Five General Authority Talks to Inspire You for the New Year

The beginning of a New Year gives each of us a chance to start anew and refocus our efforts, goals, and attitudes on bettering ourselves. Ten years ago I "celebrated" New Year's Eve in the Missionary Training Center. New Year's Day was a fast Sunday and the entire MTC met for a special sacrament meeting. Each talk given inspired me to commit more whole-heartedly to serving the Lord and doing the best I can. All these years later, I still review the notes from that session to regain insight and motivation. Here are five talks from general authorities to help renew our commitment in this New Year.

"There Was No Room for Them in the Inn"

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

“I’ll be home for Christmas…if only in my dreams"

No two Christmas songs could be more different in terms of feeling and lyrics. Yet, their differences serve as reminder that while Christmas for some is filled with glee, for others it can be filled with gloom. For this latter group of individuals, I believe there is great comfort to be taken from some of the most famous words of the Christmas story: “there was no room for them in the inn.”[1]

8 Christmas Symbols to Help Us Remember the True Meaning of the Season

Around this time of year, we’re often encouraged to remember the true meaning of Christmas. As President Thomas S. Monson has taught, “we find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season.” Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done. Despite our best efforts, we may often become distracted by the many tasks and preparations that accompany this season.

So how can we maintain a focus on Christ even amidst the holiday hustle and bustle? One way my parents taught me in my youth is to recognize and reflect on the many symbols of Christmas that are so prevalent around this time of year. These symbols point to Christ and can help us center our thoughts and minds on Him.

Taysom and Emily Hill: Faith, Football, and Trusting in the Lord

Emily Hill’s stomach dropped as soon as she read the text from her sister.

“I’m so sorry. I hope he’s OK.”

Emily had just left her seat in Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium for a moment after her husband, Taysom Hill, scored on a 21-yard touchdown run to tie the game between the BYU Cougars and Nebraska Cornhuskers at 14 a piece in the first game of the 2015 football season. She didn’t see him limp from the sideline to the locker room.

“I didn't know anything had happened,” she said. “I was cheering and excited and ran down the aisle with my mother-in-law. As I'm walking out, I get the text. I just thought it was a joke. There was no way this was happening.”

5 memorable stories from past First Presidency Christmas Devotionals

The new Christmas message found on is a reminder of what this season is about: A Savior was born, over 2,000 years ago.

Here are some stories from past First Presidency Christmas Devotionals to help you feel the spirit of Christ this Christmas season.

3 Ways I Found Greater Peace and Joy Through Simplification

As a mom and wife, I am constantly bombarded with reminders of my inability to keep a perfect home, feed my family perfectly healthy meals, and stay current on all of the latest fashion trends, all while maintaining perfect patience with my kids. A few years ago, I was flooded with feelings of inadequacy, stress, frustration, and more importantly, I was devoid of peace and joy.  It took a long time to realize that the source of many of those feelings was the idea that in order to live a fulfilling life, my life needed to look perfect too. I’ve now learned that maintaining a picture perfect life is anything but simple, and simplicity is what I really craved and needed during that particularly stressful time in my life. It didn’t happen overnight, and there were several “Aha” moments along the way, but I am now at a point where I can share 3 ways in which I have found greater peace and joy in my life through the process of simplification.

A Child's Prayer: The Day President Monson Was Led to a Dying Girl's Bedside

Ministering to the one has been a hallmark of President Thomas S. Monson's lifetime of service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On countless occasions across the world, President Monson has felt the Spirit's gentle prompting to stop whatever else he was doing and lovingly go to the aid of someone in need. In sharing a remarkable experience that demonstrates his sensitivity to the Spirit and his love for children, President Monson recounted the time he was led to the bedside of a dying girl in answer to her sincere prayer.

Christal was a 10-year-old girl who had been diagnosed with cancer. She lived about 80 miles from Shreveport, Louisiana, and when her prognosis became terminal, her family made plans to visit Salt Lake City in hopes that Christal might receive a blessing from a General Authority. The family did not know any of the Brethren personally, so when they showed Christal a picture of all the General Authorities, she pointed to President Monson and told her family he was the person from whom she wanted to receive a blessing.

