Vanessa and Nate Quigley, founders of Chatbooks, are the parents of seven children. They have been married for over 25 years. When they first got married, like most young parents, they had ideas of the kind of family they would raise.
“I think when we got married, and we thought of all these things we want to do together and our family, we expected our kids to be very similar to us, you know? I knew that they would have different interests and things but,” Vanessa said, turning to pose a question to her husband, “Didn't you expect the boys are going to be like you and follow in your footsteps and at least have personalities and see the world like you do? And that is not the case. We have seven children that are all amazingly wonderful and varied in every nuance. And they are all very, very different from Nate and me.”
While they have a beautiful, happy family, the Quigleys opened up on this week’s episode of All In about some difficult things their children have faced in regard to mental health and what those challenges have taught them about what it means to “prosper in the land” as parents (2 Nephi 4:4).
Morgan Jones: I want to come back to something you mentioned earlier about how you have this idea in your mind that we do these things—the set list of things—and then we expect a certain result. And Vanessa, you were like, "What does prosper in the land [mean]?" Like is that a scripture? And it is a scripture. And so that's where we get these ideas from, and that's why we expect certain things, but what have you learned about when doing the right things doesn't necessarily add up to the result that you expected? And why that might be part of the plan all along?
Vanessa Quigley: I've come up with my own definition of what prospering means, what prosperity looks like. For me, it's just feeling close to the spirit. We're not promised wealth. We're not promised health. We're not promised happiness. But we know we will feel happy when we feel close to the spirit. You know, I believed in a formula as a young girl, I think it was a Primary song, right? “Keep the commandments, in this there is safety and peace.”
And I'm not saying that's not true, I'm just saying that that safety and peace looks really different to me now, as a mother of seven [and after] 25 years at mothering. And like Nate said. we have not even come close to experiencing some of the suffering that other people in this world have. But in our little family—with our little flock of children that we love more than anything and would do anything for–that formula doesn't add up. Doesn't seem to, at least. And it's only through the grace of Jesus Christ and His Atonement that we physically have been able to make it through. Because there are moments when you see your kids suffering that you just want to—you feel like you are going to die.
The Atonement is an amazing, powerful thing that I just cling to so desperately that will cover the pain that I'm observing, that I'm seeing, that I don't have the answers for, that I can't heal with a sippy cup and a show like we did when they were little. But that will also give me the strength that I need and the optimism that I need. That is something that's really hard to stay optimistic when it feels like everything's crashing around you.
But now I'm emotional. I'm so, so, so grateful for the testimony that I've developed through the years leading me up to this point, that has strengthened me and steadied me for this storm that has hit us. And I just cling to that—to the grace of Jesus Christ to help get us all through it, and in the idea that His ways are not our ways, and that this eternal family is going to go on beyond this. And that's my lifeline.
Nate Quigley: Yeah, I love that talk from Elder [Joseph B.] Wirthlin, it was a little earlier than the other talks we've talked about, but the “Come What May, and Love It” talk. I think that might have been his last talk.
Vanessa Quigley: That's my favorite phrase, I love that.
Nate Quigley: “Come what may and love It” is amazing. And, you know, finding a way to just smile and laugh a little bit in the really–what feels like–dark times is such a huge part of it. But he kind of wraps up that talk talking about just trusting the Lord and doing our best. And I also love in the temple recommend interview they use the word “strive” three times…”Do your best.” But it isn't like, “And you're gonna fix it and it's gonna be perfect,” you're just going to keep striving. And then you have to trust the Lord.
Vanessa Quigley: And honestly, Morgan, that's something we still really struggle with. We want to fix it. We want to make it perfect. We want the answers. We were just talking about this last night. And thank goodness for revelation and our understanding of that. We can get answers, they might not be the step by step, “Do this, and then this will happen,” but we can at least have the comfort to know that we're not alone.