"As a Hen Gathereth Her Chicks"

Come as you are

I was asked to share why I love this conference theme... it’s because I know firsthand How God wants us to come to Him just as we are, even if it’s a hot mess.
Many years ago I had fallen away from the church but contrary to popular belief, I could still feel the Saviors abiding and relentless love for me. Even though I wasn’t living as I was taught or how “I should be” He never left me.
I have heard many times from well-intentioned people that if you’re not living righteously or by the churches standards, that you will lose the right to feel the Holy Ghost, that He will leave you - or because you’re sinning YOU have left HIM.
Are we all not sinners? Do we all not fall short to reach perfection? How is it then that one sinner could be accepted of Christ and another not be, just because of the type of sin? Is He a respecter of persons?
I am here today to testify that God will never ever leave you. Not ever. For any reason.
He will go to the ends of the earth, yea even the furthest depths of Hell to reach you.
He can’t lie... furthermore, didn’t He promise to never leave us comfortless and to gather us like a Hen gathering its chicks?
Have you ever watched a Hen try to gather chicks?
It’s hilarious... there’s always at least one that is running around the coop not wanting to get caught. But does the momma hen give up? Never.
She chases that little rebel and might even squawk or peck at it but eventually that little pest comes back to its momma to settle down and rest.
I was that little rebel - running around, wild and going crazy looking for “safety” in all the wrong places... when all along my Father in Heaven was calling after me to come back.
I was still able to feel the whisperings of the Spirit - certainly not as clear and poignant or frequently as before... but it was still there - no matter how hard I tried to drown Him out at times.
He will not be ignored. He will not give up. He loved me for who I was... a broken, confused and rebellious daughter... but still His daughter.
I promise that when the apostles say there is no depth so far that His love can’t reach it is true. There is no sin He can’t wipe away... there is no heartache He can’t soothe... there is no wound He can’t heal or trial He can’t overcome - He will rescue us time and time again.
He loves you infinitely... not because you “deserve” it but because you’re you... His precious daughter.

~Bonnie Randall

Little Beams of Celestial Light

We all know that we were put on this earth to gain a body and to learn to live in a mortal world with all the ups and downs that come with it. We all have trials, we all have struggles and they seem to be coming at a greater pace every day, month and year. It is so easy to get caught up in this earthly experience and sometimes we start to lose our eternal perspective. Heavenly Father always has a way to bring us back or at least try to bring us back to seeing this life for what it really is. Trials can do that for us. Whether they are physical, emotional, spiritual or one of many other trials, we can choose to battle them alone or we can choose to rely on our Savior and be willing to humble ourselves and turn our lives over to Him, the Master Creator, to turn us into something so much greater than we could ever imagine. Sometimes, if we are paying attention, He will give us a little glimpse of the life He has in store for us. The process is not easy, it is downright painful at times but because He has suffered for anything and everything that we will experience in this life, He is ready and willing to walk with us through every step of that difficult process. I have experienced the physical, emotional and spiritual healing of the Savior in my past and even now as new trials come I continue to feel Him close, guiding me, even in my broken and imperfect state. When I humble myself and focus on Him, I catch little beams of Celestial light, little glimpses of the future that is possible, only through Him.

~Jodee Bitner

A Father's Love

Almost two years ago my Dad was killed while riding his road bike in the little town of Snowflake, Arizona, where I grew up. In the months to come I really had a lot of soul searching, forgiveness, and healing to do. And I realized that I had relied on my Dad when it came to spirituality and hardships, and overcoming those hardships. Someone that knew me so well and loved me so unconditionally was now gone. I had relied on that support and love and constant reassurance that he gave me that I was wonderful and that I was doing great. All of a sudden I had to do it without him. When I tried leaning on the Savior I didn't feel that it helped. I realize that so many have lost loved ones, but this loss was new to me and I felt like I didn't know how to move on from the grief. I started turning more towards those around me and felt their kindness and love for me. I began to realize that by letting people help me I was beginning to heal. I decided to try turning to my Savior for help even though I didn't feel like I deserved it or that I was too broken for help. That was the best thing that I have done. I feel like if I just keep taking even little steps towards my goal that I am succeeding. And that the Lord is rewarding my efforts. I have felt the unconditional love that my earthly father had for me through my Heavenly Father. My Dad never seemed to ever doubt in the power of the Savior, and I want to follow that example.

