BYU Women's Conference 2013

On Tuesday morning my daughter finally called with her good news. Her sister had called Monday morning announcing "we are having a baby boy." This youngest daughter announced. "It's a girl! But, then there was a catch in her voice--but, the dr. said the amniotic fluid is low. "Low, what does that mean?" I asked. He said we could opt for some further tests. Mom, low amniotic fluid could mean problems for our baby…I'm on my way to the airport, I have to go and then her voice was gone leaving me to wonder at a Dr. appointment that held so much positive anticipation…a daughter having her first baby…her traveling a great distance to be here with me today. I sent her a text…call me when you get to the airport. An hour later the phone rang…it was a different girl. "Mom" she said, "even healthy babies grow up to be people with their fair share of challenges" she went on, "I am a grown-up now living in a grown-up world…everything is going to be fine." which reminded me of this story---

A man and his companion lost their way in a forest. The companion despaired, but the man said maybe some good would come of it. They came upon a stranger who needed the man's help. The stranger turned out to be a prince who gave the man a beautiful horse. His neighbors praised his good luck and said, “How blessed you are to have such a magnificent animal." The man said, "Who's to say whether this is a blessing or a curse?”The next day the horse ran away, and the neighbors said, “How horrible that you were cursed with the loss of your horse." The man replied, “Who's to say whether this is a curse or a blessing? Perhaps some good will come of this." The next day the horse returned leading five wild horses. “You were right!" his neighbors exclaimed. “The curse was a blessing in disguise. Now you're blessed with six horses." The man replied, “Perhaps, but who's to say whether this is a blessing or a curse?" The next day his only son tried to ride one of the wild horses. He was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. The neighbors said, “How wise you were. Your blessing really was a curse." The man replied, "There may be good yet. Who's to say whether this is a curse or a blessing?" The next day soldiers came through the village and took every able-bodied boy to fight in a war where it was almost certain all would be killed. Because the man's son was injured, the boy was the only one not taken. “How blessed are you to keep your son!" the neighbors said. The man replied, “Who's to say? I don't know whether there's a curse in every blessing, but I am sure there's a blessing in every curse." Michael Josephson

Reminder 1. Who's to say whether any given experience is a curse or a blessing? 

Maya Angelou said…

“I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.” 

Our lives are filled with ups and downs. This all familiar subject was addressed in the third century and the wise teacher was quoted in Ecclesiastes as saying…

3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
and I will add…
a time to have healthy obedient children, and a time to have pain in the neck…or what the heck is going on here children.
a time to be disappointed, and a time to be pleasantly surprised.
Life is like that. We have expectations. We have dreams, We anticipate things to go well (if we are the glass half full type of people). But in the 1800's, as Charles Dickens opened up his classic Tale of Two Cities he spoke of every age since the dawn of time...
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way (end of quote)----our challenge is to understand that---You won’t be able to control 99% of what happens around you in the world but you will be able to control 100% of what happens within you. Your thoughts and emotions belong to you and nobody else.

And the thoughtful advice for us today comes from Sister Margaret D. Nadauld who so wisely said…Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. (end of quote)
My name is Cristie Clark Carter. I grew up in Bountiful Utah the oldest of six children. I went to school here at BYU where I eventually met and married my sweetheart and then lived the next sixteen years out of this state with the opportunity to live in three other states-- where all but our youngest child was born. I am the mother of eight children and grandmother to nineteen grand-children with three more coming. My life has been sweet but as you may suspect I have had a fair share of learning just what it means to be able to be flexible…to be ready and willing to adapt to change. Much of being flexible (which is defined as the ability to bend without breaking) is in the deciding to. Deciding that in spite of the unexpected I will trust in Heavenly Father and choose joy. 

I have learned that…The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn. unknown

My most recent experience with a bend in the road came this past December when our youngest child married and left her parents for the very first time empty nesters. Now you would think that we would be well practiced at making this transition… It's not that she just moved out of the house…she moved a whopping 1200 miles away…as the crow flies. Which for me means that four of our children live out of state.  Honestly, I knew I could make this separation…what choice did I have…but shortly after her departure I remember driving down the freeway after a Jazzercise class with little streams of tears squeezing out of the corners of my eyes…running down my face… feeling oh so pathetic. Right there with my eyes wide open…hands on the steering wheel… I prayed. I really prayed for comfort. The answer to my prayer came like this…she is happy, she is living her dream, you have a phone and so does she, you had the joy of her in your home for twenty years, you adore your husband, you still have three children that live close by, you get to be involved with the youth of your ward…..and so forth

Reminder 2 ... If you want to succeed at being flexible and adapting to life's challenges … Count your blessings Name them one by one. Count your many blessing see what God has done. 

----the day after this daughter left town I had this little experience which I recorded on my blog…

Wednesday afternoon I had just walked into my bedroom when I heard a loud thump on the window. My doors in the bedroom are all glass. I walked over to the window and saw a little bird almost buried in the snow...on his back, feet up. I had a small basket handy that had just been collected from sissy's room. I opened the outside door and scooped up the little bird. His tiny eyes were blinking but I wasn't sure if he broke his neck or not. I gave the basket a slight shake to loosen the snow around him and then i put the basket there close to where he fell. Within 3-5 minutes the basket was empty. Even though I was working there in my room I didn't get to see him leave.

