Grace & Salt


This afternoon was spent in the kitchen, baking cookies and brownies for the youth at church and a pan of from-scratch cornbread for dinner tonight. The house was quiet, the windows thrown wide open to let in the cool autumn air, and the dog kept me company as she curled up in a patch of sunlight coming through the back door. It was good.

Baking and cooking in an empty house gives me time to have a chat with my Father in Heaven – that’s part of the reason why I love it (though I’ll admit, the food is a big part of it too). To be honest, I was feeling entirely inadequate and more than a little hopeless. So I had a lot to talk to Him about.

Almost a month ago, I was called to be the 2nd counsellor in the Young Women’s presidency in my ward. I was heartbroken to be released as the gospel principles teacher (definitely went home and cried over it), but most of my anxiety came from feeling totally inadequate for the calling. I’m 24 years old – at least ten years younger than all the other youth leaders in the ward. I’m still new to the ward, I don’t know the youth or their parents, I’m unfamiliar with the new curriculum for Sunday lessons, and I don’t have my life figured out.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared of a bunch of 12 year old girls.

Most of it comes from not feeling like I’m enough. I have this burning desire to strengthen and love my girls, to help them gain a sure footing in the gospel of Jesus Christ, to help them believe in themselves and in each other. I want them to be fearless, to be brave, and to shout their own worth. I want them to shine.

And part of me felt like I wasn’t the one to help them do that. That I’m not qualified, that I’m not experienced enough, that I’m not the best person for the job.

I’m pouring this all out to Father as I measure out ingredients for bread and cookies simultaneously. A teaspoon of baking soda into this bowl, a cup of corn meal into the other.

One of the recipes noted that the teaspoon of salt was optional, which surprised me. Generally when you’re baking, salt is crucial – it balances the flavours, brightens the taste, and amplifies the other ingredients.

All of a sudden, as I was tossing a pinch of salt into a bowl, I was directed to the verse in Colossians that counsels Saints to

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

(Colossians 4:2-6)

“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt.”


I was reminded of the scripture in Matthew praises and warns in the same breath – “Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?”

Okay. I get that. Be the kind of disciple who is loyal and steady, lasting. A Saint who improves those around them simply by existing. Don’t be the kind of person who gets turned into a pillar of salt, though. #lotswife

But grace and salt?

Father and I chatted for the rest of the afternoon via His Word in between batches of cookies. I mulled it over even as I helped direct our youth in their dance rehearsal for the cultural celebration next month, as I tried to troubleshoot what really is an attempt to shepherd squirrels, to rally the troops, and to get some semblance of order in place before relying solely on the promise of bribery to get them through their paces.

And then I realized. It’s not about my proverbial salt and the grace that’s in me. It’s about His grace and what He needs my salt for.

Paul boldly declared in his letter to the Corinthians,

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

(1 Corinthians 15:10)

God doesn’t call us because we’re qualified. Next to Him, none of us are. He doesn’t call us because we know everything, because we’re infinitely patient, or because we’ve somehow leveled up in the game of life. He doesn’t call us because we know the answers.

He calls us because He is graceful, and that grace is what makes the difference. He calls us because He can work with salt – with loyalty and with covenants. His grace gives us the strength, gives us the wisdom, gives us the confidence. It’s not us. It’s through us.

And it doesn’t just relate to the callings we receive or the trials we face. It’s about every second of every day. It’s the whole, the definition, the heart of it. It’s about the very heart of who we are.

So many of Satan’s lies revolve around us being inadequate. That we aren’t enough.

But because of the grace of our Father and the grace of our Savior, we are enough. They make us enough. They encompass every part of our existence, every recess of our minds, and every depth of our souls. We give it all we can, and they make all the difference.

American Evangelist Beth Moore put it perfectly.

“Grace is they eye-popping, knee dropping, earth quaking, pride breaking, dark stabbing, heart grabbing, friend mending, mind-bending, lame walking, mute talking, slave freeing, devil fleeing, death tolling, stone rolling, veil tearing, glory flaring, chin lifting, sin sifting, dirt bleaching, world reaching, past covering, spirit hovering, child defending, happy ending, heaven glancing, feet dancing, power of the Cross.”

