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Cassy Budd|Feb. 14, 2017 Play Through Your Mistakes Music has always been a very important part of my life. Nearly every major memory of my childhood involves music of some kind: singing with my family on road trips to pass the time; learning barbershop music with my mom and sisters; listening to the Tijuana Brass band on the record player while decorating our Christmas tree; singing my father’s favorite song, “Love at Home” (see Hymns, 2002, no. 294), for family home evening; and admiring my mother as she played the organ in our sacrament meeting every week—something she still does at the young age of eighty. Given that music played such a prominent role in my youth, it will not surprise you to know that I took piano lessons for ten years, from the age of eight to seventeen. My first piano teacher—we will call her Mrs. Smith—was very strict and had high expectations for mastery. During my lesson she would often follow the music with a pencil as I played. Sometimes, after I hit a sour note or used the wrong fingering, Mrs. Smith would flick my fingers with that pencil. She intended to help me recognize the mistake so that I could correct it. Unfortunately, after several experiences with the dreaded pencil, I learned that the least painful way to handle my musical mistakes was to remove my hands from the keys as quickly as possible. This habit of abruptly stopping after a mistake was also unintentionally reinforced when I would practice at home. Our piano was positioned on a wall that was opposite our kitchen; in fact, it was back-to-back with our stove. I would often practice while my mother was making dinner on the other side of the wall. When I would make a mistake, she would make a staccato “ah” sound. Startled, my hands would fly from the keys. I know this was not the intended outcome because I heard her do the same thing when she made her own mistakes at the organ or piano. She still does this today, but only in practice. When she is at the organ or piano for performance, there are few errors, but when they occur, they are hardly noticeable. She can play right on through a mistake like nothing happened. I, on the other hand, cannot. Most of my piano recitals with Mrs. Smith took place in the chapel of my home ward building. These were reverent occasions—no clapping after the end of each performance, just polite smiles from the audience as we each took our turn at the grand piano. We were not allowed to use our music, so for me, the walk up those three velvety red steps to the piano felt like walking into a battle unarmed. I was terrified that I would make a mistake, take my hands from the keys, and be unable to find the right placement again. This terror of performing would follow me into adulthood. When I was still in the early years of my public accounting career and had two small children at home, I was called as the Relief Society pianist. The first week was a disaster. I lur
Craig Manning|Jan. 31, 2017 I would like to explain the sequence of how I was first contacted to speak at this devotional. It was on a Monday that I got a text message from a number I didn’t recognize. It had been a hectic day, and I didn’t read the text fully. Thinking it was a request to speak at an upcoming Church assignment, I texted back politely asking who the text was from. Matthew O. Richardson, BYU advancement vice president, responded that it was he who had sent the text asking me to speak at a BYU devotional. The first thought that popped into my mind was, “Are you crazy? Do you not realize that I can barely speak the English language, let alone speak in front of so many people?” My wife, who was with me at the time, responded without hesitation, “That is desperation, not inspiration!” I texted President Richardson back with, “I think you have the wrong Craig Manning.” He then replied, “Oops, sorry, I do have the wrong person!” But he then clarified that he did have the right person. As intimidating as it is to speak in front of you, the experience of preparing for this devotional has been great. I have found that every time I have put on the radio, in every activity I have participated in, and with every thought I have had, I have double-checked myself to make sure I was in alignment with the Holy Ghost so as to have the Spirit with me. I do pray that the Spirit will be with me today as I deliver my thoughts. I would like to talk to you today about a couple of life-changing lessons the Lord has taught me. I was born and raised in Canberra, Australia. My mother was, and still is, a Catholic, and my father was a member of the Church of England before he passed away from cancer twenty years ago. We attended church on Sundays, and I attended Sunday School, completing my first Holy Communion. As I got older, I started playing rugby. Games were on Sundays, and it wasn’t long before we stopped attending church. I remember coming home from a rugby game one Sunday when my mother said to me, “You are really good at sports, so you won’t be very good at school.” This statement confused me. Although I didn’t have the maturity and clarity of thought at the time to articulate my emotions, I can look back now and see why this statement bothered me. Was there some phenomenon that controlled my destiny? I couldn’t help being good at sports; it just seemed to happen. Every time I participated in an athletic contest, I was reminded that I was a good athlete. So did that mean I had no chance of ever being a good student, and did I have any say in any of this? I don’t share this story to accuse my mother of bad parenting but rather to illustrate what can happen when we don’t understand the Lord’s plan or, more important, when we don’t learn to live and apply the gospel of Jesus Christ. I spent my teenage years focusing the majority of my attention on sports, par
