Friday, December 23, 2016

Birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith 12/23/16

In my bedroom among other pieces - such as a statue of the Savior, statues of the Mayan representation of the Savior Kulkulkan, and a  beautiful painting of Joseph and Mary - I have this small bust of Joseph Smith (beside a replica of a Sunstone from Nauvoo). Although this is the Christmas season today the Prophet Joseph Smith was also born 211 years ago, on the winter solstice when light is coming in to the world (and dying on the summer solstice when light is going out of the world). This earliest ever discovered painting of him was done by my fourth-great grandfather David White Rogers, who saw Joseph in vision while living in NYC before he had ever met him and became very well acquainted with him in Nauvoo.

 On this his birthday I would like to honor his incredible legacy with a short testimony of him. I know that Joseph Smith was indeed a true prophet of God and of the Savior. I know that they appeared to him in vision and called to be a modern-day prophet. And I know that he was chosen by them to restore Jesus Christ's original church to the earth to prepare the earth and mankind for the Second Coming of the Savior of the World, an appointment that was given from before the foundation of the world.

In fact, as Truman G. Madsen says in his incomparable work "Joseph Smith the Prophet", there are biblical and apocryphal prophecies of the Prophet Joseph -

"Lorenzo Snow reported a day when someone came and asked Joseph (it had happened hundred of times), "Who are you?" He replied, "Noah came before the flood. I have come before the fire." That leads to a probing question: How much did Joseph Smith know about himself and his own calling?

In a Nauvoo discourse Joseph refers to the first chapter of John wherein John the Baptist was asked, "Who art thou?" He replied that he was not the Christ. "What then? Art thou Elias? Art thou that prophet [who is to come]?" Joseph's critics would have thought it a stretch for him to say, "You see, there is a reference to a great prophet to come. I am he." With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and embellished traditions, sometimes fanciful, in later Judaism, it becomes apparent that two centuries before Christ a tradition taught that there were two messianic figures to come. The Messiah ben Judah, the Son of Judah, the Son of David, the Stem of Jesse, would indeed redeem. But alongside that set of prophecies and all they entailed was another set about a son of Joseph who would be a restorer of all things.

I said to a Harvard scholar who was famous for his New Testament skill, "What possibly could be restored?" He said, "Well, you know the phrase in the Lord's Prayer that says 'Thy kingdom come.' This was to be offered by Christians who had just received the kingdom in Jesus. But clearly the prayer presupposes that something more is to come." Then he said, "There's also that language in the Book of Acts about the 'restitution of all things.'" This man is an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He knows nothing of Joseph Smith (or didn't before we had our conversation). If the restorer wasn't a Joseph named Smith, the world must wait for "that prophet who is to come," who is to restore all things."

I testify that Joseph Smith is the fulfillment of this prophecy, and I, for one, am grateful for his courage and endurance to the end that has given me and so many others such an amazing legacy of faith.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

LDS policy change regarding SSM families in November 2015

Originally posted on Facebook on November 15, 2016 -

LDS friends - I was struggling on whether to post anything about this, but I feel as though I should as I haven't really heard anyone post, in any detail, thoughts along the lines that I am about to share. Additionally, while pondering how to frame my thoughts the past few days, I actually had a dream where Elder Cook made an unexpected appearance. You can imagine my surprise when, upon awakening, finding that some friends had posted a link to an article which recounts his experiences with ministering to homosexuals as a stake president in San Francisco (where I also served my mission and actually got to know Elder Cook and his wife while serving in his ward before he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve). I likewise had some similar heartwrenching experiences ministering to struggling saints while serving there. Additionally I have had the privilege to meet and perform for most of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve and cannot endorse this sentiment about them in this article strongly enough.

