Monthly Archives: September 2013

Dedicatory prayer with picture of Christ in our living room

Transforming our bachelor pad into an extension of the temple: Home dedication ceremony

When Elder Richard G. Scott spoke last April about building a Christ-centered home, I was touched by his remarks and resolved to do my part to create such an environment. After pondering Elder Scott’s talk, I prayerfully considered how I could improve the living environment in my home.  I felt impressed to dedicate my home, which meant giving it a special blessing to set it apart as a sacred place.  In the same way that our chapels and temples are dedicated to set these buildings apart as a sacred place, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as LDS or Mormon) have the opportunity to set apart their homes and invite the Lord’s blessings in their lives.

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As a single adult, I recognized that my situation was different from a traditional family.  I was renting a modest home with two other Mormon roommates, but I still felt it was important to bless our home to invite the Lord’s presence more fully into our lives. Around the time I felt prompted to dedicate my home, I was going through the transition of having my current two roommates move out.  One roommate was moving to China to teach English and the other roommate wanted to move to another part of town to be in the correct boundaries for the family ward he attended.

I felt impressed to wait until I found new roommates before I moved forward with the dedication ceremony.  I felt that if my new roommates and I had a common vision of what we wanted our home to be like, we could work together more effectively to build a gospel-centered home.  After finding two great roommates, Daniel and Erich, I suggested dedicating our home together and they were both supportive of the idea.  

Because we can request specific blessings when dedicating our homes, my roommates and I prayerfully discussed what values were important to us and the type of living environment we wanted to create.  As single adults, we wanted our home to be an uplifting place where we could prepare for eternal relationships with our future families. As part of this, we decided to specifically ask the Lord to help us to act unselfishly, show unconditional love, and strengthen each other in living the gospel.  After each person gave his input, we sat down together and wrote our final dedicatory prayer that detailed the specific blessings we would request from the Lord.

We wanted to have a special ceremony in our home that would help us capture the sacredness of the event.  We invited Jessica, Daniel’s friend who helped introduce him to the gospel more than a year ago.  We also invited my friend Marc, who generously agreed to take photos to remember this special day.  

"Hanging Out" scent

“Hanging Out” scent

As we prepared our home for our guests, Daniel set up his Scentsy candle burner and showed me the wide variety of candle scents we had to choose from.  One of the scents available was called “Hanging Out,” and had a picture that showed a group of young adults gathered close together.


I found this hilarious, since one of our church leaders, Elder Oaks, gave a talk several years ago that chastised single adults for “hanging out” when they should be paired off and dating.  I was tempted to use the “Hanging Out” scent, but we ended up going with another scent called, “Vanilla Twilight.”

Daniel teaches our lesson about the sacredness of the home

Daniel teaches our lesson about the sacredness of the home

Marc and Jessica arrived and after introductions and an opening prayer, I turned the time over to Daniel to share a short lesson about the sacredness of the home.  It was particularly meaningful to listen to Daniel share his thoughts and personal testimony about the sanctity of the home.

Before Daniel moved in, we were home teaching companions and he would often come over to visit.  Daniel would frequently comment on the peace he felt when coming over, which was one of the reasons he moved in when we had an opening.  Having Daniel share his thoughts and personal testimony of building a gospel-centered home meant a lot to me and he did a great job with his lesson.

Daniel read from the Bible Dictionary, which said, “Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”  Because the hallowed ground of the temple is considered to be the most sacred place on earth, it’s a serious commitment to make our home a holy sanctuary comparable to the temple.  Making our home a sanctuary gives us a foundation to overcome the temptations and distractions of the outside world. 

Daniel explained that although we’re spiritually fortified each Sunday at church, it can become difficult when we experience situations during the week that can be stressful, tempting, and possibly degrading to the Spirit.  Making our home a sacred place helps us overcome these challenges.  Just like how the reverence and peaceful spirit we feel in the temple can uplift us throughout the week, creating a similar environment at home can also become a great source of strength.

Dedicating our home is important because it sets it apart as a sacred place, reaffirms our commitment to live gospel standards, and gives everyone who lives there motivation to work towards common goals.  Daniel said something I found particularly insightful:

“[Through our home dedication], we’re inviting another roommate into our home – we’re creating a place for the Lord to reside. He’s always been here, but we are now welcoming him completely.”

