Strap yourselves in, folks. I’ve got a lot to say.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland finally came to visit. I have been looking forward to this Stake Conference weekend for a LONG WHILE. Now it’s over – Elder Holland is no longer a button’s toss away from me – but I am a different person for his being here.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Let me just say. I have always been a fan of Elder Holland. I loved him from his memorable conference addresses. He speaks with clarity and conviction. He is an Apostle, every whit, and it shows.

But now?

Well, now. I wasn’t going be all fan-girl about it. Yes, there was a lot of excitement pending this weekend. Yes, our Stake Presidency had to ask us to come no more than an hour early for any of the sessions, and asked that we not save seats. And, yes, I was thrilled to know that I was going to benefit from the wisdom of an Apostle of the Lord. They know, you know? Not just the sure reality of what they testify of (an Apostle’s calling), but they know what we need to hear. I knew it was going to be an incredible experience, but I wanted mine to be a personal experience. I had questions in my heart that sought answers. I prepared, and I knew I would receive.

The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

But I wasn’t going to be a fan girl about Elder Holland.

I didn’t want to cheapen the experience. I refused to trivialize. Here was a servant of my Lord, not some celebrity. I was going to sit at his feet (as it were) and absorb as much of what he had for me as I could. I wasn’t going to get in my own way by joining the swarms of adoring masses that wanted to shake his hand for the bragging rights.

I arrived no more than one hour early, and I didn’t save one single seat.

But when Elder Holland entered that building, the impact of it nearly floored me. The conforming witness that here was a living, breathing Apostle of the Lord left me doubtless; not in the way that held doubts dissolve – I knew who this man was – but in the way that fills hearts with pure and burning courage. And when he spoke…his words stripped away my fears and folded around my core. He was speaking right to me.

And I realized; there was no way this experience wasn’t going to be personal.

Because God was speaking through is trusted servant. And when God speaks, He

speaks directly to your very personal soul.

And oh, He spoke to mine.

Elder Holland said there are so many tings in life that can ‘get to us’. So many things that can unnerve us. This doesn’t mean life is terrible – we have so many blessings, so many things to be grateful for and to be glad about. But he wondered how we came to conference – if there were those among us who had prayed, if there were any who were worried about something and came seeking answers. He said, “without knowing any specifics, I want to talk about hard times.”

I won’t go into all that he said. Here are my notes, if you want them.

But I do want to touch on a few things that touched me. Some things that he asked us to remember, that I thought you might like to remember also.

First. This is not the celestial kingdom.

The congregation chuckled at this. It can be pretty obvious that this is not the Celestial Kingdom. Yet…we still don’t seem to expect to suffer as a part of the deal. Elder Holland reminded us that, “this is a part of a plan that started a long time ago and has a long time to go before it is finished. Don’t bail out in the second act.”

He said (and I love this): the first maritime rule of weathering a storm is: STAY IN THE BOAT.

When the waters get rough, it is not the time to abandon ship!

There was a time when we shouted for joy over this Plan. (sometimes, I’m sure we wonder what all that shouting was about – but the point is: we wanted this. Because we knew that it was good. That it was best. That it was the only way.)

We may not understand it all. But we did once. And we will again.

Elder Holland spoke of sacrifice. That we are still under covenant to sacrifice. Every one of us. We don’t offer little lambs, anymore, because the Real Lamb came and fulfilled that sacrifice. Instead, we offer unto Him a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Elder Holland said that part of the way the world is saved from sin is through sacrifice. Christ made the Big Offering – so what is our little offering?

He asked us, “can you sign on for a little bit of Gethsemane?”

We don’t have to march all the way up to Calvary, carrying our cross. Be grateful.

But we should not be offended if God finds ways for us to sacrifice – in a personal way. In the soul. Where it hurts.

After all, Christ died of a broken heart.

Can’t we offer a tiny bit of our own sacrifice for Him?

For the Plan?

For Humility?

For Understanding?

For when we cry, don’t we understand better those who are crying?

Christ was sorrowful unto death. That is a real broken heart. We don’t have to fall on our faces and be sorrowful unto death. But maybe we could fall on our knees and be sorrowful unto salvation?

God loves us. He is trying to make us divine. At some point, we need to stop acting just like God’s children, and actually act LIKE HIM. There are no shortcuts. We have to learn how to do this. So the path we say we can’t walk, we walk. The burden we can’t carry, we carry. And we look deep into our soul and see the divinity that God has planted there. We are not just His, we are going to be like Him. So we stiffen the spine. We square the shoulders. And we get to work.

And the thing is – God takes those broken pieces of our hearts, and He gives them back to us whole and new.

So hang on.

Dry each others tears.

Be a little bit better. Be a little bit more like Him.

And trust in the Master of Ocean and Earth and Sky. The One who, though weary, can rise up and say one more time (hoping that this time we’ll listen), “Peace, Be Still”; and the waves & the winds cease.

After that, you can imagine how much of a Fan Girl I became! I didn’t need to shake his hand – the imprint he left on my soul was potent enough stuff! – but I still marched up onto that stage, attached to Bill’s arm, and shook the hand of an Apostle of the Lord.

And do you know what he said to me?

He said, “Wow, look at that beautiful flaming red hair!” Well, wasn’t I just flattered! I blushed, and thanked him earnestly for his words, and he thanked me earnestly for listening.

And then do you know what he said to Bill?

He said, “Thank you for your comments in the Priesthood session. Thank you for being so specific!” Bill said that he was welcome, they thanked each other, and we went through the rest of the hand-shaking procession and down the opposite stairs of the stage with silly grins on our faces.

“Bill!” I squealed. “We’re like his best friends, now!”

“Yeah!,” he said. “He totally knows us!” and he never mentioned how the Stepper who was determined to not be a fangirl about it gabbed about Elder Holland the entire way to Highland to pick up the Fish.

But maybe that’s because he was too preoccupied with fanboy thoughts of his own.


b. said...'re so lucky! So lucky!
I remember hearing him speak once at a BYU Women's Conference...the Marriot Center full, FULL...and I felt his greatness. I felt that witness you write of...the doubtless one.

Thank you so much for sharing this!

Tamsin said...

Dear Steppity Step Steppington,

Thank you so much for your wonderful notes. I was having one of those days before I left, so didn't even think to bring anything to take notes of my own. And Elder Holland's talk on Saturday night was exactly what I needed to hear. So thank you, dearest VeeTee, for being to willing to share.

Boy Mom said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Wow what awesome notes, did you do the illustrations?

Doty Family said...

What a cool experience! I had 2 chances to hear President Hinckley speak in person and they are 2 of the COOLEST experiences in my life! I am so digging your blog. Also wanted to tell you congrats about winning the tie. I so wanted you to win, but was extatic when you did!! Wasn't planned either. Thanks a bunch.

Jen said...

Thank you so much for writing about Stake Conference. Clint and I wanted to be there more than anything, but things with Clint's dad weren't looking good on Saturday and Sunday. We staid up at the Hospital with the family incase anything happened. Luckily he pulled out of it. I can't wait to read more of your notes. Thanks!

MikkSolo said...


You are right on!


Queen Scarlett said...

This so inspired me. Thank you... I love Holland... heck I get all tongue-tied in the presence of Holy Men/Women. ;-)

~j. said...

Awesome experience. Thanks for sharing it.

I'm totally his fan on facebook.