Tarsha Joyner: A Food Network Champ’s Recipe For Discovering Your Worth

Wed Feb 01 05:00:18 EST 2023
Episode 210

Cookies, desserts, gingerbread—you name it, Tarsha Joyner can bake it. As a Food Network champ and owner of her own bake shop, Tarsha is known for her beautiful and tempting treats. But ironically, the best lessons she’s learned in life don’t come from the competitions she’s won or the business she’s built. Instead, the best knowledge Tarsha has gained in life was as a foster child when she recognized her value as a daughter of God. When she found the gospel, that knowledge only became more concrete. So while Tarsha may not give away her actual cookie recipes, on this week’s episode “Mrs. Joy” is more than willing to share her secret recipe for a happy life.

Most people are preparing for retirement and I’m preparing for eternity.
Tarsha Joyner

Show Notes

1:20- Packaging First, Product…Second?
5:55- What You Should Know About Recipes
8:03- Knowing Your Worth As a Child of God
12:42- From Foster Care to Family
15:25- Someday When You’re In Control
17:43- Mrs. Joy
20:33- Food Network
22:17- Believing in Yourself
24:28- Owning a Business
25:33- Joining the Church
33:49- Promised Blessings
35:53- Family History and Time Well Spent
41:30- What Does It Mean to Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?


Tarsha’s TikTok

Tarsha Joyner: Mrs. Joy's Absolutely Fabulous Treats

HappyLocalSweets: Mrs. Joy's Absolutely Fabulous Treats


Morgan Jones Pearson 0:00

I would imagine there's probably one big difference between Tarsha Joyner and pretty much every other baker that has appeared on Food Network. Her love for baking began with a school project in a graphic design class. Yes, Mrs. Joy's Absolutely Fabulous Treats began before Tarsha really even knew how to bake. In 2015, Tarsha Join our one Food Network's Christmas Cookie Challenge. She returned in 2017 on the channel's Dessert Games and again in 2019, competing in the Haunted Gingerbread Showdown. In 2021, she went international appearing on Food Network Canada's Project Bakeover. She describes herself on her Twitter profile as a wife, a mom, a Nana, a Latter-day Saint, a Treat Maker, a photographer and artist, a quilter, a Dodge baller, but says there's one thing she is not a quitter. This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we asked the question, what does it really mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Pearson, and I am so excited to have Tarsha Joyner on the line with me today. Tarsha, welcome.

Tarsha Joyner 1:15

Thank you for having me. I'm excited.

Morgan Jones Pearson 1:18

Well, I am excited. To start us off though, I wondered if we could kind of start from the beginning of your story with baking because I think it's so cool. And have you tell us just a little bit about how this all started for you.

Tarsha Joyner 1:33

I like to take it way back. And then bring it forward really fast. So don't worry, I won't hold up the whole world with my childbirth years and all the way up. So I was a foster kid most of my childhood right? And my mom never baked anything from scratch. And we didn't really get good eating at those foster homes. So the first time I ever had a homemade cookie was when I made one for my kids, you know, and it was kind of a joke because I'd only try to make them at Christmas time because I saw that's what people on television did. So I would try to do that for my kids to have some kind of Christmas tradition. And my chocolate chip cookies ended up turning out like crepes with chocolate chips. It was really pitiful. So we ended up just going to Sam's Club, buying the bucket of cookie dough and just baking those. It was more foolproof that way. And then it never was anything for me to think about baking. I knew how to make biscuits because I worked at Hardee's and I knew how to make a cake because I could follow a recipe. But baking and me was not something that really was that big in my life until I went back to school. Now, the first degree I got was like business administration, because I thought I wanted to be a secretary for the rest of my life. And then after I went to school a bit because I've always been in love with computers, I decided to go back to school to become a computer programmer, which is what I did. And then I decided to scoot on over to graphic design because it was way more interesting than sitting in a room with a bunch of funky guys looking at computer screens all day. And so what I ended up doing was I had a project where we had to brand a product from start to finish. It was going to be a whole semester long project. And I was going to go into the summer with the knowledge that I could get started during the summer and then have most of the work done before the school semester started because I had a family, I'm like 40 years old at the time. I have kids in school, I've got kids doing sports, I've got a husband and I'm working full time. Plus, I'm going to school so I tried to break down as much of the work as possible over the summer. Well, my son needed a summer job, and it was gonna be his first summer job. So what I did was I said, 'Hey, if you helped me hash out this project, if I put you at the farmers market, and you helped me test out product and packaging for this fake bakery that I just all of a sudden created, I'll let you keep half the money while I work on what I need to at home while you're at the market.' He thought it was wonderful idea until he started working with me. Because I am at the time, I'm gonna say I was a perfectionist because everything had to look a certain way and I'm thinking that people are going to be spending their money on stuff that I don't even know how to do because I did not know how to bake. I just figured out, 'Let's do some shortbread cookies, because there's only a few ingredients in there and they can't be that hard. Let's just do that and I'll just design packaging.' So in my brain packaging came first product came second. And I just wanted to make sure that my product looked good in the packaging, because that's where my grade was going to come from. That was what was most important to me. And my son hated my guts after a while and decided he wanted to go work at KFC, and did and I kept going because I was like dang these people are buying my shortbread, what's wrong with them? What else do I learn how to make? And so I learned how to make cake pots. And then I learned how to make brownies. And then I learned how to make money. And so I kept it going. And pretty soon it took over my whole house. Like, my family was starting to hate me because they couldn't put leftover food in the refrigerator because it might stink my butter up, you know, I'm really funny about my ingredients. And so I had to protect them over my family.

