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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
It is snow, birds,
and song. ~Rachel Hunt Steenblik
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.
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.
Being 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.
Faith 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.
An 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!
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
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!
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
What does it mean to have a Testimony of Jesus Christ?
My own relationship with that word, not necessarily the feeling, began shortly after I knelt to pray and asked how to become closer to Jesus Christ on March 6, 2013.
I was immediately impressed that I needed to be Baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which I had never attended (except once as a guest while a small child).
When I called my granddaughter’s other grandma to ask her how to get the Missionaries to come to your house (so that I could ask them about this impression I received); she responded, “WOW, what a Testimony!!!”
To which I answered, “What’s a Testimony?”
Since that moment, The Holy Spirit has been teaching me what a Testimony is.
I KNOW my Heavenly Father, Christ’s Father, Lives.
I KNOW that His Spirit is The Holy Ghost which He has given me to guide me in using the other gift, my agency.
What is the result, the constant gift of having a Testimony? I believe it increases your Faith. If you KNOW The Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father live, and guide you each and every day, it is harder to worry as much. It is easier to know that whatever may come, it is for a higher reason and there is a blessing to be had.
This last winter was a hard one. Constant illnesses combined with my disabilities served to make me feel like there was no way I would survive the season. So, I prayed. Then I listened.
The Holy Spirit witnessed to me that my physical and emotional trials may have been difficult, but they would not be the end of me. It also witnessed that my experiences weren’t only for me, but there were others who would benefit from my trials. I don’t know why, but when He says that, I always feel better. Why would I go through the depths of hell for others, but not for my own progression? Something for me to think about.
As we progressed through the spring, I got physically stronger and with that, my emotional stability increased as well. Finally, I began to feel like myself again. However, I was left with the memories of the prayers in desperation. “God, am I going to live through this?” Isn’t a conversation easily started with one’s Heavenly Father.
In order to start that conversation, I had to have a Testimony. I had to KNOW that He lives. I also had to TRUST His answers. But, I wouldn’t have His answers if I hadn’t listened.
I have found that if I take an assortment of talks and save them to a playlist on my phone, then I put that playlist on “random” and ask in prayer for the Holy Spirit to help me listen to what I need to learn in that moment, I am richly rewarded.
The answers that I crave in prayer, are delivered in talks given by our Prophet, Apostles & Auxiliary Leaders.
Heavenly Father has guided the wonderful programmers that have built this site and those apps, to make our modern scriptures available to us in many ways. Most of us carry our “smart” phone with us wherever we go. These devices can be used to study and share His Gospel. They can also be used to increase our Testimony.
I LOVE to see the Temple. The Twin Falls Temple in Idaho was the site of my “wrong turn” at the very start of the softening of my heart. Where I stopped and “felt” the building radiate out into the street.
April 20, 2013: I went on my first proxy Baptism trip to the Seattle Temple just shy of a month after my own baptism. It was that day when I started my father’s work and my forgiveness of him.
October 19, 2013: I spent my first birthday after my baptism, performing proxy baptisms for my family in the Salt Lake City Temple. Afterwards, I enjoyed a wonderful lunch with a friend. They served spaghetti at the Salt Lake Temple cafeteria. That’s something you don’t forget. Fortunately, since I was not yet endowed I was in my street clothes, not a white Temple dress.
May 13, 2014: I received my Endowments at the Seattle Temple, with 3 friends from 2 different Wards. Later that year, I went through Mt. Timpanogos Temple with one of my Sister Missionaries for the proxy Endowments of both my grandmothers. Since May of 2014, I have befriended many Temple workers in many Wards and Branches. I have even roomed with one while I was needing a place to stay in close proximity to my grandchildren for a holiday season. She helped bolster my Testimony on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Marian helped me understand Personal Revelation. A Returned Missionary, she helped me trust God. That is a gift I don’t know how to ever repay.
When I visit a Ward, I find myself looking around. The Temple Workers seem to “glow” with light. I went up to an older, beautiful lady one day in the Lacey, Washington Stake Center that I was visiting. I felt I HAD to know; “Did she work at the Temple?” Yes, in fact, she confirmed that she did. The “Glow” had been apparent across the room. My Patriarchal Blessing explicitly states that I will bless my family on both sides of the veil with the work I perform in the Temple. In the past two years, I have been blessed to catch rides with Temple Workers on many occasions, giving me the opportunity to perform an entire shift’s worth of Proxy Ordinances while I was there.
