52: “We Have Waited for Him, and He Will Save Us” (Christmas)
You know that little feeling of joy that comes from opening a Christmas card and reading a loved one's reflections from the past year? Well, this week's “Come, Follow Me” lesson is a Christmas card of sorts, beginning with an invitation to consider how the Old Testament has strengthened your testimony of the Savior this year. On this week's episode, we'll hear from past guests and a few listeners who share how the Old Testament has strengthened their testimony of Christ. As you listen, we hope that you, too, will reflect on how your relationship with the Savior has grown and that you find joy in the process.
Genesis 45:8 (But God)
Kali Hoenes & Varci Figuerres
Deuteronomy 8:2 (God knows what’s in our hearts)
Laura Rees & Michelle Baxter
Isaiah 53:5 (With His stripes, we are healed)
Daniel 3:19-27 (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego survive the furnace)
Sandy Bacon & Jen Cocciamillo
Genesis 21:19-20 (Hagar at the well)
Kym & Chad Wells
Rachel Adams & Michelle Eldredge
The Come, Follow Me lesson for this week begins by asking this question: "During the Christmas season, consider how the Old Testament has strengthened your testimony of Jesus Christ throughout the year." So, you guys, that is exactly what we did. This week we will hear from past guests, as well as a few of our listeners, to share with us how the Old Testament has strengthened their testimony of Christ. And as you listen, I hope you take the time to answer that question for yourself.
Welcome to the Sunday on Monday Study Group, a Deseret Bookshelf Plus original brought to you by LDS Living, where we take the Come, Follow Me lesson for the week and we really dig into the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall. If you're new to our study group, we want to make sure you know how to use this podcast. So please follow the link in our description that will explain how you can best use this podcast to enhance your Come, Follow Me study, just like my friends - Laura Lamberg and Tina Chadwick, mother/daughter duo. Hey, ladies, Another awesome thing about our study group is each week, we're joined by two of my friends. So it's always a little bit different. But whoa, this week, totally different because I'm joined by lots of friends.
You guys, this is such a fun episode. Here's what we did: we called on guests from this past year, as well as listeners, to talk to us about their experience with studying the Old Testament. So it's gonna be a little bit different. Some of the guests I'm interacting with, and some of the guests just share straight out of the gate their testimony of the Old Testament, and I think you're going to enjoy what everybody has to say. So we're going to begin this episode with our good friend, Tamu Smith, because we began with her at the very beginning of our Old Testament year. And she came clean and said that she was not looking forward to Old Testament, she had never really read it. And so we're asking her back to talk to us about her Old Testament experience. Specifically, Tamu, is, I want to know your answer to this question: How has the Old Testament strengthened your testimony of Jesus Christ?
Oh, Lord, I don't know that the Old Testament has strengthened my testimony in Jesus Christ, because I've always had that testimony in Christ. What the Old Testament has done for me, it's not just strengthened, but helped me to have a stronger relationship with my Heavenly Parents. To see them in a very different light. The Old Testament is hard. Because really the Old Testament used to give me anxiety, you know, give me anxiety. How do I, how do you explain this to children? And my kids will be like, God sounds angry. And I was like, because He is, like. And so that was my attitude, though, before and and then just taking the time to sit down and take a deep breath. And really just taking it if I needed to, reading one scripture and seeing that.
You know, one example is Joseph, and how he was separated from his family. And, and then how he, before I saw it as this separation and you know, as a kid, I always wondered what was it like when they came back together? Like, were they cool with each other at first? And then, like, whenever something would happen, Joseph would be like, "I can't even deal with y'all. Y'all sold me". You know, whatever. But it talks about, you know, the years of plenty, and how people forget. And so, and just for me having those reminders of yes, we forget. And being able to follow the relationship, seeing a different thing, a different relationship with my Heavenly Parents. And not so much is how, how they were so quick to, things were so quick to be destroyed, but really, how relationship is being built?
You were with me in that lesson when we talked about that story?
And I want to bring up one phrase, two words, and I want you to apply it to your life. Because in that story of Joseph, he just got done explaining and talking to his brothers. And do you remember when we then read in Genesis 45:8: "but God."
"but God". Yes
I want you to tell me how that "but God" applies to your life right now.
Right now it's the healing balm. But God will make it better. But God is going to be there when everybody else is gone. But God, God will be your constant. And that is, that sums up my my Old Testament experience is, is "but God", you know. But God, and I definitely, I'm very I'm very grateful for your challenge to me years ago when you're like, "I love the Old Testament." I was like nobody loves the Old Testament except for black pastors
I got a little bit of that in me.
Clearly, it's the Missoura,
It is, it's the Missouri ln me.
And so, um, so yeah, I was like, nobody loves the Old Testament. Let me read it through a different lens and, and just being, honestly, that is the thing that drove me back to the Old Testament. And, and I will say, Tammy, I love it.
I love it because it has, you know, I know people say that the Old Testament is to introduce Christ. Like it is, you know, the introduction. But for me, it really was introducing me to a loving, protecting Father.
I love you. Gosh, I love you. I've loved discussions this year with you about the Old Testament and to see your love of it. I'm so glad you love it like I do now. It's been awesome.
I know. At first I was like, I can't, I was actually reading it to prove you wrong. I was like, Look, Tammy. I don't know. You must, you must like dark comedy. Like, you like
'You are a wierdo. Turns out it's good. All right, I guess I'll study it.' Oh, you're awesome.
It's really good. So thank you, thank you for challenging me.
Well, you're welcome.
