Gratitude

How does one say “thank you” for a life that has been turned around? How does one say it for all the “things” in life that have come about and all the more that have changed for the best. More, how does one show gratitude felt towards their fellow person for all their help? I have struggled through these questions and more for the past year.

One year ago, A man I trusted and loved enough to marry turned out to be another manipulator. I was devastated. However the same conditions that made it difficult to support myself on my own after my first divorce were still very present. In fact, those conditions were worsened by the lies my ex-husband told. Even though the fifth-wheel we lived in had been presented to me as a birthday gift, he had put it into his mother’s name. The only thing I was to be awarded in the divorce was the little broken-down 1983 Volvo he magnanimously gave to me to make sure I stayed away from Arizona where he had moved in with another female and started calling her “his wife” to all outsiders.

It took me quite a while to recognize the absence of some things as a gift. The absence of the now ex and the fifth wheel is not only a gift, but a relief given by God. He knew. He knew I was wrong to follow my relationship addiction and marry someone who was quite bad for my physical and mental health…but God waited for me to realize that. He gave me wonderful, supportive people around me and gave me respite in His house, the Snowflake Temple while I figured it out.

Snowflake, Arizona Temple
Snowflake, Arizona Temple

The Volvo was an incredible gift. It had been foretold in a Priesthood Blessing, then gifted to my exhusband by a friend who was supportive in Keith “getting me out of town for good.” In my hands, it became “The Car that Ran on Prayer,” a story I lived then wrote soon to be a full-length book.

The car just strengthened my testimony of God. Anytime it stopped working, it meant there were wonderful, faithful people who I was intended to meet. One of them was a Bishop who had to finally tell me she was dead. The Car that Ran on Prayer also died on prayer and was miraculously replaced by a minivan that also runs on prayer. I will be forever grateful to the wonderful members of Manchester, New Hampshire for all of their help in making that miraculous replacement happen.

IMG_20170922_145716Only five short days ago I signed my first apartment lease since 1992. It was my first real home in the seven years since my first divorce. Even though my second ex-husband and I were living in a fifth wheel off-grid, I was to find out from the agency that was assisting me with my deposit and first month’s prorated rent, that I had been officially homeless for seven years. I was tired of living so hard.

Unless you have been without shelter to call your own, I don’t believe anyone understands just how difficult and wearing it can be to “sleep rough” or to just not have a place to call your own. It doesn’t only mean sleeping in your vehicle, on a friend’s couch or in a cardboard box. It also means that you have no place to go in the daytime. My days were filled with libraries, dog parks and church parking lots, when I could get there.  While traveling, I was blessed to see the sights almost as if I was a tourist, taking in God’s wonders across the country. I was even blessed to have the opportunity to visit a few temples. When the car stopped starting, I was stuck where my vehicle was parked. 20170421_104140

I grew to be very thankful that my Volvo had broken down on Easter day in a church parking lot in Manchester, New Hampshire. It was at the only church building I had ever attended with a Mission Office inside of it. The building was open from 9-5 on weekdays, enabling me to schedule bathroom use.

Members who knew I was stuck helped with meals, care packages and even a battery-operated fan! I ended up even gaining a little weight from all the blessed donations of food, including a couple of hot meals brought to my car when they were still steaming. I do not have the illusion that it would have happened for many others, including those not of my gender. I KNOW I was blessed abundantly that God took very good care of me through His faithful servants.

Being stuck in a church parking lot proved inspirational for me. I kept getting the impression that I needed to “earn my keep” since I was in the parking lot of the building that housed the Manchester Mission, I should do my best to be a “member missionary.” Even as depression overtook me, I did my best to share inspiring talks that helped me keep my head above water.

PicsArt_06-08-11.11.42I started again to share my scripture studies and General Conference talks I listened to combined with photos I took around the Manchester building, with many LDS groups. I was rewarded with “Amens” and a large viewing audience. It helped relieve my feelings of “taking advantage” as that was never my intention. I did my best to be my on my best behavior while in God’s close care.

When I returned to Washington state, I struggled again. Homeless in my own hometown. All of my friends who had helped me out so much the previous year were helping others now. I waited patiently, running my dogs in the Stake Center’s field and prayerfully studying scriptures. I started attending Sacrament service with my granddaughters, longing to be a part of their Ward. I went on a camping trip when it got too hot for my dogs in the van. We hid from the heat in the shelter of the beautiful fir trees in God’s forests in western Washington. IMG_20170905_190523

Then it happened: I got a feeling. One more of those still, soft but firm feelings. I would have to wait until the notices were in by former tenants to the apartment offices in September, but I should return to the first complex I lived in when I moved away from home.

