Friday, November 9, 2018

As evil increases so does a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous.

An old Chinese fable shared by Elder George A. Smith: 

“A man travelling through the country came to a large city, very rich and splendid; he looked at it and said to his guide, ‘This must be a very righteous people, for I can only see but one little devil in this great city.’

“The guide replied, ‘You do not understand, sir. This city is so perfectly given up to wickedness … that it requires but one devil to keep them all in subjection.’

“Travelling on a little farther, he came to a rugged path and saw an old man trying to get up the hill side, surrounded by seven great, big, coarse-looking devils.

“‘Why,’ says the traveller, ‘this must be a tremendously wicked old man! See how many devils there are around him!’

“‘This,’ replied the guide, ‘is the only righteous man in the country; and there are seven of the biggest devils trying to turn him out of his path, and they all cannot do it.’” (Journal of Discourses, 5:363–64.)

Quoted by Carlos E. Asay, "Opposition to the Work of God," Ensign, Nov. 1981.

Also, here is the source for the quote meme above: 

The Prophet Joseph Smith related from his own experience, “The nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes” (in Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1967, p. 132).

On the other hand, here's some good news. Elder Neil L. Andersen said:  

"As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight. ... My brothers and sisters, as evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory power, an additional spiritual endowment, a revelatory gift for the righteous." ("A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous," BYU Devotional, August 18, 2015, emphasis added)

Click here for a post of Elder Holland sharing that evil influences are real and that by using God's power we can cast them out.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One Powerful Promise or Invitation from Every Gen Conf Talk! And an FHE idea.

Here's how I plan on using this great list for FHE soon: 

  1. First, print the quotes below using this handy printable I received from a seminary teacher friend who gave me permission to share. 
  2. Each person in the family gets a copy of the quotes and two colored highlighters: One to mark the invitations and one to mark the promises. We will also encourage them to make a star in the margin for things that stood out to them the most. 
  3. Then we'll take turns sharing our takeaways. 
  4. I plan on ending by inviting each person to choose one action they'll take from general conference and a plan to make it happen. 

Here is a printable handout of the quotes below. Click here for a copy. 

One Powerful Promise or Invitation from Every Talk Given During the October 2018 General Conference

General conference has come and gone, but hopefully, the power behind the messages given by our living prophet and apostles lingers with you for a good while still. Here are invitations extended and promises given during the October 2018 general conference that might lead you to take action, be still and listen, or simply help you keep the Spirit you felt over the weekend.

Saturday Morning Session

Speaking about the adjustment to the Sunday meetinghouse schedule:
"The purposes and blessings associated with this adjustment and other recent changes include the following:
•  Deepening conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthening faith in Them.
•  Strengthening individuals and families through home-centered, Church-supported curriculum that contributes to joyful gospel living.
•  Honoring the Sabbath day, with a focus on the ordinance of the sacrament.
•  Helping all of Heavenly Father’s children on both sides of the veil through missionary work and receiving ordinances and covenants and blessings of the temple.

"The announcements made today will result in profound blessings for those who enthusiastically embrace the adjustments and seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We will become closer to our Heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, of whom I am a sure witness."

"To help us travel and triumph over our hard times . . . may I suggest two things. We must face hard things, first, by forgiving others and, second, by giving ourselves to Heavenly Father.'”

"Consistent, wholesome family traditions that include prayer, scripture reading, family home evening, and attendance at Church meetings, though seemingly small and simple, create a culture of love, respect, unity, and security. In the spirit that accompanies these efforts, our children become protected from the fiery darts of the adversary so embedded in the worldly culture of our day.

"As we establish wholesome traditions that teach the doctrine of Christ, the Holy Spirit bears witness of the truthfulness of our message and nourishes the seeds of the gospel that are planted deep in the hearts of our children by our efforts all along the way."