Daniel closed by sharing his personal testimony of how his life has been blessed through living in a gospel-centered home.  As a convert to the church, Daniel explained that he hasn’t always been in the best living environments and coming over to a place like our home was very different for him.  He bore sincere testimony of the peace he’s felt through coming home to a place where he can be fortified from the challenges of the outside world.

Malcolm, Jessica, Daniel, Erich around dedicatory prayer

Malcolm, Jessica, Daniel, Erich around dedicatory prayer

After Daniel’s lesson, we kneeled around our table and I had the privilege to give the dedicatory prayer.  After our ceremony, we had a closing prayer, blessed the refreshments, and placed our framed dedicatory prayer in our living room. Daniel said something particularly amusing after the lesson. He said: 

“Our home will now be a complete extension of the temple, BUT the only difference is you won’t hear Malcolm’s puns or Erich’s echoing laugh within the walls of the temple.”  

Given my fondness for puns and Erich’s distinctive laughter, I thought that was an excellent way of looking at it.  Even though the three of us have only been roommates for a relatively short time, we’ve already created many fond memories.  Having Daniel and Erich as roommates has been a blessing in my life and working together to dedicate our home was a sacred experience.   

Erich, Malcolm, and Daniel with dedicatory prayer

Erich, Malcolm, and Daniel with dedicatory prayer

I am grateful we had the opportunity to dedicate our home and invite the Lord’s blessings more fully into our lives. Dedicating our home doesn’t mean that our living environment will be perfect – that would be an unrealistic expectation, because we are imperfect human beings.  However, the dedication means we now have a common vision to work towards as we build a Christ-centered home.  

Whenever we look at our dedicatory prayer, we will be reminded that we’ve invited the Lord as our fourth roommate – and we will strive to act accordingly. 


Highlights of the 2013 Boise Institute Luau and Shaun Canon Concert

The Boise Institute kicked off the 2013 fall semester by organizing a luau and a concert with Mormon artist Shaun Canon. As a native Hawaiian, I had high expectations for the luau and I’m happy to report that the Institute activity was a fun evening that represented the island traditions.

2013 Boise Institute Luau

I picked up my photographer, Marc, and lent him one of my Hawaiian shirts.  We arrived at Ann Morrison park and it was already packed full of excited single adults. There were about 400 people and I was pleased to see many dressed appropriately for a luau, including President Phillips and President Vail from the Stake Presidency.

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Feasting and Friendship  at the Luau

True to form, the dinner was a roasted pig that was carved up for the feast. The dinner tables around the park shelter were completely packed with happy and excited single adults. One of the greatest strengths about the Institute program is that it provides opportunities to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

Nik and Donovan

Nik and Donovan

During dinner, I had the chance to meet up with two of my friends, Donovan and Nik. My buddy Nik had just finished his vendor business at the Western Idaho Fair, “Bacon on a Stick,” and was still in the process of readjusting to a normal schedule after working an insane 150+ hour week at the fair.

It was also great to see Donovan. Because he’s had family in town for the last month, I hadn’t been able to meet up with him for a while. Donovan has been a good friend to me over the last few years and I was glad we got to hang out.

Kachina at the 2013 Boise Institute Luau


I also had the pleasure of meeting a new friend during dinner, Kachina, who has just moved to Boise to take on a new job. I learned that before coming to Boise, she was studying anthropology at the University of Utah. She needed to take a break from school to save money before transferring to another university, so when a job opened up in Boise, she was quick to take advantage of the opportunity.   

Brother Thompson Has Sweet Skills

After dinner, Boise Institute faculty member Brother Thompson entertained the crowd with his epic juggling skills. If you’ve ever watched the movie Napoleon Dynamite, I’m sure you remember the scene where Napoleon talks to his friend Pedro about the importance of having useful skills. I don’t know if Brother Thompson has nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, or computer hacking skills, but when it comes to juggling, Brother Thompson has some flipping sweet skills. Check out the embedded video below:

2013 Boise Institute Luau

Brother Thompson teaches juggling

After his performance, Brother Thompson was kind enough to teach juggling to a few Institute students who were amazed by his performance. Thankfully, Brother Thompson started them off with balls, rather than with sharp knives or flaming torches.


