The “Relief” of Relief Society

This morning I called home to chat with my mom while I worked on some cleaning.  I called her cell phone and (not atypically) she didn’t answer.  Whenever she doesn’t answer her cell phone I call the house line, since it’s not uncommon for her cell phone to be on vibrate, in the car, out of battery etc.  However, it seems like whenever I call the house she’s in the middle of doing something important and ignoring my call intentionally, but if I don’t call the other line then I’ll talk to her later and she’ll say “Oh darn!  If you had called the house I was just doing dishes and I would have loved to have talked to you then!”  I’m a big believer in Murphy’s Law, but no really, this is how it works every. single. time.  So I now joke with my mom that I call the house just so that she has important things that need to be done.

Anyways, so today I called the house line after failing to reach my mom on her cell phone and had this conversation –

Person on the other end (not my mom): Anderson residence?
Me: Oh, uhm, hi, is Kerry there?
Person on the other end: Oh hi, is this Brittny?
Me (starting to recognize the other person as a sister in my mom’s ward): Yes
Sister Hendrickson: Yeah, your mom is here but they’re having a wedding in their yard right now which is why she didn’t answer.  But I’ll let her know to call you back ok?
Me: Oh!  Uh, yeah, sure.  Thanks, bye!

Now before you go thinking that I’m a total flake for forgetting that there was a wedding at my parents’ house today… I had ZERO idea there was a wedding there today.  It was Monday morning.  My mom had been out of town all last week. She came home later Friday and spent Saturday helping out at their stake youth conference.  No one in my family had a pending engagement.  Why on earth would I have thought they’d be having a wedding at their house this morning??  Strangely though, I was only moderately surprised.  Like the amount of surprised you might be if someone were to come over and say “Hey, it’s not our friend’s birthday but I thought we’d take them over some cake today anyways.”  It was not what I’d expected, but, sure why not?  That sounded like something that might be going on at my parents’ house.

So later today I got the full story from my mom.  Apparently there is a couple who had been attending my parents’ ward on Sunday who was planning on getting married, but would have to wait for a temple sealing as the woman is getting baptized this coming Saturday.  Things had suddenly worked out this weekend that their family could all be in town and they’d decided to go to the courthouse to get married while they had that support.  When my mom heard this she leaned over to this woman and mentioned, “You know, my husband (the bishop in my parents’ ward) could marry you.”  The sister was gracious and mentioned that they had planned on having a backyard wedding but that things had fallen through.  A few minutes later my mom said, “You know, I have a backyard that you could get married in too.”  And so, it was arranged that the next morning there would be a wedding in my parents’ backyard.

What happened next was pretty cool.  That afternoon my mom sent out on her ward’s Relief Society email that they were having this little impromptu wedding ceremony at their house the next day and wondered if anyone could help make it a little bit special.  By the following morning there was a cake made, flowers arranged, seats set up, bows tied around chairs, gardening done, decorations put up, potted flowers volunteered, food for a luncheon prepared and live musicians arranged.  All to make a special day for a woman these Relief Society sisters barely even knew.

Impromptu wedding
My mom posted more pictures on her Facebook page.

As I was looking at the pictures of this event and feeling so blessed to have come from a ward that would do such a thing, I realized something.  What happened today at my parents home in California was remarkable… because it wasn’t remarkable.  Knowing my mom and the sisters in her ward, that’s pretty much what I would have expected would happen.  Not that I would expect that occasion, but given the circumstances, I was awed but not surprised at the outcome.  As I thought about it, that same thing could have happened in my ward here in Draper, Utah.  It could have happened in Eric’s home ward in Indiana.  It could have happened in my grandmother’s ward in Brisbane, Australia.  It could have happened anywhere where there were Relief Society sisters.  I saw just such service happen in my own ward a couple weeks ago as my ward sprang into action to help Kayson Shelton’s family after his passing.

Tonight as I had these events on my mind I thought I’d look at this month’s visiting teaching message.  This month’s message just happened to focus on ministering to those around us, and I read another story –

At the October 1856 general conference, President Brigham Young (1801–77) announced that handcart pioneers were still crossing the plains and that everyone was to help gather supplies for them immediately. Lucy Meserve Smith wrote that women “stripped off their petticoats [large underskirts], stockings, and every thing they could spare, right there in the Tabernacle, and piled [them] into the wagons.”

