Story: Growth and Miracles

I have been writing and submitting since 1996. That’s twenty-six years. And I just received my 168th rejection. So I’ve decided to self publish or indie publish. To begin my indie publishing career, I purchased three e-books on Amazon. Two were in the genre I want to publish, fairy tale retelling, and one was a clean romance. The first one had a lot of plot or action, but not much character growth and the second one was pretty good. The clean romance, While You Were Speaking by Maria Hoagland, was well done and fun. Then I read through my book again and discovered that it was a lot like the first e-book I purchased, lots of plot but little connection to the characters.

At my writing group last night, Neysa Jensen shared from Jane Friedman’s website that plot is the external events and story is the internal transformation. We care about the character and the story through that internal transformation.

Today I read about Job from the Old Testament and his trials in D. Todd Christofferson’s talk, Our Relationship with God. I used to think that we study the scriptures for examples of people who always do what is right and try to emulate them. But Job cried out against God, saying that he’d been wronged. God chastises Job, and Job admits his sins and is humble before God. I can relate to Job. I can appreciate his story. His flaw, his despair, his abandonment. In our Come Follow Me study we’ve learned about Moses and the Israelites. They were a people who murmured and sinned again and again, but God refined them and prepared them for the promised land. They grew and progressed like Job, and that’s the story I can understand. The story isn’t about perfection. The story is about turning to Jesus Christ and allowing Him to teach and shape us.

I am fearful of this next step in writing. There’s so much I don’t know. My current manuscript is not as good as I originally thought. But I have a deep need, a desire, and a push from the Spirit that this is what I should be doing. I need to let my story be one of growth. Growth is painful. If expressing yourself through writing is not your thing, you may not understand this creative need I have. This trial may seem silly compared to yours, but there is probably something that is unfulfilled in your life for which God can do miracles if you let him. President Russell M. Nelson urged us to “seek and expect miracles.”

I’m committing to my characters’ growth. I’m committing to my own growth. I’m committing to story and miracles.

Daily Answers: Jacob’s Ladder, One step at a time

Ek Balam, The bottom, December 2021

It’s tax season. If you know our family, you know what that means. We own a small CPA firm, Treasure Valley CPA. During tax season which is January through April 18 this year, my husband, Alden works from about 6 am-8:00 pm Monday-Friday and most of the day on Saturday. He meets with clients about their taxes from 8:30 am-6:00 pm every half hour with maybe a 30 minute break for lunch. We have three permanent employees with four seasonal employees this year. I work during tax season five days a week and the rest of the year one to two days a week. We have one child still at home who is fifteen so I’m trying to be here for him and get him where he needs to be. This year I’ve taken on more responsibilities at work and have felt overwhelmed. There are not enough hours in the day and especially enough hours at work to finish my tasks. And I love to complete tasks.

This morning during my scripture study, the question I asked was “How do I prioritize?” I can’t complete everything at work and home in the way I want. So what comes first? How do I accomplish all I need to do? I read in Genesis 28 about Jacob’s ladder and the Spirit taught me why Jacob dreamed of a ladder. A ladder has rungs and while you might have long legs and be able to bypass a step, you still have to climb to the top, step by step. You can’t fly up. You can’t just be at the top instantly. You have to go through the steps one at a time to reach heaven. That was my answer. All I can do is step by step. One day at a time.

In December Alden and I took a vacation to Cancun and visited Ek Balam, a Mayan ruin. I’ve seen pictures of people walking straight up the steps of the Mayan ruins, but our guide, Vanessa, suggested we use a different method. The steps were shallow, not deep enough for my whole foot. And they were steep with more height between each one than the stairs in our home. Vanessa suggested we walk up sideways with our foot parallel to the step starting at one side of the ruin and going across, then turning our bodies and repeating until we got to the top. We did a zig-zag type of pattern from the bottom to the top. I put one foot in front of the other and concentrated on the step in front of me. The top seemed very far away and very steep.

Ek Balam, the middle

But then we reached the top, and it was glorious!

Ek Balam, the top

We could see the jungle all around. We saw mounds that were likely other ruins that had been covered by the jungle growth. The site at the top was worth the climb.

Then we had to descend. Vanessa suggested we go down step by step sideways, leaning in towards the ruin. You can see people doing that in the first picture. And again, one step at a time, we made it.

