EVERYBODY is excited to watch conference this weekend, mostly because the rumor mill for possible changes coming to the church. Many people claiming THIS conference will be life-changing. I reaallllyyyy don’t wanna be that person but…aren’t all General Conferences supposed to be “life-changing?” I know. I know. I’m sorry for being that way but like…it’s true, right? I’m not necessarily saying there won’t be any big changes, because I don’t know, I’m not in charge…but what if literally none of these rumors are confirmed this weekend? Will people still be glad they watched? Are we still preparing to receive personal revelation from each session? Just because the rumors are strong and there were several changes last conference, doesn’t mean there will be this time. Of course I could be wrong. I’m not in contact with the Prophet—who is the only person with the authority to receive revelation regarding the entire church and kingdom. BUT! even if I was, with the sacredness of his calling…I doubt I would get any hints toward any possible new revelation before anybody else and I don’t believe there are exceptions to this. These rumors have likely been completely fabricated so far by those who can only speculate, created not maliciously at all I’m sure, but probably not with ‘reliable’ sources. I’m not saying they can’t be correct, like I said I have no clue, I’m not in charge. I do think that most members realize this and I’m just preaching to the choir here, but I think there might be some going into it this year with the wrong expectations. I don’t think we should ever set ourselves up for disappointment when listening for guidance from Heavenly Father. I guess what I am trying to say is this: regardless of what happens this weekend, it is important to remember that this is Heavenly Father’s church, He is in charge, He knows what is best and His plan is better than we could ever imagine for ourselves and the church. AND listen to what is said, whether it’s what you hoped for or not. 🧡
This is Martin Harris. Most Latter Day Saints remember him as the man sorta responsible for the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon. Because of that, he doesn’t always have the best reputation. The truth is, though, he was loved so dearly by Joseph Smith and his family, regardless of his mistake. Martin Harris defended the church and Joseph Smith several times, even sometimes under oath in a court of law, against his own wife. Joseph Smith spoke so many times about his love for Martin and God’s love for Martin as well. I know so many people who believe they are no longer worth living or even worthy of God’s love because of something they’ve done, the way they think and question things, struggling with their testimony in the past/present, being LGBTQ+, or literally ANY OTHER REASON. That’s just not true. Seriously, it’s not. You are so loved, especially by your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. NO MATTER WHAT. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING will ever make you or any other person immune to God’s love. Please know that. If you take nothing else from any of my posts/books/blogs/etc. Please know this at least: God’s love is infinite, eternal, and unconditional. SERIOUSLY! 💕 I promise. 🤝 I’ve felt it, and you can too. Just trust Him. 🙏 You can learn more about Martin Harris’ story in my book “1,001 Facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith” in my bio if you want.
I’ve been somewhat MIA on this blog. I have to admit that it is wayyyy easier to post all about theme parks and funny stories on my other youtube channel and social medias than it is to try posting anything about God, the Church, Joseph Smith, my book, etc. and then deal with the aftermath of hate I almost always get in my DM’s/comments. The small, somewhat break has been nice. I feel amazing about what I am doing and the message I am spreading. I know the church is true, it has nothing to do with that. At this point, there is nothing anybody could say/do to make me believe otherwise (I’ve heard it all, I’ve read it all, I’ve researched the entire story from primary accounts and I have literally seen the truthfulness of the gospel with my own eyes. You can try me, but I don’t recommend it).
Regardless, dealing with mean, hateful, or even sexual remarks from random strangers who do not follow me, but deliberately seek me out for the sole purpose of arguing or to bring me down is hard.
Believe it or not, I was NOT super pumped about writing a Joseph Smith book in the first place.
Believe it or not, I knew what would become of my public image and career if I did.
Believe it or not, I knew I would deal with more ‘bullying’ as an adult when this book was published than I ever did when I was a kid.
Believe it or not, I knew the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Mormon church were extremely controversial topics.
Believe it or not, I was asked several times by family members if I would ever write a book on Joseph Smith and I always responded with a “HARD NO…NOT IN A MILLION ZILLION YEARS” because I didn’t want to deal with what I now deal with.
However, believe it or not, once God told me to do it, I knew I needed to do it regardless of the mountain of trial that would come with it.
Believe it or not, it was the best experience of my life…hands down.