We are grace and salt because They are grace and salt. They are compassionate and loyal, merciful and strong. Because of the love of God and the condecension of Christ, we are enough.



We are all enough.




{And remember, like JK Rowling said, “Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” And because you’re enough, everything is possible. Even squirrel-wrangling, dance rehearsal centered youth nights that still draw the Spirit.}



Come to the Temple!


For anyone who follows me on social media, you’ll see that I’ve been posting updates about the LDS temple that was being built in Hartford and know that it’s dear to my heart. The construction has been completed, and the Church is hosting an open house for the public in the area to come and tour our temple before we dedicate it to the Lord (you can reserve a space in a free tour here).

I had the opportunity to attend the open house tonight with my family, which I had been looking forward to for months. It was first announced in October of 2010 that Hartford would be home to a temple, a sacred building dedicated to the worship of the Lord where members of the Church make further covenants with Heavenly Father and go to learn.

I remember the day it was announced like it was yesterday. It was my first General Conference away from home – I’d been at Southern Virginia for just over a month and was watching the sessions from the little chapel in Buena Vista. Because we have a temple in Boston and another in Manhattan, I wasn’t expecting an announcement for one to be built in Hartford, despite the fact that one had been announced decades earlier (and the plans had fallen through). President Monson announced that a temple would be built within the boundaries of my home stake during the first session that weekend.

And I bawled.


I was overcome with gratitude, love, and excitement.

And the poor recently returned missionary boy sitting next to me looked at me, nonplussed, before handing me a tissue and a handful of animal crackers, patting me awkwardly on the shoulder with the hesitation and discomfort of a guy who had just come home from two years of “lock your heart” talks.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around the announcement of such a beautiful and sacred building being built in what was practically my backyard (in the New England sense, anyway). I was overjoyed, ecstatic, and the temple totally consumed my thoughts, prayers, and studies.

(For a more thorough explanation of why temples are important to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, check out this link or this video)

The week before I reported to the Missionary Training Center before my mission, I was able to watch the ground chosen for the temple be dedicated by President Monson, the prophet and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During my mission, I received numerous emails and letters detailing the progress of the temple, and even a little jar of the dirt from the grounds from the groundbreaking ceremony (thanks, Mama Bird. No one could understand my excitement over a little tiny jar of New England soil, but it meant the world). Upon returning home, the first thing I wanted to do was go see the progress for myself, which meant braving the New England cold and snow just days after coming home tanned and warmed by the California snow. My heart was as full as the day our temple was announced.

I was bowled over tonight by those same feelings as we approached the temple just as the sun was setting (after being stuck in wicked Hartford traffic wherein I only hollered at one person, thankyouverymuch). I was so grateful, so excited, and was hit with a wave of joy that I can’t properly express in a few sentences.

I love the temple – it is my favorite place in the world to be. I go to the temple to draw closer to my Savior and to learn more about my Father in Heaven. I go seeking peace and the answers to many questions and concerns. I go because it is a reminder that this earth is a temporary home, and that my eternal home is with my Heavenly Father.

It was such a blessing to be able to introduce my family, who aren’t members of the Church, to the feelings of the temple – the sacred peace, the currents of joy, and the majesty of the House of the Lord.

To see my family walk through the rooms and corridors of the temple was incredible. I was able to quietly explain, along with presentations from members throughout the temple, what each room was used for, to point out my favorite paintings and the scriptures behind them, and to tell them my favorite parts of the temple. It was a blessing to see Tori’s face light up as she peered into the baptistry at the twelve oxen (she whispered to me, “is the whole temple like this?” her blue eyes wide with wonder) and to see my family reflected in the mirrors of the celestial and sealing rooms, glimpsing a symbol of eternity.

(Tori, as we were walking back to the car, boldly told her mom, “You can’t disbehave in the House of the Lord ’cause it’s sacred, and if you do, you automatically go to hell!” – no, I didn’t teach her that, and yes, it did make me nearly cry with laughter. Kerri promptly told her we are now going to show her a picture of the temple whenever she ‘disbehaves’ as a reminder to behave.)