I so much want to do everything right all the time, but I love that Jacob was taught that we progress in this life step by step with our priority, our focus on the glorious goal of eternal life. I don’t have to be, cannot be, instantly at that goal. It takes one moment, one day at a time, with my focus on that step, that person, that moment with the grace of Jesus Christ to reach the top.

Thorns and Thistles: Applying the Fall to my marriage

Honey locust

I regularly listen to two podcasts each week to gain more insight into the Come Follow Me lessons, followHim and Talking Scripture. Many of my friends also listen to these and other podcasts. I imagined a Sunday School lesson where we were sharing what we’d learned from podcasts passed off as our own insights. I have also shared what I’ve learned from podcasts with my husband and son, and the joke in our house now is that if you do something I don’t like, you deserve to listen to a podcast. Or more than one. So this past week as we studied about Adam and Eve and the Fall, I pondered what I’d truly learned. I was able to apply some teachings from these podcasts and my own study to my life, and in the application, my faith and testimony increased.

After Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, the Lord God told them, “Thorns also, and thistles shall it [the ground] bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field” (Moses 4:24). We have a thorn-less locust tree in our back yard that has thorns. It’s a beautiful tree, but you have to be careful when you walk past to not get caught. My husband and I have been married twenty-nine years and are still learning how to communicate and love and respect each other. There was tension between us this week, and I was feeling defensive. I listened to a couple of relationship podcasts and learned some good tools but also some that didn’t feel quite right. Then I asked in my scripture study how to fix the tension with my husband, and the answer I received was to pour out my soul to him. I did, and it was scary, not because he’s a scary person, but because it’s uncomfortable to be vulnerable. We had a good conversation, and I realized that the tension had built up because I wasn’t being open with him. I saw how a concept I learned from Dr. Shon D. Hopkin on followHim applied to my marriage. After Eve ate the fruit, she went to Adam and he ate the fruit. Eve didn’t hide what she’d done from Adam, and he didn’t reject her (Moses 4:12). Then when the Lord God asked about what they’d done, they admitted they’d eaten the fruit. The consequences of their choice was that Adam and Eve knew good and evil, were able to have children, had to work “by the sweat of [their faces], and would die (Moses 4:25). Then, as was always the plan, The Lord God provided a Savior to atone for our sins and the sins of Adam and Eve so that we can return to His presence. Through my actions and choices like Adam and Eve, I saw that as I worked through the thorns and thistles and involved the Lord in asking, I had joy in my relationship with my husband. I know that it is in the personal application of the concepts and insights from the lessons that I learn and grow. And I know that while podcasts and experts can help me understand and learn more, it is through the grace of Jesus Christ that my relationships are strengthened, and I become who He wants me to be.

Processes and Perfectionism

To Do List

I like processes. I like checklists. I like guarantees. I work one to two days a week for most of the year at our family’s accounting office, Treasure Valley CPA. During tax season I work five days a week. For tax season we hire extra interns and this year a receptionist to help with the increased work of end-of-the year filings and taxes. That means lots of training and teaching of processes. A couple of months ago, I discussed a brilliant idea I had with our two permanent employees. We would make lists and checklists and procedures to help with training the new employees and to have in place for future years. I have a mistaken hope that if we get expectations and procedures right, we will have only positive customer service experiences. I’ve also had this mistaken belief for much of my life about myself and in parenting. As a child, I thought that if I could wake up and not make one single mistake that day, my life would be perfect and easier. As a parent, I thought if I could find the one perfect parenting chart or program, my children would stop complaining and do all their chores and there would be no tension in our home. While there are good techniques and procedures that can help in our accounting office and with parenting, I am being taught through life experiences that there is not one way to do things, and that I will not be perfect in this life.

I don’t know how I developed my false beliefs about perfectionism, but they used to also extend to the church of Jesus Christ and the scriptures. I thought there was one perfect church plan and that the scriptures came straight from God in perfect form. I thought that God at one point had taught man the perfect way to run a church but it had become polluted over time. As I’ve been reading the accounts of the creation from Genesis and Moses and Abraham, I’ve come to understand that God reveals truth through the lens of understanding of man at that particular time.

Recently in the temple as I was participating in sealings of couples and children to parents for deceased ancestors, I noticed changes in the wording of the sealing from when I was sealed to my husband. These changes were made under the direction of modern prophets and apostles who receive on-going revelation for our time. I found myself thinking that finally, now, the wording was right. That in the past it hadn’t been correct. But then I received understanding that the words in the past were right or relevant for that time and the words now are right and relevant for our time.

