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Lori Olsen

Look Up!

Lori Olsen
Lori Olsen
Integrity and Compliance Manager

Lori Olsen joined Ensign College full-time in 2019. Prior to that she taught several adjunct classes in a wide variety of departments including paralegal, communication, and business for four years and worked in federal and state government. She received a bachelor’s degree with honors and master’s in public administration from Brigham Young University. She also has a law degree from BYU Law School.




Look Up!

I want to thank President Kusch and his leadership team for giving me this opportunity to speak with you today. I love Ensign College, and you, the wonderful students and employees. The Spirit of the Lord can be felt powerfully on this campus. When I was a teacher here, there were many times, often late at night after teaching a class, where I would wander the halls of the college, looking at inspiring artwork, lingering and enjoying the powerful Spirit that is here. This is, in part, because of the Spirit you bring, so thank you very much for that. It’s truly an honor to be with you in this historic building. Thank you for that beautiful hymn, great prayer and testimony. I pray that all of us will be taught by the Holy Ghost today.

Elder Carl B. Cook told a story in general conference several years ago. [1] He was in the elevator in the Church Office Building after a particularly trying day, just a week after being called to be a general authority. His briefcase was overloaded and he wondered how he could possibly do what he had been called to do. He stared down blankly at the elevator floor. As he traveled in the elevator, the door opened and he continued looking down, not noticing that President Monson had walked in, until he recognized President Monson’s voice who said: “What are you looking at down there?” [2] President Monson smiled at him and lovingly suggested, while pointing heavenward: “It’s better to look up!” [3]

Do you ever feel the way Elder Cook felt? Does it feel hard to keep up with the demands of life? Does it feel hard to turn in your many assignments and still go to your job? Do you wonder what you should study, where you should work, or how to ask someone on a date? Do you ever feel overwhelmed, anxious, discouraged, or afraid of the future? Let’s remember the words of President Monson and “Look UP!” [4]

The Savior said, “Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not.” [5] President Nelson has said: “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.” [6] “It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought. But, when we do, our doubts and fears flee.” [7] I testify that as we look to the Savior in every thought, our doubts and fears will flee.

Today, I want to share six ways in which we can look to our Savior and thus feel joy and confidence, “regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in your life.” [8] I pray that the Spirit will teach and inspire you with one or two specific ways which you can more fully look to the Savior.

So, first, as Elder Cook has taught, look up, not down or around.

A few years ago, I worked in downtown Salt Lake and would occasionally take a break from work and walk around Liberty Park. As I walked, I was shocked when, one day, I saw a huge bald eagle fly directly toward me and land on a tree branch about 20 feet in front of me. The bald eagle got so close I could literally hear its wings pump the air as it flew past me. I watched in shock and awe and felt the majesty of this beautiful bald eagle as it flew so close to me. After a few seconds of watching it, I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed the bald eagle. I watched runners and walkers jog past me with their headphones in and their heads down, totally unaware of this beautiful bald eagle, just a few feet above their head. I stopped them and pointed upwards, showing them the beautiful eagle just above their heads.

When we look down, we are missing out. The upward view is amazing. My friends, let’s remember to look up! Look up to our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is majestic, strong, and ready to help us.

One more story to emphasize this point. The first time I remember really driving a car was when I was about 15 or 16. My dad and I were in the parking lot of the local elementary school, and it was my first lesson on driving. I was excited, but also nervous. As I drove the car forward, I noticed a group of kids off to my right, many of whom, I realized, I knew. Suddenly the car I was driving started heading towards those kids and the sidewalk. My dad outstretched his hand, thumping the dash, reminding me to look forward. Because I had been looking at my friends, that’s where the car started to go. It’s a true principle of driving and of life that you go where you look.

So, WHERE have you been looking? Where should you be looking? Are you looking around at what others think of you, or say about you, or are you looking up to God and what He thinks of you? Are you looking at Google, social media, movies, or YouTube videos? Are you looking forward to a joyful reunion and eternal life with your family, Heavenly Parents and Savior, Jesus Christ?

