Thursday, November 20, 2014

Two Loaves and One Fish

This is a talk I gave a few years ago, when I was serving in the Timpanogos Stake Young Women Presidency. Since it has been a good long while since I posted anything, I thought I'd share this to go along with my "40 Days Closer to Christ" reading challenge that I am working on. Much of this talk came directly from Professor Swift's beautiful words.

Two Loaves and One Fish
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Stake Leadership Training
Amy Smithson

About 2 weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the BYU Easter Conference where Charles Swift, an associate professor of ancient scripture, shared some insights into three important New Testament stories, all found in chapter 14 of Matthew. I was really touched by his talk, and so would like to share one of those stories and some of the things that I learned as I reread this chapter with new eyes.

After John the Baptist was killed by King Herod, the disciples buried his body and then came to tell the Savior of his death. We read that “when Jesus heard of it, he departed thence… into a desert place apart.(vs13)” Imagine how the Savior must have felt to hear this news. John was his cousin, the prophet that was called to prepare the way for the Lord’s own ministry. Perhaps he went to this desert place to contemplate, to grieve, to get some space and regroup and just simply to mourn. Surely he felt the need for privacy and for some time to commune with his Father. And yet in that same verse, we read “and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them and he healed their sick. (vs13-14)”

How remarkable is the selflessness the Savior demonstrated here. Any one of us in a similar situation might long for some solitude and peace – and rightly deserved – but He took compassion on the multitude and healed them. How long this went on, Matthew leaves to our imaginations, but it mentions that “when it was evening, (so who know how many hours had passed at this point) the disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place…send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.”

They were in an uninhabited place, it was late, with thousands of people who had no food. There had been no plan or expectation to take care of this impromptu crowd. It was a perfectly reasonable and sensible suggestion to make, to send them off to the villages to find food for themselves. Jesus had just healed their sick. He had spent perhaps hours ministering to them. It had been a long, heart-breaking day for him. And yet the Savior’s response? “They need not depart; give ye them to eat.”  It may be easy to overlook this response, or to consider it just a piece of dialogue. We may think that this is simply another story to show that the Savior could perform miracles. But what can we learn about the Savior, beyond the fact that he didn’t want them to leave? How often, for example, do modern-day disciples of Christ, weary after a long Sunday of service, or after yet another endless Wednesday night activity, have someone come to them in need? How often do we hear the Spirit whisper in our ear “Do not turn them away, but feed them.”?

The disciples had “but 5 loaves and 2 fishes” (vs17). The Savior said, “Bring them hither to me”.  What if they had only had 2 loaves and 1 fish? Would the miracle not have been possible? If they had had 10 loaves and 5 fishes? Would the Savior have turned to them and said, “I don’t need 10 loaves. Bring me 5 and I’ll really show you somethin’ special.”?  The number of loaves and fishes is insignificant. The important point here is that the disciples brought all that they had – holding nothing back. And the Savior took what they had to offer and worked a miracle with it. “And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.” If we come to him and humbly, willingly receive all that he has for us, he will not leave us wanting. No one who comes to him will be left without. But here is an even greater miracle: if we come with all we have, we will leave with more than we came with. It is clear from the story that some came to this desert place with little. And some brought nothing. But none were turned away, and all were filled. We each do not have to bring the same thing to the Lord, nor do we have to bring the same amount. We just need to make sure it is all that we have.

Do not be discouraged! God is over all!! Sister Ardeth Kapp once mentioned that when she was the General President of the LDS Young Women's Organization, she felt that she was not adequate for her position until a dear friend said to her "You Are Better than you think you are." That reminded me of a time when I was feeling overwhelmed and inadequate and complained to a friend that I was probably the worst YW President ever. She paused a moment and then said “I wouldn’t say you’re the worst…” The point is, I was doing the best I could. I brought all I could to the desert place – sometimes it felt like a can of tuna and a day old loaf of bread, and I had to trust in the Lord to make it stretch to feed those girls.

