Two Ceremonies

As I was standing in the staging area outside of the SNHU Arena, I recalled another ceremony exactly 2 years prior to the graduation ceremony I was about to participate in: I received my Endowments at the Seattle Temple on May 13, 2014.cropped-img_20130803_1422391.jpg

The trials put in my place before I could get to that point or this, where possibly more than another could bare, but God knows my strengths and He added to them with an abundant amount of support. In a blog piece on MaggieSlighte.com today I expounded on the trials that lead to my graduation ceremony, but I also want to reflect on the Covenants that are more sacred to me than any Temporal Bachelor’s degree. Those Covenants I made exactly two years to the day before my Graduation ceremony.

Twin Falls Idaho Temple
Twin Falls Idaho Temple

From the moment I saw a Temple for the first time, I felt God within it. I felt a reverence for the building that I could feel in Idaho Falls in 2011.  Knowing those who were not members (I didn’t know about the Recommend process at the time) could not enter, I was content to photograph it and say a brief prayer thanking God for the privilege of accidentally coming across the site and feeling His presence there.

On my present journey across the United States, whenever I felt doubts or fears or just needed to thank Him for His graciousness and guidance, I have been privileged to take in a session at a local temple.

wpid-wp-1441550340638.jpgIn Snowflake, Arizona, a dear friend suggested I take in a session the day before my divorce hearing. It was just the thing I needed. I calmed and remembered the promises I made to my Heavenly Father about my own behavior. I asked His forgiveness for my behavior that had been unseemly towards my soon-to-be ex-husband and the woman who seduced him in her dining room while I watched the previous spring. I was brokenhearted, but I felt the Comforter surround me as I begged for Heavenly Father’s forgiveness in the Celestial Room. The next day I was able to maintain my composure during a divorce hearing that favored my adulterous husband, leaving me without even belongings that I brought into the marriage.

I received guidance from the Holy Ghost to quickly get out of the small town where the hearing was held, and proceeded quickly to Texas. The Houston Temple was beautiful, wp-1492968409929.jpgand I took the opportunity to take in an early morning session prior to leaving Texas to head to Florida for a job I wasn’t quite certain about. Again, the Comforter was near and calmed my fears while I performed the ordinance work for my ancestor.

In Florida, near Ft. Lauderdale on the way back from The Keys, I was forced to seek medical attention at The Cleveland Clinic when a fierce asthma attack took my breath away. They hospitalized me for 36 hours for a “rule-out myocardial infarction” (heart attack). When I was given a clean bill of health (besides the asthma) the next thing I did was to visit the Ft. Lauderdale Temple that was located right around the corner from the hospital. I thanked my Heavenly Father for the Grace and comfort I felt during and after the stressful experience at the hospital. Then my friend Jacob and I were given the opportunity to meet and help out a few patrons with photos after my session.

20170323_132210_hdr-1.jpg.jpgI felt impressed to travel inland in South Carolina in search of information about my ancestors born in that area. I was rewarded with a visit at the Columbia, South Carolina Temple on the occasion of the anniversary of my own Baptism. There I was given the opportunity to attend a session as well as revisiting the Font for some of my ancestors.

I was impressed in Columbia to continue my journey into North Carolina in search of my mother’s family. I was richly rewarded in Rowan County with the original marriage bond from my 4th great-grandparents on microfiche. The most startling part of that was the fact that Solomon Richardson, my 4th great-grandfather, signed with an ‘x” indicating that he was, in fact, illiterate. I had always assumed that all of my family was literate, having come from very intelligent people. This discovery leant even more meaning to my graduation from Southern New Hampshire University on THIS May 13th. PicsArt_04-06-12.27.49(1)

South Carolina was the last Temple I have visited for a few months, but when the day of my second anniversary of holding my Temple Recommend coincided with the date of my graduation, I felt a subtle “nod” from my Heavenly Father. In my head I could hear the Covenants I made on that day, and thanked Him for the opportunity not only to make them, but to have the ability to attend the Temple as I traveled and allowed Him to have a clearer voice to guide me.

I KNOW I would not have had the communication with Heavenly Father to hear His initial suggestion to go back to school if I had not first made Covenants in the Temple, nor would I have found the fortitude to continue my education in the face of adversity without the regular visits to the Snowflake Temple that my dear friends made possible on a weekly basis.

I KNOW I could not have participated in the second ceremony, my graduation, if I had not participated completely in the first ceremony, my Temple Endowment.

 

 

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Loving My Friends

I remember the nervousness that overcame me not long after I felt the impression to seek out and listen to the Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They talk a lot about “being in the world, but not of the world,” but all of my friends were “of the world,” NONE of my family were members of The Church (except my granddaughters) and most of my friends had “alternative lifestyles.” When I decided I wanted and needed to be Baptized, I prayed almost constantly about the situation with my friends. How could I tell my friends I was now a member of the “Mormon” church, would they want to be my friend anymore? Did that matter?20130323_134149_thumb.jpg

During my repentance process in the weeks before my Baptism I was relatively quiet on Facebook, a social media outlet where I had spent an inordinate amount of time during the previous 5 years accumulating an audience for my writing. At times I had been known to make a spectacle out of myself, becoming rather dramatic about loves and losses and pain and pleasures. I had been known for “letting it all hang out.” How could I reconcile my previous behavior with the life I wanted, no, NEEDED to create and begin to live? I prayed even more.