I believe in a God who loves His children and communicates with us in ways we can understand and that are relevant to our day. Since we sin, since we cannot make all perfect choices all the time, and since this life is to give us experience, God offered His Only Begotten Son as a sacrifice. Jesus Christ is our Savior and through His grace, we can receive strength and comfort in our trials, we can become more than we could be on our own, and as we repent, because of Jesus Christ’s atonement, we can live with God again. Not because we are perfect but because we are perfected through Jesus Christ.

Choose Christ this Christmas

As I thought about buying Christmas presents and preparing for the Christmas season, I felt anxious and overwhelmed. But then I pondered and prayed and realized that being with family and feeling the Spirit of Christ through service and worship are what makes Christmas meaningful and memorable to me.

I created a Nativity Activity for our family to do this year. This could be done starting on December 1 or leading up until Christmas day depending on the Nativity pieces you have. Or you could do this as one activity on Christmas Eve.

Nativity Activity 2021


Read: Luke 1:26-38

Discuss: When was the last time you received direction from God? Share your experience.

Do: Thank your mother for something she has done for you in the past week.


Read: Matthew 1: 18-25

Discuss: Joseph’s marriage turned out differently than he expected, but he was still obedient to the Lord. When has something turned out different from what you expected? How were you blessed for following the Lord?

Do: Thank your father for something he did for you this past week.


Read: Luke 2:1-5

Discuss: We don’t know if Mary rode a donkey, but Mary and Joseph and their belongings had to be transported to Bethlehem. What was a trip or vacation you took recently that required preparation? How did you help that trip to happen? How did others help that trip to happen?

Do: In your prayer today, thank Heavenly Father for transportation.


Read: Luke 2:6-7

Discuss: Where were you born? What were you wrapped in? What are your mother and father’s thoughts about your birth?

Do: Clean a room in your house or put away a few items.

Baby Jesus

Read: Alma 7:10-12

Discuss: Jesus’ life experiences and His atonement allow him to understand our problems. We can help others by being compassionate during their hard times. When is a time someone helped you or when you helped someone?

Do: Look for someone today who needs a hug or smile and give a hug or smile.


Read: Luke 2:8-14

Discuss: Have you ever been afraid? What did you do? How were you able to obtain peace?

Do: Think of someone who has been an angel in your life—someone who has helped you, brought you peace, or given you good news. Thank that person.


Read: Luke 2:15-20

Discuss: When was a time you hurried (made haste) to do something you felt prompted to do? What happened because of your obedience?

Do: Praise a sibling today.


Read: Alma 7:14 or Isaiah 53:7

Ponder and do: The Savior Jesus Christ offered himself as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of man. What do I need to repent of today? Ask Heavenly Father to let you know and ask the Savior for help to know what to do to repent/to change. Then do it. Report back in prayer to your Heavenly Father.


Read: Genesis 1:24-26

Discuss: How have you taken care of a pet? How has the pet blessed your life?

Do: Give your pet extra attention today.

Wiseman (3)

Read: Matthew 2:1-11 (or through 15)

Discuss: What is the best gift you’ve received? What is the best gift you’ve given?

Do: A gift can be an item, your time, or service. Give a gift today of an item, or spending time with a family member, or serving someone.

What I Know

My husband was sustained as the bishop of a new ward this past Sunday. For our first Sunday, he asked that I share my testimony in sacrament meeting. I’ve never shared my testimony as the bishop’s wife before and while a bishop, including my husband, and his family are not perfect, there is an expectation of behavior and belief. I’ve thought a lot this week about my testimony. Recently due to questions from family members and friends concerning the restored gospel and our prophet, I’ve questioned my own beliefs and had frequent doubts. While there is so much I don’t know and understand, there are some things I do know.

God is my Heavenly Father and He loves me. My earliest memory of this was when I was a child, sometime before I was eight years old. I was in bed at night and my dad was at a church meeting. A feeling of despair came over me, an almost tangible heavy darkness in my room. When my dad came home, I asked him for a blessing or to pray. I can’t remember which. He did what I asked and the darkness lifted. I had faith in my father. I knew he loved me, and I knew he could dispel the darkness. I now know that was because of the power of the priesthood. My earthly father’s love and power were a manifestation of my Heavenly Father’s love and power.

