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A Recap of What Living Prophets Said About Family History in General Conference April 2018

A Recap of What Living Prophets Said About Family History in General Conference April 2018

Each person who listens to General Conference has the opportunity to listen to the messages prepared and have different messages speak to their hearts. This most recent General Conference, one of the central themes that stuck out to me was the importance of doing family history work, so I wanted to take some time to collect what was said for my personal edification and thought I would share it with you all here as well!

Saturday Afternoon Session 

"Young Women In The Work" by Bonnie L. Oscarson 

Sister Oscarson mentioned family history work as one of many areas that young women can be involved in in contributing to their wards and families. She noted the example of

"several young women in the Las Vegas area who have been called to serve as ward temple and family history consultants. They were glowing with enthusiasm about being able to teach and help members of their ward find their ancestors. They had valuable skills on the computer, had learned how to use FamilySearch, and were excited to share that knowledge with others. It was clear that they had testimonies and an understanding of the importance of seeking out the names of our deceased ancestors so that essential saving ordinances can be performed for them in the temple."

Read the full talk here.

Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing by Elder Dale G. Renlund

Elder Renlund shared an example of the healing power of family history as he told the story of brothers Orson and Parley Pratt--brothers who had had a falling out and were then able to reconcile following the softening of hearts brought about by family history. Elder Renlund shares:

"When God directs us to do one thing, He often has many purposes in mind. Family history and temple work is not only for the dead but blesses the living as well. For Orson and Parley, it turned their hearts to each other. Family history and temple work provided the power to heal that which needed healing."

He continues:

"As Church members, we do have a divinely appointed responsibility to seek out our ancestors and compile family histories. This is far more than an encouraged hobby, because the ordinances of salvation are necessary for all of God’s children."

He then goes on to provide a bulleted list of healing blessings we gain access to by participating in family history and temple work. "

  • Increased understanding of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice;
  • Increased influence of the Holy Ghost7 to feel strength and direction for our own lives;
  • Increased faith, so that conversion to the Savior becomes deep and abiding;
  • Increased ability and motivation to learn and repent8 because of an understanding of who we are, where we come from, and a clearer vision of where we are going;
  • Increased refining, sanctifying, and moderating influences in our hearts;
  • Increased joy through an increased ability to feel the love of the Lord;
  • Increased family blessings, no matter our current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect our family tree may be;
  • Increased love and appreciation for ancestors and living relatives, so we no longer feel alone;
  • Increased power to discern that which needs healing and thus, with the Lord’s help, serve others;
  • Increased protection from temptations and the intensifying influence of the adversary; and
  • Increased assistance to mend troubled, broken, or anxious hearts and make the wounded whole.9"

After sharing the story of a heart transplant recipient, Rod, with his donor family and the blessings experienced there, he reminds us of the words of President Russell M. Nelson. 

"We can be inspired all day long about temple and family history experiences others have had. But we must do something to actually experience the joy ourselves...I invite you to prayerfully consider what kind of sacrifice—preferably a sacrifice of time—you can make [to] do more temple and family history work"

This talk was one of my personal favorites from this conference on family history, and I love the list of blessings he gives, as well as the reminder of the directive from President Nelson! Read the full talk here.

Sunday Morning Session

Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives by President Russel M. Nelson

Speaking of receiving revelation, President Nelson said:

"Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!”13
Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon,14and regular time committed to temple and family history work.
To be sure, there may be times when you feel as though the heavens are closed. But I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow. That is what personal revelation will do for you." (Emphasis added)
What an amazing promise from a prophet of God! Read the full talk here.

Sunday Afternoon Session

Prepare to Meet God by Elder Quentin L. Cook

Speaking of the restoration of priesthood keys in the Kirtland temple, Elder Cook reminds us that Elijah restored the

keys of the sealing power in this dispensation, which is family history work and temple ordinances enabling salvation for the living and the dead.12".

He goes on to say:

"Family history work, heaven-blessed by technology, has dramatically increased in the past few years. We would be unwise to become complacent about this divinely appointed responsibility and expect that Aunt Jane or some other committed relative will take care of it. Let me share President Joseph Fielding Smith’s jarring comments: “None is exempt from this great obligation. It is required of the apostle as well as the humblest elder [or sister]. Place, or distinction, or long service in the Church … will not entitle one to disregard the salvation of one’s dead.”16

We now have temples across the world and the resources of the patron assistance fund to help those in need who are far from a temple.

