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.

Saturday Night Oxen Herding

My Saturday nights used to be pretty eventful. Sometimes, in fact, back in the LBC (Life Before Church), Saturday nights went on so long, Sunday morning got involved. Sometimes, there was even breakfast.

When my new friends in my new church explained that the only reason for breaking Sabbath was if the “oxen were in the mire,” I took it to heart. I interpreted that as if something that was life or death for a living being, it needed to be taken care of. I know it has been used to do dishes if there were dirty ones and nothing to eat on or other chores that need to be done. 

Do the purple potatoes need to be peeled before Sunday?

Being so new in the Gospel, I didn’t want to break my observance of the Sabbath & my reverence towards my Heavenly Father for little things that could be taken care of Saturday or Monday. There are six other days in the week, if it couldn’t be done by Saturday night, it can be done on Monday…. right?!

Thus birthed my new Saturday night routine…. herding my proverbial oxen away from the mire.

I spend Saturday; most especially Saturday night, making sure that I have taken care of little and big things that could become bigger and more immediately important on Sunday. I also take care of those chores that will eat at me while I would rather be sitting and studying my Scriptures or watching a General Conference talk. Or even sitting in quiet meditation, pondering after a prayer.

She better watch where that ox is headed!

A floor that is begging to be vacuumed or mopped, potatoes needing to be peeled or an item of clothing I would like to wear to church not being clean, are things that will annoy me on Sunday but I have no desire to break my observance of the Sabbath to deal with them. So, I spend Saturday doing those things that may have been annoying me since Thursday; but will definitely put me over the edge of annoyance on Sunday if not taken care of on Saturday. You know, that q-tip that fell on the floor, but you didn’t want to bend over to pick up when it happened? Those things. 

Now that I’ve been in the Gospel for six years, I admit there are times that I become lazy and I notice it on Sunday. I originally wrote this post in the Spring of 2014, when I was freshly Baptized; I think The Lord knew I needed a reminder.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland addressed the concept of herding one’s oxen in his General Conference talk this last spring in his talk, “Behold, The Lamb of God,” wherein he admonished us to hold the Sabbath reverently. Elder Holland excused parents with arms full of fussy babies, then reminded us, “an occasional tardiness is understandable, but if the ox is in the mire every Sunday, then we strongly recommend that you sell the ox or fill the mire.”

I agree with Elder Holland, and am taking his advice about herding my oxen before they run into the mire, to heart. I now have an excellent helper in that task with my new caregiver, a recent convert herself.

If I Follow Him, I will always have busy Saturdays. My oxen and I have a standing date. Kinda like the one I have with my Heavenly Father and Lord and Savior with the Holy Spirit on Sundays.

Have a Blessed Sabbath!

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.

Four Years After Baptism

 

On March 23, 2013 I was baptized. March 23 of this year came around and I was visiting Columbia, South Carolina. It seemed a fitting day for a temple trip. After all, I was in the area hunting up ghosts of my ancestors.

During a middle of the night genealogy session spurred by The Spirit, I was reminded that one of my “brick walls” was my 4th great-grandmother, “Becca Wassin,” on my mother’s mother’s side. She had stated in her marriage record to her husband Solomon Richardson that she was born in South Carolina, but after several searches and reading more probate record archives than I would have liked from the mid 1800s (a rough awakening for this “northerner”); I could not find her family in South Carolina. Her marriage bond was found in Rowan County, North Carolina at the Rowan County main library,  but I could not tie her to any family in South Carolina to any degree of certainty.

The original marriage bond for Solomon Richardson and Becca Wassin

I decided to make an appointment for a baptism session for myself after my regular session. It proved to be a very spiritual evening to celebrate my milestone of 4 years in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


A few hours before my sessions, I recorded this video of reflection and testimony at the Columbia, South Carolina Temple. Enjoy

 

Day of Prayer

On March 6, 2013, I said a prayer. A short prayer, a simple prayer, THEN I acted on the impression I received. Since that moment, my life has changed significantly. Contemplative

Let me back up for a few moments. The year 2012 was a very full year for me. While I was travelling the country, I was aggressively pursued by a blogger who had made a name for himself in the world of my medicine, and he made no qualms about the fact that he wanted to add me to his “stable” of a wife and a mistress. After arguing it out more times than I can remember, it was his wife who finally begged me to “make him happy” by consenting to be his mistress after he had dumped the first one. After 6 weeks of living in hell with him while he abused me physically and sexually, I left in tears and tatters. I knew what I had done was wrong. But what I didn’t understand was what to do with my life after it had taken such a wrong turn. That wasn’t who I wanted to be. Not in the least. But HOW would I become who I could and wanted to become? Who was I? All I knew was that I was completely lost.

