Hi I'm Linda H.
I was born and raised in northeast Tennessee. I'm a 2nd generation Mormon. My parents were converts and some of the first members of the Church in the area. My father was the branch president for many years. A branch president is equivalent to a pastor of a small congregation. We held a home Sunday School at our house during WWII. The Church was always important in our lives. I had a wonderful childhood, but my adult years have been hard. I am a 10 year survivor of cancer. It was a mountain I didn't feel I could climb, but the Lord carried me over that mountain by sending many angels in the form of ordinary people to help me. Unfortunately I have been married and divorced twice. I made many mistakes in my younger years. My youngest son is in the picture with me. We both forgave my 2nd husband who had many problems. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we were both able to forgive him and move on with our lives. He died tragically, and I hope he will find peace. I feel no bitterness towards him, nor does my son. To be able to truly forgive is a miracle. I feel no bitterness. I am free and at peace. Currently I am retired and live with my oldest son and his family in California. I help my son and daughter-in-law with my grandchildren. My son is not active and his wife is not a member. They are very good people. I try to set a good example. I am a singer and a writer. I write stories about my family, usually with Southern humor. It is my goal to do a story on each family member. Music is a big part of my life. I sing in Church choir, and solo in Church on Sundays and I sing Broadway and Jazz for Church parties. I also like to do crossword puzzles and do counted cross stitch embroidery. Both my parents, my brother, all my wonderful aunts and uncles are gone. I still have cousins I am close to but I miss my immediate family. I know I will be with them again. When life was so hard, there were times when I could feel my father's presence. I know our families are very interested in us and watching over us. I had a profoundly handicapped daughter who died when she was 24. Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ I know that she is with my parents and is now well and whole. I am very involved in researching my family. I am working with some of my cousins and each of us has taken a different branch of our family to concentrate on. It is both rewarding and a sometimes frustrating work.
Why I am a Mormon
Even though I was raised in the Church, and I have always believed it was true, it wasn't until I was able to forgive my 2nd husband through the Atonement that I began to know our Savior in a personal way. The Savior has been there with me through the hard times in my life. I had read the Book of Mormon earlier in my life, but in the last 6 or 7 years I have studied the doctrines of the Church and read the Book of Mormon over and over and each time I read it, my conviction of it being the word of God has grown until I can say I know it is true. I am currently studying the Old Testament, and as I understand the symbolism and how it points to Christ, it has become exciting to understand the truths found in the Old Testament, and how it builds on my understanding of the New Testament. As I have studied the scriptures, my testimony has grown until I can say I know this is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that He lives and because He lives I will live again with all of my family. He loves us individually and he knows our names. That is a great blessing to me. Life can be very hard, but I have always found help for my problems through our Savior and in staying close to the Church.
How has your knowledge of the Plan of Happiness changed/benefited your life?
I know who I am. I know that I am a beloved daughter of our Heavenly Father and that He loves me and He loves each of us. His Plan for us will bring us happiness and if we do it right, eternal life in His presence.
How has attending Church services helped you?
Through our sacrament services or worship service, I have the opportunity each week to renew my baptismal covenants, and remember the great blessings our Savior has brought to the world. I want to always remember Him and to try to live my life more like His. Of course I fall short of my goals. We all do. When we partake of the sacrament, we can repent and begin anew each week. If we remember Him we will always have His spirit to be with us.
How can we develop greater harmony in our homes?
Living with an unbelieving family is sometimes very hard. I try to set a good example and not cause any problems. I try to be helpful and when the opportunity arises, to introduce truths which will be helpful to my family. Sometimes I am successful and other times not. For example, I have warned my teenaged granddaugther about watching some of today's television shows and movies. I tell her about a person I knew who practiced some of the immoral things seen on TV and movies, and how miserable he was when he died. I have also talked to my oldest son about letting the younger boys watch R rated movies. He has been supportive of my advice.
What blessings have come through your faith in Jesus Christ?
I could not have survived the trials I have had in my life without faith in Jesus Christ. He walks with me everyday. I know I'm not special because He will walk with all who come unto Him.
Why do Mormons do family history or genealogy work?
I believe we are connected to our families in an important and eternal way. Billions of people have lived on this earth who never heard of Jesus Christ or His gospel. He said, "I am the way to salvation." Baptism into His Church is essential for our salvation. In our Temples we have the ordinance of baptism for the dead, an ordinance that was practiced in ancient times. If baptism is essential, would a loving Heavenly Father deny those who never had a chance to hear His word? I cannot believe that He would. He loves us too much.
Can you think of a specific challenge in your family that Gospel Principles helped overcome?
I have had many things happen in my life that could make me bitter. Through living the gospel, and accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, I have been healed of bitterness. In Luke 4:18 I paraphrase, "For I have come to heal the broken heart and to heal the bruised." Certainly my heart has been broken and I have been bruised. Haven't we all? Knowing this and living His commandments to the best of my ability brings me great joy and happiness in spite of any problems I may have.
What is hope and what do you hope for?
Hope is believing and having faith that there will be a brighter day. Each day I hope I am equal to the tasks given me. Each day has its challenges, but I know if I do my best, the Lord will help me.
Why/How do you share the gospel with your friends?