Okay, I am so excited to introduce these two guests to you today. We have Kali Hoenes and Varci Figguerres. And here's what's fun about these two: they're sisters. Now. Varci reached out to me a while ago and said, "Oh, hey, I just wanna let you know, we listen, we love your podcast, my sister and I. And my sister would be such a good guest." And she told me a little bit about Kali. And I thought, Oh, she would be and then I thought, but so would Varci. And so I said, How about if we have you both on and I think Varci was a little shell-shocked. Like, That's not how I thought this was gonna go. And she was even backpedaling, like, No, no, no, no, not me. And I thought, well, that's how it works here. So we, I just asked you both to come and be on the Christmas episode, which I'm thrilled about, because we just get to talk about Jesus and the Old Testament. And so I sent you this question from the Come, Follow Me manual, and I asked you to ponder on this, so I'm gonna ask you this question and then we'll start with your answers. And here it is: During this Christmas season, consider how the Old Testament has strengthened your testimony of Jesus Christ throughout the year. So Kali, let's start with you. Hit it, ladies.
Okay. As I was thinking about this, I noticed how many times the children of Israel are mentioned in the Old Testament, and I felt a connection to them, more so than I ever have before. And one, one verse in particular, if you don't mind if I share it, it's pretty short. In Deuteronomy 8:2, it says, "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these 40 years in the wilderness, to humble thee and to prove thee to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep his commandments, or no." And the reason that this particular scripture resonated with me is because it said, it mentioned 40 years, and I'm almost 40. And I do feel like I've been super-humbled these last five years, especially. And I have seen God lead me along. But I think that like the children of Israel, I sometimes forget the miracles, you know, even though I've witnessed some really great miracles. I also get caught up in the hardship of life sometimes, and find myself wandering in the wilderness. And yet I know God knows where I am all the time. So this was really good for me to ponder on because I have witnessed a miracle, and I do want to share that.
Five years ago, when we were living in Arizona, my son and his sisters - I have one son and three daughters - they were playing a game. And my son went up to the second story window while I was making dinner and his sisters were below on the patio. And they'd opened up the window so that he could say hello, and he was standing on a chair. And he leaned against the screen to talk to them and the screen popped. And, and he fell headfirst. And my eight-year old had been prompted to catch Rad. Those were the thoughts that came into her mind like, catch Rad. And so she was right there. But he's a very heavy little boy. He's a hefty two-year old. And he just slipped right through her hands onto the pavement below. But like, I, to this day believe that she, along with angelic help that, - she gave me permission to share -she witnessed a part of that. She felt people there catching Rad with her. I think that saved his life that day, because even though he did hit the pavement, it changed his position.
And we went to the, to the hospital, and his, you know, his injuries were really grave with, he had crushed his skull. But the most concerning thing was the bleeding on the brain. And they told us like, "I just don't know if he'll be okay." So those first 24 hours were really critical. And the bishop came up to the hospital. And he, he gave Rod a priesthood blessing. And in the blessing he said, "You are having your own experiences right now so that you can be an instrument in God's hands." And then said he would touch many lives. And one of the first people to reach out to me after the accident was my cousin Erica, who had lost her baby to SIDS. And that she tried for a couple years to have her only child. And her prayer was, "I am fasting for you. And I told Heavenly Father that if He would let Rad live, that you would tell 1000s of people." And so I'm appreciate this opportunity to reach as many people as possible to share, you know, like it is in the Scriptures with the parting of the Red Sea, that miracles still happen in this modern day. And there's this connection we have with the Old Testament and the many miracles that were shared there.
And Rad was only in the hospital for five days before they sent him home. And even the doctors were quite astounded at the miracle, at his recovery. He never had to have surgery. But the things that I want to focus on are what happened after. For about a year after his accident he kept telling me that he played cars with Jesus. And every time I would ask him, Well, when? When were, when did you play cars with Jesus? He would say the same thing every time. And he would describe the scene of the accident when I was waiting for the paramedics to come. And he'd say ,"I saw a truck and an ambulance and a police car. And I was always shocked when he told me this because his eyes weren't open. I was begging him to open his eyes.
And, and so I pondered a lot on this. And the only thing that I can think of is that while his physical body was suffering, his spiritual body was not. And that Heavenly Father and Jesus were there to comfort him and play cars with their, this little two-year old boy. And I feel like that is the atonement, that is Christ, you know, because we do have these physical sufferings. We don't have to suffer spiritually. Like Christ took on the physical and the spiritual. So I, I just really love that he has all these things, that he's, that he remembers. When we were studying in the Creation in Genesis, we got to talk about the Tree of Life. And he stopped me and he was so excited. This is when he was 6, so two years ago when we were studying this. He's like, the Tree of Life! He's like, Mom, the tree of life is like 1000s and 1000s of years old. And did you know, the people who go to the Tree of Life, their souls are with God?
I was like, Okay, I didn't tell you that. I didn't, I didn't. That was out of his mouth. And then even this week, we were talking about how God created the trees. And he's like, Well, what about the seeds we plant? Then we grow the tree? I said, Yeah, but where did the seed come from? And he's like, oh, right, because that seed was a tree. And that seed was a tree all the way back to the Tree of Life. And he said, Mom, on the Tree of Life there are oranges and lemons and plums and apples. And I was like, That makes a lot of sense. That you know, that there would be all fruit, all kinds, because we are united through Christ. Like what more love could God show but then by giving His Son to us, and we are united through Him, that the Tree of Life is the love of God. So as like these five years have passed, I have, he has had these little moments where I think the veil is lifted.
Kali, okay, go back to the Scripture you read in Deuteronomy, because I keep thinking of that through your whole story, which I loved. I want to ask you this. Throughout that whole experience, how did you know that he knew what was in your heart?
I actually have never prayed so hard in my life than when I was in the ambulance. All I could say was like, "Please don't take my son", over and over. And I also knew that He might, you know, because miracles look different. Miracles aren't always that someone lives; miracles are more than that. We have to have a broader perspective and we get those through trials like these. But I feel like it was through prayer that Heavenly Father knew my heart and my desire. And I do think about my cousin's prayer all the time, that it's my job to share the good news. Just share about Christ, that there is hope in this world that we live in.
