Tag: Mormon

“One of the Worst Ways to Die”…Why would God let this happen?

    Recently while reading the Book of Mormon—Alma chapter 14 specifically—something new hit me that I had never realized before. It’s always really cool when that happens, so I’m going to share it! In this chapter, missionaries Alma and Amulek are thrown into prison for nothing more than preaching the word of God. Even worse, anyone who believed in their words—women and children mostly—were burned alive while Alma and Amulek were forced to watch. Alma 14:10-11 says, “And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames. But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.” That’s a bit intense…Okay, IT’S VERY INTENSE.
Quick story (and this might be just as intense…fair warning): I’ve briefly mentioned before that when I was in preschool, my mentally handicapped, very sweet & pure, beautiful neighbor…was murdered in her own home by somebody she barely knew, but had trusted. I will not go into details, and I never will in a public setting/online. It is not my story to tell. However, I will say this: the doctor who did her autopsy and examinations said that, even after everything he has seen professionally, my neighbor was killed in what he (AN EXPERT) believed must have been “one of the worst ways to die.” As a young girl, I trembled at the sound of those words. Still, that phrase sends shivers down my spine. We know horrible things can happen to good people. But to know somebody who was so pure and innocent, and know they suffered like only few others would understand and it led to her death…that’s something you hold onto for the rest of your life. I learned what real evil was at only 3 years old. Maleficent, Ursula, Captain Hook, and any other fictitious villains in my world at that time were nothing compared to what I learned real evil was capable of. As a child, I would ask my mom about this a lot. I would ask her, “she (our neighbor) wasn’t even capable of making a lot of her own decisions, she wasn’t capable of living alone (she lived with her parents, even well into adulthood), she never did anything wrong EVER, she was almost a perfect person, she loved us and we loved her so much. Why would Heavenly Father let something like that happen to her? And why would He let it be THAT BAD…as in ‘one of the worst ways to die?’” I’m not sure if my mother’s answer was just to comfort me or if this is what she really believed. Her response was always something along the lines of, “Heavenly Father loves her more than we can ever imagine. I’m sure He really hates what happened to her. I don’t think He let her suffer too much before taking her home to be with Him.” While that could very well be true, after reading Alma 14, I realized that Heavenly Father probably did let her suffer through EVERYTHING she was put through. Weirdly, it makes sense to me now that I understand better. Hear me out. Her killer is behind bars for the rest of his life without parole, thank heaven. Heavenly Father knows all and He is very just. But order to be completely just, He needs the heavyweight evidence—the full suffering ‘testimonies’ of the victims. Once that criminal is judged, Heavenly Father will be able to judge him perfectly because God refused to cut any corners even when my amazing neighbor was suffering horribly. Today, she is in paradise with God, her biological father, and many others she loved and cared about. She is not suffering anymore and never will have to again. She is also no longer handicapped either and is so happy. I know it. It warms my heart.
It’s easy for us to think to ourselves, “why me? I’ve done everything God has asked me to do and I’m still going through this horrible trial” [‘fire,’ if you will]. It can be even worse when that trial is brought upon us by the choices and actions of other people. “Why would God let them do this to me, and let me suffer so much, when I’ve done nothing wrong?” I often find myself wondering if Heavenly Father doesn’t love me as much if He let’s me suffer significantly, or I think He must be picking favorites and I am just NOT one of them.
It’s just not true. Heavenly Father’s love is unconditional, eternal, and indescribable for every. single. one of us. His love is unconditional, eternal, and tremendous for YOU. He doesn’t pick favorites. There is nothing in this world we can’t accomplish, no matter how hard it is…or even despite the outcome. Death is not the end. His plan is perfect. Even our worst trials are part of an eternal plan of justice, mercy, love, and most importantly: everlasting happiness. As we go through the trials of life, let’s not forget His plan. Remember that “all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good…fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.” 💕

My Experience with Mental Illness in the LDS Church | Part 1

    Some of you–especially if you have seen a few of my youtube videos–may know about my struggles with mental health, while the rest of you probably have no clue. Around the same time I started getting sick with my chronic physical illnesses, I also became afflicted with anxiety and depression. At first it was easiest to deny it, pretend it wasn’t there. Eventually, after one of my first pair attacks in front of my new husband, he was scared and confused. He could see my struggles and I knew I could not hide it from anyone, especially myself, any longer.  I finally said to him, “Something is wrong with me, with my mind. I cannot control it. I need help.”

