BONUS: At The Feet of Extraordinary Women
Stories in this episode: Sarah and KaRyn share lessons learned from their very first storytelling project over 15 years ago when they invited accomplished, faithful women (like Emma Lou Thayne, Ariel Bybee, Liz Lemon Swindle, Olene Walker) into their living rooms; Leslie, Claire, Cari, Tennisa, & Emily give us 2 minute stories of letting the Lord lead from the start of our THIS IS THE GOSPEL video series.
KaRyn's Notes in her journal from "the Gatherings" with Emma Lou Thayne:
KaRyn's notes in her journal from "the Gatherings" with Sally Mart, with some notes written by Sally's children themselves:
List of starter questions:
- What did you imagine your life would be like when you were younger and how is it the same or different from your life now?
- What is something you know now that you wish you had known sooner?
- Who is one person who had a great impact on the choices you made in your life? What did they teach you?
- How did you learn that God is real and cares about you?
- How have your relationships with other women blessed your life?
This is the Gospel videos:
KaRyn Lay 0:00
Hello from my home office, which is really just my desk by a window in my stepkids' room that I have commandeered during the social distancing. They're thrilled, as you can imagine, to wake up at eight every day so that I can get to work. But I actually think that my daily occupation of their rooms speaks to the reality of parenting and family and relationships during these tricky times—flexibility, creativity, figuring out what works for your unique situation—well, that's the order of the day. And we hope that you are finding your groove and whatever way you can. We're certainly trying to do that with the podcast, and while we gear up for season three, over the next few months, we're still going to bring you a few bonus episodes that just can't wait until we get back into a recording studio. And so today, we've got a quarantine edition of the podcast with some stories that celebrate the ways that women rely on the Lord and the many roles, including motherhood, that they inhabit throughout their lives.
Welcome to This Is The Gospel, an LDS living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host KaRyn Lay.
First step, a few stories within a story within a conversation. This Is The Gospel producer, Sarah Blake, and I recently recorded a conversation we had where we tried to remember all the details from the very first, but clearly not the last storytelling project that we embarked on together over 15 years ago.
I don't exactly remember when we decided, A: to call them the gatherings, and then B: how did it even happen?
I don't remember either because motherhood has erased so much of my memory, but I think it was 2004 or 2005. We were single in our single sport in Salt Lake.
KaRyn Lay 1:56
Yes, everything starts with us being single.
I know. Side note about that though, the years that we were single that felt like a curse have become one of the greatest blessings and like, to me, it's a constant whenever something hard is going on. I'm like, well, that one big one turned out to be the greatest blessing. So I can trust this one will work out too.
KaRyn Lay 2:17
Okay, so we were single in our singles ward, trying to find our way. Right?
KaRyn Lay 2:23
I think at that point, I kind of was like, not that I was giving up. But I, I sort of had the sense that I was going to be single for a while. Like, I was always hopeful. I loved falling in love, but I, I leaned into it, I leaned into a little bit to like, Okay, if I'm going to be a cat lady, who's just sort of doing life on my own, then, like, we better figure out the best way to be single. That's kind of what I think I remember us talking about.
Yeah, but you never did get the cat. So that was that was a hopeful gesture to not...
KaRyn Lay 2:57
That was. I babysat someone else's cat and lost it on the first night that I had it. But where it wasn't actually lost, it was actually just asleep in one of the drawers of my apartment, but I freaked out and called everybody and made them help me look for this kitten that I thought I had lost. So after that I realized being a cat lady was probably not in my future. Until now. Now I have a cat.
Now you have a cat. Go figure.
KaRyn Lay 3:23
I actually think you were the one who had the idea.
I was, yeah. I had the idea first and, and we had a meeting at your apartment.
KaRyn Lay 3:33
I don't even remember this. I don't remember that.