Volleyball, Slacking Off, and Dance Off

Trent slacklining at the 2013 Boise Institute Luau

Trent demonstrates slacklining

There were several games of volleyball going on and we also had a slackline set up. Slacklining is similar to tightrope walking, only the line’s tension allows it to bounce like a trampoline. This allows different stunts to be performed. At my request, Trent, one of the members in my ward, jumped on the slack line and demonstrated a few cool tricks.

Laura, one of the students that helps run the Boise Institute, was the MC for the event and organized a limbo contest and a hula dance off! The initial pool of dancers was narrowed down to the top four people. Laura then had the crowd choose the final winner.

Rusty wins the dance off at the 2013 Boise Institute Luau

Rusty wins the dance off!

Rusty, a former member of the Boise Institute leadership team, won the dance off. Acen, last year’s President of the Boise Institute, and Earl, one of the members in my ward, celebrated by putting Rusty on their shoulders as the crowd went wild! After the luau ended around 8 pm, we left the park to meet up at Boise State’s amphitheater on campus for the Shaun Canon concert.

A Round of Bad Jokes

I was extremely grateful for Marc coming with me and taking pictures during the event. Marc recently took on another part-time job and he had been awake since 4:30 am that morning, without having time to rest before coming to the Institute activity. I could tell that Marc was getting tired, so to keep him awake, I tried to make him laugh while we were waiting for Shaun to finish setting up for the concert. I asked Marc if he had heard any good jokes lately, and when he couldn’t think of any, I resorted to a few tried and true bar jokes.

I started off by saying, “A horse walks into the bar, and the bartender says, why the long face?

Marc chuckled politely, but as it turned out, he had heard that joke before. So I told him another bar joke: “A termite walks into a bar, and says, is the bar tender here?” Marc hadn’t heard that before and got a good laugh from that one.

Donovan followed that up saying, “A man walks into a bar, and says, ouch!” Immediately afterwards, Donovan seemed chagrined and said, “I guess that was a bad joke.”

I dryly responded, “Well Donovan, I think that for these jokes, we need to set the bar higher.” Thankfully, Laura from the Boise Institute got up to make opening announcements before we could go for another round of bar jokes. (Yeah, we’re hilarious.) 

 Laura tosses out candy at the 2013 Boise Institute Luau

Laura tosses out candy to the crowd

Laura started off by choosing names for a random drawing of prizes sponsored by the Boise Institute. There were some great prizes given away, including restaurant gift certificates and movie tickets. Following the drawing, Laura tossed out candy to the crowd of excited single adults before turning the time over to Shaun Canon.


Concert with Shaun Canon: I knew he was treble when he walked in

If you’re not familiar with Shaun Canon, he was a top contestant on American Idol, Season 7. Since American Idol, Shaun has stayed active pursuing his dreams. A few of Shaun’s achievements include receiving a Platinum AVA award, opening for major acts such as Brian McKnight and Janelle Monae, and winning a UK Music Contest called “Slice the Pie.”

Shaun Canon at the 2013 Boise Institute Luau

Shaun Canon

Shaun Canon spoke briefly about his music career and how he wanted to use his talents to make a difference in the world. That’s why he started the ambitious “Live for Music,” tour which raises money for high school music programs around the country. At each fundraising event, Shaun donates 50% of what they make back to the school, and to date, Shaun has raised more than $100,000 for high school music programs.  

Shaun Canon proved to be quite talented and I felt his music was a refreshing change from the typical genre of bubblegum love songs. I enjoyed Shaun’s music and thought his songs had more depth than the catchy, but often hollow tunes often played over and over again on the radio. I particularly enjoyed his songs, “A More Meaningful Life” and “You’re All My Reasons,” a duet that he performed with local artist Christy Davis.

Shaun dedicated the last song, “When I Take Your Hand,” to his wife, Molly Canon. He said that they were just married in the Manti temple two months ago and the audience cheered when he made the announcement. I was happy for him, but I had to fight the urge to make an ill-advised joke about marrying a “Molly Mormon.” After the performance, we ended the activity with a closing prayer. If you’d like to hear Shaun Canon’s music, check out his Reverbnation profile.

Mahalo to the Boise Institute!

