After Sacrifice Comes the Blessings
Thank you so much for that beautiful music and for the spirit that has brought to this meeting, and thank you for your preparation and the extra time that you take in order to prepare those kinds of things for the rest of us to enjoy the Spirit. President Richards has been a good friend of mine. We were assigned to the Board of Education at about the same time—I think I was a little bit ahead of him. But we had some wonderful parking-lot conversations, on the way back to our offices—his office was right past my door, so often we would reflect on things we heard in those meetings with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, and some of the decisions that were made. And I really appreciated President Richards’ friendship there.
You have to know that most of the time, always in executive meetings, I was the only girl in the room. And these men were wonderful and intimidating, initially. I remember my first few board meetings I’d go fearing and trembling, and I prayed for a week ahead, “Please, Heavenly Father, bless me not to make a fool of myself.” These men have advanced degrees, they have vast experience in leadership, and when you think of the amazing experience they all had—and, as President Richards said, I’d been a homemaker. I did graduate from a university, but I spent my life and career serving in Church callings and in the local schools and in my own home. And so to sit across from people who had run Harvard Business School and Brigham Young University and LDS Business College—I prayed, “Oh, just please bless me not to make a fool of myself.”
And early on, I did have an experience where I made a fool of myself, and we just got that all out of the way. President Richards, I don’t think you were on the Board yet; we were down at BYU for a visit, but I happened to try to lower my chair down and something malfunctioned and it went all the way to the bottom so that I was just sort of peering, looking across the table at these great men, like a cartoon character. And I looked up this way and there was President Samuelson, way up there, and I looked up this way, and there was Elder Earl Tingey, both tall men. And then I looked across the table at the university presidents and they were trying not to laugh. They were very polite and gentlemanly and their mouths were twitching just a little. And then the apostle who was conducting the meeting very politely said, “I think this would be a good time to take a break.”
Now, President, have you ever known us to take a break in a Board meeting? No. So they took care of my chair malfunction and I thought, “All right, I’ve got that out of the way and now I’m just going to enjoy these meetings.” These men became my friends and associates, and I think that work on the Board of Education is one of the things I miss most about my service in the general Church headquarters, because that was a work where I absolutely knew the Lord’s Spirit was attending every discussion. Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ care very much about you and what you are doing and who stands in front of you and your leadership and how they’re conducting the business. It is an inspired work and an inspiring work, and it was always humbling and sweet to me to be part of that work. So thank you for being here. That’s a long introduction to say I’m glad I am here.
Well, now you know that about me, I would like to know a little bit more about you. So just raise your hand when I ask—this is just a straw poll, it doesn’t get me into your hearts and spirits, but I’d like to know. How many of you have served missions? Terrific. And how many are preparing to serve missions? And how many have had their hearts stirred by the announcement of missionary age? Mine has been stirred.
How many of you are from outside the United States? How many from Brazil? There are a lot of Brazilians here. I was baptized in Brazil, so I count myself as a Brazilian member. My certificate of baptism is in Portuguese, and I’m glad I can read it. I was one of the first members baptized in the Piñheros chapel in Sao Paulo, and now that chapel doesn’t exist. We’ve torn it down and put something else up instead—I think we built the temple on the proceeds. But I love Brazil and still yearn to go back. I’m trying to talk my children into going down for a visit. That’s my dream, is to take our children and their spouses to Brazil, to show them some of the places that I visited when I was a girl, and I want them to smell it. It smells so good in Brazil, doesn’t it? To eat the fruit, and the pao de caijo, and the rice and beans. When my grandchildren complain about school lunch, I say, “I had rice and beans every day for school lunch, and I never got tired of it.” I do love Brazil.
How many of you are from Utah? How many from the United States outside of Utah? Okay, wonderful. This is a great group. How many of you have family members in the Church? How many of you are the only member in your family? Terrific. How many of you belong to a Relief Society or priesthood quorum? I hope everybody. I’m just checking to see if you knew that about yourself.
Last night as I was checking into the hotel, I met a wonderful young woman named Melanie Hobby. Is her husband here? I need to shake your hand; you have a beautiful wife. She came out from behind the reception desk and gave me a hug and cried a little bit. And I learned about her life, and that you’d been married recently, and that she’s the only member of the Church in her family. I congratulate you both on your great new beginning. What a wonderful, sweet opportunity, it just was a tender mercy, letting me know that Heavenly Father wanted me here, that I happened to meet someone whose husband was going to school here.