The answers came gradually, but they came. I was impressed to read “The Articles of Faith.” They all rang so true in my heart that not only did my “bosom begin to burn” but I also wept with joy several times. Then I came to the 11th:

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

The second part of that statement, “and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may [emphasis added]” caused me to completely lose my cool. I broke down and cried loudly; I bawled. Why? Because it was an answer to my prayers. There was NOTHING in the Mormon Doctrine that said I had to exclude those who

Articles of Faith Library Copy

worshiped differently from myself from my life, ABSOLUTELY the opposite!!!

Relief filled my soul. But what about all of the people who followed my social media? Now that I no longer practiced alternative beliefs, should I even be “out there” in the public? What about all my photos and what I had said? As I began to hint about my baptism on social media some people I thought were my friends were quick to delete me from their connections, I cried but continued to pray about it. I didn’t want to lose friends, but those people who had “unfriended” me weren’t acting like friends. My prayers to Heavenly Father continued, so did my tears.

I deleted hundreds of photos of myself that embarrassed me from my social media accounts, I also prayed to know if I should even continue with an online presence. After all, it would have been easier just to delete the accounts. But the impression from the Holy Ghost was persistent: “I needed to be LOUDER about my conversion than I was my sins.” I was at a loss as how to accomplish that. The year before my Baptism was quite humiliating as I looked back upon my own inequity to others in addition to myself. I continued to pray and study my scriptures.

Then came the answer: Start a blog about your conversion to The Church:  Share your  feelings and be honest with those who follow you. My unease continued even after I started the FIRST iteration of Slightely Mormon on Blogger. Then, in June 2013, came a directive in video conference form to ALL the Missionaries and the Missionary Members of The Church. This was the answer I had been awaiting.

In a few weeks, it will have been 4 years since I sought out Missionaries to receive the lessons leading to my Baptism. In the subsequent years I have “cleaned up my act” on Facebook and other social media outlets, but I am louder than ever! I want the world (including my friends) to know HOW being a Mormon has changed my life! In the last four years I have worked hard trying not to alienate my friends and family. It’s difficult to convey to them how much I love ALL of them and I respect what they  chose to believe in, all of that is part of them and I love them. img_20170204_093448_445.jpg

I had an opportunity to travel with a very dear friend of mine recently. Cub, as he likes to be called, is a professional photographer and acted as my assistant on a recent trip. In our travels across the country, we incurred our number of odd looks at us, but he helped me to see my world through different eyes. I saw judgement from my fellow church members when they watched him light a cigarette, I felt their stares and disapproval in both of our directions. That made me incredibly sad.

We visited the Ft. Lauderdale Temple towards the end of our time together. I asked Cub to take some photos of me when I was done with my session; he enthusiastically complied. When we were finished with our pictures another temple patron asked him to take her photo. Cub graciously agreed to do so.

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The first share on Instagram

While he was doing that act of service, I took a few snapshots myself for social media. I shared it first on Instagram as “Cubby doing service at the Temple,” then, after talking it over with Cub, I shared it again on my Facebook page and to a group called “1 Million Mormons on Facebook” with an additional introduction:

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The second photo, captioned for Facebook

 

For a while I almost felt like I was exploiting my friend and his service. Although he had given his consent for both photos to be shared on the internet inclusive of my comment about his lifestyle, he had not asked for the photo to be taken. While probably wished I had allowed him to continue his nap in the car, I felt it important. There was a lesson here for not only me. I am not ashamed of my friends. I love each and every one of them. Not in spite of their beliefs or actions, but as WHOLE people with different ideas about life and different understandings of the universe.

We read in John 13:34 that Jesus Christ himself told us:IMG_20140112_161015_092.jpg

 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

I believe that His love is unconditional. That is something I try to work towards each and
every day.  I am so grateful to ALL of my diverse friends, like Cub, who help me to remember what my Heavenly Father commanded me to do.

 

 

 

Testimony of Forgiveness

Today I bore my testimony.  My Testimony of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. I bore my testimony that They LIVE and give me guidance every single time I ask. But I didn’t say those things.

Those words stayed locked inside of me as I thanked the Manchester Ward of the Bremerton, Washington Stake for their love and prayers during this season. This crazy but yet Testimony-strengthening season.wp-1483916238228.jpg

It started quite some time ago. My first divorce, started six years ago, was full of drama and pain for not only myself and my husband of 22 years, but also for our three children. I was not at all charitable in my actions towards him in my pain.

Three years after that, while I was searching for answers of a deep and eternal type, I was Baptized and Confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

About four months after my Baptism, I was impressed to message my ex-husband, Bruce, and tell him “I forgive you, please forgive me.” A very short, but meaningful sentence to me, to us both. He messaged back, “yes, I forgive you.”