I had come to live in the attic of my mother’s house that she had abandoned about a year previous when my brother’s mess was more than she could handle. There was much work to be done to fix up the mess created during his drug binges and his “friends” who had done their share of robbing my mother blind. In the attic I found my peace. It was a place I could meditate and study. It was a private place I could pray. So, pray I did. I got down on my knees on the hardwood floor and asked my Heavenly Father how to come closer to Jesus Christ.

IMG_20130628_212140It seemed like a simple prayer at the time. However, the answers I was seeking weren’t at all simple to me. I had read some of The Book of Mormon, and I had read more of my Bible, but I didn’t know even where the local meetinghouse for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was in my area. I had never seen missionaries near my mother’s house. I had a few questions for them.

A few weeks before, my friend’s sister had taken me to a potluck at her Ward’s building in a neighboring community. They seemed nice. I liked the Spirit that was at the meal. But I wanted to know how to get to the church nearest me. So, I set about calling the number listed in Google for the meetinghouse (whose address was a mystery to me, not knowing the area very well and having no transportation at the time). I called many times during the 2 weeks previous to my prayer, but no one ever answered. (Apparently no one does answer the phones in the meetinghouses…personally I think they should all be forwarded to the Missionary’s cell phones!). If I had understood THEN what I know NOW, I would have got online and messaged an Elder at Mormon.org...but alas, I thought it would mean weeks or months of waiting (it ISN’T!) so I didn’t.IMG_20130630_082302

I DID pray. Four years ago, I had the faith to get down on my knees and ask HIM what I needed to do to become closer to Christ. Immediately, with a light in my heart brighter than the sunbeams coming through the attic window, I was impressed that I needed to take missionary lessons and become a member of a church I had NEVER ATTENDED!!! I had even taken upon inactive member’s offenses AGAINST the church because they were my friends! I had taken a lot of time saying negative things about this church that I was now being impressed that I HAD to join for my own salvation and that of my granddaughters!!

That being a lot of information to take in after a prayer, I immediately set out to call the only person that I knew who was an active member of The Church. My granddaughter’s other grandma. Mary answered the phone, and after she heard my account of my prayer and the answer I received, her immediate reaction was, “WHAT A TESTIMONY!!!!”

My reply reflected my ignorance, “What’s a Testimony? How do I get Missionaries to come and teach me more?”

My fears started to grow: I had been abused by men most of my life, since I was an infant; HOW could I allow men to teach me about Christ? Those fears and so much more were answered when I answered the doorbell, less than 30 minutes after my call to Mary. In front of me stood two of the most beautiful young women I had ever seen in my life. They glowed with the light of the Gospel of Christ. They GLOWED with the Holy Spirit.

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Sisters Lloyd, Slighte and Johnson on March 23, 2013

It took me a few weeks, but I was Baptised on March 23, 2013. Today marks 4 years since that day of prayer. I feel more strongly than ever the best thing I ever did was to pray…and ACT on the impressions I received. I have a home, now, everywhere I go: watch my Testimony here!

Loving My Friends

I remember the nervousness that overcame me not long after I felt the impression to seek out and listen to the Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They talk a lot about “being in the world, but not of the world,” but all of my friends were “of the world,” none of my family were members of The Church (except my granddaughters) and most of my friends had “alternative lifestyles.” When I decided I wanted and needed to be Baptized, I prayed constantly about the situation with my friends. How could I tell my friends I was now a member of the “Mormon” church, would they want to be my friends anymore? Did that matter?20130323_134149_thumb.jpg

During my repentance process in the weeks before my Baptism I was relatively quiet on Facebook, a social media outlet where I had spent an inordinate amount of time during the previous 5 years accumulating an audience for my writing. At times I had been known to make a spectacle out of myself, becoming rather dramatic about loves and losses and pain and pleasures. I had been known for “letting it all hang out.” How could I reconcile my previous behavior with the life I wanted, no, needed to create and begin to live? I prayed more.

The answers came gradually, but they came. I was impressed to read “The Articles of Faith.” They all rang so true in my heart that not only did my “bosom begin to burn” but I also wept with joy several times. Then I came to the 11th:

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

The second part of that statement, “and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may [emphasis added]” caused me to completely lose my cool. I broke down and cried loudly; I bawled. Why? Because it was an answer to my prayers. There was NOTHING in the Mormon Doctrine that said I had to exclude those who

Articles of Faith Library Copy

worshiped differently from myself from my life, ABSOLUTELY the opposite!!!