Wow. I'm going to Amen everything you just said. Kali, thank you. Thank you for connecting it to the children of Israel, and the wilderness, and Happy 40th birthday when you turn 40. Pretty significant. So I love the testimony you just bore about how the Old Testament has connected us to Christ. So thank you, thank you for sharing that.
Oh I'm happy to.
Okay, let's hear from your sister now, Varci.
Talk to us, hi. Tell us how the Old Testament has connected you to Christ.
So I have to say, this has been such a cool year for studying the Old Testament. I never really realized that Christ was in the Old Testament as much as He really is. And I've decided that it could be renamed "The Old Testament, another testament of Jesus Christ through symbols". Because that is how I found Him and it's not like explicit. You have to search,ponder about it. And some of my favorite stories that we've studied this year: one was the Abraham and Isaac story and I saw Christ like never before. And I remember watching a, I think it was a Seminary video with Isaac carrying the branches up the hill. And I just, I just so related it to Christ carrying His wood, His cross. And I just really love that story.
Another one was the brass serpent, where all you just, all you have to do is look. And it's just exactly like in our day, we turn to Jesus, He's there always. So those were two of my favorite. And then another one was one I was not expecting. In Exodus, the chapters where it describes the tabernacle of, Moses' tabernacle. I always skipped over those. I thought they were boring and that they were meaningless. And I found Christ in those. It was incredible. And this is, this is how I found it: There was a tabernacle, a replica of the Moses' tabernacle that came to Bountiful (Utah). I don't know if you've heard about that.
Yes, I've been there.
Yes. Wasn't it so cool?
It was so awesome. And so I was excited to learn about it, so I went there. I explained to them I have a daughter with autism, she's mostly nonverbal. And she does have words, but she's, I would say, like, moderate severe on the spectrum. And so her attention span isn't very good. And it's about an hour tour. And I had about 30 minutes before I needed to be home for my other girls to come home. So I explained to them, "Can I just go to the tabernacle?" And they, they, eventually I found my way there. There were Sister Missionaries stationed that day. And one of them was talking to me about how they go about sacrificing the animal, and then they put the blood all over the altar. And meanwhile, the other sister missionary, my daughter had grabbed her fruit leather out of her hand that she was about to eat. And I was like kind of embarrassed, sorry about that. And then, on the way out, I passed the back of the tent, and the door was open to the Holy of Holies. And so the guy was in there all by himself, and he invited us to come in.
And I remember looking in the Ark of the Covenant and seeing, and I will always remember this because it was a visual experience. I've read it, I've heard it before, but I would never have been able to tell anybody what's in the Ark of the Covenant. But the visual experience like changed everything. There's the Commandments, manna, and the rod of Aaron that had budded. And I was just surprised. It was like, and I'll always remember and I pondered that, like all those things, turn us to Christ. And so anyway, we left, and on the way driving home, the thought came to me, Hannah, you brought Hannah to the altar of sacrifice. And she is your sacrifice in a way. Not of blood, but of time and of energy. And I thought that she is a type of Christ in a way. She's innocent, she's like a lamb that they could have brought to the altar. And she can remind me of Christ every day, and that I should treat her as such and be patient, because sometimes it's really hard to be patient. But it was, it was it was special. It was, yeah. It helped me a lot.
Ho, I can totally tell. Gosh, thank you, Varci, for sharing your experience with your daughter and the tabernacle. And thank you to both of you, you beautiful sisters, for sharing your thoughts today.
Segment 3 21:03
So this is kind of cool. I have my friend Laura Reeves. She has been a guest on the podcast this year and a long-time listener. And not only that, she has a study group of women that she gets together with regularly to study the Scriptures. So I'm excited to welcome you back. Hi, Laura.
Laura Reese 21:28
You're back. How many study groups are you in?
Laura Reese 21:32
I have a couple. I do have a couple.
You have a couple. Okay, so then who better to ask this question to than you. So Laura, tell me how has studying the Old Testament this year strengthened your testimony of Jesus Christ?
Laura Reese 21:46
So before we started the Old Testament for Come, Follow Me, I had spent most of my time just like kind of opening books and reading specific stories. You know, the stories that we all knew: Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, Noah's Ark, I knew all those stories. But I had actually never read the Old Testament in context, I have to be honest. And so that was, I was excited for that. But I was a little bit nervous. And so one of the things I had heard really early on in my study of the Old Testament this year, was to look for Jesus Christ in every story. And so if the stories felt messy or complicated or hard, if I would look for Jesus Christ, then it would make it easier to understand the story. So one of the first things that really helped me was to shift and understand that every time it used the word, Lord, if I saw it written with a capital L, I knew it was Jesus Christ's voice. And that was a game changer for me, because then I realized that it, even though it didn't speak Jesus Christ's name the way I was used to, I'm more familiar with in the Book of Mormon, and even in the, especially the New Testament, He was all over every story.
Laura Reese 22:59
But every time they use the word, Lord, or every time there was talking, every time that they were being interacted with, it was Jesus Christ. And so that was significant. I had memorized the living Christ a couple of years ago. And one of the lines in the living Christ in the living Christ is he was the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the new. So I said that over and over when I was memorizing it, but I don't think I really understood what it was like to have, who is Jehovah, until I started reading him into these stories, and hearing it as the Lord's voice. And so that was a big game changer for me. Another thing is our Prophet a couple of years ago, he challenged us to look for the promises that he's promised blessings of covenant Israel. So I would go in and take the stories and pull out those words. And so a lot of times, I would take those words, and I would use them kind of as mantras those days, to kind of help me strengthen myself. And I loved it. It was really cool practice. And I even have like a little thing where they're written down that's inside my scriptures.
Laura Reese 24:09
But this year when I was able to go in, and I would, as we were just in our reading, just organically, I would start seeing the blessings and promises of covenant Israel written right there. I would, for the first time, I realized they were coming from Jesus Christ's voice. Like He was speaking those promises to each one of those people. And when He was, it was like Jesus Christ was speaking those promises to me.
