Following Him

When 2019 began, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began using a new tool for their scripture studies, a book with the title Come Follow Me.

A simple notebook-sized paperback book divided into weekly sections with room to write notes and guidance and prompts to study The New Testament, the section of the Scriptures assigned to members for 2019 study.

Sprinkled heavily throughout this book is artwork of a quality that made me want to hang the book on the wall! I was pleasantly surprised to see the artwork could be printed out for Family Home Evening personal use and purchased on the church’s store for formal display outside of lessons!

As a single disabled woman who lives alone with her dogs, I probably have a different schedule than most people. If I pull out my Come Follow Me book with my Bible in the middle of the day when it is nice and quiet, I am easily directed to my area of study. Interruptions happen, and using the book it is easy to return to my place after.

The paperback is not the only version available, Come Follow Me is also available digitally on the Gospel Library app as well as on The Church’s website.

As a disabled person, it is never easy for me to attend church. There are times that the tasks that I would need to complete to go into the building are too much for me physically or mentally. It has been during these times when I have appreciated the Come Follow Me program the most. The respect that our Prophet has for the members of our church with this program feels wonderful. I am comforted to have an outlined path of study even for those days I’m not able to make it to classes.

As a convert who often wishes I had been a member of The Church during my high school years so I would have had an opportunity to attend seminary, the Come Follow Me program gives me a bit more of guidance in my studies that I have yearned for.

I look forward to following Him more and seeing how this Come Follow Me program develops!

Mother, Another Name for Creator

When our Prophet talks about us “all being mothers,” what I feel him saying is that we are all creators.

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From Mother’s Milk by ~Rachel Hunt Steenblik

In her book of poetry, Mother’s Milk, Rachel Hunt Steenblik opens up her heart and her yearning for a Mother in Heaven, a feeling many of us have felt. As a woman who has run home to her own earthly mother more times than I can count, the yearning for an acknowledgment of our Eternal Mother is something that I feel more intensely than I usually admit.IMG_20170430_100659.jpg

I have belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for six years coming up next month. During this time, no matter what Ward or Branch I have attended, each and every year I have joined in the singing the one hymn in the hymnal that recognizes our Mother in Heaven every year on Mother’s Day.

In 1845, Eliza R. Snow (Relief Society President 1867-1887) wrote the hymn, “O My Father,” penning the most well-known reference to Mother God.  Written only months after Prophet Jospeph Smith Jr.’s death, it has been speculated that the Prophet may have taught of a Mother in Heaven either implicitly or to limited audiences.20171105_123208_HDR.jpg

It doesn’t surprise me that the hymn we sing on Mother’s Day or the book of poetry worshiping our Almighty Mother were written by mothers. It also didn’t surprise me to listen to Sheri Dew say “Aren’t We All Mothers,” or President Nelson in his address to the October 2018 General Conference profess that he became a doctor, “Because I could not choose to be a mother.”

President Nelson went on to say last October, ” Every woman is a mother by virtue of her eternal divine destiny.”

When I listen to childless women and their frustration with some of these quotes and standpoints, I contemplate if they were to substitute the word creator for mother if there would still be offense taken?

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The Cullens, one of my ancestral families

Our society, and in particular some of our cultures, tend to pass judgment on what types of parents we are, how many children we produce and how we choose to raise them. How we judge one another trickles down into how we feel about ourselves. When we internalize external judgments, we diminish our own divinity.

Our role as creators is divine. Our Mother in Heaven is just as important as our Father in Heaven.

Elder Erastus Snow stated, “There can be no God except that he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, or ever will be a God in any other way,” a statement, according to the Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven, that has been reaffirmed by several General Authorities.

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Are not we all mothers? We ARE all creators. Whether we choose to partner with our Heavenly Parents and create human bodies to be populated with souls to come to earth or we partner with them to create technology, books, music or other artwork or perhaps we create a cure for a previously incurable disease; we are ALL creators. We are ALL mothers.

Thank you, Mother and Father, for the gift of creation…for the gift of motherhood.

What the Mother Taught Me
Creation is
more than
procreation.
It is snow, birds,
trees, moon,
and song.
~Rachel Hunt Steenblik

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The Prophet Comes to Safeco Field

PicsArt_09-16-06.02.01.jpgPeering down, I could barely see President Nelson standing at the podium in the field usually reserved for nine innings of one of my least favorite games. This was the first time I had been at Safeco Field for any reason. I switched my gaze up to the “Jumbotron” where the Prophet of God’s face was as clear as day. His voice not only echoed due to the less than optimal acoustics in Safeco Field, but it reverberated in my chest. I felt a confirming witness of his words comfort me and bless me as he spoke. I tried to quickly scribble down every word in the new composition book I brought for the event but failed miserably. I kept getting distracted by the power that filled the stadium: Priesthood Power. The Power of a God who seemed to fill the stadium with His love.IMG_20180211_121332358

In the year I have been a member of the Olympia Second Ward, I have gained many friends. I was so happy that I could catch a ride with some of them who shared a few of my physical challenges. The traffic was a little heavy through Tacoma, but we pressed north. When we took our exit, we noticed cars filled with other members heading in the same direction. Soon we found the parking garage and headed to a disabled spot on the roof.

After a relatively short line (the lines below us were back and forth and around blocks), we went through the metal detectors and then over a sky bridge. The ushers directed us to an elevator where we walked (all four of us with canes), then stood in line to go down to the 100 level. When we made it to the 100 level, an usher attempted to find seating for four disabled members but decided that our needs could be met better in one of the suites upstairs. We were given a pass for a suite, then directed back to the elevator and back up to the suite level.preview.jpg

The walk around the stadium to an open suite was excruciating but worth it. The four of us in our van were each disabled. Three with broken backs. The freedom to have a suite to sit in several soft chairs, then to be able to walk around in a private area all while not missing one word of the Prophet’s talk was a true gift from God to four disabled Latter-day Saints.  It was a gift that set the tone for the evening.