Yeah, we had a meeting in your apartment and you made us a really nice dessert. And we all sat and talked about it. The idea was I felt like I needed to hear from more women. I needed more examples of what it looks like to be a faithful woman. Especially because we were single. I, at least, didn't have any examples in my family of what it looks like to be single in your 20's. Everyone else had gotten married and had kids, and I was like, am I okay? And how do I do this? But also just about how to be a woman, and a faithful woman? And I wanted not just to read about it in a book, but I wanted to talk to someone and ask questions and stuff, right? So we made the list of women we admired that we wish we could talk to.
KaRyn Lay 4:18
I feel like we had an Excel document or something that we packed in all of the names of people that we— this was before Google Docs, so we were we were old school—
Hard to believe.
KaRyn Lay 4:28
I know—old school spreadsheeting it. And we had, like, a list of, we just kept adding to it like Latter-day Saint women that we admired and that we thought were really cool. And then we we decided to just ask them.
And then we started sending them letters—like old school, typed up letters, put in an envelope and mailed it off. Some of them we just found in the phonebook, I think and others we had a contact or someone who knew someone, and then people were so gracious and responded. And when we started having these awesome women come and speak to a gathering of some of our friends like 20 to 30 people just at our houses.
KaRyn Lay 5:06
Who was the first person that came? Because I think after we had the first couple, that's when we were like, Oh, we can pretty much invite anyone we want. But why wouldn't we? We'll just play the sad, single, like late 20s cards.
Help us find our way. So, the first one was Carmen Pingree, who was an advocate for children with autism in Utah, and the first school for children with autism in Utah was named for her because of all her tireless efforts.
KaRyn Lay 5:38
Were you the way invited her Sarah?
I invited her because she was my boss's mom. And I'd met her and I was less scared to do that. But she was wonderful. And then we had Emma Lou Thayne, the poet.
KaRyn Lay 5:54
Yeah, Emma probably one of my favorites. Like, just that whole conversation with her. She was so gracious. I actually dug up my journal from that time because when we would sit there with them,
We didn't have a good way to record it. So we just did notes.
KaRyn Lay 6:09
We did. Actually do you know who was before Emma Lou? Sally Mart, she was somebody that I knew from Pennsylvania, and I think you said that you weren't there, right Sarah?
I had strep throat. I didn't want to get her kids sick, so I couldn't go.
KaRyn Lay 6:23
She was a nurse. She couldn't have children of her own. So she adopted all of these special needs kids from all over the world. And then she was diagnosed with either stage three or stage four cancer. And I remember her saying that when she got the diagnosis, somebody took her kids for the day, and she went into the bedroom and she got down on her knees, and she said, to Heavenly Father, "If we're going to do this, let's make it a doozy." I remember that she used the word doozy, and I was like, "What is she talking about?" She said, "Oh, I loved having breast cancer." She said, "I talked to the Lord and I said, 'I want to learn every possible thing that I can from this experience so don't hold back Heavenly Father, do not hold back on me. Give everything that you've got to me so that I can do whatever it is that you need me to do, to become the woman that you want me to become.'" And I have never heard anybody talk about a trial that way before in my life. And it felt so like, it was shocking and exciting, and it kind of blew my mind and and I, I just realized, Oh, I want to be like Sally, I want to be fearless how fearless of her right?
KaRyn Lay 7:33
How trusting of God's infinite grace that even when she's got all these kids to take care of, she recognizes that this is going to only work if she learns what she needs to learn from it and I, I've never forgotten that.
It makes me sad. I missed that one. So then we had we had Olene Walker, the first female governor of Utah.
KaRyn Lay 7:55
I wasn't there for Olene so you'll have to tell me what you learned from Olene.
I loved her. I like loved her sense of humor and her perspective that she had from her years of life. And one of the big things that stuck out to me, and I apologize, to Olene and her sentence if I mess up in your stories, but she talked about—she got married and her husband was in grad school, and they had seven kids in 11 years and moved 13 times, or something like that. And she survived all that, and she said it was just a blur. And then when that was over, and they were somewhere stable, she started a PhD when her youngest was two. She's always been a person who didn't need a ton of sleep. So she would help you know, be the mom all day, help her kids with their homework, get them in bed and then start her homework, and do her homework and studying until about two in the morning, and then sleep for four hours and then start the whole thing again. And she was like, "I don't—not that I recommend that to anyone else. But it worked okay for me."