Jesus Christ is my Savior and because of His atonement, I can be cleansed of my sins and succored in my trials. I was praying for one of my children, crying in despair, and into my mind came the words, “Your child is in my hands” along with the image of the Savior’s open hands with the marks from the cross. I was taught that I am not my child’s Savior, to have faith in the Savior, and that Jesus Christ’s atonement was for me and my child.

Joseph Smith was a prophet. He translated The Book of Mormon and restored the gospel of Jesus Christ in the latter days. I just finished reading Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman. There are pieces of church history that are uncomfortable, but Joseph Smith was able to accomplish more in his lifetime than seems humanly possible. And it wasn’t possible on his own. Learning more about Joseph Smith makes me appreciate his life and sacrifice and reminds me that the Lord can use my efforts to do great things.

I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are real because of the personal revelation I receive through the Holy Ghost. Moroni, a prophet in The Book of Mormon, taught, “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6). When I was a child, I relied on the faith of my parents. They loved me and I felt good when I attended church, read my scriptures, and prayed. Much of my obedience was out of duty to my parents whom I loved and the culture of the church. As I began to receive consistent revelation of my own and I acted on that revelation, I saw the results of my faith and my faith increased. That still meant I needed to act in faith and then see what happened, but I had many experiences to remind me that I would be blessed when I acted in faith. One of those experiences was when I had the thought in the temple that I should start a book club in my new neighborhood. I resisted, but when I finally acted in faith, the eventual results were better than I imagined. I have come to love the women in my book club and am enriched every time we get together. I refer to this experience often to strengthen my faith. As the Stake Young Women’s Camp Director this past summer, I was reminded by the Spirit that as I did the Lord’s will concerning the book club, He made more of it than I could make on my own and that the same thing would happen with camp. On Sunday after my husband was set apart as the bishop, a member of the Stake Presidency asked if being the director for Young Women’s camp this past summer has helped me with my husband becoming the bishop. The answer is Yes! As I’ve had fear and doubts about how this would all work out and how members would feel about the changes and how all the callings would be filled and how my husband would be able to be the bishop during tax season, I’ve been reminded by the Spirit again and again of the miracles, personal revelation, and strength I received as the director of camp because of my willingness to do the Lord’s will. This is the Lord’s work!

I know that President Russell M. Nelson is a prophet. In April 2018, President Nelson said, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for our Lives”). That prophecy has been fulfilled for me. There is so much confusion, so much doubt, so much information and misinformation, that if I did not study my scriptures and pray daily and act on personal revelation, I would not survive spiritually.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The Sacrament: A Renewal of our Baptismal Covenant

I love how the Lord prepares me to learn through questions. This past Monday, we had a family home evening lesson from Preach My Gospel with our neighbors about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel which are faith in Jesus Christ, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, repentance, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. As I taught and we discussed these principles, I thought about how faith, repentance, accessing the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end are principles we live and work on each day. But baptism isn’t like that. We are baptized only once for ourselves, although we can be baptized by proxy in the temple for our ancestors who have died. I couldn’t figure out how baptism figured into my life continually. That question sat in my mind and heart as something I wondered about but couldn’t understand. Many of my questions take a long time and much study to be answered and many have not been answered, but I feel like in having that question enter my mind and heart, the Lord was preparing me for immediate answers to come.

Some may be thinking that the answer is obvious and wonder why was that even a question for me. But many times even if I know something intellectually or I’ve heard it and learned it many times at church or through gospel lessons, the concept is not written in my heart.

That FHE lesson was on Monday. On Wednesday, I received a text with a link from a friend: Elder Dale G. Renlund’s BYU Speech, Lifelong Conversion. As the saying goes, my mind was blown. The answer is the sacrament. Again, I already knew this, but I didn’t know in the same way as when I listened to this talk and my spirit was taught in a deeper way. Elder Renlund speaks about participating in the principles of the gospel repeatedly and iteratively. Repeatedly is to cycle through the principles on the covenant path over and over and iteratively “means that we change and improve with each cycle.” Each element builds on itself and repeats and the way we repeat baptism is by partaking of the sacrament. To truly change and improve through the ordinance of the sacrament, we have faith in Christ and ask Him what we need to repent of, and then take that sin or fault to the sacrament each Sunday. I’ve also heard over and over that the sacrament is the only ordinance that is repeated for ourselves.

