The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' general conferences have been major testimony-building opportunities for me. Growing up I didn’t always pay as close attention as I do now, but even as a child, if I were coloring or playing quietly in the room where conference was playing, I could feel a difference in the mood of our home.
I loved getting ready to the beautiful strains of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as their powerful voices filled the rafters of our home. I loved the steady, reverent voices of the apostles, Young Women and Relief Society leaders, and our living prophet. I always came away renewed and uplifted. And several very poignant times I was moved to tears by a fervent testimony or song that pierced my heart and added another layer to my faith.
I have been able to witness the impact general conference has had on those outside the LDS faith when, exactly nine years ago, I was living in Los Angeles with the top 10 "American Idol" contestants.
Because of our rigorous rehearsal schedule, we weren’t allowed any days off up until that particular Sunday. Each week was packed with magazine shoots, red carpet events, rehearsals, studio times and, of course, shows.
But for some reason, the week of general conference, we were allowed a rest day on Sunday.
I walked downstairs and turned on the morning session. I sat quietly by myself for several talks, and was soon joined by fellow contestant and good friend Rickey Smith. He came in while the choir was singing a particularly powerful number. He asked me what I was watching, and then commented on how great the choir sounded.
Pretty soon, others started to trickle downstairs. Some of them went into the gym in the other room, others worked on the computer or sat out on the deck and called family members or soaked in the warm California sun.
I don’t remember how long everyone stayed or if we discussed anything in particular, but I remember the reverent spirit that surrounded us for that moment. And I noticed the peace that stayed with us that day.
Watching general conference was like a healing balm for me in a time of confusion, excitement and worldy pressures. It was the reassurance and strength I needed to lift me up and remind me of what was really important.
Now that I’m a mother with two young boys, I sometimes wonder how much they’re really getting out of conference when their attention span lasts about as long as a hymn.
But then I’m reminded of the spirit I felt when I was young and what my fellow Idol contestants felt just being in the same room where conference was playing. I believe the soul takes in what the eyes and ears may sometimes miss.
I am grateful for this opportunity twice each year and the love I feel from my Father in heaven and Savior Jesus Christ while watching or listening to LDS general conference. I encourage any who may be interested to tune in this weekend on TV or online at lds.org.
See if the words you hear and spirit you feel make a positive impact in your life.
They have mine.