I try to live my beliefs so that I set a good example. If anyone asks, I am more than happy to explain my beliefs. We have lady missionaries in our congregation, and I sometimes go out with them and speak with random people. This is a great joy to me. My youngest grandson just finished the 1st grade. I learned by accident that his teacher had lost her onlyson a few months ago. She was grieving so much. Through the lady missionaries, I gave her the DVD "Together Forever," a message that helps us to learn that our families can be with us forever. She has not wanted further contact but I hope someday the message of eternal families will resonate with her.
Could you talk about your baptism?
I was baptized when I was 8 years old in the Holston River in Tennessee. I was confirmed a member of the Church on the banks of that river. I remember sitting on an old chair and shivering. I felt like I was an early 19th century member of the Church because I was baptized in a river. Most baptisms, however are performed in one of our Churches which are equipped with baptismal fonts.
Please share your feelings/testimony of Joseph Smith.
When the Lord wants something done that is important to the salvation of men He always sends a prophet. I have ancestors in my family who were farmers. They were simple people. They were not knowing in the ways of the world. The Lord took a naive young farm boy with limited education, and taught and molded Him into a great prophet like unto Moses. I know Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son and that he was selected to restore Christ's Church on the earth again. It is glorious to know our Heavenly Father loves us so much, that He has sent prophets to earth again. Since Joseph Smith we have had an uninterrupted line of prophets to lead us. The Lord has promised He will never let them lead us astray. I have found for myself that it is wise to follow the prophets. Joseph Smith was special. He taught us so much.
Please explain the part prayer plays in your life?
Having daily conversations with my Heavenly Father is the best way to start and end a day.
In what ways have your prayers been answered?
Prayer is a very important part of my day. I pray every morning and evening for protection and guidance. When life was very hard, and I needed help, I received answers immediately, sometimes even dramatically. Other things I have prayed for, have taken longer. Once, I prayed so hard for the Lord to help me solve a personal problem. Later in the day, I was walking through the house, when I felt these words come to me. "You have come this far." It stopped me dead in my tracks. In those few words, I realized that the Lord has always helped me and He was telling me He will continue to do so. I felt such peace, and things did work out eventually.
How does making right choices help us make more right choices?
I call it the snowball effect. The more right choices I make, the more I feel better about myself, and the better my self-esteem, I have more motivation to make other right choices until I can look back and realize how miserable I was in making bad choices, and how much better I feel about life in general now. It is a wonderful thing to be able to say to the Lord - I am clean.
How can your talents and gifts bless others?
I like to write uplifting and humorous stories about my family. I am a Southerner and my family were storytellers. I grew up listening to their humorous stories. I remembered them and now I am writing them down. In each one, I tell how that family member has enriched my life. I pass them along. I have had several published in my high school alumni newsletter. They are enjoyable to all, whether they knew the person or not. My grandchildren do not know the wonderful people who influenced my life. I hope someday they will read these stories and know these people who loved the Lord. I also sing. At one time, I tried to enter the music world professionally. I have since dedicated my music to the Lord, and it makes me happy to see others be inspired or entertained through my music. Through the mistakes I have made in my life, I have gained some wisdom and I also try to pass that along and to set a good example to others.
How has the Book of Mormon helped you understand the purpose of life?
The Book of Mormon gives us additional information about our Savior and relates many examples of what happens to people when they follow Christ. It also shows how fast a group of people can fall into wickedness and be destroyed when they do not follow the Lord. Through the Book of Mormon I can see clearer that there is a definite purpose to what we learn here on earth.
How has the Book of Mormon brought you closer to God?
My favorite part of the Book of Mormon is the visit of Jesus Christ to the people on the American Continent after His resurrection. I can almost feel myself being there listening to Him teach the people. When He blesses the children and says "Behold your little ones," I always cry. I also see in its pages, the times we are living in today. Some passages are almost like reading today's newspaper. If we would all heed the warnings given to us, the world would be in better shape than it is now.
What are you doing to help strengthen your family and make it successful?
My youngest son was for a while very bitter against the Church. I helped him to forgive his father and to feel love for him again. It has taken about 7 years, but gradually he came back to Church and now holds the Priesthood. In my car, I play music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. My youngest grandson's favorite song is "I am a Child of God." I often hear the others singing along with the Choir in the back seat. Sometimes all we can do is just sow some seeds.
How I live my faith
I have held a number of callings in the Church throughout my life. In our women's organization called the Relief Society, I visit the women in our ward which is equivalent to a congregation. I was asked to visit a lady who was inactive in the Church. This work is inspired. Several ladies had tried to visit her and encourage her to come back to Church, but had been unsuccessful. When I met her we just clicked and now she is my friend and she is active again. I also visit a lady who is 90 and blind, and I have been able to help her with some of her problems. This reminds me of the parable of the lost sheep. We should never give up on trying to help those who are lost and looking for truth. It is rewarding to be able to help others. I have been activities chairman of our congregation. It sounds like fun to put parties together, but it is hard to organize a party for over 200 people. Our church does not have paid clergy and so we all go where we are needed. The beauty of it is that we grow and become more connected to church members. We also grow in our organizational skills and also learn more about how to live a Christ-like life. Through service, we help others and help ourselves in the bargain.