Accepting His Will
While I was growing up, I witnessed several healings that I felt were miraculous, including a few of which I was the recipient. So when my husband, our sons, and I found our two-year-old daughter, Jamie, floating face down in our swimming pool, I just knew she could be healed. As I began performing CPR, I had no doubt that the Lord would help me bring her back to life. The emergency team was surprised to find Jamie’s heart already beating when they arrived, but I wasn’t.
Within hours of the accident, our family and friends were fasting and praying with us for Jamie’s recovery. We placed her name on the temple prayer roll. The love and support we received was overwhelming. Everyone felt that Jamie would be all right.
The doctors voiced three major concerns for our daughter: her heart was beating too weakly, her brain could swell, causing brain damage, and her waterlogged lungs were vulnerable to pneumonia. As we continued to fast and pray, these problems disappeared one by one. Never before had my husband and I exerted so much faith. We felt peaceful, and we felt that our daughter would be all right.
On the ninth day, however, the oxygen level in Jamie’s blood began to drop. The doctors switched her to a new ventilator. While I was resting nearby, I heard someone say, “It didn’t work.” Thinking the speaker was one of my family members, I murmured, “Don’t say that. We have to have faith.” But when I sat up, I heard the doctor talking in the hallway, telling my husband that the new ventilator was making Jamie’s oxygen level drop even lower.
Had we done something wrong? Didn’t we have enough faith? I pleaded with Heavenly Father to know why Jamie’s condition was getting worse when we had felt that she would be okay.
As I continued to pray I felt as if someone were next to me with their arm around my shoulder. I felt I was told that my faith had been great enough. Now it was my responsibility to know that whatever happened would be right. The calm, peaceful feeling I had experienced previously returned.
I looked down at Jamie and through the Spirit knew that her time on the earth was almost over. My feelings that she would be all right were still true, however, because it was Heavenly Father’s will that she return. My husband gave Jamie a father’s blessing, and soon afterwards she died.
I learned that the Lord does indeed answer our prayers. The answer that He gives us is what is best for us.
Doctrine and Covenants 42:44 [D&C 42:44] says: “And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me.” We miss Jamie, but we have been blessed to know that our daughter is with Heavenly Father.
My Missionary Haircut
I poked my straight, shaggy head of hair through the doorway of the new beauty shop and asked, “Does one of your hairdressers have time to give me a haircut?”
“Sure,” the manager answered. She motioned to her chair and draped a plastic cape around my neck. “I’m Dottie,” she began. “Do you live in the neighborhood?” She was quick with her conversation, and I liked her right away.
I told her that I badly needed a permanent wave but that I didn’t have time today because I had bread rising at home for family home evening.
“What is family home evening?” Dottie asked. I told her about the family home evening program and about the new family in our ward, coming over to join us. I was baking bread so I could give each person a loaf to share with someone else. Dottie’s response surprised me: “I wish someone would do something like that for me. This is the most unfriendly place my husband and I have ever lived in.”
I decided then that when my bread came out of the oven, one loaf would be for Dottie.
After that, I would stop to say hello or wave each time I passed by the beauty shop. When I finally made an appointment for the permanent I needed, I brought my Relief Society manual and scriptures so I could study my lesson on Joseph Smith—and tell Dottie more about the Church.
Over the next few months, we became good friends. Soon other sisters in the ward also started going to Dottie to have their hair done. Dottie watched them and listened to them.
One afternoon, while we sat in the shop visiting, Dottie started asking me questions: “Where is your ward building? Is it close? What time does your church start?” Then I discovered the reason for her interest. Her husband, John, was a member of the Church. She had asked him about some of the things I had told her, and now John wanted to go back to church.
Over the next year, Dottie and John attended church regularly. Dottie liked the people in the ward and enjoyed going to some of the activities. But becoming a Mormon was out of the question.
When John found a job in Indiana, I prayed that they would locate the ward in their new area and that the members would accept my friend and fellowship her.
Dottie and I kept in touch. They found their new ward, and John served as a stake missionary. Dottie gave free haircuts to the missionaries and saw to it that they were well fed. She also began to make new friends in the Church.