As always, the Boise Institute did a great job organizing and executing the kick-off activity. If you’re new in town or just need someone to go with to Institute activities, feel free to contact me and I’ll gladly meet up with you. For more pictures of the luau and concert, check out the gallery below. Thanks again to my buddy Marc for contributing his pictures!

Aloha Oi’ to my dear readers until next time.  

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Boise Institute 2013 Welcome Fireside

Welcome Flyer

Welcome Flyer

The Boise Institute 2013 Welcome Fireside was an inspiring start to the beginning of the Fall semester. The format was different from previous kick-off firesides organized by the Boise Institute program because it presented numerous opportunities to hear direct testimonies from our church leaders. These inspired changes allowed those in attendance to be deeply enriched by the Spirit. 

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Opening Exercises 

Robin Jensen, the new Institute Choir President

Robin Jensen, the new Institute Choir President

One of the amazing things about the Boise Institute program is that it’s operated by single adult committees under the direction of the Institute facility. Each Institute committee serves a different purpose, such as event planning, communication, and enrollment. The Boise Institute called Garrison Holdaway as the new Institute President and Cassandra Sullivan as the new Institute Vice President. I had the privilege to previously serve with both Garrison and Cassandra on Institute committees and I was impressed by their dedication to their gospel and their willingness to serve other students in the Institute program.

Testimonies from Institute President and Bishops

Garrison and Cassandra, the new Institute President and Vice President

Garrison and Cassandra, the new Institute President and Vice President

After Garrison’s testimony, the Bishop in each YSA ward had the opportunity to introduce themselves and bear their testimonies. A Bishop is an unpaid spiritual leader of an LDS congregation and has stewardship over each member who attends their unit. This is the first time I’ve seen this done at a welcome fireside, which I felt was an inspired decision. Many single adults are not familiar with their Bishop and it’s important for each member to feel comfortable turning to their Bishop for support, guidance, and encouragement in living gospel principles.  

Each Bishop bore sincere testimony, but my favorite was the testimony of Bishop Lindstrom, my personal Bishop in the 5th ward. Bishop Lindstrom’s testimony was the perfect example of what a testimony should be – a brief, heartfelt declaration of the truthfulness of the gospel.  Bishop Lindstrom testified of the truthfulness of the Restoration and how the Institute program helps single adults balance the teachings of the world with the teachings of God. He encouraged us to learn spiritual truths that can help us return to God and to focus on the eternal things that truly matter.

One by One Video

After testimonies from the Bishops, we listened to a hymn medley by Hannah Swenson, then watched a short video, “One by One,” which documented an experience that Elder Bednar had when serving as the President of BYU-Idaho. When he found out that Elder Eyring was planning to visit BYU-Idaho, Elder Bednar encouraged his students to spiritually prepare themselves. He specifically asked each student to invite five people in a way that would encourage them to also reach out to others. Because of the faith and obedience of the students, the attendance of students at devotional went from 250 to more than 12,000 when Elder Eyring arrived at BYU-Idaho. Each student was dressed in their absolute Sunday best and was spiritually ready to hear the words of an Apostle. Elder Eyring openly wept when he saw the preparation of the students and how they were ready to learn from a servant of the Lord.

I felt the video was relevant because as young single adults, our individual choices really do matter. Because students were willing to personally administer to their friends, a miracle happened at BYU-Idaho. Just like the Savior made a difference through ministering to people one by one, we can make a difference in the lives of others through our personal ministry.   

Brother Spjute and President Vail’s Remarks

After the video, Brother Spjute, the new Boise Institute Director, addressed us. He explained that although Institute enrollment may drop because of the changes that allowed single adults to serve missions at an earlier age, we can still build a vibrant Boise Institute program through our personal ministry. Brother Spjute shared the story from the New Testament about how Peter was walking on water, but started to sink when he lost sight of the Savior and his faith wavered. The Savior reached out to Peter and saved him.

Brother Spjute encouraged us to follow the example of the Savior and to reach out to others who are struggling. As we do so, the Lord will comfort and strengthen us in ways we never thought possible – even if we feel that we’re the ones who need help. Brother Spjute closed by bearing his personal testimony that the Lord knows and loves each of us individually and promised us that miracles can happen when we reach out to others and act as the Savior’s representative.

