The Gift of the spirit

Since the beginning of 2021, we as a family have been focusing on teaching what the Gift of the Holy Ghost is, how to recognize it and follow it. Max wants to get baptized this summer and we want him to have faith and a testimony in the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’ve been laying this foundation since his birth, so it’s nothing new, but I have been trying to utilize my teaching skills I gained from being a missionary and my years as a teacher to help him come to know for himself. What I’m realizing is that I too am a student of the spirit. I may be a slow learner, but it seems to me as if understanding and recognizing the spirit is a life long process. I realized that when I get caught up in emotions such as anxiety or fear, the spirit has a harder time getting through to me. Last time I wrote on my blog I shared a bit about the helpfulness of distraction, but how one needs to use this skill with caution. The spirit also requires you to remove distraction from your life and mind. This pandemic has been challenging, but it has removed a lot of secular and “life on the go” distractions. Instead of leaving me with a clear mind, it has uncovered what lies beneath all of the chaos- a mind cluttered with fear and unnecessary guilt and anxiety. As I’ve began this self-discovery I have slowly been stripping away these fears, but to do that I have to fill my mind with healthy, faith-filled distractions. In Preach My Gospel it states, “Your mind is like a stage in a theater; in the theater of your mind, however, only one actor can be on stage at a time. If the stage is left bare, thoughts of darkness and sin often enter the stage to tempt. But these thoughts have no power if the stage of your mind is occupied by wholesome thoughts, such as a memorized hymn or verse of scripture that you can call upon in a moment of temptation.” This is written in the section under Christlike Attributes under the attribute virtue. I’ve realized that all the simple things we have been asked to do (read our scriptures, pray, write in our journals, attend church) are all there to build our spiritual muscles, or in other words, our virtue. As we have more spiritual power, or virtue, we will be able to tune into the gentle promptings of the spirit, because our stage of mind won’t be filled with distractions whether they are distractions of anxiety, fear, or temptations.

I have also learned that I have a lot to learn from my kids. Our cat, Pumpkin, went missing about three weeks ago. For the first week I had Max pray that he would return, but I stopped encouraging him to do so and instead didn’t even mention the cat because it seemed to cause Max pain every time I did so. But despite my attempts at distraction, Max kept praying. My heart hurt as he prayed with fervor. What if the Lord didn’t answer his prayer? Would he lose faith that the Lord answers prayers? It has taken me a life time of trying the Lord in prayer and sometimes getting the answer “no,” which I would later learn was what I needed all along. I had already learned this valuable lesson, but was Max’s foundation of faith strong enough to understand this? In Come Follow Me we learned about the lost records and how Joseph Smith had petitioned the Lord three times for Martin Harris to take the manuscript and how the Lord had told him no twice before conceding, but that if Joseph Smith and Martin Harris had trusted the Lord the first time, then the plates would not have been lost. Despite human error, the Lord had been planning for these imperfections long before Joseph Smith was ever born. I told Max that maybe the Lord’s answer was “No.” Maybe Pumpkin wasn’t supposed to return home. We may not know the reason why in this life, but we need to trust that the Lord knows all things and will always give us what we need, not always what we want. Max understood, but at bedtime he once again poured his heart out to his Father in Heaven. “Please bring Pumpkin home.” He was emotional, but faithful. That night I went to bed and dreamt of Pumpkin returning home. In the morning, Max ran up to my room as I was making my bed. “Pumpkin! He’s home!!” Still my heart was slow to have faith that what my son said was true. I thought, “Maybe some neighborhood cat had eaten Pumpkin’s food and Max mistook it for meaning Pumpkin had returned home— it had been over two weeks since he had gone missing, my finite mind couldn’t allow myself to have faith or hope until I saw with my very own eyes. Pumpkin, a little worse for wear, but not by much, was chowing down on his food with my three children gathered around him, petting him and giving him love. Max’s eyes were filled with tears of joy and mine were too. I never thought I could be a cat person, but this cat has taught me so much about my Father in Heaven. I was relieved that he had returned home, but I was more deeply touched by the faith of my child.

Aside from that let me recap our week!

Happy birthday to Maverick! We had a small celebration last Friday. I can’t believe he’s already 5. I love this boy. He is so fun and makes me laugh every single day.

He picked Red Robin for his birthday dinner.
We had pizza, cake and presents and just let the kids go wild. It was a fun and simple birthday party.
I did not make the cake, but did dress it up with Mav’s requests.

Today we got to celebrate ANDY! It started off great. He got to sleep in till a whopping 8:30 (it isn’t that late— but being parents of young kids I don’t think he knew how to sleep later than that). He got a nice bath and then a delicious breakfast of bacon, crepes, poached eggs, cara orange, and sparkling apple juice. We had a relaxing morning watching Stake conference and having leftovers for lunch. Last night Andy and I got to go out just the two of us (second time we went on a date without Harvey). It was so nice to eat dinner in peace! We got sushi and hibachi. I even dressed up fancy, since with the “sickness” (as Max calls it) I don’t get to dress up very often.

He got Medelita scrubs and Bose sleep headphones for his birthday, but with sleep being an essential commodity— he got to open that early so today he got to open the Star Wars bobble heads from the kids.
Wednesday we got a new couch. As we were preparing my car to help haul the boxes Andy’s head made contact with my rear view door.
A 5 minute visit to the ER fixed him right up.
Andy got this fur coat on his tour to Afghanistan. With is being so cold I got to wear it for the first time.
Last but not least a darling photo of my little baby who seems to forget he’s my baby.


  1. Juliet Jackson

    Good read Elise. Glad Pumkin made his way home…hopefully we can all find our way home ❤️

  2. It was Martin Harris that asked Joseph if he could take the translation to show his family, not Oliver Cowdery. Just FYI. Good post. I’m glad Max had his prayers answered.

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