I have a follow-up question for you. I want you to look back down in your Scriptures where you wrote the covenants. And I want you to think back past this whole year. Has there been a specific time where you were counting on those covenants that you'd be willing to share with us?
Laura Reese 24:51
Yes. So one of the things that's been really hard for me this year is I have a beloved sister who started to struggle with some chronic back pain, it kind of came out of nowhere, someone who's like playing tennis three to five times a week. And suddenly she's in a lot of pain and can barely like work, barely get out of bed, barely function. And she lives just two doors up from me, so best friend, you know, biggest support. And suddenly her life is in crisis. And I'm trying to feed her with the, you know, all the faith and all the hope that I have. But it's hard, because sometimes in that moment, it's just not coming. Like the miracle I want is for her back to be completely healed and for her to move forward. And that's just not how the story is being written right now.
Laura Reese 25:44
And so I've had to kind of keep reminding myself that like, He's going to keep showing up in the story, He's going to keep just giving her enough to keep going, giving me enough to keep going to be strong enough for her. And that even if the healing isn't coming when she wants it to, that Jesus will walk that, walk that path with her and make a strong enough. We've all had those prayers, where instead of asking for the miracle I want, I've had to say things like, make her strong enough, make me strong enough, make it possible, you know. It's just kind of opening to that point in your life where you're just like, I trust You, I trust You to write the story. And so it was hard. But I will say that a major miracle happened in just some things that she was able to do. Like she was able to come on a vacation with us. And she was able to be a part of it. At the very fourth watch, the last moment when you think that there's not enough, the Lord was able to provide the strength and provide the blessings she needed to be able to do it. And did it look how we wanted? No.
Laura Reese 26:55
And I'm sure Moses would have liked to have seen deliverance completely differently, too. I mean, I don't think he wanted to go through all the plagues and all the different things that happened. And he certainly wasn't seeing the miracle coming in the parting of the Red Sea. But He's there in those middle moments. He's there helping us, He's helping us find those things. And I think it's when we're focused on a specific miracle or outcome that we miss what He's actually doing in our lives. We miss what He's bringing.
Amen, Laura, amen. Thank you so much for teaching us that truth.
That was so good.
Michelle Baxter 27:38
Hey. This is Michelle Baxter coming from Sandy, Utah, and how studying the Old Testament has strengthened my testimony of Jesus Christ. I have loved studying this last year all the deep, rich symbolism of Christ embedded throughout the Old Testament. He really is the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament. And I'm excited to read about the Messiah of the New this next year. I found there is much hope in Christ in studying the Old Testament. Here are a few of the many beautiful messages I received this last year of the Savior from studying Come, Follow Me and following along with Sunday on Monday, all the while taking copious notes. We have seen over and over again in our studies of the Old Testament how the Lord performs miracles, big miracles in the lives of ordinary people who exercise their faith and trust in Him. It really is evident in all scriptures and even today, it testifies to me that He lives, that He loves us and wants to bless us.
Michelle Baxter 28:37
There are many examples, but to specifically name three: the widow of Zarephath; Ruth and Naomi; and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I've learned like the widow of Zarephath, whose oil did not fail her, Christ's living water will never cease. In my own life, I've witnessed so many miracles. I don't think it's because more miracles have happened to me, I think it's because I try to look for the daily miracles that we experience. I believe we all do. For me specifically, my big miracle was in the beginning of the pandemic. I was single, dating wasn't even an option because we were all in isolation. There was literally no chance of me meeting anybody. I was 51; all statistics were against me. And God defied all those statistics. It was Him, there's just no explanation. And there were many series of miraculous events that happened that led to meeting dating and marrying my now husband, Preston. It was God, period.
Michelle Baxter 29:37
So and, and God is constantly orchestrating our lives and sometimes we may feel like there's nothing and, and yet, He's in the background. He's orchestrating, He's still orchestrating. And when I think of the the Ruth and Naomi story, God orchestrated that way before they even met. And the lineage of Christ comes through Ruth, and so God was orchestrating that. And, and just like He orchestrated their lives, He orchestrated ours. I love that. So like the Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we learn from that, that God will be with us through any challenge, through any furnace of affliction. He is right there, you know.
Michelle Baxter 30:22
Preston just took the Deacons camping over the like, about two or three weeks ago. And he came home and his clothes, the backpack, his shoes, everything just smelled like campfire. And, I mean, I kept thinking that maybe there was a fire outside, but it was his backpack was still sitting at the foot of my bed. And so I could smell that. And and when we read that story, it says "the smell of fire passed on them", so they didn't even smell like it. And so that smell does not come out until you wash it. But they didn't even smell like it. So I thought that was really interesting. God has the power to deliver us, to rescue us, to sanctify us and purify our hearts. And what I love about this story is no matter what, no matter what our story is, whether we're divorced or, or widowed, as he was, with health challenges, we're unemployed, whatever it is, the Savior is right there. And we may not see Him in a physical form, but He is there. And He will, He cannot, it is not in his character, abandon us. He will always be right there.
Michelle Baxter 31:34
So again, when I met my husband, he had been recently widowed. His, his wife had passed away from breast cancer. And so we've been, you know, married, and I became an instant mother of six kids overnight. Shazam at that. Tammy, Tammy's right there for me. She's, she gets me, totally. I'm so grateful. It's been, I mean, there's been challenges, but it has been God's hand period. Again, His miracle , His blessing. And we still have three of those six children living in our home. Amazing kids who watched their mother succumb to cancer. What's really amazing again, that orchestration that I talked about earlier is I also lost my mother to cancer at age 22. So all the while God has been preparing me, He knew when I was 22 that I would need to know how to succor and to help these kids through this time. And as I have watched in my own life, I have also seen in there so that He truly does know how to carry our sorrows. And He does know how to bear our griefs. And, and truly with His stripes, we are healed. And, and I've learned through reading the Old Testament that all healing comes from Christ.
