Sister Neill F. Marriott addressed women during an 11 a.m. session of Women’s Conference at the Marriott Center and encouraged women to look up and trust in God.
Sister Marriott was joined on stage by her daughters Caroline Marriott, Kate Mitchell and Paige Storheim. The women spoke of their daughter and sister Georgia who passed away, but they believed was with them at the session in spirit.
Elder Carl B. Cook’s talk in the October 2011 General Conference, “It Is Better to Look Up,” was the theme of the session. In the talk, Elder Cook shares the story of feeling tired and overwhelmed after his first week as a General Authority.
Within the story, Cook recalls a time he was in the elevator leaving work, with his head down as he stared at the floor. President Thomas S. Monson then joined him in the elevator and told Elder Cook, “It is better to look up!”
Sister Marriott and her daughters invited women listening to the session to discuss with them the difficulties, joys and power that comes from choosing to look up.
“Consider this a time in the living room,” Sister Marriott said, as the sisters joked about how they were set up much like this last night practicing, only they were in pajamas and bathrobes.
Sister Marriott told the story of when she was first assigned to speak at General Conference and how nervous she was. As she walked toward the podium, thinking of herself and her fear, the words came clear to her mind: “These are your friends.”
Now, as she jokes about being too short for the chairs in the Conference Center and letting her feet dangle, she feels more confident because of the love and assurance Heavenly Father gave her with just those few words. She also has been given her own stool to rest her feet on when at the Conference Center.
Speaking at the session, Sister Marriott said everyone there was friends and that “this campus would bloom” if everyone walked out of the Marriott Center feeling that love and knowing they could give love.
Kate Mitchell, an accomplished violinist, told the story of how Heavenly Father gave her confidence in a small but personally significant way before a recital for peers and professors at Indiana University. She challenged listeners to be the comforting voice others may need for reassurance.
“A lot of times the difference between being happy and unhappy is just listening to the right voice,” Mitchell said. “That’s all.”
Caroline Marriott, a licensed clinical social worker, has a BA degree and two master’s degrees. As she describes herself as the favorite aunt and the single, oldest child in the Marriott family, Caroline says she didn’t plan on this life; she didn’t plan on having a long career or on not getting married and having kids.
However, “The Lord has this way of tilting your head up in the most unexpected ways,” she said, as she described how she was able to leave a career she didn’t enjoy and go back to school. “Even though that 16-year-old plan of your life looks so great, Heavenly Father really has a path for us and he has a plan for us … He’s the safest place to go.”
The consistency of Caroline, Sister Marriott said, in following the Lord’s promptings is impressive.
Paige Storheim then told the story of consistent scripture reading around the breakfast table.
At a slow three verses per day, the family finished reading the Book of Mormon in almost seven years. Now splattered with syrup, scrambled eggs and grits, the family’s Book of Mormon is a testimony builder of consistency and the power of God’s word.
“That to me,” Storheim said, “helped me look up.”
Storheim shared the experience of helping her children “look up” by helping her boys study and memorize scriptures on the way to school.
“Sisters, I love the scriptures,” Storheim said. “They help me look up. When I open them, it is like coming home. There is comfort there.”
Through miscarriages, bullies, loneliness and a whole host of pain the world can deliver, women can be comforted through scripture study, prayer, visiting teachers, service and, ultimately, their Heavenly Father; all they have to do is look up.