I must admit, when I first heard the news I had an initial moment of shock. I wasn't sure if it was true and wasn't quite sure how to feel at first. I have extended family members who are gay (but who have never been LDS or really even exposed to the LDS culture) and many gay LDS friends who used to be dear friends who I haven't spoken to in awhile because of geographical distance. I don't want anything I say to be interpreted as being unsympathetic or insensitive to the pain that I know many of them feel. I would, however, offer an alternative possible explanation that I think helps to explain the change in policy, along with the clarifications offered by the church and some of its members so far. I must offer a disclaimer, though - this is only my opinion and, although I am a lawyer, I am not a legal scholar nor do I have any knowledge about the accuracy of it:

I submit that the church is reacting to the recent SCOTUS opinion by bringing this policy in line with one other legal conundrum for the church - that of polygamy - and for almost the exact same reason - preventing the taking of rights by the government. With polygamy the church had to show complete disavowal to retain its rights and property (including the temples) by categorizing polygamous families as apostate and not eligible for any official recognition or fellowship within the church. In the instance of SSM, the church is, I believe, preemptively proving and establishing policy to resist an encroachment of government on its religious liberty rights. There would be no logical reason for the church to announce such a policy change - in fact doing so could be interpreted as judgmental and mean spirited - but simply making the change is legally sufficient to prove concrete policy in the face of legal assaults on the church's position on marriage and what it takes to be a member in full fellowship in the church.

Same sex parents of a child have full legal rights under the law of the land of guardianship over that child and have the right, in many instances, to stand in the place of that minor child until the child turns 18. To allow that minor child to receive any official recognition in a Church that doesn't recognize the legitimacy of that minor's parents' marriage could open the way for a back door legal approach to make the church afford recognition to the family unit and therefore SSM -i.e. the argument could be made that "this minor child is a member of the LDS church and thereby is entitled to all the rights an privileges accordant with that membership but the child cannot exercise all of its rights (such as receiving father's blessings, parent chaperoning, having its parent serve in youth leadership, being sealed to their parents in the temple, etc.) without their parents, and therefore the parents (and therefore SSM) must be accepted into the church to reconcile that injustice. The parents are keeping the other rules of the church and their marriage is recognized by the law of the land."

Categorizing SSM as apostasy and completely cutting off (if only temporarily) that family unit from any official recognition in the church prevents a muddying of those legal arguments in my opinion. For the church to admit this publicly would be both unnecessary and unwise from a legal standpoint and otherwise completely unnecessary - nothing will placate certain enemies of the church (and churches in general) except cowering and bowing the church's policies to their agenda. The church is merely preparing for potential legal challenges as any smart church would with a fourth of its Quorum of 12 apostles having trained legal minds. This article in Time magazine was printed just DAYS after the SCOTUS opinion was announced proposing one avenue of attacking the church in an attempt to change policy by ending tax exemptions for religious institutions.

There is no hatred or bigotry behind this policy change. To those who say the church is bigoted - I would ask why the church didn't implement this policy sooner? SSM has been a hot topic for over 10 years, yet the church waited until after the SCOTUS opinion to institute this change - this cannot be viewed as a coincidence. Every effort the church has made against SSM, including the Prop 8 battle in California, was made with this religious liberty issue in mind, as also evidenced by the press conference the church held in January. The policy change likewise cannot be viewed independently of Elder Oaks' remarks of not even three weeks ago wherein he criticized Kim Davis's approach of denying marriage licenses to same sex couples (which remarks many of my "conservative" LDS friends bewilderingly enough have derided).

The job of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is a difficult one, to say the least. Their job is not to make sure nobody ever gets offended, but to protect the church until Christ returns and to invite the entire world to become a part of God's kingdom. This is a brand new legal minefield that has to be traversed with care. The church is not proclaiming open warfare on the LGBT community by any stretch of the imagination. I believe most LGBT's are good loving people who don't hate the church, but there are some powerful elements in that movement who are motivated by extreme religious hate and are keenly focused on destroying churches that don't jive with their brand of morality. Some have even expressed desires to use SSM to completely eliminate the institution of marriage. Viewed with this perspective it is easy to see that the very existence of the church, and of religion as a whole, is at stake.

Heavenly Father's plan holds ample provision for the salvation of all of His children, and they will not be prejudiced in His eternal scheme because of when they lived or who their parents were. Every soul who desires salvation through Christ's atoning sacrifice will be given the opportunity to claim such, and none will be handicapped by a policy change that is necessary to protect the present interests and operations of the church. In this new legal landscape, in a pluralistic society operating in an imperfect governmental system such as ours, there must be room for both "ecosystems of thought" to coexist. But until that day, the church must operate within the legal reality in which it finds itself.