Here is the rest of the story as told in October 1975 General Conference, in President Monson's own words:

5 Truths Therapy Has Taught Me about the Atonement

About a year ago I found myself at the bottom of a figurative pit. Life had been throwing me significant trials one after another, never allowing me enough time to recover. That, coupled with the buried hurt of my abusive childhood, was now crashing down and leaving me in this dark place with seemingly no way out. I tried to deny it. I tried to fight it. But the reality was that I had depression.

I didn’t know what to do. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. But I was also desperate for relief from these destructive thoughts and feelings. I turned to the scriptures, conference talks, and prayer hoping for direction. I soon found my answer from Elder Richard G. Scott: “Healing may begin with a thoughtful bishop or stake president or a wise professional counselor. If you had a broken leg, you wouldn’t decide to fix it yourself. Serious abuse can also benefit from professional help. There are many ways to begin healing, but remember that a full cure comes through the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Master and Redeemer. Have faith that with effort His perfect, eternal, infinite Atonement can heal your suffering from the consequences of abuse.”

I knew I needed to seek professional help as my first step. I timidly approached my husband with my thoughts and feelings and he supported me in this decision. I then met with my bishop who was able to connect me with an appropriate therapist. After the initial visit with my psychologist, I felt hope for the first time in a long time. It has been a long hard road, but as I reflect upon this last year I have recognized five truths that therapy has taught me about the Atonement.

What Happened When I Quit Home Teaching

Many years ago, I quit home teaching. I had my reasons, and I thought they were pretty valid. No matter what the elders quorum president or the bishop said, I simply refused to do home teaching. One evening I got a phone call from a member of the stake high council. He asked to meet with me at the church and I agreed to meet him. I met with this brother, and after an opening prayer, he asked me to home teach. I told him “no.” I then told him that my going into other members’ homes was a waste of my time and theirs, and that it wouldn’t make one bit of difference in anyone’s salvation if I did it or not. I left the office, got in my car, and headed home, feeling quite pleased with myself.

In the Very Moment: The Harrowing Night Elder Oaks Was Held at Gunpoint

When General Authorities in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speak to church members around the world, they often share personal stories or experiences to illustrate a gospel principle or reinforce a specific truth. President Thomas S. Monson is universally loved for the many wonderful stories he frequently shares.

One of my favorite stories told by a General Authority is a personal experience Elder Dallin H. Oaks shared in General Conference 23 years ago when I was a sophomore in high school. At the time, Elder Oaks looked back more than 20 years to the harrowing experience he and his wife faced late one night when they were confronted by a would-be robber at gunpoint on the streets of Chicago. The story is gripping because it must have been so terrifying. I also love that it illustrates the way the Lord protects His servants and the way revelation can guide us through difficult, even life-threatening situations. As the Lord promised, "It shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment what ye shall say" (Doctrine & Covenants 100:6). Here is the experience, in Elder Oaks’ own words:

During my life I have had many experiences of being guided in what I should do and in being protected from injury and also from evil. The Lord’s protecting care has shielded me from the evil acts of others and has also protected me from surrendering to my own worst impulses. I enjoyed that protection one warm summer night on the streets of Chicago. I have never shared this experience in public. I do so now because it is a persuasive illustration of my subject.

Why I’m glad the experts got it wrong: One man’s thoughts on the calling of three new apostles

Just a few weeks ago, three new apostles were called to fill vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second-highest governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the weeks and months leading up to that momentous event, I noticed several news sites, blogs, and other media outlets published articles speculating about who would be called. Looking at those articles now, it is interesting to see the difference between their predictions and who was actually called. That contrast has given me reason to reflect recently on the “mysteries of God” and the process by which He calls His servants.

3 Memorable Moments You Probably Never Noticed During the Primary Program

Fall is here and LDS members are looking forward to their ward’s annual Primary program. This year, primary-aged children (4 – 11 years old) from all over the world have been learning songs and lessons in conjunction with the theme: I Know My Savior Lives. On a given Sunday, usually in September or October, each congregation will dedicate one Sacrament meeting to the Primary program in which the children will sing the songs they have learned this year and give their assigned speaking parts.