Ingredients first.

Ingredients first. So when it began to be so much that I had packaging all over the house and orders were coming in, I decided to start looking for a shop, we found one and the rest is history.

Morgan Jones Pearson 5:41

It's amazing. I think it's such a great story. And I, I admire you Tarsha, because I love the honesty of like, I had no idea what I was doing. I focused on the packaging first. But how did it transition? Like you said you it was like people are buying the shortbread cookies so how did you learn—how did you approach learning how to make all of these other things?

Tarsha Joyner 6:06

So the same way I learned how to make the shortbread, I would scour the internet for recipes, and people don't understand. Recipes are not written for your success. And you need to understand that if you want it my recipe for shortbread I'm gonna give you a recipe for short bread, but it's not gonna be mine. You're not gonna make them as good as I do, because that's my recipe. And that's what everybody does. And I had to understand that in the very beginning, people are not trying to give me stuff that's going to be better than theirs. And you can look at all those beautiful, lovely pictures that they post on their little it five miles down the page, you get to the recipe, and you see these wonderful photos and your stuff never looks like that. Because they don't ever give you the recipe they used to make that wonderful stuff. I don't care what they say, if they tell you they do, they're not telling the truth. Because I know me, you know. And so what you have to do is understand your ingredients. And because I love science and math, I learned how to understand the ingredients and how they interact with each other. And once you understand all of that, you can make any kind of recipe, you can look at a recipe and say, 'Well, that's wrong, let's fix this.' And then it'll be right. You have to be willing to know all of the math and the science behind it in order to be successful at it.

But really, it's chemistry. That's why I'm not a good cook.

It's all about precision. It's all about stepping away from those baking cups, those measuring cups, those teaspoons, and pulling out the scale and weighing things. And it's about spending money on ingredients because the cheap ingredients are just that cheap ingredients. But if you want something that tastes good, and is good for other people to consume, then you have to be willing to spend the money.

Morgan Jones Pearson 7:59

I do agree with that completely. So I'm curious, as you've already kind of delved into, I felt like teaching us lessons about life from baking. So what would you say are the biggest things that you've learned that apply to life from your experiences with baking?

Tarsha Joyner 8:17

You know, funny thing is that the best lessons I've learned have nothing to do with baking. It's all about how I value myself. When I first started baking, I didn't know a whole lot. So I didn't charge a whole lot. But the more I learned, and the better I've got, the more I started to charge and people started looking at me funny. And then it got to the point where I was about the most expensive person in town to do certain things like cookie decorating. Well guess what? I am an award-winning artist. And when I give you these cookies, they're little works of art. And on top of that, I'm like a champion from Food Network. You can't pay Dollar Tree prices, come in to me and get it. And so I had to learn how to say I'm worth it. And I don't need you to tell me how much I'm worth because I already know. So either you take what I'm worth, and give me what I'm worth, or you go somewhere else and get it. And you have to learn how to be okay with feeling that way. And you have to learn how to speak up for yourself. That's one of the most important things I've learned as a small business owner and as a baker is that I know who I am. I don't need you to tell me who I am. And I'm okay with you walking away. I'm cool with that. I can go home spend time with my family anyway.

