Sunday, September 26, 2010

Stake Conference

I was asked to speak in Stake Conference last week. It really was a great experience for me. I was able to put a lot of prayer and pondering and scripture study into the preparation for the meeting, and the payoff was amazing. The talks were beautiful, the music was mesmerizing, and the spirit there was matchless.

I have been so humbled by those who have gone out of their way to give me such wonderful feed back about my talk. I thank each and every one of you. It is wonderful to live here with you, and partake of your beautiful spirits. So many have asked for a copy of the talk, you here you go.

It is truly a blessing for me to be here with you this beautiful Sabbath
morning. I usually sit clear in the back on a hard and squeaky chair, but
I got the royal treatment today and have a very soft quiet chair. That
is just one of the many perks that come with being asked to speak in
Stake Conference.

This last week one of my dear friends passed away. He was actually
the one who set my husband and me up. His passing has been very
trying for me and my family, and yet a blessing as well. I spent a lot of
time contemplating the various trials and adversities that come into
our lives and how different people deal with them. While watching his
beautiful family, I was able to see the Lord work miracles in their lives
and manifest His love to them in so many undeniable ways. Though the
heart break hits very close to home, I am grateful to have been a part
of this last week with them. Interestingly enough, I was asked to speak
here today about keeping covenants through adversity.

I have always believed that we learn certain truths through trials,
and it becomes our responsibility to share those experiences and
lessons learned. The spirit will prompt us to share our testimonies
and will prepare the listener to hear the message. This is what I have
experienced to be very true. Not only are we strengthened through our
trials, but so are those around us.

Loss, heartache, sadness, pain and sickness are just a few of the things
that we may experience in our lives, but with those experiences come
the greatest learning opportunities.

Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Seventy tells us: Christ’s example teaches
us that a broken heart is an eternal attribute of godliness. When our
hearts are broken, we are completely open to the Spirit of God and
recognize our dependence on Him for all that we have and all that we

are. The sacrifice so entailed is a sacrifice of pride in all its forms. Like
malleable clay in the hands of a skilled potter, the brokenhearted can
be molded and shaped in the hands of the Master.

With a broken heart and a contrite spirit we are made humble and that
humility allows us to be taught.

As many of you know I lost my husband, John carter, in a plane crash
while he was on a humanitarian service trip in Guatemala two years
ago. Since that happened I have felt every type of emotion and thought
that span the whole spectrum from shock and surprise to sorrow to
anger. But I found that whatever I was feeling I needed and wanted to
keep the spirit of the Lord with me.

I’m sure some people would have understood if I had harbored feelings
of anger toward God for putting me through this tragedy but there is no
strength in anger and rejection. The way through these dark times is by
following the spirit and maintaining an attitude that allows us to move
with it.

In John 14:27 we find these words from our Savior. “Peace I leave
with you, my peace I give unto you, (now this is the most powerful
part to me) not as the world giveth, give I unto you, Let not your heart
be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” I have spent many sleepless
nights praying that for the peace spoken of in this scripture. I realized
that when the “world” offers to fix something for us, they offer an
immediate relief. They slap a pretty, painless band aid on the situation
and we no longer have to immediately deal with whatever is ailing
us. The way the Lord works is much more subtle. He doesn’t take all
the pain away, but he gently gives us tools and stepping stones. He
dresses us in courage and opens our eyes to the ministering angels
that surround us. It is in these times of difficulty that we are shown
who we really are and who we are meant to be. We are brought to a
remembrance of our eternal nature, and we realize that all of these
helps and blessings have been there all along. We just needed to see
them and allow them to bless our lives.

This life is a series of progressive steps that we must take on our
individual paths to perfection. There are reasons that we are faced
with certain trials and adversities when we are. They are essential in
our growth, because we are meant to build upon them.

I have often wondered if I would have been able to face this trial in
front of me, If I hadn’t first had to face the hardship of being financially
strapped, because it was in those lean years that my family and I
learned how to pray earnestly and how to rely on the Lord. And would
I have been able to meet that trial if I didn’t first have to face seeing
all of my friends married and having families of their own, when I was
still single and alone. It was through that time in my life that I learned
how to listen to the spirit and I learned how to let the comforter into
my heart. Finally, would I have known how to pray for comfort if first
as a child, a lost dog hadn’t prompted a small and very sincere prayer
that resulted in the reunion of a beloved pet. These are just a sample

of some of the tools that are now in my tool box, but my most precious
tools are the covenants that I made.

The covenants that we have made are like a life raft. When
the “tsunami” of adversity hits, it would be very easy to be overcome
and drown. It is our covenant “life raft” that keeps us afloat, and
transports us safely to the shore. We can be saved and have passage
home, but it is up to us to decide whether or not to get in the boat. It
seems like an easy choice, but sometimes confusion sets in and we are
quickly in over our heads. If we have first placed the value of that life
raft above all else, then we can’t be confused by the waves and the
chaos that surrounds us.

As a child I made a baptismal covenant that I always promised to
keep. As an adult I made several others jointly with my husband, and
together we place the highest of values on those covenants. So when
that wave hit, I grabbed hold of person that I knew had the power to
help me through the rough waters. There are still treacherous waters a
head, but I still hold to the safety of the raft.

The covenants that I have made from baptism at the age of eight to the
covenant of eternal marriage in the temple were promised to come
with great blessings predicated upon my faithfulness. I testify that
these are not empty promises. These are powerful contracts that I have
been the beneficiary of. And I have seen how our entire Carter family
have been blessed by keeping close to the Lord and each other.

I have been blessed immensely by thousands of hours of selfless service
from this community. Whether all of the people who have helped our
family know it or not but they have been doing their part of an eternal
covenant with God to help the poor and the fatherless and to lift the
hands that hang down and for that you will be blessed because God
keeps his promises.

Tell yourselves now that if and when tragedy strikes or when times
in your life get hard you will not turn away from your covenants
or the Lord. You are clear thinking now and you can do a lot to
prepare for adversity just by making that promise to yourself.

What I know now after having spent two full years in the arms of the
Lord is both mind blowing, and very simple. I know that our father
in heaven knows each of us personally. I know that we are never
alone. And that the comforter is real. I know that the prayers of others
truly affect our lives. I am sure that I will see John again. I know that
he is with us each and every day. I testify that the spirit teaches us individually, and answers are given if we but ask and listen. I know that my Savior loves me, and has felt my pain. I know that as long as I uphold my covenants, I will have a wonderful eternal life with my

The gospel of Jesus Christ is true and was given to us to help us
through this life especially when those Tsunami’s of adversity hit.

While I have this opportunity I want to thank all of you for your loving
kindness and help. I also express my love to Ivan and LuDene Carter,
my “other parents” and all the Carter family. I couldn’t have picked a better family to marry into. I love each and everyone of them so much,

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen