No Halfway Education Suffices for the Latter-day Saint

This post is by Emily Hardman. A woman who never settles for less.

Whereas, the glory of God is intelligence;
Whereas our ultimate goal is to become like him and inherit the same glory;
Whereas, glory of God is intelligence; and
Whereas, intelligence only comes through obedience in keeping his commandments
(D&C 93: 28 &36);
THEREFORE, my greatest pursuit is my quest for obedience.

My Educational Mission Statement

I have strayed from the form to learn. I will no longer suffer from academic bulimia. I will live the higher law; the principle of education. We are here to gain experience and prove ourselves herewith. We are to acquire all the knowledge we can to gain more understanding about the world around us.

I will “Seek learning by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118)

I'm Thankful to Have Temples Here on Earth

This post is by Richard Carter, someone who loves the temple!

I joined the church 8 years ago in Key West, Florida and since then, my life has never been the same.

Yeah trials are still there, but I have a better understanding why we face these hardships.

I am very thankful for my Savior for always being there for me. I love this church and my brothers and sisters, I'm thankful to have a temple here on earth.

When I lived in Key West, Florida, we had to travel 8 hours to get to a temple. We had to wake so early in the morning so we can make it to a session, but with the examples of the members of my sweet little branch that I miss so much. I was able to wake up and travel with them smiling and very excited.

Now that I live and Boise, Idaho and I have the blessing to go the temple every week and I only live 10 minutes away! I love the temple, I cant wait to be able to do more work in the temple in the near future! I love my Savior, I love the church, and I love my family!

An Unexpected Adventure! Boston Marathon 2013

This post is by Kimber Labrum, it details the miracles she experienced while running the Boston Marathon.

A lifelong dream of mine had always been to run the Boston Marathon.  I have grown up running and for some reason, it had always been something I had wanted to do. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I love the sport of running, I have ran far too much in my life, and I enjoy it, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I love it.  However, the Boston Marathon has always been a dream.  This past April that dream became a reality! Here is my story…

I flew out with my parents and my aunt and uncle a few days before the race.  My mom, uncle and I were going to be running it and my dad and aunt were coming along as our support team. We hit up the expo and toured around the city a little bit.  The excitement was almost tangible in the air.  Everywhere we went people were talking about the marathon.  I was meeting people with the most fascinating stories as to why they were running this year and how they got there.  At every grocery store, restaurants, and even every street corner, people were talking about the marathon and wishing us luck.  I was loving it! The city, the people, their accents, the sights, the baseball games…etc, it was a dream come true!  People talk about the “Boston Experience” and I was so jazzed to be there witnessing it all, and being a part of it.

Well, Sunday the 14th came and we ate our pre-race meal, laid out all of our things we would need for the morning and were heading to bed early so we would be set.  We were talking about the race and I asked my dad to give me a Priesthood blessing before I went to bed.  It was a big race and I wanted that peace that comes from blessings before I set out to accomplish the task of the marathon. He happily agreed and gave a blessing to both my mom and I.  I remember thinking that some of the phrases he said during my blessing were a little odd.  Not odd in a bad way, just unusual from other blessings that I have received before any sporting event or big race, or really any event in my life that I have had a blessing before. I remember thinking to myself that it was a little different, but then not thinking twice about it. After the blessing, I said my prayers and I was out for the night.

I Know My Worth: Part Two

(Read Part One here!)

I have a five year old daughter. She is vibrant, imaginative, eager to learn and to love. She brightens our family every day.

And I love her more than I could ever say.

But I am scared. I know all too well what she will face as she grows. Peer pressure, self-doubt, and fear will be just a few. And because of this, I am continually reminding her that I love her. That she is beautiful, smart, and talented. That she can do hard things. 

I hope that if I am constantly telling her these words and showing her that I believe them through my actions, that maybe as she grows it will keep her confidence a bit stronger and her worries not as deep.

There are two important parts to our self-worth and today I will share the first. 