AND! Believe it or not, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. I cannot stress enough, that I have literally seen it with my own eyes. And like Joseph Smith, “I knew it, and I knew that God knew it…and I could not deny it.” I am not going anywhere. People can and will keep hitting me with your weapons but my faith is not only unshaken, but unshakable in the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I have had a deep emotional connection to the Prophet Joseph Smith
ever since I was a little girl. The first time I read about his martyrdom, when
I was eight years old, I bawled my eyes out! Whenever we spoke about him
in church or seminary, I felt exceptionally interested and invested. My two
favorite scriptures of all time are about him. The first time I visited places like
the Sacred Grove, his home, the Kirtland Temple, Nauvoo, and other Church
history locations saved both my life and my testimony. I was diagnosed with
idiopathic gastroparesis at twenty years old; it was devastating. My dreams
of graduating from college and becoming a registered nurse were shattered.
Then I found a new passion: writing fact books. My first book is called Disney
Till You’re Dizzy: 1,001 Facts, Rumors, and Myths about the Disneyland Resort.
Only a short while after it was published, the Lord told me that it was time to
write a new fact book. This time, Heavenly Father wanted me to write a fact
book for Him, about the Prophet Joseph Smith. I was nervous and shocked.
I was accustomed to writing theme park books. I never thought I would have
to write about something so serious, important, and even controversial. But I
knew that if God commanded me to do it, He would help me through it. I was
right. God helped me every step of the way.
This book was definitely the most difficult one
I have written to date, but it was my favorite!
I genuinely believe that any decent person who seriously studies the
Prophet’s life through credible primary sources—including the writings of
Joseph himself—cannot honestly say that Joseph Smith was anything but a
truthful, virtuous, and incredible man, even if that person does not believe he
was truly a prophet of God. One of the main goals of this book is to tell the
real story, while making it simple to read and understand. 1,001 Facts about
the Prophet Joseph Smith is a history book for this generation. The entire book
can be read in one sitting, or readers can jump around to different moments
in the Prophet’s life and learn about their favorite and the most fascinating
events. I wrote it using only primary accounts to make it as accurate as pos-
sible. This book is not meant to portray Joseph Smith as a perfect man.
This book is meant to show Joseph Smith as the man he really
was—as accurately as possible—based on primary sources. This book contains
the real story.
Okay, I am going to share a few random stories. By the end though, they will all tie together…I promise! So hear me out.
My first story was actually shared in a previous blog post, titled, “Are you trapped in your own, personal Liberty Jail?” If you haven’t read it, I will give a little summary but more details can be found in that post. Right after I graduated high school, I went on the Church History Tour. It was life-changing in many ways but the most life-changing experience of the trip for me happened on the very first night. At this time, I was feeling the worst I had ever felt about myself, about my life, about God. I felt like God had abandoned me. I had never felt that way before. On the first night of the trip, we read Doctrine and Covenants 121-122, the letters from Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail to the church. Joseph, like me but obviously in a more extreme circumstance, felt like God had abandoned him. As he prayed in agony to God, Heavenly Father responded, “My son, peace be unto thy soul. Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment. And then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high…” In the next chapter, we read “Therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you, forever…” As I read those words I physically felt God tell me, “I have NOT forgotten you. I have NEVER left you, and I NEVER will.” The spirit was so strong as I read those words that I knew it was true. I knew The Lord would never leave me. I have never felt that God has abandoned me ever again, even though I have experienced far worse trials since that day. This scripture changed my life. I am much happier and understand–just a little bit more–the love God has for His children.
This next story is about my Grandma and Grandpa, my dad’s parents. My grandfather was a convert to the church, he was baptized after years of witnessing the blessings and happiness of his beloved wife and children in the gospel. They were sealed in the Temple for Time and All Eternity shortly after his baptism. When I was 17 years old, my grandpa passed away from complications with Leukemia combined with a car accident. At his funeral service, my grandmother–his wife–was emotional of course. However, she seemed oddly at peace and almost relieved to know he was with God and free of pain and suffering. She sat next to me on the bench of the chapel and told me a cute story, that also broke my heart. In the few days or so since his passing at the time, there were moments when something interesting, frustrating, or funny would happen. She would think to herself, “Oh! I have to tell Fred (my grandpa) about that!” Then immediately realize she could no longer do so. She told me about how the day prior to his funeral, she just sat in her car and felt the presence of God and my grandfather there with her. She said she just “told him” everything that had happened recently. She said she just “went down the list.” I have always remembered this story. I remember thinking, ‘I cannot imagine losing that person who you have been with everyday, who you told everything to, who you raised children with, who was your eternal companion and best friend.’ I wasn’t even married yet, and I was still heartbroken for her. To my surprise though, she still seemed more at peace than I imagined she would.