Remember, you go where you look. Where will your looks and thoughts take you? Are you going to jog through life looking down about life, and your future, or will you choose faith and look up?

2. Look up to understand who you are and whose you are

President Nelson taught, “Jesus often established his own identity, then the identity of his followers.” [9] When Christ came to the people of Ancient America he taught who he is: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. . . [10] I am the God of Israel and the God of the Whole Earth.” [11]

After explaining who he was, he then explained who his followers are. [12] “And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed [13] . . . . because ye are the children of the covenant." [14] Like the Savior, President Nelson has taught about who you really are. “You are each a child of God . . . a child of the covenant, and a disciple of Jesus Christ.” [15] As His child, you belong with Him.

As a child of God, and a child of the covenant, you have the capacity to do so much good. The mission of Ensign College is to help you become capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ.

As you gather Israel, as President Nelson has asked you to do, [16] “all the kindreds of the earth will be blessed.” [17]

Look Up, and understand who you are and whose you are.

3. Look Up and discover the expansive power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

As we look to the Savior, let us remember that Jesus Christ and his healing and redemptive power is more expansive than we can imagine. He truly is “mighty to save.” [18] He is “mightier than all the earth” and can do even more than you ask or think He can do. [19]

Elder Matthew Holland taught, “We must never forget that the very purpose of repentance is to take certain misery and transform it into pure bliss.” [20] Talk about a miracle! I love how expansive and healing the atonement of Jesus Christ is.

Jesus Christ suffered for our sins, “that [we] might not suffer if [we] would repent.” [21] The atonement of Jesus Christ can redeem us from sin and incredibly also from death. Yet, mercifully, it can also cover our own honest mistakes, the mistakes or actions of others, including the effects of those mistakes, and forces beyond our control. [22] Have you ever thought about Alma the Younger? The one who went about persecuting the church of God, leading people to iniquity. He eventually had a miraculous experience, repented, and felt exquisite joy. [23] How could Alma experience exquisite joy [24] if the people he had led away were not okay? [25] Can he undo what he did and the affect he had on them? [26]

We all have made decisions that hurt ourselves and others, many of which we can’t undo or fix.

Elder Boyd K. Packer taught, “The thought that rescued Alma… [was] this: Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and you cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ.” [27] "The joyous truth . . . was not just that [Alma] himself could be made clean but also that those whom he had harmed could be healed and made whole.” [28] I love this expansive view of the atonement of Jesus Christ! It truly is infinite in what it covers and how it can heal us. Elder Matthew Holland said, “Regardless of the causes of our worst hurts and heartaches, the ultimate source of relief is the same: Jesus Christ.” [29]

Isaiah said: “ ... he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, . . . to give unto them beauty  for ashes.” [30] The Book of John says, “your sorrow shall be turned to joy.” [31]

Because of Jesus Christ you don’t have to regret and worry about the past, and you don’t have to worry about the future. Instead, look up and move forward with faith. President Nelson taught, “True repentance . . . is fundamental to progression and having peace of mind, comfort, and joy.” [32] I pray that you can be filled with peace and joy, now, tomorrow, and forever. [33]

Look up and discover the expansive power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

4. Look up, trust God, and receive all things with thankfulness

My great-great-grandmother, Anthonette Marie Olsen Lybbert, joined the church in Oslo, Norway. As a child she worked in the textile factories from 6 in the morning to 9 at night.

At 16, she joined the church and was excited to join the saints in Zion. As the oldest child, she was the first in her family to emigrate to Utah. She had 2 dresses and one pair of shoes. She took a train to Florence, Nebraska and then began to walk. After 300 miles her shoes wore out. She asked another sister if she could switch a dress for an extra pair of shoes the sister had but was refused. So she walked in her socks, each night mending the holes with the fabric from men’s pants she had somehow received. [34]

“I walked for miles and miles,” she said, “The cactus patches hurt my feet. I ate no supper the entire journey as there was none to be had. At night I lay down on the sand with my bag under my head for a pillow. I had no quilt.” She watched people die from starvation, a cattle stampede, and other dangers. She said, “We starved all of us, shamefully part of the time. When I understood to cross the plains, I resolved to have a peaceable, agreeable spirit from the beginning to the end of our journey. I prayed that I might not succumb to the weakness that beset the ancient Israelites. . . I can truly say I was not angry once during the trip.” [35]

Despite many problems, misjudgments, and life-threatening circumstances, her resolve to not murmur or complain is an incredible example to me! Her faithfulness and trust in the Lord still blesses her posterity today.