I waited patiently. Deciding to not only join friends for a Labor Day camping trip, but also go “around the loop” of the Olympic Peninsula, a beautiful trip I had not been on since I was a child. I used a Visa card given to me for my graduation from college for gas and I enjoyed a gorgeous camping trip as I awaited my time to try again at the apartment complex.

Just as the Holy Spirit implied, as I walked into the office of the complex I was informed that someone had ‘just” given notice. Then began the application process. Then, five days ago, I was handed keys as I signed the first apartment lease I have signed in decades. My very FIRST place without any other humans. My first home, alone.

IMG_20170922_150204As I looked around at the few camp chairs and sleeping bag on the floor, it was very apparent I needed to replace furniture long forgotten now in the custody of ex-husbands. But with funds so tight that my rent takes up 5/6 of my disability pension, how to do that was the question.

Then I put out a request to both the “Buy Nothing” Facebook group I belong to as well as the Relief Society Sisters of my new Ward. The response was OVERWHELMING. I was honest and upfront about the fact I was moving into my own place after an extended time being homeless. I was overwhelmed with donations.

As I sit this first Sabbath morning surrounded by donated furniture, dishes, pans, towels and the most luxurious sheet set I could have ever imagined, my eyes fill with tears. I KNOW that my Father in Heaven watches over me daily. I know that it is through Him that this is all possible. My gratitude towards my gracious Father in Heaven is overwhelming in tears right now. My gratitude towards my fellow humans is also more full than I could imagine. IMG_20170518_094000

For all the words God has provided me to say “Thank YOU” to everyone who has helped me, or another of their fellow humans, I have none that feel as full as “gratitude.” That is what I feel: An OVERWHELMING feeling of gratitude. That is what I would like to share. I can’t thank all of God’s helpers, no matter their religion or lack thereof, enough. I can only do my best to love my fellow human, and to always try to “pay it forward.”

I hope all of your lives are full of the white light of The Holy Spirit. I leave this testimony with you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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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.

 

 

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.

 

My Friend Marian

From the first time we met —
Both on unfamiliar ground
I knew we’d be quite a pair —
A pair of sisters
Athena likes to be around.

A Relief Society Gathering
Salmon we ate and songs
we did sing.
Several weeks passed
to each of us
separate Blessings He did bring.

Then when a trailer
just wouldn’t suffice —
you offered a hand –
a room, warm and nice.

Looking back on
just a few
weeks together —
I can say
with all my heart
It’s been quite
the pleasure!

As I now go
my way
and you stay
in your zone —
I’ll pack up
my stuff
but in the quilt
of my life 
a square you have sewn.

Of granddaughters
making cookies
in a kitchen full
of smiles and laughs.
To holiday parties
and making sure 
Santa had enough gas.

Floresent balls
thrown out
of the park
and a beautiful
back yard
that never gets dark.

You opened your
home full
of holiday cheer
welcoming my
best friend
baking pies
and my family
far and near.

Thursday cooking
for Elders
making a crowd
You listened
to my music
even when it
was a bit loud.

Thanks for letting
me make
your kitchen a mess
and understanding
when I just
needed to rest.

I enjoyed when
our Home Teacher
taught with his son —
and joining along
when Visiting Teaching
was done.

You’ve shared with
me firsts
we’ve cried & we’ve hugged
We’ve done the dishes
and cleaned the floor
of the mud.

We’ve sat
in the third row
for six weeks or seven
preparing to be
in His Holy presence
Getting closer to Heaven.

I will always
adore the moments
we prayed
And the times you
listened with care
not knowing what to say.

I can’t say
thank you enough
for being there for me
when it could have
been very rough.

I thank our Heavenly Father
with all that I am
For giving me a
friend like you —
a sister since we began.

For now
Athena and I
bid you a
fond farewell.
Not for long,
understand,
in my heart,
always you will dwell.

You go
about your
Missions —
I will travel
on mine.
Until we see
each other
I know we’ll
be just fine.

But please
don’t hesitate
to text
something amusing
or a Scripture I should
read next.

I’m going
to miss
my sweet dear
kind friend
But I ‘know I’ll
be in your prayers,
and I’ll be praying
for you through the end.

 

M ission-minded member

A Sister to all of God’s children

Refuge offered to many needy souls

In His tender care

About Her Heavenly Father’s business

Needed by her sisters full of love for her.