KaRyn Lay 8:53
What has that done for your life?
Well, that's my schedule now, I'm embarrassed to say. But mostly, you know, the thing that I think it was Olene who said this the most clearly, but all of the women said it in one way or another. And this was exactly the kind of guidance I was looking for was this: that in women's lives in particular, there are seasons in your life. And you have to embrace the seasons and accept that, and recognize you can't have it all at the same time. But over the course of your life, you can have it all if you accept the seasons as they come. So like the season of having small children is an intensive, demanding season, and you can't do all the other things at that time. This season of being single is a different kind of opportunity to grow and focus on your own relationship with the Lord. But I think they really showed us by the example of their own lives that if you make the most of whatever season you're in, that's the way to be your best self.
KaRyn Lay 9:52
Yeah. Do you remember Ariel Bybee coming?
A famous opera singer?
KaRyn Lay 9:57
Yes, Ariel Bybee was a famous Latter-day saint opera singer. This is something I won't ever forget. She went around the room after we heard her tell about her life and about all the things that she had learned spiritually. And she asked us, "What are you passionate about?" And she waited for every single woman in that room to answer and we all did, right? I can't remember what I said about what I was passionate about is probably creativity or something. Do you remember?
No, I don't remember what I said. It was probably humanitarian stuff. That's what I did then.
KaRyn Lay 10:29
Yeah. And, and at the end of it, it came back to Ariel and she looked us all I felt likeshe looked every single one of us into our souls like bore into our souls and she said, "Whatever you do, do not, do not do it with mediocrity." She said, "If you are passionate about it, you put your whole soul into that. The world has enough mediocrity. It has enough mediocre art. It needs women who can create with excellence." And I was like, "Ahhhhh." And I don't know if I've lived up to Arial's—
I know, I'm like, "Oh sorry, I'm sorry, Ariel."
KaRyn Lay 11:11
But also, I think there's something beautiful about that, right? Like Ariel's words and Sally's words and Olene's words combined, that there is a season for everything, that God is going to tutor us through them, and that when we're in that season to put our whole soul into it. Like what a cool life plan those women gave us.
Yes. The other thing I think they all spoke about how they were surprised with where they ended up. When you're young you think I'm going to go to medical school and be a doctor you think you have this plan and then this is it and life doesn't ever hardly ever work out that way. Right? We all end up on surprise paths and discover we had a talent we didn't realize or a passion we didn't understand, and, or we're just given an opportunity and sometimes the opportunity looks like a challenge, right? But then it becomes the center of your life's work. And the way to find your best path is by trusting that it's part of God's plan and that those surprises are meant to be.
KaRyn Lay 12:13
What else without that experience do you think you'll take forever?
So I remember in particular, Emily saying, telling the story of when she wrote the lyrics to where can I turn for peace?
KaRyn Lay 12:22
She was struggling with a challenge with one of her kids who was having a really hard time. And she was on the phone with a friend while she did laundry in her laundry basement, and this inspiration hit in the laundry room, like she grabbed a piece of paper, and they co-wrote it together. Inspired by the pain, she was feeling suffering for her daughter. So many of them gave really specific details of the mundane things of life, which are, I mean, there's mundane details for everyone but women's lives often are especially like that stuff is ever present with us the burden of the dishes. The laundry and where did people leave their shoes, and they all mentioned those things and, but with a kind of reverence sometimes that made me feel like the good stuff of life can happen any day, anywhere, in the in your laundry room when you're talking to your friend.
KaRyn Lay 13:16
Here's what I have written in my journal about that.
KaRyn Lay 13:19
It says, "Where can I turn for peace, personal anguish for this beautiful piece of art that has touched and healed so many broken hearts. We are all connected and our life's work is not ours alone."
KaRyn Lay 13:31
I don't know if Emma Lou said that, but that's what I took.
That's what you took from it. It was just so many testaments that the worst times in your life can end up being the best, the greatest blessings that God can turn anything to our good to bless His children. And if we just try to be open to being instruments, then He will use us that way.
