Wrestling with God

I haven’t been writing here for quite some time. I have been engaging in a wrestle with God.

That wrestle was started a long time ago, yet I was unaware for most of it. I felt angry. I took that anger out on the most innocent people around me.

These last few months, without church services, I lost connection with most of my Ward. So, I began to seek out more connections online with members of The Church, not just in my area.

When I was talking with a new friend and a bit of the world fell out of my mouth, I began to see that I wasn’t as close to Jesus Christ as I thought I was.

In last month’s General Conference, President Nelson advised us, “As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill our daily lives with His words, His teachings, His truths.”

The Holy Spirit witnessed to me that my stage in my continuing conversion process was far from where I wanted it to be. Unbeknownst to me, I had allowed myself to fall far to the side of where I wanted to be. I was swimming in the stream of filth alongside the path to the Tree.

How did I get there? Why was I there? How could I fall so far, so fast?

Spite. Anger. Betrayal. And I felt like I had a RIGHT to those emotions. After all, I had been lied to and betrayed, right?

Then, I prayed. I poured myself into The Book of Mormon. I read Isaiah.

I was impressed to seek to be closer to God. First I needed to change my environment. I turned off the worldly entertainment, both video and audio. I deleted all of the apps.

I turned on Gospel music and General Conference talks. I spent hours every day reading and pondering on scriptures.

In April’s talk “Hear Him,” President Nelson taught:

It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now. In the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is the messenger. He will bring thoughts to your mind which the Father and Son want you to receive. He is the Comforter. He will bring a feeling of peace to your heart. He testifies of truth and will confirm what is true as you hear and read the word of the Lord.

I prayed again.

The Holy Spirit said in answer, “The natural man includes the temptation to hold grudges. Anything that is not based in Love, not based in God, in good, is none of these things. There is no darkness in the Lighte.”

I was given the impression that I needed to forgive.

When I asked God how I could forgive those wrongs that the world around me proclaimed my right to hold in a grudge for all their lives. Often using phrases that begin, “I could forgive anything except _______.”

Didn’t I have a right to my anger? But…???!!

I prayed again.

Immediately I heard, “What have I forgiven of you?”

Wow.

I was flooded with images of my own sins from before I was Baptized in 2013. I was informed by the Holy Spirit that God no longer remembered those sins, as He promised. However, I was being shown that I must forgive, as He had forgiven me.

I needed to forgive all who I felt had wronged me in any way, and I had to ask them for forgiveness for all the ways in which I had wronged them.

That impression began days of crying and repentance. I wrote and sent a letter I was impressed to send. I removed blocks on social media that were placed in haste.

As I struggled, I asked a friend to pray with me. I asked for a prayer, and instead received a Blessing. Within that Priesthood Blessing, once again God told me He knows my name. So many tears. So much Testimony. Oh how I love God.

He is perfecting me. Line by line. Precept by precept. I love the Lord.

May God be with you. In Love and His Holy Lighte. I’ll write more very soon.

A Pioneer of Diversity: Dennis Schleicher

In last week’s Come Follow Me lessons in the New Testament, we read:

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

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In my Come Follow Me study group comprised of several people of all different walks of life, I was startled at a question left hanging for more than four days, “Peter came to learn that the blessings of the gospel are meant for people everywhere. The Church today is composed of a variety of people from many different backgrounds. How are Church members blessed by such diversity?”

I can tell you that it has been an incredible blessing to me and my Testimony in Jesus Christ, to have met a pioneer of diversity in our time, Brother Dennis Schleicher, and spoken to him about his love of our mutual church, Heavenly Father, and what it is like to find his church home.

Dennis Schleicher is a gay man. Dennis has known he was gay for most of his life. When he joined a network marketing company and saw members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were his superiors acting in a way that he admired, never judging, always edifying God and the people who worked for them, he asked them what religion they belonged to. They replied they were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This kept happening to Dennis. The people who he admired, who treated him with love and friendship and welcomed him into their lives in an excited manner, were members of The Church and bore their Testimonies gently but constantly in their actions and words.

