm. When asked about their choice, they then had an opportunity to explain something about their beliefs and WHY they CHOSE to do something so different.

We also discussed some great questions that you all had.

Is acting immodest, since you're demanding attention as part of being on stage?
No. Just as in participating in sports, you're developing a talent and working to the best of your abilities. It would be more distracting to be up there and purposefully do a bad job, right?
Also, there are many Latter-day Saints who've gone into acting.
The Church, itself, puts on pageants and plays and theatricals ... if doing so would lead its members towards sinful behavior, you can be sure that our leaders would be a lot more hesitant to recommend these activities.

Thank you all for being a great class today. I know that we got sidetracked (a bit), but I really appreciate your enthusiasm and participation. I had a lot of fun ... and I think that I learned some new things, too. I hope that you all did as well.

If you have suggestions or questions about our class, please let me know!

Sister Cox

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Elder Richard G. Scott - An Example

Elder Richard G. Scott, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, passed yesterday afternoon at the age of 89.

As I was reading his biography over at LDS.net, one story stood out to me.

And, since I never know what we will or won't have time to cover in class, I wanted to be sure that you all had a chance to read it.
"In college, Richard received the opportunity to join an elect honorary engineering society. At the initiatory event, everyone who attended was drinking. Richard asked for a soft drink, but when he raised the glass to his lips, he smelled alcohol in it. At that point, he realized that everyone in the room was looking at him.
Richard risked their disapproval if he did not drink the beverage. But instead, he chose to be faithful and put the glass down. After he did so, he noticed that some other people did the same. Richard G. Scott later said, 'Do what is right and others will follow your example.'"  (retold by Abby Thorne via LDS.net, from Elder Scott's book 21 Principles: Divine Truths to Help You Live by the Spirit ... which is going to be added to my TBR [to be read] list asap.)
 Having taken the chance to read his biography, I now have a deeper admiration and love for this servant of God. I would recommend that as you learn more about him, you also read about his marriage -- I know that you're not supposed to date until you're sixteen, but I want you to be aware that it's never too early to decide what kind of person you want to marry or what kind of person YOU want to be as an adult.

(Truly, some of the best advice that my mom gave me when I was a teenager was to make a list of the qualities that I wanted in my future husband ... and to look to the adults in my home ward as I listed the attributes that I desired the man I'd marry someday. Even though I didn't look at that list often after I'd written it out, I can honestly tell you that it did affect how I approached dating. Also, after I was engaged, I stumbled upon that list again ... and, except for two non-vital wishes, my fiance was the embodiment of my list.

I also would recommend that you have non-negotiable items in your list [For me, they were things like "worthy Priesthood holder" and "will take me to the temple."] and some "nice, but not vital" requirements [e.g., likes to dance/plays basketball/is a fan of your favorite sports team, has a great accent, ... stuff like that]. Sometimes, the person we end up with is a little different than we expected. Thank goodness my poor husband puts up with the fact that I'm not into sports and don't play basketball well (or at all, really).)


But I really wanted you to get to know a little more about Elder Scott. I do find that the more I know about people (not just our church leaders), the more I like them.
... I really should work to learn more about these leaders BEFORE they leave this mortal state, shouldn't I?

So, please be smarter and better than I am now by making that change NOW instead of when you're in your mid-thirties.

Monday, September 21, 2015

About the Second Coming: Death

On Sunday, the question that we spent most of our time discussing was about what will happen to us at the Second Coming.

I was asked, "Well, if we're still alive then, what's going to happen when we do die? Will we die, then leave the Earth and go to the Spirit World, THEN get resurrected and come back here? Or what?"

And, I was very impressed ... I didn't even think about those things until I learned about them in Seminary and Institute.

I remember Brother Dale Kirby, my Institute instructor at WOU, teaching us that "man will reach the age of a tree" (or something. I promise that I WAS listening to him! But my notes from class are buried in storage), which he said meant that at around 100 years, we'd be translated.