This December, while Bruce lay in the hospice ward of a hospital on Christmas, we were able to spend time together that would not have been possible if I had not followed that impression four years ago. Bruce had not been in the country for a few years, so we had no communication at all during my last short marriage.  When he returned, he had sustained further strokes and had difficulty communicating. This was the week before Christmas.

wp-1483916224009.jpgIt was a blessing to be able to visit with my first ex-husband on Christmas day. We spoke about our children and looked at photos of his parents and grandmothers who had preceded him across the veil.

It was a Christmas when I felt my Testimony of Christ. I felt God’s hand in His timing of Bruce’s passing. He held on for two more days after Christmas.  I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father for bringing me back to spend the time with Bruce and with my daughter during her grief.

I know that my Heavenly Father loves and cares for me in ways I have no way of comprehending at this time. I know it was He, through the Holy Spirit, who guided me in my travels back to Washington to be with my family. I know it is He who will be with me every day of my life yet to come. wp-1483915609839.png

I leave this Testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Amen.

 

Receiving Answers

Testimony.

What does it mean to have a Testimony of Jesus Christ?

My own relationship with that word, not necessarily the feeling, began shortly after I knelt to pray and asked how to become closer to Jesus Christ on March 6, 2013.

I was immediately impressed that I needed to be Baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which I had never attended (except once as a guest while a small child).IMG_20140428_140001_226.jpg

When I called my granddaughter’s other grandma to ask her how to get the Missionaries to come to your house (so that I could ask them about this impression I received); she responded, “WOW, what a Testimony!!!”
To which I answered, “What’s a Testimony?”
Since that moment, The Holy Spirit has been teaching me what a Testimony is.

I have a Testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I KNOW this Church is TRUE.

I KNOW that Jesus Christ LIVES.

I KNOW my Heavenly Father, Christ’s Father, Lives.

I KNOW that His Spirit is The Holy Ghost which He has given me to guide me in using the other gift, my agency.

What is the result, the constant gift of having a Testimony? I believe it increases your Faith. If you KNOW The Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father live, and guide you each and every day, it is harder to worry as much. It is easier to know that whatever may come, it is for a higher reason and there is a blessing to be had.

DSCN2828This last winter was a hard one. Constant illnesses combined with my disabilities served to make me feel like there was no way I would survive the season. So, I prayed. Then I listened.

The Holy Spirit witnessed to me that my physical and emotional trials may have been difficult, but they would not be the end of me. It also witnessed that my experiences weren’t only for me, but there were others who would benefit from my trials. I don’t know why, but when He says that, I always feel better. Why would I go through the depths of hell for others, but not for my own progression? Something for me to think about.DSCN2741

As we progressed through the spring, I got physically stronger and with that, my emotional stability increased as well. Finally, I began to feel like myself again. However, I was left with the memories of the prayers in desperation. “God, am I going to live through this?” Isn’t a conversation easily started with one’s Heavenly Father.

In order to start that conversation, I had to have a Testimony. I had to KNOW that He lives. I also had to TRUST His answers. But, I wouldn’t have His answers if I hadn’t listened.

_20160605_164244The Gospel Library App for Android (& iPhone) put out by The Church contains not only the written, but also the audio and the video for most of the General Conferences that have been held since 1971. On The Church’s website, you can also download any of these General Conference talks as well as are many of the devotionals, face-to-face events and other talks from our General Authorities and Auxiliary

Hall of Presidents

Leaders.

I have found that if I take an assortment of talks and save them to a playlist on my phone, then I put that playlist on “random” and ask in prayer for the Holy Spirit to help me listen to what I need to learn in that moment, I am richly rewarded.
The answers that I crave in prayer, are delivered in talks given by our Prophet, Apostles & Auxiliary Leaders.

Heavenly Father has guided the wonderful programmers that have _20160605_164309built this site and those apps, to make our modern scriptures available to us in many ways. Most of us carry our “smart” phone with us wherever we go. These devices can be used to study and share His Gospel. They can also be used to increase our Testimony.

Faith of a Bishop

A congregation Files in a bit late — The Sabbath after Christmas Has the benches Seattle Washington Templea bit sparse. Aaronic & Bishopric in a quiet, yet slightly troubled stirring. An Aaronic Priesthood holder quietly motions to the Bishop at the podium, “PLEASE delay,” Desperation and concern color his young face. A worried chorister agrees in doubtful confidence with the Bishop as he gives her quiet direction. I watch my Bishop — A man full of faith — Say a silent prayer Then ponder for a quiet moment, as the congregation sat in vapid anticipation; Then cue to begin the Sacrament hymn. Those of us paying attention — Those of us in a front row — Took notice of the faith of our Bishop To begin the Sacrament hymn Before the bread had arrived. As we began the second verse of the slow and reverent words — a door opened — bread passed through. Sighs of relief were heard; more than a few. The faith of our Bishop burned strong in my heart, as I heard my own message from God about a new start: Have faith – say a prayer – Then softly and gently push doubt & doubters aside — this one isn’t their ride.