My first year teaching seminary full-time I taught the Doctrine and Covenants at Dixie High Seminary.
I loved that assignment, and those students taught me a lot about God and what He’s like.
The seminary was decorated as a sacred grove that year.
Kraft paper trees lined the hallways.
They started out bare.
Day by day leaves appeared as students hand wrote revelation they received from God.
One of my favorite parts of the day was emptying the repurposed tissue box in my classroom to tape up the leaves.
It was a sacred experience to read the revelation received by those students.
They were spiritually experienced young people learning to hear God in the scriptures, in their trials, in their questions, and in their personal lives.
It humbled me to read what God said to them.
One leaf touched my heart deeply.
God taught her,
“Joseph Smith is just like me.”
When I was 9 years old I got a “Hymns Made Easy” book for Christmas.
The first song I started to plunk out on my own was “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer”.
We kept the piano in the walk-out basement up against a window guarded by a window well.
My feet dangled as I sat up straight and tall and practiced.
I practiced one particular part of the song over and over, so pleased with the progress my fingers were making.
A song that at first sounded messy and clumsy was becoming clear, beautiful, and familiar, the longer I practiced.
The sun shone through the window and soft yellow light fell across my sheet music.
I looked at the sun on my music and on my fingers and I remember thinking,
“I wonder if that was what it looked like when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ came to Joseph Smith.”
In a clear voice the Spirit said,
“It was just like that”.
In that moment my little heart was filled with joy.
I had gained my own witness of Joseph Smith, of Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father’s love for me and for all His children.
I told the experience in an institute class once. At the end of the story I apologized.
“Sorry, this is just a little experience I still remember from when I was younger.”
My teacher stopped me.
He urged me never to diminish the simple and beautiful ways God shows His children He loves them.
I love my story even more now.
A few summers ago Jake and I walked through the sacred grove hand in hand.
I learned that God uses the ordinary to bring about the extraordinary.
God grants the significant to the seemingly insignificant.
He loves to bless those who least expect it.
The lame man waiting at the pool of Bethesda.
The begging blind man who called out to Jesus on the road to Jericho.
The widow of Zarephath who had only a few sticks, a little meal, and a little oil.
A 14 year old boy in a grove of trees.
A 9 year old on a piano bench.
He’ll bless you too, you know.
That makes me happy.
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My name is Maddie Townsend Topham and I am a happy wife!