President Hinckley counseled: “Brethren and Sisters, we must get on our knees and plead with the Lord for help and strength and direction. We must then stand on our feet and move forward....We call upon the women of the Church to stand together for righteousness. They must be the teachers and the guardians of their daughters. Those daughters must be taught in the Primary and in the classes of the Young Women of the values of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints. When you save a girl, you save generations.

I have read that quote dozens of times. And often wondered who this hypothetical girl was that I might save. And it finally dawned on me last night that I am that girl. You are that girl. The sister you are sitting by is that girl. Carissa, Shauna, Emily, Amy, Nicole, Laura …. Is that girl.

Girls, we have been saved! And we are saving generations. I was saved by Corey, and Norma Jean and Teri. I was saved by Missy and Alane, by Jeanette and Janice and Jenn, by Jana and Nancy and Andrea and Pam. I was saved by Lonnie Rae and Sarah Pearl and Ulah Viola; by my sisters. I was saved by countless Bishops and priesthood leaders who have sat and listened to me cry – again and again. I was saved by my Savior and his miraculous loving atonement. We have been saved for such a time as this. And we are here to save generations. It doesn’t matter how much we bring – or how much we think we bring. The Lord will take what we can give – all of it, and he will make miracles with it. He will use what we bring to bless our lives and the lives of those we serve – and save.

Of all the miracles the Savior has performed, is there any so beautiful as the miracle of His love? Just as the Savior had his disciples take the baskets around and feed the people gathered in that place, we must be his disciples here and go out and serve the people in this place. We must take what HE has to offer and share it with those in our stewardship. And as we do this, they will feel the miraculous love of the Savior through OUR service and it will work miracles in their lives. In their families’ lives. And in our own.

Sisters, you are working miracles. It may seem like a minnow and hardtack kind of miracle sometimes. But miracles are happening.  President Hinckley promised that “…Heaven will smile upon us. The Lord will hear and answer our prayers if we will commit ourselves, giving our very best to this work.” 

Monday, March 18, 2013


10 Things That I Sometimes Find Shocking that Really Shouldn't Be... Shocking

  1. How little time it actually takes to do the dishes
  2. How ridiculously hard it is to get up in the morning
  3. How amazingly helpful teenagers can/want to be
  4. How many songs from high school choir I still have memorized
  5. How quickly my body responds to exercise
  6. How many friends I have who rally around me even when I'm un-rally-worthy
  7. How good I am at math
  8. How miraculously flowers bloom in the spring
  9. How hope keeps springing up when all hope is lost
  10. How quickly Heavenly Father responds with love, and hope, and peace, and comfort and guidance when all I've done is ask.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weight For It...

Two years ago I lost 40 pounds. I was so proud of myself. I felt great. 
I had 30 more to go to meet my goal. 

And then I gained it all back. 

There are all kinds of reasons - otherwise known as excuses. 
I've wearied myself trying to place blame.
My fault for not being perfect.
My friends for not physically restraining me at the gelato shop.
The mean kid in junior high who said I was ugly.
That cinnamon roll for being too tasty.
That awful girl on the school bus who made fun of me.
The man who broke my heart.
Blah blah blah.

I'm starting to recognize the triggers. 
I'm starting to relearn what it means to be healthy. 
I'm falling down daily and picking myself up each morning.
Nights are hard for me.
I get lonely and bored and start munching. 

I want my freedom back. I want a new trial. 
I'm tired of this one. It's cramping my style.
(Didn't intend for that to rhyme, but it was a happy accident.)

I worked out for an hour on my new treadmill this morning.
It felt great.

I entered all of my meals in my new calorie-tracker app. 
And I did really well with my food today. 
I'm proud of that.

One day at a time.

My current goal is 82 pounds.
It sounds like a lot. It is.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Philippians 4:13

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I've Got the Music In Me

A New Calling

I was called today to be the ward music director/chairman. This essentially means that I select and lead the congregational hymns in Sacrament Meeting every Sunday. I also work with the ward choir director and plan for special musical numbers as needed.

