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I am an artist by profession, a painter and printmaker and I work from my home studio in Virginia and I primarily paint the human figure. I graduated in 1990 in Fine Arts Studio and Art History. I also teach art from my studio. But primarily, I am a wife and mother of 4 wonderful children ranging from age 19 to age 9. Balancing family and the creative part of my life is an ongoing process and this is where I seek constant guidance from the Lord to manage our busy lives, to stay close to what is most important which is the physical and emotional well being of my family. No matter how much success I achieve in my field, my richest blessings come from the precious relationships within my family. Being a mom is certainly the most challenging thing I have ever had to do, but it is the most rewarding in so many ways and it keeps me real. It also gives me so much depth as an artist that I never anticipated because now I paint through the filter of my experience as a woman, and a mother.
I joined the Church when I was age 19 after having known about the Church most of my life since my neighbor & best friend's family growing up is Mormon. Ever since the age of 5, I spent much time in their home and always felt a very special spirit there. I also felt the interactions in their family and attended a few church activities and met many other members of the Church and I always felt that same spirit. They radiated something and it was something that I wanted. I wanted that secret to happiness. But as a child, all these things were in the back of my mind. It was not until I was an adult 18, in between my freshman and sophomore years in college when these things all of a sudden became so much more important to me. Having been disgruntled at the shallowness and lack of meaning in such a swirling world of ideas and pursuits having been away at college for a year, I felt that there had to be more to life than day to day existence. I knew that I needed to find God. I wanted to know what was the true Church. Therefore, I researched many religions, not having grown up active in the one into which I was born. At that point, my best friend sent the missionaries to my door. This might have annoyed me earlier in my life, but I was at a point where I was actively seeking answers. I wanted to know for myself. The message from the missionaries about Heavenly Father's plan for happiness resonated with me, as if I had known those things before, but needed to hear them. It all sounded so familiar. I knew I wanted in the things of real substance, not fleeting worldly happiness. I wanted true happiness. To hear that God has a plan for happiness rang true to me. To know Heavenly Father is a loving Father and that I am His child, that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to atone and to be resurrected for us because He loved us, for me, is like precious gold and for some reason, it all of a sudden had meaning until this juncture of my life. I vaguely knew about God and Jesus Christ growing up, but I did not know them, not knowing much about the tenants or the religion of my childhood, but suddenly to know who God and His Son are and to know who I am was like a light switch going on. Learning about a loving Heavenly Father's plan for happiness was like the sweetest fruit I had ever tasted. I have a purpose, life has direction and relationships and families all have meaning. I wanted to have that love in my family relationships. Even learning the fact that Joseph Smith was the instrument to initiate the restoration of the Lord's Church made sense. He was the first prophet of this latter-day dispensation and the priesthood power and all its keys needed to be restored by Jesus Christ through him. The fact that it is Jesus Christ, not Joseph Smith who leads this Church, rings true. His apostles & prophets seek Him and His Spirit for direct guidance. It is not a mon-made Church. Moreover, it was also because I learned from the missionaries that I could ask God Himself if all these things were true and that I could receive that answer for myself which made all the difference. This too rang true to me and the hallmark of a true religion. I did not have to take their word for it. I could ask God myself after much study and research and prayer. And I felt those same feelings learning from the missionaries, that same feeling which I felt early on with my best friend's family, that special something, that spirit. I felt that burning in my bosom and I knew all the things were true. And I got the answer that it indeed that they are indeed true. 23 years later after being baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have never looked back but only forward. I can never fully enumerate all the blessings in my life. The gospel has blessed me with a rich and full life where I can recognize God's hand in my life as I seek Him in prayer and scripture study every day. My husband and I were married in the Washington DC Temple and have now been married for 20 years. Having the gospel in my life to help me to raise 4 children is a blessing beyond measure for I know that we are not designed to do things alone. We can ask God for guidance and follow the perfect path led by Jesus Christ. If we make mistakes daily, we can always sincerely repent to stay close to Him. To see that knowledge blossom in my children, that they too have a growing testimonies of the Savior and the fullness of the Gospel, is a joy beyond measure for I know it will be an anchor in their lives, that no matter what storm may rage around them, they know to what source they can look to wade through any difficulty. When I look at my early years as a teenager growing up without the knowledge of the fullness of the Gospel with a constant yearning to fill that hole, and to contrast it with the lives of my teenagers who are make wiser choices in their lives, and fully implementing the teachings of the Gospel, and claiming all the blessings, I see direct evidence that the Gospel is true. I see what wonderful well-rounded, well-adjusted and capable and happy individuals they are turning out to be and it is a direct result of living the Gospel. They have more focus on what is important on life. I also see that they are developing kind and caring hearts constantly having opportunities to put aside self and to help others. They are developing characters of integrity and virtue and I am so proud of them. