Last week as the Capuas were speaking, I looked over and noticed the Earls were caring for their children, taking them out as needed. I leaned over and whispered something to Jared, but he didn’t hear it, and I refused to repeat it, because I knew what I had done, and it was too late. I had whispered, “Wouldn’t that be nice to sit up on the stand for a week without the kids.” So, I want to thank the Earls from up here for helping to watch our kids this week.
I am Brianna Johnson and this is my husband, Jared. We have been married for a little over 10 years now. We have four children. At 7 years of age, Benjamin is our oldest and getting ready to be baptized at the end of the year. Emma just turned 6 and loves to dance and play the piano. Joseph will be 5 in two short months and is starting to learn to read and write his letters. Our youngest child, Jacob, is 2 1/2 and learning what it really means to be the youngest in a family of six!
In deciding on a subject for my talk today, I started to think of my week and if there was anything that I could draw from. All I could think of was the fact that I’m taking cake decorating classes three nights out of the week and an institute class taking up another night. I jokingly said to Jared that I could tell them all that they needed to know about how to assemble and decorate a birthday cake, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. So, today you’re going to get a crash course in fondant 101! For any of you brethren out there who are lost right now, this is the real thick frosting used most typically to decorate wedding cakes and it gives the cake that nice smooth look.
There are some rules that you have to live by when dealing with fondant. We call our instructor the “fondant police” because she’s continually barking out, “Is your fondant covered?” “Don’t forget to add some more shortening!” “It’s a desert out there people, cover your fondant!” I’ll tell you why this is so important. When you first take it out of its package it is hard as rock and you’re thinking to yourself “how on earth am I going to be able to do anything with this?” Sometimes, around the edges, it’s even harder than the rest of the block of fondant, so hard that it’s impossible to work with. That part MUST be torn off and thrown away! If you don’t get all the hard pieces out before you start kneading it, the fondant will never become smooth and you’ll have these little round pieces of rock mixed in and you’ll have to throw it all away and start over. You knead it for a long time, almost ten minutes, remembering all the while to put shortening on your hands to add moisture to the mixture. If you forget to add shortening it starts to dry out and crack. Your arms and hands will ache but each time you knead, it gets softer and easier to work with. If you have left over fondant you can save it by covering it in shortening, wrapping it in cellophane, and then placing it in a Ziploc baggie. Even with all three of those precautions, when you open the bag up again you’ll still have to go through all the same steps as before. The fondant is continually losing moisture and the only way to combat that is to continually add moisture back into it with shortening.
While I was at institute Tuesday night, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities of this decorative element to my life. As a youth I was in Young Women’s leadership, I attended seminary and during my senior year of High School I attended in the early morning AND after school. I was actively seeking out the gospel at every opportunity. As I graduated from Young Women’s to Relief Society I was given callings and stretched and worked upon. I got married and then our family began to expand, and with it so did my responsibilities. As a mother, I don’t always get everything out of sacrament meeting that I would like to because I am trying to teach the children reverence or answer a question that they have about the gospel even though it is way off track. During the later hours of church, responsibilities take me away from regular Sunday school classes. That leaves me with what little time I can scrounge up at home during the busy week. And with the shift in responsibilities there has become less time to get things done, which results in disappointment as I try to keep up with my more youthful, spiritual self. It is said that there is a time and a season for everything and yes my time right now is with the children. However, that doesn’t mean to give up on regular gospel learning. It means that I have to find it some other way. Whether it is locking myself in my room with the Ensign or going to Institute. I know myself all too well, and if I don’t get out of the house and go, I know it will never happen.
With life, even though I go to church and attend my meetings it’s not enough. My fondant has become a little dry. I want and need that moisture that the gospel provides back in my life, but I kept feeling that it had to be in certain, structured way. You don’t know how many times I’ve started and NOT finished the Book of Mormon in my quest to daily read my scriptures. Institute has provided me with a more structured curriculum which I respond really well to. But even if I don’t get all of the reading done for the week, I’m at least starting to work out and knead the staler pieces of my fondant that have been sitting far too long.
The basic and fundamental rules of fondant are just that, a basis and foundation that you have to constantly refer back to when you’re stuck. It reminds me of something President Uchtdorf said in his October 2010 conference address entitled “Of things that matter”. He said:
I think most of us intuitively understand how important the fundamentals are. It is just that we sometimes get distracted by so many things that seem more enticing.
Yet amidst the multitude of voices and choices, the humble Man of Galilee stands with hands outstretched, waiting. His is a simple message: “Come, follow me.” 5 And He does not speak with a powerful megaphone but with a still, small voice. 6 It is so easy for the basic gospel message to get lost amidst the deluge of information that hits us from all sides.
The holy scriptures and the spoken word of the living prophets give emphasis to the fundamental principles and doctrines of the gospel. The reason we return to these foundational principles, to the pure doctrines, is because they are the gateway to truths of profound meaning. They are the door to experiences of sublime importance that would otherwise be beyond our capacity to comprehend. These simple, basic principles are the key to living in harmony with God and man. They are the keys to opening the windows of heaven. They lead us to the peace, joy, and understanding that Heavenly Father has promised to His children who hear and obey Him.
As we’re stretched and kneaded through our many daily responsibilities, let us not forget to add the fundamental moisture of the gospel. Whether it is through institute, regular temple attendance, or personal reflection we need more than what only Sunday instruction can provide.