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.

Acts 10:34-35

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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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.

Service on the Sabbath

During the past two days I have been astonished by the abundance of #LightTheWorld posts that I have seen posted by people around the world. Perhaps more people are tired of the commercialization of this season than I thought? Maybe.preview.jpeg

Very appropriately, on this third day of the 25 day program, the scripture reminds us that it is more than acceptable to do service on the Sabbath day.

If you are looking for ways to serve on this Sabbath Day, be sure to check out Mormon.org!

 

 

#LightTheWorld Day One

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has installed a set of special vending machines, all across the world people are planning service projects and creating posts all to share a bit of light with the world.

For the past few years The Church has developed different promotional videos to share with the public about Christ around Christmas time. This year, it is His words that are directing 25 days of service.

The calendar for the 25 days with the verses which The Church has assigned to each of the 25 days as well as several ideas for service projects can be found here.

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#LightTheWorld #DayOne

To get started, we have created images with each day’s verse from Christ. We hope all of our readers have an opportunity to get out and share the service of Jesus Christ with all of our neighbors! Let’s all #LightTheWorld with faith, hope, charity and love.