As the rescued pioneers began to arrive in Salt Lake City, Lucy wrote, “I never took more … pleasure in any labor I ever performed in my life, such a unanimity of feeling prevailed. I only had to go into a store and make my wants known; if it was cloth, it was measured off without charge.

It struck me that what was unique about what happened in my parents’ ward today, wasn’t the service given as much as the organization of the Relief Society itself.  When the Relief Society was first organized Sister Emma Smith said of it, “We are going to do something extraordinary. … We expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls.”  What’s amazing, is that these seemingly incredible, insurmountable calls for service, are precisely what the Relief Society was created to fill – “extraordinary occasions and pressing calls”.  Sister Linda K. Burton said, “With practice, each of us can become more like the Savior as we serve God’s children.  … As we do so, we are keeping covenants, and our service, like President Monson’s, will be evidence of our discipleship.”  Sometimes I think we slight the Relief Society as just being about baking casseroles and arranging flowers.  We must remember that when we are doing those things, we are doing precisely what the Savior has asked us to do, to be”… the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children, ” as President Monson encouraged us.

Today as I reflected on some of the service given by various Relief Society sisters I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to be part of such an amazing sisterhood here on the earth.  Women have a different way of doing things than men, and I’m grateful that we have a divinely organized society that gives us the opportunity to use our unique talents to bless Heavenly Father’s children all around us.

Kayson Shelton – Doing Enough

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This past Friday our family received some of the worst news we could imagine.  Our dear friends and neighbors, the Sheltons, had lost their sweet two year old son, Kayson in a tragic accident.

When you get news like that, everything stops.  To say this hit close to home would be an understatement.  The Sheltons live just a couple doors down from us, I can see their house from our front door and the windows on our upper story.  Kayson is friends with my little boy Danny as he’s only a few months younger than my son.  He’d been part of the little joy school that I’d done with some moms in my neighborhood this past year.  He was in Danny’s nursery class.  I remember him as being quiet, sweet and rambunctious.  Those terms might not seem to go together, but he was a very kind boy but with a lot of the high energy that can come with being a little boy.  His family are some of the most wonderful people on this planet.  No exaggeration.  In a recent Relief Society activity the sisters in our ward were going around and talking about various people in the ward who had given them service.  At least half of the women who shared something were talking about Kayson’s mom – Toni.  She is always serving someone else.  Taking meals, watching kids, cleaning houses, listening to friends – she has a constant awareness for the needs of those around her and is looking for ways to fill those needs.  Kayson’s dad, Scott serves with my husband Eric in our ward’s Young Men’s program and is always friendly and aware of those around him.  This past winter when my brother and dad were at my house and getting ready for different surgeries, Scott was the one who was able to come over and help give them blessings – and my mom was impressed later in the week when he stopped them in the driveway to see how both of their surgeries had gone.  These are some of the most genuinely GOOD people in this world.

As the news spread through our neighborhood our neighbors slowly all gathered to the Shelton’s driveway.  The Sheltons of course were still out of town, but the neighborhood just wanted to feel like we were there supporting them.  Quickly, the neighborhood sprang into action.  They found blue ribbon and started tying it to every post, light pole and tree in our neighborhood.  Anything that stood still for long enough got a ribbon tied to it.  A banner was placed in their driveway for neighbors to sign and share messages of love for them that would be placed on their garage door.  The men all got together and got supplies to plant flowers in their front yard, some new trees in their park strip, and finish off their side yard by removing rocks and putting down bark chips.

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Their family came and started cleaning the house top to bottom.  One family in our ward volunteered an empty freezer for their use and the Relief Society sprang into action making freezer meals.  Another neighbor donated the use of their truck and trailer to transport that freezer across the neighborhood.   In one day we had so many meals made that they ran out of room in that previously empty freezer and space was volunteered in another neighbor’s freezer for more meals that would be taken at a later time.  Healthy snacks were collected for the kids at one person’s house.  Some friends gathered to make care packages for Kayson’s three siblings.  Blankets are being made and collected in Kayson’s honor to give to Project Night Night.  I put my talents to use and set up a website for memories and photos of Kayson, as well as an online fundraiser.  Someone else set up a Wells Fargo account in Kayson’s name to help offset the funeral/transportation costs.  So many posts have been made by their friends and family expressing condolences and love for them.  The Relief Society is arranging for a luncheon for the family following the funeral services.  One of their friends is selling a beautiful digital print that says “Families are Forever” and giving all the proceeds to the Sheltons.  The neighborhood found out when the Sheltons would be coming in and lined luminaries along the entire path from our neighborhood entrance to their home.  As the Sheltons drove in the neighbors lined the streets and quietly sang “Families Can Be Together Forever” and then met in their driveway for a neighborhood prayer on their behalf.

