“In the Quiet of the Morning,” Ensign, Feb. 2005, 16–19
For many of my adult years I loved to sit in Gospel Doctrine classes or firesides to learn about the gospel but rarely took time to learn on my own. I often felt the Spirit of the Lord in these settings and was in awe at the knowledge of others, but that was about where my gospel study ended. It was easy to rationalize that others had more time to study than I did because I was a busy mother. My days were always filled with the consuming tasks of running a household, cooking, cleaning, shuttling children to appointments and assignments. How could I find the time to spend more than just a few minutes a day reading scriptures? Although I learned to read and write as a child, I never learned to enjoy reading or take advantage of its blessings until several years ago. In the March 1996 Ensign I read about those who have been blessed by the gospel literacy effort. I have come to realize the truth of the statement that one who does not read is no better off than one who cannot read. I have learned that the Holy Ghost can bring to our memories, in our time of need, only the things we have put in them by our diligent study.
The turning point in my life came when my desire to learn the gospel and to know the Savior was more important to me than some extra sleep in the morning that I had been accustomed to giving myself. The early morning hours became my friend as I wrapped myself in a blanket on the couch in the living room feasting on the words of Christ. In the quiet of the morning I have come to know the Savior’s plan for me and have come to see my great need for Him. I have felt His love for me in spite of my shortcomings. I have come to know that our prophet and apostles are the Savior’s special witnesses to us and that Christ speaks His will to them. I know that one of the best ways for my family to come to Christ is to listen and study the words of His special witnesses. The May and the November conference issues of the Ensign have become like family home evening manuals. I have learned that my husband and I have been called to be witnesses of Christ to our children. It is our duty and responsibility to bring them up in light and truth (see D&C 93:40).
I learned to record my thoughts and impressions. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “Powerful spiritual direction in your life can be overcome or forced into the background unless you provide a way to retain it. Brigham Young declared, ‘If you love the truth you can remember it.’1 Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it.”2
With this in mind I purchased a small journal that would fit into my purse so I could take it anywhere. I began taking notes of conference talks and highlighting the things I felt I should share with my family. I began recording quotes from the prophets, scriptures, and insights of teachers and leaders. I have made it a point to read and reread my entries. Now, no matter where I am, I have inspiring words to fill my mind, and the Spirit witnesses to me all over again of their truth.
I soon found that studying for a period in the morning was not enough. I was hungering and thirsting for more. I began taking advantage of the institute program, the “Know Your Religion” series, firesides, devotionals, inspiring music, and audiotaped talks by the General Authorities. Much time was put to better use by listening to tapes as I did the laundry, washed dishes, or drove the car. Another fruit of my labor was a genuine desire to attend the temple more frequently.
On many occasions since my gospel study began, the Holy Ghost has pulled from the library of my mind things that my children needed to hear. I have been inspired to return to scriptures and quotations while preparing lessons and have been reawakened to solutions from the scriptures or the words of the prophets for challenges in my life. I was experiencing what Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of when he said: “Today, as in ancient times, God opens windows of gospel light and truth by revealing ‘his secret unto his servants the prophets.’ Those who have ‘eyes to see, and ears to hear’ can learn eternal principles; view majestic vistas of knowledge, foresight, and wisdom; and receive direction on how to live their lives.”3
Many other areas of my life have been blessed because of my decision to study the gospel, especially from the Book of Mormon. It has opened my mind to a better understanding of all things both secular and spiritual. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) taught that we should have proper balance and perspective as we seek knowledge: “We must recognize that secular knowledge alone can never save a soul nor open the celestial kingdom to anyone.
“The Apostles Peter and John, for example, had little secular learning—being termed ignorant, in fact. But Peter and John knew … the path to eternal life. They learned that mortality is the time to learn first of God and his gospel and to receive the saving priesthood ordinances.
“Yet secular knowledge can be most helpful to the children of our Father in Heaven who, having placed first things first, have found and are living those truths which lead one to eternal life. These are they who have the balance and perspective to seek all knowledge—revealed and secular—as a tool and a servant for the blessing of themselves and others.”4
As a mother, I know the responsibility to teach my children the gospel is mine. The scriptures have made this plain: “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. … And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (D&C 68:25, 28).
Echoing this revelation, Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop, said that we should “not leave the teaching and governance of [our families] to society, to the school, or to the Church.”5
This knowledge given to us by the scriptures and inspired leaders has become most valuable to me as a parent.
The Lord expects us to have a wide variety of information so that we might have breadth and depth in our lives. We are to study “things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms” (D&C 88:79).
The First Presidency message in the March 1996 Ensign is a formula for success. President Thomas S. Monson writes: “Fill your minds with truth; … I’d like to suggest that when we search for truth, we search among those books and in those places where truth is most likely to be found. I’ve often referred to a simple couplet: ‘You don’t find truth groveling through error. You find truth by searching the holy word of God.’ There are those who for direction and inspiration turn to the philosophies of man. There a smattering of truth may be found, but not the entire spectrum. Sometimes the truth of such philosophies is based upon a shallow foundation.”
President Kimball taught that “spiritual learning takes precedence. The secular without the foundation of the spiritual is like the foam upon the milk, the fleeting shadow. … One need not choose between the two … for there is opportunity to get both simultaneously.”6 As I have tried over the years to teach my children, I have come to the knowledge that all learning is of some value, but all learning is not of equal value. I have been motivated to read great literature to my family that will build character, to keep a personal journal, and to write letters to missionaries and nonmember families and friends that share our testimonies.
One of the methods I have used to help my children remember dates, people, and events in the Book of Mormon is a time line where they plug in information. I have been amazed how even the youngest children can understand the chronology of the Book of Mormon when it appears on a time line. Then as we study Old and New Testament events, these too are plugged into the time line. This has helped our family see the Lord’s dealings with His people in the Old World and in the New World simultaneously.
Our time lines have continued on to the more modern times of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the gospel. We have read books about great men and women in and out of the Church who have displayed courage and faith in Christ, some who have lost their lives in the fight for their religion and freedoms. Their names have been placed on our time line.
Scripture memorization is another area we have incorporated in our family home evenings. It has been fun for the children to earn small rewards for the scriptures they memorize, and I have felt great joy in seeing my children’s eyes light up when someone in sacrament meeting quotes one of “their” scriptures. Learning scriptures shows the Lord we value His holy word, and the Holy Ghost can bring these truths to our recollection in a time of need.
We live in a world of great trials, temptations, and sorrows; there are forces of evil all around us. I am grateful the Lord continues to give us wise counsel through prophets and apostles on how to safeguard our families from these evils. In spite of all that is wicked and bad, I can’t think of a better time to raise a family. There are so many resources to help us learn: the scriptures, living prophets, seminary, institute, family home evening, Sunday meetings, and the temple, to name a few.
The decision I made a few years ago to arise early in the morning to study the gospel has blessed my life and has helped me know what to share with my family. Studying together as a family, particularly the words of the prophets on specific subjects, has added a spiritual dimension to our lives. Studying the Book of Mormon and applying it to our lives has enlightened our understanding of all things, especially to what is happening in the world today.