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's true restored Church. I am so grateful for the knowledge that the priesthood is restored and that the windows of heaven are open. I have seen so many miracles big and small in my life, most often private witnesses of the spirit that all these things are true. I have also seen many working miracles in the organization of the Church having been in many leadership capacities and have been behind the scenes. I see the leaders love & care for the members and that the Lord assists them as they seek the guidance of Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost. I always see them serving in the attitude, "Lord what wilt thou have me do, not my will but thine?" I have see ordinary quiet individuals do extraordinary things. I also see that the Church is true because of that pure love of Christ and kindness that I feel not only at Church, a rich association within my congregation, no matter where we have lived. We feel that this is the Lord's true Church for He would set it up where each and every member has an opportunity to help and care for one another, where many unseen acts of kindness occur every day, where help is provided when there is a need and no one is left behind. The lives of the families of our congregation are so intertwined, we learn from each other, we help each other, we raise our children together, we laugh and cry together, we bless each other. These too are are relationships which last and are meaningful and that is how Zion is designed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's true organization. I am a Mormon because with every fiber of my being I know that the gospel is real and that it is designed to lead us to real happiness: to have lives of meaning on this earth, to have rich and meaningful relationships on this earth and that we can feel that pure love of Christ in those associations and that we can also cultivate and exercise this most prized virtue by serving each other and looking outside ourselves. We are to get each other to heaven by helping each other and by bringing our families with us. I know that God is real, that He answers prayer, my prayer and that the perfect pattern for happiness is to follow the pattern of the Lord, even Jesus Christ, in kindness and in deed and this is my testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, amen.
Despite every temptation to have let myself get swallowed up in an art career, I made the decision along with my husband to be a stay-at-home mom. I am sure this decision disappointed some of my professors who had hight hopes for a very successful and rigorous career right out of school. However, we made this decision because we were in a position to be able to achieve this goal, and we would never pass judgement on anyone working mothers, or single-moms who must work outside the home. This decision fit our family circumstances. I chose to forestall the art career until they were older, or to keep my production to a minimum, especially with them so young. After 19 years of child rearing, I am so grateful for that decidion, not only because I have been there during all the moments, good and bad, wonderful and challenging, but once those years are gone, you cannot ever get them back. And quickly those 19 years have gone by. I will never regret deciding to stay at home with my children. I never felt forced to do it. It was my decision. While the world may frown upon that decision, and respect my intellect less, it seems irrelevant when one considers that being a mom is not about "me" anyway. It is about "them" and nurturing little hearts and minds to be self-sufficient, well-adjusted, capable and thoughtful people, individuals with integrity and character, and most of all, children who always feel loved, confident in a knowledge of who they are, children of God, with a knowledge of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Especially as since 3 of the 4 children are now teenagers, I see now so much how this decision to be a stay-at-home mom has completely benefited them and myself. Our relationships are close and strong and I have seen what types of individuals they are becoming. They not only are kids of good character with high standards and with a sense of responsibility, they are getting old enough to be good friends with me as well. Ultimately, the fullness of the Gospel is designed to assist families to create bonds of real meaning, where love is unrestrained, even when there are difficult moments, we are counseled to pray together, pray for each other, help and serve one another and to love unconditionally. And unlike other circumstances, parents are entitled to receive answers to prayers regarding our very sacred stewardship over our children. We are counseled to include our Heavenly Father in the parenting process, which is a huge comfort. As a parent, I have received so many answers to prayer regarding my children and their spiritual needs, even to know when a child might even be in spiritual danger. I am so grateful for the power of prayer. It means deity is real and the fullness of the Gospel in these latter-days is true. I see his hand every day, over the small and subtle details of my life, I can consult my Heavenly Father on how best I can use my time and to best serve my family. Prayer also helps me to overcome frustrating moments as the nature of family life is often involves frustration & difficulty, and sometimes a battle of wills. Basing my parenting style upon the love of Jesus Christ always helps me to keep my children in focus as children of God. Stepping back and saying a prayer during those frustrating moments helps me to clear my head, saying "how would the Savior handle this?" or "please give me the strength" keeps me from lashing out and helps me to approach those situations more rationally and to maintain everyone's dignity. Ultimately, putting into practice every day the principle of prayer and scriptures study, seeking Heavenly assistance in the day-to-day operations in both individual and family prayer, creating meaningful together time, which often end up being unscripted moments, are the means by which Heavenly Father has designed for families to be strengthened.
Currently I am working as a Nursery Leader of children ranging from 18 months to age 3 as well as serving on the planning committee for the annual Youth Conference which I have done for many years. Over the years I have served as a leader in the youth organization in the Church as well as within in the women's organization for the Church and within the organization for young children. I also have served as an organist, pianist and chorister in my ward and often participate in church choir.