Happy New Year 2014

Love, Maggie

Woman of Many Wards

In the past few months, from June to December 2013, I visited countless meetinghouses, three Stake Centers, and two Temples in two states.  During that time, I was a member of no less than four different wards in two different Stakes.

Centralia Meetinghouse

I attended church every single Sunday from the time I experienced my personal revelation and prayed to know how to come closer to God in the year of 2013. I will do my best each and every Sunday in 2014 to do the same.

Many people may have assumed that I have missed here or there because they didn’t see me in Sacrament or Relief Society. Over the past several months I have had many unofficial callings. The kind where a best friend needs a friend who can take care of a dog & is knowledgeable of medical care while they recover from life-threatening illness. Or a dear family member was recently widowed and I was impressed that I could help by being closer to her and her children during the holidays. DSCN2640_cr

Another adventure that I followed God’s prompting about recently was an October trip to the LDS Tech Conference in Salt Lake City. The events that both led to that trip as well as all of the blessings of the trip itself are so incredible I have been working on an extended piece on that experience. For now I will say that if my testimony hadn’t already been enormous, I could have been converted again just by October’s experiences!

These are the “callings” I have been listening to since I was baptized in March 2013. Since July or so, I have attended what ever Ward or Stake building that I have felt impressed to as my domicile has changed. I have been richly rewarded with new friendships and blessings too numerous to count. I do thank my Heavenly Father for all of them at least nightly, though!

I have been intensely blessed with the ability to walk into a strange place and start up a conversation with pretty near anyone. My testimony seems to flow forth like a waterfall at times…. other times more like projectile vomit.
It always seems that I strike up a conversation with or offer to assist a Relief Society President or Stake President’s wife… or… just my luck, they are sitting together as I vomit forth such testimony to them both.

I love my life. It is blessed by my Heavenly Father moment by moment. He has brought so many people into my life who have helped me or allowed me to help them with just the right thing at just the right time.

Three years ago, on October 10, 2010, I began a journey across the states to visit friends who had invited me to their homes after meeting me through social media. I put my life in God’s hands at that time. He has shown me glorious blessings. I have finally made the choice to magnify my calling as a daughter of my Heavenly Father when I came to the church.

Now, after taking what a dear friend has dubbed “a religious sabbatical” for the past nine and a half months; I am planning to do what I enjoy the most (besides play with grankids) — travel and write.

I will be revisiting much of the route and many of the friends and family I first began meeting in 2010. I will also be meeting & visiting many more friends and a few newly discovered family members as well as dear family who I haven’t had the opportunity to visit in far too long.

This is also the beginning to the end: I will be finally finishing a book I started during the same period of time.

The other items that I have added to my itinerary this time are Temples and some Family History Centers in areas where my family have resided. These are the sites and events I will be sharing here during my trip.

I plan to attend the Gilbert Arizona Temple during it’s open house… a month or so before I can finally obtain my recommend. To say I am excited is quite an understatement!

I will also be attempting to make it to the Roots Tech Conference in February, but coming through the Rockies in February could be tricky, so I will continue to pray and seek His heavenly direction concerning that particular part of the trip.

The road trip is scheduled to last from early January through early March 2014; but I will continue to pray and ask for direction from my Eternal Heavenly Father and adjust my route and timeline according to His will. I will go where He wants me to go.

To the Latter-Day Saints

To those

who have felt

His

Healing touch;

To those

who know

we’ve been

Given much.

To those

who

have glimpsed

His kind face,

and those

who

have stepped away

from the ‘race:

Keep biking,

Keep walking,

Keep soldiering on;

Keep learning,

keep loving,

keep singing 

His songs.

One day

in His Glory,

Will drop

All to their knees.

Someday soon

ALL will witness

Why WE Believe.

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Holy High Five, Jesus!

I started to feel like I wasn’t saying “thank you” enough to God, and to Christ, for the atonement.

Also for the Gift of the Holy Spirit. I just wanted to feel like saying “THANKS!” as much as I felt thankful.

So, I decided to begin “high-five-ing” towards Christ.

I know it is silly, but it is my way of saying “Thank You, Jesus for all of the incredible blessings that my life has been graced with since my baptism.”

So, in the phrasing borrowed from the comics, but meant in full gratitude and love for my Savior; “Holy high-five, Jesus!!!”

 

 

I will continue to raise my hand, in a thank you, I may say it out loud, or I may just silently reach, in gratitude for my savior’s love. It all means the same.

His Holy Love and Lighte to ALL! Praise God of Israel! Praise His Holy Son!!! Holy high-five to all!!! 🙂