A convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was delighted to find the Savior more in the scriptures, another woman found ways to share the gospel more with those she surfed with, and the challenge to women to read the Book of Mormon starting at the October general conference and the end of the year also helped another find peace as a parent's health declined.
On Oct. 6, women were invited to do four things by President Russell M. Nelson in the general women’s session of the October 2018 general conference. One of the challenges was to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. The others were to take a 10-day social media fast, to increase attendance in the temple and to also be more involved in Relief Society.
“I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year,” President Nelson said in his address. “As you prayerfully study, I promise that the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation. . . . As you read, I would encourage you to mark each verse that speaks of or refers to the Savior.”
When I heard President Nelson’s talk, I decided that I needed to take on these challenges, but I knew that reading the Book of Mormon in less than three months would be more than a challenge — even bordering on the impossible. But I began. And as I did, and as I shared insights with my children, I felt closer to them and to my Savior.
But it wasn’t without its hiccups. I found that time was short, and I struggled. It was then when I happened upon a quote that a friend posted from another talk by President Nelson that said, “I promise you that as you consistently give the Lord a generous portion of your time, he will multiply the remainder” (see "Becoming True Millennials," given Jan. 10, 2016, at Brigham Young University-Hawaii and on lds.org).
When I read that, I knew that I needed to do better. As I gave the Lord my time, I found that I had enough time to do what I needed to do, and that my days were more productive and fulfilling, just as was promised.
Arianne Brown poses for a picture with her husband and their eight children.
I’m once again grateful for President Nelson’s counsel, and for the blessings that I received as a result of following it.
In October, following the 10-day social media fast, the Deseret News shared responses from women who completed the fast. Here are stories from seven more women who took on the Book of Mormon challenge. These have been edited for length and clarity.
Necia Snow — mother of 3, surfer, San Diego
Necia Snow and her family at a California beach.
I took President Nelson’s challenge to read the Book of Mormon because he asked us to look for Christ in those pages, and I felt I needed to find him again. My greatest takeaway as I highlighted the references of our Savior is that we find true joy in the gospel, (in Christ) when we repent, and when we are sharing the joy of repentance with others. I was reminded that God loves us as we are, and that he wants to help with our weaknesses. In fact it’s through our weaknesses that we can get to know him best.
Living in California, I surf a lot, and there is time between set waves that allow time to talk with friends in the lineup. President Nelson encouraged us to share what we learned with others and it was easier because my testimony had been strengthened. I knew God loved me, it’s OK to make mistakes, and as I seek God’s help through prayer and obedience I feel more peace. I learned that the friends I spoke to who were going through some hard challenges appreciated the reminder and it led to some awesome conversations about Christ that gave each of us hope to keep trying to become better.
Teri Hansen — mother of 10
Being a convert, I was raised reading primarily the New Testament, and I often miss it. I was shocked at the frequent reference to the Savior! My scriptures are filled with yellow highlighter. It is awesome to see!
I also loved having an "assignment" to read each day. I struggle with my scripture study because I'm not really sure what to study. So having my daily set of scriptures (so that I would finish in 80 days) made the study time doable and purposeful. I also remembered the promises from church leaders, including President Gordon B. Hinckley, President Ezra Taft Benson and President Marion G. Romney, who served in the First Presidency and was president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, about how it would invite the spirit and bring greater peace to our homes. Initially I was disappointed because those around me didn't change. But when I thought about it, I was more peaceful which actually made the promise true.
Julie Stoner — mother of 4, including a missionary
Julie Stoner poses with her family.
Reading the Book of Mormon was a great experience for me. It's probably about the 15th time I've read it. The older I get, the more I gain from this book of scripture. I listened every morning as I got ready for work. From Nephi to Jacob, Mosiah to Alma, to the wars in Helaman, and the visit of Jesus Christ in Third Nephi. I love this book! I feel so grateful for the challenge from President Nelson. It's true!
Maurine Lee — mother, ultrarunner, quilter
I finished the challenge a few days before Christmas. I was partway through when the challenge was issued, and I immediately started over. (The health of) my dad started to go downhill during this time and it became our routine to read two to three chapters and say a prayer whenever I visited him. He even told a few people we were reading the Book of Mormon together. As he was dying and in the days after, it brought me a lot of peace to continue reading.
