Tuesday, April 12, 2011

LDS Writer Blogfest: "Opportunities to Do Good"

Welcome to the second annual LDS Writer Blogfest! LDS is short for Latter-day Saint, which is short for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church). Two weekends ago, we heard messages from the apostles and other general authorities who direct us, and today, a bunch of LDS writers are blogging about their favorite talks from General Conference. I’m going to share a few thoughts from Henry B. Eyring’s talk, “Opportunities to Do Good.”

First off, I thought I’d share a little bit about the speaker. Henry B. Eyring is the First Counselor in the First Presidency, which is the highest governing body in the Church. He graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor's degree in Physics, then received his Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Business Administration degrees from Harvard University. Before he was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he taught at Stanford University and served as president of Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho). Maybe that’s why he’s usually one of my favorite speakers at General Conference--he’s so used to lecturing:)

President Eyring started off by quoting a hymn we often sing, “Have I Done Any Good?”

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help, was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

Except I didn’t hear, “Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above.” I heard, “Then wake up and do something more than dream of your book deal above.”

Writing is such a solitary pursuit. It’s all about my queries, my stories, my characters, my words. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, so long as we keep everything in perspective, but I think my inner Jiminy Cricket was trying to tell me that my perspective was out of whack. That I’d become too me-centered rather than we-centered.

“The Lord regularly sends wake-up calls to all of us,” President Eyring went on to say. “Sometimes it may be a sudden feeling of sympathy for someone in need. A father may have felt it when he saw a child fall and scrape a knee. A mother may have felt it when she heard the frightened cry of her child in the night. A son or a daughter may have felt sympathy for someone who seemed sad or afraid at school.”

Serving others can be as big as offering your flooded-out neighbors a place to stay, but it doesn’t have to be. Serving others can be as small as donating a can of green beans to your local food bank. It can be as small as helping an elderly woman--or helping anyone--unload the groceries at the house. It can be as small as paying attention to that tiny tug on your sleeve and the tiny voice that asks, “Mommy, when you’re done on the computer, will you play a game with me?”

President Eyring’s talk was my wake-up call. I need to pay a little less attention to myself and a little more to those around me. We all have the capacity to do so much good if we will only open our eyes.

I’ll leave you with President Eyring’s testimony, which is my testimony, too.

If you’d like more information about the Church in general or General Conference in particular, feel free to check out lds.org, which has a great highlights reel from General Conference, or mormon.org, which is a fantastic place to go to learn more about the Church. Also, don’t miss the other LDS Writer Blogfest posts:

Annette Lyon: “Desire”
Annie Cechini: “The Spirit of Revelation”
Ben Spendlove: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Chantele Sedgwick: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Charity Bradford: “LDS Women Are Incredible!”
Jackee Alston: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Jenilyn Tolley: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Jennifer McFadden: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jessie Oliveros: “Establishing a Christ-Centered Home”
Jolene Perry: “It’s Conference Once Again”
Jordan McCollum: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Kasey Tross: “Guided by the Holy Spirit”
Kayeleen Hamblin: “Become as a Little Child”
Kelly Bryson: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Melanie Stanford: “What Manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be?”
Michelle Merrill: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Myrna Foster: “Opportunities to Do Good”
Nisa Swineford: “Desire”
Sallee Mathews: “The Eternal Blessings of Marriage”
Sierra Gardner: “The Atonement Covers All Pain”
Tamara Hart Heiner: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”
The Writing Lair: “Waiting on the Road to Damascus”

Finally, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. You’re also welcome to e-mail me at kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com if you’d like. I’m no expert by any means, but I’ll do my best.

Thank you for reading, and have an awesome Tuesday, everyone!


Sierra Gardner said...

This is great Krista. Thanks for letting me know about it! I also really loved Eyring's talk and needed the wake up call as well. It is so easy to get caught up in my own life and to forget to reach out and serve others.

교인애 Inae Kyo said...

Serving others--- one thing that I as a writer/writing-blogger can do is to help other writers/bloggers by doing such things as visiting their blogs and telling other folks about them, reviewing their books, and so on.

I think your LDS blogfest is a wonderful idea, and in addition I think it's a good idea to work together with other writers who share the same Heavenly Father across faith lines.

After all, though I'm a Catholic many of my favorite authors are LDS or Protestant/Evangelical.

Ben Spendlove said...

"Dream of your book deal above." Heehee. I was too busy thinking "Yeah, but how can I use this in my book?" to hear that. Good post.

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

Great post, Krista. I love how you've applied it to your writing. I need that reminder, too. It's so easy to get caught up in the "how's this good for me" and forget the "how can I help someone else."

Jackee said...