There is a lot of hard work and preparation from both the children and their leaders. Parents anticipate seeing their child give their part and sing the songs. Of course the children are adorable and you can almost always count on a little one shouting all the words to a song or another one who is happy to wave to his parents the whole time. But it’s not just about learning all the words to the songs or if each child has her part memorized – there are much deeper purposes carried out by this inspired program. I will share with you three real-life, but probably unnoticed, moments that I have been a part of during my time in primary.

1. A child with invisible special needs overcoming challenges

14 inspiring quotes from October 2015 General Conference

We hope you found this past weekend's General Conference inspiring and uplifting. Here are some of our favorite quotes. Let us know in the comments which quotes resonated the most with you!

3 Fun Ways to Engage with LDS General Conference

The fall session of LDS General Conference kicked off last weekend with the General Women's session. It will close this weekend with five more sessions and numerous talks and words of encouragement from the latter-day leaders of the church. 

As a child, I remember every radio and TV in the house tuned in to each session. There was no way to escape it--so I learned to embrace it. I developed a method to effectively take notes and study the words of the prophets. I looked forward then, and now, to this special time every six months. 

Since I've become a parent to three busy toddlers, the days of quietly watching LDS General Conference and intently taking notes are long gone. I tried to reserve personal study time to reflect on and review each talk, but had been searching for a way to still make those few hours feel special while they are happening. I recently came across three new and fun activities that have helped me engage and participate in General Conference in a rewarding way. Have you heard of any of these ways? 

The Living Christ: Testimonies of Latter-day Saint Youth

During the summer of 2015, we challenged the Young Women and Young Men of the College Station 3rd ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to memorize The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles. We are extraordinarily proud of all the Youth who made an effort to memorize this inspired declaration originally issued on January 1, 2000, by 15 living Apostles and prophets. Many of our Youth memorized the entire document of over 700 words. What follows is a video--recorded, edited, and produced by one of our talented Young Women--that shows the product of their efforts to make the words of this declaration part of their own personal testimonies of Jesus Christ.

Faith and Football: Lessons Learned on the Field by a Modern-Day Apostle

Football season is back! Like most college towns, Aggieland is full of excitement and anticipation to see how our team will fair as the season progresses. Watching some great early-season matchups over the past few weeks, I’ve reflected some on the many life-lessons we can take from this great sport. Many of those lessons can be found in stories related by the late Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, running back for the University of Utah during the late 1930s and apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Below are just a few of my favorites.

I Will Go Before Your Face: A Small Missionary Miracle in Nebraska

My great-grandfather, Robert Hill, passed away just a month after my eighth birthday, so I have mostly faint memories of him from my childhood. I knew him as a tough, old Idaho farmer who lost the three middle fingers on one of his hands in a farm accident. A favorite scene on our visits to my great-grandparent’s farm in Ucon was watching him retrieve little candies—he called them “hummingbird eggs”—from his candy jar using just his thumb and pinky finger. He would pass out the candies to all the grandkids.

5 short scripture verses that say more than you think

Every once in a while, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints find themselves in a position where they are spontaneously asked to share a spiritual message. As has been said, “when the time for performance arrives, the time for preparation is past.”[i] As a youth, I overcame this dilemma by memorizing the shortest scriptures I could find to have ready at a moment’s notice. Now as an adult, I’ve found that many of these scriptures are actually quite profound.

Below is just a sample of some of the short but meaningful scriptures I have come across in study throughout my life and as I searched for hidden gems over the past few weeks for this post.

5 Things I Saw in Latter-day Saints That Opened My Heart to the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Convert's Perspective

I did not grow up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was just baptized a year and a half ago.  Many of my friends and colleagues knew me as a really nice girl who drank a lot of coffee. They were surprised to hear that I joined the church, and I would get these anxious calls that went something like this:

"Melissa, I heard the craziest rumor that you joined the church. Is it true??"

The tone of their voice when asking contained a bit of judgment (like are you crazy?) and fear. They were asking a question, but also making a statement about their opinions of the church. These interactions made me think about people, their hearts, and what underlies their fearful questions.