As individuals, we would do well to evaluate our effort in pursuing missionary work, temple and family history work, and preparations to meet God."

Read the full talk here.

Let Us All Press On by President Russell M. Nelson

While not overtly referencing family history as the previous talks have done, I thought that President Nelson's parting words deserved a place here as well. He admonished:

"I exhort you to study the messages of this conference frequently—even repeatedly—during the next six months. Conscientiously look for ways to incorporate these messages in your family home evenings, your gospel teaching, your conversations with family and friends, and even your discussions with those not of our faith. Many good people will respond to the truths taught in this conference when offered in love. And your desire to obey will be enhanced as you remember and reflect upon what you have felt these past two days."

Then later continued:

"Our message to the world is simple and sincere: we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life.2"

Read the full talk here.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to have guidance and direction from living prophets and look forward to studying their messages in the coming months? What were your favorite quotes from General Conference? Share them in the comments below!

Also, if you're a visual person and think that having a visual representation of your family history would help motivate you, come check out our modern family tree charts and preview your personal family history in the template of your choice for free!

*For those of you who aren't familiar with LDS General Conference, it is an opportunity for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (and anyone else who would like to participate!) world-wide to hear inspiring messages and direction from our living prophets and apostles.You can watch and read sessions of General Conference at lds.org.

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Honouring Our Fathers and Mothers Throughout The Year

Honouring Our Fathers and Mothers Throughout The Year

The majority of the Christian world will be familiar with the fifth commandment given to Moses on the top of Mount Sinai: 

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12)

In pondering the subject of honoring our parents as prompted by its inclusion as part of the LDS Church's #LightTheWorld campaign, I had the privilege to read this talk given by Dallin H. Oaks in the April 1991 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Of this commandment, he writes:

"The commandment to honor our parents has strands that run through the entire fabric of the gospel. It is inherent in our relationship to God our Father. It embraces the divine destiny of the children of God. This commandment relates to the government of the family, which is patterned after the government of heaven.
The commandment to honor our parents echoes the sacred spirit of family relationships in which—at their best—we have sublime expressions of heavenly love and care for one another. We sense the importance of these relationships when we realize that our greatest expressions of joy or pain in mortality come from the members of our families.
Other manifestations of this commandment include the bearing and care of children, the preparation of family histories, and efforts to see that the ordinances of eternity are performed for our departed ancestors."
He then goes on to talk about some of the ways that each of us can honor our parents. Although many of these can be applied to each of us at any age  some suggestions he gives for children and youth are obedience, respect, and emulation; for the middle-aged, caring for parents when required; for those whose parents have passed on family reunions, family history and honoring causes for which your parents spent their strength.
perfect family tree gift for grandparents
I will be eternally grateful for parents who continue to teach me good principles, mentor me, love me and whose example I wish to emulate. When I had the opportunity to become a mother myself just over a year ago, the reality of what my parents have done for me thus far was made that much more apparent to me--I was that much more grateful. I believe that this is a pattern that will continue. The more I come to know of the world and of life, the more I will appreciate my parents and seek to honor them.
honor thy mother
As part of the #LightTheWorld campaign, there are a few suggestions for how to honor your parents today:

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Family Tree Builder: A Dual Definition

Family Tree Builder: A Dual Definition

The phrase "family tree builder" has a dual meaning--both important, very connected, but vastly different. One is a tool, the other is a person. I'm no Webster, but I hope you'll bear with me.

Definition 1:

family tree builder: (n) a tool used to create a physical or digital family tree for display as a reminder of those who came before.

In this context, Family Tree Prints is a family tree builder. It's a tool that helps people create digital files of beautiful, custom family trees that they can then print anywhere they'd like. It allows you to pull in your genealogy directly from FamilySearch or a GEDCOM file to speed up the process, modify colors, add a text decal, etc. to end up with a gorgeous genealogy wall chart that's as unique as your family history is. We need family tree builders to help to create wall-worthy family trees while also in saving us time, effort, and stress in the creation process. 

But who is it looking to use family tree builders as defined in this first context? It's family tree builders in a second context.

Definition 2:

family tree builder: (n) a person who strengthens the bonds between generations, finds their ancestors who are lost and comes to know them, keeps a record of the current generation to aid posterity, preserves memories, etc.