KaRyn Lay 13:52
Maybe not today, maybe not this week, maybe not for 20 years, but like, it gave me a sense we can look back and be like, "What a cool life of goodness."
KaRyn Lay 14:01
I was thinking to Sarah, I don't know if you remember this, but we were making those lists of all of those, quote unquote famous Latter-day Saint women. And after we'd done a couple, do you remember that we that we were like, "You know what? We need to talk to our moms.
Mmhmm. And then we had your mom come.
KaRyn Lay 14:19
Yeah. My mom came.
I think she's the only mom that we ever managed to get it done with because then we all started moving away.
KaRyn Lay 14:27
To hear my mom in that setting, talking about her life, like, she and I might have had some of those conversations, but to have this formal evening where all of my friends were gathered at the feet of my mom, literally at the feet of my mom, as she talked about the paths that she has walked. It was such a powerful experience.
That was a powerful experience for me too. I really loved that one was your mom—and I think about some of the things she mentioned all the time.
KaRyn Lay 14:58
Well, and the thing about it as my mom hadn't lived what she thought was an extraordinary life.
Mmhm ,but she had so much wisdom as so many, like, just practical wisdom. And she was so funny. And—
KaRyn Lay 15:10
—fresh and real. Like she was sitting like a queen with us literally—we were because we were crowded in a small living room, but you know, all sitting on the floor and the chairs around her. And we're on the feet of this Queen while she talked about how to successfully fight with your husband. You know,I really liked that one.
KaRyn Lay 15:27
When we were talking about the gatherings, I couldn't have anticipated that some of the greatest wisdom that I would get would come from my own mom. Shortly after that, I think we all started moving to foreign countries, and graduate schools, and all over so it was sort of the, the disbanding of the gatherings happened sort of organically just out of necessity.
KaRyn Lay 15:53
You said at the beginning when we started talking about that the idea for the gatherings came because you wanted wisdom from people who maybe had walked different paths than you as you tried to figure yours out. What did that teach you about womanhood and sisterhood?
The gift that that experience gave us was recognizing—we were expecting that there was a right answer, right. There was—
KaRyn Lay 16:16
They were going to tell us some way we were supposed to do stuff. And instead the answer was: you'll find it. Right? And God has got you. And the answer is going to be different for everyone. And it's going to depend on your, the combination of your inspiration, of course, and your talents and gifts that you're supposed to use, and then the opportunities you're given to use them right? And—
KaRyn Lay 16:39
And that we can find it ourselves. But there's no one, there's no one way.
KaRyn Lay 16:46
And, and that honestly each, each of our lives, whether we deem them extraordinary or not, is extraordinary to God.
The meeting with your mom was the one that that brought home to me—everyone has things to teach us, and we tend to have the great men lens on history, like who accomplished a lot, and who has an impressive resume. But anyone, if we sat them in that chair and we sat at their feet and asked them questions like they're an expert on life, because they are, because they've been living can teach us some amazing things.
KaRyn Lay 17:21
Yeah. And there's value in women telling each other our stories, like, I feel like the gatherings set up a foundation for a large part of the rest of my life. I mean, I it's been 15 years since we did that. And I, and I still have the Sally Mart quotes running through my mind. I still have the moment when Ariel Bybee pointed to us and said that, you know? And I still have that feeling of sitting in a room huddled together with 20 women who I admired and loved I still have that feeling that warmth, that feeling of closeness with you, and with the other girls that we did it with. And there's something really powerful about that for me.
Yeah, for me, too. This was good to reminisce.
KaRyn Lay 18:15
I know. I only wish I took better notes. I have no idea what this means.
I only wish I had climbed into the attic to call my journal.
KaRyn Lay 18:25
Maybe next time, Sarah, maybe next time.