Experience has taught me that most people are looking for peace and happiness. The world teaches people that happiness comes through the pursuit of self, money, power, and numerous other false beliefs. In the U.S., we spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on books and classes that promise to teach the path to happiness but often push people further away from God. Many people are searching, but how is it that people get to a point where their hearts are open to listening to the gospel message?

10 Encouraging LDS Quotes to Lift a Troubled Heart

If there’s one thing for certain in this life, it’s that we will be tested and go through trials. The pain from these trying times can at times feel soul-crushing and incredibly lonely. But there is a light in the darkness, One who perfectly understands what we are going through.

While the Lord might not always lift our burden immediately, there is help available if we ask. In Christ, we can find peace and solace from our pain and sins. Here are some words of wisdom to help lift your heart when you’re feeling down.

7 Talks From General Authorities That Will Strengthen You as a Parent

I feel like we live in an era where we have an abundance of information available to us at any time--or rather an overabundance of information that we cannot seem to escape. This seems particularly true for parenting as anyone and everyone has an opinion on what you should or shouldn't be doing. Over time parenting trends and "expert" opinions always change, however, I've found that the best parenting advice comes from the loving guidance of our prophet and apostles. Here are seven of my favorite talks that will strengthen you as a parent and help you prioritize the most important things in life.

President Russell M. Nelson: 5 Fun Facts

With the recent passing of President Boyd K. Packer, who will dearly be missed, President Russell M. Nelson was called to be president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In light of the recent calling of President Nelson, I thought it would be interesting to find out some fun facts that not everyone may know about him. I really enjoyed learning more about his life and some of the things he has experienced and accomplished.

Highlights From a Low Point: 5 Lessons Learned from Helping Our Daughter Battle Cancer

Our daughter, Faye, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in April of 2011 at the age of 3. After months of leg pains progressively worsening and multiple doctor visits, we were called early on a Saturday morning to rush her to the emergency room to confirm blood tests. This was just one week after we had welcomed our third child into the world. After the results were confirmed, we were put into an ambulance and driven to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. After experiencing every emotion imaginable, we did our best to compose ourselves and made the decision to have two basic priorities: (1) To do whatever was needed to make Faye feel comfortable and loved; and (2) to support each other as a family.

Meldrum Family April 2011

Why I Serve, Why I Sacrifice

As the alarm rings at 5:30am, I sluggishly climb out of bed and feel my way through the darkness to the bathroom. However, just as I’m about to turn on the shower, I hear the baby fussing. After changing her diaper and lulling her back to sleep, I find myself running late—I have a meeting at 6:30am. I shower and shave, put on a shirt and tie, and say a prayer to start the day. A little exasperated at this point, I open the garage door only to find a little boy tugging my pants and asking for food because he didn’t eat enough dinner last night. I give him an apple, send him back to bed, and kiss my wife goodbye.

The action begins immediately. A short 30-minute executive team meeting is followed by a 90-minute meeting with other organizational leaders. Afterwards, I spend several minutes greeting organizational members and taking care of other matters. Then the main one-hour meeting happens with 250 organizational members in attendance. I’m in charge of conducting this meeting, and even after all my public speaking experience, I still have butterflies in my stomach.

Well, that might actually be hunger that I’m feeling. In my rush to get out the door this morning, I didn’t eat anything for breakfast. I didn’t have time to pack a lunch either, so it looks like I’ll just have to wait until dinner to eat.

We hold another couple of meetings, each lasting an hour. Then I have short visits with a few different people. In some of these meetings I extend new work assignments. In others, I check on the progress they’re making in their responsibilities or I visit with people who are facing significant challenges. I do my best to be an understanding and supportive leader, but sometimes it’s hard to know if I’ve said the right thing.

By the afternoon, it’s time to wrap things up. We need to work on finances and budgeting, update other organizational records, and make a few phone calls. Then it’s time to leave the office and make a couple of visits to members of the organization at their homes. I arrive home a little after 3:30, tired from the day’s activities and anxious to finally be with my family. I know I’ll be working more hours during the week. But for now, I’ll enjoy my time at home.