I felt like walking through the temple gave my family a better understanding of why I love it, of why I do what I do and believe what I believe. The temple and the covenants made there are such a huge part of who I am and who I strive to be, and I feel that the open house gave my family a better grasp of the ‘what’ behind my love of the temple. And it was also an opportunity to share the feelings of the temple that can’t be done justice through description.

It was also heart-warming to be walking through the temple with our little tour group, only to be surprised by men, women, and youth I have known since I was a  youth myself, as well as members I’ve met since moving into the Norwich ward. It was a reminder that we’re all family, that the temple is about community and connection in Christ, that our similarities in the eternities transcend the differences we find in mortality.

(And it was such a sweet experience to see one of the sisters who was my young women’s leader when I was younger for the first time in years as I walked into one of the instruction rooms!)

So I guess this post is my formal invitation for my loved ones in the New England area, and to those who ever have the opportunity* to attend a temple open house:

Come to the temple.

Take the time to walk through the House of the Lord and feel the peace that fills the rooms and hallways, to learn about what we believe, and to feel the love of the Lord. We’re not going to shove you in the water of the baptismal font and declare you a member-under-duress (because we believe in agency, ya’ll). There’s nothing to make you uncomfortable. There’s no pressure. There’s only things to learn and questions to be answered and peace to enjoy. There’s nothing like it, and I want everyone to have experienced that peace and overwhelming joy at least once in their lives.

Come to the temple, my friends!


*If you don’t have the opportunity, or have questions, please feel free to ask! I’d be more than willing to answer questions, have a conversation, or point you in the direction of answers! (Contact info in the ‘contact me’ section of the blog)

General Conference: God Speaks


Twice a year, the internet explodes with #ldsconf – Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media platforms are inundated with quotes from leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As of right now, there are over 33.7k tweets about General Conference (and those are just the ones that have been tagged with the hashtag), and we’ve still got three 2 hour sessions to go.

I love General Conference for loads of reasons, and thought I would share just a few here on APG.

First of all, as a member of the Church, I believe in living prophets and revelators – men called to speak in the name of God in this time, to clarify doctrine, offer counsel, and to lead and guide Christ’s church on the earth. In short, God still speaks, and General Conference is a time to gather and hear the word of the living God specifically for this day. You hear references to Twitter and Instagram in the same breath that you hear about Daniel in the lion’s den and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane because that’s what is relevant now, because it’s important to learn how to navigate a changing world while clinging to the Redeemer.

The counsel given is timeless – it is doctrine that is taught simply and powerfully, coupled with experience and great love for our Father in Heaven and for Jesus Christ. But it’s also incredibly relevant and poignant for all of us right now.

I also love the men and women called to lead the Church. They are imperfect, of course, but faithful and filled with charity. They come from different walks of life, different countries, different cultures. They each teach differently: Elder Oaks speaks with authority and the precision of a lawyer, while Elder Holland speaks with the eloquence and heart of a scholar and the fierceness of a bulldog (I affectionately refer to him as the Lord’s Bulldog – he is determined and loyal, and also a Yale alumn). President Monson’s voice is filled with iron and love as he teaches through stories and scripture. Sister Oscarson relays the message with grace and tenderness, but never fails to be clear about her love of the Savior and the sisters she has charge over.

Members claim to “not have favorites” among the Church leaders, but we always have those two or three men and women who never fail to speak directly to our hearts, who provide counsel and guidance that feels tailored to us individually (ahem, Elder Holland and Elder Christofferson are two such for me, as well as Bishop Caussé).

But the most important speaker is the Holy Ghost – the Spirit blossoms as these men and women bear testimony, communicating to those who listen truths that are eternal, surrounding the global audience with love and comfort in a world that feels more and more chaotic every day.

