Growing up, I can remember always wondering if there was a God. We were not raised with any religion in our home. I used to envy my friends who went to church, and took classes during the week. I always knew I wanted to belong to a church when I grew up. This desire to know about God, eventually led me to the Restored Gospel.
As I began searching in earnest, I happened to attend Church with friends along with my husband and two year old son. That Sunday, the Young Women were sharing their testimonies. One after another, they spoke about their faith in God, and how it affected their lives. I was very touched, and impressed that these girls could have such solid faith, when at 21 I was still unsure what I believed. I knew at that moment though, that I wanted my children to be brought up with faith, and renewed my efforts to find a church to join. I continued to attend the different churches in my town, but nothing ever felt right.
Having not grown up with, or in, a faith, I had created my own picture of what Church should be like. I always thought when you went to Church, you belonged to it. It was a part of your life. You knew everyone, they knew you. You loved and served each other, and it was a big part of your life. It was not a Sunday only thing. Most of all, it should bring into your life a strong faith, that you built your life upon. After I had attended the local churches a few times, I was bothered that I still wasn't sure if there really was a God. Was He really there? Did He really care about me? Feeling kind of awkward to ask someone such a personal question, I kept it to myself for a few months.
One night however, while talking to the neighbors I had attended Church with month’s earlier, the opportunity to ask 'how do you have faith?' came up. I mentioned those girls I had seen as an example. How did they know? How did my neighbor's know? After a great discussion, they sent me home to read a few verses in the Book of Mormon, which talked about how faith is like a seed. I read about how you need to plant the seed by desiring, and then about how it grows as you act upon it. I read not only those verses, but the entire Book of Mormon over the next 5 days. That was the beginning of my testimony that God lives, He loves us, and He restored His Gospel to us. I found the faith I was seeking, and the Church I had always envisioned. I was baptized four weeks later.
Though not interested at first, my husband slowly gained a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was baptized on Father’s day, almost two years later. We were sealed in the Temple a year later while expecting our third child. That was 17 years ago. We are now the parents of nine children – ages 19 down to 8 months. We remain the only members in our family on both sides.
Since joining, we have tried to be as active as possible, and pass on our faith to our children. They are the first generation to be brought up in the gospel. We struggle sometimes, in raising them completely different from the way that we were raised – to incorporate the scriptures into teaching moments, to remember to have family prayer, and how best to engage the children in scripture study. We have fun introducing and building what will hopefully be family traditions – Family home Evenings, General Conference weekends, having the Missionaries over for “breakfast for dinner” nights. We enjoy tender moments as my husband is able to give the children blessings for their health, and for comfort.
One especially touching moment was a few weeks ago, when I was able to listen to my daughter, age 16, bear her testimony in Sacrament along with all the other Young Women. In that moment, it felt like a circle had been completed.