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Photo credit: Kat Miner Photography

The amount of service and outpouring of love on their behalf has been staggering.  I have never seen anything like it.  And yet, even as I watch it all the only thing I can think is this:

It’s not enough.

It’s not even close to enough.

We’re not even approaching 1/1000th of a percent of a fraction of being within light years of enough.

It can never, ever, ever be enough.

Regardless of the amount of service, the amount of love, the donations, the time and the true and sincerely genuine efforts of their friends, family and community – these good people have lost their son.  They have been separated from a child who they love as dearly as they love their own lives.  Such a loss is an unspeakable sorrow and nothing we can ever do could make up for that.

I expressed this thought to my husband. He agreed and added this inspired insight – “It reminds you of how the Atonement works, doesn’t it?”  I thought about that for a moment and realized, that he was exactly right, and we discussed the many different ways in which the analogy could extend.

Of course, firstly the atonement is the only thing that will ever make the Shelton’s loss right again.  We have the knowledge that because of Christ’s sacrifice for us their family can be once again reunited.  They will still miss him dearly in the meantime, and the grief is still very real, but in the end he is not gone forever.  There is hope even in the pain of the loss.

But it’s also like the atonement in our own lives.  We’re taught, “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)  In our lives we have been given commandments and we strive to serve one another and do the best we can do.  We work ourselves to the brink serving and loving.  Caring for children, working in church callings, serving in the temple, doing family history work, studying the scriptures, praying, attending church meetings, preaching the gospel, serving missions, enduring through trials, donating our time, our talents and our means to building the kingdom of God.  But yet…

It’s not enough.

It can’t be enough.  Regardless of all of our best efforts to keep the commandments and serve others – we are lost.  We have fallen from the presence of our Heavenly Father.  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23) No matter what we do, we cannot save ourselves.  We are stuck forever in a state of separation from our Eternal Parents.  It’s a horrific state to be in and we simply do not have the power to do anything about it.

But, even in this sorrowful state, there is hope.  Even though we can’t do anything about our fallen state, Christ can.  He has made his sacrifice so that we might return to live with our Eternal Parents again.  The only thing that will ever make up for our fall is His Atonement and He gives that to us freely.

Some people look and say, “well there’s nothing we can do, we’re saved completely by grace, so it doesn’t matter if we give our efforts to keep the commandments – none of that will save us so why bother?”  Why bother?  Because we don’t give our efforts to save ourselves, we give them to serve Christ, to give something, the only thing we can give, back to Him in return for what he has given us.  We wouldn’t say as a community, “well, nothing we can do will make up for the Sheltons’ loss so let’s not do anything at all.”  That would be absurd!  Of course we did what we could do for the Sheltons.  We gave our very best efforts, and did all that we can do.  We’re not doing it because we think it will fix the problem, we’re doing it because we love the Sheltons.  We don’t serve Christ because it saves us, we do it because we love him.

I think sometimes that phrase “all that we can do” is misunderstood.  Of course we didn’t do every single possible thing that we could have done for them.  We didn’t finish their basement, or donate every cent of our money, or make it so that Scott will never have to work again… but that doesn’t make it so it wasn’t our best.  I don’t think the Sheltons are going to come back to their friends and family and say, “well, but you could have done ____”, I’m sure they are seeing everyone’s efforts and are grateful for what has been done.  They know that we’ve made our best and honest effort to do what we could to alleviate their pain, as feeble as those efforts may seem.  I think Christ will look at us the same way.  Even though we cannot ever do every single thing we possibly could do, to be the very best we could possibly be, I don’t think He will fault us for that.  I think at the last day Christ will look at us and say as he did to the woman who anointed His feet, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much” (Luke 7:47).  

The Atonement is real.  It will make up for every pain, every sorrow, every sin that we face in this world.  Christ made his sacrifice so that the Sheltons can be reunited with their sweet Kayson again.  So that their family, and our family, and all families can be together forever.  Our efforts are nothing, but because of Him- 

It is enough.