The scriptures say, “in everything give thanks.” [36] When I was a teacher here and it was my turn to give the spiritual thought in class, I would often share this scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants section 78, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious.” [37] I would issue the challenge that for one week, no matter what happened, whether at first it appeared a good or a bad thing, to find a way to give thanks and receive whatever happened with thankfulness. Many students accepted this challenge, and I was amazed at the experiences they had.

One student who worked at a restaurant said that one evening, just before closing, a customer came in and ordered food and then stayed there for almost an hour past closing. This in turn, meant she stayed much later than she normally would as she still needed to clean up after he left. In the past, she would have tried to shoo the customer out, so she could get on with her cleaning, and get home, but instead, she chose to give thanks, and patiently waited for him. Her boss noticed her good attitude and as a result, gave her a promotion. This is one of several powerful experiences’ students shared of when they chose to give thanks, no matter what.

My great-great-grandmother, Nettie Lybbert, gave thanks for the starvation she experienced in Norway. [38] She said that helped her withstand the starvation on the plains, while others who weren’t used to it, perished. What an example of receiving all things with thankfulness! I invite you to take the gratitude challenge and no matter what happens (or doesn’t happen), for the next week, --- receive it with thankfulness.

Look up, trust God, and receive all things with thankfulness

5. Look up, and be quick to follow the prophet

When I was a child, the church went from meetings throughout the day on Sunday, to having three hours of church meetings back-to-back. At that time, the church said, this “consolidated meeting schedule reemphasizes personal and family responsibility for learning, living, and teaching the gospel and to allow for more time for personal gospel study.” [39]

My dad was a newly called bishop at the time, and he took this prophetic counsel seriously. He scheduled bishopric meetings early in the morning on Sunday and Tuesday evening, so that, he could be home around Sunday morning for family gospel study.

We often had church at 1 in the afternoon, and under the direction of my faithful parents we held gospel study from around 9 to 12:30 pm, for 3-4 hours every Sunday. They did a variety of activities to help us teach and share the gospel with each other. It was in family gospel study that I felt my testimony and knowledge of the gospel really begin to grow.

As was mentioned in the introduction, I am one of 12 children and now my parents have over 50 grandchildren. There were many things my parents did right, but I honestly attribute a lot of the happiness and unity my family has had and continues to have, to that decision my parents made to follow the prophet and be home on Sunday, teaching their children the gospel. I am so grateful for parents who followed the counsel of prophets, to spend time on Sunday teaching their children the gospel. It has greatly blessed my life and my family’s life.

President Nelson has also emphasized home-centered church and that parents have the primary responsibility to teach doctrine to their children. [40] Just recently at a worldwide broadcast, President Nelson asked taught that this is a “singular time” in your life and the young adults of the church to “make your testimony the highest priority in your life. [41] Work for it. Own it. Care for it. Nurture it so it will grow. Feed it truth. . . Nourish yourself in the words of ancient and modern prophets. . . Ask the Lord to teach you how to hear him better. As you make your testimony your highest priority, watch for miracles to happen in your life.” [42]

President Nelson also invited, “There is nothing happening on this earth more important than gathering Israel for Him. . .This is the mission for which you have been sent to earth . . . Let your Heavenly Father know that you want to help. Ask Him to put you to work in this glorious cause.” [43]

As we sang earlier: “Israel, Israel, God is calling. [44] ” God is calling you to help gather Israel. Let Him know you want to help.