The Sacrifice of My Grandmother Duella
Now, another reason to be here is that my grandmother [Duella Eyre Hamblin] was a student at LDS Business College. I wish I had brought her picture today. I had it in my hand last night. She had it taken here in Salt Lake City with some of her friends. It’s a beautiful picture, one of those formal ones from—we think it was taken about 1915. She grew up on a ranch in the Bridger Valley of Wyoming. It was not a prosperous ranch, and that is a hard, cold, windy place out on the pioneer trail. But she had a gift—a gift for music. She taught herself to play the piano, and as she grew up out in Lyman and Urie, Wyoming, she began to play the piano for all the Church events and accompany people singing. She had a marvelous contralto voice, so she decided she wanted to improve that ability. She saved her money and came to Salt Lake City to study with a great music professor in Salt Lake at that time. I think it was Brother Lund.
She stayed here a couple of years. While she was here, she sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and studied at LDS Business College until her money ran out, and then she went back to Wyoming and worked on her family’s ranch. Then, years later, she and my grandfather, who also grew up in that area, were married in the Salt Lake Temple and they moved to Murray, Utah, which is just south of Salt Lake here in the Valley. And there she began again serving—she was the organist or the accompanist in her ward for 60 years and also sang in choirs and small singing groups and double trios and so on. And then when she got too old to do that, she sponsored other singing groups, and they went around and sang at graduations and funerals and parties, and brought this gift of music, as you do today, into the lives of many, many people.
She had a little motto that she kept in her kitchen that said, “Let my life be music.” Now Grandma made that great sacrifice, and understood enough about music that she wanted it in her family’s lives. But they were poor. Grandma and Grandpa reared their family during the Great Depression. They experienced World War I and World War II. They never had much. They got an indoor bathroom when their children were in high school, so they worked a long time for that in their humble little place. But her life was music.
Then, over time, my mother got the chance to learn to play the trumpet. That’s because my grandfather had a prize pistol, a pistol he just loved. But a man at work was trying to sell a silver trumpet he had. He needed the money. And so my grandfather thought, “Well, I can’t pay him cash, but I can give him my pistol. And then he can sell the pistol.” So he traded the pistol for a trumpet, and it stayed under a bed in their home until my mother found it in second grade and took it to school. She learned to play the trumpet and eventually became the first chair in the All-State Band. I still remember my mother, even as the mission president’s wife in Brazil, she would play To the Colors to get everybody to come and raise the flag on American holidays, she would play the posting song of the Kentucky Derby to get everyone to come to dinner, and things like that.
But my mother, then as a little girl, began to love music, and she gave all of her children the chance to learn to play the piano and to learn to play other instruments, and we did the best we could.
Then came a time when our own children were born, and we had a chance, then, to give them music lessons. We had a little more money and a little more time, a little more prosperity. I inherited my grandmother’s piano, and that’s what our children were playing on—but we had a friend who was a national distributor for Kawai pianos, and he said, “I want you to have a grand piano.” So he helped us to get a grand piano. At the time, my husband was serving on the city council, and they would give him $100 a month, which could then disappear into our grocery bill. I said, “Let’s save that and buy this grand piano,” which we did. And our children began to practice on that piano and became quite experienced and good musicians. And they still all teach piano. That skill they acquired then enabled them to teach piano through high school and college years, and they graduated with no debt because of their ability to teach piano.
And now our grandchildren are still practicing on our piano. They come to our home and practice on it. And I kept for years this picture of my grandmother, on the piano, because I realized that after the sacrifice come the blessings. It tells us that in the Doctrine and Covenants, after the tribulation comes the blessings. (See Doctrine and Covenants 58:3-4)
My grandmother had no idea when she left home and left her little humble ranch up in that windy valley of Wyoming, what she was beginning. She just wanted to learn to play the piano better, and maybe sing with the Tabernacle Choir. But she started something amazing that has now carried on through generations. Many of my siblings have what I would call musical homes. They have children who play musical instruments. They’ve studied music, and music has enriched their lives. So when I think of my grandmother’s motto, “Let my life be music,” she has infused that now down into her great-great-grandchildren. And there’s no way you can put that all back in the bottle, can you? It’s just out there influencing, it’s in part of our DNA and our makeup.
So I’m thinking now about many of you. Some of you are here, maybe the first member of your family to go to college. How many of you think maybe you’re in that situation? And for many of you it is a sacrifice to be here in any case. Maybe somebody sacrificed before you to provide this blessing. But we’re all part of that pattern. And I remember many times as a mother with children practicing, and they used to call it “combat piano” in our house, because they’d wake up at 5:00 or 5:30 and they knew they had three hours or more to practice a day. That’s a job. It’s not just practicing, that’s a job, when you have that much material to cover.