Relief filled my soul. But what about all of the people who followed my social media? Now that I no longer practiced alternative beliefs, should I even be “out there” in the public? What about all of my photos and the things I posted?

As I began to hint about my baptism on social media some people I thought were my friends were quick to delete me from their connections, I cried but continued to pray about it. I didn’t want to lose friends, but those people who had “unfriended” me weren’t acting like friends. My prayers to my Heavenly Father continued, so did my tears.

I deleted hundreds of photos of myself that embarrassed me from my social media accounts and  I prayed to know if I should continue with an online presence. After all, it would have been easier just to delete the accounts.

The impression I felt from the Holy Ghost was persistent: I needed to be LOUDER about my conversion than I was my sins. 

I was at a loss as how to accomplish that. The year before my Baptism was quite humiliating as I looked back upon my own inequity to others in addition to myself. I continued to pray and study my scriptures.

Then came the answer: Start a blog about your conversion to The Church. Share your feelings about God and your faith and be honest with those who follow you. 

My unease continued even after I started the FIRST iteration of Slightely Mormon on Blogger. Then, in June 2013, came a directive in video conference form to ALL the Missionaries and the Missionary Members of The Church. This was the answer I had been awaiting. It was a confirmation of the personal revelation I had received from the Holy Spirit.

In a few weeks, it will have been 4 years since I sought out Missionaries to receive the lessons leading to my Baptism. In the subsequent years I have “cleaned up my act” on Facebook and other social media outlets, but I am louder than ever! I want the world (including my friends) to know HOW being a Mormon has changed my life! 

In the last four years I have worked hard trying not to alienate my friends and family. It’s difficult to convey to them how much I love ALL of them and I respect what they  chose to believe in, all of that is part of them and I love them. img_20170204_093448_445.jpg

I had an opportunity to travel with a very dear friend of mine recently. Cub, as he likes to be called, is a professional photographer and acted as my assistant on a recent trip. In our travels across the country, we incurred our number of odd looks at us, but he helped me to see my world through different eyes. I saw judgement from my fellow church members when they watched him light a cigarette, I felt their stares and disapproval in both of our directions. That made me incredibly sad.

We visited the Ft. Lauderdale Temple towards the end of our time together. I asked Cub to take some photos of me when I was done with my session; he enthusiastically complied. When we were finished with our pictures another temple patron asked him to take her photo. Cub graciously agreed to do so.

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The first share on Instagram

While he was doing that act of service, I took a few snapshots myself for social media. I shared it first on Instagram as “Cubby doing service at the Temple,” then, after talking it over with Cub, I shared it again on my Facebook page and to a group called Facebook group focusing on members of The Church with an additional introduction:

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The second photo, captioned for Facebook

For a while I almost felt like I was exploiting my friend and his service. Although he had given his consent for both photos to be shared on the internet inclusive of my comment about his lifestyle, he had not asked for the photo to be taken.

While Cub probably wished I had allowed him to continue his nap in the car, I felt it was important. There was a lesson here for not only me. I am not ashamed of my friends. I love each and every one of them. Not in spite of their beliefs or their actions, but as WHOLE people with different ideas about life and different understandings of the universe.

We read in John 13:34 that Jesus Christ himself told us:IMG_20140112_161015_092.jpg

 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

I believe that His love is unconditional. That is something I try to work towards each and
every day.  I am so grateful to ALL of my diverse friends, like Cub, who help me to remember what my Heavenly Father commanded me to do.

Cub capturing a sunrise on Key West, while I photographed the photographer.

Please Let Me Hug You! I’m a Convert

Below is my submission to Middle-Aged Mormon Man’s International Hug-A-Convert Day Essay Contest. After I submitted this essay, I fell 10 feet backwards down an attic ladder, breaking my back.
I am healing rapidly and will be back to blogging very soon!

Last year when I commented on a post of Middle-Aged Mormon Man, he mentioned I should write out my story for his “International Hug-A-Convert Day,” I told him I wasn’t quite ready. This year has been crazy and amazing and I am late in submitting this; but here it goes.

The first time I remember knowing that there was a God, and Jesus ChrisMargaret Slighte age 4t and a part I felt inside of me (only lately did I begin to understand the Holy Spirit); was when my divorced mother allowed me to attend a local Sunday school. We were singing “This Little Light of Mine.” I was about 5. I felt the Lighte of His Love. But my childhood remained full of darkness.

My parents divorced when I was four, my father was a loud atheist, my mom considered herself Christian, and wanted us to decide about religion for ourselves. To help facilitate that; she took us to several different churches.  My younger brother and I learned not to share our church experiences with our dad during his weekend visitations.