Dennis would ‘steal’ a Book of Mormon from a Marriott hotel (before realizing that the Marriott chain is the largest distributor of The Book of Mormon, having them in each hotel room for their guests) without really knowing why. As he told me in our interview, he “took the thing and shoved it in [his] bag.”

The supposed thievery was short-lived because he blurted out a confession to 8 missionaries at the airport about stealing the book, then proceeded to take a selfie with the missionaries and the ‘stolen’ Book of Mormon. At the time he had no clue, thinking it was all in fun, but the sparkle in the eyes of those gentle servants of our Heavenly Father show they felt his testimony growing.

Dennis and his Book of Mormon

His network marketing friends would invite him on a trip to go to Palmyra, New York and they suggested he read Al Carraway’s book, More than a Tattooed Mormon, but Dennis was confused and thought, “Why would I want to read about some tattooed woman, I’m afraid of needles!” It would be another year before he would relent. But he did read the stolen Book of Mormon and quickly gained a testimony.

Dennis knows what it is like to be the victim of brutal hate crimes, having been attacked as a teenager, and found empathy within the stories of the history of Joseph Smith Jr. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, just as he had found a friend in Jesus Christ through his faith in our Savior. Before too long, he had received the impression from the Holy Spirit to follow his Testimony to the waters of Baptism.

On August 19, 2017, Dennis was Baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His baptism was remarkable for many reasons, but not as miraculous as the next year would be. Dennis would receive First Presidency Approval to attend and receive his Temple blessings on August 11, 2018.

After over a year of hearing the suggestions to read Sister Carraway’s book, Dennis relented and downloaded the audio version and began listening to it. “This woman is telling my story,” were Dennis’s first thoughts. His second, after finishing her book, was to write his own.

Dennis at his Baptism with Brother and Sister Hall, two of his personal missionaries

Dennis subsequently had a conversation with an unnamed General Authority who stated, “Son, we need more LGBT children in the House of the Lord and in this church,” then asked Dennis what his LGBT+ friends say when he tells them he converted to The Church.

Dennis answered, “They say ‘Is he NUTS?! Why would a gay man become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?!”

The General Authority then stated, “There’s the title of your book.” And it was so.

Although Dennis states emphatically that he “did not become a member of The Church to write a book,” I can’t imagine a better medium for this exuberant and joy-filled missionary-minded member to spread his love of Jesus Christ and for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Is He Nuts?: Why a Gay Man Would Become a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ comes out on Cedar Fort books in a few weeks and is available for pre-release ordering from Amazon. Dennis is traveling to Utah and Arizona for the book launch and to meet Al Carraway, who also wrote a forward for his book.

During his travels to Colorado, Utah and Arizona, Dennis will be speaking a fireside in Holladay, Utah on August 4th, the week before his book launch party in Provo, Utah on August 13th and then a book signing in Orem, Utah on August 16th. Please follow the links for those events for more information about them.

With all of this excitement surrounding his upcoming book launch, I wanted to ask Dennis what message he wanted to leave other people who were struggling with their part in our diverse church, and this is what is said:

I bear your burden with you. You are still a fellow brother or sister to me. This is my story, my journey, it is what is working for me.

Please don’t judge me – know that I love and care for all of you. We are all loving children of God.

If you’d like to hear more of Dennis’s testimony in his own words, please listen to this podcast in which Richard Ostler interviewed Dennis this spring:

Dennis talks with Richard Ostler about his book

(Photos courtesy of Dennis Schleicher)

Done With the Pun: A New Name

I warned you! I tried to at least. I said last week that I will be writing MORE this year, and here I am!

Last year, when President Nelson made the announcement that members of our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would no longer be willingly known as “Mormons,” I felt confused and frustrated. I liked the name of my testimony blog and I didn’t think I would change it.