I love Conference because the lessons I learn are so crucial to my own growth, but also to my confidence in the Lord. I want to be a disciple, and when I listen and watch General Conference (and later study and review the addresses), I learn how. I am called to repentance, offered reminders of the Lord’s infinite and eternal love, and am given insight into the human heart. I receive direction for my life and for my role as a member of the Church and a Kingdom Builder.  I am given specific, powerful insights on the relationships that I have with others, whether in my own family, my friends, or for those I am called to serve.

I love Conference because it reminds me that this is a global human family, that my brothers and sisters around the world are hearing or reading the same messages of love, repentance, obedience, and joy. That binds me to them in spirit and in charity – I am overwhelmed by the idea of my brothers and sisters feeling as I do. I am buoyed up by the knowledge that  I am not alone, that I have a family of believers who stand beside me in worship and in work.

I love Conference because it reminds me of my blessings, that far outweigh my trials. It is a time to step out of the world and peer into eternity, to understand what the Lord’s plans are for His children. My understanding is expanded, my shoulders strengthened, as I head back into the world on Monday morning.

I love Conference because my questions are answered. I am filled with doubts and questions and concerns, and bringing them to Conference guarantees that I will receive answers. As a missionary, I was determined to bring a question to my first General Conference in California for each of my investigators, recent converts, and less active members we had been given charge over. I had been out three weeks. I was scared, overwhelmed, and exhausted. But I knew the Lord would answer. I brought over 22 questions to those sessions, and you’d better believe I received over 22 specific answers, complete with names that came to mind, scripture references, and insights into the Lord’s love for each and every one of those people I taught. Conference is a place of answers.

I love Conference because I learn more about who Christ is, and who my Father is. Every address, although tackling a different aspect of the Gospel, returns to the Atonement – to that sacrifice made for me, for you, for all of us on this earth. And as I learn, I am overwhelmed with love. Love for my Savior and for my Heavenly Father, but also by Their love. By their compassion, grace, and mercy. By their refuge and their guidance, by their example and power.

I love General Conference because the blessings abound. My cup “runneth over” and I understand that I am never alone. I understand that God is with me, He is for me, and He guides me. I understand that I am a child of God, with a future as bright as the Sun. I understand that I am forgiven, redeemed, and strengthened. I understand that I need not fear, that He has got me. I am given strength against the darkness and trials of the world, and light to keep my feet on the path.

I love General Conference because at it’s core, it is God speaking.

He speaks.

And He loves.

And He is real!

Sheep & Seas: A Lesson in Abundance

One of my goals this week was to get to bed at a decent hour (the mortal struggle of a chronic night owl with good intentions). It’s now midnight in Connecticut.* But I’m wide awake, and for good reason.

Whoever said the Spirit goes to bed at midnight, I beg to differ tonight.

(But if this is how it feels when He goes to bed, holy cow, I can’t wait til He wakes up in the morning.)

I was studying tonight in John 10 – the chapter where Christ discusses being the Good Shepherd with His disciples. I had been pointed in that direction by a Campfire Devotional email by Rend Collective (I love when I get Jesus emails in my inbox) that referenced John 10:10. The tagline of the email was “God loves us too deeply to smother us with safety.”



God loves us too deeply to smother us with safety.

I thought, you know, that’s a pretty mind-blowing idea.

God loves me enough to push me into rough waters, because that’s where you learn to sail properly. Sailing in calm waters is a breeze (midnight Meg has puns for days), but it’s in the middle of a storm, with thunder ringing in your ears and lightning leaving you blinded, salt water soaking your skin and darkness looming overhead that you learn not only who you are, but who He is.

And isn’t that what life’s about – learning who we are and who our Father is? Sailing through those rough waters straight on home to Him?

Back to John 10. Jesus has gathered His disciples around for what I imagine to be a bit of a fireside devotional just for them. Maybe they’re hunkering down for a lesson heavy in doctrine, a bit of fire and brimstone to warm them to repentance. Maybe they were just anticipating a bit of a Q&A with the Master. Who knows what they were anticipating?


But Christ starts talking about shepherds and thieves. He tells them that those who enter by the gate are to be trusted, those who enter any other way are thieves and robbers, intent on harming the flock. Pretty straightforward. Sheep, He reminds those listening, follow the voice that they know, the voice of their shepherd, the one who guards the door and fends off the wolves and thieves.