So the piano would start early in our home. And I would often think, “I am sick and tired of this. I just want to sleep.” Or one of them wouldn’t want to practice, and then I’d have to go sit with them and practice. And we had one daughter, I think I sat with her every day for eight years, because I knew she had a gift, but she didn’t enjoy the work. And then after eight years she looked at me one day and said, “You can go do something else, Mom. I get it. I actually like it now.” And she’s probably the best piano teacher we have among our children, because she has so much empathy for her students and how much work it is when you don’t really want to do the work.
So those times when I would think I can’t really do it anymore, or this is too expensive, it requires too much sacrifice, I would think what price did she (my grandmother) pay so that we could have this opportunity, and when I meet her again, what will she say to me if I say, “It was too hard”? How can I make that excuse to her? I can never say it was too hard for me, when I know her sacrifice was greater. So her example kept me going.
Many of you fall into that category, where someone will look at your picture and say, “They made the sacrifice, and I reap the blessings. And now I have a responsibility to build on the sacrifice that they made.”
The Times We Live In
Now, I want to refer a little bit to the times we’re in, which is very much counter to what I’ve just been telling you about. In 2 Nephi 28:20-22, it tells about what’s happening in our day and the devil’s offense for you. The devil has a playbook of what he wants to accomplish with you in your life, and he’s playing it very well, and year by year, he actually gets more skillful at his offense.
So verse 20 says this: “Behold, at that day, [that means now] shall he [the devil] rage in the hearts of the children of men, [to] stir them up to anger against that which is good.” The adversary is using discontentment and anger and feelings of unhappiness to try and stir you up against things that are good. And he tries to stir me up against things that are good. And he stirs up the media, and people who will portray images and messages in the movies and everywhere you look you see this idea of people stirred up in anger against that which is good.
Everything that the Lord stands for and all the blessings of eternity that we know and understand, he stirs up anger toward. Just think of the concept of family and the anti-Christ teaching and belief that is infiltrating every facet of our lives regarding family, and the anger that is stirred up regarding that one foundational, core doctrine in our lives. So just think of what the devil is doing, stirring that up.
Now the next strategy is in verse 21: “Others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well.’ ” In our day, we call that apathy. Now start thinking about the apathetic teachings and principles that you hear—“It doesn’t really matter,” “Why are you worried about that,” and fill in the blank, about the things that are core doctrines in your life and fundamental to who you are as a child of God, and think about the apathetic infiltration that is coming in. And when we have apathy—apathy kills initiative. It kills the desire for work. It kills development and prosperity. So apathy is very, very dangerous.
All of you here today are showing just by your example of being here that you are counter-apathy. You don’t feel apathetic about some things. But it’s something to guard against, this idea of apathy. When you feel initiative, when you feel drive, when you feel motion, when you dream, when you feel hope, then you cannot feel apathetic. And the devil loves us to feel apathy in our lives and to say, “Oh, it doesn’t really matter.”
Now his third strategy is in verse 22: “Others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and… saith… I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from [which] there is no deliverance.”
Now flattery in our day, I like to call it entitlement—these feelings and beliefs that somebody deserves something. “I deserve…” and you can fill in the blanks. Sometimes I’ve even said, “I deserve a day off,” or “I deserve something new to wear,” or “I deserve…,” you fill in the blank. But the idea that we think we deserve something or that we’re entitled to something just by being alive is an anti-Christ doctrine and belief. This entitlement attitude kills the Spirit. It denies the Holy Ghost. It denies the divinity that is within us. It makes us nothing more than animals that sleep and drink and eat and want comfort. And so again, it’s anti-Christ. It’s anti what Christ taught when he said in the parable, “Here’s your talent. Develop it. Make it more. Make it grow. Build my kingdom. Do something to show that you carry my light within you and that the world will be different because that light has shown through you.” (See Matthew 25:14-30)
The person who feels entitled will never desire to show that light. It kills that light of the Savior in our lives. So I just find it fascinating that Nephi in his teaching nailed these three strategies of the devil so clearly, and that they haven’t changed. The devil’s playbook has not changed, because he gets results with this, and leads people carefully down to hell.
But when we know his offense and we know the Savior’s offense, then we can be in the game. We know what to guard against, what to defend against, what to work against. And the Savior’s plan is a plan of faith and hope and charity. How many times have we heard that. We look to the future, we keep trying, and we keep working. I love how this chapter, 2 Nephi 28, ends, where the Lord says in verse 30, “I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more.” The Lord will keep giving us more. There is no end to what He will give us line upon line and precept upon precept.
