"Mom, when President Nelson invited sisters to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year, do you think he just meant grown ups?"
I saw the question in her mind - the spark of light had been ignited. And I knew she was capable. So we made a decision in the car that night. We'd both do it. Start to finish by the end of the year.
And today, on December 30th, we both finished.
I'd like to write a few things I learned personally from this journey since October:
1. Having been asked to not only read the Book of Mormon but to mark each mention of Christ, I was reminded time and time again of His words, His light and His truth. Beautiful.
2. Ministering is inspired. For me, this was the first time the word MINISTER has jumped out of the pages to me. I loved reading the stories and learning from the examples of true ministering. All centered in LOVE and centered in Christ. Most often, ministering happened 1:1. Loved pondering not only those who ministered one another, but the angels who ministered was a tender reminder to me that the Lord's Holy work is unchanging and these things are happening all around us today. I found a greater awareness of seeing people in all settings ministering to one another in small ways in every day life. Seeing this was so inspiring and I strive to continually deepen this awareness and seek opportunities to minster in small and simple ways.
3. I felt greater feelings of peace, joy and love in my every day life. Circumstances haven't changed, but I absolutely feel, trust and know that the Lord knows and will continue to direct us and give us strength in ALL THINGS.
4. I have a greater appreciation and gratitude for Joseph Smith and his wife Emma. At the same time I read the Book of Mormon, I also read the book Saints. What a reminder of the constant turmoil they were in as they encountered so much resistance and what faith and courage they had to keep moving forward. I am so grateful for their sacrifice. I am so grateful for the sacrifice and resilience of the pioneers, some of whom are my ancestors. Their stories help me remember that to be deeply rooted in something takes effort, resilience and the courage to keep moving forward. I strive to honor them.
5. I've noticed a deeper love and connection to nature these last couple of months. And while I've always felt that connection, it has definitely deepened in conjunction with this invitation. I believe that God can speak to us through His creation, and nature seems to share so much wisdom in being still, looking upward, trusting, working, continually changing and growing with intention. There have been many moments that have opened my mind and heart to receive specific inspiration.
6. Another word that really spoke to me was SERVE. There are so many inspired words in the Book of Mormon centered on service. I can't think of a better way to magnify oneself, to get outside of one's own worries, or to feel more abundant joy than through serving others. Each time we have moved, our greatest connection - to ourselves, as a family, and in our neighborhood and church congregation has happened as we've stepped outside of ourselves and stepped into service. Reading SERVE in the Book of Mormon was yet another reminder that service is love in action. In any way. I need those continual reminders to step outside of "me" and into others.
7. REMEMBER was another word that really jumped out to me. With constant noise and distraction, I feel remembering who we are, where we came from and who we are meant to become is essential and gives peace, hope and light.
8. I was reminded (again and again) that I don't need to have all the answers. I don't need to know the "how." I don't need to have everything planned and mapped out and that's totally okay. What I do need (and I need this in things big and small) is to trust the Lord, and trust that He knows, He's already figured out the "how" and it's my job to just keep acting on the good thoughts, showing my love to him through keeping his covenants, and using his grace each and every day. Because things will work out.
I asked Alexis to share some of her thoughts with what she learned from the Book of Mormon and here's what she said:
I liked that you really can read the Book of Mormon as many times as you like. I like having the invitation. This gave me a challenge to really read it every day, and spend time on something that is important to me. I learned that it doesn't matter what age you are, you can just pick it up and read it. I felt the spirit every time I read it and I had better days. I noticed that I was happier each day. I noticed some really good scriptures in there that I want to memorize! I really liked waking up early in the mornings to read it. I liked that time that it wasn't noisy because I could read and think about what I was reading. I think my mom is an amazing example of how she reads every morning because it made me want to read the book of mormon too. She's always so happy and I wanted to be happy like her. Now that I've finished, I feel SO GOOD that I did it. In the beginning, it was SO HARD because I thought it was so much, but then, after awhile, I realized I made it half way and that I could keep going. I loved the idea when President Nelson said to mark any mention of Christ. In the beginning I forgot about it, but then my mom told me how she had been marking it, and I remembered I wanted to do it too. There was so much in there about Christ. I love reading about him and every time I read about him I feel warm and happy. I know God answers my prayers.
My heart is so full of peace and joy over this whole experience. I know she's going to look back and always remember that she finished something that felt hard. She wrote the part above about me being an example for her, but the real truth is, she's the example for me.