Something didn’t feel right about keeping the name. I can only trace it to my desire to follow our Prophet.

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After many many prayers, much consideration and even a post about a possible contest, I have decided to change the name of this blog to “Sister Maggie.” This site will be reachable by the URL “SlightelyMormon.org” through 2019, but the URL “SisterMaggie.com” has been purchased and they both redirect both to the same place.

Why “Sister Maggie?” The difficult alliteration of my last name “Slighte” in combination with the prefix “Sister” has frustrated me since my Baptism in 2013. I have longed for a return to the days of “Brother Joseph” and “Sister Emma,” so I decided to rename my site with that in mind.

I am “Sister Maggie” and this is my Testimony.

I am a faithful and devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love my Ward Family here in Olympia, Washington and it is my greatest privilege to be able to share my love of my Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit with all of you.

I hope the Love of Jesus Christ fills your life and your soul.

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Testimony Building

Since I started this blog, I’ve been guilty of something the leaders of my church warn against: I have only been showing the positive side. That is the simple reason that this blog has only published limited posts over the last five years. I do have another outlet for my writing online, but that outlet has also been quiet over the past six months. On MaggieSlighte.com in December I shared an essay about one of the challenges that has followed me all of my adult life, Major Depressive Disorder. A clipped photo of wheelchair wheels

I remember when I first came to The Church. I had that intense “convert energy” and wanted to ascribe every feeling a Gospel reason or solution. My depression was no different. I prayed and prayed. I fasted. I had been Baptised, that meant my challenges with mental illness would be over if I just prayed and fasted and read enough scripture, right?

I couldn’t be more wrong. But I am far from alone. Six months after my Baptism, Elder Jeffery Holland was inspired by a Heavenly Father who heard my and many other’s prayers when he gave the address, “Like a Broken Vessel,” in which he shared his own struggles with depression and described Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): “an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully, a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively,” while encouraging us all to continue to try to be positive.

20181209_214138Being positive can help. Prayers and reading my scripture does help. Doing my homework for my Master of Arts helps. But then, sometimes, everything gets to be too much and I am “losing it” in the Bishop’s office balling my eyes out. It happens to many of us.

I’m done pretending. This blog, in 2019, will have more posts. I will be sharing more of my Testimony. That side of my Testimony that has been earned through tears and struggles with Heavenly Father. Those prayers that didn’t get answered and how that felt. The healing that I have faith will happen, but for whatever reason, has been extended greatly in time. All of these elements of my Testimony are valid and important parts of the Faith that burns within my heart.

20180718_200708Faith does not grow without lessons. Testimonies do not flourish when everything goes as planned. Please continue to join me as I share more of the journey of my Testimony in the coming months and years.

I will be sharing the struggles that I experience and those tools of my faith that help me to cope. I am hoping that by doing this, perhaps I will also remind myself when those times get tough.

wp-1538934021707..jpgAn additional change that I will be making will be the name of this blog. Since my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints no longer uses the nickname “Mormon” officially, I will be searching for a new blog name! I am welcoming suggestions! Please comment and share!

I will be choosing a new name for this blog before March 31, 2019, please comment here with your suggestion soon! Thank you!

Have a wonderful week ahead!

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Five Years In The Church

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Five years ago I made one of the most significant decisions of my life. Last year on the anniversary, I not only wrote about making the resolution to be Baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but I also made a video about my choice while I was waiting for an evening session at the Columbia, South Carolina Temple.

Today finds me a member of the same Ward as my granddaughters and their other grandma. We “sister grandmas” bookend the girls in Sacrament service every Sunday we can, and I have to admit that I look forward to Sundays every day of the week and have ever since I made the decision to be Baptized. Now I even get grandkid cuddles as a bonus! The opportunity to share my faith and our history with these children

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is a logical extension of my new calling as a “Temple and Family History Consultant.”

This month one of the two Sister Missionaries who taught me returned to Washington. I have had several chances to visit with the Sister formerly known as Johnson and meet her family since her mission ended. During this short visit, I even had the opportunity to meet her daughter!