I look at the Temple Ordinance workers with gratitude and amazement. Even though sometimes rather elderly, they seem almost spry. Their minds are clear and their memories amazingly retentive. This spring, just short of my Temple Recommend needing renewed; I felt an overwhelming compulsion. My best friend (and Visiting Teacher), Anne, had been urging me to not only go to the Temple to perform Proxy Ordinances while she and my other friends worked; she wanted me to volunteer to work there too! Anne works in the Laundry of the Snowflake Temple, she suggested that I volunteer to work there also. I hesitated, because doing my own laundry is difficult enough for me with a broken back and other chronic pain. But that didn’t deter her. She was convinced I should be working in the Temple with her and several of our friends in our Branch.
In early March, as I was speaking to our Branch President about another matter, the compulsion felt overwhelming. I was attempting to open his office door to leave. The Holy Spirit whispered, “Turn around and ask him…” I knew what the Spirit was speaking to me about. The compulsion was incredibly strong; it was if I could not turn the doorknob I was attempting to reach. “Turn around and ask him,” the Spirit continued to whisper, but I hesitated. I didn’t want to appear too eager, feeling there must be some requirement I didn’t meet. There is no way I felt qualified to work at the Temple. But the Spirit would not cease, so I turned around.
After asking my Branch President if there was some way I could help in the Temple, some place I could volunteer, and if my services would be adequate, I felt relieved of the compulsion for a few days. That Friday when I visited the Snowflake Temple during Anne’s shift, it returned in the Celestial Room. “Go talk to the Matron,” the whispering Holy Spirit urged. “Why would I want to do that?!” In shock I answered in my thoughts. “Tell her you want to work here, tell her your experience.” The Spirit would not let up. I entered the dressing room to ready (and steady) myself. It was crowded, more crowded than I had ever seen. I sought refuge in the lavatory, but even that room seemed overwhelmingly crowded. I prayed for courage in the stall.
Sitting in the Matron’s office, I felt silly to have been so nervous. The Assistant Matron was on duty that night and was a genteel lady with a radiant countenance. She glowed. As I explained the Spirit’s (and Anne’s) urgings, and my experience as a retired computer programmer; she shared with me that there was a spot opening up in the Temple Office. A elderly couple that had been with the office since the opening of the Snowflake Temple in 2002 was retiring. Their shifts would not be easy to fill and they would be missed.
I felt a reassurance from my Heavenly Father. There was a service I felt confident I could perform. To be able to share my skills on computers and office work with the Snowflake Temple and help perform the work that needs to be done, felt like an incredible blessing. The Matron seemed happy to be placing my name on the lists to be approved by my Branch and Stake Presidents. Over the next couple of weeks, during my Fridays at the Temple, I got to know the Temple Presidency through a couple of very informal interviews. By the time my volunteering in the office was approved by the Stake President, my Temple Recommend was up for renewal for the first time. I had to go in for my interviews again
Then it happened, I received a call asking me to come in for an interview at the beginning of my regular Friday visit. That is a day I will NEVER forget. As my friend Anne escorted me into the Temple President’s office, Elder Bradley Foster of the Seventy appeared to be looking for something on the President’s desk. He engaged me in a brief conversation before the Temple President entered. I wish I remembered that he was the one who gave the talk, “It’s Never Too Early and It’s Never Too Late,” in the October 2015 General Conference that spoke to my heart, but I was too overwhelmed by the situation. When the Temple President entered, I was surprised when I wasn’t to be interviewed, but quickly set apart as an Office Worker, and sent off to meet the rest of the office staff, Recorder and the Assistant Recorder.
I made quick friends with the other new worker and briefly met the retiring couple. My life in the weeks since has been blessed as, among other things, I’ve been able to learn my tasks at the Temple Office very quickly and life at home seems easier too. I look forward to my Friday Evenings in the Temple every week. My Testimony of Temple work is solid. I have a powerful Testimony of the Holy Spirit and I strongly agree with President Monson’s directive to “NEVER postpone a prompting.”
I leave this Testimony with you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.