Relaxing with my girls after a long and wonderful Sunday

Why I Believe and Belong: Statements of Faith from LDS Youth

President Thomas S. Monson has taught that today's Youth are "some of our Heavenly Father’s strongest children, and He has saved you to come to the earth 'for such a time as this' (Esther 4:14)." (The Ensign, May 2009). Similarly, President Gordon B. Hinckley taught, "You are the best generation we have ever had. You know the gospel better. You are more faithful in your duties. You are stronger to face the temptations which come your way." (The Ensign, November 2003, 82)

We invited some of our Youth in Aggieland to share their testimonies of why they believe and why they belong in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we were blown away by the powerful things they shared. We know you will feel the Spirit as you read these statements of faith from Latter-day Saint Youth:

Cancer Converted Me: 5 Lessons I've Learned Through My Journey

It’s a good bet that life will have its fair share of challenges when the first words the doctor speaks at birth are,

“It’s a girl,” and “she has Mongolism.”

Thankfully, my birth defects were not a symptom of Down Syndrome, as the physician had diagnosed, and I avoided a condition that could’ve defined my life to a certain set of challenges. As you might expect, more trials, many of them physical, inevitably came my way. Before my 3rd birthday, a cat scratch to my left eye had doctors explaining to my parents, “she’ll most likely be blind for life.” Many, many years later, another doctor confessed, “I do not know what is causing these miscarriages or if you will be able to have children.” Like many in this life, I have endured personal difficulties, disabilities, infertility, career letdowns, and other struggles. Life’s ups and downs have made up the peaks and valleys of my story.

Life has held many challenges since that first misdiagnosis at birth, but there have also been beautiful blessings—being able to use my talents in a teaching career I loved, marriage to a good man, and the birth of 3 beautiful boys who all defied the 50/50 odds of inheriting my genetic defect. After 10 years of moving and schooling, we finally bought our first home, were settling into a career and a neighborhood, and doing the best we could to live a good life, when another storm hit with the words of yet another doctor.

“It’s cancer.”

Lead, Kindly Light

Darkness was settling in on the last night of my first month in Yongin, South Korea. What an…interesting…month it had been. I was still a little green, no question about it. Yongin was only my second area. Three different companions in my first three months in the country; and I was about to receive my fourth companion the next day.

A month earlier when I first learned I was transferring to Yongin, I was elated to find out I would have my first native Korean companion, Elder Kuon. This would be full Korean immersion. Bring it on.

5 Fathers I am Grateful for this Father’s Day

There are many men in our lives who can play the role of father at different times. This brotherhood of fatherhood is something that helps feed my spirit and that I can draw strength from. Here are just a few of the father figures I’ve had in my life and why I am grateful for them.

5 Things That Will Surprise You About Being a Primary Chorister

The calling of Primary chorister might be one of those under-recognized callings.  It’s not that they are unappreciated, but they often serve humbly and quietly. During my brief time in this calling, I have learned how important this service is and how much work goes into the planning.  I also noticed some surprising experiences and blessings that have changed my view of this calling.

6 Ways to Spiritually Connect with Your Spouse

Dishes. Kids. Work. School. Laundry. Church callings. Family scripture study and prayers. Personal scripture study and prayers. By the time you crawl into bed at night, there’s precious little time left to connect with your husband or wife on any level.

When you’re low on sleep and energy, it’s easy to begin feeling disconnected from your spouse. A marriage between even the best of people takes hard work to make it last. If you are feeling disconnected from your spouse, consider trying to reconnect spiritually to enrich your relationship. A marriage must be Christ-centered in order to succeed, and successfully connecting spiritually will help bolster all areas of your relationship.

By prioritizing your to-do list and with a little time management, you can fit in spiritual connections every day that will help you feel closer as a couple and closer to the Lord.

Is Your Financial House in Order? A Simple Checklist for Latter-day Saint Families

In a memorable General Conference address in October 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley advised members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world that “the time has come to get our houses in order.” In the years since President Hinckley’s remarks, the United States has endured two economic recessions, including the most severe recession of the post-World-War-II era. But did you realize that in every decade since the 1930s, the U.S. has experienced at least one and in some cases two recessions? When difficult financial or economic conditions arise, having your financial house in order will allow your family to weather the storm.