"Stand in holy places. When we stand in holy places—our righteous homes, our dedicated chapels, the consecrated temples—we feel the Spirit of the Lord with us. We find answers to questions that trouble us or the peace to simply set them aside. That is the Spirit in action. These sacred places in the kingdom of God on earth call for our reverence, our respect for others, our best selves in living the gospel, and our hopes to lay aside our fears and seek the healing power of Jesus Christ through His Atonement."

"I promise that increased perspective, purpose, and power will be evident in our learning and living of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as we strive to gather together in one all things in Christ—even in Him.

"All opportunities and blessings of eternal consequence originate in, are possible and have purpose because of, and endure through the Lord Jesus Christ." 

"The work of the Lord is going forward despite the organized and constant opposition that confronts us as we strive to practice the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For those who falter under that opposition, I offer these suggestions.
"Remember the principle of repentance made possible by the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell urged, don’t be among those “who would rather try to change the Church than to change themselves.”

"As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland urged:
'Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. …In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know.'
"Exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the first principle of the gospel.
"Finally, seek help. Our Church leaders love you and seek spiritual guidance to help you. We provide many resources such as you will find through and other supports for gospel study in the home. We also have ministering brothers and sisters called to give loving assistance."

Saturday Afternoon Session

"It is challenging but vital to remain firm and steadfast when we find ourselves being refined 'in the furnace of affliction,' something that comes soon or late to all of us in mortality. Without God, these dark experiences tend to despondency, despair, and even bitterness. With God, comfort replaces pain, peace replaces turmoil, and hope replaces sorrow. Remaining firm in the faith of Christ will bring His sustaining grace and support. He will convert trial into blessing and, in Isaiah’s words, 'give … beauty for ashes.'"

"Listening to and hearkening to living prophets will have profound, even life-changing effects in our lives. We are strengthened. We are more assured and confident in the Lord. We hear the word of the Lord. We feel God’s love. We will know how to conduct our lives with purpose.

"I love and sustain President Russell M. Nelson and the others who have been called as prophets, seers, and revelators. I testify that he has the gifts the Lord has bestowed upon his head, and I witness that as we solidify in our lives the practice of listening to and heeding the voice of the living prophets, our lives will be built according to the Lord’s divine pattern for us, and we will reap eternal blessings. The invitation is extended to all. Come, listen to a prophet’s voice; yea, come unto Christ and live."

"I invite you to seek the Lord’s help in loving others as He has loved you. Let us all follow the counsel given by Mormon: 'Wherefore, my beloved brethren [and sisters], pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.'"

"When we have felt, or feel, uncertain, alone, frustrated, angry, let down, disappointed, or estranged from God and His restored Church, it may take an extra measure of effort and faith to enter again on His covenant path. But it is worth it! Please come, or come again, unto the Lord Jesus Christ! God’s love is stronger than the cords of death—temporal or spiritual. Our Savior’s Atonement is infinite and eternal. Each of us strays and falls short. We may, for a time, lose our way. God lovingly assures us, no matter where we are or what we have done, there is no point of no return. He waits ready to embrace us."

"As we follow [the] divinely designed covenant path, our commitment and efforts to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ will give us the strength 'to retain [His] name written always in [our] hearts.' We will love God and our neighbors and feel a desire to minister to them. We will keep His commandments and yearn to draw nearer to Him by entering into additional covenants with Him. And when we find ourselves weak and incapable to act on our righteous desires, we will plead for the strength that comes only through His name, and He will come to our aid. As we endure in faithfulness, the day will come when we will see Him and be with Him, and we will find that we have become like Him, thus qualifying us to return to the presence of the Father."

"In my experience, belief is not so much like a painting we look at and admire and about which we discuss and theorize. It is more like a plow that we take into the fields and, by the sweat of our brow, create furrows in the earth that accept seeds and bear fruit that shall remain.
"Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. This is the promise to all who seek to believe."

General Women's Session

"Sometimes we may initially serve from a sense of duty or obligation, but even that service can lead us to draw on something higher within us, leading us to serve in 'a more excellent way'—as in President Nelson’s invitation to 'a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others'.
"When we focus on all that God has done for us, our service flows from a heart of gratitude. As we become less concerned about our service magnifying us, we realize instead that the focus of our service will be on putting God first."