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Sister Frandson and I finally had the opportunity to go through the Logan Temple together last year when I was on my trip home from the east coast. I previously had a chance to meet her family as well. I love both my Sister Missionaries families as much as I love the sisters themselves.

One sister is missing. On this occasion, I have found Sister Ashley Lloyd on my mind more than ever. A beautiful young lady with the brightest blue eyes I had ever seen, I can’t hear the words “I’m so grateful” without remembering her bare her testimony to me during my lessons.

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Sisters Johnson and Lloyd

I am so grateful for all three of the sister missionaries who taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ five years ago. They helped me change my life for the better. I love catching up with them on social media, and I try to always keep them and their families in my prayers….especially the one who I’ve lost touch with. I know God has all the hairs on our heads numbered. He knows exactly where she is and what she is doing and how His blessings can help. It is for those blessings I pray.

My life is different than it has ever been. I look to God first. I’m not perfect, and I know it, but I have an opportunity to repent and ask God for forgiveness when I know I have done wrong and I learn how to do better. I am so grateful for this new life and the knowledge of the God who provided it and the Savior who rescued me.

Flirting to Convert?

I’ve been divorced for a year now. During that time, I have not dated at all. I have not entertained the advances from any man. It’s been nice to be single, I enjoy working on the issues that I have and would like to get to a more stable point in my recovery (from past relationships and childhood trauma) before becoming involved in another relationship. All of that being said, my “plans” were dealt a bit of a perspective blow this week when a very attractive man started talking to me with grand intentions.

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Then I began to ponder: What about my dreams of a “Temple Marriage?” What about Eternity? I KNOW I’m not only getting involved for time when I do marry again. What? I’m already talking about being married again? Yes. Why else would I even date? I believe in chastity before marriage, and I do want to be joined with a partner…eventually. But what about dating a non-Mormon? And what do I feel about these General Conference talks…and even the CONCEPT of “flirting to convert?”

WHY would anyone attempt to change someone else’s heart? What about agency? What about the 11th Article of Faith?

Personally, I had never even considered attempting to persuade another person to change their heart about Heavenly Father and the Gospel of Christ until I met a man who exemplified the teachings and who was not a member. I had really not honestly considered dating anyone who isn’t. I respect the agency of my future-husband and really don’t want to influence that unduly.

I thought back to the talk I had heard in April by Elder Joaquin E. Costa, To the Friends and Investigators of the Church. In this General Conference talk in April 2017, Elder Costa described his (now wife) rejecting his advances and basing her rejection of him on her desire to be an Eternal Family:

She spoke of her goals—of marrying only someone who could take her to the temple, of having an eternal family—and she declined my offer. I wanted to continue the relationship, so I agreed to listen to the missionaries. Is this a good reason to meet with the missionaries? Well, it was for me.

I’m happy that Elder Costa and his wife were able to become a “forever family” together. I’m happy he felt that was his path. But I am uncertain if it is mine to influence another’s faith. I do want to be an Eternal Family. My most fond dreams are in a Temple of God, being sealed to a man who holds The Priesthood.

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I LOVE God, I LOVE Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for the Gift of the Holy Spirit. I’m thankful for the blessings that Heavenly Father brings into my life daily.

I know I must be patient. For now, I will continue to keep my covenants and work on my own issues. I will persevere in my rehabilitation efforts and in becoming the person I want “him” to be with eternally. If “he” is the one, he will understand my dreams. Those people who love me will respect my most fond desires and wishes and will help God make them come true.

Update: For anyone keeping track, this lead to my faith being wielded back at me as a dull knife he named “fairy tale.”

No longer allowing myself to be in a relationship where someone believes it is okay to hurt me, it was called off but we remain friends.

Two Ceremonies

As I was standing in the staging area outside of the SNHU Arena, I recalled another ceremony exactly 2 years prior to the graduation ceremony I was about to participate in: I received my Endowments at the Seattle Temple on May 13, 2014.