The disciples are wondering why in the world He was telling them about the shepherding industry – they were a bunch of fishermen, lawyers, and a physician. What need had they to learn about sheepfolds and shepherds?

Thankfully, Christ is patient and willing to explain.

He is the Shepherd who gave His life for us – as a sacrifice to Heavenly Father in our behalf, and as a gift to us. He declared, “I am the Good Shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

He never said that the thieves and robbers wouldn’t come, but that the sheep that knew Him would not listen to those ill-intented strangers. That rather than any sheep be carried off, that the Shepherd would give His life in exchange. But he wasn’t about to mollycoddle His sheep – they wouldn’t grow and learn that way, if they were kept in a pen all the time. They’d go out into the countryside to graze and to ramble, with the promise that He’d be there when danger came.

He never said that it would be easy, but promised that He would be there. He never said that there would be no trial, no temptation. But He did say that His yoke was wide and His burden light (note that there’s still a burden to be carried). He said that He’d walk with us. He said He would speak so that we could hear His voice if we listened.

That gave me pause.

Do I know the voice of Christ well enough to hear Him amongst the voices of robbers and thieves? Do I hear the whisper of the Holy Ghost above the hum of society, the call of temptation, and the shouts meant to tear me down? Do I hear Him say “I love you” and “come, follow me” above the storm?

It’s easy to hear Him in the quiet, but can I hear Him when the winds howl and the waves rage?

I’ll be honest, I’ve work to do and a lot to learn.

Good thing that Christ is the Master teacher.

Christ, as he continues teaching, reminds His disciples that “the thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; but I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)


Life abundant.

Christ meant that He gave His life for us that we could live a life filled with joy and hope and light. So that we could repent and be cleansed. So that when we face trials, we never face them alone. So that when we are in the middle of that raging sea, we know exactly who our Captain is, who is at the helm, who is our Navigator.

It’s not about living a life that’s easy, it’s about living a life that’s full.

Full of experience, full of joy, full of learning, full of love, full of discipleship. But that also means that it’s full of pain and sorrow, full of mistakes, full of questions.

Those hard times are where we find out what we’re made of and exactly who made us.  It’s when we turn inward and reach upward to find that we are stronger than we thought, that our capacity is beyond our wildest dreams, and that we have purpose.

Abundant purpose.

And what’s incredible and amazing and awe-inspiring is that all of it, all the good and the bad, all the sweet and the sorrowful, all the pain and all the joy, it’s what propels us to our home port. It’s that abundance – every aspect and experience of it – that drives the wind into our sails, and it’s where we learn to become like Jesus Christ, where we learn to hear His voice above the roar of the seas. He’s not just some distant lighthouse that guides us, He’s the Captain that places His arm firmly about our shoulders as we man the wheel through waters of abundance.

Abundance is opening our eyes to see that the blessings we’ve been given far outweigh and outshine the trials that we might find in our path. Abundance is the heart-expanding gratitude that makes place for even more blessings. Abundance is the understanding that even though life isn’t perfect, someday we will be perfected. It is that stillness in the morning, that sound of jubilee and rejoicing in the evening, that tiredness that reaches into your bones that comes from a day full of seeing the hand of God. It is that energy and joy that flows into your soul because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the power that scrubs you clean and wraps you in the warmth of love and mercy.

It’s not stuff or things or worldly possessions.

It’s a state of being.

It’s about more than the seas or the sheep, it’s about the love of God running through our veins, about understanding who we are and who we’re meant to be. It’s about recognizing ourselves in the looking glass of eternity and knowing that life is precious and, as hard and gritty as it can be, that it’s beautiful and wonderful.

It’s about embracing all  of it, the fullness of it, and knowing that we’re better for it.



