"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
November 13, 2013
To My Granddaughter
by Marian Stoddard

To my granddaughter:

We were so glad to be able to come be a part of your baptism. I was touched by your readiness and pure desire to take this step to follow our Savior and to draw close to our Father in Heaven.

Eight isn’t very old, compared to the years of life we hope you will have. You don’t know a lot of things yet, but you are old enough and have learned enough to recognize when you feel something is right and when you know it is wrong or unkind. Eight is the age that our Heavenly Father has told us that children, still young, are able to understand the difference.

You will still have to learn, try, and figure out a lot of things as you grow up, but let me tell you a little secret: all the grownups are still figuring things out too. Every one of us is still learning every day and year of our lives.

Those who have charge of teaching and helping you have just had a good head start, and they can help you learn the things that they have already learned and experienced themselves, and sometimes it will be important for you to know how they have found their own lessons.

We all have our own life lessons, and one of the reasons we have the Church organized is so that we can help each other along the way.

On Sunday you had the chance to take the sacrament for the first time as a confirmed member of the Church. I know that you have come to church with your family all of your life, and you have taken the sacrament as your parents have taught you to be reverent, that it’s a time to remember Jesus.

But now it is even more than that; it is a time to remember, every week, that when you were baptized you promised to follow Jesus and keep the commandments, and He promised that His Spirit would always be with you. That’s the gift of the Holy Ghost that you received.

That’s the reason that the sacrament is the most important time in all of our meetings. As you get older, the words of people’s talks and testimonies will give you more and more truths that go right into your heart and stay because the Holy Ghost will speak to you through them. (I promise church won’t be boring all the time.)

But the reason for our greatest reverence is the promise that coming to take the sacrament is like coming to be baptized all over again. Don’t forget how sweet and wonderful that felt.

Sometimes you won’t be paying attention to that — not totally. Sometimes you might be just waiting for the meeting to be done so you can see your best friend, or to go to class where you love your teacher, or you might be annoyed, jostling elbows with a brother or sister.

That’s okay, because Heavenly Father knows that we don’t do what we’re supposed to do perfectly all the time. That’s why Jesus is there for us, to let us repent and try again. Doing what’s right takes practice, and it gets easier to do as you keep trying.

Your Primary counselor told you that this is the first time in your life that you have made a promise that counts for your whole, entire life. That’s true, and it’s pretty amazing. Someday you will make other promises that count for your whole, entire life when you go to the temple and when you get married.

Heavenly Father promises us that He loves us always and will help us no matter what, if we come to Him, and He’s so perfect that His promises are absolutely true, forever. He will never let us down. When we make true promises like baptism and temple covenants it helps us be more like Him and His Son.

Even though we are not perfect, and we make mistakes, and we let people down sometimes, the Savior makes all those things better. So we become better. Just don’t ever give up on yourself. And don’t ever give up on believing and trusting the Lord.

It’s pretty amazing to think about how President Monson and the apostles understand the power of God and follow the Spirit. Remember that the gift of the Holy Ghost that they have is the very same gift that you have now. You now have something in common with the prophet — very cool. When you stop to think that every member of the Church has that same thing in common, you will realize how much strength there is in being a part of it.

If you obey the feelings that the Holy Ghost will bring to you, you will be safe. Sometimes there are scary things in this world, and sometimes we don’t realize immediately that something is not a good idea, whether it’s a place or something that someone else wants you to do with them. If you feel uneasy about something, listen to that. Even if you don’t know why, be ready to say that you just don’t think you should do something and then don’t do it.

f you do make a mistake, pray for help to know how to fix it. He won’t be mad at you; just try the best you know how.

If you follow the feelings that the Holy Ghost brings to you, you will be happy. When you keep the commandments, the Holy Ghost will help you feel strong and confident. When you do something generous, the Holy Ghost will increase the love in your heart. You are already conscientious and kind, and you will learn how to serve others and grow in your testimony.

Remember the words of the song you chose for your baptism, and trust them.

Pray, He is there; Speak, He is listening.
You are His child; His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer; He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the kingdom of heav’n.

You have many people who love you and will help you as you follow the right way. You have parents who have taught you well, and they will continue to teach and guide you. Above all else, your Father in Heaven knows you and loves you and watches over you always. I pray that you never forget that He is your help, perfectly and forever.

Love always, your grandmother


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About Marian Stoddard

Marian J. Stoddard was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in its Maryland suburbs. Her father grew up in Carson City, Nevada, and her mother in Salt Lake City, so she was always partly a Westerner at heart, and she ended up raising her family in Washington State. Her family took road trips all over the United States and Canada, so there were lots of adventures.

The adventures of music, literature, and art were also valued and pursued. Playing tourist always included the local museums as well as historical sites and places of natural beauty. Discussions at home, around the dinner table or working in the kitchen, could cover politics, philosophy, or poetry, with the perspective of the gospel underlying all. Words and ideas, and testimony and service, were the family currency.

Marian graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, and attended the University of Utah as the recipient of the Ralph Hardy Memorial Scholarship, where she was graduated with honors, receiving a B.A. in English. She also met the love of her life, a law student, three weeks after her arrival; she jokes that she had to marry him because her mother always wanted a tenor in the family. (She sings second soprano.) They were married two years later and have six children and six grandchildren (so far). She treasures her family, her friends, and her opportunities to serve.

Visit Marian at her blog, greaterthansparrows.  You can contact her at bloggermarian@gmail.com. 

Marian and her husband live in Tacoma, Washington. Together they teach those who are preparing to go to the temple for the first time, and she also teaches a Stake Relief Society Institute class.

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