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The trials put in my place before I could get to that point or this, where possibly more than another could bare, but God knows my strengths and He added to them with an abundant amount of support. In a blog piece on MaggieSlighte.com, I expounded on the trials that lead to my graduation ceremony.

I also want to reflect on the Covenants that are more sacred to me than any Temporal Bachelor’s degree. Those Covenants I made exactly two years to the day before my graduation ceremony.

Twin Falls Idaho Temple
Twin Falls Idaho Temple

From the moment I saw a Temple for the first time, I felt God within it. I felt a reverence for the building that I could feel in Idaho Falls in 2011. Knowing those who were not members (I didn’t know about the Recommend process at the time) could not enter, I was content to photograph it and say a brief prayer thanking God for the privilege of accidentally coming across the site and feeling His presence there.

On my journey across the United States, whenever I felt doubts or fears or just needed to thank Him for His graciousness and guidance, I was privileged to take in a session at a local temple.

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In Snowflake, Arizona, a dear friend suggested I take in a session the day before my divorce hearing. It was just the thing I needed.

I calmed and remembered the promises I made to my Heavenly Father about my own behavior. I asked His forgiveness for my behavior with my soon-to-be ex-husband.

I was brokenhearted, but I felt the Comforter surround me as I begged for Heavenly Father’s forgiveness in the Celestial Room. The next day I was able to maintain my composure during a divorce hearing.

I received guidance from the Holy Ghost to quickly get out of the small town where the hearing was held, and proceeded quickly to Texas. The Houston Temple was beautiful,

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and I took the opportunity to take in an early morning session prior to leaving Texas to head to Florida for a job I wasn’t quite certain about. Again, the Comforter was near and calmed my fears while I performed the ordinance work for my ancestor.

In Florida, near Ft. Lauderdale on the way back from The Keys, I was forced to seek medical attention at The Cleveland Clinic when a fierce asthma attack took my breath away. They hospitalized me for 36 hours for a “rule-out myocardial infarction” (heart attack). When I was given a clean bill of health (besides the asthma) the next thing I did was to visit the Ft. Lauderdale Temple that was located right around the corner from the hospital.

I thanked my Heavenly Father for the Grace and comfort I felt during and after the stressful experience at the hospital. Then my friend Jacob and I were given the opportunity to meet and help out a few patrons with photos after my session.

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I felt impressed to travel inland in South Carolina in search of information about my ancestors born in that area. I was rewarded with a visit at the Columbia, South Carolina Temple on the occasion of the anniversary of my Baptism. There I was given the opportunity to attend a session as well as revisiting the Font for some of my ancestors.

I was impressed in Columbia to continue my journey into North Carolina in search of my mother’s family. I was richly rewarded in Rowan County with the original marriage bond from my 4th great-grandparents on microfiche.

The most startling part of that was the fact that Solomon Richardson, my 4th great-grandfather, signed with an ‘x” indicating that he was, in fact, illiterate.

I had always assumed that all of my family was literate, having come from a family full of highly intelligent people.

This discovery increased the significance of my graduation from Southern New Hampshire University on THIS May 13th.

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South Carolina was the last Temple I had visited for a few months, but when the day of my Endowments coincided with the date of my graduation, I felt a subtle “nod” from my Heavenly Father.

In my head I could hear the Covenants I made on that day, and thanked Him for the opportunity not only to make them, but to have the ability to attend the Temples as I traveled and allowed Him to have a clearer voice to guide me.

I KNOW I would not have had the communication with Heavenly Father to hear His initial suggestion to go back to school if I had not first made Covenants in the Temple, nor would I have found the fortitude to continue my education in the face of adversity without the regular visits to the Snowflake Temple that my dear friends made possible on a weekly basis.

I KNOW I could not have participated in the second ceremony, my graduation, if I had not participated completely in the first ceremony, my Temple Endowment.