~Emily Andersen

Partake of His Healing Power

Throughout my life I have struggled with feelings of self-doubt, unworthiness and just not being good enough. At times I felt I was a disappointment to my Father in Heaven and Savior. The only things that have helped me know that these thoughts are wrong, and come from the adversary, are the teachings of Jesus Christ found in the scriptures and the comforting gift of the Holy Ghost. 

One experience I had intensely brought these past feelings to the surface of my mind again. I always wanted to have a large family, but after delivering my second son I had a Strep B infection that almost took my life. The doctors had to perform an emergency hysterectomy. My husband and I cried so hard, and often still do, when we recall that day. Questions later filled my mind. Was I not good enough to be a mother? Did God not trust me to raise his children? The list went on. 

I wish I could say comfort came right away, but it took me a long time to truly believe that I was good enough to be a mother, and that God did trust me to raise his children. The number of times I have had answers to my prayers, times when I have needed reassurance that God is there and loves me, have been countless. Ten years ago, 1 Nephi 21:16 suddenly had new meaning to me. It says, "...thy walls are continually before me." 

I knew at that moment that whatever challenges I'm faced with, God is aware of them and is constantly thinking about them. He is always ready to help me get through them. After all, the beginning of that scripture says, "I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." I know God loves us. He is aware of our struggles. He knows our needs and wants more than anything, for us to come as we are... that we may 'Partake of His Healing Power'. 

~Cayla Benard

The Savior Can Heal Each of Us When We Look Up and Seek Him

The healing power of Christ has blessed my life many times. Some of these experiences are personal and not easy to talk about. I have experienced loss of expected blessings—which was wrong on my part. I just expected some blessings to be a part of my life and when they didn’t come, I felt hurt, betrayed, and discouraged. In each experience, I had to search for answers. Some answers have come—and some may not come until I am in Heaven. But after many prayers, blessings, and searching, I have found peace and love through my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

 After one very long, trying night with no sleep, we attended Sacrament Meeting. I felt weak, broken, and tired. We sang the Sacrament hymn, “Reverently and Meekly Now”. The words to every verse seemed to speak to my heart.

​For thee ever do I plead
​I have loved thee as thy friend, ​
With a love that cannot end.
​Be obedient, I implore, ​
Prayerful, watchful evermore, ​
And be constant unto me, ​
That thy Savior I may be. 

These words sunk into my heart and I felt a great and tender love from my Savior. It was almost like I could feel His arms around me. I also could feel His love for those I love. His love is real and can heal each of us when we look up and seek Him. 

~Phyllis Hall

The Lord will Ease Our Burdens and Make them Light

Mosiah 24:14-15 is one of my favorite scripture passages. It says that the Lord will ease my burdens as I stand as a witness for Him. I remember coming back to it a lot on my mission. As it says in the scriptures, He will not take away our burdens, but He will ease them and make them light on our backs. That is something I have to remind myself every time something hard comes up. I know that as I come to Him as my broken and weary self, He will heal me and make me whole. The pandemic has been especially challenging for me as my mother received a double lung transplant a year ago. She lives in my basement and we have tried really hard to keep her safe by isolating ourselves as best we can, but the anxiety of potentially bringing home a virus that could kill her has been a lot. I have spent many nights praying for comfort and healing and I know the Lord has provided by easing my burdens and keeping us safe. I know that we all have burdens by virtue of being human, but the Lord is always there to make them light for us as we come to Him. He is our friend and our Savior. He will never leave us as we trust in Him. 

~Melissa Purser

2022 Stake Women's Conference

Please join us for this amazing conference on Saturday, January 29th at 10 am. with lunch to follow. All Relief Society Sisters and Senior Young Women are invited to attend. Masks are encouraged. We can’t wait!

"Ours in a Ministry of Healing"

There have been many times that I have needed the healing power of our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that power helped me through the death of my wonderful parents. But for the last few weeks, I have struggled with hurt feelings and anger. I have two children that have left the church. I love them so much and I want so badly to be an example to them. I will never give up trying to be a voice in their life that reminds them that they are loved, the church is true, please come back. Recently though, an Aunt told my son he wasn’t loved and he was an embarrassment to his family. These words burned in my mind and heart, fueling an anger that took over. I have wanted to confront her, making sure she was aware of my anger and the hurt she caused. But as I have contemplated the theme “Come as you are to the Savior and partake of His healing power,” I have realized that is what I need to do instead. I pray I can, I want to be an example of kindness and forgiveness, not anger and bitterness. I have a testimony that through our Savior, all things are possible. President Gordon B Hinckley said “As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, ours is a ministry of healing, with a duty to bind the wounds and ease the pain of those who suffer. Upon a world afflicted with greed and contention, upon a families distress by argument and selfishness, upon individuals burdened with sin and troubles and sorrows, I invoke the healing power of Christ, giving my witness to its efficacy and wonder. I testify of Him who is the great source of healing. He is a Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, the ‘Son of Righteousness,’ who came with ‘healing in His wings’.” I add my testimony to President Hinckley’s and I am grateful to be reminded of the Saviors healing power through this theme, and what it can do for all of us. 