Below is a simple checklist to help you assess whether your family’s financial house is in order:

6 Reasons Why I Believe in Jesus Christ and in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

1.     I believe in Jesus Christ because God has answered my prayers. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are strongly encouraged to pray to God for personal inspiration regarding the reality of Jesus Christ and whether the claims made by the church and prophets are true. When I was ten years old, I prayed and asked Heavenly Father if the church was true and if the experiences recounted by Joseph Smith really happened. God answered my prayer by sending an incredible feeling of warmth, peace, and joy into my heart. He confirmed the truth of those things to me. Since that time, I have had numerous other confirmations of those truths. Most notably, I received many confirmations of my faith when I served as a missionary. During that time I would teach about the experience of the Prophet Joseph Smith seeing God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. When I would explain this experience and recite Joseph’s words, I always received an additional confirming witness in my heart.

10 Great LDS Blogs to Follow

In August 2014, Elder David A. Bednar urged members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to use social media to flood the earth with gospel messages. Before Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, blogs were one of the first ways to create your own space on the Internet and voice your opinion, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Many LDS members, including our team here at, have done this and see it as a missionary tool. Here are 10 great LDS blogs that share a gospel message of hope, faith, and belief with their readers.

5 Gifts Mom Really Wants For Mothers’ Day

It’s May, which means your inbox and social media feeds, like mine, are probably full of “helpful suggestions” for what to get your mom for Mothers’ Day. But before you buy that “priceless” bracelet or send that edible bouquet, you may want to ask yourself what mom really wants from you this year. Knowing I would be writing the post this week, I did just that; and I even solicited the help of three mothers in my life—my wife, my mother-in-law, and my own mother. Below are 5 “wants” you should consider as you try to find that perfect gift.

My Letter to Anyone Experiencing a Faith Crisis

Even though we’ve probably never met, I feel like I know you—and I wish I knew you even better. You are not the first person in my life to face a crisis of faith in recent years. I understand that it can be frightening to find yourself questioning a faith you have accepted and embraced. Let me reassure you that there is nothing wrong with having serious questions about your faith. I say that, in part, because I am a questioner, too.

I appreciate your willingness to let me share some of my thoughts with you. I hope the things I write here will be helpful, and I hope you’ll sense the honesty of what I share. My prayer is that you’ll understand why I am so settled about my own religious convictions, my faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My convictions have never been deeper than they are today; I have never been more optimistic about the Church’s future than I am now.

10 More Common Words That Mean Something Different to Mormons

I remember being in a professional development course and how the instructor emphasized not using too much jargon with the families we worked with because it could be intimidating and give the families a sense of isolation.  Similarly, there is much jargon that is well known to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but that is not understood by everyone.  It is important to be aware of the words we use and how others might interpret them.  Due to popularity of the original list (found here), I have created a new list of 10 more words.

15 inspiring quotes from President Gordon B. Hinckley

President Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is fondly remembered for his quick wit and sense of humor. He also had a special way with words that inspired thousands of members around the world. Here are some of his most inspiring quotes to help lift you up when you're feeling down.

General Conference Quote Recap

We hope that you enjoyed Easter and LDS General Conference this past weekend. We have gathered some of our favorite quotes from the sessions and hope they resonate with you as they did with us. Leave a comment with your favorite quote.

3 Reasons Why Families That Play Together Stay Together

Growing up in a family that lived by the philosophy “work first, play later,” Saturdays were nearly always reserved for household chores and yard work. One Saturday morning, however, my siblings and I asked our parents if we could spend the day together at a local waterpark. Fully expecting the answer to be no, we were shocked and elated when the answer turned out to be yes. We all enjoyed this spontaneous activity, and have agreed since then that it was one of the most cherished family events we can remember.

Why did this simple experience prove to be so unforgettable for our family? Was it the sheer novelty of the event, or was it due to something else entirely?

The answer, it turns out, can be traced to a common saying that is both doctrinally and scientifically valid: “Families that play together stay together.” In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”—published 20 years ago by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—it states that successful marriages and families are built not only upon principles of faith, love, and work (among others), but also on “wholesome recreational activities.”[1] Adding further light to this prophetic statement, a large body of scientific evidence has identified three key reasons why families that play together stay together. 