So well said and that applies to so many different aspects of life. So you mentioned knowing your worth. How would you say, because I think that's something that like we all kind of have to come into is recognizing what we're worth, and part of that is understanding like our relationship to God. So how would you say that you've seen God making more of your life than maybe you thought possible and helping you do things that you never dreamed you were able to do?

Well, let me tell you. I mean when I was a kid, I thought that God was this big gaseous cloud that could fill the earth, this kind of spirit thing that was just everywhere at once but nowhere, because no one had ever really given me this real good description of who He was. I did not understand Him to be a person, in the shape of a person like me, even though you know, the scriptures say He created man in His own image. That didn't mean anything. Not when I was a kid. When I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, when I tell you that definition was so succinct, it was so perfect. I knew who my Heavenly Father was. And it helped me to know who I am better. You know, it helped me to understand what He did for me, and why I have to make my life worthy of what He did for me, putting the Savior here to do all of the things that He did the atonement, the suffering, all of those things had to be just for me, I know it was for everybody else. But I'm selfish, it was really just for me. And because my childhood did not tell me that I was special. We weren't treated special, we weren't treated in any way special. But to know that I'm a daughter of a Heavenly Father, who actually loves me so much that He gave His Son for me, that mattered to me. So it didn't matter what anybody else thinks of me. I know what Heavenly Father thinks. And in the end, that's all that matters. I used to tell people at work all the time, most people are preparing for retirement, and I'm preparing for eternity. That's what I'm doing. Because that's a more far-reaching concept for me, because I'm not gonna have no money to retire, I could tell you that right now. I'm going to be in a kitchen with rolling pin in my hand when I pass away. But, you know, it was really helpful for me to know who I am, to understand that, and not a lot of people to treat me any kind of way. And I've never been the person to allow anyone to say anything sideways out their neck, and treat me any kind of way, because I know who I am. So when it came to running my business, it just carried over into that.

Morgan Jones Pearson 12:41

I want to come back to something that you've mentioned a couple of times, which is that you grew up in foster care. And I watched an interview with you, where you said that you knew, because it wasn't what you had had growing up, you knew what you wanted out of life, which was a family and a home? Not having had those things Tarsha, how do you think you knew that those things mattered so much? And why did they matter so much to you even as a child?

Tarsha Joyner 13:13

Well, you know, I was fortunately, this is gonna sound so crazy. I was fortunate enough to have a father who left our family. You know, he was not in the picture. I did not have him to rely on. So I had to rely on Heavenly Father. And it helped me to have that relationship with Him. To strengthen me through our relationship, because that's what it does. Your relationship with Heavenly Father strengthens you. It doesn't strengthen Him. He doesn't need that relationship we do. So I'm grateful to my father that he was not there. So I had to rely on my heavenly Father. And I tell my kids that all the time. Sure they have a great dad. But because I have a great relationship with my Heavenly Father so do they. So they're blessed because of it as well. And you know, to be honest, what made me want to have a happy family was The Cosby Show. That's very ironic now, isn't it? But I would sit and watch the Cosby Show and look at their life and think, oh, my gosh, that would be so awesome to have brothers and sisters like that. And a mom and dad that actually cared about what was going on in my life, to actually have a home, to actually be able to do things with each other because we didn't have any of that. And so when I saw the Cosby Show for the first time, oh my gosh, I have watched every episode of it at least five times. It was the ideal situation and I wanted my kids to have that kind of a home. I mean it's not perfect. It's not always happy. Sometimes there are sad moments, but we're together as a family.

Morgan Jones Pearson 15:13

Well, and what I think is so cool is that you have the kind of family that you've dreamed of having now, and you all are involved in this baking business together, what would you say to those, Tarsha, who right now may be in the position that you were in as a young girl, and only dreaming of those things? What would you say maybe to offer some hope for what is possible in the future?