I pray that my attempt at sharing what came to me as I sought understanding on this issue may present an alternate lens in which to view things and maybe even help some to reexamine the potential loss of their testimony. I know I'm not speaking just for myself when I say please don't leave. I love you. The church loves you. It needs you to stay. I need you to stay. You need to stay. Just give it time and prayerful thought before you consider turning away from your faith. I promise that peace will come to your heart, and understanding will eventually come to your mind and soul. You are right where you need to be. Perilous times lay ahead and none of us can risk losing the promising guidance and safety that the restored gospel and Church of Jesus Christ affords as we face the long-prophesied dangers the future inevitably holds.

Monday, March 28, 2016

David White Rogers

I had a powerful spiritual experience over the holidays visiting where my 4th great grandfather lived when first moving to NYC in the 1830s where he and my grandmother joined the LDS church. Their miraculous and powerful story still blows me away every time (a bit lengthy but I promise it is worth the read!):
Years before my grandmother, Martha Collins Rogers, had a dream wherein two men were knocking on her door, interrupting her doing her laundry, asking if her husband was home and declaring that they had a very important message for her family. My grandfather, David White Rogers, (a direct descendant of Reverend John Rogers - Bible translator and publisher of the Matthew Bible - the main precursor of the King James Bible - and subsequently burned at the stake as the first Protestant martyr of Queen (Bloody) Mary I) had similarly had a dream wherein he saw a vast destruction take place on the American continent. The angel in his dream told him he would learn more about this when he was in his 50th year. In 1837 Parley P. Pratt was serving as a missionary in New York City. On a Sunday while returning home from church my grandfather overheard Pratt preaching, and after hearing that Pratt was going to leave NYC after meeting no success after 6 months of proselyting invited the elders to his home to teach his family. They arrived at the Rogers home the following afternoon and knocked on the door, interrupting my grandmother's laundry washing. Upon opening the door she immediately recognized both of their faces from her dream. She understandably accepted their message right away and my grandfather accepted their message after reading in the Book of Mormon about the destruction that occurred on the American continent after the Savior's crucifixion, recognizing it as the destruction he had witnessed in the dream, and having a revelation wherein "the room was a blaze of light as the noon day sun. I saw Joseph Smith sitting at a stand in the corner of the room with a Book of Mormon in his hand." They were baptized in NYC's East River on December 19, 1837.

Immediately after joining the saints in Quincy, Illinois my grandfather was asked to travel to Missouri to sell Church real estate to help relocate the Saints so rudely displaced by the thugs there. He went directly to Liberty Jail to get approval from the Prophet Joseph Smith of the lands to be disposed of.

After securing the Prophet's approval he journeyed to Independence and was there met by a mob of 300 unruly men, demanding that he forfeit the property and the money and leave the county before dark or be killed. My grandfather replied, “You have pronounced sentence upon me. Can I be allowed the privilege granted to condemned criminals in courts of law? They are asked if they have a cause to show why the sentence of the law should not be executed upon them.” Some men in the posse yelled, “Let him speak! Let him speak!” He then said the following:

"A few years ago, the God of Israel sent a few of his servants to settle in Jackson County. They came forth, and in conformity with the laws of the United States and the State of Missouri, bought up some 20,000 acres upon which they settled some 1,500 souls in the space of three years, at which time the people of the county arose enmasse and drove those servants of God from their homes and from the county, in violation of all law. Those servants of God then settled in other counties, and subsequently were driven from the state, under the exterminating order of Governor Boggs. Among those servants of God there are some very old, some crippled, some sick, some widows, and many orphan children, who are destitute of means to convey themselves out of the state. And the Lord will not that they should be exterminated, therefore, the God of Israel has ordered that the lands from which his servants were first driven, shall be sold, and the means used in helping those helpless ones out of the state. And I am here to perform that business, and in the name of Israel's God, and by His powers, I shall accomplish it. Only by your committing willful cold-blooded murder can I be prevented." At this point, he unbuttoned his coat and vest, bared his chest, and said: "If anyone is prepared for that, now is the best time you can ever have, in the blaze of this beautiful morning sun and in the presence of this large concourse of witnesses, that the honor and glory of the deed may descend to the latest posterity. That is all I wish to say." Not a word issued from the lips of any member of the crowd; one by one the people left until my grandfather stood alone. Even his travel companion had disappeared. 