We spoke about it all night, he stayed home from work the next day, and we made an appointment to speak with our Bishop about reaching out to LDS Family Services for counseling. I started going to therapy for about a year (until I started medication, but I still go to therapy because I work best with help from both.) I got better and was equipped with the tools I needed to help manage my mental state. Regardless, it was still an emotional rollercoaster where I occasionally found myself engulfed in scary and even life-threatening thoughts and situations. I would be fine one moment, then something would happen to upset me and I was rapidly spiraling into darkness. I was eventually hospitalized and I was not allowed to be discharged until I had an appointment with a psychiatrist to receive medication for my condition. I was avoiding medication like the plague. It was another attempt to deny what was going on inside my head, to pretend I did not need help. I also feared a new medication would make my physical ailments worse.

About a month later, I was sitting in the room with my new psychiatrist while I explained my situation. I realized at that moment how lucky I truly was and how God’s hand is really in all things–even when I felt unworthy of His love and help. I told her my stomach was paralyzed (normally much easier that saying I have gastroparesis and then have to explain that my stomach was paralyzed anyway…just easier to skip the name and give the explanation first.) She responded “Oh! I have a few patients with gastroparesis!” *Reminder: I hadn’t said the name of my condition, but she knew what was going on already, something that was very rare for me…even with medical professionals.* She then told me that her patients with gastroparesis normally do well with the specific medication she later prescribed to me. She warned me that it would likely take me a month or two to actually feel the effects of the medication. However, I was one of those very lucky, rare people who felt the effects almost immediately. After about two days after taking the medication, the dark cloud above my head was lifted. My almost uncontrollable, seemingly instinctive pessimisn (abnormal for the real “Alexa”) was gone. It was replaced by my true attitude of positivity, love, and happiness. I was compassionate again. I was truly happy.

Everybody’s experience with mental health is different. Most people’s bodies really do take a few trial months with several different medications until they find what works best for them. Some do not even need medication and need only a few sessions of therapy. However, regardless of the path, mental illness can always get better and be managed with the proper care and help. It is probably one of the most difficult things to go through sometimes, even now with medication. There are some days where I genuinely think to myself, “I will never be happy again,” “Everyone would be better off without me,” “I am a waste of space.” It is one of the most challenging things to overcome, when it feels physically impossible to make myself believe otherwise. The day following one of my worst nights, I wrote

A Letter to Myself, When I am Not Myself

  Last night was the worst I have ever felt up to this point. Because of my illness, I just feel like I wake up, sit in pain and discomfort, then go to sleep, then repeat the next day. Then, last night my feelings were royally hurt at a family get together. (Turns out it was just a simple misunderstanding, but at the time it felt like the world was ending.) I thought for sure that my family members would never want to speak with me again. I literally felt like I had nothing and nobody to live for except my husband. However, I felt like I was just a large burden on him with all my health issues. I was sure that I was going to end my life that night. I do not want to go into much detail, it will only give you (talking to myself) ammonition for later on when you might feel this way again. Dalyn laid in bed with me trying to comfort me, as I stared at the wall, completely numb to anything he could possibly tell me. All the sudden, I caught a glimpse of one of the photos on the wall of he and I at Disneyland. I thought about how much I wished things would be better in my life: my relationships, my illnesses, if I could get pregnant and carry the baby to term without health scares, and raise a healthy baby and take them with my family and friends to Disneyland and have a ‘normal’ life like everyone else. I was not sure how (I am still not completely sure how) I could ever have any of those things. But I was reminded of Heavenly Father’s plan. I felt the Spirit tell me that those things, those blessings, are in store for me. Even if my illness never gets better, I do believe (even though it seemed impossible at the time) that my life will get better in other ways. So as Dalyn sat there, trying to comfort me but still oblivious to the depth of the situation and my plan to end my life, I decided to come clean. It was scary and extremely tough to do. I will never forget the look on his face of pure terror and sadness. It sounds weird but his face reminded me that he did love me, and regardless of how bad I feel about being sick when he does so much, he still wanted me there and to take care of me however necessary. I also told Dalyn about my new plan: to get better, to mend the relationships with family members that I thought were over forever, and to look forward to that vision I saw in my head…of me, Dalyn, my whole family, and our future children, enjoying a vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth. It is a small dream to accomplish, but it will mean the absolute world. It is a representation of a better life.

I made up with my family members later that night, it was really not as big of a deal as I had made it out to be in my head. Then I decided to write this letter only 24 hours later. Life is still hard, but I already feel a million, zillion times better. Things would still be better even if I wasn’t able to mend the fight with my family members. It would have been better because I remembered my Heavenly Father. I am very grateful to have mended the wounds with my family though.

What I ask and plead of you (myself, or you…reading this…) is this: just give it another 24 hours and then see how you feel, just talk to somebody, spend time with the people you love, give it one more shot. This too shall pass and you will win this fight and live the BEST GOSH DANG life Heavenly Father has to offer! Just give it one more shot, I promise you will feel better. Pray, even when you feel so focused on your plan, feeling so low that you really don’t want to talk to God.   

