So, I drew this picture and here is the summary of our discussion. (To be honest, it wasn't much better with a crayon, but it illustrates our discussion.)
We lived with our Heavenly Father before we were born. Before we came to earth Heavenly Father created a plan. That plan, if followed, would help us return and live with Him again. That plan included keeping His commandments and making and keeping covenants.
What is a covenant?
A covenant is like a contract or a promise. Instead of being between two people, it is a sacred promise between God and you and me! God sets the conditions or the rules of the covenant. We promise to obey the conditions. As we obey, we are blessed. When we disobey we cannot receive the blessings that can be ours.
What is an ordinance?
An ordinance is the way we to say to Heavenly Father, I want to make a covenant!! On earth, when two people enter a contract they usually sign have an important document, witnessed by someone with legal authority. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, we don't sign a document to say we are making a covenant. Instead, individuals perform a special sacred act, usually during a ceremony. These ordinances must be performed by the authority of the priesthood. An ordinance is like signing a contract with our Heavenly Father. Ordinances also come with set prayers. These prayers must be said exactly - word for word - for they are the covenants the Lord has made for us!
Baptism and Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost - The First Ordinances of the Gospel
The very first covenant we make with God is the covenant of Baptism by immersion. It is the first ordinance we perform in order to make it back to our Heavenly Father's home. In the scriptures it tell us that baptism is the GATE which opens up to the path that leads to eternal life. This is followed by the ordinance of receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Each week we partake of the sacrament. The sacrament is an ordinance. We must partake of it weekly in order to return to our Heavenly Father. The sacrament reminds us that we have covenanted to 1) take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, 2) that we will remember Him and 3) that we will keep His commandments. If we do our part, we are promised that the Holy Ghost will always be with us.
Keeping our baptismal covenants prepares us to enter into the temple, or the House of the Lord. In the temple we make additional covenants. The covenant of eternal marriage is the highest of all the covenants we make in the temple.
Enduring to the End
After we have made our covenants, the most important thing we can do is LIVE them. We must live them every day - until the very end of our lives - even when things in life get hard.
This is where Heavenly Father and Jesus dwell. This is the place from where God's love emanates and where families are forever. Making and keeping sacred covenants - by having sacred, saving ordinances performed - qualify us to live here forever and ever.