Monday, April 1, 2013

The Book of Mormon--March Madness style

About six weeks ago we were all sitting at the dinner table having Family Home Evening while eating since it was a busy night.  I told the kids that my "March Madness" (Read the entire Book of Mormon in the month of March) would soon be approaching and that I thought it would be cool if they would do it with me.  I then went around the table asking each older boy if they would commit to doing it.  One by one, A, G and J all agreed that they would indeed do it.  I was happy, but not naive as to the reality of it probably not happening.  We talked about them needing to read 17.1 pages a day and that they could do it.  That if they were smart with their time, they would have and find the time to read.

On February 28th I sent out a text inviting friends and family to join me the next day.  I got back 26 texts saying that they were "in".  I was floored.  Over the next four weeks I would send out texts to my "fellow March Madness-ers" saying what they needed to read to each day and encourage them to keep going.  Throughout the month, I would get texts and emails back saying that people were trying, sticking with it, and so grateful for the challenge.  It made me so happy.  

Over the last month, I have heard my boys read aloud in their rooms from the Book of Mormon.  I have seen them laying around the house reading from their iPods.  They ask me on a daily basis as to what they should be reading to that day.  I have asked a few times if they are caught up.  Some days have been hard.  Some days we have had to read double because there wasn't time the day before.  But....the boys have each done it on their own.  They have done it.  I know that that IS a missionary blessing!!  My 17, 13 and 11 year old boys have read the entire Book of Mormon on their own this past month.  I am so grateful.  

With the family so aware of all the reading going on, we have seen the excitement trickle down to the little kids.  While we were in San Diego, little g asked for my book when I was done reading so that he could read too.  It warmed my heart.  Last week I told B that I was going to bed so that I could read the Book of Mormon.  She followed me up to my bed, climbed in next to me and asked me if I would read it out loud to her.  

I have so enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon this time.  I have needed it.  It helped me get through a really difficult month when my anxiety was out of control.  There were times that I truly felt broken, not mentally beating myself up over it anymore, but truly feeling like a piece of work.  Reading its pages along with praying more than I ever have in years, I had this overwhelming feeling that my Heavenly Father loved me.  Oh sure, I knew that.  I learned that those same several years ago.  But this time, the words, "Just the way you are" came to mind.  My Heavenly Father loves me just the way that I am.  The way that I think.  That's when I realized that the Atonement was my way back to being me again.  I began seeing life through different eyes.  I prayed differently.  I began to think differently.  There was so much beauty, so many reasons to bring a smile to my face and the tender mercies continued to come on a daily basis.  

Saturday morning I finished the Book of Mormon.  I was awake and everyone was still asleep so I decided to finish a day early.  Plus, I can't wait to get on my knees once again to find how the Lord will tell me once again that the book is true.  As I read the last chapter in the book, I found myself crying and re-reading it over and over again.  It was beautiful.  There was Moroni's promise.  It spoke of spiritual blessings and I looked further into that.  And then, something that I hadn't remembered before jumped out at me....

I loved that and it was very powerful.  Then I continued to read and learned more about grace and I could see that I had seen that in the last month.  I was overcome with emotion.  B had woken up by then and had come down and was sitting on the end of the couch.  I told her that I had just finished the book.  She was all excited for me with her big brown eyes looking back at me.  I asked her, "Do you know what you do after you finish reading the Book of Mormon?"  She said, "no".  I then told her that you get down on your knees and ask Heavenly Father if the Book of Mormon is true and that the Spirit will tell you in different ways.  She then said, "But you already know it is true."  Yes, yes, that is true.  But it was so neat to tell or rather teach my cute five year old daughter.  I asked her if she could be really quiet while I knelt and said my prayer.  She said yes.  Then I asked her, "Would you like to hear me say my prayer or do you want me to say it in my head?"  She wanted to hear it.  She knelt down next to and I began my humble prayer.  Through the tears I expressed so much gratitude for the help I had received in the last month, for my new look at life, for the prophets and those that took the time to keep the records that make up the Book of Mormon, for my Savior and Redeemer, for my children and their desire to read the book along with me, the tender mercies I had been so graciously given on a daily basis, the things that I had learned reading, telling my Heavenly Father that I loved Him for loving me exactly as I am, and the desire I had to see Moroni at the gates and tell him that I did believe every single word recorded in my beloved Book of Mormon.  I closed my prayer and waited for my answer.  Wondering how my answer would come.  And then it came.  "Attitude of gratitude". Of course!  It was the perfect answer.  I had gained an attitude of gratitude this last month and I knew that by doing so, my answer had come directly from a Heavenly Father that loves me so much.    I lifted my head and turned to B.  "You want to know what the Spirit said to me?"  She said yes.  I told her and then went on to have such a neat experience with her.  As I looked into her eyes, I had this feeling that I needed to share more with her.  Not only did Heavenly Father trust me to be her mother, but so did her birth mother, so I feel this extra responsibility to teach and help her understand more so than my other children.  It was one of the most tender things I have ever experienced.

Last night J came down and said that he had completed his reading.  I asked him if he had prayed.  He said that he had but hadn't gotten an answer.  I needed him to have one.  I talked to him about it.  About really pouring out your heart, having faith and waiting for an answer.  It would probably be a thought that came to his mind.  He headed upstairs again willing and wanting his answer.  I never asked again.  I had faith and I knew that he did too.

Last night I sat down to write C a letter and discovered  these words that J had written to him...

"Today was fun because it is Easter and that is always fun except when dad loses one of my eggs so I got less, but I didn't really care because I know that that isn't the real meaning of Easter. Also I finished the BOM this week and I prayed about it and I got an answer.  The answer was that you know it is true and you have great faith.  I truly love the book of mormon.  You are so amazing.  Do great on your mission."

I continued to read on and A had told C that he had finished reading on Saturday also and that it was a cool experience.  G came down the stairs last night and said that he was in the middle of his prayer when I called the kids down to help before our dinner guests arrived.

How could this book not be true?  It changes lives!  Have I said how much I love this book?  I love the Book of Mormon!!  All the makings for the perfect Easter.  Happy Easter everyone.  He is risen!


Cecilia Murphy said...

Wow, that is really powerful. Thanks so much for sharing this experience! Love reading your blog!

Erika said...

That's really aweome! And so cool that the kids did it too. Way to go everyone! I'm inspired by your great experiences. Good job!