I wrote this letter only a few weeks before I started taking medication, which made a world of a difference, as mentioned before. I also would receive the revelation to write 1,001 Facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith only about a week or so after writing this letter as well. Looking back, yes, things today ARE SO MUCH BETTER ALREADY. Yes, I still struggle with mental health. Yes, I still struggle with physical health. No, I still haven’t been able to have children yet. However, I have my amazing and thrilling career now. I have built new and/or stronger relationships with my friends and family. If my life would have ended then, I would have never had these experiences. I know it is just the beginning. Heavenly Father still has great things in store for me to experience and blessings left for me to receive. His plan would not be complete if I decided to end my life on my own terms.

I have a lot more to say on this matter, which I will continue in the next blog or two. For now, I wanted to focus mostly on the fact that is does get better. REALLY! I swear it. If necessary, try writing a letter to yourself when you’re not yourself…or you can use mine ( seriously, that’s why I decided to post it in the first place.) Create a safety plan and practice it and know it by heart, like a school student knows what to do during a fire drill. As soon as you notice the triggers, take action before the spiral. Communicate to those you love about what is going through your mind. Speak with a therapist, psychiatrist, or even a Bishop. You can fight and win. My battle, like yours and everyone else’s, is not yet won. However, with God’s help and the help of others, I can summon the strength that I never knew I had before to overthrow my mental illness…and win in the war. 

 

I’m back…Here’s why.

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.

A Pillar of Light

This week has been one of the most difficult of my life. One of those weeks where, just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get worse…it does! Something amazing happened this morning though. Things GOT BETTER for the first time this WHOLE WEEK. Ah! It happened right when I was about to give up, right when I almost lost hope.

When young 14-year-old Joseph Smith prayed in the sacred grove, something happened that made it extremely difficult. Years later he wrote about it saying, “immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction…I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound.” If you don’t know the rest of the story, it’s pretty cool! You can find the rest of it on lds.org or mormon.org, type in the search bar “Joseph Smith first vision.”

Anyway, I am sitting here on my couch just thinking about the craziness that was this past week. I thought about how I, like Joseph Smith, was about to give up. How I, like Joseph, was “ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction.” But then all the sudden I, like Joseph, looked up to see light. I looked up to see God. Although I, unlike Joseph, saw God figuratively…God was there, and His light broke through the thick darkness that surrounded me this week.

Sometimes our hardest trials last only a few days, but others can last months, years, or our entire lives. However, I learned today that sometimes—even though God is supporting us the whole time—He will allow our trials to send us to our breaking point (maybe even passed what we THOUGHT was our breaking point) before He allows the trial to end, to teach us something—both about ourselves and about God. I am so grateful for this gospel, for the Prophet Joseph Smith and every Prophet before/after him, for my Savior Jesus Christ, and my Heavenly Father. And EVERYTHING they have blessed me with…good AND bad. 💙

Joseph Smith shot at before the First Vision | Author’s Notes

Hi! So I am starting a new segment on this blog called “Author’s Notes.” It is honestly the reason I wanted to start a blog in the first place. While I was writing this book, 1,001 Facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith, there were several times (and I mean SEVERAL times) when I would be typing a fact and I would want sooo badly to add my own opinion, commentary, or “two cents.” However, my opinion is not fact (even though it is, let’s be honest(;..). So, I censored myself a lot and tried only including the facts. I decided that I would add my commentary to a blog instead, called “Author’s Notes.” I am so excited. I hope you all like it! Today I am going to share a fact from my book, and also share my thoughts on that fact specifically.

 93. Just a few months before his visitation from Heavenly Father

and Jesus Christ, fourteen year old Joseph
was out on an errand for his parents. He was just about to reach the house on his way
home when he heard a gun being fired in his direction two times. Somebody was trying
to shoot him. He was frightened and quickly ran inside. The family went outside later to
try finding the shooter, but failed.
94. They did find the tracks in the snow where the shooter hid under a wagon. The next
morning, they found two balls in the head and neck of a cow nearby, which the shooter
hit instead of Joseph. They never found the shooter and never learned why they tried to
randomly kill the fourteen-year- old farm boy. This was before Joseph received
persecution for the first vision because it hadn’t even happened yet.

To the Smith family, the motive of the attempted
murderer was a total mystery.

     It is important to remember here that Joseph Smith was only fourteen, and had not experienced the visitation from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ yet, therefore had no reason to be persecuted at that time. While Lucy Mack Smith, the Prophet’s mother and source for this fact, never explained this outright…I made my own assumptions as to why she found this important enough to include just a few paragraphs before recounting the story of Joseph Smith’s First Vision in her biography.

