Every December I choose a word as a point of focus for the coming year. In December 2019, I began thinking about a word for 2020. One day I happened upon: “Thy word was unto me… rejoicing” (Jeremiah 15:16, italics added). Word and rejoicing seemed highlighted on the page. I was looking for a word and there was the word rejoicing. I looked up its synonyms. Rejoice means to celebrate, to cheer, and to delight. I thought of adding a preposition after each one—to celebrate with, to cheer on, and to delight in. I then added my own synonym—re-joice, meaning to joy again. A few days later, I was shopping and found Christmas tree decorations with the word REJOICE. I took it as a sign. (See photo above.)
Elder Jeremy R. Jaggi told of a similar experience in his October general conference talk, “Count It All Joy.” After his brother died in 2019, he and his family “determined that 2020 would be a refreshing year!” He explained: “We were studying our Come, Follow Me lesson in the New Testament book of James in late November 2019 when a theme revealed itself to us. James, chapter 1, verse 2 reads, ‘My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into many afflictions’ (Joseph Smith Translation, James 1:2 [in James 1:2, footnote a]). In our desire to open a new year, a new decade, with joy, we decided that in 2020 we would ‘count it all joy.’ We felt so strongly about it that last Christmas we gifted our siblings T-shirts that said in bold letters, ‘Count It All Joy.’ The year 2020 would surely be a year of joy and rejoicing” (www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2020/10/52jaggi?lang=eng).
Elder Jaggi shared details of his family’s 2020 trials and told how these trials helped them learn to practice patience, which James also writes about in the next verse: “The trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:3). Elder Jaggi gave a scriptural example of how patience worked an astounding miracle for Enoch and his people. They “walked with God for 365 years before they were translated. Three hundred and sixty-five years of striving to do everything right, and then it happened!”
It was 344 days that Jared, his brother, their families, and select friends were cooped up in barges, being blown to the Promised Land. “And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water” (Ether 6:11). Sounds like the Lord expects us to be patient in affliction for a long time, like forty years wandering in the wilderness and forty days of fasting.
Like the Jaggi family and others, our family had challenges this year, thankfully not the loss of a loved one. Everything else is minor in comparison. We pray for all who have lost family and friends. Having chunks of your heart ripped out is hard. I know. I am the oldest of eight. My sister who is number three and my brother who was born seventh now live across the veil.
Adversities come in degrees. I think being awakened by a 5.7 earthquake is frightening. How long will it last? Where can I take cover? Another morning we awoke to find a seventy-five-foot elm tree and a fifty-foot blue spruce, just yards from our home, had been toppled by hurricane-force winds. Then there was the phone call at 9:45 p.m. a few weeks ago. Our neighbor said, “I just drove by your house. Do you know gallons of water per second are coming out of your sidewalk? A water main had burst. Then there was the cyst on my spine that had to be surgically ruptured. A week ago my husband was trying to help a homeless man who pulled a knife on him. Add to that the civil unrest and political divisiveness, and, oh yes, the pandemic! Because of health concerns and our ages Richard and I have been pretty much homebound since March 15. We have had home church forty times. How I miss being with my ward family.
We missed a granddaughter’s marriage, another granddaughter’s endowment, and the blessing of holding a new grandbaby. We canceled our family reunion. We missed birthdays and graduations galore. I miss smiles that are covered up by masks. I miss grandchildren’s visits and hugs. I miss traveling to see them. I miss doing my own grocery shopping. And on the list goes. You know this for yourself. Your saga varies from mine only in the details.
On November eleventh, President Nelson prophetically reminded us of the healing power of gratitude. It has been healing to post and read others’ posts. I #givethanks for a prophet to guide us in these latter days.
Elder Jaggi advised: “Be of good cheer… not… of good fear” (Matthew 14:27). And I do have multitudes of reasons to replace fear with rejoicing and give thanks.
- I rejoice that the earthquake killed no one and that property damage was minimal. (Moroni losing his trumpet spawned some fun jokes and wonderment if it were a sign of the Second Coming.)
- I rejoice that the elm tree fell west across the street rather than south onto our house and that blue spruce hardly damaged the fence it fell on.
- I rejoice that the water main broke on the county side of our property and cost us nothing to repair.
- I rejoice that the procedure to repair my spine was successful and that the bone on bone excruciating pain is gone.
- I rejoice that Richard would want to help a homeless person.
- I rejoice that our granddaughter got married to a fine young man in the Gilbert Arizona temple.
- I rejoice that our newly endowed granddaughter has a mission call to Brazil.
- I rejoice that we have a healthy new granddaughter.
- I rejoice that the reunion can be rescheduled and that we can Zoom, Marco Polo, and FaceTime often.
- I rejoice that we have learned alternate ways to celebrate birthdays and graduations.
- I rejoice in the peace I feel as I pray about the political turmoil in The United States.
- I rejoice in the peace I feel when I pray about the pandemic.