As we look to our ancestors and have a desire to remember and know them better, we become family tree builders ourselves. Genealogy work has developed a reputation for being difficult, time-consuming and intimidating. Some aspects of it are. But some are not, so why not start where you are, with what you're comfortable with and then allow yourself to grow and stretch? Hang a family tree where you can see it and be reminded of your ancestors often. Allow yourself to develop curiosity about the names you see. Learn their stories. Record memories of your siblings, parents, and grandparents. Keep a journal and take pictures for your own posterity. When you feel directed and inspired to, ask for help in finding the names of your ancestors who are yet unknown. As you develop relationships with your own family, you are building your family tree.

When I think of my own process of becoming a family tree builder in my family, a quote by Jeffrey R. Holland in the April 2017 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints comes to mind: "Come as you are,...Don't plan to stay as you are." As you begin where you are, with what you can do, you can become a family tree builder for your own family and strengthen the bonds of forever. 

Want to get started making your own printable family tree? Read this post or get started immediately!

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Am I A Strong Link In My Family's Chain of Forever?

Am I A Strong Link In My Family's Chain of Forever?

"Am I a strong link in my family's chain of forever?" It's a question I found myself asking this evening as I read Bridges and Eternal Keepsakes, a talk given by Elder

Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Quorum of the Seventy in an LDS General Conference in April 1999. Yep... a long time ago, but still relevant. In the talk Elder Neuenschwander spoke of a Christmas when he watched his father (aged 89) and his oldest grandchild (aged 4) enjoying each others company, and how it struck him how fleeting his grandson's memories of his father would be. Then comes the following passage:

"Not one of my children has any recollection of my grandparents. If I want my children and grandchildren to know those who still live in my memory, then I must build the bridge between them. I alone am the link to the generations that stand on either side of me. It is my responsibility to knit their hearts together through love and respect, even though they may never have known each other personally. My grandchildren will have no knowledge of their family’s history if I do nothing to preserve it for them. That which I do not in some way record will be lost at my death, and that which I do not pass on to my posterity, they will never have. The work of gathering and sharing eternal family keepsakes is a personal responsibility. It cannot be passed off or given to another."

What am I doing to gather and share eternal family keepsakes? Food for thought.

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Taking Up a 37 Year Old Challenge: Leaving Behind More Than A Name on a Pedigree Chart

Taking Up a 37 Year Old Challenge: Leaving Behind More Than A Name on a Pedigree Chart

Great emphasis is placed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in genealogy and family history work because of our belief in the eternal nature of families. In preparing to participate in General Conference this weekend, I turned to past talks given in General Conferences pertaining to family history and read Writing Your Personal and Family History by Elder John H. Groberg, given in 1980.

He spoke about the importance of writing your personal history. 

By writing personal and family histories and doing the research required thereby, we inevitably have our hearts turned to our fathers as well as to our children. The Lord says this must happen, “lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:6). Let us not be part of a curse.
Also, by writing personal and family histories, we are helped immeasurably in gaining a true, eternal perspective of life. Writing our histories with the proper blend of fact and feeling (and so often, feelings in spiritual things are the real facts) gives us a deep spiritual insight into the meaning and purpose of our lives.
He also spoke about the blessings that come to us from reading and being familiar with the personal histories of our own ancestors. 
As we contemplate what those before us have gone through that we might be here, as we sense their faith and courage and feel their love for us and our love for them, we realize what is really important. We begin to comprehend the eternity of the family. We gain great insight into the things of God, and we are not the same. We talk and act differently—for we have a deepened understanding of eternity. We realize that so-called problems are only what we see when we take our eye off our eternal goal.
Recent academic studies, such as the one conducted at Emory University finding that children who were aware of their family histories had more confidence and ability to cope with difficult situations, support this value found in the benefits of knowing our ancestors spoken of Elder Groberg 37 years ago, as do my own personal experiences. Having a gorgeous pedigree chart in our home is a lovely talking piece and work of art that serves as a reminder of our ancestors, but is made infinitely more meaningful as we come to know the names on the wall. Elder Groberg further said:
I have a strong feeling that when this life is over, our personal and family histories and the influence they wield will be of much greater importance than we now think.
This 37 year old challenge to record my own personal history is one I feel moved to accept--I want to leave behind more than a name. I want to leave behind a rich heritage.

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