My best friend in the whole world is a convert to the church. Before she was a member she lost her only sibling, her older brother, to a drug overdose. After losing him, she became bitter and angry. According to her, she despised God. How could He let this happen to her? How could a loving God take away her lifelong best friend and leave her an only child? I remember attending the memorial services of her brother, and watching her shake and cry uncontrollably as she spoke from the pulpit of the funeral home. She could not even physically finish her speech. About a year later, she met the man who would later become her husband and eternal companion. He was a returned missionary of the church. She started taking the missionary lessons. At first she thought they were full of bologna! However, she gave them a chance. Eventually, it was her realization and strong spiritual confirmation from God that her sweet brother was okay and happy, that made her decide the Church was true. She was baptized by her then boyfriend, now husband. Right after she received her endowment in the Temple, she finished the work for her brother, so he can accept the gospel and go to the Celestial Kingdom.
The final story is about a time when I taught with the sister missionaries. I never went on a mission. I spent years praying and begging the Lord to let me go on a mission, but the answer for me was always ‘no.’ Here’s what I did instead: Before I got married, I went teaching with the sister missionaries in the singles ward ALL THE TIME…I’m talking…around 3-6 times a WEEK! I did this for over a year. I felt that if I was not supposed to serve a full-time mission, I would serve a bunch of mini-missions! I felt as if I was being rebellious and ‘cheating the system’ somehow, I thought “THAT’LL SHOW YOU, HEAVENLY FATHER! HAH!” (; Anyways, we had been teaching this young man for a few weeks. He read the Book of Mormon and said he believed it to be 100% true. However, when we asked him if he wanted to be baptized, he said no. He said he knew the Book of Mormon was true, but he did not want to join the church because he desired to keep living his worldly lifestyle. He said he did not want to change. He claimed to love the gospel and Book of Mormon, but refused to accept it fully by repenting and getting baptized. After a long talk with him and trying to understand him, we realized he would not be coming to church or accepting the gospel fully, at least not at this stage of his life. Normally after teaching with the sisters, I would feel amazing. This time, I felt absolutely drained. I was upset because I knew since he said he knew it was 100% true, he was going to be held accountable for rejecting it now and refusing to repent. It broke my heart. Even though I knew he would NOT likely be considered a ‘son of perdition’ and suffer those extreme consequences, I couldn’t help but feel like it would STILL have been better for him if we had never taught him the gospel at all.
I knelt down and asked the Lord, “Why do we even teach the gospel if it could mean accountability and suffering for those who leave or reject it? If we all go to some degree of a beautiful heaven anyways, what’s the point of having the gospel on earth?” The Lord answered me in the most beautiful way. I was immediately reminded of the time I received comfort from Heavenly Father through D&C 121-122, how God spoke to me directly, how it changed my life and brought me the most exquisite peace and joy. I would never have had that joy and peace without the scriptures, without the knowledge that we can speak to God and He back to us, without the the gospel. Then I was reminded of my grandmother. How peaceful she was even after losing her lifelong best friend, the person who took care of her, who she told everything to. She knew he was happy, free of suffering, reunited with his parents and family. Most importantly, she knew that she would soon be free from her pain, happy, and reunited with him and God for all eternity. I thought of the happiness she must feel knowing she can one day sit with him again and “just go down the list” and tell him everything. I was finally reminded of my best friend, how she unexpectedly lost her brother in such a tragic manner but is the happiest I have seen her now, knowing her brother is happy and that she will be with him again. I thought of so many times when peace was brought to my life, or the lives of those around me, even in the darkest of times…through the gospel. As I prayed for the answer of my heart-wrenching question, “Why do we teach the gospel at all? What’s the point?” I thought of these stories, and so many more. The answer came to me, “This is why.” Peace, comfort, happiness, knowledge, safety, etc. I mean, what is the other name for the Plan of Salvation? The Plan of Happiness.
I was also reminded of a quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants Section 128: “Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth…a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy…Shall we not go on in so great a cause?”
Dictionary.com defines the adjective ‘great’ in two ways: “of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average” and “of ability, quality, or eminence considerably above the normal or average.” The cause of spreading peace, comfort, happiness, knowledge, safety, and truth, is great; by all definitions of the word.
