A few years ago, I met Jessica. We first met at a little get together at a friend's house. I remember her talking to me about her photography business and how she had a goal to make family photos affordable. (If you are in the Boise area, check out her business page. Her great newborn shots make me want to Benjamin-Button-ize my kids. With 9 kids of her own, she does an amazing job with kids - she can even get my non-smiling boys to smile right at her. She's magic!)
A few months later, we moved across town and ended up in the same ward (congregation) as her and her family. However, she served in Primary (and I didn't) so I only ever saw glimpses of her in the hall. I'd heard some more about her from my friend, Erin. Our conversations would go something like this - I would say, "Oh really! How did you know that Target does...(fill in the blank)?" And Erin would respond, "Jessica." Or, I would say, "Where did you find that?" And Erin would say, "Oh, Jessica told me about this great deal at...."
I thought, "Sheesh...she is way too cool for me." I figured she was a super-amazing supermom. But I did still want to get to know her a better. Besides, I was still working on making new friends since we had moved. However, I didn't really have any reason to go talk to her about something. I mentioned to Doug one day as we were pulling into church that I thought it would be cool to get to know her better. A couple of days later, I was called in to meet with a member of the Bishopric. Jessica was being called as the new Primary President and would like me to serve as one of her counselors. I guess I had found my "in". Our entire presidency became fast friends. (As a bonus, her oldest has become my boys' favorite babysitter.) For the record, it turns out she is a super-amazing supermom, but she is also a totally real and a totally tangible type of mom.
We've now been serving together for 2 and a half years. That is a lot of church lessons that we have heard from one another. One of my favorite "Jessica Sermons" is about a couple of promptings she received from the Holy Ghost and I asked if I could share it here.
Two of the most profound promptings I've had came within 24 hours of each other. My Dad was dying of cancer and I had been out to see him earlier in the day when the prompting came to go visit and sit with him again. I was pregnant and tired and emotionally spent, but I decided to go anyways. I sat with him for an hour or so and just held his hand and felt his spirit. I kissed his forehead before I left and felt grateful that I had spent that time with him.
The next morning, I woke up and my plan was to clean the house really good and to go over to my parents later in the day. The prompting came to take a shower and get dressed instead. I ignored it and kept cleaning. The prompting came again. Again, I ignored it. While I was cleaning, the call came that my Dad had no pulse and to come quickly to be with my mom.
I was frantically trying to shower and to get the kids ready to get to my mom's house. While I was in the shower the power went out and I didn't think anything of it until I tried to leave my house and realized the garage door opener doesn't work without power. I ended up using the emergency release to get the door open but, when I went to close it after I got the car out, I discovered the manual lock didn't fit so I ended up pounding it with a hammer until it locked. I was frantic and not really thinking straight and all I could think about was "Why didn't I just shower when I had that prompting!" We would have been out of the house before the power even went out.
I'm so grateful that I listened to the first prompting because that was the last time I saw my Dad alive. I learned a great lesson from not listening to the second prompting. The outcome of that day would have been the same whether I listened or not. My dad's time on earth was done, but my Father in Heaven was trying to make that hard day just a bit easier for me and I didn't let Him by ignoring that prompting.
The other day I was watching a message from Ruth Todd at BYU Women's Conference. The sound-byte that most resonated with me was, "We were not given the Holy Ghost 'just in case.' He is there to guide us." I feel that, at times, I struggle with making sure the Holy Ghost is in the driver's seat and not just my backup plan. But, really, who else do I know that is more aware of the correct choices to make to lead to ultimate happiness. I have found that with a number of friends, Jessica included, that if I ask advice about a parenting conundrum, they usually offer some advice but also mention that they have prayed to know what would work best for their child. Sometimes I forget go to that ultimate source for advice before going to my friends.
Another lesson I was taught about the Spirit occurred as I was reading Doctrine and Covenants a couple of weeks ago. I was sitting in the temple, waiting to meet Doug. I had just been able to do some of the work for my grandmother and the spirit was strong. Section 11 is one of my favorites. I've read it hundreds of times but this time I noticed something new. In verse 13, it states that not only does the Spirit enlighten your mind but it fills your soul with joy. I don't think of myself as an angry or sad person but, really, who doesn't need more joy? And it makes sense, doesn't it? As we gain more of the Spirit in our lives, we gain a greater eternal perspective. An eternal perspective, in turn, helps us face our daily and earthly challenges with optimism and faith in the future.
I am grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the joy it has brought to my life. I am grateful for the direction it has provided even when I didn't necessarily know that I was being directed. I am grateful to know that my boys will have that gift and influence in their life to guide and protect them and to give them joy.