 ~Janene Dahl

Heavenly Father and Jesus Love & Accept You Where You are in This Very Moment

Message given at a December Christmas Relief Society Dinner in the Bridgecreek Ward—— 

What a beautiful evening to start the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Back in August, I was thinking about this activity and that is when the theme of “Come As You Are” came strongly to my mind. I thought about the Savior’s birth and how the shepherds came with haste. In Luke 2:15-16 we read: 

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 

I wonder if there could have been more to this conversation such as: 
• Wait! My sheep are dirty. I can’t go to the Lord until they are perfectly clean. 
• Wait! I got up late and had a rushed prayer as I ran up the hill. I can’t go to the Lord until I kneel down and say my prayers perfectly for a month. 
• Wait! I can’t go to the Lord—or even I just can’t be happy because my house is a mess or because I fell asleep at the temple or because my children are making choices that I don’t approve of or because I haven’t called my mom in a month. What will He think of me? 

Luckily the next verse is much better: 

16 And they came with haste (and I would add that some maybe came with a little apprehension because of their dirty sheep but still they came just as they were), and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 

When things shut down, I tried to get in a habit of exercising more to improve my health and for other reasons. One morning after my exercise, I was laying on my floor in stillness doing a LovingKindess meditation. The meditation included these phrases and I invite you to close your eyes and offer yourselves these words: 

May I be peaceful 
May I be happy 
May I be safe from inner and outer harm 
May I be as healthy as I am capable of being 
May I live with joy and ease. 

The phrase “May I be as healthy as I am capable of being” struck me with great force. I thought, in this very moment, I am only capable of being as healthy as someone who is 28 again, can be. In this very moment, I am only capable of being as healthy as someone who is ****lbs can be. I can’t expect myself to run the Ragnar like my younger sister who has been training for years. I am only capable of being as healthy as the daughter of God that I am in this very moment. This has been mind blowing. It has allowed me to soften some of the expectations I have of myself. It also allows me to work to be kinder to my present and past self and to start being aware of how the choices I make in this moment will affect my future self. PHEW!!!! Mind Blowing!!! 

I have been able to look at other areas in my life from the perspective of where I am in this moment. For years, I’ve had guilt and been unkind to myself because of thoughts like my Come Follow Me is lacking, my house is a mess and I’m sure I’ve ruined my children. This new view has helped me see things a little differently. When I had gone a long time without even opening Come, Follow Me, I thought in a panic, “Oh no, I have to start from where I left off and hurry to catch up!!!.” That seemed like a very overwhelming task so I took a breath and decided, “No, I’m just going to start in this new moment right where we are at.” I sat down and just as I started reading, I heard a kind and tender voice in my head that said, “Welcome back.” I knew then that the Lord was aware of me and that He loved me for coming to Him just as I was: a daughter of God who was late, behind, and imperfect but who also had a desire to do what she’d been asked. Those feelings of love and acceptance increased my desire to be more diligent with my Come, Follow Me study. It’s still probably about 50/50 (and that’s being generous) and I’m learning to give myself credit for 50% that’s fabulous and be mindful of the not-so-fabulous 50% and know I’m still loved and can move forward into each new moment with my Savior’s help just as I am. 

Sisters what are we missing out on because we feel like we or things around us should be different than what they are? What joys and triumphs are we missing out on because we are so focused on what we perceive should be? I’m the mom who yelled at my child one day for not putting shoes away. I am also the mom who praised this same child for being responsible and getting up and out the door on time without my help (is nagging help?). I am both of these moms and I can go to the Lord and my child, just as I am, to own and fix, with the Saviors help, my not so great parts. And I can also go to the Lord and my child to own and work to continue, again with the Savior’s help, the great parts of me. 