This unexpected experience was a tender mercy for me. On Tuesday morning our youngest and last child took flight. I have been limping along. Sad. Thankful. Blue. Tender. Sad. I thought of how small my missing and loss is compared to Joan Ashton, Margaret Sargent and Anne Marie Barton. I am humbled...which happens to be the word on my bracelet...pounded into my bracelet. 

Liz (my gal who just married and moved) and I had been cleaning out her room that Monday. Her Easter basket was one of the few items left that needed to be put away. When that little bird hit the window I looked around and right there... waiting to be put away in my closet... was her small basket. I remembered then that God sees us. He loves us. Even a little sparrow that falls from the sky He notices and cares about. He let me rescue a sparrow and sent me a message.

Reminder 3…look for the miracle.

This past December the Leaders in the YW program of our ward asked the girls to come up with one word of focus for the year 2013. The leaders then gathered one afternoon and pounded these words onto leather bracelets for the girls to wear. The words they chose made me so proud. Words like, SHINE. PONDER. KNEEL. FAITH. STEADFAST. CULTIVATE. SIMPLIFY. GROW…and so forth. Every single word would help us as we face the unexpected challenges of a new year. The word I chose was HUMILITY and just as I had pounded each letter of that word into a bracelet, since then I have also felt that word pounded into my heart.

In January I went sledding with the youth in our ward for a combined YM/YW activity. I brought the hot chocolate and the evening held so much promise for me of speed. My first ride down the hill left my head a little rattled, but I was even more determined to get the hang of staying with the sled.
My second and final run once again had my sled hitting a bump and going a totally different direction with me laying in a heap on the icy snow…air knocked clean out of me. It reminded me of the time I fell backwards out of a swing and just laid on the ground waiting to breath again. You know how it is when you fall or get knocked down you want to hop right up so no one will think that you're hurt? Well, as soon as I could breathe I got right up but I could tell that the night was over for me. I struggled to walk totally upright. I climbed a hill to where some leaders were gathered and told them I needed to go home. They got the thermos of hot chocolate out of my car…well, to make a long story short…I had damaged ribs on my right side; front, side and back. My husband was out of town and my sweet neighbor helped me fix a recliner into a bed and then insisted on spending the night with me. Throughout the night she kept the ice packs coming. The night seemed long as we mostly laid awake, listening to a grandfather clock remind us that we should be sleeping at 15 minute intervals and whispering in the dark…"are you awake" "yes…" and then we would have another short visit. This miserable little experience of being physically impaired once again reminded me about the need to be flexible and adaptable. Life is like that…sometimes you get the air knocked right out of you.

Reminder 4. Heavenly Father will send angels to get you through a tough patch. Always. And, I was reminded that no kindness that came my way was too small. Angel sisters would telephone, send notes of encouragement, bring food and treats, balloons, visits, offer reading material while I was chair ridden.

 I was humbled. A week after that accident I remember clearly sitting in that recliner in the middle of the night and looking out onto the snowy world. I felt very alone. I asked Heavenly Father about love and healing. I asked for comfort. I felt puny and sad. 

Reminder 5. He will always send His comforter. The scriptures tell us over and over "my hand is stretched out still."

What added to my frustration was not only being hurt and stuck in a chair for a significant length of time; but my daughter living in Idaho gave birth five days later. I was so looking forward to a trip to be with her…assist her in the delivery room…mother her…kiss on that brand new little baby…enjoy and help her six other children. We were both disappointed. It was a couple of weeks before I could make the trip and even then I wasn't strong enough to be very useful. But, in the meantime she had been surrounded by angel sisters who picked up her children for play dates, brought in meals, and mothered when her mother couldn't come. 

Reminder 6. Adversity will always carry sweet, powerful and possibly life changing lessons.

in recent years Elder Neil Maxwell has said…"One's life...cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free. Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, 'Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy! Real required to endure this necessary but painful developmental process." (end of quote)

The Lord told Nephi…And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.

Reminder 7. We can expect God's light and help as we honor and keep our sacred covenants.

A careful study of Nephi reveals a young man who became expert at learning how to flexible and adaptable to what was required of him. In the early pages up to Chapter 17 Nephi has left his home, been persecuted by his brothers, traveled great distances several times running errands for his father, killed Laban in order to obey God's commandment to procure the plates, he has met derision from Ishmael's family, his bow broke when he was the source of food for his family, lived in a tent, saw in vision the entire destruction of his posterity, wandered/traveled for eight years, incurring the wrath of sibling hatred, he witnessed the miracle of the Liahona, and now in Chapter 17 of 1Nephi-- he is asked to build a ship to transport bees, seeds and family (some uncooperative) to a land of promise. 

The Lord's promise to Nephi is His promise to us today…And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; Wherefore inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandants ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.