How an Orange Cow Answered a Prayer

This post is by Lisa Puga, a kind and caring person!

A few days before Mother's Day, our plans changed. The afternoon and evening opened up, and my husband and I took our two small children to visit two sweet elderly sisters. We hadn't visited them since our move to a different city about a year earlier. A visit for Mother's Day seemed highly appropriate, especially considering our extended family lives far away and these sisters never married and have no children.

Knowing how a handmade picture from a child can bring a smile, I encouraged my three-year-old son to make a Mother's Day picture for them. His current obsession is animals. He decided an orange cow would be better than any picture of flowers and hearts. So be it. Nothing says "Happy Mother's Day!" like an orange cow, right?

When we arrived, Dorene accepted the pumpkin-colored paper bovine graciously and welcomed us in. During our visit we learned that the past few weeks and months had not been easy for these dear sisters. A close friend, a brother and a cousin had all passed away. That very day, the sisters had buried the beloved cat they had taken in years earlier when the a scrawny famished kitten showed up at their door.

As if the day hadn't been hard enough, Dorene's bronchitis seemed to be getting worse. She asked my husband for a priesthood blessing for the healing of the sick. After the blessing, she expressed her gratitude for the comfort and the love she felt from the Lord. She said our visit was an answer to their unspoken heart-felt prayer.

We went only expecting a nice visit with some friends. We hadn't known how these sisters were feeling that day, but God did. I am so grateful to a loving Heavenly Father who answers our prayers and sometimes allows us to be the answer to another person's prayer.

Elder Oaks Receives the Canterbury Medal--And I was There!

This last week I had the great pleasure of going to New York City and spending time with some former roommates. We had a blast going to shows, hanging out in parks, and eating an insane amount of food.

The first evening I was there, I attended a black-tie gala event where the Canterbury Medal was awarded to Elder Dallin H. Oaks for his work in defending religious liberties. The entire event was incredible and I feel blessed to have met people who are championing an essential cause.

On one side of me was Jim Sonne who is a law professor at Stanford where he has started a program for students to focus on the learning to defend our religious liberties. This is the only program in the nation of its kind. It was truly incredible to learn about.

Lessons from the USS Squalus

This post is from Allyson Austin.
I am about to graduate with my BA in history. I have found that I can see the hand of the Lord in the lives of His children, and these stories parallel the ways I feel the Spirit. A little while ago, I came across this story and it really had an impact on me.

On May 23rd, 1939, the USS Squalus, a recently commissioned submarine, and a crew of 59 set off from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The ship and crew were preparing to take its nineteenth test dive. At 8:45 AM as the submarine descended into the depths, a valve in the engine room came loose. With that, water began pouring into the engine room. Within minutes, half of the submarine had completely flooded. The door between the front and back halves of the sub held strong, so that the 32 surviving crew members lay trapped. The water was a few degrees above freezing, and a few lanterns saved them from complete darkness. The survivors feared asphyxiation and many grew cold from the freezing waters that had seeped in before all valves had been shut.

In Washington DC, Charles Swede Momsen was contacted and told of the Squalus and the dire situation. Momsen was the inventor of the Momsen lung, a piece of equipment other military personal had used to bring themselves up from the depths. But the Squalus lay 250 feet below the surface, almost twice the depth Momsen lungs were generally approved for. Momsen and a few associates boarded a sea plane and landed in New Hampshire at 7:30 PM, almost 11 hours after the sinking. He recommended to the Admiral there at port they use the diving bell as a means of rescue.

The diving bell had never been used successfully before. The process was long, taking about 3 to 4 hours to retrieve 9 men at a time, with one man travelling down to operate the bell. It took 4 four trips to receive the men. Finally, at 12:38 AM on May 25th, 39 hours after sinking, the last of the men broke the surface. The crew rejoiced, mothers and wives wept, and Momsen breathed a sigh of relief.

