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My husband and I decided some time ago that due to the Priesthood responsibilities our three oldest boys have we wanted our family to be 20-30 minutes early to church every week. We live very close to our church, so when it’s time to leave we take who is ready in the car with us and everyone else gets to walk.

This last Sunday, when it was time to go, our youngest of six children (and our only daughter) was the only one ready to go so she got to ride over to the church in 17 degree weather.  The meeting started and there the three of us sat. It was a lonely feeling for a mother who was used to being surrounded by at least three other children before Sacrament meeting begins. Even though I already knew the answer, about every 10 minutes I kept looking over to my husband and would ask, “Do you think I should go check on them?  Do you think we should call them?”  He would just shake his head and say, “We need to let them ‘fail’.”  (Fail translates into let them be late…you have NO IDEA how hard it was to leave my children behind!)

The Sacrament came and went. You can imagine how I felt when our oldest came and plopped himself right next to me 35 minutes into the meeting. 🙂 Ten minutes later another two joined us and about two minutes after that the last two finally came trailing in.

Once everyone had arrived I felt a wave of relief come over me.  Relieved that I didn’t need to worry about where they were anymore.  Relieved that they were in out of the cold.  Relieved that we were all together.  At one time I remember thinking, “Ah, together at last.” I later found out that a neighbor saw my children walking to church and gave them a ride and I think my children were very grateful…I know I was.  Grateful that I could let the lesson sink in that they needed to be prepared and that they were responsible for their own choices and grateful for the tender mercy shown on a cold, winter day.

I reflected for a few minutes on how I felt at the beginning of the meeting and how much I missed my children and how that contrasted with the joy I felt seeing all of us together.   I was happy when each child, one by one, joined us, but the feeling of absence I felt from those who had not yet arrived was undeniable and the joy I felt from all of us being together was unspeakable.  It was difficult not to notice the parallels this story offered to every day and eternal life.

But the biggest lesson for me that day was even though we might not all be traveling at the same speed, as we do our best to lead our children down correct paths, and with help we receive from people who care, we’ll all get there…eventually.

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Today I made a comment on a social website about an issue that is dividing people and in some cases even members of the Church.  I then read through my comment and realized that what I said needed a follow up comment because it could be viewed as offensive.  Then after reading that comment I realized that my clarification statement could be viewed as offensive to someone else.  Realizing that saying anything at all put me on either side of the issue I now found myself smack dab in the middle of a debate I originally wanted no part of and that making a comment literally dirtied my hands.  In this case, I had strong feelings about people who had strong feelings, but after making my comment I realized there was no place for it and I just made myself a part of the  ugliness of the issue. It would have been good for me to do a little research/studying so I knew where I stood on the issue, but it didn’t mean that I needed to say anything about it.  The insight on my hands being dirtied by saying something lent me new information I had never considered before and I literally witnessed a paradigm shift – and I’m grateful for that!

So, since this little experience I have found myself wondering when it would be appropriate to say something or not to say something.  Here’s a couple of things I learned for myself.

  1. Determine what the issue is even about and how big of a role does the advesary have in it (if it’s a lot then stay FAR AWAY!)
  2. Do I know anything about this subject?  (i.e. what do General Authorities or the scriptures have to say about it)
  3. Will saying anything help?  (Filters: Does this need to be said?  Does it need to be said by me?  Does it need to be said right now?)
  4. I would say that most of the time I would best serve my fellow men by not saying anything at all.  This does not mean however, that I shouldn’t say anything to my children.  If there is an issue I feel strongly about I do need to let them know how I feel (and not always with words) and that is probably about as far as that needs to go.

I am really going to work hard on this.  I am grateful for gentle corrections from the Spirit and the opportunities I am given every day to change for the better.

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Today I read Mosiah 28 of the Book of Mormon and was so touched by a couple of things that I JUST HAD TO SHARE!

First of all, the Son’s of Mosiah wanted to serve a mission knowing that it MIGHT end in their desired results (see verse 2).  What faith and humility that must have taken – and these were the boys that used to go around tormenting and bullying other members of the Church!  I am touched by the love they have for their Lamanite brethren.  I find myself asking if I could have the same love for those who hated me?

Second of all, you could tell from verse 5 that Mosiah was very hesitant to let them go (they were wanting to visit the Lamanites, after all). How cool is the Lord’s response in verse 7?!  To be told that many would believe on the words of your children, that they would have eternal life, AND that they would be spared from those you fear could do the most harm to those you love.  As a mother of six children I can only imagine the peace that flooded into Mosiah’s heart.