What a huge blessing and advantage to us it is to know that stress is part of God's curriculum for his children. Plus this ability to choose how we will adjust is a sacred power and trust. 

He will be our LIGHT…the stresses and strains of life are doable because He is our light. Obviously our reaction to the unexpected is met with the best possible response as we keep His commandments.

Reminder 8. The scriptures will always show us the way. Our path will be illuminated.I emailed my RS sisters and the girls in my family to respond to this question…With all of your life experience…what one gem have you learned that has helped you the most in life. These women most likely represent all of the women in this room. They have had every assorted life experience and challenge that you could imagine.  I narrowed a long list to these 24 pearls of wisdom in the order they were sent...

1. Don't over schedule. Know your limits. 
2. SIMPLIFY!! Make time for the things that matter most.
3. Have a good walking partner.
4. Have a grateful heart. Keep a gratitude list.
5. Stay out of the drama!  "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all!"  
6. When you slip up…and we all do…start over immediately. Don't wait until tomorrow.
7. Take time to enjoy nature in every season.
8. Prioritize…take good care of yourself.
9. Try not to expect outcomes from your family, but work for the best outcomes.
10. People matter and relationships take time.
11. Be still and listen.  You learn very little when your mouth is open.
12. Never compare yourself to others,…to compare is the thief of joy.
13. Don't sweat the small stuff and trust in the Lord. He knows the plan. 
14. Always look for miracles! 

15. Joseph Smith said, "The bow that is always strung, quickly looses its spring." learn to relax.

16. Pray and read the scriptures. 

17. Submit yourself completely to His will.

18. Don't worry and stress about things you cannot control or change.

19. Realize you can't meet everyone's expectations.

20. Living in the present is so important. Not only is it the best way to live your life but it insures you won't miss out on your life.

21. As I look back on my 70 years of life, the  happiest, best, and most fulfilling were those years that were the hardest, where I worked all day serving my family ...and had many sleepless nights.

22. Hold on to this idea that..."Every one is doing the best they can."  It made me a lot more tolerant of others and I hope they are more tolerant of me.

23. Forgive. Refuse to hold a grudge.

24. My friend Janet said…I would say, seek for the good.  The plan is not for an easy life, difficulties, challenges, sorrows, struggles come to us all.  Life is not easy, but it is good.  Seek for the good in each day.  At times it might be hard to find, but seeking requires effort.  Seek for the good in each child.  Children can sometimes disappoint, but when we learn to love them for who they are and not who we want them to be we are able to clearly see all the good they possess.  Seek for the good in each friend and associate.  Keep your focus always on finding the good and what is not good slips out of sight.  Life becomes better and easier and filled with joy.  Seek for the good!

Reminder 9. Man is that he might have joy.
In 1787 Robert Keen wrote these words to the hymn How Firm a Foundation…these inspired lyrics speak of the Savior's promise to us and much of Mr. Keen's inspiration comes from the great prophet Isaiah…
1. How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
2. In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

3. Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

4. When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

5. When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

6. E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

7. The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.

While it is true that sometimes life will knock the air clean out of us; our faith filled perspective can see the blessing in every so-called curse. Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken. Albert Camus author, poet, philosopher

I testify to the Savior's promise…I'll never, no never, no never forsake!
He will see us through to the end of our days. 


Grandma Honey said…
Oh thank you Cristie for printing this all out to read. I feel uplifted. I could barely make it through to the end with so many tears in my eyes. What an honor you must feel to have been asked to speak at the BYU conference!
cristie said…
So nice to hear from you Jill. This whole process was a great blessing to me. I was reluctant to post this talk but a few sisters asked for it so here it is. xox
Cath said…
Cristie, this is so powerful. So you. I'm so glad you posted it. Thank you. Wish I could have heard it in your own voice. But I did my best to imagine it. You are a brilliant light. I love all the quotes about flexibility, and your bird story is one of the most beautiful analogies/experiences ever. Hoping Lizzy and baby are safe and well. It was quite awesome to see all your girls with you. You are so very blessed. Love you!!
cristie said…
Honestly Catherine; I marvel at His goodness, His ever reaching. His perfect parenting humbles me.

Seeing you and hearing your stories of mothering was a joy to an already very happy day. I love you. xox
Charlotte Pratt said…
Thank you Cristie for sharing this wonderful talk with me, again. It is wise and insightful, as you are. Thank you for sharing the intimate thougts of your heart. I am grateful to learn from you. Please know of our love for your beautiful daughter Lizzie. She is a special gift to all the Pratts and we will treasure her forever. It was a joy to see your sons and daughters and dear Jerry supporting you at Women's Conference. How blessed you are. With much love and admiration, Charlotte
cristie said…
Charlotte...I feel blessed to share children and grand-children! It's about time that our paths should cross. xox
margaret said…
Loved reading your talk -- thanks so much for sharing it! I was so sorry I was not able to attend!

Jenni Amundsen said…
Christie - my mom sent me your link - and I'm so grateful! What a beautiful talk; filled with so much wisdom! Thank you for your insights and inspirations. I feel uplifted :) Fun to see the pictures too of some people that I love

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