I am so grateful to Sarah and our friends Celeste and Carrie for being the catalysts for such an amazing time in my life. I don't know if you're listening. But if you were part of those gatherings, we would love to hear what stuck with you through all these years. And more importantly, we hope that this has inspired all of you to start asking the women in your life to share their stories, in whatever setting makes sense for you right now. We're going to actually have a list of questions that you can use to spark the conversation in our show notes at ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. We know that it can feel pretty awkward sometimes to get those things going, so we'll give you a cheat sheet, so that it's easier to make that happen, especially right now when we have a little bit of extra time. You know, long before This Is The Gospel was a storytelling podcast, LDS living produced a series of videos that were also called, This Is The Gospel. They were simple, and they reflected my amateur filmmaking skills at the time. But I still have such a soft spot in my heart for this humble beginning because, even though the music underneath the stories was a little too loud and unbalanced, it was honest and stripped down. People telling their stories to camera, no props, and a funny little stock bumper at the beginning and the end. We limited the time of each of the stories to about two to four minutes to appease the social media attention span. So they're just little bon-bons of faith. And today, I want to share five of those little stories with you from five women who let God lead them and their families through whatever came their way.
My name is Leslie, when my fifth baby was born—my family and I have seven—lived in a two bedroom duplex, we were squeezed in there. And for weeks and months, we tried to find a new situation for our family. We put money down on lots that fell through, we made offers on new homes that fell through, we just couldn't find a new place to live. Nothing seemed to be working out for us. After a while I finally thought maybe I should take this to the Lord and decided to go to the temple. And I went with a faith-filled heart knowing that the Lord would here and hear my plea and answer our prayer. So I went through the session, and nothing happened. I didn't feel anything. It was quiet. And I finished the session, still feeling a little sad because I hadn't felt anything. I really almost felt like the temple ceiling would open in my little address would fly down from the, from the sky and that I would know exactly what was going to become my family situation. And so I went to the celestial room and sat on the couch, feeling a little sad, and I started to weep. And a feeling of warmth and love washed over me as I sat there, feeling so sad. And an assurance and unknowing came. And I heard a voice say, "Leslie, I know you and I love you and all will be well." The voice was familiar to me, and so sweet and I heard it again, "Leslie, I know you and I love you, and all will be well." And I left the temple that night knowing that heaven was aware of my situation, not knowing my new address, but knowing that heaven was aware. The next day was a typical day of a family of seven. My baby was unusually fussy, and I sing him a lullaby before his nap. And I kissed his little cheek and I put that baby down for asleep from which he would never awake. And my experienced in the temple just the day before, it didn't have anything to do with my new address, but everything to do with the sweet assurance from heaven, that I was known to the Father, and that even in my darkest of nights, all would be well. I knew from that experience, that heaven knew my name. And if heaven knows my name, heaven surely knows your name. And this is the gospel to me.
My name is Claire, and I'm a good mom. And that's a hard thing for me to say and most days I struggled to remind myself of that This time last year I was in bed in a basement with feeding tubes and IVs. And my husband had just quit school, so that he could take care of me full-time. And even with all of that, I tried to just continue to have faith that everything would work out. That my unborn child would be healthy, that I would be able to function for my husband, and for my baby. And then the day arrived when I gave birth to her, and it was one of the most beautiful days that I can remember. And I thought, "Wow, you know, I have won the good fight. I have fought my hardest and here's the blessings." And I thought that they were just going to come right like pouring. And then two months later, I wound up in the ER, fighting for my life, because I had such strong urges that I needed to end it. That life wasn't worth living that I was a horrible mom. That everyone was better off without me. And from there, I was taken from my family, my husband and my baby girl. To go spend a couple of weeks up in a psychiatric facility, where I learned a lot I learned a lot about myself. And I learned a lot about my testimony. Because I felt utterly alone when I was taken from them and spent that time away from them. But I was reminded that I'm not. I am now on the up and up, I'm progressing and I can't say I'm completely whole yet but I know that because of the sacrifices of Christ and because of the love of my Heavenly Father, I will get there. And that's enough for me. So even when I'm not enough, I know that Christ's love for me is and that's the gospel to me,