Like these crew members, we are sometimes trapped, by circumstance or choices at the bottom of an ocean too deep to get ourselves to the surface. Other times it seems that those things we desire to do are so far out of our reach, we might despair that we will ever be the kind of people we would like to. In either case, Christ comes to us, in ways that we may not understand or be familiar with. The process of reclamation may be long. It is almost always uncomfortable, but it ends in sweet release and the joy of once again standing in the sun with Christ by our side. I'm grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ who does not leave me comfortless, but comes to heal my pain and sadness. I know that Christ can heal us if we let Him into our lives.

He Gives Us Miracles

This post is written by Ashley, a lady who expects and facilitates miracles.

When I returned home from my mission in Mesa, Arizona six months ago, I wondered if I would
continue to see as many miracles in my life as I had seen as a missionary. And I have! As average
Mormons or as any average person on this earth, He gives us miracles to show that He knows us and loves us so much. Life has been really challenging since I came home as I've struggled to figure out who I am and what purpose I'm supposed to be fulfilling. For awhile, I was completely miserable, and still have days where I don't want to wake up or try anymore. I've needed the miracles to keep me going.

Here’s a not-so-average miracle that I've been blessed with recently. Last month I was in an interview with my Bishop to renew my Temple recommend. During our conversation, I randomly mentioned my younger sister and how worried I am because she has never read the Book of Mormon, and I’m not sure if she really has her own witness that this church is of God. Since coming home I often find myself lecturing her or pushing her to read daily because I’m so used to trying to help others read the scriptures. However, the people I taught in Arizona and my sister are not objects. They are children of God who should be persuaded by love and invitations – not by force.

I Testify of Angels

This post is from Isaac (soon to be Elder Contador), whose enthusiasm for living the Gospel is contagious!  His role in the Easter Pageant represents who he truly is- an angel.

My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. “[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved.”  On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.                                                           
 -Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Hello! My name is Isaac Contador. I was part of the Easter Pageant in Mesa, Arizona this year. It was amazing. My part in the Easter pageant was an angel of God. Every night that we performed we would touch peoples’ lives—and that was my favorite part. Weeks later after the Easter pageant was over I got a call from the missionaries. They told me that they meet a young kid name Ruben at the Easter pageant. He wanted to know more about the church. So the missionaries and I started teaching Ruben. He is super smart and he always had good questions for us. Three weeks later he wanted to get baptized. The elders were super excited. The next day I got a call from the elders they told me that Ruben wanted me to baptized him. I was very surprised with the news. I always wanted to baptized someone, and my dream came true. I baptized Ruben and he is super happy. Now I'm waiting for my mission call and I'm super excited to serve my Lord. I know that the Church is true. Brothers and sisters, always remember who you are. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I was Living Right, Why Did Bad Things Happen to Me?

Written by Jake.

I was raised In the church.
I paid my tithing.
I served a mission to Detroit, Michigan.
I was married in the Boise Temple.

Then my health started failing.
I went through a divorce.
I lost my car, and my job.

I had a hard time because I was living right and everything bad happened to me, I wanted to be anybody else but me. I made some poor choices I got a few tattoos thinking that I could be somebody else. It took a while for me to realize but I read a quote that said "you can't polish a gem without friction, just like you can't perfect a soul without trials" though trials and struggles we grow, we learn, and we grow.

Only through the Atonement can we be forgiven and come back to our Heavenly Father.

I am thankful for the Atonement and the ability to be forgiven, I am thankful for trials and struggles because through them we can become the person Heavenly Father knows we can be.

Note from Jessica: Jake touches on so many incredible truths here. As a follow-up to this post, I would highly recommend this talk by Elder Jeffrey Holland.

Our Mothers Knew It

Another great post by Ben.

On this mother’s day I am reflective of all that I have learned about mothers as an average Mormon. From a young age I remember learning the many counsels and stories given in the scriptures
regarding the importance of parents and especially mothers.

Upon returning from the Mount Sainai Moses related to the children of Israel to “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12). The Savior while hanging on the cross as a final act of salvation for mankind honored his mother with one of his last breaths saying “Behold thy mother” (John 19: 27).