Oh, and I just love you so much, Michelle, and I'm so grateful that my cousin met you because you are a perfect addition to our family. So thank you so much for sharing your story and your experience with the Old Testament this year. Okay, we're halfway through this special Christmas production of Sunday on Monday, learning about how a study of the Old Testament all year has brought us closer to Christ. I had so many friends reach out to me during the year with similar thoughts about seeing Jesus in these scriptures for the first time. There are lots of personal stories and insights to come. So stay with us.
Segment 4 33:30
Sandy Bacon 33:41
Hi, I'm Sandy, and I am a Seminary teacher with along with my husband, Greg. And we live in Illinois right now. We have an awesome Seminary class and we've had a wonderful year studying the Old Testament. As a seminary teacher, this is maybe unfortunately the first time I've really studied the Old Testament. I never had a formal class, myself, either in college or when I was a youth. And maybe 10 years ago, I decided to read the Old Testament cover to cover and to keep a journal along the way. And I did that and it was really beneficial to me. But studying this year, and having the Hebrew language pieces be introduced to me and have so many of the cultural meanings be brought in has had a massive impact on me. And honestly, it's surprised me along the way. And it's especially surprised me and how much it impacted how I feel about the Savior, and how much more I feel like I understand Him on a personal level.
Sandy Bacon 34:47
And as I was thinking back over the year of kind of these moments where I really felt excited and connected. I think one of the first ones when I was talking to my class about when Jacob's name is changed to Israel, which of course we all know means "let God prevail". And having that realization that the message that the Lord was emphasizing to His Prophet 1000s of years ago is literally the same message that our current prophet is sharing with us today. And I just found this immense comfort and beauty in that. And it made me feel so connected to the message. And when I would talk to the seminary students, I'd get all fired up. And same thing happened with the Abrahamic Covenant and the gathering of Israel. And I really think...We we did the Passover feast with our students. I was struck over and over again by the thought that this was a feast and celebration that the Savior Himself instituted. And then He grew up practicing during His earthly ministry, this same celebration and the same feast.
Sandy Bacon 36:07
And then to have it tie back in during this last dispensation with Elijah appearing in the temple during Passover to restore the sealing keys. There is no coincidence in that. And it was just magnificent to me. And I was like on fire. And then I had the same thing happen again when we were recently learning about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. And I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. And that feeling that He gathers His chosen people, brings them together, they renew their covenants, and they're made clean and they unite as a people. I couldn't help but feel connected in that exact same way, as He calls his people together every six months for General Conference. And this just kind of like pulsing in and out, in and out, like a living, breathing gathering of His covenant people. And I really just was having these moments where I felt so connected to the Old Testament.
Sandy Bacon 37:13
And then adding in the piece of Joseph Smith being given the plates during that holiday, to call in that last dispensation to gather Israel. I was so excited with my class, that I said to them, "You guys, this is so awesome. I mean, seriously. And if you do not think so you need to try again." And I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. And I probably told more people about that than anything I've ever shared in the Scriptures. And then I think the last kind of connecting moment to me that came to mind was studying Isaiah, and having the thought come to me that here is the Savior giving Isaiah the messages that He wants him to share. And then Isaiah does that in his beautiful, poetic way. Then the Savior grows up and studies His own words through Isaiah during His earthly life. And then ultimately quotes Isaiah, which is basically quoting himself, but in this just beautiful way that fulfills the words of the prophets that He has called and spoken to. And, and there's just something so magnificent in the planning and execution.
Sandy Bacon 38:28
And I think you may look at the Old Testament and say, Everything was different from then to now, it's not relatable. But I have really felt this year that nothing real has changed. The messages of being a covenant people, of letting God prevail, of the Savior being the only way by which we can be saved, of gathering Israel. I mean, the list goes on and on. These are the same messages that the Lord has been sharing since the beginning of time. And then that He continues to fulfill and use and inspire us today with these same messages has really made me feel His love and appreciate the magnificence of this plan in a way that I never have before. And it has filled my cup in a new way. And I'm so grateful to feel like I know my Savior better than I did before. And I feel like studying the Old Testament this year has really given me a personal testimony that He really is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning and the end. He's this unchanging, merciful, loving, loyal husband, to His covenant people. And I just picture Him with his arms extended, and it has made me want to be witHhin is reach, and to know Him better and better. And I'm so grateful for the opportunity to study the Old Testament, and how it's impacted my personal relationship with the Savior this year.
Jen Cocciamillio 40:13
Hello, everyone, I am Jen Cocchiamillio. I have been on podcast before, a couple months ago, I don't know if you remember, but I was the one that talked about how my cute parents, Jack and Dixie are front row every time I teach Gospel Doctrine. I am from Sandy, Utah; grew up just a couple miles away from here, and I have four kids. I teach Gospel Doctrine and I just feel so blessed that I get to talk about Jesus all the time as my job. So there's this painting in the Draper temple, I wish I could find it, I have searched the internet. And it is Christ standing in a windy hillside, clutching a baby lamb. And every time I see it, it just takes my breath away because it's Jesus Christ battered in the elements. But you look at His face, and the relief from finding that one sheep, and the effort that He had to go through to find it? That is the Jesus Christ that I found in the Old Testament. And of all the stories, the one that really spoke to me the most, I would say, is the story of Hagar. She just, she wasn't a woman of consequence. She wasn't the favorite wife. She wasn't the covenant wife, her seed was not going to inherit the birthright.
Jen Cocciamillio 41:39
But yet here she was. She faced this daunting situation, this circumstance where she was cast out, ultimately. Abraham gave her a loaf of bread and a bottle of water and she was on her own. And I think that detail is super interesting, because I can only imagine how quickly that bread ran out, and the water bottle went dry. And there she was, found herself completely alone, just terrified in the wilderness with her son Ishmael. There was no one to help. And she was overcome with fear and exhaustion. And she set her son down. And she pled and she wept to she begged to be spared the pain of seeing her only son die. And there was nothing that she could do. And there was no power on earth that could help her. But I love if you look in Genesis chapter 21, where it teaches us about what happened. And we know that God heard her, in verse 19 "And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink." I love that He opened her eyes and she saw the well of water that was always right there. And that to me is is who Jesus Christ is. He is that well of living water. And He is right there. And sometimes we just need to have eyes to see.