As a young boy, my grandpa found the scriptures to be dull and boring. Knowing this he prayed and asked the Lord to “make spiritual things interesting to him.” [45] That prayer was answered. Throughout his life spiritual things became very interesting to him and he served in the church in many capacities including as a mission president, temple president, regional representative, and patriarch. He even wrote a book about the Bible. As an older man he loved marking up and reading his scriptures. The Lord answered his prayer.

You too can pray and set a great trajectory for your life, as President Nelson has asked you to do. [46] President Benson said, “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys. . . Raise up friends and pour out peace.” [47] I know that if you act on these invitations from President Nelson, you will be blessed and will be an instrument for doing much good.

When you are making life decisions or have questions about anything, search out what prophets have taught and align your life with that counsel. If you do, you will not be led astray. Trusting God is a powerful principle. Trust God. I am so grateful for parents who trusted in the Lord and acted on the words of prophets and apostles. Doing so continues to bless my family today.

Look up, and be quick to follow the Prophet

6.  Lastly, look up, and see His hand in your life. Choose God to be your God.

The scripture I chose for my mission plaque was: “ Trust in the Lord with all thine heart ; and lean not unto thine own understanding . In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths .” [48]

When I was in college, I prayed and asked God to guide me in my decisions – in my education, work, and relationships. I asked for his help and guidance, listened, and moved forward as best I could. I can honestly say I’ve seen the hand of the Lord guiding me in every aspect of my life, sometimes in very miraculous ways, even though there have been other moments and years, where it may not have seemed that way.

At times, I’ve been surprised when answers to prayer revealed a timing different than what I thought would be best. I’ve seen God answer prayers in the past with exactness and guide me according to his word, and so I continue to trust Him.

Sister Camille Johnson taught us to let Christ author your story.” [49] If you ask, and listen, I know He will guide you too. The Savior said, “[B]e of good cheer , for I will lead you along.” [50] Seek to know and do God’s will. Seek to serve Him and His children. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. [51] This is the way to happiness.

Recently, I witnessed a few of my nieces and nephews marking up the Book of Mormon with colored pencils. I was surprised because I knew they could barely read. I found that they would look carefully at each page for the words “God, Jesus, or Lord” and mark the words they found. These young children were diligently looking for God and they found him! Are you looking for God in your life? If you look for it, I promise you will see the hand of the Lord in your life. [52]

Elder Maxwell taught, “God, who oversees the interlacing of galaxies, stars, and worlds, asks us to confess His hand in our personal lives, too. [Truly], God is in the details of our lives!” The primary song says, “He is always near me, though I do not see Him there, And because He loves me dearly, I am in His watchful care.” [53] I know this to be true. Nephi taught, “And he loveth those who will have him to be their God.” [54] And what a magnificent God He is!

President Nelson said, “In all of eternity, no one will ever know you or care about you more than He does. . . He will deliver you from your most excruciating circumstances in His own way. As you come unto Him in faith, He will guide, preserve, and protect you.” [55]

“Faith in Jesus Christ is the greatest power available to us in this life. ” [56] “[It] enables the unlikely to accomplish the impossible.” [57] It’s okay if you feel weak. Make covenants that bind you to God. Connect to God and have faith in Him and you will be made strong.

Look up and see His hand in your life. Choose God to be your God.

As I conclude, I pray that the Spirit has taught you one or two things that you can do, perhaps starting today, to look to Jesus Christ more fully in every thought and trust him more.

Let us remember to:

  • Look up, not down or around. Jesus Christ is waiting to heal us and help us. We just have to take our headphones out and look up to Him in faith.
  • Look up, to know who you are, and whose you are.
  • Look up and believe in the expansive power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • Look up, trust God, and receive all things with thankfulness.
  • Look up and be quick to follow prophetic counsel and be blessed.
  • Look up and see God’s hand in your life. Choose God to be your God.

He will be with you more than you think.

I pray that you and I will “watch our thoughts” [58] and look to Christ, in “every thought, doubt not, and fear not.” [59] As we do so, we will find the peace that passeth all understanding [60] and become one with Him.

