10 LDS Books That Will Feed Your Mind and Soul

I am a reader, constantly on the lookout for a new book that promises to enrich my life or strengthen my faith. The Lord Himself commanded us to “teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). When I trace the origins of my personal testimony, of course no books have had more influence on my faith than the scriptures. I feel closer to the Lord when I study the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, or Pearl of Great Price than when I study any other books. Each book of scripture is deserving of a lifetime of devoted study.

Beyond the scriptures themselves, the list of other books that have profoundly strengthened my testimony is a long list indeed. Below, I highlight ten LDS books that have blessed my life and fed my mind and my soul. In some cases, I was fortunate to find these books early in life; others I discovered more recently. In each case, they have become part of the fabric of my testimony and have brought me to a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the truths contained in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Mormon Pioneers in Texas

“October 29, 1853 –The night we lay at or near the top of the divide there fell a deep snow which greatly impeded our progress. After this the weather turned intensely cold and on the second night after, my splendid mule, “Texas,” was frozen to death. This was a severe loss to me and I felt somewhat sad at his loss. He had served me so faithfully for so long a journey.…though his value was very great to me, I cheerfully parted with him as I have for the sake of this kingdom suffered so many sacrifices in friends and relations in Missouri, and in lands, and homes and farms, in silver and gold, in toils and sufferings, that now there is hardly any sacrifice that I know of which the Lord might call me to make, which I would repine at. 
“But upon this trip my heretofore indomitable spirit almost failed me. Beneath my accumulated sufferings and three times when lying down at night I prayed to the Almighty that I might never awake to see another morning so great were my sufferings. My feet were badly frost-bitten, my old boots were entirely worn out. I had a new pair, but they hurt me so I could not wear them. The snow was deep and I was obliged to walk…After I had prayed that I might depart and go into the spirit world, in order that I might be free from my great sufferings, then the Spirit whispered, ‘not yet, you have a great work to do on the earth.’”
So wrote Elder Preston Thomas, one of the first missionaries to Texas and especially the Brazos valley, as he led a wagon train of Texas converts over the mountains to Salt Lake City. It took them until November 27th to complete the harrowing journey. The following June, Elder Thomas was called to return on yet another of his five missions to the Lone Star state.

July 24 marks Pioneer Day for LDS congregations in the United States. The great saga of the Mormon pioneers typically focuses on journeys along the Mormon Trail from Nauvoo, Illinois, or handcarts from St. Joseph, Missouri, to the Salt Lake Valley. Somewhat lost in history however, are wagon trains of Texans who braved the five-month journey through hostile territory, sometimes offering nearly all the food they had in order to pass safely. As Philip W. Hosking, one of these early Texas converts records:

“Tuesday, July 1, 1856 – We arrived at an Indian town, stretched along the banks of the Arkansas for over 2 miles. It seemed today as if the devil had let his imps loose to destroy our little company. At the lowest estimate there were 800 Kiawas and Comanches and when we nooned the [Indians] came round in swarms, begging... As discretion is the better part of valor we gave them what they wanted [sic].”

The faith and courage of Preston Thomas and other early Latter-day Saint Texans provide a legacy for all who live here. In April, 1857, Elder Thomas concluded a letter to mission headquarters with these thought-provoking comments: 

“The field for preaching in Texas seems about as good as it ever was; and why it is that the people receive the gospel more readily in this than in any other of the states of the American Union, I cannot tell…”

God continues to bless Texas!

— President Tom McMullin, counselor in the College Station, Texas Stake

8 Hymns of the Restoration

One of the highlights of my life was the opportunity to visit Nauvoo and participate in The City of Joseph Pageant. My family and I were members of the pageant for ten years, and the events we experienced on an annual basis will always be a treasure to me. Not only did we walk where those early saints walked, but we sang their songs, read their stories, and portrayed their lives. As a result, the foundation of my testimony will always be deeply rooted in the Restoration.

One of our pageant’s great traditions was a nightly devotional where we sang the Hymns of the Restoration. Each night before our performance, all 600+ City of Joseph cast members would gather together—dressed as pioneers—in the Nauvoo Chapel and sing these wonderful songs. It was like nothing I had (or have since) experienced. When we sang, the halls of the chapel bellowed with faith, with devotion, and with belief. We didn’t sing for each other. Instead, we sang for our Savior and Redeemer and for those wonderful prophets and saints of the Restoration who sacrificed everything in order that we could return to Nauvoo and remember the great blessings of the Lord.

It was in these meetings, as I sang my heart out with my faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, that I realized the meaning behind these wonderful hymns. Tears poured down my cheeks as we sang the words:
But if our lives are spared again,
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell—
All is well! All is well!
I felt the Spirit of God burn within me as we stood, sang, and shouted:
How blessed the day when the lamb and the lion
Shall lie down together without any ire,
And Ephraim be crowned with his blessing in Zion,
As Jesus descends with his chariot of fire!
I felt a deep sense of gratitude and admiration for Joseph Smith when we sang:
Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.
Millions shall know “Brother Joseph” again.
These memories continue to touch my heart—particularly at this time of year. Pioneer Day is a special day when we remember all of the pioneer’s sacrifices for the establishment of God's Kingdom in these latter days. It is in this spirit that we share the following hymns with you, as well as some information pertaining to them. We encourage you to study the lyrics, read their associated scriptures, and learn of their history. We promise that when you do, your hearts will be full, and your lives with be touched with deeper gratitude for those who have gone before.

Facing Infertility With a Perfect Brightness of Hope

Photo Credit: Tiffany Feger, Fishy Face Photography
When I was four years old, I shared a room with my infant sister. One time in the middle of the night, recalls our mother, my sister awoke and began to fuss. Then all was silent. When my mom came in the bedroom to check on the baby, she was quite startled to see that she was not in her crib. My mom looked towards my bed and saw me sitting there, gently rocking the baby. She had no idea how I got her out, but it warmed her heart.

Even as a young child, I had a strong desire to be a nurturer, and that feeling has stayed with me into adulthood. My deepest desire was to get married and have lots of children. Now fast forward almost three decades later. My husband and I have a five year old son, and we have been praying and hoping for more children. After we decided to try for a second child a few years ago, I began to feel impatient as it was taking longer than I had hoped. I asked my husband for a priesthood blessing. After the blessing, I felt a sweet reassurance that things would work out, and I felt renewed strength and patience.

10 Mormons Explain Why They Were Sealed in the Temple

Have you ever driven past a Mormon temple and wondered what happens inside?

Temples are holy places of worship where members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participate in sacred ordinances performed by the authority of the priesthood. Temple ordinances lead to the greatest blessings available through the atonement of Jesus Christ. One temple ordinance is celestial marriage, in which a husband and wife are sealed to one another for eternity.

"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." -Matt. 16:19

Through a temple sealing, a husband and wife and their children can have the promise of being an eternal family. For Latter-day Saints, the covenants they make in the temple (bound on earth) will last forever (be bound in heaven), if they stay worthy.

Below, ten Mormons explain why they were sealed in the temple:

1. Tiffany, Utah. Married August 2009 in the Mt. Timpanogos, Utah temple.

"I got married in the temple because I knew it was the right way back to our Father in Heaven. I loved my husband so much and wanted to be sealed to him forever. I also only wanted my children to be born into an eternal family. It was the only way for me."