Jen Cocciamillio 43:20
So, I've asked my daughter's permission to share this story. She and I have always had a really close relationship. We never went through the awkward phase when she was a teenager where she didn't like me and we couldn't get along. And we just always had a really easy time. And I was always really confident in the mother that I was to her. And over the course of a really difficult summer, that was just completely taken away from me and we didn't have a relationship at all. And she moved down to school and felt completely lost to me. And it felt like I was in a complete wilderness. And it felt like a hopeless situation, and one that could never be healed. And it was affecting everything: the way that I parented my other kids, I was more fearful. I I just was not myself. I would talk to every friend I could think of. I would counsel with my husband, I felt like I was getting bread and bottles of water from every person in my life and it just was not lasting. And as soon as I was done talking with them, that feeling would return.
Jen Cocciamillio 44:31
And it wasn't until the night that I went, I shut my bedroom door. I shut my bathroom door. And then I went into my closet and shut a third door and I fell on my knees and I couldn't even pray eloquently. I didn't do all of the steps in my prayer. The only thing I could say was please help me. And I don't know how long I was in that room, how many times I repeated Please help me. And honestly, like the situation didn't immediately get better. It's not like she texted me and, and the whole relationship was magically healed. But He gave me hope to leave that closet and gave me enough to press forward. And step by step, suddenly, my circumstance didn't change, the Wilderness didn't change, but I changed. And what what really strikes me is in verse 21, it said, "And God was with the lad." And I'm just so grateful that even in the scary wilderness of parenting, where the stakes feel so high and it feels like we are doing everything wrong, it's so comforting to know that our Savior Jesus Christ is never leaving us alone, and that He is with our kids.
Segment 5 45:52
Kym and Chad Wells are up next. And they were the guests on one of our songs episodes this year, where they were gracious enough to share their personal story about their son Mason, who survived the bombing attack in Brussels, Belgium.
Hi, I'm Chad Wells, this is my wife, Kymberly. We live in Utah and we're the proud parents of five wonderful children.
So diving into the Old Testament this year has been, has been an experience for me. Mainly because I didn't really study a lot about the Old Testament, which is a little embarrassing to admit, but I guess it's never too late. And now that I've kind of like, started a little flame in my life of of loving the Old Testament, I'm excited to continue to study and to continue to find relevancy of it in my life. One thing I have loved from the very beginning, was learning about the role of the kinsmen. And I think after studying what a kinsman is, and the the responsibility of the kinsman, and the complete dedication of a kinsman to his people. Now more than ever, I recognize the Savior has been my deliverer, and has never left me alone, like a kinsman. Sometimes we go through trials that are deeply personal. And we truly feel like we have no one to help lift that burden, or help provide comfort. But the Savior is always there and always will be. We don't have to be worthy of His love. It is without judgment, and without limitations.
He wants to save us and, and He wants to sanctify us like He did the people in the house of Israel. Now that being said, as I've read through so many stories of heartache in the Old Testament, and you know, the same mistakes kind of being made by good people with good intentions. I know that like those people, we are not spared heartache and pain in this life. If I'm being completely honest, there's been a time in my life in the last few years where I was literally crying out to the Lord, This isn't fair. I'm doing all that's expected. Not perfectly, but earnestly fulfilling my calling, attending the temple, reading my scriptures. And now this, you know, this trial, it felt unfair. But obviously, with some humility, I realized, why not me. I'm not above any trial, temptation, discomfort, nor is my family. So when all I can do is completely give it to the Savior and work through that trial, my relationship with Him strengthened. Release not always immediate. It wasn't for this trial, and I don't think it will ever be a trial that I'm grateful for, but I know there was growth. I know that I had great growth and I know that my savior never left my side.
I started to seek for tender mercies daily and finding things to express my gratitude for. In the Old Testament, there are so many stories of people taking great risks to stand up for what is right, to protect their own, to stay true to the covenants they've made. I feel like now more than ever is a time in my life where I want to do that; I want to be more obedient. There were so many brave people in the Old Testament and I want to be more brave. I want to be a disciple, a better disciple of Jesus Christ. I would also say I felt a greater need to find opportunities to lift others and reach out of my comfort zone. Sometimes that takes sacrificing time or other activities, things I enjoy. But I know that that's really important for me to do in my life. And from family neighbors, family members, to neighbors, our youth, and really strangers we just encounter each day, we can be that Ebenezer, we can be that strength to someone else. And I am so grateful for my Savior. And I'm grateful for the scriptures that show us that we can endure really hard things like the people of old time did. And I know as I reach out to my Savior and I strengthen my relationship with Him, that He will get me through any trial, and that I will be able to feel like I know Him, and that He is my friend.
Yeah, I learned, I think what I learned most, too, in addition to what Kimberly said is the Old Testament is a book for today, not a book just about old times, but it's a book for today. And it was written to help us. And those people in the Old Testament times are on a journey, just like we are in this life. They're going through hardship, trials and struggles, the same that we we have today, very similar. And this life is a testing period, it's a journey. And we're gonna go through trials and challenges. But what I learned from studying in the Old Testament this year and from Come, Follow Me is that if we center our lives on Christ and put our trust in Him, He'll pull us through the hardships. So, you know, it's, it seemed like there were always a lot of stories and experiences of those of old that were coming up against trials, that it looked like there was no way. They could see no way through the challenge, they could see no way through the obstacle. And by putting their trust in the Lord, He always provided a way for them to get through, to overcome.