President Thomas S. Monson was one of the most amazing men to live on this earth. Whether you believe his teachings or not, it is difficult to deny that he was an unbelievably loving and charitable man. Thomas S. Monson was born on August 21, 1927 and passed away surrounded by his family on January 2, 2018. His life was a life of love and compassion. He became one of the youngest Bishop’s in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at only 22 years old. He was called to be an apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve in 1963 by Joseph Fielding Smith at the age of 36, making him the youngest apostle called in 53 years. After the death of Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas Monson was called to be President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He served in this position for almost 10 years to the date. The Prophet lived such a beautiful live, it was difficult to pick my favorite stories. I did my best though! Here they are:
- Dating and Marrying Frances Beverly Johnson: Thomas S. Monson was attending school at the University of Utah when he went to a school dance. There, he saw a beautiful woman named Frances Beverly Johnson. He wanted to get to know her better, but both he and Frances were already on dates with other people. They didn’t see each other again until about a month later. Frances was walking down the street with a few other people, one of which was an old friend of Monson’s. He walked over and said hello to his friend. He found out his love interest’s name, immediately underlined her name in his student directory, and called her that evening to ask her on a date. She said yes. Their first date was another dance at the Pioneer Stake gym. They courted for a while, even while Thomas served in the Navy. During this time of dating Frances, Thomas S. Monson was taking care of his sick grandfather by shaving him, bathing him, feeding him, etc. Frances eventually found herself wondering if she should marry Thomas. She spoke with her mother about it who replied, “Any man that takes care of his grandfather the way Tom takes care of his grandfather, will be a wonderful husband.” Frances believed this to be true, it was one of the things that helped convince her to marry him. Thomas S. Monson was going to propose to her one night, he hid the ring, and had a grand, romantic scheme planned out for the proposal. However, Thomas’ youngest brother, Scott, spoiled the surprise. Luckily, Frances still said yes. They were sealed for time and all eternity on October 7, 1948, in the Salt Lake Temple.
- Thomas S. Monson serving lonely widows: Thomas Monson was called to be a Bishop of one of the poorest wards in the entire church. This ward also included about 85 widows. Bishop Monson visited each of these 85 widows on Christmas Day every year until each of their deaths. Every year, he would bring them a gift for themselves and their families. He had the opportunity of speaking at each of their funerals, as they requested. Thomas Monson was such a busy man, especially when he eventually was called as an apostle. Jeffrey R. Holland stated that the Lord blessed him with the time and ability to speak at their funerals. He loved them and knew they had unique trials and struggles. Thomas visited them and helped them feel loved and less lonely, during the holidays, and every day of the year.
- Never Postpone a Prompting: “Don’t postpone a prompting; rather, act on it, and the Lord will open the way.”-Thomas S. Monson. One night, just before a stake priesthood meeting, Thomas received a call from the Veterans’ Hospital nearby that an elderly member of his ward was admitted to the hospital and requesting a blessing from Bishop Monson. He felt the distinct spiritual feeling that he should leave the stake meeting and go visit the hospital right away. He brushed off the feeling because he didn’t want to be rude and ditch the meeting. The prompting only grew stronger as the meeting went on. Finally, he left just before the closing song and prayer. When he arrived at the Veterans’ Hospital, a nurse told him that the elderly man had just passed away, calling Thomas Monson’s name as he died. The young Bishop’s heart broke. He felt he should have listened to the prompting. He decided that from then on, he would never postpone a spiritual prompting ever again.