For anyone who would like to do something for the Sheltons donations can be made through Wells Fargo in an account set up in Kayson’s name.  There is also an online fundraiser that you can get to here. Blankets are also being collected in our neighborhood to be displayed at the funeral, you can contact me in the comments if you want a specific drop off point.

You Can’t Do it All, So Don’t

Recently I listened to a friend tell me and a few of our other friends how she feels like she’s not doing enough.  That she sees the other moms around her doing all these great things and wonders why she can’t do everything that these women other women do.  Having watched this particular mom I can tell you for a fact – she’s one of the moms that I have looked at and thought, “Man, why can’t I do all that she does?”  Her house is always clean and well decorated, she seems to always be organizing activities with other people, she exercises, she cooks healthy meals, she dresses cute and is always smiling and reaching out to people who could use a friend.  Oh, and on top of that she has three little boys that she takes care of all day in addition to working crazy 12 hour night shifts as a nurse.  If she doesn’t count as the pulled-together mom of the year no one does.

The reality is that none of us are doing all of the things that other people think we’re doing.  We like to share the things we do well – as we should.  So people see all the things that are going great in our life and compare that part of their life to just the picture perfect things that we share with others.  But we almost never share the things we aren’t doing so well.  It’s not malicious, we want to celebrate the things that are going well and aren’t quite as keen to celebrate our perceived failures.  So, I decided I was going to get real and post what it’s really like around our house.  Generally I share the good things that are happening in my life, like my son wanting to go to church meetings or spiritual thoughts that I have when reading the scriptures or cool resources that I’ve put together.  But that’s just a tiny tiny slice of my life.  I thought I’d share some of the other side.  These are some pictures I took of our house recently-


I will admit, I’m not being as real with you as I’m claiming.  This is how things looked after a HUGE amount of cleaning.  Like 3 days worth of dedicated effort to cleaning.  It looked MUCH worse beforehand, but I didn’t think to take any pictures then.  It’s not just that I still have a shred of pride (perhaps only a shred, but it does exist!) but also I just didn’t think about it until I was this far into it and thought, “Man, if people only knew that my house was really SO messy that it’s taken me a lot of work and it STILL looks horrendous”.  Even still, there are no pictures here of how awful my kitchen looks, or a close up of my bathroom sinks, and no selfies of me with my unwashed hair.  I couldn’t bring myself to that level of reality.  I’ll admit to you they were also bad, but I couldn’t bring myself to incriminate myself with photographic evidence.  Sorry.

The truth is there are not enough hours in a day for each of us to be the Pinterest Perfect Woman.  I can also guarantee you that NONE of the women who look perfect on Pinterest really are as perfect as they look on the internet.  There are not enough hours in a day!  They’re sharing with you the things that they do well, but I promise that there are other aspects of those women that you don’t see.  You are not expected to be able to have fun activities for your kids every day AND make delicious, organic, aesthetically pleasing dinners AND have the perfect hairdos or makeup or clothing AND take perfect pictures AND have an immaculate, well-decorated house AND bring in an income from part-time/full-time/from home work AND be completely versed on current affairs AND have a perfect garden etc etc etc.  The list of possible pursuits that you may want to perfect is endless.

Growing up most of us were told that we could be ANYTHING we wanted to be.  Our potential was limitless.  I am not here to dispute that.  You really can be anything that you want to be.  But, you cannot be everything you want to be.  In college I was once told that there were three main elements to a college experience – sleep, social life and academics.  You could succeed at any two of the three in a given semester, but it was impossible to really do well at all three in one semester.  That was totally right.  You could have a social life and do well in your classes – but it would be at the expense of sleep.  Or you could do really well in your classes and get adequate sleep, but your social life would definitely suffer.  Or you could slack off and have an awesome social life and get decent rest… your parents weren’t likely to approve of the grades you brought home at the end of the term though.

It’s the same with the rest of our lives as well.  You can pick something that you want to do well, and you certainly have the potential to be exceptional in that thing.  However, you will not be able to be exceptional in everything – and that’s ok.  Unless you find a time turner and are able to get more hours in the day than the rest of us then you will never be able to master all these things at once.  So choose what is important to you and forget the rest.