(I asked my friend today if she would sing in a trio in a few weeks. She turned me down flat. Hardly an auspicious start. Don't worry, though. I will guilt her into it eventually.)

I was the choir director in my singles ward in Lindon for about 7 years. I really loved that calling. I'm excited to be working with music again. It will give me a chance to get to know a lot of different people in the ward that I normally wouldn't have the chance to work with. It will also force me to sing and play the piano more - talents of mine which have been sadly neglected in recent years.

My biggest concern at the moment (sadly) about all of this is that if I am in front of the congregation every Sunday leading the music, I'm gonna need more than two outfits.
Anyone up for a shopping trip?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I saw Jeanette and Hayden today.
Hayden remembered me and let me hold her and hug her and carry her around.
This is remarkable considering that Hayden is very shy 
and will acknowledge almost no one but Mom and Dad.
While we were walking down the hall, I asked her if I could keep her and she said "Yes!"
Mom wasn't too pleased.
Kids have never really taken to me, but for some inexplicable reason this child loves me.

June 2012 - Ballerina Skirt and Future Supermodel

 Already the baby girl I fell in love with is turning into a long-legged child. 
I can't believe how much she has grown since I saw her in June.
I can't wait to see her baby brother Connor.
I get to babysit them this Friday night while Mom and Dad are out on a date. 
So excited!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Laurels, Maids, and Busy Bees

I don't have a church calling right now. It feels very strange.

Last week we were released from our callings in the Stake Young Women presidency. (We meaning Pam Naugle, Shauna DeBuck, myself, and Taffy Lovell.) What a fun experience that was, to serve and work with the young women in the Timpanogos stake. I learned a lot about the gospel, and a lot about myself.

In the four years that we were together (along with amazing Amy Cobbley who is currently the YW president in her ward), we planned 2 stake summer girls camps, 4 winter camps, 1 pioneer trek. We traveled more than 2000 miles while visiting ward summer girls camps. We attended close to 60 Young Women in Excellence and New Beginnings programs. We handed out dozens of temples to young women and leaders that earned a YW medallion. We presented gold ties to over a dozen men who completed the Virtue value project. We shared our testimonies a hundred times. We cried a lot and laughed even more.

Stick close to the Savior girls. Remember who you are. Don't let anyone convince you that anything in the world will bring you more happiness than living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior.  I know that we can receive guidance and personal revelation through prayer and scripture study. I know that by living the values we learn and teach in the Young Women program, we will be strengthened and protected.

They're not old-fashioned. They were fashioned just for us.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sun Dance in the Rain

I've Got Sunshine On a Cloudy Day

I love fall break. After the crazy starting up of each school year, I think it's even more crucial for my mental health than Christmas or even spring break. After traveling all summer, I couldn't afford the expense or the time to go somewhere exotic this week. So this morning, I drove up to Sundance with two of my beautiful nieces, Jennie and Michelle.

We had planned to take the tram up and over the mountains, but unfortunately there was "100% chance of rain" (according to the scruffy bearded guy behind the counter) and so they decided not to run it at all today (naturally, since the anticipation of the tram was the only thing that got me out of bed this rainy morning.)
So instead of taking the tram, we wandered around the grounds. Jennie and I spent the morning taking pictures of leaves and berries, while Michelle patiently waited, holding the umbrella over Jennie's fancy camera and watching the people wander by.

Sometimes I forget how many beautiful things there are to see - as Jennie pointed out - only 15 minutes from my house!  The colors were still rampant all over the mountains, and the clouds and fog only added to the beauty.
We wrapped up the morning with an amazingly delicious lunch at the Foundry Grill. 
It was a great day. 

Favorite one-liners from the day:

Michelle: "Ooooh foamy!!"

Jennie: "Isn't it weird to think how many celebrities have peed in there?"

Michelle: "Jennie, you are so adorable."
Jennie: "I'm so terrible??!?!?! Why am I terrible?"

Amy: "I'd rather be a vampire, because I don't want to have to take my shirt off every 10 minutes."