I'm Carrie, and I never imagined that the answer to my prayer that morning would be to willingly send my son to prison. I remember saying my morning prayers and pleading with my Heavenly Father, that I wouldn't get the answer that I so desperately needed. That afternoon as we met with our attorney, my husband, my son, and myself, we were facing the decision of whether to go to trial and face a possible 10 year or more sentence or take the plea bargain that had been offered to go to prison for three years. And I knew as we heard that three year prison sentence offered to us that that was a choice. that we needed to take and I knew it from the top of my head to my toes. I knew I had the answer that I had been looking for. And as I thought forward to when they would take him away from us, and they took him bound in bound hand and foot from that courtroom, I wondered how to get past that day, how to move forward. And I think as you hold that new baby in your arms, and you look into their eyes, and you dream of all the places that they'll go, and all the things that you want for them. I know that this is definitely nothing that you ever see for your child. And I wondered, how will I get past this? How will I help him realize his full potential. I want you know that you do get past it and you get past it by praying and by leaning on your Heavenly Father and that he helps you every step of the way. He helped me and he helped my family and he helped my son through those three years. We spent lots of time on the phone. And I had many visits with him there on weekends where we learned more about each other than a lot of moms get to know about their sons and their 20s. We spent lots of time together and I'm grateful for those times. There were times when I wanted to crawl under my bed and and just stay there, and sometimes you do. Sometimes there are days like that, where you have moments where you break down. I wasn't always strong, but you are able to get back up and get out there and and be there for your family and have those good times and find joy in your journey. And I know that this is just a small moment in time, and this is the gospel to me.
My name is Tennissa. If you worked at the most stress causing events in someone's life you would find among the top: the birth of a child, the death of a parent, the loss of job, and buying and selling of a home. And our family experience these, recently, in the matter of 15 months. Nine months after my daughter was born, and four months after my father in law unexpectedly passed away, my husband got word that he was losing his job. And it just so happened that at that time our house was under contract, because we had decided to move. And the very day that he found out who he was that he was losing his job, was the same day we were making an offer on the perfect home for our family. So needless to say, we didn't make an offer on that perfect home. But we did sell our house, because we felt like Heavenly Father guided us to do that. And after almost six months, we realized why. One of the tender mercies that He gave us was allowing us to live with my mother, who was in need of company after losing her sweetheart. And it was the best possible place for our family to be. And after interviews and searching, and a long, long period of time, our loan officer let us know that if my husband was unemployed much longer, that it would be extremely difficult for us to get a mortgage. And so with lots of prayers and fasting, and begging people for contacts, three months, three days shy of six months what the deadline was, My husband was offered a job. And so as we looked back over that everything felt heavy, and it was it wasn't the easiest thing we've ever been through. But we know by the tiny things along the way that Heavenly Father was aware of us and He provided the direction he needed. And all of the—lined up the timeline and the people and the experiences that we needed to end up where we are. And we've, we've been in our home that we found like three days after my husband got a job for a year and we felt like it was the money pit because so many things have gone wrong. But because of the journey that got us there, and all the tender mercies that Heavenly Father has shown us along the way, we know it's where we're supposed to be and this is the gospel to me.