Perhaps my favorite scripture story that taught me the honor of mothers comes from the Book of Mormon in the story of 2000 young warriors.  These young men had been called to defend what is right but had no experience or training in battle. But as the story is told they did not fear. They had been taught by their mothers that God would be with them. They said “We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:48).

Lessons from Watching Dear Friends Leave the Church

This post was written by Skyler, see his previous post here.

In recent months I have been dealing with the sadness of watching a friend of mine lose faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, lose faith in the LDS congregation where they attend, and decide that for them the benefits of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ were no longer a compelling enough reason to remain in the church.

This is not the first of my friends to leave and I am guessing it is bound not to be the last. As a cry to other faithful members of the church, these are some things that I have learned through the process of watching their faith slide and spiritual needs increase.

I don’t know what causes a crisis of faith. To my knowledge I have never had one, but I have had the great opportunity to talk with many friends as they have had experienced a crisis of faith. Many of those that I have talked with have bolstered their faith and stayed in the church. I believe that we must give all that we have in creating a culture of acceptance and understanding in order to accept and love those who feel that their faith is being kept back by some sort of stumbling block, and be a resource that they have to stand on. Let us be mindful of the fragile state of those who have begun to see the world in a different light, lose faith in our Savior or church leaders. Many times they have brought their concerns to a leader, family member or other friend and have received accusations or judgments. It is my experience that they aren’t questioning simply because they were offended or wanted to sin. Usually the reason is a thoughtful one that has sometimes been followed up with much study of scriptures. Referring them to the Lord’s help and the scriptures should always come first, because the Spirit is our most effective resource; however if they feel they have received too little of an answer we should still not count them as sinners. We are commanded by the Savior to love our God and love our neighbor. We are also commanded not to judge. If there is someone who earnestly wants to find good reasons to stay in our congregations we have the duty and obligation to love them and help them in the best way we can.

Running through the Mourning

This post was written by Amanda Steele, someone whose words will touch your heart.

On April 14, Heaven received a valiant spirit. My brother, Shane, passed away due to blood clots in his brain. The news of the clots came as a surprise. Nothing led up to them, and the doctors had no answers for what caused them. My brother was healthy as healthy could be, a runner, a road biker, a true athlete. In fact, the night prior he had gone running with his son 10 miles in preparation for a half marathon this upcoming May. He had developed a passion for running about three years prior when he and his wife signed up for a random 5k. He loved talking running, sharing tips on how to develop your gate, breathing techniques, taping methods, you name it. He was passionate, yet humble.

My first running experience with him was in June of 2010. I had recently had my first child, and like many new moms, was struggling to get my body back into shape. Let’s be honest, at the time eating Oreo’s and watching Glee sounded a heck of a lot more fun than going out for a jog. I maintained this mentality until a weekend spent at my mother’s, and Shane stopped by. He invited me to join him in a 5k the next morning. He said that it was a local run for cancer research, a smaller race, with a fairly easy route, and not too expensive to enter. Remembering back to my high school cross country days, I thought “Sure, this will be a piece of cake. A 5k? What is that, 3 miles? That will be easy peasy, right?” Ha ha ha! Oh, if I only knew what I was getting into.

Elder Boardman on Being a Full-Time Online Missionary for The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints

A few weeks back we had an awesome guest post on Just An Average Mormon from Liza, who converted to the Church after seeing The Book of Mormon Musical. Her conversations and lessons with online missionaries, which began with her visit to and a click on "chat", were an instrumental part of her conversion.
Not knowing much about the ins-and-outs of online full-time missionary service, I contacted Elder Boardman—the online missionary who baptized Liza—and asked him if he would be willing to share what it is like to serve as an online missionary. He was kind enough to write up the following for us to share on Just An Average Mormon.
(And I have to add that it makes me smile that Liza described her intentions of clicking on the chat button "as [her] perfect time to destroy everything those missionaries were 'told' to believe", while Elder Boardman describes the same experience as Liza simply "asking what [he] considered normal questions".)