Scott C. Esplin|Jan. 19, 2016 Thank you for that beautiful and calming musical number. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak today and for the support of family, colleagues, students, and friends who are here. I invite you to reflect on the last time you experienced the feeling of fear. Was it while wondering if you would be admitted into one of the many competitive degree programs here at Brigham Young University? Or while waiting to see if the girl you asked out wants to go out again? Or, worse yet, while wondering what to do when she does? For me, the feeling is as recent as sitting on this stand, looking into the faces of so many and knowing that, through the miracle of technology, thousands more are watching this message. Like you, I can testify that the feeling of fear is real. Elder David A. Bednar taught about this powerful emotion in last April’s general conference: “Notably, one of the first effects of the Fall was for Adam and Eve to experience fear. This potent emotion is an important element of our mortal existence.”1 Today I want to visit with you about overcoming the fears that are an essential part of our experience in this earth life. Fear of an Unknown Future One of my favorite classes to teach here on campus is the Doctrine and Covenants because I find it highly relevant in my own life and in the lives of my students. In a well-known episode from the text, Oliver Cowdery, the primary scribe for the translation of the Book of Mormon, was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: to join Joseph Smith as a translator of that sacred book of scripture. Oliver was instructed: Ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records which have been hid up, that are sacred; and according to your faith shall it be done unto you.2 Shortly thereafter, when Oliver failed in his attempt to translate a portion of the Book of Mormon, the Lord explained the reasons for his failure. Outlining several causes, the Lord declared, “And, behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you.”3 Furthermore, He added, “Behold, it was expedient when you commenced; but you feared, and the time is past, and it is not expedient now.”4 I have long wondered what it was that Oliver feared that caused him to not continue as he had commenced. Knowing that the project was of eternal importance, did he fear making a mistake and thus marring the sacred publication? I was the age of most of you when this scriptural episode came to have special meaning for me. I was in graduate school here at BYU, and I began asking out a particular girl. And, as things progressed, I became scared. Like Ol
Lloyd D. Newell|Dec. 9, 2014 I am grateful to be with you on this cold December morning. I pray that the warmth of the Spirit will bless us that we might be edified during our few moments together. Today I want to talk with you about the greatest story ever told—and one of its less obvious but most important themes. You could probably recite much of this story by heart. It occupies little more than a page of scripture. It begins with the familiar duty of paying taxes. It continues with a journey that was not unusual for the time. The plot thickens when no room can be found “in the inns”;1 it culminates when the Son of God is born of Mary, “a precious and chosen” virgin.2 We know little about the real people and few details regarding the true events. And yet, no matter how many times we read the story of the first Christmas, there always seems to be something new we can learn from it. That is because, as prophets have taught, “the word of God is quick,” or living.3 It takes on fresh and deeper meaning whenever we are spiritually ready to receive it. Something that stands out to me in the account of the Savior’s birth is that on four separate occasions an angel appeared with the message “Fear not.” When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias with news that his wife would bear a son, the forerunner of the Messiah, he said, “Fear not, . . . for thy prayer is heard.”4 Later the same angel visited “beautiful and fair”5 Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of the Son of God, assuring her with similar words: “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.”6 Shortly thereafter an angel appeared to Joseph the carpenter in a dream and said, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife.”7 And then, on that holy night, as all eternity watched in reverent silence, the angel came upon humble shepherds keeping watch over their flock. The shepherds, who “were sore afraid,”8 heard the angel proclaim, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”9 So much of what happened during those pivotal moments in the nativity narrative depended upon the courage of people like Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. God had a monumental task for each of them; their lives were about to change forever. Imagine if they had let fear overcome them. What if they had pulled back, doubted, and failed to do what God needed them to do? This less obvious theme from the account of the first Christmas intrigues me because I, like you, have fears, and I need to be reminded at times to fear not. I don’t know what your fears are. Like Zacharias, who feared that he would never have children, you may have fears about your family. Or maybe your fear isn’t that you won’t have children but that you will have children, whom you will have to r
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