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I love how Ballard talked directly to me and all the other young mothers out there who sometimes wonder if any of those grandpas up there on the podium at General Conference can possibly understand the hard stuff involved in mothering young children. It felt so good to be validated and to be reminded of things that I know in my heart but can never be reminded of too often — namely that joy in motherhood comes in moments, that we need to be careful not to overschedule ourselves and our families (and wind up rushing past those moments), that we need to prioritize our own personal development and interests, and that we can and should find individual inspiration from God as we strive to be the mothers we want and need to be. I also really appreciated that he offered concrete suggestions for how fathers, children and the church can better support and assist mothers in their important work.
I absolutely loved hearing Ballard share one of my all-time favorite quotes about motherhood by my favorite author, Anna Quindlen, who isn’t generally quoted much in Mormon circles: "The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. … I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less."
Steve Evans, Utah lawyer and founder of By Common Consent
One recent favorite is "Looking Back and Moving Forward" from the April 2008 conference. It was President Thomas S. Monson’s first conference as leader of the church.
His predecessor, Gordon B. Hinckley, had left big shoes to fill — perhaps the biggest shoes of any prophet since Brigham Young in terms of social influence, time spent in a leadership capacity, national celebrity and popularity within the church.
I’ve loved hearing Monson’s stories since I was a child, but I keenly felt Hinckley’s absence and felt nervous as to how it was going to feel to have a different prophet at the helm. I was in the Conference Center as I heard Monson give this address, and it seemed to me that as he continued to speak, a spirit of confirmation came not just to me but to all those in attendance. He spoke the words, "Come back. We reach out to you in the pure love of Christ and express our desire to assist you and to welcome you into full fellowship. To those who are wounded in spirit or who are struggling and fearful, we say, ‘Let us lift you and cheer you and calm your fears.’ " As he did so, I felt assured that God continues to lead this church. I don’t feel that Monson’s leadership has been as favored in the public eye as Hinckley’s, nor has it felt as dynamic and positive. Still, I feel my faith in this church affirmed. It is a good place to be.
Cherry Bushman Silver, a former General Relief Society board member and research historian who has spent years working on the diaries of Emmeline B. Wells
I nominate a talk by Elder Gerrit W. Gong, given in October 2010, titled "Temple Mirrors of Eternity: A Testimony of Family."
His talk was memorable to me because he conveyed a sense of known family back to the Tang dynasty, far beyond that which most of European ancestry can claim. He recounted his family story of conversion in a few words but underscored the subsequent impact on many lives. He used the metaphor of mirrors to urge human linkage and generational responsibility.
"Temple mirrors of eternity remind us that each human being has ‘divine nature and destiny’; that ‘sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally,’ " he said, "and that, growing together in love and faithfulness, we can give children roots and wings."
Finally, Gong spoke of the roles of Jesus Christ as they affect individual lives, not dodging the paradoxes but citing profound and poetic scriptures.
"Sometimes things go wrong even though we have done our very best. A lamb innocent and pure, our Savior weeps with and for us," he said. "When we always remember him, he can stand with us."
That left me feeling the impact as well as thinking about the range of issues Gong touched on.
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