My conversion to Relief Society came late. When I was baptized in 1960, I felt that my Sunday attendance, responsibility as M-Men-Gleaner leader, and obligation to get our four small children to Primary was all I could handle, since my husband’s work kept him away from home roughly half the time. However, when we moved to the 78-member Dover Branch four years later, it was obvious that my support and efforts were truly needed, and through attendance I found out what treasures I had been missing. But still, I was less than enthusiastic about Homemaking Day—those projects just did not match my talents or inclinations. Although I supported them, it was with some unspoken reluctance, quite different from my whole-hearted participation in other aspects of Relief Society.
I was flabbergasted, then, when in 1973 my stake president told me that the Lord wanted me as Relief Society President of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Stake. I had prayerfully agreed with Heavenly Father before the interview that I would say yes, no matter what the calling, but my “heart was far from it.” “This proves that the Lord has a sense of humor,” I told myself, but it was no joke to be responsible for so many dear sisters. The Lord provided me with radiant counselors, and we had some memorable spiritual experiences completing our staffing.
However, whenever someone called me “President Barrett,” I would break out in a sweat. I still had negative feelings about some aspects of Relief Society and lived in the fear that stake leaders would drop in for a visit some day, for my house reflected my priorities of putting my “home” first and my “house” casually somewhere further down the list. Obviously, that attitude was beginning to affect my service, and I took the problem to Heavenly Father many times in earnest prayer. I fasted and reread my patriarchal blessing frequently, wondering why it hadn’t warned me about this.
One day, as I drove the 75 miles to the stake center alone, I began to pray aloud in the car. I realized that I needed a healing of my mind, that my negative attitude made me unworthy to serve. Weeping and praying, I asked the Lord to either heal me or release me so that the work would not suffer further. Suddenly, the Spirit touched my mind, gently and lovingly, and smoothed away that wrinkle of confusion. I knew that I was needed, and that was all that mattered. I also knew that the Lord need not confine his blessings to those he mentions in our patriarchal blessings, because there is no limit on his ability, and someday there’ll be no limit on ours.
In the nearly five years that I served, I had many spiritual experiences, but none more precious than the testimony I gained that day: God can heal anything—our prejudices, our bad habits, and our minds, bodies, and spirits. , Dover, Delaware
I steered the car purposefully through the morning traffic. My mind was preoccupied with driving and the uncompleted task ahead.
“Mommy?” my 2 1/2-year-old, Christopher, questioned from his place on the seat beside me.
“Uh-huh,” I responded mechanically.
I glanced at his cheerful face. Suddenly I realized that I was happy, too.
What a lesson his two little words taught me! I thought of how many times I complain and find fault with my circumstances in life. It seems that I am always eager to share these negative feelings with others—and yes, even with my Heavenly Father. Too often my positive feelings go unacknowledged, or worse yet, unrecognized. “I’m happy,” “I’m thankful,” “I’m glad you’re part of my family,” “I love you”—all simple expressions that are much neglected in my daily conversations.
How thankful I am that Christopher shared his happy feelings with me—and for the gentle reminder through him and the Spirit that I need to share mine. , Omaha, Nebraska
Enjoy the Little Tykes
As a child, one of the qualities I loved most about my mother was her “spur-of-the-moment” talent. Within minutes she could plan a trip to the zoo, the beach, or a visit to the city. She was always the first one outside on a warm spring day to organize a family-and-friends softball team. She may not have been the best pitcher or batter, but she did fill our games with laughter.
I often think about my mother when I’m faced with seven loads of laundry, cereal-strewn kitchen counters, and a house that looks like it’s been ransacked. Housework and laundry will always be with me, but will three little companions?
I remember the days when I took time to enjoy my children—spending an hour barefoot in the sandbox, taking a winter afternoon to build a super space-station with every Tinkertoy in the house, or patiently teaching my five-month-old daughter how to sit up by herself. These are special memories for me and hopefully will be special to my children as the years pass.
“[Mothers] are, that they might have joy.” (2 Ne. 2:25.) , Salt Lake City, Utah
The More I Live the Gospel
I discovered the following scripture during the years my husband was not a member of the Church: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” (John 7:17.)
I took great comfort in knowing that in many ways my husband was doing God’s will—we had home evening, we stored a year’s supply of food, and he encouraged my children and me in church attendance and service. That scripture helped me realize that someday my husband would gain the testimony that what he was doing actually was God’s will.
He eventually did realize it and was baptized. Now this scripture reminds me that the more I live the gospel, the more assuredly I know it is of God. , Bountiful, Utah
Another mistake! Out came the correcting fluid, and then I started typing again—but the job would not go smoothly. My irritation was growing, and I felt it was time to ask Father in Heaven for help.
I was typing the translations of several hymns for the Afrikaans edition of the Gospel Principles manual. Most of the work had been exhilarating, and I sang as I worked to fit the words to the music. But this particular day my fingers would not respond to my mind and my nerves were on edge. This was not the way to feel when doing the Lord’s work, so I went into my bedroom to ask for divine assistance.
A few minutes later I came back to the typewriter, but as I finished the hymn I was still making errors. The next hymn was “Daar is skoonheid oral rond” (“There Is Beauty All Around”); before I began to type I paused to visualize our Father in Heaven smiling as he watched happy families on the earth. As I typed the words about the brooklet singing and the azure sky beaming, I felt deep peace and joy in being able to assist the Lord with his work. After that, I continued my typing with a light heart and nimble fingers.
What a blessing we enjoy in receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost at baptism! A great deal of faith is demanded at first as we turn to the Lord and extend our trust to him; but what reward is experienced when we come to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost and realize that we are not alone. The transcending peace of that day is a memory that I will always treasure. , Transvaal, South Africa