I was not able to partake of the sacrament this Sunday, because we had Stake Conference. The nine wards in our stake met in meetings on Saturday and Sunday to hear from local leaders. My spirit was enlightened even more through the talk of our stake president, President Stephen B. Packer. He spoke on Saturday night about altars. Altars were used for blood sacrifices of animals from the time of Adam to the death of Jesus Christ as a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I knew this and I also knew that we now offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit instead of animal sacrifice, and I knew that the sacrament was a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice, the bread for his body and the water for his blood. The deeper understanding came when President Packer reminded us that during this past year when we could not attend church because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were authorized to have the sacrament in our homes. I remember the first time we had the sacrament in our home after a few weeks of not partaking of the sacrament. At the time we had five young adults plus me, my husband, and my youngest son in our home. Four were men who hold the priesthood and were able to prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament to all of us. I cleaned off our granite countertop in the middle of our kitchen and found two silver serving trays and a white table cloth. My husband and my son, who had recently been ordained to the office of a teacher, spread the white table cloth and prepared bread and water. Then my son-in-law and nephew-in-law broke the bread and blessed the sacrament. I felt so much gratitude for the ordinance of the sacrament, and that I was able to partake of the sacrament in my home. President Packer reminded us that we had prepared an altar within our own homes and that we offer a real personal sacrifice. During the sacrament we put the animal in us on the altar and let it be consumed. Then President Packer asked us to consider what is most sacred to us and what we need to sacrifice.

Today I was taught even more about sacrifice. During our morning session of Stake Conference, Elder Kenneth J. Firmage, a member of the Seventy, asked us to consider what we would sacrifice to be endowed with power. He asked us to plead with the Lord in prayer about how we spend our time, and then to invest in our future and that of our family by sacrificing to attend the temple. He promised that the Lord would bring the miracles we need to receive as we sacrifice.

I have some pondering and pleading to do to figure out what the Lord will accept as an offering in righteousness from me. I am grateful that I was prepared with a question to receive greater light and knowledge this week about the sacrament and sacrifice. I know that by keeping my covenants, I am given the opportunities the Lord knows I need to grow and increase.

Why I Stay on the Covenant Path

Much of our property in Garden Valley is on a steep hillside with a creek at the bottom. We built a path to make it easier to get to the creek. Our son spent a lot of time digging deeper into the dirt with a shovel and pickaxe and moving rocks to create steps and a higher edge for the path. We also used logs. It is probably hard to tell from this picture, but towards the top right on the right side of that yellow twine is where we started the path. It ran pretty straight along the hillside and descended from the top right to the bottom left of this picture. After we made the path, we found out that we had been mistaken about our property line. Notice again the yellow twine. That more closely marks our correct property line which means that about half of the path is on the neighbor’s property. This past month we started a new path near that middle tree at the top of the picture. A direct path would have been too steep so we did more of a zig-zag path and then reconnected in the middle. The path is narrow because we are making it with shovel, pickaxe, and our hands.

That was the story of our path on the property. Now for the sermon. (Last week my older son said he was excited to read about the picture of the big rock on our property and then ended up reading a sermon. You’re welcome!). In the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we make covenants which are promises between us and God that bind us to Him, protect us, and lead us back to Him. When we keep those covenants we are on the covenant path. The first covenant we make is at baptism. We make more covenants in the temple. Today in Relief Society we discussed “Why the Covenant Path” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson. I chose the covenant path when I was eight years old because I felt good going to church and being kind to others, and I believed what my parents taught me and what I learned at church about Jesus Christ. After being baptized, I received the gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift directed me as a child, as a teenager, and as a young adult in choosing the right, discerning right and wrong, repenting when I sinned, and serving others. As a young teenager I attended the Las Vegas Temple open house with my family and felt so much joy, awe, and happiness that I knew I wanted to be married in the temple. I was married to Alden Holm in the Mesa Arizona temple and made more covenants that day as I received my endowments and was sealed to Alden. Since then I’ve had to choose each day to keep the covenants I made at baptism to always remember my Savior and keep his commandments and the covenants I made in the temple to live the law of obedience, strive to keep the commandments of God, obey the law of sacrifice and the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to keep the law of chastity, and to help in the Lord’s work. I continue to choose to keep my covenants because of the blessings I’ve received. To me those blessings are evident in four areas: family, church service, personal growth, and spiritual growth.


