I was driving today down a long stretch of road not another car in sight. My kids were all asleep in the back seats after a morning running errands all over town, and I had the distinct impression that I needed some silence.
It had been a restless, anxiety filled night before. I felt tired, and yet the silence allowed my sluggish thoughts to pick up speed bouncing all over the place.
(Add bouncing thoughts to the list of “why I don’t particularly care for silence”.)
But as I drove, my thoughts settled on one huge totally unexpected thing that came to be in the last 12 months:
How in the world did I create those? Why did I spend hours and hours and hours making them? Why pour my heart into something so imperfect and vulnerable? As I’m now reading through them and studying with them myself, I can’t remember writing those words. I don’t remember putting “that” down on paper. It’s as if I made them for… myself. But how? Why?!
Still to this day, I can’t give you cut and dry answer— because the only one I have is, I was inspired by the Spirit every step, every word, every day.
Two or so years ago, I was in a state of constant pleading for refuge, I felt so lost, and begged my Father in Heaven to be found. I was battling daily against a darkness that felt like claws in my back. I’d never experienced such a pull at my spirit before. I was desperately clawing my way through a very real mist of darkness searching for God, for peace, for something, anything solid to stand on. And in the most unexpected way, that’s exactly what He offered through the last year leading up to finishing each study guide.
Soon after taking the leap of faith into curating The Wide Margin Book of Mormon, I started reading that sacred book of scripture like I never had before. I hadn’t read it all the way through in years. My testimony was shaky, at best, and yet I couldn’t run away from this overwhelming, never ending, push to an unknown, that felt absolutely known at the same time.
As I read, questions started coming to my mind. They were vulnerable, raw, and clear as day. As if they were meant to go right in those margins.
I wasn’t answering the questions either, just scribbling them down as they came. Verse after verse. Chapter after chapter. I found myself habitually studying for longer and longer each day, drawn to those pages like a moth to a flame. I needed them, I longed for the…. Light and peace and comfort that seemed to crack open even the toughest parts of my hardened heart.
As the questions kept pouring themselves onto the margins of my Book of Mormon, an idea started to form. An impossible, crazy, IMPOSSIBLE idea.
God does that you know. He does things His way, and His ways are higher than ours. He doesn’t see our limitations, He doesn’t care how impossible our human eyes see something, when He puts it on our heart— it will chase us down, it pursues us, it forms itself through our weakness, through our imperfect efforts. He turns 2 small fishes and 5 loaves of bread into enough to feed 5,000.
He works miracles as we outstretch our hands in trust and walk.
And so I started designing the guides. Praying over each section. Each page, until it felt right. I had my Book of Mormon sitting next to my computer, and I just went through and typed each question with it’s coordinating verse. Book by book, story by story, inspired question by inspired question.
The artwork throughout the guides are sacred to me. Most of the time when I create art, it’s a sketching and re-sketching process. I tend to fret over things like composition and centering. In stark contrast, every time I sat at my messy desk to create art for the study guides, it flowed out of me effortlessly. I can’t explain it, but for some reason, all the expectations and technicalities of my usual creating process vanished.
Most of the artwork was created on the first draft. There aren’t many (if any?) famous quotes, or well known sayings. No word for word scriptures. Just words, that pursued me as I prayerfully opened my heart to what God wanted to be in YOUR hands as you studied His word.
Many silent tears were shed alone in my studio over those pieces of art.
I’ll be forever grateful for those moments.
The night the UPS truck full of boxes showed up in my gravel driveway out in the middle of nowhere, my heart nearly burst from fear.
I thought I’d done the hard parts! Showing up raw and vulnerable, reading and re-reading every word in the whole Book of Mormon, then pouring so much time, energy, heart, and soul into each study guide page. Trusting a friend to edit those words, the first person to really see them. Opening my hand to the inspired artwork. Spending tens of thousands of dollars to get them printed and here. Finally here.
And now what?
Now I had to face the hundreds of orders already placed, excited, loving, committed hearts, trusting me and God to link arms with them on their own personal daily walk toward Jesus.
What if I said the wrong thing? What if they were terrible? What if I fail? What if this was a giant mistake?
As I felt the old familiar feeling of darkness creeping in, I started to panic. Much like Peter, brave before, stepping out onto the water that Jesus called me to walk- an impossible path for a sinner, a doubter, an imperfect and broken girl like me, I started to sink.
But Jesus doesn’t let us sink. He doesn’t chastise us in our moments of sinking, fear, or doubt. No. He reaches out his hand again and again and again, a thousand times if we need. And he doesn’t let go.
“No fear. No. You’re not going to take this moment away from us.” I thought each time a fearful thought would try to get in.
Rejoice. Rejoice over and over.
I packaged up those hundreds of books. I wrote your hundreds of names. I sent those vulnerable inspired pieces of me and God out into the world.
And I slept like a baby for the first time in months.
Before I wrote a word, read a word, spoke a word, the Lord was there with me. Before I could see light, feel love, or knew the ways he uses us for His purposes, He was there. Before I took one single step toward His impossible path, He was fighting for me.
But, at the heart of each study guide isn’t me. It isn’t the incredible and divine experience I’ve had. It isn’t the weaknesses turned strengths, the doubts turned fearless faith. Although, those things have and will forever change the core of who I am as a daughter of a King.
You are His. And you are worth His miracles, even worked through someone else. You are worthy of His measureless love that NEVER lets go. You are worth leaving the 99 to find, to pursue, to chase down and fight for. Each page of these study guides were made for you, and me. I happened to be the vessel, but I am not the key to the transformation taking place within us while using them. They truly came through me, for you.
The Book of Mormon is the key. The Holy Ghost is the key. Your efforts, your diligent, every day, never giving up pursuit of God and your Savior are the keys.
Do you need a study guide? No you don't.
You need Jesus. You need the Book of Mormon. You need the Spirit. You need your Father.
And we need each other. Sisters in His Kingdom. A powerful bond made possible through His Son. My hope is that these heartfelt study guides offer a sense of that sister hood, hearts knit together in unity and purpose.
You are loved.
I pray that we can fearlessly walk in faith, and trust in God.
Forever and ever.