After Brother Spjute’s remarks, Justin White, accompanied by Shalise Adams and Jessica Gourley, performed “Be Still My Soul” before turning over the time to President Phillips, our Stake President. President Phillips felt inspired to ask his first counselor, President Vail, to bear his brief testimony. President Vail expressed how the Stake Presidency has a deep love for the single adults in the Stake and how the faith, obedience, and spirit of the single adults is an uplifting influence that sustains the Stake Presidency. He testified that the Savior has the ability to help each of us individually, if we only choose to open the door to our heart when the Savior knocks.

President Phillips’ Remarks

President Phillips was the last speaker and he read from Ephesians 4: 11-13, which talks about how the church is structured in a way that allows each member to “come in the unity of the faith” and develop a testimony of the Savior. He shared how his son’s mission president gave four instructions to missionaries who were returning home, and one specific instruction was to take an Institute class. He admonished us to develop our personal testimonies through taking advantage of the Boise Institute program. President Phillips then gave two specific instructions to those in attendance:

1) Know who your Bishop is. President Phillips explained that Bishops have a sacred calling to serve the single adults in their congregation. We shouldn’t hesitate to approach them because they have the authority and inspiration to administer to our needs.

2) Be wise. (Jacob 6:12). LDS single adults need to be wise in resisting the temptations and distractions that come their way. Having knowledge of gospel principles isn’t enough; we need wisdom to apply these principles in our daily lives.  

President Phillips asserted that the single adults in our stake are meant to act as the light of the world (Matthew 5: 14 – 16). Through living gospel principles, single adults can inspire others around them and create future opportunities for missionary work. President Phillips closed by using his Priesthood authority to pronounce a blessing upon the single adults in the Boise YSA Stake.

He asked that during this year, the single adults in the stake:

-Will have the strength to keep the commandments.

-Will have their minds open to the scriptures.

-Will find friendship and companionship.

-Will know that God loves and knows them individually.

-Will have their hearts open to those in need.

-Will bring strength and joy to those around them, both to members and nonmembers.

-Will have their testimonies grow as they develop a stronger conviction of the Savior.  

Students mingle 1After President Phillips’ blessing and the closing prayer, the fireside adjourned and allowed the single adults to mingle and enjoy refreshments. The Boise Institute Welcome Fireside was a powerful experience that allowed those in attendance to be spiritually uplifted. The fireside made it clear that the Boise YSA Stake and the Boise Institute has dedicated and righteous leaders who deeply care about the single adults and want them to be successful.

To stay connected to the Boise Institute and receive notifications of upcoming events, follow the Boise Institute Facebook Page at If you’re new in town or just need someone to go with to Institute activities, feel free to contact me and I’ll gladly meet up with you. 


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Single, but not singled out

Single, but not singled out: Why a gospel-centered life is the best choice for a single adult

As an active Mormon, being single is not the lifestyle I would have chosen for myself. Having been taught about family relationships at an early age, I never doubted the importance of marriage. Yet despite choosing to follow the path laid out to me through the church – a mission, education, and career – I’ve found myself alone in a family-oriented religion.

My situation is hardly unique. Single adults are a growing demographic in the United States, and about half of American adults, or 100 million, are single. Even within the Mormon Church, it’s estimated that at least one-third of its adult members are single.

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Single adults have many challenges during these formative years as they prepare for careers, marriage, and family life. It’s easy to be distracted by the temptations of the world, to take the seemingly easy route through life that leads to instant gratification. Being a Mormon single adult also creates unique expectations and challenges to overcome.

Being Mormon and Single

Because of the culture of the Mormon Church, it’s sometimes easy to feel alone and isolated simply because of your marital status. In a church that highly values marriage and family, people are often critical of singles because they assume that something must be “wrong” with us. It’s tough to remain single while you see people around you marry and settle down, especially when you can’t figure out exactly what makes them better marriage material than you. It hurts to feel that despite doing everything you can to be eligible for the Lord’s blessings, you have not yet received the earnest desire of your heart.   

As a Mormon single adult, I also have fears I have to live with:

The fear of not being able to find an eternal companion and having to face life alone.

The fear of being ostracized by other church members and not fitting in because of the shallow judgments of others. 