Tarsha Joyner 15:40

So I've talked to a lot of youth on a regular basis, especially foster kids, and I tell them, you're not in control of your life right now, you're just not, and you have to just be willing to accept the fact, most kids are not in control of their lives, they have to listen to somebody. But usually, they're listened to someone that actually really loves them. And some of them are lucky enough to have foster parents that actually really genuinely care about them, but some are not. And I tell them, you don't have control of your life right now. But this is practice, for when you do. And the choices you make at this stage of your life are going to be reflected in the choices you make later. So make good choices now so you don't have to worry about trying to make good choices later, you'll have practiced at this point in your life, so that when you have actual full control of everything, you're taking yourself in the right direction.

Morgan Jones Pearson 16:43

I love that one. And I one of the things that I can't remember I've read it or have listened to it. But you said in a previous interview was that you feel like what you have now is the result of a series of little good decisions. And I think that's what all of our lives are right? They're just the result of a lot of little decisions that add up to be quite a lot

Tarsha Joyner 17:13

Wait before you move on. Just make sure you understand. Just because you've made a lot of good decisions doesn't mean you haven't also made a lot of bad ones. Let's just hope that the good ones outweigh the bad ones. Because we all make bad choices. We all have to suffer those consequences. And we just have to realize that no one leaves this life without suffering those consequences.

Morgan Jones Pearson 17:35

And nobody leaves this life without making some mistakes in the process. I love that you emphasize that. So first of all, I want to, I meant to say this in my intro. But one thing that I love about you Tarsha is that at your bake shop, you are known as Mrs. Joy and people listening to this probably are like 'I can understand why' because I don't think I've stopped smiling the whole time we've been talking. But I understand that that was it came from what was written on your bowling ball.

Miya 18:11

Yes, I used to League and tournament bowl all the time, all the time. Like before all the smoking got so heavy at the bowling alley, because that is just the issue for me. So I don't bowl as much as I used to. But I had just gotten married. And if you're a bowler, you know you only get about six letters on your bowling ball. And so it was either going to be Tarajoy, or Mrs. Joy. And I think I chose the better, don't you?

Morgan Jones Pearson 18:36

Absolutely. But I wonder why would you say that that name fits you and I think when I was working on prepping these questions. I thought about the quote from President Nelson where he talks about how joy is not based on the circumstances in our lives. And so why would you say that that name Mrs. Joy resonates with you?

Tarsha Joyner 19:00

So in the beginning, it really was just about a project. It really was. I had Mrs. Joy's my AOL email address for like 10,15 years before I opened that shop. So there wasn't any choice as to who the name of the place was going to be named after, right. But it wasn't anything I ever called myself until I opened the shop. And I didn't call myself that—all the customers assumed that's what my name was. And to be honest, I don't care what they call me as long as they give me money, you know? And then people would always come in and sit down and talk about life in general. I cannot tell you how many tears have been shed in that shop, how many hugs I've been given, how many people come back to see us from out of town year after year because they want their dose of joy. And it's not anything that I consider myself to be, I just pray that others consider myself to be that, because, you know, my husband would probably tell you otherwise. 'Mrs. High Strung is what she needs be called.' My kids probably have something way worse. But my customers, I truly believe that—most of them because we have had some bad reviews I ain't gonna lie—most of them feel that it's a joy to step through those doors. And it's not just about the food, it's about the experience.

Morgan Jones Pearson 20:33

Right. So we touched on your bake shop. You mentioned that you had the chance to be featured on Food Network, and you've been on a couple of shows on Food Network, is that right?

Tarsha Joyner 20:46

Yeah. Yeah. So first time, I ain't gonna lie, it was hilarious to me to look back and to even see myself and to think all the things over again what I was going through, I'm not gonna lie, I felt like a deer in headlights. And I was praying my way through that show, like I prayed to get on the show and then once I got there, I prayed that I wouldn't throw up all over the place. And then I prayed that I wouldn't burn anything or mess anything up. Heavenly Father didn't answer that prayer. I prayed that I would make it to each round. And then I prayed that I would win. And it worked. And I won $10,000. And I only had five recipes when I went up there. Like I'm going up against these seasoned bakers, and I'm like, they really must have needed a brown person because I thought, why am I even here? These people are total professionals. I was a software support analyst at the time. And I only worked on the weekends, on Friday and Saturday. I did not have as much experience under my belt at that time as I needed ,as I thought I needed because obviously I had enough because I won it. But I've learned so much more since then. And I'm just grateful it was just for cookies, because Lord knows I didn't know anything else.