When I was about 7, a friend of my mom’s was babysitting my brother and I and asked my mom if she could take us to church with

Shelton, Washington Meetinghouse

her. She attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The memories that I have of that day were that I had to wear my Easter dress because it was the only dress I had that was long enough, and I got a spanking for saying a bad word on the way home from the service.

That was my last experience with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints until my marriage of 22 years ended. During my marriage, while raising our 3 children, we attended a Nazarene church, then I began to explore Wicca & Paganism, then Buddhism and Gnostic Christianity; I was searching for answers. No matter where I looked, I didn’t find them.

While I was in the middle of my divorce, I met an unlikely missionary. After being introduced by several friends several THAT S the SMILE i LIKEdifferent times, we attempted to date. True to my past, I attempted to seduce him. He attempted to teach me about chastity. Both of us failed in our attempts.

Rick was the man I dated, and fell in love with his stories of a God I never had imagined. Something called “Priesthood,” and he referred to Jesus Christ as a Brother and a Friend.

His pain had removed him from activity in the Church of the Lord that he loved. His own marriage, sealed in the temple 29 years previous, had ended in divorce. It was hard for me to understand his faith or associate it with a church he never attended. But he wHim.jpgas quick to point out he considered himself a Latter-Day Saint.

As we agreed that we would lose our friendship if we attempted to continue to date, he promised to me that he would be my friend forever. I had no idea, then, what forever meant.

During the summer of 2010, I received a message on a social network that lead to me meeting the woman my oldest son had married and abandoned 3 years previous. I was also privileged to meet her mother, a Latter-Day Saint and our identical twin granddaughters, shortly before their second birthday.

1433511313573Without me or my family knowing; my oldest son had married, impregnated & abandoned this young woman. Her mother was helping her raise the children my son had never met.  The stories of my son and her daughter pulled Mary and I together. To me, this woman was indeed a Saint in so many ways and she welcomed me with love into her family.

I was disabled, on a meager income, divorced and with no place to call home. Friends across the country began to invite me to stay a week or a day, so I left everything and everyone I knew behind and began to travel.1915365959638

It was a year and a half full of traveling the country running from a life that I no longer had, and searching for eternal answers. During my first trip across the country, I took a wrong turn and ended up in front of the Twin Falls, Idaho Temple. I parked my car and took photos. It was the most beautiful building I had ever felt.

Twin Falls Idaho Temple

Felt. I felt this building. It felt light. Brighter than any light I have ever felt. I felt close to God and Christ. I felt the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know much about Temples at the time, but I did remember Rick saying that they weren’t open to the public. I didn’t even try to go in, but said a quick prayer, took some photos, and went along my way thanking God for checking in on me.

These types of incidents happened so much in my travels, I began to feel like either The Church or Christ, was following me.

On March 6, 2013, I was at my bottom: homelessness, depression and bad relationship choices got the end of me. I got on my knees on the cold wooden floor of an abandoned attic and asked my Heavenly Father how I could become closer to Christ.

I was answered with the immediate impression that I was being commanded to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I called Mary, “How do I get Missionaries to come to where I am?”

She marveled at my testimony and my faith; I asked her what she meant by “testimony.” Not ten minutes passed after I hung up with her, and I received a phone call from Missionaries in my area.Sister Lloyd, Sister Slighte & Sister Johnson

I was baptized 17 days after my personal revelation. Within a month I was impressed to ask for my Patriarchal Blessing. That month also saw me in the Temple Baptistery for my ancestors.

During the chaotic time of my repentance, I realized just how many people on social networks followed my activities. I prayed to know if I should close my accounts and look for different writing venues.

The Holy Spirit witnessed to me that I needed to be even louder about my conversion and about my faith in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ than I had been in my sin. That would be a challenge.

cropped-slightelymormon-header.jpgThe first few posts I wrote in my new blog about my testimony went over well. Those who ventured a cursory gander were even more than polite in their comments to me.

I was still concerned, and prayed to know if blogging or other social networks were the proper use of my testimony. I heard my answers loudly when I attended the “Hastening the Work” broadcast at my local Ward Meetinghouse in June 2013.

Over the past year I have learned some hard lessons about leaning not unto mine own understanding. I have also learned a lot about patience.IMG_20130406_160304_cr

In my first 14 months as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have had the opportunity to attend services in 11 Wards and 2 Branches in 7 Stakes. I am a woman of many Wards.

I was baptized as a divorced grandma on her own, the first church member of my family.

 

I was humbled to have received my own Endowments in May 2014 at the Seattle, Washington Temple. I currently blog at http://SlightelyMormon.org. I am working on a book of poetry and prose from the first year of my conversion.  My life is more blessed than I could ever imagine.