And now it is almost 2021 and I am thinking of a word for the new year. What do you think about #givethanks? Giving thanks germinates good feelings and good feelings generate good deeds. Noticing blessings focuses attention on things that matter, macro and micro. Giving thanks is a contagious disease. I think President Nelson hoped we could create a global media gratitude pandemic. I think it worked. A few days after his message and prayer, I saw this on Facebook: “I am grateful for Mormons. News feed lookin’ waaaay better. #givethanks.”
Last week, my son-in-law, Terry, drove into the takeout lane at a fast food restaurant, gave his order, and drove forward to the window to pay. The young man said, “Seventeen cars ahead of you, a man purchased $500 in gift cards to pay for the cars behind him. You owe nothing. Would you like your receipt?” In my mind, I could see the man who gave the $500, sitting not far away in his parked car where he could watch with delight. I feel gratitude for such a person and want to go and do likewise.
Jesus “answereth and saith unto them, he that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise” (Luke 3:11). Five hundred dollars is probably over most budgets, but responding to other’s needs before they ask is free. Sending a “thinking-of-you” email is free. Helping an elderly widow rake her leaves or shovel her walks is free. Sharing testimony is free. Giving away a book you wrote at the end of an article you wrote on Meridian Magazine is free, which is what I am doing right now.
You can think of me sitting at home rejoicing, thinking that someone might read, “Evidences for the Prophet Joseph Smith as Found in the Pearl of Great Price.” I rejoice because it is a book with amazing new, at least new to me, evidences of the Prophet Joseph. Here is the preface and table of contents. If you would like to read the complete book, go to: http://www.evidencesfortheprophetjosephsmith.com/2019/09/the-pearl-of-great-price-book.html (Give it a minute to load.)
Evidences for the Prophet Joseph Smith as Found in the Pearl of Great Price
In October 2015, my most ambitious writing project appeared on bookstore shelves. The publication of The Book of Mormon Is True made me happy. About the same day the book was available, I found a lump. On November fifth, I was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer. Two surgeries, four rounds of chemotherapy, and thirty radiation treatments followed. It was rough. My first breast cancer experience had been nineteen years earlier. It was hard then, and being nineteen years older made it even harder the second time around.
The reason for sharing is to tell you that during this year of health challenges, in small bits of time, I was blessed to have a new book idea to work on that occupied my mind and buoyed my spirits. Mostly, I researched and wrote lying on my back with my laptop on my bent knees. This new book was an anti-depressant, antibiotic, and adrenline to my soul, rooting out the gloom that accompanies serious illness and treatment. I thank Heavenly Father for giving me an exciting idea that produced a tangible positive. I feel truly blessed. However, I must confess that I have no idea how the book got written. I didn’t spend enough time on it, and my brain was frying in chemo juices and swimming in radiation. The process and result have been miraculous to me.
I thank my son, Daniel, for the idea. I thank my husband, Richard, who read and critiqued every chapter. He also helped me research by reading to me hour after hour, day after day, month after month when I had not energy to do so on my own. I thank our daughter, Christine, whose expertise improved the manuscript in readability and organization. Both encouraged me during the hardest times to keep going. I thank my daughter-in-law, Shonna, for kindly correcting grammar and checking scripture citations. Then my friend and editor of The Book of Mormon Is True, Stacey Turner, did the final edit. (Obviously, I needed a lot of help.) It has been quite the ride.
The joy of the project has been to discover more and more evidence that Joseph Smith is a prophet by identifying unique vocabularies and finding doctrinal connections in the diverse elements of the Pearl of Great Price. The evidences surprised me because the Pearl of Great Price is such a short book—really more like a long pamphlet—and there are more than just a few evidences. They are conclusive to the point of leaving naysayers scratching their heads in a fruitless effort to explain away the proofs.
It is my privilege to offer these evidences to you, and I do so with my love and testimony.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Will There Be Unique Words?
Chapter 2: Misunderstanding the Word Translate
Chapter 3: Joseph Smith’s Credibility
Chapter 4: How the Pearl of Great Price Came to Be
Chapter 5: Seven Distinct Features of the Pearl of Great Price
Chapter 6: Words of Moses
Chapter 7: Words of Satan
Chapter 8: Words of God
Chapter 9: Words of Jesus Christ
Chapter 10: Words of Adam and Eve
Chapter 11: Words of Enoch
Chapter 12: People, Places, and More Unique Words
Chapter 13: More on How the Book of Abraham Came to Be
Chapter 14: Words of Abraham
Chapter 15: Abraham and Joseph’s Revelatory Experiences
Chapter 16: Astronomy and the Plan of Salvation
Chapter 17: Words of Matthew
Chapter 18: Words of Joseph Smith—Matthew
Chapter 19: The Man Joseph Smith
Chapter 20: Joseph Smith’s Vocabulary
Chapter 21: The Articles of Faith
Chapter 22: The Creation
Chapter 23: Creation Comparisons—Days One thru Five
Chapter 24: Creation Comparisons—Days Six and Seven
Chapter 25: Core Doctrines and Teachings in the Pearl of Great Price