Sisters, I invite you to place your hands on your heart, and if you are comfortable, close your eyes, and just feel. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know your names and they love you. They know what color your shower curtain is and They are aware of what’s important to you no matter how big or small. They know if your mind wandered at the temple or if you just totally fell asleep and They accept you and welcome you back with open arms. They know all the struggles that you are experiencing and They are there to help you through them. They know all the wonderful things that you do and They know all the places that you fall short and They love you just as you are and are cheering you on. Sisters, I have personally experienced all of the things I just mentioned. Let us come with haste to the Savior just as we are. He will not reject us but will welcome us with open arms. And for those of us who are still a little apprehensive because of our dirty sheep, let us exercise a little bit of faith and still come and give the Lord the opportunity to show us that He knows us, that He accepts us, and that He loves us just as we are. 

I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior and yours, amen. 

~Lara Anderson

"We Each Have Something Essential to Bring"

Our Women’s conference theme this year is "Come as you are unto the Savior". We are invited to come unto Jesus and bring with us our unique gifts, talents and perspective. Sometimes we feel that we don’t have anything special or important to bring- that we are too flawed or ordinary to be of value to the Savior.

I had an experience this year at stake Girls Camp, that helped me understand the unique value that we each bring. 

On the second day at camp our inspired Stake YW camp leaders told us to come and participate in a painting craft. We all sat down at a long table and were handed a 5 x 7 card with what looked like random lines on it, they also had numbers written on them that matched the paint options on the table- it was a paint by number project. However this was different, because we had no idea what we were painting or how our painting would turn out. One thing was clear immediately- we had vastly different cards from each other. Some girls cards were so simple- they literally only had to paint one color on their card and they were done. Some girls cards were soooo beautiful- full of because bright prink, vibrant red and deep chocolate brown. Mine was neither of those, it was both really hard and really ordinary. My card had so many thin lines to paint in, it looked to me like a topographic map of some canyons. It also had the three most ordinary colors in existence, beige, beiger and beigest. Looking at my card I oddly felt both bored and stressed by my card at the same time. I had card envy of everyone else’s card and wished that I had an easier and more beautiful card to paint. 

 Eventually I stopped focusing on what everyone else was given and instead focus on doing the very best with the card I was given. This was going to be the most well painted beige canyon ever! Once I stopped looking at the vibrant colors around me I found that I didn’t dislike my card quite so much, however, even though I tried my very best I did not paint perfectly. My brush was far too large for some of the tiny little canyons I had to get beige into. Sometimes I legitimately didn’t know which beige went where and so I had to get help from the amazing young women around me- they always were willing and ready to help. I fixed my errors the best I could and handed in my card, not knowing what I had painted but knowing I had tried my very best with what I was given to work with. 

 At the very end of camp was the unveiling of the beautiful art piece that all our cards came together to make. It was a breath-taking painting of our savior. We were each asked to go right up close to it and find out where our painting fit in it. I had no trouble locating my card, and instantly it all made perfect sense to me, all along I had been painting one of the Saviors hands. 

 As I stood there staring at the card I had painted, I understood in a new way what it means to be the Saviors hands on earth. I understand that our earthly values of ease and glimmer and prestige often blind us to the true value of our lives we are living. It struck me, that on that remarkable day when God unveils to us our lives painting, that we will see that the piece we have been asked to paint in this life, isn't ordinary or plain, but is an essential piece. 

 As we come as we are unto the Savior, let us remember that we each have something essential to bring and that the Savior will add to what we bring and will help us become the very best version of ourselves possible. 

 ~Ashley Simmons

"Every Gift"

Our family has a Christmas tradition to bring a small gift for exchange on Christmas Eve. This is a game that becomes very lively, especially if a timer is used. We use different methods of exchange, such a drawing numbers, reading a "right and left" story, or rotating gifts to music. As each gift is unwrapped, the players get to see the items available as the game is played, and there are often a couple of very coveted gifts. Once those gifts have been identified, it becomes a challenge to be the one to obtain the coveted gift! Once the timer rings, and the game has concluded, those who did not receive the gift they desired often feel disappointed that they were not the one that received the desired gift. 

Unlike our tradition at Christmas, the Savior offers all of the gifts associated with His atoning sacrifice to us. Everyone may receive the gifts, and no one is left out. 3 Nephi, chapter 9 verse 14 states, "Yea, verily I say unto you if you will come unto me you shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me." He invites all to come and accept the gifts that He is willing to offer. The first step is to come to Him, to draw near to Him. His gifts can uplift, comfort, heal, bless, and ultimately return us back to our Father in Heaven. 

 ~Lori West

"Keep Showing Up and Asking Questions"

No matter where we are in the gospel we should just keep showing up and asking questions and get the help we need. When we have questions we need to put in the time studying and learning and go back to steps of how we gained our testimony in the first place. Keep talking to people you trust and those you want to emulate and lean on their testimony until you get your own. We can always go back to those basics to strengthen our testimony when those questions and difficulties come. 