We know that the adversary can make us believe and listen to things that are illogical, dark, and evil. There is evidence even today of men, women, and children losing control of themselves and committing horrible crimes. Yes, most of these people suffer from mental illness. I am not at all trying to downplay that. I do believe, however, that Satan is the author and father of mental illness. Not only that, but he always seems to find ways to make mental illness worse. That is not the point here, though. The adversary is smart…smarter than I think we even realize. He can manipulate our minds and hearts into doing basically anything, if we let him influence us. Have you ever done something a little messed up, and not even had a real reason or understanding why you did it? Or have you ever done something a little messed up, and felt totally justified in doing so? Satan feeds us those reasons, and sometimes he succeeds in getting us to do things without reason.

We know that Lucifer was cast out of heaven in the pre-mortal existence. He was never born to earth and the veil was never lifted from him. He knew Joseph Smith in the pre-mortal existence. He knew Joseph Smith was pre-ordained to restore the fullness of Christ’s gospel. He knew the beginning of Joseph Smith’s journey was just about to begin. I think this anonymous shooter was manipulated by the adversary into randomly trying to murder a ‘random’ fourteen year old (or so the shooter probably thinks, but the adversary knows exactly what he is doing). My belief is that this was the adversary’s last-ditch effort (or one of his last-ditch efforts) to stop God’s work from progressing. If the Prophet of the restoration was killed before his First Vision, then maybe Christ’s church would never be restored. However, as Joseph Smith himself once said, “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

Even though this fact may seem somewhat insignificant, to me this is just further evidence to support the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know it to be true. I have seen the proof with my own eyes. I have grown to love the Prophet Joseph Smith so deeply, it is hard to put into words. I am grateful for everything he went through to bring the fullness of the gospel to the Earth. It is true what John Taylor said after Joseph’s martyrdom, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.” I cannot wait to help bring some of the stories and facts of his life to you all through this book and more “Author’s Notes” segments.  

 

How Firm A Foundation | “Anti-Mormon” Arguments

     My favorite Hymn of all time is called How Firm a Foundation. Whenever I find out we are singing it in sacrament, I look at my husband with a huge smile on my face and whisper in a giddy voice, “That is my favorite song!” This has happened so many times now that Dalyn always responds by affectionately nodding and saying with a smile, “I know.” The first line of the song goes like this: “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent word.” God has laid a steady, strong, and firm foundation for our faith, through the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

While researching for this book (1,001 Facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith), I stumbled upon an internet article from a bitter, former member of the Church. The article tried to use certain elements of Joseph Smith’s life to ruin the testimonies of others. I read through their entire argument. As somebody who was in the middle of studying the Prophet’s life intensely, I knew and understood the full story from the original sources before I read this article. There was only misleading and twisted information. This person wrote about specific things in Church history, without including the full story or explanation. I could see how using this–and other articles like it–as the main source of gaining information can easily mislead those who once believed in or are trying to learn about the truth. After further research, I’ve noticed this is often the pattern of modern anti-Mormon arguments regarding Church history. They manipulate the story by only sharing certain portions or their sources come from those who were trying to destroy the early Church and/or even helped kill Joseph Smith. They do not include the details that would possibly discredit their argument. It is not the full story. Every member of the Church is likely to come across these arguments at some point in their lives. Please remember to consider the source. Know they have an agenda and are therefore not telling the truth. There is really no reason to ever entertain them. Of course the Church does not highlight the ‘controversial’ times of its history in sacrament and Sunday School lessons all the time because that is not what church is for. However, real primary source accounts (meaning: journals, letters, etc. from those who were actually there during the historical events) are available online for anyone to see. My favorite resource is josephsmithpapers.org. I strongly encourage those who have doubts or questions to use primary accounts as their main source for historical information. I believe that any decent person who seriously studies the Prophet’s life through credible primary sources–including the writings from the Prophet 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.

     In 1 Nephi chapter 8 of the Book of Mormon, we learn about Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, the iron rod, and the great and spacious building. In verse 26 Nephi says, “And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.” The great and spacious building, which we know is run by the adversary and his followers, floats in the air. It literally has no foundation. We later learn that the great and spacious building randomly crumbles to the earth and all its inhabitants are destroyed. Like the great and spacious building, these opposing arguments literally have no foundation, except lies and fallacies…like floating clouds of hot air with no substance. Like the great and spacious building, the adversary’s arguments look and sound legitimate and can be very enticing. However, like the great and spacious building, they do not hold up; they will fall.  Do not be among those who will fall. One of the final lines of How Firm a Foundation goes, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed. For I am thy God and will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand.” If we listen to Him, follow Him, hold to the iron rod, and stay firmly planted on the strong foundation of the gospel He created for us, He will not suffer that we should fall. Stay strong, stay faithful, stay firm. Doubt not, fear not. God is with thee. He is real. Stick with Him. 

Why is Spreading the Gospel So Important?

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 joyShall 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. 

Remembering Thomas S. Monson | 5 Favorite Stories From His Life

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.’
  5. 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.