My name is Emily. Several years ago, I found myself sitting in a hospital waiting room, waiting for my two year-old son, Hudson, to be x-rayed for what I thought was just an inner-ear infection. My son, Hudson, was diagnosed with an inoperable glioblastoma, brain tumor. Hudson was given only one year to live. I have such a vivid memory of sitting on Hudson's hospital bed, and his oncologist coming into the room and sitting down and explaining to us that we could do chemotherapy, and radiation, but that the outcome would be the same, that regardless, the tumor would inevitably start to grow and take his life. So she suggested that we just wait it out, that we make him as comfortable as possible over the next year, and that I go home and enjoy the last year with my son. My family and my incredible Bishop met all together together in Hudson's hospital room and gave Hudson a priesthood blessing. And in that priesthood blessing, they told Hudson that Hudson had more faith than all of the people combined in that room. Heavenly Father wanted us to know that we were to do everything medically possible to save his life. So we made the decision to fight the cancer. Two days into radiation, I remember falling to my knees on a hospital, bathroom floor, pleading with the Lord, to lift the burden, and to just coach me to breathe so that I could survive the rest of the day. Sometime after the procedures my sister had purchased a picture of Christ for me. And I held the picture on my lap and Hudson came up on my lap and with his little finger traced to the eyes and the face of the Savior, and looked up at me and said the name of his great protector, Jesus. I knew that Hudson knew his Savior, and that he testified to me as he traced the Savior's face that the Lord really does visit his people during their afflictions. Hudson is 13 years old today. And although he suffers many post radiation side-effects, his life is miraculous. And despite the threat that the tumor may still grow, I know that no matter what happens in the future I can trust the Lord. For the Son of righteousness arises with healing in his links. The same month that Hudson finished chemotherapy, my marriage of 12 years dissolved, and later I faced my own cancer diagnosis. But what I know now, is that the Lord has and will always be the greatest source of comfort, and He will strengthen me to rise triumphantly to through every trial to the very end. And this is the gospel to me.
That was Leslie, Claire, Carrie, Tennissa and Emily, every single one of those stories has something to teach you and me about living a Christ-like life in a totally different way. It reminds me of that moment Sarah talked about during the gatherings when she described how each woman was transformed into a queen and an expert. As we sat at her feet, it didn't matter how much quote, unquote extraordinary was present in the story of her life. The very fact that she was living it with faith and courage made her life worthy to be told. I was recently honored to have one of my essays about being a stepmother published in a compilation of women's writings called, "All Kinds of Mothers." And at first I was excited that something I wrote had made it into a book. And then, as it always does, the doubt crept in as I stared at the company I was keeping on those pages: Chieko Okazaki, Elaine Dalton, Patricia Holland, Emily Bell Freeman, Emily Watts, Sheri Dew—all women that I've admired and learn from over the years through their powerful words and immediately, immediately, I felt inadequate and embarrassed. I mean, I had made a joke about Brad Pitt in my essay. I didn't belong anywhere near those women, and that heavy wave of imposter syndrome, that washed over my excitement. And to be honest, I didn't tell anyone about the book until very recently. It still feels awkward for me to talk about it. But this past week of remembering the gatherings and the bravery of every woman who steps forward to share her story so that other women can feel validated and honored and heard. Well, that memory has come forward to fight back against my shame, a shame that absolutely doesn't come from a loving Heavenly Father. And instead I can focus on the truth. Someone—maybe just one person—someone needs to hear what I have to say in the way only I can say it. Someone needs to hear what you have to say. We need each other. We need each other stories and our thoughts and we need to hear and feel the diversity of our experiences so that we can be united in our efforts to help one another, make it home to Jesus Christ and toward eternity. And if we're focused on that aim, then we don't need to worry about whether what we say is profound, or extraordinary or even beautiful because it will be made beautiful in its purpose. Our stories of faith have inherent power because ultimately they testify of him. So here's my invitation to you: find your story, believe that it belongs in great company, because it does, and then share it with those you love.
That's it for this bonus episode of This Is The Gospel. Thank you for listening. Thanks to the storytellers who graced us with their presence in our living rooms, 15 years ago, and to the storytellers who graced us with their presence on camera. In our This Is The Gospel video series just a few years ago. We are so lucky to have cross paths with you all will have links to the videos, a few pictures of our journal notes. Well, mine not Sarah's because that attic is the worst. And that list of questions to get you started and gathering the stories of women you love and know, in our show notes at ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. We're currently looking for stories for season three. So if you have a story to share about living the Gospel, please call our pitch line and leave us a pitch. We often find many of our stories from that pitch line and we love to hear how the Gospel has blessed your life. Call 515-519-6179 and pitch your story in three minutes or less. This episode was produced by Sarah Monson, Blake and the KaRyn Daly Lay with story editing and producing by so many amazing LDS Living video production interns over the years. It was mixed and mastered by Mix at Six studios and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast and other LDS Living podcasts at ldsliving.com/podcasts. Happy Mother's Day.