Kaycee Turek — mother of 4, elementary physical education teacher
Kasey Turek with her family.
I love challenges from our prophet! I know that heeding his counsel will absolutely result in needed blessings for myself and my family. Every time I read through the Book of Mormon at a faster pace, I am reminded of the importance of record keeping. These people so valued leaving behind a legacy. Writing for the sake of those to come. We don’t write our stories for ourselves. We write to share the lives we lived and the lessons we learned with our posterity.
This time around I was so very aware of the pride cycle and how quickly they alternated between righteousness and faith and pride and sin. I “feasted” on Third Nephi. Thinking how difficult it had to have been to have faith in the coming Christ and then to have him come to them. What beautiful telling it is when Christ taught the people. When he blessed their children. What a great reward for their faith!
I feel a renewed desire to increase my testimony of Christ in the new year. I want to live more fully in a way that shows my gratitude for his sacrifice. “If the Savior stood beside me … would I do the things I do. …” Maybe our family theme for 2019?
Emma Skousen — wife, actress, animal lover
Over the past year I have been trying to read the scriptures more. When I heard the prophet's challenge, I knew I wanted to do it because I had not taken the previous challenges other prophets gave. But I was in the middle of Alma and really didn't want to start over because I felt I wouldn't be as motivated. So I took a few days and thought about what to do and decided that I would continue where I was at in Alma and read through the end and start again and aim to end the year in Alma where I started.
The prophet said that miracles would happen that would allow us to do this challenge. A few weeks after conference, I received some devastating news and over the past two months, I have needed to rely so heavily on my Savior and Father in Heaven, and have spent so much time in the scriptures. Now, I know this tragedy wasn't a miracle, but it did enable me to devote this precious time to the Book of Mormon and I drew closer to my father and older brother, Jesus Christ.
Debbie Hoskin — mother of 4, kindergarten teacher
Debbie Hoskin poses with her family.
At first I felt a little burdened by the challenge President Nelson gave to us, wondering how I would be able to fit lots of reading into a busy schedule, but it became such a blessing. Reading became something I looked forward to, and it became an anchor through some difficult days. Marking the passages with references to Christ, as President Nelson suggested, made it very obvious that Christ is the center of the book. I knew there would be many scriptures with references to the Savior, but in many chapters, a majority of the verses were marked.
The more I read, the more I looked forward to reading. The characters became even more heroic, and even more beloved. The words became sweet and cherished. I can see the wisdom in President Nelson's challenge and I am grateful that he loves us enough to give us what we need to improve and survive in modern times. Anyone who didn't take the challenge still can benefit from this. It is not too late! I plan to keep reading.
In a recent Instagram post, President Nelson again extended the invitation: "I hope that each of these invitations has brought you closer to the Savior. If you have struggled with any of them, please don’t be hard on yourself. You can start today. The Lord is happy with any effort we make to draw closer to him."
View this post on Instagram
My dear sisters, you may remember that during the October general conference, I extended four invitations to you: . 1. Participate in a 10-day fast from social media and any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind. . 2. Read the Book of Mormon by the end of 2018. . 3. Establish a pattern of regular temple attendance. . 4. Participate fully in Relief Society. . I hope that each of these invitations has brought you closer to the Savior. If you have struggled with any of them, please don’t be hard on yourself. You can start today. The Lord is happy with any effort we make to draw closer to Him. . I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon, the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation. . As we begin our home-centered, Church-supported curriculum in 2019, you sisters are a key to the success of this new, balanced, and coordinated gospel-teaching effort. Please teach those whom you love what you are learning from the scriptures. Teach them how to turn to the Savior for His healing and cleansing power when they sin. And teach them how to draw upon His strengthening power every day of their lives. . I am eager to hear about what you have learned as you have focused on these four invitations. I invite you to please leave me a comment below about your experiences.
He continued with this promise: "I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon, the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation."
President Nelson also asked people to leave a comment about their experiences with the challenges. As of midday Wednesday, there were more than 5,500 comments.
President Nelson's general conference talk titled "Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel" is available on lds.org.
Lead image from Instagram
Arianne Brown is a mother of eight who loves hearing and sharing stories. For more of her writings, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: A_Mothers_Write