Today, I’m owning up to my part.  Many days I don’t shower, my baby stays in her pajamas all day, and I let my three year old roam the neighborhood on his own.  I don’t keep a clean house, I don’t make delicious, beautiful cakes, and I don’t weed our garden sufficiently.  However, I’m still a pretty darn awesome person.  Despite the things I can’t do, there are some things that I do pretty well.  I can build websites, I cook semi-decently, and I can put together some decent science experiments for my kids.  Today despite the things I didn’t do I was able to get my desk cleaned off, reached my 10,000 step goal for the day and wrote this blog post.  That’

At the dinner table each night my husband will frequently ask me, “What did you do today?”  As a stay-at-home mom of three kids often it’s hard to find the right answer to that question.  My days always seem packed, but without a lot to show for all my work at the end of the day.  Often the answer I give him is the slightly tongue-in-cheek, “I kept all three of our kids alive – all. day.”  Luckily, I married a very smart man and he will usually respond with a sincere, “Good job!” rather than rolling his eyes.  While I’m being a little bit silly, the truth is that just that task of being a mom takes an enormous amount of time.  When you account for all the time you spend getting kids ready, preparing meals, nursing babies, changing diapers, going to/from the bus stop, finding activities for your kids, picking up toys, laundry, cleaning, meal planning, grocery shopping, dishes, stories, breaking up fights… suddenly your whole day is spent.  The hardest part is that at the end of that day, there is little to show for your efforts as nearly all those things will have to be re-done the next day.  It is the most disheartening part of motherhood.  However, those things are the most important things we could be doing.  As tedious and mundane as your efforts may seem, there is nothing that could be more important than the work of raising the next generation.

Before this most recent General Conference I was struggling with feelings of inadequacy similar to those that my friend described.  Prior to the conference I wrote down a few questions that I was hoping to have answered during the conference.  This is one of the questions I wrote – “How can I best use my time with the many demands placed thereon? Freelance work, housekeeping, motherhood, callings, education, blogging, reading, socializing children etc. How can I keep from being completely overwhelmed and truly accomplish things? Or do I need to simply embrace the chaos?”  In the second talk of the conference I got my answer.  Sister Linda S. Reeves shared her experience of feeling overwhelmed as the mother of 4 young children and turning to the Lord for guidance on how to get through those times.  The answer she received was this – “It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.”  I cannot adequately express how much peace that answer gave me.  While I still often feel overwhelmed with all that I’m trying to do it’s easier to step back and evaluate if we’re doing those three basic things – prayer, scripture study and family home evening.  I’m sure we’re not even doing those things as well as we could, but if we’re doing them then we’re ok.

Ladies, but especially fellow moms, please stop beating yourselves up.  You cannot do it all, so don’t expect yourself to.  Choose something that you really want to do well and work towards that *one* thing, and forgive yourself for not doing the other things.  Pick your priorities, give yourself credit for the things that you are doing and let the rest of it go.  I promise you’re doing better than you realize, and I’m sure there’s someone who’s looking at you and wondering how you do it all.

Why I Believe: An Introduction

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Photo credit: Ryan Greenburg via Flickr

Several months ago a friend of mine spent a few weeks posting daily on Facebook about a part of her testimony.  She called it “How I Became a Mormon”.  Although she had grown up in the church she went through and outlined her conversion process.  Whether we’re born with the gospel or find it later in life, we all have to go through a process of conversion, and I really enjoyed reading hers.  I wanted to do something similar although I felt like my posts would end up being too wordy for Facebook to be an appropriate forum (what, me?  wordy?  Who’d have thought? 🙂 )  So I decided those posts were better suited as part of my blog.  I want to explore and share some of the reasons that I am a Theist, a Christian and a Mormon and why I believe what I do.  I feel this is a way of following Peter’s admonition to –

…Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…
1 Peter 3:15

At first I had wanted to put together all of these posts at once and have them go out over the course of a few weeks.  However, I found that the pressure of writing all the posts that I wanted to in any sort of limited timeframe was way too much pressure.  So I’ve decided that these will actually be monthly posts.  I’ll schedule them to post on fast Sunday each month.  This seems appropriate since I’m not very good at actually standing up in church and bearing my testimony during our fast and testimony meetings. (Explanation for those not of my faith: on the first Sunday of each month our congregations abstain from food for 24 hours and give money to help the less fortunate.  On this Sunday in lieu of a single sermon anyone in the attendance who wants to share their testimony – or a declaration of their faith – is permitted to come up to the pulpit and speak to the whole congregation.)  I may have lots to say in my blog, but (unlike Nephi) I’m much better at writing than speaking, and whenever I share my testimony in church I always come away feeling like I shared a jumbled mess instead of what was really in my heart.  I should certainly work on that, but in the meantime I’m going to play to my strengths 🙂