"We should welcome feelings of divine discontent that call us to a higher way, while recognizing and avoiding Satan’s counterfeit—paralyzing discouragement. This is a precious space into which Satan is all too eager to jump. We can choose to walk the higher path that leads us to seek for God and His peace and grace, or we can listen to Satan, who bombards us with messages that we will never be enough: rich enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, anything enough. Our discontent can become divine—or destructive."

"Because of our Savior’s atoning sacrifice, we can be made equal to the tasks that lie ahead. The prophets have taught that as we climb the path of discipleship, we can be sanctified through the grace of Christ. Divine discontent can move us to act in faith, follow the Savior’s invitations to do good, and give our lives humbly to Him."

"Sisters, it will not matter if we sat in the comfy seats or if we struggled to get through the meeting on a rusty folding chair in the back row. It won’t even matter if we, of necessity, stepped into a foyer to comfort a crying baby. What will matter is that we came with a desire to serve, that we noticed those to whom we minister and greeted them joyfully, and that we introduced ourselves to those sharing our row of folding chairs—reaching out with friendship even though we aren’t assigned to minister to them. And it will certainly matter that we do all that we do with the special ingredient of service coupled with love and sacrifice."

"Whatever your personal circumstance, you are part—a key part—of the family of God and of your own family, whether in the future, in this world, or in the spirit world. Your trust from God is to nurture as many of His and your family members as you can with your love and your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Your practical challenge is to know whom to nurture, how, and when. You need the Lord’s help. He knows others’ hearts, and He knows when they are ready to accept your nurturing. Your prayer of faith will be your key to success. You can depend upon receiving His guidance."

"Young women, you are blessed and you are wonderful, but you are like all of Heavenly Father’s children in your need to 'strive to do what’s right.'
"Here I could give you counsel on many different things, but I have chosen to speak of only two.

"My first counsel concerns cell phones. A recent nationwide survey found that over half of teens in the United States said they spend too much time on their cell phones. More than 40 percent said they felt anxious when they were separated from their cell phones.6 This was more common among girls than boys. My young sisters—and adult women too—it will bless your lives if you limit your use of and dependence on cell phones.

"My second counsel is even more important. Be kind to others. Kindness is something many of our youth are doing already. Some groups of youth in some communities have shown the way for all of us. We have been inspired by our young people’s acts of kindness to those in need of love and help. In many ways, you give that help and show that love to one another. We wish all would follow your example."

About the invitation to read the Book of Mormon:
"As impossible as that may seem with all you are trying to manage in your life, if you will accept this invitation with full purpose of heart, the Lord will help you find a way to achieve it. And, as you prayerfully study, I promise that the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation."

Members of the Young Women choir from stakes in Pleasant Grove form hearts with their hands as President Russell M. Nelson leaves the general women’s session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City on Saturday, October 6, 2018. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Sunday Morning Session

"I testify that the vision President Joseph F. Smith received is true. I bear witness that every person can read it and come to know it is true. Those who do not receive this knowledge in this life will surely come to know its truthfulness when everyone will arrive in the spirit world. There, all will love and praise God and the Lord Jesus Christ for the great plan of salvation and the blessing of the promised Resurrection when body and spirit will once again be reunited, never to be separated again"

"Whether our sheep are strong or weak, rejoicing or in anguish, we can make certain that no one walks alone. We can love them wherever they are spiritually and offer support and encouragement for the next step forward. As we pray and seek to understand their hearts, I testify that Heavenly Father will direct us and His Spirit will go with us. We have the opportunity to be the 'angels round about' them as He goes before their face."

"With the apostolic authority granted me by the Savior of the world, I testify of the tranquility to the soul that reconciliation with God and each other will bring if we are meek and courageous enough to pursue it. 'Cease to contend one with another,' the Savior pled. If you know of an old injury, repair it. Care for one another in love."