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I am truly standing amazed tonight at the many blessings Heavenly Father has given me and my fellow Ward members.  For many weeks my presidency and I have been putting together a Ward activity that would take us to Temple Square.  We scheduled time for family pictures, family time (this was time that the families spent wandering the grounds) and then we also had a special treat where Sister Jean Stevens, the 1st counselor in the General Primary Presidency, came and visited with us by the reflection pool.  It was such a neat experience to have her there and to have her meet the different families in our Ward.

I think, for me, the journey leading up to this event is what I will cherish the most.  I don’t even know where to begin.  I had a vision, if you will, at the beginning of the year of an activity where the children of our ward would be able to have their picture taken as a group in front of the temple.  I envisioned this as an experience the children would have that would help them make and keep sacred covenants and the visual reminder would help them get to the temple one day.  As I shared this vision with my presidency in the early part of the year they caught the spirit of the activity.  The energy in the room was exciting and the spirit was tangible.

We felt the best way to get the ball rolling was to approach the Ward Council about it so that’s what I did.  They loved the idea and we started to plan it – we even picked a date, but a few weeks into planning it there were a couple of snags and so the Bishop felt it would be best to turn it back over to the Primary.  It was a bit daunting to think that we would be in charge of a Ward Activity.  I presented the idea to my presidency again and it took a little bit of time to get the ball rolling, but when we finally did things just took off.

We each took a part.  I was obviously over the activity and getting the special guest/presenter.  Sister Crystal James, my first counselor, was in charge of advertising and announcements and what a great job she did.  She had the most creative announcements and she made the invitations look so professional.  It really set the tone for the activity.  Sister Roxanne Walker, my second counselor was in charge of permission slips and getting Temple Square information together for families so they could decide ahead of time how they wanted to spend their time.  She even went the extra mile and put together child-friendly Temple Square information.  Then my secretary, Lydia Handley, was in charge of the family portraits.  She coordinated the photographers and families so there wasn’t a ton of waiting time.  She’s so good at keeping things simple and her talents were perfectly matched to the task.

We also talked about what we felt the Ward needed from this activity and it didn’t take long to figure out that we needed to keep it simple, that we needed to let families be in charge of how they spent their time on Temple Square, and we wanted them to remember the evening through family portraits.  All of this was able to happen.  We invited the families to bring a picnic and eat on the lawn at a nearby church (which that was another miracle in itself) and then we heard from a member of our Bishopric, Brother Johnson, for a few minutes and he talked to us about the sacrifices that were made to bring the temple to us.  Then we all walked over to Temple Square where we were able to listen to Sister Stevens and talk to her one on one – how kind and generous she was with her time!  She also brought every family a ‘My Gospel Standards’ poster that they could put up in their homes.   She was so thoughtful and gave me a signed one from the General Primary Presidency! After that we had a group photo shot with all the families and Sister Stevens and then with just the Primary children, Primary workers and Sister Stevens.  I am going to forever remember that experience of standing in front of the temple with those little Primary children getting our pictures taken – it will always hold a special place in my heart.

After this the group dispersed.  Some families stayed and visited with Sister Stevens and others went and had their family picture taken while others wandered through Temple Square.  Sister Stevens even wandered Temple Square a little bit to talk to the families that she missed near the reflection pool – she’s just that wonderful! It was very enjoyable to run into families from our Ward throughout the evening.  This honestly is one of my most memorable Ward Activities ever.  I don’t know what it meant to the other Ward members, but to me, it will always be etched in my mind as a treasured memory.  Something about being in  place that is so special to me and my family and sharing that with others I care about and being reminded of what it was like to live with Heavenly Father before we came to Earth.

I’m in complete awe of this activity.  Every detail was considered and everything came together so perfectly.  The special visitor we had is far more than I could’ve ever imagined and the way that was all brought about was divine inspiration.  Heavenly Father just had people in the right places at the right times and the Spirit was able to prick the right minds at the right times and Wha-lah – there you have a wonderful Ward activity. So grateful to Sister Joy Nelson, the Secretary, who helped coordinate these efforts.

Heavenly Father knows us, not only as individuals, but as families and Ward families, too.  I’m so grateful that our happiness is important to Him.  I’m so grateful He is willing to help us find that happiness.  He has touched my life forever with this activity and those who participated in it.