- In the Service of Others: “Unless we lose ourselves in the service of others, there is little purpose to our lives.”-Thomas S. Monson. Going off the previous story, I want to share another from President Monson about following promptings found in the October 2012 General Conference, “I have learned, as I have mentioned in previous messages, never to postpone a prompting. On one occasion many years ago, I was swimming laps at the old Deseret Gym in Salt Lake City when I felt the inspiration to go to the University Hospital to visit a good friend of mine who had lost the use of his lower limbs because of a malignancy and the surgery which followed. I immediately left the pool, dressed, and was soon on my way to see this good man. When I arrived at his room, I found that it was empty. Upon inquiry I learned I would probably find him in the swimming pool area of the hospital, an area which was used for physical therapy. Such turned out to be the case. He had guided himself there in his wheelchair and was the only occupant of the room. He was on the far side of the pool, near the deep end. I called to him, and he maneuvered his wheelchair over to greet me. We had an enjoyable visit, and I accompanied him back to his hospital room, where I gave him a blessing. I learned later from my friend that he had been utterly despondent that day and had been contemplating taking his own life. He had prayed for relief but began to feel that his prayers had gone unanswered. He went to the pool with the thought that this would be a way to end his misery—by guiding his wheelchair into the deep end of the pool. I had arrived at a critical moment, in response to what I know was inspiration from on high. My friend was able to live many more years—years filled with happiness and gratitude. How pleased I am to have been an instrument in the Lord’s hands on that critical day at the swimming pool.” Several General Authorities of the Church have spoken about the times they have gone to foreign countries and President Monson returns with very little luggage, clothes, and shoes, as he had given them all away to those who needed them. Thomas S. Monson practiced what he preached, as he constantly lost himself ‘in the service of others.’
- My Family’s Personal Experiences: I cannot write about my favorite stories of the late Prophet’s life without sharing why Thomas S. Monson holds an extra special place in my heart. I will share a quote from Thomas S. Monson from the April 2005 General Conference: “As a bishop I felt prompted one day to call on a man whose wife was somewhat active, as were the children. This man, however, had never responded. It was a hot summer’s day when I knocked on the screen door of Harold G. Gallacher. I could see Brother Gallacher sitting in his chair reading the newspaper. ‘Who is it?’ he queried, without looking up. ‘Your bishop,’ I replied. ‘I’ve come to get acquainted and to urge your attendance with your family at our meetings.’ ‘No, I’m too busy,’ came the disdainful response. He never looked up. I thanked him for listening and departed the doorstep. The Gallacher family moved to California shortly thereafter. The years went by. Then, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, I was working in my office one day when my secretary called, saying: ‘A Brother Gallacher who once lived in your ward would like to talk to you. He’s here in my office.’ I responded, “Ask him if his name is Harold G. Gallacher who, with his family, lived at Vissing Place on West Temple and Fifth South.” She said, “He is the man.” I asked her to send him in. We had a pleasant conversation together concerning his family. He told me, “I’ve come to apologize for not getting out of my chair and letting you in the door that summer day long years ago.” I asked him if he was active in the Church. With a wry smile, he replied: ‘I’m now second counselor in my ward bishopric. Your invitation to come out to church, and my negative response, so haunted me that I determined to do something about it.’ Harold and I visited together on numerous occasions before he passed away. The Gallachers and their children filled many callings in the Church. One of the youngest grandchildren is now serving a full-time mission.” Harold Gallacher was my great grandfather. The grandchild who was serving a mission at the time of this talk was my uncle, Ryan. Without Thomas S. Monsons’ love for the inactive as a young Bishop, we would not be members of the church today. There is a quote about Thomas S. Monson from the movie, On the Lord’s Errand, that says, “Once you were his friend, you never lost him nor he lost you.” President Monson continued to bless our family even until just months prior his death. He blessed my grandfather as a baby, baptized my great aunt, ordained my great uncle as a teacher, healed my great grandmother of an incurable disease by giving her an apostolic blessing and she lived comfortably for another 30 years thereafter. President Monson called my grandfather (the one he blessed as a baby) on the phone when several of our family members passed away. Just a few months ago, right before his health began to decline, my mother was going through one of the hardest trials of her life. She wrote to our beloved Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. To her surprise, he wrote back. He told her that he remembered her family and loves them dearly. He gave her advice and comfort and told her she would be blessed for her faith in Christ. His letter was one of the most comforting things my mom received during this trial. It is true, once you were his friend, he always remembered and cared for you.
We are not the only family who has been blessed by the life and service of our sweet late Prophet Thomas S. Monson. In fact, I believe we are only drops in the bucket of the millions and millions of those he personally served. I had to choose only a few of my favorite stories from his life, but there are so many more. I love him so much. I look up to him and admire him so much. He is home now, resting in Spiritual Paradise with his wife, family and friends, and each of our beloved Prophet’s before him. He is no longer sick and in pain. He is with our Heavenly Father and Savior. We Thank Thee, Oh God, for our Prophet Thomas S. Monson. As much as we all–as a church–miss him, we are so happy for him to be home. Please, share your favorite stories of his life in the comments below in his honor, especially those which I didn’t include.