I know a lot of people look at Mormons from the outside and think that we’re all brainwashed, or that we are just sheep that follow blindly whatever we’re told.  However, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.  We are encouraged to seek and ask and find answers for ourselves.  Following the gospel takes too much time, commitment and energy to do it blindly.  If you’re going to be a member of this church you better know pretty well that it is true, or else you’re wasting a ton of time and energy for nothing!  In fact we are taught –

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8

But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
Alma 32:27

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
– Matthew 7:16

Far from being asked to follow blindly, we’re asked to seek, experiment, ask, and observe.  It may sound strange to some people but we’re basically told to apply the scientific method to our religion (or maybe the secular world is just applying the religious method to science 😉 ).  We’re told that if we will ask in faith that we can receive answers.  If we try so much as an experiment on the gospel (i.e. try living just a portion of it) we’re promised to see results.  Then we should observe the results, are they good or evil?  If the results are good then that speaks to the truthfulness of the words.

I would like to share with you some of the results of my experiments upon the gospel.  If you’ve performed the same experiment on the word, I’d love to hear your story posted on your blog/Twitter/Facebook or whatever your medium of choice may be.  I want to come up with some good way to do a blog hop so that we can link these posts all together if anyone is interested, but I haven’t found a technology that I love for that just yet.  For now, feel free to just post links to your own posts in the comments.

If you haven’t tried an experiment on the gospel, I would invite you to read the Book of Mormon and ask God if it is true.  In the Bible we are promised –

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. – James 1:5 (emphasis added)

The Lord has promised to give us revelation so that we can know these things for ourselves.  The Book of Mormon is not a long book, or a terribly difficult read.  You can read it online, or on any mobile device, or even download it as an audiobook if you (like me) are lazy and would rather listen than read 🙂  All of these are completely free to anyone who would like to read them.  Or, if you’d like a physical copy the missionaries will gladly bring you by a free copy.  Or if you’d like a hard copy, but aren’t so sure about having the missionaries deliver it I would be more than happy to mail you one myself, no strings attached.  I can give you my personal promise that the truths and spirit and message from this book will make your life better.

I also want to be sure at the outset that I do not claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only source of truth in this world.  I do believe that our church leadership has direct authority from God, and contains the most complete source of truth existing on the earth today, but as our 9th article of faith states –

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
Articles of Faith 1:9 (emphasis added)

There is more truth out there in many different forms.  I think people who practice yoga have a unique grasp on mindfulness that we don’t necessarily explore as a church.  I think that Confucianists have a different and valuable perspective on family life.  I think Catholics may have a better respect for the full gravity, respect and importance of Christ’s atonement than perhaps is present in my own worship.  There are lots of valuable things that we can learn from science, history, and art that apply to our religious lives as well.  I believe that there are many belief sets that contain great truths.  I do not believe in religion to the exclusion of scientific efforts or the possibility of finding truth in other ways.   However, I do strongly believe that the doctrine taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and important.  I believe that as Joseph Smith stated –

…the Book of Mormon [and I would add by extension, the gospel associated with that book] was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book [or set of teachings].
Introduction to the Book of Mormon, Paragraph 6

I do believe that the gospel that is taught within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the most correct and complete source of truth on the earth, but I don’t think that has to detract from the truth found elsewhere.  It’s hard to accurately state just how vital and wonderful and true the gospel is without feeling like I’m slighting other people’s belief systems, but that is not my intention at all.  Living the gospel gives me so much peace and light and direction and happiness that I want to share it with everyone so they can experience the same thing, but I don’t want to take away from truth anyone else has found in other ways, I want to help add to that truth.  In our religion we are taught –

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.
Doctrine & Covenants 50:24

My hope is as you read these posts that it will add to the light you’ve found in your own life and help that light grow brighter.  I hope you will join with me in this exploration of my faith.