My grandfather gave everything he had to the building up of the kingdom of God - upon learning that Mary Fielding Smith, in a spirit of humble obedience in following the Quorum of the 12, had the desire but not the means to travel West with the Saints he gave her his oxen - yes, THOSE oxen that were raised from the dead - to make the journey to Utah.

While I am not sure if my grandfather's brashness came as a result of his being a New Yorker or solely on the strength of his undeniable and unshakable testimony, I believe that we very well may be asked to exhibit such faith as this in these trying final days before the Second Coming of the Savior of the World. I too have an unshakable testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon that I never can or will deny. As I stood on this hallowed spot in the middle of the financial district surrounded by dozens of tourists wielding selfie sticks I bowed my head and said a silent but fervent prayer, thanking my Father in Heaven for the faith, dedication, and sacrifice that was exhibited by my ancestors so many years ago for my benefit. It is said that we stand on the shoulders of giants - that is literally the case for me.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Hiroshima '07 - Solemnity and Faith

This week marked the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.  In observance of this anniversary I humbly offer the experience I had in Hiroshima while touring Japan in February 2007 with my bandmates from Jericho Road

We toured all over Japan for 10 days, visiting Okinawa, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo, and ending in Sendai.  In each city we were hosted by a mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In Hiroshima, we were privileged to be hosted by the very warm and accommodating President Yafuso.
Before our concert in Hiroshima, President Yafuso and Nobuaki Irie took us to see the beautiful Miyajima island with the Itsukushima shrine, complete with wild sacred deer who were quite friendly.
After touring around the island for awhile and taking some amazing photos (and petting the deer), we had some time to tour the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park - the area devastated by the atomic bomb.  We learned that the dome was directly underneath where the bomb exploded - chosen as the target because of the nice "T" the streets made right next to the Genbaku Dome.
After visiting this touching memorial and seeing the heartbreaking pictures and pleas from the Japanese citizens for "No Moer (More) Hiroshima", we had a chance to visit with President Yafuso where he solemnly told us his conversion story in Japanese (translated by Brother Irie).
President Yafuso's father was killed by the Americans in World War II.  As a young boy growing up on the island of Okinawa he told his mom not to cry, assuring her that he would grow up to become a general and exact revenge on the Americans for killing his father.  With this mindset he tried to avoid the American LDS missionaries whenever he would see them in the streets.  On one particular day, he crossed the street back and forth several times to try to avoid the missionaries, who seemed to cross the street exactly every time President Yafuso did.  He met with the missionaries and became converted as a pre-teen.

The missionaries who taught President Yafuso the gospel told him of another investigator they taught who had actually been involved in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  While teaching this man about the role that temples play in our church they showed him a picture of the then-closest temple to Japan - the Laie Hawaii temple.  When they showed him the picture his face turned white when he was the picture of the Hawaiian temple because he recognized the building from the attack at Pearl Harbor as he explained to them:
As a bomber in the attack on Pearl Harbor, he had one bomb left after the attack and was supposed to find a building to destroy.  As the Laie Hawaii temple was directly on the flight path from Japan to Pearl Harbor he saw the temple and decided to drop his bomb on it.  He flew over the temple and attempted to drop his bomb, but it wouldn't drop.  Surprised, he flew a second time over the temple and again tried to drop the bomb, but again it wouldn't drop.  Then he decided to attack the temple with his machine guns, but they wouldn't shoot.  Utterly confused, as he was flying back to the aircraft carrier and, while flying over the ocean, he attempted to drop the bomb one more time - and this time it dropped - directly into the ocean.
I will never forget the solemnity with which President Yafuso told this story, and the spirit that I felt as I heard his words.  I can hear them and see him like it was yesterday.  I know that God is in control of His church, and as the Prophet Joseph Smith declared:

"No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.  God's hand is in this work, and His purposes will not be frustrated.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"Boy" performed by Nicolle Galyon

That moment when you go for a random drive up Alpine Loop and stumble upon Sundance Mountain Resort's Bluebird Cafe singer/songwriter night and right as you walk in you hear a song that seems to make time stand still. Nicolle Galyon (Nashville songwriter of Song of the Year "Automatic" (Miranda Lambert), #1 Single "We Were Us" (Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert), and "God Made Girls" (RaeLynn)) shared a song that hasn't been recorded yet that she wrote while putting her young son to sleep. I didn't catch the whole song but she ties the last verse in with the first.