Beautifully said, Krista. I love how you related it to writing because that's how I feel so often too--that I would rather write than serve sometimes! Thanks for sharing. :o)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for arranging this blogfest! I love your "dream of your book deal" translation. I need to remember to look for ways to help people on a day-to-day basis. Thanks for the reminder!

Krista V. said...

Thanks, Sierra! And thank YOU for participating in the blogfest.

Inae Kyo, thank you so much for your comment! It's wonderful to hear from you! And you're absolutely right - there are great ways to serve people online as well.

Ben, that's how I wrote it down in my notes. Like I said, I'm pretty sure it was the Spirit's interpretation:)

Kayeleen, that was the main reason I wanted to blog about President Eyring's talk. I knew I could relate it to writing because that's how his talk related to me.

Jackee, it's so hard to find that balance between writing and all the other things that fill our lives, including serving others. I think God simply expects us to do the things He's already asked us to do, like take care of our families, magnify our callings, and do our visiting teaching. All of those are forms of service.

Jen, whenever I ask God to point me toward someone who needs my help, He always obliges:)

Kelly Bryson said...

This talk hit me the same way!

I have a hard time stopping once I start writing or anything book related, so I try to balance book days with other days. Days to do projects around the house, do special activities with the kids...which lately has been projects around the house. Hmmm. Maybe I need to keep trying.

Thanks for the reminder:)

Kasey Tross said...

Thanks for organizing this blogfest, Krista, and thanks for your wonderful thoughts on this talk! It happened to be one of the ones I didn't get to see, and I am looking forward to either watching it online or reading it later. :-)

Jolene Perry said...

I love that we're a church focused on doing things, serving others. I want to be a hard worker, i want to feel good about the things I do.
Thanks so much for sharing. This has turned my hectic morning into a really happy place to be.

Melanie Stanford said...

"Then wake up and do something more than dream of your book deal above".

HAHA! And so true! I definitely need to take a step out of my own head more often and give my children more of my attention, and others as well.

I think I'm going to have that song (with those words) in my head for the rest of the day.

Krista V. said...

Kelly, that's a good way to do it. I'd probably go a little crazy if I didn't write a little every day, but I try to restrict my writing - and especially my Internetting - to specific times.

Definitely do that, Kasey. And if you can, I'd say take the time to watch it. I love President Eyring's delivery.

Jolene, thank YOU for participating. Everybody's posts have been fantastic!

Melanie, it is a constant balancing act, at least for me. I hardly ever feel like I'm giving everything and everyone just the right amount of time, but I keep trying. Writing is important enough that I want to keep it in my life, but it's not the most important thing. I just always have to remind myself of that.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I loved loved loved this talk. It definitely made me think about helping others instead of myself. Nearly every time I hear of a pregnant woman who is on bed-rest or has just had a baby in my ward, I try to make dinner for them or do something. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do something. It's been hard to think of others, especially with my young family, but the more I do things for other people, the more blessings I receive. Great post Krista. Thanks for sharing. :)

Nisa said...

I need that wake-up call a lot! Thanks for your thoughts and for hosting this! I completely forgot to mention that in my post this morning and I feel terrible, but I am grateful to you and Kayeleen for organizing this!

Myrna Foster said...

I love how we quoted different parts of his talk. It made me think I needed to get things in perspective and quit spending so much time on the computer. I don't get promptings to go help people if I'm not listening.

Annette Lyon said...

As others have said--it IS a balancing act being a writer and a mother.

It can be done, of course, but we need these kinds of reminders! Thanks!

Krista V. said...

Thank you for your comment, Chantele! I couldn't have said it better myself.

Nisa, don't feel bad at all that you didn't mention Kayeleen and me. We don't mind anonymity:)

Myrna, that happened with a lot of people who blogged about the same talk, I noticed. Oh, and I loved this: "I don't get promptings to go help people if I'm not listening."

You're welcome, Annette! Our children - and our spouses and the rest of our family - are definitely the best people we can serve.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Thanks Krista for organizing this writer fest! I am still making my rounds (alphabetically). It is very easy to lose focus, and serving others (especially those small people that we care for every day) can really raise us up!

Krista V. said...

Jessie, thanks for stopping by! (I'm still doing the same thing, making my way slowly but steadily through the list.) I think sometimes we forget that taking care of our children, really being there with them in the small moments of our lives, is serving someone just as surely as taking a casserole to a neighbor.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I'm very often convicted about this same thing, Krista. It's that endless striving for the right balance! I'm the most content with my writing life when I get my priorities straight. :)


Krista V. said...

Thanks for stopping by, Amy! I can't imagine how you balance everything, since I have less than half as many kids as you:)