One holiday, when Dottie flew back to Arizona, she visited me. We spent an afternoon walking around the Mesa Temple grounds and touring the visitors’ center, talking about the Church. I felt strongly that someday Dottie would join the Church. Two months after her visit, she called. “Can you believe it? John is baptizing me,” she told me.
“That’s terrific, Dottie!” I exclaimed, tears of joy running down my face.
That night I thanked the Lord for the members of Dottie’s new ward who had accepted and loved Dottie—and for my straight, shaggy head of hair that had opened the door to much more than a haircut.
Blessed by an Unwanted Calling
Early in my marriage, I had almost no experience with young children, so I was shocked when I was asked to teach a Primary class for the seven- and eight-year-olds. Believing I was not suited to teaching children, I refused the call and left the bishop’s office. As I approached the front door of the church, my feet began to move more slowly. The closer I got to the exit, the more difficult it was to continue. Finally, I came to a complete stop.
I decided that I needed to pray about my decision. I received a distinct impression that I should accept the call. Still unwilling, but feeling I had no other choice, I went back to the bishop’s office, let him know I had changed my mind, and then accepted the calling.
The class had been labeled a problem class. There were only five children, but already three teachers had given up. The most boisterous member of the class was Paul. He was the natural leader, and the others took their cues from him: when he acted up, so did they.
The first Sunday, little good was accomplished. By the end of class, I felt disappointed by how badly the class had gone, and I knew I needed to try a different teaching method.
While in the military, I had discovered that if one of my men was causing problems, giving that man an important responsibility usually helped solve the problem. After prayerful consultation with the Lord, I decided to try this approach with my Primary class.
I appointed Paul as the class president the next Sunday. I then assigned each child classroom duties. Paul was in charge of helping to keep the others quiet during opening exercises. I was amazed at how well he accomplished his job; the entire class was reverent during opening exercises. Class went smoothly, and at the end, I assigned Paul to help teach the lesson the next week.
I was impressed by how well Paul prepared and taught his part of the lesson. Over the next few weeks, I rotated the teaching assignment among the children, and they started coming to class more prepared.
I discovered just how effective this teaching method was when, one Sunday, I was late to church. By the time I arrived, opening exercises were over and class had begun. I rushed to my classroom, knowing that whoever was substituting didn’t know how the class was run.
I opened the door and found Paul teaching the class, according to the assignment I had given him a week earlier. Sitting near the back of the room, I listened as he finished teaching the entire lesson, using materials I had provided him, and answered questions. He assigned next week’s lesson and checked with me to see if I had any comment. After class I asked Paul which adult had been assigned to teach in my absence.
“No one,” he told me. “I guess no one noticed you were gone.”
I had never been so proud of my class. Paul had seated class members during opening exercises, had taken them to the classroom, had made sure the attendance roll was filled out, and had given the lesson—all without supervision. This was the same child who, a few months earlier, had been uncontrollable.
Heavenly Father knows each of us and knows we can succeed if we have enough faith and are given the opportunity. I have learned to accept callings like this one, through which both the children and I were blessed.
Words of Comfort, Words of Hope
After getting high every day for the past thirteen years, I thought praying would be the last thing I’d ever do. But one night I drove directly home from work, went into my room, turned out the light, and prayed.
“Can you hear me?” I asked. “I need your help desperately.” That was an understatement. The drugs were controlling me. “I hate this life I’m living. I can’t go on like this. I’ve got to know what to do. God? Are you listening to me?”
I didn’t think my prayer of desperation had much of an effect. The next morning I followed my standard routine—I smoked some dope, took a shower, and smoked some more dope before going to my job at a local pharmacy.
At work, I had just finished setting up an Easter display when a young woman walked up to look at it. I chatted with her, and she told me her name was Karen. I saw her at the store several times after that. There was something special about her, and I decided I wanted to date her. Karen, however, did not want to go out with me. When I finally did convince her to give me a chance, I learned she had been a missionary for her church in another part of the country.
“Every member of my church is a missionary,” Karen told me.
“What church is that?” I asked.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” she replied.