Morgan Jones Pearson 22:09

It's incredible. It's so cool, what you've been able to do and what you've been able to accomplish. And I love also, I think there's value in recognizing that a lot of people that achieve success, it's almost like a fake it till you make it like you figure it out as you go.

Tarsha Joyner 22:29


Morgan Jones Pearson 22:30

And you don't have to know everything to like, put yourself out there.

Tarsha Joyner 22:34

You just have to believe in yourself an inkling of what Heavenly Father believes. If we can just believe just a small portion in ourselves the way that He believes in us, we would never be afraid to try. And I just I don't have that fear button. Like I'm afraid of spiders and critters and things. But I'm not afraid to go out and make myself look stupid if I don't know how to do something. I'm willing to try it until I can't do it at all period for sure. Like I wouldn't go do open heart surgery or anything like that. But if somebody said, hey...like when I did the Halloween Gingerbread Showdown, I ain't ever made no gingerbread house. But for $25,000 I was willing to try. I'll learn today. And it was so fun. And I learned so much. But the best part about it is while I was learning all that stuff, I got to meet so many nice people and form so many new friendships. I have a whole community of gingerbread people that I love and cheer for.

Morgan Jones Pearson 23:48

And you're not just talking about the cookies.

Tarsha Joyner 23:50

No. No, not the gingerbread people. But the gingerbread making people.

Morgan Jones Pearson 24:00

Important distinction. Well, I think that's so cool. And I admire that about you because I'm I'm a big advocate of what's the worst they can say? Like the worst that somebody can say is no. So you might as well try running. Your baking business is really demanding. I have a friend that has like a little baking business and I see how hard she works. And she doesn't even own a storefront. So why do you do it? Why is it worth it to you?

Tarsha Joyner 24:31

Well, first it's very freeing to work for yourself. It's freeing to know that I'm going to treat myself with respect. And I don't have to worry about anybody treating me like I'm stupid or less than just because of the color of my skin. And it's really nice being a boss because I get to treat my employees the way that I would like to be treated. They don't have to worry about coming to work and feeling bad about me. Matter of fact, when they come to work, they know I'm going to feed them, I'm going to listen to them, I'm going to treat them with the respect. I may not pay them all that well, because we don't have a whole lot of money. But it's not all about the money sometimes. And these are kids, they're young people, I don't hire grown people, I've got to worry about paying their whole house bills. I'm hiring kids so that I can train them to be good employees in the future.

Morgan Jones Pearson 25:24

I think that's so, so important. Everything you just said, I think it's so important for anybody that is running a business. I want to transition a little bit from all this talk of baking to you mentioned that you're a convert to the church. And so when you first came in contact with the church, you were determined not to join, tell us why that was?

Tarsha Joyner 25:48

Well, in order to understand why I felt that way, you have to understand the south. And if you're not from the south, you're not liable to get it. And you have to understand that liable is a word that we use a great deal in the south.

Morgan Jones Pearson 26:02

And I'm from the south so I can be here for this conversation.