It may or may not be a big hit but it's already a hit with me.

Automatic Miranda Lambert performed by Nicolle Galyon

Last Friday I randomly stumbled upon Sundance's Bluebird singer/songwriter night in Sundance, Utah.  Nicolle Galyon explains how her faith in God's timing was restored when she was asked to co-write Song of the Year "Automatic" with Miranda Lambert right after having her newborn.  Funny story about writing while nursing.  Amazing song.  

Monday, July 06, 2015

I love the 4th of July.  For me it is right up there with Christmas as the best of all holidays because of the spiritual feelings I feel when I consider the circumstances surrounding the founding of this great nation.  Americans are somewhat prone to hubris, it is true, and while I personally have felt a tinge of embarrassment for some of the bravado I have seen both home and abroad showcased by some of my fellow Americans, there is a rational basis, in my opinion, for a sentiment of American exceptionalism.  I love all nations and peoples, but there is something incredibly special, even divine, about this nation and her founding. 

In 2005 I attended a BYU Devotional given by Dr. David McCullough, America's preeminent historian and biographer, where he spoke about his book 1776.  I found his address (and subsequently his book) to be riveting and fascinating wherein he described just how unlikely a victory by the rag-tag American army was, how many incredible mistakes were made, how fast Washington learned from those mistakes, and how the hand of the Lord - combined with the courage of these imperfect but exceptionally courageous men - delivered the American forces from the seemingly inevitable defeat that appeared to lay in wait almost everywhere.

My favorite story from his talk (and from the book) is the story of the Battle of Brooklyn.  Before hearing this talk and reading his book I had never considered in all my trips to NYC the miraculous deliverance that God provided our soon-to-be nation that happened right where I have walked so many times.

The Battle of Brooklyn was both a huge battle (Over 6 miles and 40,000 soldiers) and a tremendous defeat for the Americans.  The only thing that prevented this battle from being the fatal blow to the founding of our nation was the almighty hand of God.  After being outflanked and surrounded on land a strong storm (that had been occuring for several days) was the only thing keeping the British war ships from coming up from the New York harbor into the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn and cutting off the last hope of escape for Washington and the 19,000 American soldiers who were with him - an occurrence which would have meant certain defeat for the dream of the American nation.  Then, when all seemed to be lost, Washington made what would normally have been an ill-advised decision to retreat back into Manhattan under the cover of darkness:

"Washington ordered that every possible small craft be rounded up and be made ready to bring the army back to New York. It was to be done at night. An organized retreat for an experienced army is the most difficult maneuver of all when faced by a superior force. But for this amateur pick-up team, this rude, crude, un-uniformed, undisciplined, untrained American army of farm boys—some of whom had been given a musket and told to march off only a few weeks before—for that kind of an army to make a successful retreat across water at night, right in the face of the enemy without the enemy knowing, was a virtual impossibility. And yet they did it.

When they went down to the shores of the East River, right where the Brooklyn Bridge now stands, to start the crossing, the same wind that was keeping the British from bringing their fleet up was keeping the river too rough for them to make the crossing. It looked as though they weren’t going to be able to pull it off. Then, all of a sudden, almost like the parting of the waters, the wind stopped. The makeshift armada started going back and forth, back and forth, all night long, ferrying men, horses, cannon—everything—back across the river to New York. And they succeeded. Nineteen thousand men and all their equipment—horses, cannon, and the rest—were taken across the river that night without the loss of a single man and without the British ever knowing it."  

What Dr. McCullough fails to mention in this address (but does describe in his book) is that not only did the waters "part" but a mysterious fog also arose that hid not only the retreating regimens from the view of the British soldiers but also covered the mistake made by men on the front lines who almost retreated too early because of a misunderstood order - which would have also foiled the entire plan.

I have no doubt that God directed the founding of this great of all nations.  From the more good than bad that America has done in the world to the establishment of religious freedom that allowed for the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this nation was truly established by the hand of the Almighty.  