And to succeed in these challenges, whether, you know, it was the Israelites, whether it was Job, whether it was David. In a lot of these trials that they went through in the Old Testament, by putting your trust in Him, in the Lord, in God, he will bring us, they will bring us through. And I also love some of the headings and some of the sections that we studied, like, "be strong and of good courage", or "my heart rejoiceth in the Lord", or "yet will I trust him. Everything reflected us back to trusting in God, center your life on him and He'll pull you through the challenges. If you will, if you will commit, and do your part and get in on the covenant path with Him, He'll pull you down that path and make sure that you get through those struggles or those trials. And so that's what impacted me the most this year. And going into the Christmas season, you know, what a great time to focus on the Savior, to put our our trust in Him. And our belief, and, you know, put it to the test.
Be of courage, be strong, but have trust and faith and let the Lord help pull you through, because you can't, can't do it on your own. And that was another thing I learned is this life journey is not about going at it alone, but only about going at it with the Lord. And with a trust and with faith in God. So, I mean, I don't want to belabor the subject, but it is about, you know, looking at the trials of those in the past and then realizing that if we kind of model our behavior after the ancient prophets, if we model our experiences kind of after the lessons we can learn from them in the Old Testament, we'll have the triumphs and triumphs and successes in our lives like they had back then. And that, you know, this mortality is really very similar. Every century, every age of people, they've all pretty much gone through the same things, you know.
I know they didn't have the homes like we have and the technology of modern day, but they had similar trials. They had the interpersonal relationship struggles, they had the faith struggles, the trial struggles, the everything you can think of in the Gospel. These old saints went through just like we're going through today. So we can learn so much from the history that's in the Old Testament, and how the fellow saints back then dealt with those trials and overcame them versus, you know, and compare that to how we can do the same today. So I think it's a just invaluable tool and lesson guide or just a guide for life, right? The Old Testament goes right along with the rest of Scriptures, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the New Testament, to show us the way to live, the way to overcome the struggles in this life and how to be successful on this journey. That those were lasting experiences for me, or lasting memories from studying this year is that we're not alone on this journey and we can make it through.
Hi. I'm Rachel and I am from Shelley, Idaho, which is just south of Idaho Falls. So it's kind of this dinky little town and I was super happy to answer this question, although it's kind of been a little bit of a big thing. I just love the Savior. And so I think for me, the Old Testament this year has been even more powerful for me. I don't know, I must have missed it all the other years that I've studied about how much love that the Savior has for us, and how much He has given and how much He's there and how it's really the original covenant and how with the New Testament is just really kind of a new, a new covenant and how I get to make covenants now. But it's all really the same covenant, right? And that, really, the Lord, Heavenly Father and the Savior, really are on my side and I get to be on Their team and I get to be in Their tent. We've talked about that, you've talked about that a million times, right? That, that He is our Savior and our Redeemer, and that all we have to do is go to Him, and He will be there for us. And He's always there for us, regardless of what we do, right?
Whether it's, 'I'm always being good', or 'I've never been good and I'm just now being good', or 'I've been good and then I stopped being good, and then I come back'. He is always there, you know. If I have a bad day, He's there. if I don't, you know, I'm having a great day, He's there. And no matter what I can call on Him and I can reach out for Him. And, you know, He is strong enough to defeat the things I need Him to defeat. So if I'm having a weakness or something that I need help with, He's powerful enough to take care of that with me. But He's also tender enough that when we have a bad day, or we're having struggles, whether it be with depression, or family problems, or all those kinds of things that we have in this world, He's also tender enough to take that.
I had a traumatic brain injury as a kid. And they had to do pretty big surgery to repair some damage. And they basically told my parents, we have no idea how she will be. They had to cut brain tissue to remove bone fragments, right. And it was pretty, it was a pretty big deal. Half of my body didn't work, the whole left side was paralyzed. And it all clearly works, right? And my brain still works most of the time unless you talk to my family, right. But I'm a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I ended up getting a doctoral degree, as well, so I do that for a living. And so you know, I work in mental health. So these kinds of things are very tender when we talk about what the Savior does and how He can help people and comfort them because I see it every day, how miserable people can be. He's blessed my family through COVID. My mom had to have three open heart surgeries during COVID. And when we were in the hospital, right, there was a time where it was just, it was heavy, you know. We had a failed procedure so she had to have this emergency open heart procedure to replace the valve and, just heavy.
I was there walking through the hospital down in Murray, Utah. And I've been there, you know, just kind of so stressful, right? when it's your mom, you're worried. And they had this player piano in the lobby. And it just played all by itself; it never played hymns or anything, right. But one day I'm walking back from the cafeteria and it just happened to be playing "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" at the part where it said "but undaunted, still he trusted in his Heavenly Father's care." And I'm like, message received, right. I was there for three weeks, that is the only time it played a hymn the whole three weeks. I know that it's, He's there and He's real and He takes care of us. And He covers us and He helps us, right, in you know, in addition to all the sins and all those kind of things that we need every day. I mean, I, you know, mess up everyday, but those kind of little tender mercies that we have, they are so important and so powerful. I 100% know that as we are reading the Old Testament, and then next year when we're reading the New Testament, as we read these scriptures, it brings us this power, and this hope in our Savior Jesus Christ. So that's how.
Ahhh, okay. Well, my name is Michelle Eldridge, and I live in Elkridge, Utah with my husband David, and our adorable redheaded, 11-year old daughter, Gabby. I have lived in Utah long enough to call it home, but grew up in Northwest Washington, so there's a little bit of where I come from. I think I would start by first sharing a little bit of a personal experience that happened to me that kind of led me to my study of the Old Testament. And I'm going to try really hard to not get emotional during this whole thing because as I've been thinking about it the past couple of weeks, I can't, I just keep crying. So I'm going to try really hard.