Truly, we have every reason in the world to look up!
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Carl B. Cook, “It Is Better to Look Up,” Ensign, November 2011.
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Doctrine and Covenants 6:36
[6] President Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign, November 2016.
[7] President Russel M. Nelson, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into our Lives,” Ensign, April 2017.
[8] President Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign, November 2016.
[9] President Russell M. Nelson, “Children of the Covenant,” Ensign, May 1995.
[10] 3 Nephi 11:10
[11] 3 Nephi 11:14
[12] Russell M. Nelson, “Children of the Covenant,” Ensign, May 1995.
[13] 3 Nephi 20:25
[14] 3 Nephi 20:26
[15] President Russell M. Nelson, “Choices for Eternity,” May 15, 2022, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, .
[16] President Russell M. Nelson, “Hope of Israel,” June 3, 2018, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, .
[17] 3 Nephi 20:25
[18] Alma 34:18
[19] Ephesians 3:20
[20]Matthew Holland, “The Exquisite Gift of the Son,” Liahona, November 2020.
[21] Doctrine and Covenants 19:16
[22] Matthew S. Holland, “The Exquisite Gift of the Son” Liahona, November 2020, Elder James Rasband, “Ensuring a Righteous Judgment,” Liahona, May 2020.
[23] Matthew S. Holland, “The Exquisite Gift of the Son” Liahona, November 2020, Elder James Rasband, “Ensuring a Righteous Judgment,” May 2020, Liahona; Alma 36:21
[24] Alma 36:21
[25] Elder James Rasband, “Ensuring a Righteous Judgment,” Liahona, May 2020, Matthew S. Holland, “The Exquisite Gift of the Son” Liahona, November 2020.
[26] Id.
[27] President Boyd K. Packer, “The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign, November 1995.
[28] James R. Rasband, “Ensuring a Righteous Judgment,” Liahona, May 2020.
[29] Matthew S. Holland, “The Exquisite Gift of the Son” Liahona, November 2020.
[30] Isaiah 61:3
[31] John 16:16, 20
[32] President Russell M. Nelson, “Four Gifts that Jesus Christ Offers to You,” Christmas Devotional, December, 2018, .
[33] Matthew S. Holland, “The Exquisite Gift of the Son” Liahona, November 2020.
[34] Anthonette Marie Olsen Lybbert on Family Search, , and Sherilyn G Smith, edited from “The Christian Olsen Family Book of Remembrance” pages 9-24, “My Memoirs” – by Mary S. W, Lybbert, Lybbert Book of Remembrance.
[35] Life Sketch of Anthonette Marie Olsen Lybbert, Published in the Vernal Express Newspaper, June 2, 1932 .
[36] 1 Thessalonians 5:18
[37] Doctrine and Covenants 78:19
[38] Life Sketch of Anthonette Marie Olsen Lybbert, Published in the Vernal Express Newspaper, June 2, 1932 .
[39] “Church Consolidates Meeting Schedule,” Ensign, March 1980, .
[40] President Russel M. Nelson, “Opening Remarks,” Ensign, November 2018.
[41] President Russell M. Nelson, “Choices for Eternity,” May 15, 2022, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, .
[42] Id.
[43] Id. Italics included.
[44] Richard Smyth, “Israel, Israel, God is Calling,” Hymn Book, #7, .
[45] Complied by Lori Olsen, Stories from My Grandparents, self-published 2022.
[46] President Russell M. Nelson, “Choices for Eternity,” May 15, 2022, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, .
[47] President Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ- Gifts and Expectations” BYU Devotional June 10, 1974.
[48] Proverbs 3: 5-6
[49] Camille N. Johnson, “Invite Christ to Author Your Story,” Liahona, November 2021.
[50] Doctrine and Covenants 78:18
[51] Matthew 6:33
[52] Matthew 7:8
[53] “If the Savior Stood Beside Me,” (New Era), .
[54] 1 Nephi 17:40
[55] President Russell M. Nelson, “Choices for Eternity,” May 15, 2022, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, .
[56] President Russell M. Nelson, “Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains,” Liahona, May 2021.
[57] Id.
[58] Mosiah 4:30
[59] Doctrine and Covenants 6:36
[60] Philippians 4:7


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