"I testify that we are sons and daughters of God, the seed of Abraham, the house of Israel. We are gathering Israel for the last time and are doing so with the Book of Mormon—a book that, combined with the Spirit of the Lord, is the most powerful tool of conversion. We are led by the prophet of God, President Russell M. Nelson, who is directing the gathering of Israel in our day. The Book of Mormon is true. It has changed my life. I promise you, as have Moroni and many prophets through the ages, that it can change yours."

"Never give up—however deep the wounds of your soul, whatever their source, wherever or whenever they happen, and however short or long they persist, you are not meant to perish spiritually. You are meant to survive spiritually and blossom in your faith and trust in God.

"God did not create our spirits to be independent of Him. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through the incalculable gift of His Atonement, not only saves us from death and offers us, through repentance, forgiveness for our sins, but He also stands ready to save us from the sorrows and pains of our wounded souls."

"My dear brothers and sisters, I promise you that if we will do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church, He whose Church this is will pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen. We will have the knowledge and power of God to help us take the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord."

Sunday Afternoon Session

"Since the beginning, the tests have not been easy. We face trials that come from having mortal bodies. All of us live in a world where Satan’s war against truth and against our personal happiness is becoming more intense. The world and your life can seem to you to be in increasing commotion.

"My reassurance is this: the loving God who allowed these tests for you also designed a sure way to pass through them. Heavenly Father so loved the world that He sent His Beloved Son to help us. His Son, Jesus Christ, gave His life for us. Jesus Christ bore in Gethsemane and on the cross the weight of all our sins. He experienced all the sorrows, the pains, and the effects of our sins so that He could comfort and strengthen us through every test in life."

"Given the distance between what we are as mortals and what Heavenly Father has become, it is not surprising that some feel that becoming like the Father is unattainable. Nevertheless, the scriptures are clear. If we will cleave in faith to Christ, repent, and seek God’s grace through obedience, eventually we will become like the Father. I take great comfort in the fact that those who strive to be obedient will 'receive grace for grace' and ultimately 'receive of his fulness.' In other words, we won’t become like the Father on our own. Rather, it will come through gifts of grace, some big but mostly small, that build upon one another until we have a fulness. But, brothers and sisters, it will come!

"I invite you to trust that Heavenly Father knows how to exalt you; seek His daily, sustaining help; and press forward with faith in Christ even when you cannot feel God’s love.

"There is much we do not understand about becoming like the Father. But I can testify with certainty that striving to become like the Father is worth every sacrifice. The sacrifices we make here in mortality, no matter how great, are simply incomparable to the immeasurable joy, happiness, and love we will feel in God’s presence. If you are struggling to believe it is worth the sacrifices you are asked to make, the Savior calls to you, saying, 'Ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath … prepared for you; … ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.'"

"In any of life’s travels, why would you ever turn away from the only Savior who has all power to heal and deliver you? Whatever the price you must pay to trust Him is worth it. My brothers and sisters, let us choose to increase our faith in Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ."

"Our spiritual healing requires us to submit ourselves to the conditions our Savior has outlined. We must not delay! We must act today! Act now so that spiritual paralysis does not prevent your eternal progression. . . . If you have felt the need to ask forgiveness of someone you have wronged, I invite you to act. Tell them what you have done. Ask for their forgiveness. If you have committed a sin that impacts your temple worthiness, I invite you to counsel with your bishop—today. Do not delay."

"Choosing to follow the Father’s plan is the only way we can become inheritors in His kingdom; only then can He trust us to not even ask for that which is contrary to His will. But we need to remember that 'there’s no one so hard to teach as the child who knows everything.' So we need to be willing to be tutored in the Lord’s ways by the Lord and His servants. We can trust that we are beloved children of Heavenly Parents and worth 'bothering about' and be assured that 'on our own' will never mean 'alone.'"

"Several years ago, while preparing for a business trip, I began to experience chest pain. Out of concern, my wife decided to accompany me. On the first leg of our flight, the pain intensified to the point that it was difficult for me to breathe. When we landed, we left the airport and went to the local hospital, where, after multiple tests, the attending physician declared us safe to continue our travel.