Here is a link to his talk in its entirety, as well as a link to the audio of his speech.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

1 Corinthians 15:9 "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

This weekend will be three months since my sweet grandmother passed away.  As the first person really close to me who has passed away, I must say that I was not ready for the emotions that would come.  A sense of tremendous loss combined with a gratitude that her spirit was free - no longer shackled by her physical limitations and weaknesses - definitely stretched my spirit beyond what I was prepared for. But I don't know if we are ever really ready, are we?  I mean, what's enough time?  If we lived for 150 years, would we be prepared at the end of that period of time?  What about 200 years?  In reality, there is never enough time.  No matter if we live for 5 minutes or 85 years, this life is just temporary, a probationary period, where we are sent to learn and to be tested, to be shaped into celestial beings and given the unspeakable blessings of being placed into families, to encourage and lift each other to the destination we all deeply long for - eternal life.

Through some very special tender mercies I was actually able to see her just hours before she unexpectedly passed away.  After attending a law seminar in St. Pete Beach, Florida I made the choice to forego the warmth and sunny shores of Florida and make my way back to Knoxville, Tennessee because by some strange coincidence my mother was set to speak in our ward, my dad, stepmom, and brother were set to speak in their ward, and my dear friend who I introduced to the Mormon church and who was a recent convert was bearing her testimony in her ward conference before she moved back to Germany.  I left Orlando late Saturday afternoon, only stopping briefly to say hi to Rachel Mills and the amazing Mills' kids in Ormond Beach.  I drove through the night, getting into Knoxville around 6am Sunday morning.

Even though I was exhausted from driving all night, I made it to two out of the three meetings, thinking I could take a nap after church.  However, I had the feeling that, instead of taking a nap, I should go visit my grandma in her assisted living center.  My mother was there, as well as my aunt, uncle and their two daughters.  My grandfather was there as well, of course.  He would be told later that he is the only spouse to visit their institutionalized spouse every single day, and he had done it for over two years.

We had a wonderful visit.  My grandmother seemed to spend much of her time peering out the window. I snuck a picture of her but didn't know what she had on her mind.  I was shocked when I noticed her arm shaking almost uncontrollably when she tried to take a drink out of a small cup.  I was worried that she would begin losing more control of her body than she already had, and become even more physically confined than her wheelchair currently kept her.

As I stood to leave to attend a missionary discussion with a friend of mine, I choked back tears as I felt prompted to go back and give her an extra hug and kiss.  She made a kissing sound with her lips in mid air, as usual, and said six sweet words that I will never forget - "I sure do love you, Bret".  Although I had been visiting her fairly regularly the previous year and a half, I had never been this emotional leaving before.  Something told me her time in this physical sphere was coming to a close.

At the missionary discussion, I felt anxious, as though something wasn't right.  So I left.  But I just went home.  There I felt unsettled as well, although I was spending quality time with my mother watching the Grammys.  She would tell me later that she had felt like she should go back to the assisted living center to visit my grandmother again, but we had both planned on going back to visit the next day and had no reason to think that that would be her last day in her mortal body.

The next morning my mother informed me that my grandmother had passed away in her sleep that night. I unexpectedly and immediately felt a sense of peace, rather than despair.  We met my grandfather at the assisted living center and actually walked right past him in the lobby, he being too overcome with shock to even look for us.  We went back to her room, then went and got him, and all together in her room, with her still there, we wept.  We called the relief society president, members of the ward, and the funeral home.  I had to go into the office to do some work but spent much of the day crying at the temporary loss of my grandmother, and had an especially emotional moment with my father who still loved my grandma as a mother-in-law even though he had been divorced from my mother for the past almost 30 years.

We set our schedule for the rest of the week - picking out the graveside and casket, putting together pictures for the viewing, deciding on the program for the funeral, and I went to bed, in my grandmother's old bedroom, exhausted.  Then, all of a sudden, in the middle of the night, I woke up from my sleep and experienced a very strong, peaceful, loving, warm spiritual presence.  Sleeping on my stomach, I felt this feeling all over my back.  I smiled and went back to sleep.  The next morning my mother, also staying at this home, told me that she had woken up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep, and wondered if my grandmother's spirit had been in the home, but didn't feel her spirit in her room.  I told her that I had felt her spirit, and that she was alive and perfectly happy and wanted to let us know that she was.

I'm grateful for the plan of salvation and especially for eternal families.  I'm grateful for the knowledge that my grandmother is still just alive today as she was three months ago, but unshackled by physical burdens and limitations.  I know that through the grace of Christ's atonement I will see her again someday soon.