I’ve been fascinated over time with the teachings about the house of Israel being gathered in. At the end of 1 Nephi 22, it records the following about the Savior’s plans: “And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture.” (verse 25)
Aren’t those comforting words? There is nothing about anger, apathy, or entitlement in those words. This idea of “Come, Follow Me,” as you sang so beautifully, is what He says. In Him we will find pasture. And he [Nephi] writes here in 1 Nephi about the Lord preserving those that are righteous and that He [the Lord] will preserve them over time. (See 1 Nephi 22:17) And then he [Nephi] bears this testimony: “Ye need not suppose that I and my father are the only ones that have testified, and also taught them. Wherefore, if ye shall be obedient to the commandments, and endure to the end, ye shall be saved at the last day. And thus it is.”
Don’t you love those words? “Thus it is. Amen.” Nephi knew and understood the strategy of the devil, but he also knew the promise of the Savior, and that if he clung to the Savior with all his might and followed His doctrines and precepts, and endured to the end, he would be saved at that day. And that is the same promise we have today. This is not a day when you or I need to fear. We want the Lord’s blessings; it takes work. And your attendance at this school and all the sacrifices you make to be here and advance every day, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, are evidence that you have faith and hope and charity operating in your spirit.
Isn’t that amazing? And as long as you have that drive to learn, to become more than you are today, to build on the examples of good people in your life, and continue to build and be part of the Lord’s kingdom, you will have the Lord’s blessings.
Prayer and Scriptures
Now there are a couple of other thoughts I want to share. I have several talks here that I prepared for you. There’s the one I worked on for a while, and there’s the one I woke up with this morning, and there’s the one I thought of when I was sitting here when the songs were being sung, and then there’s the one you’re writing down, which is a completely different interpretation I imagine. I hope that as you’re here, some questions are coming to your mind, that thoughts specific to you are being written on your paper, because this is a time of revelation for you. You need to know that no matter where you are in the world, no matter how alone you feel, you can have the Lord’s help and revelation in your life, as a flowing stream.
I love the words that are in this book. [Referring to Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2011] How many of you have seen this book? Now, men, if you don’t have a copy, what would you say, Ramon? [Brother Beck: “I have a copy. And I’ve read it.”]
He has a copy. He’s read it multiple times. When this came off the printing press and I took my first copy home, Brother Beck absconded with it, and I never got it back. I had to go back to the printer and get my own copy. And when he teaches his high priests group, he takes his scriptures and this book, because he says it carries in it the Spirit of the Lord’s work and many true principles.
Now Sister Eliza R. Snow said this about personal revelation on page 46. She said that the Holy Ghost “satisfies and fills up every longing of the human [spirit], and fills up every vacuum.” Don’t you love that? It satisfies every longing of the human spirit, and fills up every vacuum. She said, “When I am filled with that Spirit … my soul is satisfied, and I can say in good earnest, that the trifling things of the day do not seem to stand in my way at all. But just let me lose my hold of that spirit and power of the Gospel, and partake of the spirit of the world, in the slightest degree, and trouble comes; there is something wrong. I am tried, and what will comfort me? You cannot impart comfort to me that will satisfy the immortal mind, but that which comes from the Fountain above. And is it not our privilege to so live that we can have this constantly flowing into our souls?” (Quoted in Daughters in My Kingdom, original source Eliza R. Snow, “An Address by Miss Eliza R. Snow,” Millennial Star, Jan. 13, 1874, 18)
We can have this Spirit “constantly flowing into our souls.” What an amazing promise. One of the things that I thought of this morning that I know somebody here needs to hear concerns prayer. Not long ago I thought I wanted to look for a new book to read. So I got online and was looking at the New York Times Bestsellers and just the little advertisement behind the books. And one of the books—I’m not going to tell you the name because I don’t want you to read it—and I didn’t read it, but just the introduction of it was telling about a man’s process of dying, and he was telling it the “honest” way, without the “crutch” of God, basically, a “how to” help people die without the help of God. And I thought, if I knew I were dying, my most important partner would have to be God.
Now all of us are going to die, and President Monson gave a tremendous message about that a couple of years ago. He said it is the inevitable thing. (See “He Is Risen,” Ensign, April 2003) And we not only need Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ in our process of life, but in preparing for life with Them. That is what we know life will be. And prayer—when prayer becomes a craving in your life, when you breathe prayer, when you dream prayer, when you sigh prayer and cry prayer and you love praying, then you begin to know some things about Heavenly Father and His Son and what they know about you and how loved and trusted you are, and their confidence in you and their patience as you’re learning.