"We returned to the airport and boarded a flight to our final destination. As we were descending, the pilot came on the intercom and asked me to identify myself. The flight attendant approached, said they had just received an emergency call, and told me there was an ambulance waiting at the airport to take me to the hospital.

"We boarded the ambulance and were rushed to the local emergency room. There we were met by two anxious doctors who explained that I had been misdiagnosed and actually had a serious pulmonary embolism, or blood clot, in my lung, which required immediate medical attention. The doctors informed us that many patients do not survive this condition. Knowing we were far from home and not sure if we were prepared for such life-altering events, the doctors said that if there was anything in our lives that we needed to consider, now was the time.

"I remember well how almost instantaneously in that anxious moment, my entire perspective changed. What seemed so important just moments earlier was now of little interest. My mind raced away from the comfort and cares of this life to an eternal perspective—thoughts of family, children, my wife, and ultimately an assessment of my own life.

"How were we doing as a family and individually? Were we living our lives consistent with the covenants we had made and the Lord’s expectations, or had we perhaps unintentionally allowed the cares of the world to distract us from those things which matter most?

"I would invite you to consider an important lesson learned from this experience: to step back from the world and assess your life. Or in the words of the doctor, if there is anything in your life you need to consider, now is the time."

"President Russell M. Nelson taught us last conference: 
'Our message to the world [and, may I add, 'to our ministering flock” is simple and sincere: we invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life.'
"May we raise our sights to this prophetic vision so we can shepherd souls to the temple and ultimately to our Savior, Jesus Christ. He does not expect us to perform miracles. He asks only that we bring our brothers and sisters unto Him, for He has the power to redeem souls. As we do so, we can and will secure this promise: 'And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.'"

"I urge you to study these messages, commencing this week. They express the mind and the will of the Lord for His people, today. . . . I bless you with increased faith in Him and in His holy work, with faith and patience to endure your personal challenges in life. I bless you to become exemplary Latter-day Saints. I so bless you and bear my testimony that God lives! Jesus is the Christ! This is His Church. We are His people, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Why I attended an LGBT fireside and why I think you should too

Yesterday I attended a fireside where the whole room felt drenched in love, acceptance, support, and the Spirit. 

I want to tell you about it for several reasons. 

It was a North Star fireside for our LDS brothers and sisters who experience differences in sexual orientation and gender identity. 

I sat between my transgender neighbor and my new friend Becky Mackintosh, whose story was featured on the Mormon and Gay website. Sitting on the other side of Becky was a group of happy young adult men who regularly attend Becky's monthly FHE in her home. 

As a side note, I wept during both the opening and closing songs as I looked behind me,  feeling sure that the room was filled with angels singing along with us. It was an incredible feeling.  

Here's why I want to tell you about my experience.

1) This is more common than we realize, and there are many suffering in shame and silence. 

I've now heard multiple stories of people dealing with being LGBT in silence, shame, and isolation because they feared rejection and ridicule and didn't know how to find support. So they suffer in silence. I've heard of many youth and adults considering suicide to end their pain of trying to reconcile their LDS faith, culture, and family with being LGBT. 

In fact, at the fireside was a young person who had just "come out" to his parents last week, only after his FOURTH suicide attempt. This is INTENSE pain. If the shame and pain weren't so intense, why would these people feel such a need for secrecy and sometimes even suicide? 

Someone at the fireside shared with me that the average LDS ward has 3-4 people who are gay or lesbian. I don't have a source for the statistic, but if that's true, then the majority must be suffering in silence. 

This woman shared with me that when her husband was suffering alone, before "coming out" to his wife as gay, there were two other men in their ward who were also suffering alone, one of them being their wonderful home teacher for years. They only found out about each other being gay later, and they felt devastated that they missed the opportunity to support each other when they all lived in the same ward. 

2) There seems to be a myth that unconditional love means condoning. That's from Satan. 

