The following is an excerpt from Neill Marriott’s book Seek This Jesus. Neill Marriott converted to the Church at age 22, married in the Salt Lake Temple a year later, and had 11 children. She also served as second counselor in the General Primary Presidency for the Church.
On an especially chaotic night, when dinner was not ready on time, many hungry children were prowling and growling around the kitchen. I saw the piled-up sink, noticed baby Davey crawling through cereal on an unswept floor, and heard sibling arguments flaring up. I wanted to cry. A Relief Society handout propped up by the kitchen window caught my eye, and I read:
“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness” (Marion G. Romney, “The Book of Mormon,” Ensign, May 1980).
At that moment, David arrived home from work. As he came through the back door into the kitchen, I held out the quote to him and said, in a voice shaking with emotion, “I want this!”
He approached rather cautiously, seeing that I was in high gear, took the paper from my hand, read, looked up, and said, “I do too.”
Within the week David had unearthed the large, heavy Book of Mormon we had received as a wedding present. He placed it with some ceremony on the lazy Susan in the middle of our round dining table and announced that our family would begin reading the Book of Mormon every morning at breakfast. And read we did . . . at a snail’s pace. In fact, the pace was so snaillike that it took us seven years to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover as a family. I’m not proud of that three-verse-a-day speed, but we did it consistently, steadily, without fail. The second time through the scriptures, as the children were a little more grown up, we doubled our time. There was something powerful at work during breakfast. The hardback Book of Mormon collected remnants of breakfasts over the years—a gleam of syrup, a hardened spot of milk, a streak suggesting eggs. I love the historical record our stained book cover bears. It says, “I am loved, I am used, I am part of the fabric of this family—tattered, yes, but valued.”
When our oldest son, Daniel, was a priest, he was asked to speak in a stake conference. I admit I hovered a bit and sweetly asked if I could be of any help, hoping I could polish his words so we would look as if we had raised an eloquent son. He would have none of it. When he began his talk with “It took my family seven years to read the Book of Mormon,” I wanted to jump up and screech, “What do you expect with a family of 13 at the breakfast table!” And then he put a match to the smoldering in my brain by adding, “And I don’t really remember any specific verses that we read.” But his next words rang out in gratitude: “What I do remember is that every single morning my dad reached for the Book of Mormon as we ate. And somehow I knew in my little-boy heart that this book was really important to my dad. Now it is important to me.” I cried. There it was. Consistent daily family scripture reading, no matter how slow, is an undeniable witness of faith in the word of God.
Lead image retrieved from mormonnewsroom.org
Read more stories of faith, family, and motherhood in Neill Marriott's book, Seek This Jesus.
As a Methodist growing up in the Deep South, young Neill Foote felt the desire to commit her life to Jesus Christ. During a sing-along at YWCA camp, she felt a wave of divine love envelop her. She writes: "I cried all the way back to the cabin, stumbling along in the dark, holding on to this most precious of realizations: God loved me. He knew twelve-year-old me. He was real. That certain knowledge bound my heart and soul to Him."
The desire to continue feeling that love kept growing. "Much of my early life was influenced by my seeking for the true and living God," she writes. "I wanted to know the Savior better, to understand His will, to become a true disciple of Christ in my daily life." But how?
Not until David Marriott brought the missionaries to her apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, did she understand the joy that accompanies covenants made and ordinances performed by true priesthood authority. After months of studying, she finally committed herself to the Lord in a more complete way, as a newly baptized member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In Seek This Jesus, Sister Neill Marriott shares highlights of her personal story as she testifies of Jesus Christ and offers a unique and intimate invitation for readers to seek Him. With topics including searching for the Savior, bringing the influence of the Lord into our families, and feeling God's grace in difficult times, Sister Marriott encourages readers with her warm, personable style and Southern charm.