I was asked by "Just an Average Mormon" to write up a story on what it’s like as a full time online missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I was born with Muscular Dystrophy—which is a physical condition that limits my mobility. Walking up and down stairs would be strenuous as if a person without Muscular Dystrophy had just gone rock climbing.

Thankfully I have wonderful parents who taught me that I have strengths in other areas and that I should expect myself to live life to the fullest. Serving a mission was no exception. There was a time where I hit a point where I questioned if there was a God and really sought answers from Him. Through many answers from God I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true (in the purest from) church on the Earth. It is led by God.

Lead Me, Guide Me...

This post is written by Kitara. She demonstrates so perfectly trusting the Lord.

When I graduated from BYU-Idaho a year ago, I wasn't quite sure what to do next. I had planned my
life up until that point and it was scary preparing for a life where the future was unknown. I returned home to Ohio for the summer to try to figure out what my next step would be. Should I try to find a job? Go back to grad school? Where should I live? I had so many questions and felt so confused. I prayed every night to get answers to these questions and for a while, I didn't feel like I was receiving any. At the same time, I didn't feel quite comfortable living at home. The place that had always felt so warm and inviting now made me feel restless and lonely. I felt like I didn't quite “belong” in Ohio anymore. Looking back, I know that that was the first prompting I received that guided me to where I am today.

My constant questioning had me turning to the scriptures and praying more frequently. One Sunday, I decided to fast about moving to Utah. A friend of mine had just recently moved to Provo and he told me to consider moving as well. I had never felt super comfortable in Provo…it was just so busy and slightly overwhelming to a girl who grew up in a small town but I fasted and prayed and started to feel really good and excited about moving to Utah. I started researching apartments and school options in that area. They had a prerequisite program at BYU for speech pathology so I decided to apply. I found another friend that asked me to move in with her and things were starting to fall into place. That’s when things started to get a little tricky… When the contract for the apartment came in the mail, I couldn't get myself to sign the piece of paper. I would hold the piece of paper and the pen and then get a sudden waive of anxiety and eventually decide to “sign it tomorrow”. All I had to do was sign the paper! Why was this so hard? Then a couple weeks later I received a rejection letter to the program at BYU. I was so confused. I had felt SO good about moving to Utah…why was everything falling apart?

Have faith in the average successful marriage.

This was shared by McKenzie C. A person who not only writes really well, but plays the violin beautifully also!

This week I read an old conference talk by Boyd K. Packer from 1981 that reminded me of this blog.
"We often seek for things we cannot seem to find when they are within easy reach- ordinary, obvious
things," he says. There is a beauty in the ordinary (and in the "average!"), the things you look over because they are just right in front of your face. In this case, the ordinary thing is marriage.

I love this statement. Elder Packer says, "Broken marriages are not typical. Remember that trouble attracts attention! We travel the highway with thousands of cars moving in either direction without paying much attention to any of them. But should an accident occur, we notice immediately. If it happens again, we get the false impression that no one can go safely down the road. One accident may make the front page, while a hundred million cars that safely pass are not regarded as worth mentioning."

The Power to Forgive Creates Greater Strength

Another great post from Ajay.

Throughout my life I have seen both sides to forgiveness. While neither side is a comfortable one to be in, I can testify to you that as President Faust says, "If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being."

He added that some studies show that people who are taught to forgive become “less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, less anxious and less stressed,” which leads to greater physical well-being."

I believe that the power to forgive creates a greater strength to love. We as average Mormons have come to understand that we can find it within us to forgive because we ourselves at some point, and more than once in our lives, will need to be forgiven by those we hurt or offend.

May we all continue to always seek and retain the strength to forgive, to rebuild bridges that are broken, heal hearts that are hurting, and make up for time that might be wasting so we can all experience the feeling of being a true disciple of Jesus Christ.