I like what Becky Mackintosh said:
I’m Mormon and I have a gay son. I love him with all my heart, might, and soul. And I love my religion with all my heart, might, and soul. It's the core of who I am. I will never, never, ever turn my back on my son, and I will never, never, ever leave my religious faith. Period. I’ve been asked how and why. It’s because God has made it clear to me that I am to love my son Xian unconditionally.
I admit it took me a while to truly understand what "unconditional love" meant. I confused “loving” with “condoning.”
But once I figured out what unconditional love really meant, my heart grew a hundred fold—not only for my son but also for every person everywhere. My faith runs deep. I cannot deny it. And I will never deny my deep love for my son, either. ("Becky's Story," Mormon and Gay Website)

3) Elder Ballard said, "We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are experiencing." 

I confess that like Becky Mackintosh, I've also felt confused about the loving versus condoning issue. If you know me, you know that I'm all about loving and living the gospel. I always have been and I always will be.

In fact, in a temple recommend interview, when my stake leader asked if I affiliated with groups that aren't in line with gospel teachings or something to that effect, I told him I attended my neighbor's FHE group to understand what our transgender LDS brothers and sisters go through. 

My husband was our bishop at the time when this man "came out" that he believes his spirit is female. My husband helped her (I'm now using the pronoun "her" to show respect for what my neighbor believes she is) deal with this intense trial, and eventually, she asked my husband to tell me about it. I immediately went to her home and hugged this incredible couple, crying with them, having no idea that all the years I had visit taught the wife, her spouse was living a hell inside that nobody knew about, let alone understood. I felt terrible for their pain and also incredibly inspired that they were working hard to save their marriage and their testimonies when the common path is to divorce and leave the church.

Wait, why would I say that? 

Why in the world would I think that showing unconditional love by wanting to understand my friends would need to be brought up in a temple recommend interview? 

Because I was confused myself, just as I think MANY Latter-day saints are. 

Here is what Elder Ballard said about this within the last year: 
I want anyone who is a member of the Church who is gay or lesbian to know I believe you have a place in the kingdom and I recognize that sometimes it may be difficult for you to see where you fit in the Lord’s Church, but you do. 
We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. 
Certainly, we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord. ... 
We condemn, in the strongest terms, bullying or harassment of any kind. Every person is a child of God. Everyone is entitled to love and respect.
The reason that the Church supported the LoveLoud festival here in Utah County was to send a strong message that LGBT youth or anyone else should never be mistreated, and if any were troubled, they should seek help from friends, ­family members, and trained professionals. ("Questions and Answers," BYU Devotional, Nov. 14, 2017)

4) There seems to be another myth that it's a choice, and these people must not have enough faith or God would make them "normal." 

Many of these people have spent a lifetime begging and pleading to be "normal," doing all the right things -- graduating from seminary, serving a mission, marrying in the temple, all the while hoping that next step of faith would bring them their desire to be "normal." 

Can you imagine the shame that brings, the self-hatred, the God-must-not-love-me thoughts, the I-must-not-have-enough-faith feelings that myth brings?  

Another myth is that if one gay person can marry a straight person, that should be the solution for every gay person. People in that situation have said it's a very personal decision, it's not always successful, and should only be made with much deliberation and personal revelation. 

5) I have an invitation for you. 

YOU can be the ONE person who can make a difference in someone's life. You could even literally SAVE a life. It will require you to set aside your fear of the unknown and open your heart. But the effort, just as Becky Mackintosh said earlier, is well worth it, as your heart will grow many sizes bigger, not only for your LGBT brothers and sisters but for anyone. 