15 Signs You Might Be a Texas Mormon

If you’ve ever been to Texas, then you know that it’s a world all of its own. And if you are, or know a Mormon, then you are probably familiar with some of the cultural quirks and traditions. Texas Mormons combine a rich heritage with ardent pride in their culture and state, resulting in a wonderful and unique group of people. Here are 15 tell-tale signs you might just be a Texas Mormon. 

6 Talks to Give You Strength in Trials

Adversity is a persistent part of mortality and something that all people, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status, will surely face in this life. In times of suffering, pain, and heartache, it is easy to lose hope and let our challenges overcome us. Yet, as we turn to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and trust in God and His plan for us, we can find strength, courage, and hope.

Below are six talks that I have found particularly meaningful as I have struggled through my own personal trials and adversity.

Dispelling 5 More Myths about Mormons

Last August, we published a post titled “Dispelling 5 Myths about Mormons.” This week, we address 5 more myths about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

16 Little-Known Facts About LDS Temples

Temples are sacred places of worship for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

With over 143 operating LDS temples around the world, there are bound to be some stories and facts you haven't heard before. Our first article in this series covered 20 interesting things about temples, and here we present 16 additional little-known facts about LDS temples.

3 Ways to Help Your Children Establish Their Own Connection to Heaven

 “Were I to draw a distinction in all the duties that are required of the children of men, … I would place first and foremost the duty of seeking the Lord our God until we open the path of communication from heaven to earth—from God to our own souls.”1 After pondering this thought from Brigham Young, my husband and I have often talked about how we can help our young son establish his own connection to heaven. Because of the connection I have with my Heavenly Father, I have been guided, elevated, and led as I make choices and grow through experiences. 

7 Talks That Will Help Build Your Testimony of the Atonement

Maybe it is because he lived 2,000 years ago. Or maybe it is because his recorded words are sometimes difficult to grasp. Learning about Jesus Christ, his gospel, and especially the Atonement has been something I've had to work at. Trying to comprehend how it is all possible and how his Atonement encompasses everyone who has ever lived is exhausting and has left me wishing for a more personal, one-on-one relationship with the Savior. As I have studied and pondered Christ's mission, my testimony and personal relationship with him have improved and continue to do so. 

Below I have listed seven talks that have helped me understand Jesus Christ's Atonement better and strengthened my testimony. I know He is the Christ and Savior of the world and all mankind.

What talk or scripture has helped build your testimony? 

Shattering Mormon Stereotypes

I guess you could say my younger sister’s life has not played out the way a Latter-day Saint girl’s life traditionally plays out. She and I and our two other siblings grew up in an active LDS family, right in the center of Mormonism in Salt Lake City, Utah. Shortly after high school, however, my sister’s life veered away from the faith we all shared and onto a journey that took her away from activity in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for nearly 15 years.

4 Programs that Help LDS Youth (and Can Help Your Youth) Stand Out

I've had the opportunity to work with youth inside and outside the LDS church in a number of different capacities throughout my life. During those times, I've often been approached by other leaders/counselors who have said things like “there’s something different about LDS youth” or “your youth are just so good.” While I absolutely do not claim that LDS youth have a monopoly on goodness, I think there is something to my friends’ observations. What is it that makes LDS youth stand out? In the end, I believe it stems from a firm knowledge of God’s plan for them and a strong conviction to live the principles of the restored gospel. Although the basis for most of this learning starts in the home, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a number of programs that support parents and help LDS youth put those principles into practice.

Here I outline just four of the programs that LDS youth take part in all around the world. The best thing about these programs is that they are not exclusive to members of the church! If you’re interested in learning more, just ask an LDS neighbor or contact the missionaries in your area to see how you or your youth can get involved.

5 ways to make your spiritual resolutions stick this year

New Years is an exciting opportunity to start fresh and set goals for yourself… but the reality is that old habits die hard.

We are almost done with the first month of 2015 and a lot of us--me included--have started to slide back into our regular hustle and bustle.