*this post was written at midnight, but for the sake of people who read it, I waited to post it after a grueling editing session this afternoon. You’re welcome! I wouldn’t subject you to the poor grammar of Midnight Meg. xoxo

Dear America: 15 Years Later

Dear America,

It’s been 15 years to the day since your heart was broken. You’ve had plenty of heartache since that morning. The world has never felt steady since that day, no “normal” has been reestablished. A lot of hard, unfathomable things have come from that day, but a lot of good has come, too.

I was eight years old that day, a week from turning nine. I was anticipating going camping with my dad for my birthday up at Cowan’s Gap. I was in the fourth grade. My days were spent immersed in Little House on the Prairie, youth soccer, Lisa Frank school supplies, and a lot of boy bands who looked identical to each other. My childhood was what many would consider idyllic, tucked away in a small Pennsylvania town, attending a top-notch county school, exploring orchards and fisheries, attending a little church with a big red door on Sundays.

I was home from school that day, when the planes hit. I remember it distinctly, every moment clear as day. I was upstairs watching a kid’s show when I heard my nana gasp and turn the volume up. By the time I went downstairs, I was just in time to see the second plane hit.

It was that day that I understood that humans could do bad things to one another. That horrible things could happen to good people. That the unthinkable could occur. That strangers could hate one another without even knowing each other’s names.

I remember the footage of smoke billowing from the towers, the plumes of ash as concrete and steel collapsed on itself. The hysterical voices. The shell-shocked reporters. The sounds of sirens so loud on the television that it felt as if they were at your door. People being pulled from the wreckage. First responders carefully picking their way through the rubble. Men and women with a lost look in their eyes and their mouths set in a firm, grim line.

But paired with that, I remember flags.

Hundreds of flags.

Overnight, it seemed that every home and storefront became a place for Old Glory to rest. America, that is how I think of you.

Stillness. The silence of a head bowed not in defeat, but in prayer. And above that, the snap of a flag and the clink of hardware on a metal pole as it waves in the wind. And then the sound of hundreds of voices, thousands of faces, millions of hearts filled with compassion. America and her comrades rising from ashes, wounded and hurt and dizzy with shock, but alive. Heart pumping, blood flowing, alive.

There was anger. There was hate.

But if you looked, America, you saw infinite compassion. We clung to each other, reached for a hand. Men and women stepped up to the plate, heroes were forged that day in a hundred different ways.

Many wore uniforms and answered the calls.

Some were ‘regular people’ who became extraordinary.

Bravery conquered fear.

Compassion trumped hatred.

Walls were broken, bridges were built.

Hands were clasped.

We lost many. The world lost many beautiful souls that day in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington. 15 years later, we still mourn them. We will always mourn them. Their names are engraved in stone, immortalized in light.

But we will live on for them, too. Because 15 years, America, and we still remember. We still a jolted back to the memories of that day. We do not say, “remember when?” Instead, we say “where were you?” because we do remember.

My youngest sister never knew America before that day.

But I remember it.

My childhood is split: before September 11, 2001 and after. Before the military jets flying low over our house and after. It is never too far from my mind or heart. The memory startles me to wakefulness, and all of a sudden I am eight years old again, staring at a television screen, searching for answers to questions I had not asked.

We cannot turn back the clock. We can’t change what happened. But we rose from the dust, clinging to the memories of those we lost. We pulled each other up, imperfectly. We are trying yet to rebuild, to recenter, even 15 years on. Five thousand, four hundred, and seventy-seven days later, we are America, stronger, more resilient, more aware.

Dear America, the day the country veiled itself in red, white, and blue was the day that I realized that people were capable of great evil, but also of even greater good. That my neighbors extended far beyond those men and women who lived beside us on Catherine Street, that blood bound us together into a great web of humanity, where life was precious beyond compare and that forgiveness is a daily effort.

Dear America, 15 years later, today is still hard. The heartache of reflection is painful. But we rose. We united. Our brethren across the seas and at our borders stood with us. We hugged our loved ones tighter, we worked a little harder, we stood a little taller. Tears were shed, but shoulders were broadened and arms were linked.

Dear America, we are imperfect, but beneath your banner we still stand, remembering.We stand as your heart, memories enshrined in our own.

15 years, and we still remember.


A Peculiar Girl