Or worst of all, the fear that perhaps the problem is me and that I’m still single because there’s something wrong with me I haven’t yet recognized.

It’s easy to lose faith, to question if God really does have a plan for you, to wonder if you’ll fit in as an active single Mormon. Perhaps in part for these reasons, it’s estimated that half of the Mormon single adult population is not active in the church. But although I have these fears, they’ve become manageable through knowing and living gospel principles.

Despite the challenges that face Mormon single adults, I choose to remain active in the gospel for three specific reasons.

First, I choose to be active because the gospel is true for everyone, married or single. Because of the teachings of the gospel, I understand that being married or single doesn’t change your value in the eyes of the Lord. Being a single adult in the church does not make you a second class citizen; it simply means that you have not yet had the opportunity of finding a companion.

Everyone’s path in life is different and we all have unique challenges to overcome as we work towards becoming like our Heavenly Father. What really matters is how we choose to face these challenges. When I feel discouraged, I remind myself of a story told by Elder Anderson about a convert who sacrificed everything – his family relationships, his career, and other opportunities in life – just so he could be baptized. When questioned about why he made his decision, with tears in his eyes, he said, “It’s true, isn’t it? Then what else matters?”

My personal testimony has helped sustain me as a Mormon single adult. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When [an individual] is motivated by great and powerful convictions of truth, he disciplines himself, not because of the demands made by the church but because of the knowledge within his heart.” Because I know the gospel is true, it helps me stay active in the church – no matter how difficult or lonely the path might be.

Second, I choose to be active in the gospel because it creates the best possible lifestyle for a single adult. The teachings of Jesus Christ allow me to anchor my life to something that stays constant in a world of change. It’s given me the guidance and support to make the best possible life decisions. It’s given me the ability to go through life and make choices that will bring lasting happiness, rather than be satisfied with short-term, temporary pleasure.

It’s true that living the gospel doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a life free of pain, loneliness, or trials. Being an active Mormon single adult can be difficult sometimes. But it’s worth it. Living the gospel has brought purpose to my life as a single adult and it’s brought me lasting happiness that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s allowed me to experience sacred moments of pure joy that only come through obeying gospel principles.  

It’s brought me joy from knowing about my divine potential and that I can become more like my Heavenly Father.

It’s allowed me to feel peace from knowing that although my life may not have turned out the way I envisioned, it’s still acceptable to God.

It’s helped me obtain serenity when my heartfelt prayers are answered, even when it’s not necessarily in the way and timeframe I would have liked.

When I have these sacred experiences, it gives me a brief taste of the eternal joy that awaits me if I’m faithful in this life. The gospel is called the plan of happiness for good reason and I wouldn’t trade these blessings for anything else.

Third, I choose to be active in the gospel because it gives me an eternal perspective. This means that I make choices in life that will bring me happiness for eternity, not just for the relatively short timeframe of mortality. Ten years, twenty years, even a hundred years is less than a blink of an eye compared to eternity.

Because whatever choices we make in this life will determine our destiny for eternity, we have so much to lose if we allow our focus to hang on our marital status. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen from single adults is losing sight of our place in God’s kingdom simply because we haven’t yet found an eternal companion. We are a chosen generation and we should act accordingly – single or not, married or not.

Having an eternal perspective means that we’re willing to accept the Lord’s timetable for our lives. If we recognize that the Lord wants to bless us in His own time, we earnestly strive to prepare ourselves for eternal marriage, keep a positive attitude, and make the most of our available opportunities.

The Lord's blessings will come

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It’s challenging to keep an eternal perspective when faced with disappointment, heartache, and a sense of loss. But we need to remind ourselves that this life is a test, an opportunity to prove ourselves. If we live faithfully, whatever blessings go unfulfilled in this life will be made up for in the next. Because of my perspective, each year that goes by isn’t viewed as another year being single – it’s viewed as another year in keeping myself worthy to receive the Lord’s blessings, regardless of whether these blessings happen in this life or the next.


I know that regardless of our marital status, the gospel is worth living. I truly believe that despite the challenges we face as single adults, we are on a path that leads to eternal joy. The gospel has given me a purpose in life, the strength to persevere, and the ability to stay optimistic about my future. As a great man once said, “the future is as bright as your faith.”

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