Tarsha Joyner 26:07

So I'm from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and the town was divided in half by the railroad tracks white side, black side. Of course, I lived on the on the black side. And, you know, you have your black churches, you have your white churches, and nothing else really mattered where I was from. And so white people went to white churches and black people went to black churches, and there was no mixing. And I lived in the projects, and in that neighborhood, there was nothing but brown folk, I like the word brown better than black. And so one day this lady moved in and she was white. And it was like, she was in a fishbowl, honey, because we was peeping out the windows looking and seeing 'What in the world, why is she here?' Like white people don't belong in the projects. And then one day, we happen to see the missionaries out mowing her yard, in their missionary clothes. And if you thought that the fact that she was white living in the projects was weird. Seeing them two white guys out there doing yard work in suit pants and white shirts with black badges on I'm like, 'What? Mom, get over here and look at this, you know,?my sister fell in love immediately. She became Audrey—Audrey is her name, the lady that moved in—she became friends with her. She talked to the missionaries and she joined the Church. Well, I thought the Church was weird. First of all, it was a whole lot of white people. And that just was not comfortable to see at church on Sunday. And then second, everybody was so touchy feely and want to hug for everything. And I'm like, I don't like that. I've never been a hugger. But Latter-day Saints sure are, boy. And then she invited me to church on a Sunday where there was conference. And so they were in this carpeted gym looking at a television. Okay, the weirdest thing was the carpet on the floor in the gym. And then the second thing, I was like dang, I could've stayed home and watch TV. Is this what they do at church on Sunday? I'm sorry, I'm done. And then my sister was telling us that we couldn't come to the temple when her and her husband got married. Because we weren't members of the Church. That was it, that sealed the deal. I didn't want nothing to do with the church at that point. And then I ended up having to move down to Wilmington, North Carolina, where she moved when she got married, because I was having issues with my mom. And by that point, I was 18. I had my daughter, Christy, she was two at the time, no, she was a year old, because I had her when I was 17. And we moved down to live with my sister. And I definitely did not want to go to church with her. So I would go with her mother in law to church. And she had to work a different shift every Sunday. So every Sunday, we went to a different church. And some of those churches, for the very southern Baptist churches that I was used to, the problem was you had to look a certain way, drive a certain car, live in a certain neighborhood, wear a certain outfit, in order to be accepted. And I didn't have all of those things. So one of those churches was scratched off the list for me, I wasn't going to be going to that one. And then another one, it was so loud, and so much noise. I mean, I just couldn't stand it like I cannot be screamed at for a whole hour and a half and expect to feel comfortable there. So that was scratched off the list. And one night we went to a tent revival, which was life changing, because that man sat up there and preach to hellfire and damnation the entire time. And by the time he got done he was calling everybody to the front of the gate saying and I looked around and I was the only one still left sitting and I was like you keep preaching all you want to but I'm not coming because I just didn't feel like he understood who I was enough to be able to save me. Like it felt like don't you think that's a personal thing? Don't you think we need to know each other a little bit before we get into this saving thing? No, I'm supposed to just go down there, you're supposed to tap me on the forehead. And I'm saying that just was ridiculous. That made no sense so I scratched them off the list. Lady, what are you actually doing with your life? That's how I felt about it. So I went home, and I asked my sister, does your preacher think that he can just save you? Is that what they think? And she was like, well, first of all, he's called a bishop. Second of all, why don't you just ask the missionaries, and I was like, nevermind, nevermind, forget I said anything. And then the next day, the missionaries came looking for me, and I was like, didn't I tell you not to say anything to the missionaries, and she's like, I swear, I didn't say anything, I did not ask them to come over. And because they were so young and cute, I went ahead and...because I was 18 at the time, and they were 18. And you know how girls are? And I thought I'll sit here and I'll be nice. And I'll listen. But I'm gonna hold my Bible in my lap the whole time. So whatever you say it better be in this, you know? But when they asked me if, you know, if I felt that what they were teaching me was true. Up to that point, there wasn't anything I thought was wrong with what they were teaching me. The only thing that was different was the whole Joseph Smith thing, you know? So when they asked me to pray about it, to see if I wanted to join the Church, I remember going upstairs to my nieces and nephew room to get on the dirty floor to pray and knocking toys out of the way. And I remember the room was not that bright, it was the middle of the day, but the curtains are drawn, it was kind of dark in the room, but not super dark. And when I said my prayer, the room got lighter, which was odd, because my eyes were closed. Do you know what I'm saying? So if I opened my eyes it was still dark, but when I closed my eyes, I could see this light. And it just felt so warm. And I just knew that what I was praying about was true. So I agreed to join the church. And, you know, I would like to say and then everything was hunky dory from now on. But it wasn't because I went inactive very shortly after I joined the church, because I got thrown in a primary. See, if you don't understand the culture of the church it's like a whole foreign country. You know, no, it's another universe. LDS culture is just very foreign, especially if you're born in the Baptist, the Bible Belt, you know what I'm saying? And those kids in primary, I felt like, how can I teach them anything when I know nothing myself? I was thoroughly enjoying that investigators class. And they threw me in there with these little demon children that never behaved that wouldn't sit down. And I swear, Dennis the Menace had two cousins, and they was in my class. So I just decided I wasn't gonna come to church, I just stopped coming in. Because I was like, if they just wanted a babysitter, why didn't they just say that? Why would they let me join this church if you know, but I didn't want to go to any other church, because I felt that the gospel was true. I just didn't want to get into that church, because I didn't want to deal with them kids, you know? I was inactive for about about five years. And I had met my husband, and he brought me here to Lynchburg, Virginia. And the first thing I did after I got a job was find where the church was. And I've been going ever since.

