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`HOLD ON TO, CELEBRATE COVENANTS'

- Focus on big picture

- Are made one-on-one- Change actions

Covenants are an anchor to solid ground, and their attendant promises are not only meaningful for eternity but are also vital for today, Bonnie D. Parkin said Sunday afternoon.

"If you remember only one thing I say today," said Sister Parkin, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, "remember to hold on to your covenants and celebrate them. My covenants are an expression of my faith; they are why I stand before you today. Covenants help me focus on the big picture, and not just the immediate. Covenants further the work of the Lord. Covenants help me make a difference in the lives of others. My covenants are not negotiable."

Speaking for the first time in general conference since being called to the Young Women general presidency last October, Sister Parkin continued: "So often we talk about making and keeping covenants, but exactly what are they? At baptism, we demonstrate that we `are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; . . . mourn with those that mourn; . . . comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and . . . stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.' (Mosiah 18:8-9.)

"And that's just the beginning! In the temple, we further covenant to be obedient, to sacrifice, to keep ourselves worthily pure, to contribute to the spreading of truth, to be chaste, to pray, to live the gospel, to be forever faithful.

"Father in Heaven knows us as individuals," Sister Parkin said. "The covenants that we make with Him are performed one on one. These individual commitments made directly with our Heavenly Father are things to celebrate and to consecrate!

"How did you feel the last time you partook of the sacrament? Did you ponder those covenants made in the fonts and within temples? The sacrament enables us to renew our covenants. Thus, if we keep those covenants with honor and exactness, we can feel as fresh and as pure as we did when we were first baptized. We can feel as committed to a temple sealing as we did as a new bride or groom. Covenants keep us new.

"Do the covenants change the actions of our daily living? They should. Even though it may be a struggle to keep them. We hear of Saints who hold onto their covenants even against greatest odds, and in so doing find renewal and peace - not just in the life to come, but in this life. Because, just like covenant-breaking, covenant-keeping becomes habit forming."

"Brothers and sisters, covenant-keeping will help you recall the One with whom you're yoked, and your burdens will be lighter.

"If you have slipped in your covenants, take heart! The Savior so wanted us to fulfill our promises that He provided an everlasting atonement. If your heart is not singing the song of redeeming love, return to your covenants. Celebrate them. Then remember, millions of Church members all around the globe are daily keeping covenants against all odds. You can too."