I asked her to tell me more about her church, and when I got home after our date, I told my roommate about this woman and her church.
To my surprise he asked me to wait a minute while he went into his bedroom. When he came out, he tossed a book into my lap. “It’s a copy of the Book of Mormon,” he said. “Somebody gave it to me when I was in the navy.”
That night, instead of getting high, I began reading the Book of Mormon. When I read 2 Nephi 1:15 [2 Ne. 1:15], it hit me hard.
“But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.”
“In the arms of his love,” I thought. Just once I would like to be held “in the arms of his love.” Then I thought about my failings, my lifestyle, my drug use—and I felt unworthy of God’s love. I continued to read, hoping to find some comfort. Tears flowed from my eyes as I read: “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Ne. 31:20).
These words and the spirit within them changed me, for in them I found hope, a chance to change my life, an answer to my desperate prayer.
I studied the Book of Mormon for two weeks, and then I called Karen. We spent our second date discussing the four pages of questions I had about the Book of Mormon.
As I began investigating the Church, I began to learn the extent of the Lord’s love for me. I felt his love as Karen and her friends taught and supported me. I felt his love as priesthood leaders counseled me. The Savior, who sacrificed his life for me, gave me hope that I could overcome the challenges I faced.
My testimony grew, but the hardest part of my conversion was overcoming my addictions. I could not have changed my habits without the strength the Lord provided me and the sustaining power of the Book of Mormon and prayer. The process of ridding myself of these vices was more difficult than I can explain. But once my process of change and repentance was complete, Karen’s brother baptized me. One year later, Karen and I were married in the temple.
The Book of Mormon changed my life. I will always be grateful to my Father in Heaven for the power of prayer, the power of this book of scripture, and for a second chance.
Winning the Prize
After my divorce, I was left alone to rear my six-year-old daughter, Chris. For a few months, the only money coming in was what I earned as a home typist. I knew that my income was not sufficient to support Chris and me, so I decided to get a job, since Chris was in school most of the day.
I started working for a firm in January. I loved my new job, but it was difficult to juggle time for my daughter, my job, my typing business, my Church responsibilities, and myself. When Chris came down with hepatitis near the end of January, I dreaded having to leave her to go to work. Because family members lived close, my bishop suggested that perhaps they could care for her during the day. The doctor said Chris would miss at least three months of school.
My daily schedule now became even more jumbled. Since the doctor advised me not to move Chris around, she stayed at my parents’ house nearly all the time. I stayed there also. I arose at 5:00 A.M., went to my house, did a few chores, got ready for work, did a little typing if there was time, went to work, went to my mother’s house for dinner and spent time with Chris until bedtime, went home and typed until after midnight. Then I went back to my parents’ house to sleep and be near Chris until 5:00 A.M. the next day, when the whole routine began again. Burnout was fast approaching.
One weekend I took the opportunity to do some reading in the Book of Mormon. Because there was so much on my mind, it was hard for me to concentrate. I wondered how I could possibly continue with the same schedule and be a good mother at the same time.
I’m so very grateful that I was paying attention when I came upon Mosiah 4:27, part of King Benjamin’s great address to his people: “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.” All of a sudden, I knew the answer to my problem. My priorities were mixed up.
I decided to give up the home typing business and keep my job. With the job, I knew I could plan my budget in advance. Further, I could give my full attention to Chris when I got home from work, and I would have time to associate socially with other adults. I knew that because of my decision, it might be necessary to receive welfare assistance from the Church, but spending time with my daughter was more important than my pride.
It was difficult to ask for financial help, but it was rewarding to spend time with Chris. And now that we were conducting our lives with more wisdom and order, we did win the prize promised in Mosiah. Our testimonies grew as we saw that the Lord would help us through all of our trials. Later that year, a wonderful man I met in the Young Special Interest program took Chris and me to the temple to be sealed together forever as a family.
Because of the counsel given in that scripture, my life has been blessed more than I ever anticipated. Now each time I read that verse in Mosiah, I remember the time that the scriptures helped me change my life. I thank Heavenly Father for letting the wisdom of an ancient Nephite prophet touch my heart.