Morgan Jones Pearson 33:35

First of all, I want to know that any bishops listening should note the whole Primary thing, because I think it's important, but also, I love that you ended up coming back. What do you think when you move to Lynchburg? What do you think it was that led you? I know that you said, you know, you didn't want to go to any other churches because you felt like what you had learned in our church is true. But what gave you kind of the courage to come back?

Tarsha Joyner 34:05

Well, these people didn't know me. They didn't know all the things that I had been through. They didn't know that I had been married before and divorced. And that's shameful in the church to get married. And then get divorced.

Morgan Jones Pearson 34:18

It shouldn't be.

Tarsha Joyner 34:19

It shouldn't. It shouldn't because it happens. I mean it was shameful for me to stay with some old that wasn't valuing who I was, you know, and it was an abusive situation. And it just was not good for me or my daughter. So I decided I was going to get out. But my husband now is like, the best man I've ever met in my life. He's the sweetest spirit that I've ever [met]. He has to be in order to put up with me. But I'm so grateful that I went through what I did so that I could appreciate him even more, because he is the best thing ever. He wasn't a Latter-day Saint when I married him, but my patriarchal blessing told me that he would be one day. And I didn't get that until my daughter was almost 10 years old I think it was. Christie was 10 when I got my patriarchal blessing because she was the only one that went with me. And I hid that thing, child, I did not want him to find it. And I was like, let me go get this and put this in this little hole down here that he will never look into until we get sealed in the temple because it told me that we were going to have that happen. And I firmly believed that it would.

Morgan Jones Pearson 35:31

And it did happen?

Tarsha Joyner 35:33

It did. It took 10 years, because I'm a nag. And he likes to do as sweet and nice as he is, he's stubborn as a mule. And he wants to do things his way. Oh girl, you ain't got enough time for me to tell you about that story, that story is hilarious. He eventually join and we were all sealed in the temple as a family.

Morgan Jones Pearson 35:53

Amazing. So the last thing I want to touch on before we get to our last question is you have a passion, Tarsha, for family history, which I love because I think, you know, we don't often think of somebody that grew up in foster care is somebody that would be passionate about family history. So why is it so important to you? And why is it important for us to know where we come from?

Tarsha Joyner 36:21

Well, it's important to me because I didn't grow up with a family. And I didn't have people around me that had all of this information to tell me about where I'm from. So discovering it as an adult is that much more important. I think that this season in my life is when it needed to happen. Because when I was in my 20s, and 30s, none of that stuff was important to me. You know, it, let me tell you, when I got called in the stake Relief Society presidency to be over temples and family history, I felt so inadequate. I'm like, I don't even do family history. How am I supposed to be that person? I was like, Okay, God, that's what you think I'm alone to do this. But I think you're making a mistake. For the first time in history you're making a mistake. Well, let me tell you, I had to prepare for a conference where we were supposed to be teaching people teaching other people about this app that I actually do love...the ancestry app and Family Search. I love it. But I wasn't doing all that I should have been doing. But I'm a tech geek. I love technology. So I was the perfect person to teach people about the technology of it. I'm just not the best person that's to say, I've done my history all the way back to Adam. That is so not true. But I did learn about my grandmother. And it might seem a foreign concept to some people to say, well, of course you know who your grandmother is. Well, I didn't. I knew my mother's mother, because she lived in the projects on the other side in the same projects that we lived in. But my father's mother I never met. And I didn't understand that whole side of the family. I knew that my father, my grandfather was an alcoholic. And I would go see him at the bus station downtown in Rocky Mount, he would give me a few dollars, and I'd go buy candy. And that was our relationship. Well, I didn't understand why he was an alcoholic until I did this family history. And what I learned about my grandmother, his wife was that she had several children that died shortly after they were born. Now, I don't know if that was the lack of care that they got in those segregated hospitals. I don't know if it was a issue with her health, I don't know. But she had three children that lived. And she had about five children that did. And the last child that she gave birth to she died. Now can you imagine being in the segregated south, your wife dies after giving birth to five children and they die and you have three small children that you have to raise on your own. You know, it's depressing, right? And you know, there was no therapies like there is now, you just don't get on the internet and go to therapy back then. You just had to deal and I think that his way of dealing with it was with alcohol. It made me see a different side of him. And it made me feel this tender connection to my grandmother that I'd never met. I didn't even know what her name was. I didn't know it until I went through Family Search.

