Sister Michaelene Grassli’s father was in medical school when she was born. Her family moved from Salt Lake City to Denver, Colorado, then moved four more times before finally settling in Blackfoot, Idaho, where she started fourth grade.
“Being the oldest of six children—I have one sister and four brothers—was an advantage,” Sister Grassli said. “I was given a lot of responsibility. It made me feel grown up, and I learned a lot.
“I shared a room with my sister. We liked to be together, but when we were very young we argued about who was taking more than her share of the bed. One day we decided to settle the problem. We took a crayon and drew a line right down the middle of the sheet. Mother didn’t like that solution and told us that we were not to do it again. When we were older, our parents told us that we could each have our own room. Dianne moved her things into another room, but it only lasted one night. We really preferred being together, so the next day she moved back.
“My father would come in at night before we went to sleep and tell us stories,” Sister Grassli said. “One of my favorite things was to sit in my daddy’s lap. I always felt secure while I was growing up, because I knew that Mom and Dad loved me. I knew that they were fair and that no matter what happened, they would always let me explain. When I did something I shouldn’t, I felt that their discipline was fair. My mother told me that she would always tell me the truth, and I trusted her.”
One thing Sister Grassli loved to do as a young girl was roller-skate. She would skate down the sloping driveway into the garage. She also loved to read. “I loved to read in my bed at night or in the backyard on a blanket. I’d get some raisins or I’d make cookies of graham crackers and frosting to eat while I was reading, and I would read for as long as I could,” she said. When she was ten years old, she was given Little Women, written by Louisa May Alcott, and it became one of her favorites.
As a child Sister Grassli had a talent for drawing. At school her friends often asked her to draw paper dolls for them. She would draw the dolls and different outfits of clothes for them. “My Grandmother McKinlay was a watercolor artist,” Sister Grassli said, “and she gave me my first exposure to drawing and painting. She taught me how to paint wild roses. Later she also taught my daughter how to paint them.”
Sister Grassli remembers her childhood as being a happy one. “I loved to learn and do many things. I remember a Primary teacher who took us to her house one Primary day. It was so fun! We learned how to make cinnamon toast. Each of us got to make her own, and the teacher made hot chocolate for us. I realized then that Heavenly Father wants us to learn all kinds of things. It’s important to learn about the scriptures, but Heavenly Father also wants us to learn about everything that is good. That was exciting to me. I knew Heavenly Father cared about our whole selves, not just one part.”
When Sister Grassli was about eight years old, she was asked to give a talk in Sunday School. She practiced and practiced her talk about pre-earth life. “I talked about how Jesus Christ and Satan presented their plans and about how Christ’s plan was chosen. Satan got mad and said, ‘I’ll get them!’ I thought at the time, Well, he’s not going to get me! Even now I remember that decision. That feeling of determination that I had as an eight-year-old girl has stuck with me.
“That’s an important decision for adults as well as for children to make,” said Sister Grassli. “And giving talks and doing the things we are asked to do in the Church helps us grow and gain stronger testimonies.
“My message to the children of the world is that the teachings of Jesus have all the answers to all the problems of life. If we always follow His teachings, then no matter how hard life gets, we will be safe and happy. Even if there is unhappiness in our lives, we can have inner peace by living the gospel.”