I remember going through a difficult trial in our family. One night I knew I had to make a conscious decision; I could either blame God or rely on Him to get me through the trial. It was a real turning point for me—I had to choose one path or the other.

~Lori Harward Cebollero

"Come as You Are"

Jesus' invitation to "Come Unto Him" is an invitation for all of His children. Come unto Him as you are. He invites all to Come unto Him and partake of his goodness. He will not deny anyone that comes unto Him. Black and white, bond and free, male and female. (2 Nephi 26:33) No matter where we live or what language we speak. Whether we are single, married, widowed, divorced, have a large family, or have no children. Whether our faith is weak or whether our faith is strong. There is room for all! For everyone! We all need a Savior! We all need Jesus Christ! It's easy to feel like we don't belong for one reason or another because we feel like we have fallen short of each other's expectation. But we all fall short! Sister Bonnie H. Cordon said, "The Savior's love for us is unfailing - even when we fail!"

Come is an action verb. It implies that there is work for us to do. Yes, God loves us now and always, as we are, simply because we are His children but He expects us to love Him in return. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said," 'Come as you are,' a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, 'Don’t plan to stay as you are.' We smile and remember that God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be." God could have everything be perfect if He desired. But our growth, progress and who we are becoming are more important to Him. He sees our efforts, our hearts and our desires and He wants the very best we have to give.
~Janae Poulson

"Christ Offers Me Everything"

When I was growing up, I would often complain to my mom that I didn't like this or that about myself. Mom would always counter my arguments with .... "I love you just the way you are!"

Christ, who loves each of us perfectly invites us to come unto
Him ... just as we are.
Christ Offers Me Everything (COME)
And loves each of us just as we are and where we are.
~Shauna Cleverly

“Come As You Are and Partake of Christ’s Healing Power”

In Isaiah 12:2 it says “…the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song”. I love this scripture because I feel the Savior’s strength in my life, and countless times that strength and that love has come through hearing good music testifying of Him. But here is my secret—I don’t read music. My mom gave up on me being a great pianist many years ago and let me quit (I think hiding my piano books as a little girl to get out of practicing was the last straw). But, I LOVE good music and I feel the spirit so strongly through it.

I can sort of sing. I’ve sung in different ward choirs through the years, but what I’ve learned to do is sit by someone who reads music and is really good at carrying a tune. I make sure I am next to them or I am sitting directly in front of them. Then I can pick it up.

This years Women’s Conference theme is “Come As You Are and Partake of Christ’s Healing Power.” When I come to sing in the ward choir I come just as mediocre as I am—hoping to become better with the help of other choir members. Throughout His life, many people “came as they were” to the Savior and were changed because of it. We read
in The New Testament and Book of Mormon of countless people who were healed, forgiven, taught, and changed by the Savior. They came from all walks of life with different experiences, different sins, different worries; hearts burdened with different things. But they all came.

We come just as we are to the Savior today to be changed as we turn to Him and to His Gospel. Elder Holland pleads with us to stay permanently and faithfully in the choir—the choir being the gospel of Jesus Christ. He says, “in singing the anthems of eternity, we should stand as close as humanly possible to the Savior and Redeemer of the world—who has absolutely perfect pitch.” Just as I choose to sit next to someone when I sing who has better pitch than I—as we choose to come to the Savior we become better.

In this life there are, there have been, and there will be days where we may not feel like singing—where our faith is being tested, or we feel like we just don’t fit in. But it’s on those days that Elder Holland counsels us to stay faithfully in the choir where there is room for all of us—“There is room for those who speak different languages, celebrate diverse cultures, and live in a host of locations. There is room for the single, for the married, for large families, and for the childless. There is room for those who once had questions regarding their faith and room for those who still do. There is room for those with differing sexual attractions. In short, there is a place for everyone who loves God and honors His commandments…there is room in this choir for all who wish to be there. ‘Come as you are,’ a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, ‘Don’t plan to stay as you are.’ We smile and remember that God is determined to make of us more than we thought we could be.”

As we contemplate the different names of Jesus Christ, including “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”(Isaiah 9:6) why would we not want to come? Why would we wait “for things to get better” before coming? The whole reason to come is to be changed. Sisters, “the whole need no physician” (Moroni 8:8). It is my prayer that we will come just as we are to the Savior and partake of His goodness and His healing power. As we do, I know He will change us—He will help us become who we are meant to become.

~Tiffany McMinn