Hi I'm Devon Lee
I am a home educator living in Iowa but I call Texas home. My husband and I have been married more than a decade but it seems like such a short time. We have five awesome children that we're blessed to raise. When I have free time, I'd rather be with friends or work on my family history. My parents and grandparents have all passed away so it's up to me to record their lives and legacy.
Why I am a Mormon
Nearly 20 years ago, I was on a college trip in a very small town in Texas. We stayed in a hotel one night and I felt something wrong. I felt a crushing feeling and I needed to escape this hotel. Mind you, I was in a very small town. So when I left this hotel, I was soon in great darkness with the only light coming from the hotel. As I turned back to look at where I came from, God's spirit began to talk to me. In short, I was reminded of the poor choices I was making and shown where that path would lead. I was then reminded of my greatest desire... an eternal family, peace, and true happiness. I was reminded which path would lead me to that desire. And I was given a choice... the way I was going or the way God had established? My family had not practiced religion in my home in my youth. I knew a few basic truths about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. It's not surprising I had come to this moment of truth. But I came to it and I decided to try God's plan. That plan required gaining a testimony of the Holy Bible. If that book isn't true, nothing else matters. And I know it is true from the witness of the Holy Spirit. Then I needed to decide if the Book of Mormon was true. After much prayer and waiting, I received a sure knowledge of it's truthfulness. The journey to a strong belief in Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness and Salvation is on going. I count the beginning from that day so many years ago. But I know that each step I make towards true happiness and peace is in the right direction and I have been greatly blessed. The one unifying principle for me found only in this church is the fact that families can be together forever. My grandmother and mother both died in 2012. Though I miss them terribly, I have peace knowing there is life after death and not only will I see them again, we can be an eternal family. I can't describe in words how much comfort I received from this sure knowledge as I grieved their deaths.
Why do Mormons do family history or genealogy work?
In the Bible, Malachi 4:6 tells us of the need to turn our hearts to our fathers and for the fathers' hearts to turn toward the children. I know of no greater way to do this than through family history work. I do family history to come to know who my ancestors were and why they might have made the decisions they've made. I then attempt to take these lessons and pass them on to my children so they can live a better life, not necessarily with more things, but with more knowledge of who they are and what they can become. Family history is a team sport. As I talk with my family members (close and distantly related), I build strong bonds with them. And family history has enabled me to repair broken bridges that happen in families throughout time. I can't do the work alone. Thankfully, many family members help when they can. Someday, when I get to heaven and meet my ancestors, I want to have something to talk about. I want to ask the grandpa I never knew to dance with me. I want to talk to a great grandma about why she kept her deceased finance's picture in her marital bedroom. (Didn't her husband think that odd?) I want to talk to a great grandfather about the decisions he made that lead to his tragic death. And I want to meet several great grandparents and ask, "Who are your parents?" (I can't find them). We will have so much to talk about and they will be so glad that I took the time to get to know them. I can't imagine going to that meeting and saying, "who are you and why should I care about you?" Family history is just one way how I live my religion.
How does making right choices help us make more right choices?
How can it not? A good tree brings forth good fruit. Similarly, right choices begat more right choices. I think over my near 20 years of participation in the Lord's true church and I see how that first, small right choices have lead to a lifetime of continued progression. What is awesome about taking those first baby steps, on the path that leads to eternal life, is that the steps become a little easier if we keep walking. My first right choice was reading the Bible from cover to cover to know if it was true. Then I received witness of the other principles taught in this church. My life needed to change to reflect my commitment. So, I first cleaned up my language. Then, I changed the movies I watched and the people I spent time with. I prayed more, went to church more, and eventually surrounded myself with strong influences to do good. Now I am married with children. My eldest daughter taught me that she follows the commandments because she doesn't know how not to. She dresses modestly because we've always dressed modestly. In short, my right choices have created a world for her where living the gospel is easy because it's familiar. You couldn't have told me this day would happen those 20 years ago. My family and I are not perfect. Yet we strive to make right choices so that we can make more right choices. It feels more natural than not.
Could you talk about your baptism?
I wish I could remember my baptism. I was eight and I don't remember anything except the prayer circle when I received the gift of the Holy Ghost. But, I can remember coming back to the church. My family did not attend church regularly after my baptism. As a teenager, I struggled to develop a faith that would sustain me through teenage and young adult life. When I was 20, I finally followed Jesus' counsel to "Come Unto Me." I was ready to be baptized and washed clean of my sins. A kind Bishop taught me the principles of repentance, baptism and the sacrament. I had no need to be re-baptized. My following the steps of confessing my sins, asking for God's forgiveness, and striving 'go and sin no more'; I was demonstrating my repentance. I didn't feel cleansed until I took the sacrament. The sacrament enables me to renew our baptismal covenants to always remember Jesus, to take His name upon me, to bare the burdens of others, and keep His commandments. Although I do not remember being baptized, I'm thankful that this was done early in my life so the Holy Ghost could keep trying to point me in the right direction. When I was ready to listen, I was able to return to the state of cleanliness following baptism when I take the sacrament. Each week, I renew my efforts and be forgive of my sins as I continue to strive to repent and take the sacrament at Sunday Services.
How I live my faith
I am an assistant American Sign Language interpreter for my congregation though I often feel inadequate for the job. I'm constantly learning and hoping that I don't mess up as my training is self-taught (with the assistance of a great mentor and patient deaf families).I've had many other opportunities to serve at my church and my favorite would be serving young girls ages 8-12. But each opportunity to serve has challenged me and taught me how to become more like my Savior. At home, we read scriptures, memorize verses, pray as a family and individually, and have a family night once a week to reconnect. I support my children in their youth programs at church by helping them work on their goals and activities. We also love when it's our turn to help clean the church. I'm not afraid for people to know that I am a Mormon. It's a natural part of me because it's my true core.