P.S.  I can’t give the details of this activity without sharing the events leading up to Sister Stevens visiting us.  This really fell into my lap, but it took a little convincing to get me to realize this was the direction we were supposed to go in.  I met Sister Stevens in the Salt Lake temple early this year.  Lydia and I had the privilege of sitting right next to her in a session.  When I had a moment to talk to her I mustered up the courage to reach over to her and tell her how grateful I was for all of her service and that I thought they, the General Primary Presidency, were doing a great job.  She immediately pegged me as someone who worked in the Primary and told me that she would love to come visit our Ward.  It kind of freaked me out to think of her coming out to see us and all of our flaws so I kind of, well, totally sabotaged any chance of her coming out to see us.  And that was that…or so I thought!

Well, a few months into the year Sister James kept teasing me about having a new best friend in the General Primary Presidency whenever we would talk about teacher trainings and especially when it came to this activity; she kept telling me that I should ask her to come and speak to us.  I kept dismissing the idea because it felt so outlandish to request her at our activity until I realized that the Spirit was prompting me to have her come as well.  I decided to make it a matter of prayer because I thought, “Maybe it’s not her that is supposed to come, but Heavenly Father will point me in the right direction.  Or I will contact Sister Stevens and find out she can’t come, but she will put us in contact with the right person.”  Either way, when I knelt to pray I was not expecting to be told to ask her to come and that my feelings were directing me this way because to get me to do anything of this nature Heavenly Father had to hit me against the head with a big enough stick and I’m actually way off in my thinking.  When I prayed about it the feeling I received to have her come speak was so powerful that I almost couldn’t sleep that night.

The next morning I sent an email to an address I thought she might be at, but it wasn’t hers – can’t imagine what the recipient was thinking when they read it!  I then thought…well, that is that – it was obviously just a test and I did my best.  A couple weeks would go by and then the Spirit would tell me when I was talking to someone who could help me with getting in touch with her and what to ask so I would know what to do and the person I was talking to would give me exactly the information I needed to move forward with confidence.

On one particular occasion I felt like I needed to give up on having her come because I thought I might be asking too much of her to give up an evening with her family to just come visit with some Ward members during their Ward activity.  I just happened to get a phone call from a friend from out of town who said, “My parents have tickets to the Tabernacle Choir’s Pioneer concert tonight and we have an extra, would you like to come?”  Amazingly, it worked out and on my way to the concert the Spirit taught me that this was not an accident that I had been invited by my friend.   The purpose to me being invited was so that I could acquire the information I needed to contact Sister Stevens.  Now, you need to understand that I’m someone who second guesses myself all the time because sometimes I’m worried that I am putting these thoughts into my own head and that maybe I’m a little crazy.  This is one of those occasions.  However, I thought, “Dori, you are familiar enough w/ the Holy Ghost that you know when He’s speaking to you and when He’s not so just have a little faith.”  It not only took a little faith, but a lot of courage on my part to bring up the topic and ask for help in a nonchalant way.  It still blows me away that me, an unpolished and uneducated wife and mother of six, was given the task to do this.

I would eventually be directed to the woman that would help me.  Her name is Joy Nelson and she is an absolute angel – I’m sending her flowers after this!  She was the liaison between Sister Stevens and me and it was her skills that made all of this possible.  She was wonderful to work with and really taught me about how to be someone who could help others.  I truly have learned so much about helping others through all of this.

Sister Nelson called to ask me exactly what I needed Sister Stevens to do and I explained to her that I felt kind of silly asking for her because we didn’t want her as a special speaker – I just wanted her to extend her love and meet the children and families.  Sister Nelson gave a sigh of relief and said, “That’s exactly what we needed to know.  If you were requesting her as a special speaker then we would have to get this approved someone in the Area Presidency, but because of what you’re asking, she can just show up to this as a special visitor”.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!  It was lining up too perfectly by this point that there was no mistaking that this was supposed to happen.  Anyway, within about 72 hours I had been given our special speaker for our Ward activity and everybody was so excited when they heard about it.  I still can’t get over the fact that there is no mistaking that she was who Heavenly Father had prepared for us.  I don’t understand the significance of all of it.  As nice as it would be to just accept this as a gift I can’t help but wonder why….  Why her, why us, why now?  One day, I hope to be able to see the effects of this activity and for now I will just sit in awe of it all….literally.


Unasked questions


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God is good.  I have always known this, but to know it in such a specific way is…like tasting of the fruit of the tree of life.  Today I learned that when you are deeply pondering to only yourself, Heavenly Father is still listening and eager to answer the questions we don’t ask.  He cares so much about us.  If He’s willing to answer an unasked question, imagine what He’s willing to do when we do ask!  Yes, God is good.