Prayer is free. It doesn’t cost you anything. You don’t have to go anywhere special to pray. It can be with you and part of you in your life. And if you’ve ever felt that way about prayer and you don’t feel that way now, that’s a goal, that prayer becomes part of you, not an event. And the scriptures—when the scriptures become your friend, when they become your thesaurus and your dictionary, when they become your companion and your teacher, then the Lord can use them and open them for your benefit, you will find verses you didn’t know existed, and you’ll be blessed by words that you’re seeking in your life.
A number of years ago I made probably the wisest decision I’ve made outside of marrying Brother Beck. I decided that every day was a scripture day. At the time I was wrestling with several scripture-reading goals, because I was in a religion class and they had me read this much; and Sunday School wants you to read this, and Relief Society wanted me to read this, and the stake presidency came out with a scripture-reading goal, and our bishop had a scripture-reading goal, and I was overwhelmed with all my scripture assignments and failing in all of them, because I couldn’t get to all of my scripture-reading assignments. All of those assignments were well-intended, but they were helping me to feel a failure with regard to getting my job done.
So I knelt down and I made a promise to Heavenly Father. And I promised him that I would not try and do all those goals, but that I would spend some time in the Scriptures every day for the rest of my life. That was it. And if I would spend some time in the Scriptures every day of my life, would He be willing to bless me with an understanding of the Scriptures in the time I spent? So you’ll notice that’s a very open-ended goal. Some time in the Scriptures every day. So since then, sometimes I read in the mornings. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the day. Sometimes it’s at night, just before I fall asleep or as I’m falling asleep. Sometimes I get an hour to spend in the Scriptures, and sometimes I get a moment to spend in the Scriptures, but it’s some time in the Scriptures every day, until it’s like the air I breathe, that it would be impossible to live without some “oxygen” that I get from the Scriptures.
Now, brothers and sisters, you’ve been promised over and over again that the Lord knows who you are and not to worry. You’ve also been told over and over again that you’re special, that you’re the rising generation, you’re amazing, you’re super, and you’ve been preserved for this day. Am I telling you what you’ve heard?
I want you to know that when Brother Beck and I and President and Sister Richards were youth of your age, they told us the same thing. And they weren’t lying, but we’re old now. What makes you special and us special is that we have made covenants. That’s what separates us. And those covenants obligate us. We’re not designated out for a free hall pass, because we’re special. It means because we have made covenants, we are designated to do specific work on behalf of the Lord, and because of that, Satan wants to play his offense in your life every day. He’d like to take you off the Lord’s plan for you.
But this I promise you today: you can plan, at this time in your life, to do the things the prophets have promised you you can do. You can plan to go to school and finish, and work, and prosper, if you follow the Lord’s principles of righteous living. There are examples over and over in the Scriptures of the Lord prospering and preserving His people in the midst of adversity, and it makes no difference what the world chooses to do. The Lord will help you and preserve you and strengthen you if you are on the path toward our Heavenly Father’s plan for you.
I promise you, as prophets have promised you, that if you will form eternal families and push ahead with that responsibility in spite of how ominous it looks and difficult, you’ll be blessed, because that is the Lord’s plan for you. I promise you, if you continue to share the gospel and participate in temple and family history work and in taking care of the poor and the needy as the Lord has asked you to do—that’s through your home teaching and your visiting teaching and all the assignments you get in the Church, through the rest of your life, you will get the same blessings promised to all Heavenly Father’s people through all time who participate in that kind of life. And you need not fear or doubt or be angry or apathetic or feel entitled. You just need to be the Lord’s partner in your life and in His work.
I bear testimony to you that this Church is the Church of Jesus Christ for His Latter-day Saints, that He is at the helm and is doing His marvelous work and a wonder that He has promised He would do. Your evidence here and where you are coming from in all parts of the world is testimony and proof of that…one of the proofs. I also testify that His work is carried on today under the direction of a living prophet who has the keys to carry out this work, and that the work is going on quicker and quicker. You can be part of that, and feel that intensity and that joy and the effort that it takes.
I also have my own personal testimony about Heavenly Father’s children, of whom you are some, that He has a plan for each one of us that’s individual and specific, and He has a plan for us as a people, to build His kingdom. I have seen that happen over and over again as I have traveled in the world.
I leave you my love and my confidence and my understanding of who we are as Heavenly Father’s children, and my belief and firm faith that everything the Lord has told us will happen, will happen. And that we’re living in a marvelous, amazing time. What a privilege it is for us. Thank you for the spirit you brought into my life today, and for all you are trying to do, for all your sacrifices, and for all the things you are striving to overcome to be who you need to be. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.