I love my husband. I love my children. Being a mom and a wife is rewarding and difficult. I am committed to being a mom and a wife because I have made covenants to my husband and to my Heavenly Father.

Church Service

While serving at church, I have felt a portion of the love that Heavenly Father feels for His children. I have been blessed to serve beyond my capacity. I have received guidance and strength.

Personal Growth

I have prayed about what to study in college, how to continue to increase my talents and abilities, which classes to take and groups to join. As I have kept my covenants, I am blessed to receive guidance in my personal growth.

Spiritual Growth

This is the main reason why I stay on the covenant path. Spiritual growth is in every area of my life. I stay on the covenant path, because as I keep my covenants and seek for personal revelation, I am directed by my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost. I am given thoughts that teach me. I receive inspiration to talk to someone, to serve someone. In my scripture study, I receive answers to questions. I have a personal relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I am becoming more than I could be on my own because I keep the commandments, sacrifice, consecrate, keep myself sexually pure, and serve others. I have power to be what the Lord wants me to be because I have made covenants.

Staying on the covenant path can be less treacherous than choosing to get off because I know I am choosing what God wants me to choose, because there is clear direction, and because I won’t have to suffer the consequences of unwise decisions. The covenant path can also be difficult. It may not be the path that some friends and family choose. It may lead to persecution. But mostly, in order to be made into the person my Heavenly Father needs me, I will be tried and tested. Throughout my life as I keep my covenants, Heavenly Father keeps His covenant to me by blessing me with His Spirit, protecting me, and in power to do His work. This leads to joy and peace in this life and eternal life or life with our Heavenly Father after we die.

Building a Foundation on Jesus Christ with Meaningful Family Scripture Study: Or my answer for my brother, Spencer Roundy

Much of our property in Garden Valley is on a steep hillside. We had dirt moved to clear a larger flat area to park and eventually build. We thought moving the dirt wouldn’t take much time with the right equipment, but underneath the pine needles and dirt, there were huge rocks. The one in the picture is about the size of a small car. While it took more time to move the rocks, we were able to extend the flat area with a strong foundation of more rocks.

My favorite scripture is from Helaman, “And now…remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12). Jesus Christ is our sure foundation. One of the ways to develop a foundation built on Jesus Christ is through family scripture study. During our Roundy family Zoom while discussing family traditions that help us build on the foundation of Jesus Christ, my brother, Spencer, asked how we have meaningful family scripture study. He jokingly said I could answer his question through a post on my website. Challenge accepted.

I think that many of us think we are failing at some imagined standard of meaningful family scripture study, so I wanted to know what others are really doing. I asked my amazing running friends about their family scripture studies. In that group is the wife of a bishop who has eight children, the wife of a Stake Presidency member who has six children and coaches cross country, a mother of ten children who does a weekly gospel podcast with friends, and a mother of five children who designs homes. I admire each of these women and often seek advice and support from them. None of our scripture studies are the same. Here’s our typical scripture studies in our current situations.

Two teenage children left at home: Read about five verses each in The Book of Mormon right before bed, mostly on weeknights. Sometimes the oldest child misses depending on what is going on.

Four teenage children left at home: Read a few verses each from The Book of Mormon in the morning around 6:30 am as they are trying to eat and get ready for school.

Six children left at home (one young adult, two teenagers, three elementary-aged children): Read around 6:15 am from the Doctrine and Covenants following along with the Come Follow Me lesson. One of the teenage children misses scripture study because he leaves for early-morning seminary. Sometimes the youngest is still in bed.

Five children at home (two young adults, three teenagers): Read the Doctrine and Covenants section from the Come Follow Me lesson about two nights a week with a longer lesson on Sundays. Encourage all family members to read The Book of Mormon on their own.

One teenage child left at home (that’s our family): Read two pages of The Book of Mormon around 6:20 am before the bus comes and while I’m trying to make a simple breakfast.

Most of my friends including myself don’t have meaningful discussions during family scripture study. Some of us have switched between morning and evening scripture study. Our family is more consistent with early morning study and our children are more docile then. During the summer we had scripture study before bed but often forgot.