My invitation is for you to DO JUST ONE THING this week to make a difference in someone's life who is LGBT. Here are a few suggestions: 
  1. If you know of anyone who experiences differences in sexual orientation or gender identity, find a way, right now, to reassure them that you love them no matter what. Whether or not they're active in their faith. No matter where they are on their journey. Each person has tremendous value and worth, NO MATTER WHAT. You can send a text or Facebook message, make a phone call, whatever works for you.
  2. Share this blog post on social media. Your post with a few loving words might be the one voice to give someone the courage to press on rather than end their lives. And the hope that perhaps they can find the courage to reach out for the support they so desperately need.
  3. Make a commitment to attend an event like I did with the intention of understanding and loving others. I probably wouldn't have dared just search out that fireside yesterday without being invited by my friend, but I wish I had that much courage. Now that I've felt drenched in that amazing love, acceptance, and Spirit, I would definitely go again. In fact, I'm planning to attend their annual North Star conference in SLC on March 14-16 on one or more of those days. My friends Brigit Pack or Becky Mackintosh are great resources about these and other LGBT events.

North Star's annual conference has had amazing presenters in the past like these: 

  • Virginia Pearce, former counselor in the Young Woman general presidency and President Hinckley's daughter 
  • Hank Smith
  • David Archuletta
  • Tom Christofferson, brother of the apostle Elder Christofferson's 
  • Matt Townsend
  • Terryl and Fiona Givens, LDS authors 
  • Julie de-Azevedo Hanks
Here is the Livestream video of the North Star fireside I attended last night. 

And here are a few books that were mentioned at the fireside. I read the audiobook by Tom Christofferson, brother of the apostle, and it was excellent. 

P.S. Here are a few more resources that were sent to me from my LDS friend Jodie Palmer whose coming out story is here.   


I thought I'd share some additional resources that you might find helpful in your own journey of reaching out in love to LGBT individuals. 

  • Ben Schilaty is a friend of mine. He is an active member of the church and is also gay. He writes some beautiful blog posts on being gay and a member of the church. He recently published a post that I thought you'd find helpful. 
  • Also, someone already mentioned Richard Ostler in a comment on your FB post, but I thought you'd be interested in a little more information on him. He was previously a BYU bishop, and had numerous experiences counseling gay members of his ward. He has since gone to great efforts to better understand LGBT individuals and their stories, and find ways to reach straight members of the church who are confused about the intersection of LGBT individuals and the doctrine of the church. He is dedicated to keeping his covenants, which for him, include helping people reach out to and love LGBT individuals. He has created a fireside of sorts called "Being a Good Latter-Day Saint and Supporting God's LGBT Children" where he speaks to primarily straight members of the church about how to reach out in love to LGBT individuals. 
  • He does many podcasts, which you can find here
  • If you're ever interested in attending one of his events you can find that information here.

The shield of faith is created at home

I heard this beautiful quote in an area-wide conference today and looked up where it came from. It's beautiful, and it goes along perfectly with the shift to home-centered, church-supported gospel learning.

Update: The Church published the beautiful talk from Elder Ballard from our Utah North Multi-Stake Conference Broadcast so we can all read it! So many people were wishing they could study it again, including me, since I usually take copious notes at these events but was busy with a lap full of cute grandbabies. Here is a printable copy for you!

(The quote above was shared by another speaker, not Elder Ballard.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

What impossible things has God helped you accomplish?

This is one of the themes of my life.
That God helps us do impossible things. That when we receive God's will, we also receive His power to do it. That God had helped Nephi build his faith with layers of faith-building experiences first. God helped Nephi build his faith to build the boat.
I feel like God is taking me through a similar pattern.
How about you - can you relate?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Book of Mormon challenge - the Isaiah chapters challenge is real...

The BEST way to start the day! 

I LOOOOVE President Nelson's challenge to study the whole Book of Mormon between General Conference and the end of the year. 

I just told Mike that Nephi rewards those who can make it through the Isaiah chapters with some delicious, meaty chapters afterward! 

 #nooffenseisaiah #illreallyunderstandisaiahinthenextlife

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Our special day - Mike is a new judge for Davis County, Utah!

Mike Edwards was confirmed today by the Utah State Senate as a new judge for Davis County! 

He'll likely get sworn in around early November. 

This has been a 4.5 year journey for Mike, applying three times. 

The standing ovation by the Senate was pretty touching. We're sure proud of him! And we're glad for the family who came to support us. ❤️ 

#goodexcuseforanewdress #saiddresshadslipissues 😂