And, as I did a search on LDS.org ("second coming, death"), a few lessons from Gospel Principles came up. (Seriously, I know that's it's a manual geared for adults ... but it is an AWESOME manual. I'm not just saying that because I was a Ward Missionary many, many moons ago. It really is a great resource.)
Not surprisingly, THERE was the scripture reference that I'd been looking for!
"In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree;
 "And when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and shall be caught up, and his rest shall be glorious."  ----- Doctrine and Covenants 101:30-31

Look at that! I actually remembered the verse correctly! So it's not just Sister Cox Doctrine, but established scripture.
This is also stated again in Doctrine and Covenants 63:50-51:
"And he that liveth when the Lord shall come, and hath kept the faith, blessed is he; nevertheless, it is appointed to him to die at the age of man."Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye."
 And the bit that I remember Brother Kirby saying about living to be a hundred years old?
Apparently, my brain is better than I gave it credit for ...
"There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed." -- Isaiah 65:20
And it's also confirmed (because it's better to have multiple sources/witnesses) by prophetic counsel:
 "Men on the earth will still be mortal, but a change shall come over them so that they will have power over sickness, disease and death. Death shall all but be banished from the earth, for men shall live until they are the age of a tree or one hundred years old,and then shall die at the age of man, but this death shall come in the twinkling of an eye and mortality shall give way to immortality suddenly. There shall be no graves, and the righteous shall be caught up to a glorious resurrection." (Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation,1:461) 

So, there we go. We WILL, provided we're still alive when it happens, be resurrected immediately. Which does go with the teaching (like in Doctrine and Covenants 101:29) "And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death."

I hope that you found this helpful.
In case you want to learn some more, here are some helpful links about this topic:
  • (CONFESSION: Even though I'm not a Gospel Doctrine instructor [though I have done that for a short time, too], I sometimes use the teacher's manual instead of the student's manual. There's tons of great quotes and references in there!)
  • Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide: Doctrine and Covenants 63 - Preparing for Zion (Institute manuals are AWESOME. I mean, you're getting ready for Seminary, I know. And you're going to get some great manuals for those classes ... but, I LOVE Institute manuals. Don't get freaked out by the fact that they're thick ... they're full of great stuff.  ... AND, unlike me, growing up SO LONG AGO, you can just look up ANY of them online ANY TIME. If I was lucky, I might have ordered one from Church Distribution OR maybe borrowed one from the ward library or another family ... Please be aware that you're VERY blessed to live on the earth in this time. It's pretty awesome.)

Thanks!
Happy searching, pondering, and praying!
I'm so very glad to get to learn along with you!

If you have any other questions or would like me to elucidate (YES, I am going to use big words. Because you can handle them. I believe in you. ^_^) on something that we've covered, just shoot me a comment.
            Sister Cox



Why am I even writing this blog? (Hey, it's a legitimate question.)

Yesterday was my first time teaching Sunday School for the 12- and 13-year-old class in our ward.

First off, even though I started out a little terrified (We do believe in being honest ...), it was really fun.

I only had five students, but I was glad for the chance to get to know them/you all better.

And, even though I had planned to have a discussion/lesson on commandments (especially on blessings that come from keeping the commandments or how keeping the commandments helps to enable us to live the gospel better), it didn't really happen.

For a rather awesome reason: You guys had questions! And they were GOOD questions!

In fact, they were such good questions that (1) we didn't have enough time to fully answer them and (2), since one of my (many) faults is that I'm not a Scriptorian (YET!), so I failed to give scriptural references to back up my answers to you ... and you DESERVE to have those references.

If these questions are important to you, you bet that they're important to me, too.

Therefore, after I got home from church, I prayed for an idea/answer on how to handle this situation ... and I did receive a prompting (Do you see what a good influence you are on me?). And I checked with our Sunday School President, who gave me permission to go forward with this ... and here we are!

My main goal for this blog is to have a place to post answers to questions in class (or that you post as a comment. You can do that anonymously) and to show HOW I found the answers, so that you will have some ideas of how to search for your own answers to Gospel questions.

Another use for this blog, which I do hope will come in handy, is that you'll be able to use the links on the side to prepare yourself to participate in our Sunday School discussions. I can tell you that it's easier to participate when you've read the material ... and, as your teacher/moderator, it helps ME a ton if you choose to prepare for class in advance.
And I totally understand that you have busy lives of your own ... but, if you CHOOSE to read even a part of the scriptures or talks that are referred to in the lessons, I can testify that you WILL be blessed.

I really am looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday.
I promise that I'll be better prepared, too. ^_^