As I grew I started to have my own experiences that made me know for myself that the church was true. Strong, strong feelings of the Spirit confirmed my testimony again and again at church, girls camp, youth conferences and firesides. I felt the Spirit as I prayed and started to read my scriptures consistently and privately as a teenager. I can never deny the Spirit testifying to me of Gospel truths. This testimony guided me to attend BYU, marry my sweet companion in the temple, and commit my life to serving the Lord. How grateful I am for each of these experiences that builded on to what my parents and grandparents had already instilled in me.
Although my life has been wonderful, it has not been without trials. At the age of 28 I became ill. My symptoms started out minor, and were a mere nuisance. I prayed for them to go away on their own. As my symptoms progressed I started to see different doctors, praying for a cure or answer. Doctor after doctor led to no answers. I had very little peace in spite of my prayers. Finally, after my symptoms had spiraled out of control I received the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. This news was devastating to me. I didn't know how I would ever feel true joy again, and pictured my life full of sickness, disability and sorrow. My constant prayers brought momentary relief but did little to combat the grief that I was feeling. Immediately following my diagnosis however, I started to notice little blessings, tender mercies...and I quickly realized that these small blessings were the Lords way of reassuring me that He is with me, that I am not alone. I was read my MRI results from a good man who had been my teenage Bishop and a longtime family friend. After years of being on terrible health insurance, Randy had gotten a new job with wonderful insurance that had started a month before my symptoms began...it payed for my very costly treatments. Randy's sister had married a man the month my symptoms began who had MS himself and was able to talk to me about what I was experiencing. I lived near family who could help me drive when I couldn't see well enough to drive myself. At the very worst of my illness we had gone on a previously planned family trip. There I was able to see my Grandma and Grandpa Smith...oh how I needed their comfort and hugs. That was the last time I would see my wonderful Grandpa in this life. I will never forget how he told me that I would be ok and to never give up. Somehow, in spite of his illness, the Lord helped him find the words to help me. I met person after person within about a 2 week span who had a loved one with MS...and all of their stories were positive, rather than negative. I clung to that positivity! Little by little these tender mercies of the Lord brought me into the light. This experience taught me in such a real way that the Lord knows me. He knows us and He loves us. He won't take away all of our trials, but He will never, ever leave us alone. I know this.
I hope as I live my life and try to follow the Savior that I will be able to teach my children and grandchildren the way I was taught. How grateful am I for the blessings of a strong extended family and the sealing ties that bind us.