Morgan Jones Pearson 39:45

And Tarsha being a member of the church and understanding the way that you know, temples work and temple sealings. Why does that all matter?

Tarsha Joyner 39:55

Because I know that we have work that we need to get Time Heavenly Father has commanded us to do it. And it will get done whether we help or not, I don't want to meet Him saying, Well, I wanted to, but I was crushing some candy, which I do quite a bit of. But I don't want Him to look at me and say 'You had all of these time, all of this, it all of this knowledge that you could have been doing family history, and you chose to do nothing. You chose to be selfish.' Because there's going to be a day of reckoning. And I don't want to stand in front of Him ashamed with the time. I'm not saying that every second of my time is spent doing something productive, because God already knows. But He knows that I do make an effort to do some of the things He's asked me to do. I can't get it all done, or else I'd be wandering around like a crazy woman because I'm trying to be perfect. And that's just, I'm trying to be like Jesus, but I'm so far from perfect, and I'm okay with that. It's okay to not be perfect. It's okay to not try to be. You know what I'm saying? It's not okay to not try to be because we're supposed to try to be like the Savior, and He was perfect. So we're supposed to try to be perfect. But there's no point in walking around like you are...And you know, sometimes I get it done. And sometimes I don't. But when I do, when I make that least little bit of effort, it gets magnified so greatly, that it's worth it that little bit of time that's spent.

Morgan Jones Pearson 41:30

I completely agree. Tara said, this has been so fun for me to talk with you. And to learn from you. I feel like I've learned a lot. My last question for you is what does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Tarsha Joyner 41:45

So for me, what it means to be all in is that I need people to understand who I am. I don't hide my religion in any way, I have a very large sphere of influence. And I want to make sure that I'm influencing people in the right direction. I have all these followers on social media. And I bet you that every last one of them could tell you that I'm a Latter-day Saint, because I don't hide the fact, matter of fact, it's usually in my description in my social media, and I post pictures of the temple when I go, because I'm excited that I get to go once a month. I talk about what I learned at church on Sunday. I mean, if you're gonna be listening to me, you might as well be listening to some good stuff, as well as the baking tips. You know what I'm saying? And I feel that I hear people say at church a lot, that they're afraid to share the gospel and I'm like, How are you afraid to share the gospel? Aren't you living the Gospel? If you're living it, then you're sharing it? And there's no need to hide being a Latter-day Saint because let me tell you something, if you don't like me, because I'm a Latter-day Saint, that helps me weed you right on now. I don't need you to be around me. If you're gonna judge me harshly because I'm doing something that benefits me and my family, there's something wrong with you and I don't want you to be around. I'm cool with that. And truth is, I'll never forget sitting up in a chapel one time. And they were talking about what did you think that the Celestial Kingdom is gonna be like? Look around at everyone in here. Do you think it's gonna be crowded? I said I hope not because I need a lot of space to move around me and if you're worried about what people are going to think of us because we're Latter-day Saints. They're definitely not all in.

Morgan Jones Pearson 43:38

I love that. Well Tarsha, thank you so much. Like I said, this has been so fun for me and I just appreciate you spending time with me.

Tarsha Joyner 43:50

Thanks for having me. This has been truly a pleasure. Now, I feel like I've got to go do some family history.

Morgan Jones Pearson 43:57

You and me both, sister. Big thanks to Tarsha Joyner for joining us on today's episode. If you're ever in Lynchburg, Virginia, be sure to check out Mrs. Joy's Incredible Treats. We're so grateful to Derek Campbell of Mix at 6 Studios for his help with this and every episode of this podcast, and we're grateful to you for listening. We'll look forward to being with you again next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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