But about a little over a year ago, I, Dave and Gabby and I were in St. George for the weekend and we were actually headed to Vegas to go to the BYU opening football game in Las Vegas. And we were in St. George and had gone for a really amazing bike ride through Snow Canyon and the Red Ledges and had this like amazing, awesome adventure. We like to do lots of adventures and and, and had e-bikes. So it was not hard, which was also awesome. And it was a beautiful day; the sun was out, we were getting ready for a football game, had this great adventure. And we were just finishing 'bout 40 miles and riding through kind of the end of the parking lot to return the bikes. And I was watching Gabby ahead of me making sure she was safe through this parking lot. It was the first time we were in a parking lot -we had been a pretty safe bike trail most of the ride - and watched her going through this parking lot, my eyes were on her. And at the last second she turned the corner and I wasn't paying attention to my own surroundings.
And out of the left, my peripheral vision a car came out of the parking lot and hit me, and hit me hard. And it was really scary and I was hurt pretty bad. An ambulance came and I was in the hospital for not long but um, but long enough the injuries were bad enough that it's taken me a little over a year to recover from injuries that I had. Thankfully, Gabby didn't see it. Dave was also in front of me and my parents were behind me and so a lot of, so many things to be grateful for really quite quickly. I don't remember hitting the ground, I remember getting hit, I remember the after. And should have probably been hurt a lot worse than I, the end results were, but had a lot of long-term internal damage to my knee and my hip and shoulder and things like that.
And so I give that story really as a preface to fast forward a few months to Christmas and my recovery was really difficult for me. I missed, I am an educator and I love my job and I love being a mom and I love my church callings. And those things in life for me are important. And I suddenly couldn't do those things and really couldn't do them well. I was trying but I couldn't, missed a lot of work, months of work. And wasn't able to fulfill my calling in the Relief Society presidency, and certainly wasn't being a mom and wife that I try hard to be. And it was really hard. But I kept trying to be really grateful, but it could have been so much worse. And so around Christmast ime was feeling really not good about myself and like if I would just try harder, my knee would get better, or if I would just, you know, buck up and be stronger, be better, kind of, I don't know. I kind of went back to my mid-20s.
And whem, when I wasn't married and older and not married and our church bubble and was often really hard to be I'm not good enough, smart enough, spiritual enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, all those 'enoughs', and that's why I wasn't married. And those were hard times and I kind of went back to that dark mindset of, if I were just good enough I would get over this healing. And at Christmas time was really struggling, and got down on my knees and really sincerely asking for help, and um sort of had the wind knocked out of me spiritual moment of, you need to study the Old Testament. And I thought it was the weirdest answer to a prayer. That's what was going to make me feel better? And sort of was like, As if? That's ridiculous, and kind of ignored it, honestly. And it just kept coming to me for days. You have to do this, you need to do this, this will help you. And so I was like, Okay, fine. I didn't willingly open and start studying that by any means. But I did know that it was an answer. And I needed to believe that.
So that started me on my journey to studying the Old Testament this year. And I felt very, very prompted many times, but especially during Christmas and into the new year this was, this would help me, that would help me feel better. And that I would hear him, and I would hear His love for me, that I would hear, I would hear Him. That's really the best way to say it is that I would find Him and hear Him and feel Him in studying the Old Testament. And that's exactly what's happened to me this year. So Gabby, for the first time bore her testimony in church a few months ago. And she's was 10 at the time, and I was kind of like, Ooh, no, not yet. Wait till Young Women's, let's just wait a little bit, kind of like, you know, no. And she did. I didn't think she would, but she did. And so I read it. And I was so overwhelmed by it, that I just said, Okay, you can go ahead.
And she, I didn't, of course that affected her - the accident. But what she took away from that accident, and then subsequently. I'm thinking my scripture study and what I'm learning is that she, she recognized at the accident when they came, she came to the scene, you know. The ambulance was there and firetruck and all the scary stuff. And one of the ambulance, one of the paramedics took her to the side and gave her this little lion stuffed animal. And she told me later, she said, "Mom, that was like the spirit protecting me and comforting. It was comfort. It was someone giving me comfort, just like the Spirit gave me comfort. And I was still really scared and it didn't make everything better, but I knew I knew someone was there. And if if Heavenly Father cared that much to send a man with a lion to make me feel better then I know he'll make me feel better all the time."
And she connected that to, she she listens in the car with me on the way to work and school on, to my podcast and your podcasts and, and others. And she, she was able on her own to connect that to "That's the spirit Mom, that's just like what we talked about in the car mom. And that's just like the stories that we hear." And, you know, I think like all children, she's come with her own gifts that are more than anything she's learned from me. That's just who she is. But I'm certainly grateful for the prompting to hear Him, because I know it's helping her. So
Thank you for joining us for this week's episode of Sunday on Monday. I hope you've had some time to reflect on how the Old Testament has helped you come closer to Christ. And I hope it's done that because it's preparing us now to study Christ, which we get to do next week. One of the things we'd love to do is hear what your big takeaway was from the episode and not even that, but maybe we would just love for you to share, How has studying the Old Testament helped you come closer to Christ? So if you haven't already joined our discussion group on Facebook or Instagram, go do it; join, sign up, follow. It is a great place to ask questions as you study, and I try to answer questions throughout the week. And then at the end of the week, we post a call for your takeaway or what you've learned throughout this year. And we're going to do that next year, a little bit different,it's going to be so much fun. So comment on the post that relates to this lesson and let us know what you've learned.
You can get to both our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode on LDS living.com/sunday On Monday. The Sunday and Monday Study Group is a Deseret Bookshelf Plus original brought to you by LDS Living. It's written and hosted by me,Tammy Uzelac Hall, and today our awesome study group participants were - oh my gosh, so many: Tamu. Varci, Kalie, Laura, Michelle, Jen, the Wells family, Sandy, Rachel and another - Michelle. You can find more information about my friends at LDS living.com/sunday on Monday. Our podcast is produced by Cole Wissinger and me. It is edited by Hailey Higham, and is recorded and mixed by Mix at Six Studios, and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next week.
And please remember into this new year, that you are God's favorite!
Oh yeah. Cole will cut that out for sure.
That's all I've got for Uzelac
Transcribed by https://otter.ai