I was relaxing and putting my feet up while going through some of the photos I had already taken of the suite and the stadium, when we heard members that were sitting in the suite’s seating exclaim, “That’s you!” They were referring to an Instagram post I had made that was being displayed on a Jumbotron screen that I couldn’t see from my vantage point. I smiled at the camaraderie the post caused both in our suite with the strangers become a suite family and the text I received from other Ward members who had seen it. I blushed.20180915_192325.jpg

After I missed being embarrassed on the Jumbotron (for a writer with a heavy social media presence, I am remarkably shy in some situations), I decided to change my seating to the combination desk/bar seating that the suite windows open up to. I could see the Jumbotron and the field filling up with Latter-day Saints from around the northwest. As the time neared, even the outfield seats began filling up. The overwhelming feeling of love in the stadium was felt by more than just the members. Workers who were in and out of the suites began to comment that we were not their normal crowd.

President Eyring began the talks after an introduction of hymns and prayer with statements about the character of God and His Prophets, “God is omniscient and omnipotent…Prophets give us revelation to assist us in our daily life.”

He asked us to seek and receive personal revelation to confirm the words of Prophets who receive direction in our lives. He expressed that we should NOT blindly follow what the prophet invites us to do. It is up to each one of us to confirm that the President of the Church is leading us all in the right direction.preview-7.jpg

Following President Eyring’s talk, Sister Wendy Nelson surprised the four of us with her insight into the private life of a Prophet of God. Never before could I have found myself picturing President Nelson in his bedroom closet writing revelation for us all on a yellow-lined pad of paper after his wife was called out of the bedroom by God. I never could have imagined that a Prophet’s wife would be awoken and told (by the Holy Spirit) to leave her own bedroom in the middle of the night so that her husband could in essence, ‘speak’ or really, get spoken to, by God.

Sister Wendy Nelson’s testimony of her relationship with her husband, our Prophet and the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a stirring insight into their personal lives. One I never imagined having. Sister Nelson’s witness that President Nelson appears to grow much younger than his 94 years was confirmed by each person watching his talk which was next.

preview-5.jpgPresident Nelson opened with remarks about the fact it was his first time to speak at a baseball stadium, and then proceeded to share a story about his family whitewater rafting. In that experience, President Nelson learned it was important to hold tight to the raft, just as it is important for each of us to hold tight in our lives to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

He reiterated his witness that reading the Book of Mormon every day immunizes us against the evils of the day and allows us to draw closer to the Lord.

President Nelson invited each person who is not on the path to return and not to allow the temptations of the world distract from the real reason we are on Earth.

“The Lord uses the unlikely to do the impossible,” was one of the lessons President Nelson stated he had learned in life. He followed and preceded this statement with his experiences after having been given the prophetic task of opening Eastern Europe to the preaching of the Gospel. He stated, “The Lord likes effort, He blesses our best efforts.”preview-4.jpg

The page following these notes in my composition book selected for this event is filled with a personal revelation written while President Nelson was finishing this portion of his talk. My testimony of the lesson, “The Lord uses the unlikely to do the impossible” is strong.

One of the most significant changes to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the mantle of Prophet fell on President Nelson has been the evolution of “Home and Visiting Teachers” to “Ministering.” The Prophet spoke about the life lesson he had learned about focusing on others as a part of the ministering lessons to us all.

“We long to build bridges of cooperation rather than walls of segregation,” President Nelson seemed to speak to the hearts of the Pacific Northwest audience, before closing with a blessing for us all.

If any in the audience doubted Sister Wendy Nelson’s allegation that he was growing younger, the veritable leap President Nelson performed out of his seat, interrupting the closing hymn’s prelude, and back to the podium to correct the number in attendance did much to assuage it.20180915_175423-PANO.jpg

The corrected number was 49,089. It was a record for a non-sports event in Safeco Field.

As a member who lives in an area that has been characterized as the “least religious in America,” I was very very happy to see that many of my Latter-day family turn out. The power of the Priesthood was palpable and heartwarming.

God was there.

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I Sustain The Prophet

I feel so blessed to type these words, “I sustain President Nelson.” I feel blessed to have seen him speak in person before he was called to his present position. I remember thinking that he was so “young” in spirit and in intelligence for his chronological age. I was touched greatly by his talks in recent years since I have come to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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President Nelson, LDS.org

After the announcement of President Nelson’s new position and those of his counselors, I was so happy. Happy for a car that didn’t run and the ability to hear President Nelsons words on September 11, 2016 from his own mouth. I remember the many feelings I experienced when I listened to his words as well as some of the words themselves. It does help that I took notes during his talk. 

I have been surprised how “with it” this 93-year-old President is. He tweets, has been on computers since they came out and has been a groundbreaking heart surgeon. The fact that he has made medical history with his own medical practice makes me incredibly hopeful on a personal nature. His compassion for others is seemingly boundless.

20170211_101506_HDR.jpgAs a newly-called Temple and Family History Consultant, I am EXTREMELY excited about a prophet who has spoken about The Spirit of Elijah for years! President Nelson has encouraged the members of The Church to work on their family history for most of his time in the Quorum of the Twelve. I don’t imagine he will slow down in regards to that effort now!

I believe that Heavenly Father qualified President Russel M. Nelson throughout his 93 years for this position. I’m grateful for the years of preparation President Nelson has put into this calling.  I believe that President Nelson is the representative of Jesus Christ’s Church on this earth. I am happy to be able to sustain our Prophet. I feel so blessed to say, “I sustain President Russel M. Nelson and the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

I leave this Testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.