I am the oldest of six children, and I remember having scripture study consistently during the school year early in the morning. My mom made sure we got up. My dad contributed with insightful comments. I remember that for a while we learned a hymn. Since I was the first to leave home, I didn’t see how scripture study changed over time in my family. We’ve had to adjust as our children have gone to school at different times and had different activities and jobs. We’ve had times where we memorized scriptures and The Family Proclamation. But mostly we’ve consistently read a couple of pages every week day from The Book of Mormon.

I’ve often wished we had more in depth discussions, more sharing, more teaching. My brother said that when they try to have more meaningful family scripture study, their children have tantrums and get up and leave. He doesn’t want to force them. A few years ago, I was frustrated with the gap between what I thought our study should be like and what was happening. We had a family council. My family jokes that I should just tell them what I want them to do, not ask them. But this time I did ask. I’d been learning more about how family councils should work. I expressed that I wanted us to learn more. We discussed options. I presented some ideas and what my children decided on worked out much better than what I suggested. They decided that after reading our two pages, one person would share what they learned from their personal scripture study. That worked really well for a while.

I now think that having consistent family scripture study is meaningful family scripture study. That through our consistency, we emphasize the importance to our children of the scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I wrongly assumed that this consistent scripture study would guarantee that my children would not struggle. Now is when I need to rely on my faith that those consistent family scripture studies have built a foundation for myself and my children. Elder Steven R. Bangerter said, “I believe that it is less a question of whether our children are ‘getting it’ in the midst of our teaching, such as while striving to read the scriptures or to have family home evening or to attend Mutual and other Church meetings. It is less a question of whether in those moments they are understanding the importance of those activities and more a question of whether we, as parents, are exercising faith enough to follow the Lord’s counsel to diligently live, teach, exhort, and set forth expectations that are inspired by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is an effort driven by our faith—our belief that one day the seeds sown in their youth will take root and begin to sprout and grow” (“Laying the Foundation of a Great Work,” October 2018 General Conference).

Spencer, thank you for asking a meaningful question. Running friends, thank you for your examples and faithfulness. Mom and Dad, thank you for years of consistent and meaningful family scripture study that laid a foundation for my testimony and a knowledge of where to turn for questions.

Peace: Let God Prevail

My son in high school is taking Eastern Geographical Perspectives. They spent one class period learning about Christianity and another learning about Islam. My son shared with me that Islam means submission to God. He made the connection between the word Islam and the word Israel that our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, recently shared. One of the Hebraic meanings of the word Israel is “let God prevail” (“Let God Prevail,” President Russell M. Nelson, Liahona, May 2021). I believe that repentance is the way we submit to God, the way we let God prevail.

In my scripture study this past week, I read about Alma, the prophet, calling the people of Ammonihah to repentance. He reminds them that God delivered their people out of Jerusalem, saved them from famine, sickness, “and all manner of diseases of every kind” and if they “transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they…have…and rebel against [the Lord], they will “utterly be destroyed from off the face of the earth” (Alma 9:21, 23, 24). I particularly noticed the part about being saved from sickness and diseases. This past week two friends of mine lost parents to COVID. I’ve wondered like many others about God’s plan with this pandemic. Did these two people die because their mission on earth was finished. Did they die because they are needed in the Spirit world to further the work of the Lord there? Did they die simply because their bodies are mortal and disease kills some? I thought about all the people who have suffered with illness and death of loved ones over the past year-and-a-half and wondered if we are not being saved from this disease because we’ve transgressed. As soon as I had the thought, my heart rejected that individuals were dying or not dying because of their personal transgressions. Today in church two prayers were offered asking for the pandemic to be taken away from us. So I’ve been pondering if God is calling us to repentance through this pandemic. Then I thought about the meaning of repentance. I used to think that repentance was only admitting I made a mistake or sinned. I now understand that to repent means to turn to God. Repentance is giving my heart and mind to God and asking what I need to do to be closer to Him. Repentance is submitting to God, letting God prevail. I don’t know God’s plan with this pandemic, but I do know that He wants us to turn to Him. He wants us instead of blaming and accusing each other, to come to Him in prayer and ask for our hearts to be softened, ask what we can do to serve one another, ask how we can let Him prevail in our lives. Then will the pandemic be taken away? I don’t know. I do know that as Alma preached to the people in Gideon, that we “should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things [we] stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things [we] do receive” and then “the peace of God [will] rest upon [us]” (Alma 7:23, 27).

We all need peace, peace in Christ.