Mathematics Faculty Member
Sister Moon was born in Chile during a time of political turmoil and violence. After diplomatic delays and a time in Bolivia, her parents were finally cleared to move their family to the United States where they raised six girls and four boys.
Sister Moon graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's in English and a minor in mathematics. She later graduated with a masters and then a doctorate degree in mathematics from Idaho State University. She has taught in the BYU-Idaho mathematics department for the past 16 years.
Sister Moon married her high school crush, Brandon Moon, 25 years ago in the Idaho Falls Temple. They have been blessed with four children. Their oldest is celebrating his 23rd birthday today.
With gratitude for her own public education and with hope for children of all financial and cultural backgrounds, Sister Moon currently serves on her local school board.
Sister Moon collects Books of Mormon in various languages. She enjoys travelling with her family, dating her husband and jogging with her two Labradors. She also makes time to hike, play tennis, and bike with her friends. She currently serves in her ward's relief society presidency, but her favorite and most cherished callings are those of wife and mother.
We invite you to study and ponder on the scriptures and other preparation resources below previous to attending devotional. As you come spiritually prepared the Spirit will have greater power to inspire you, teach you, and to testify to you of the truthfulness of the principles that will be taught.
Welcome to devotional. Thank you for inviting the Spirit with both word and song. A special welcome to those of you here for your first semester and those of you joining us online or by some other media miracle. I have felt overwhelmed at this opportunity. After reviewing many inspiring stories and a plethora of memorable quotes, the message that I have been impressed to share is simply this: He lives.
Just a few months ago, I found myself in a hospital room alone--waiting for test results--waiting for my husband to arrive. The minutes felt like hours. I started to question and painfully ponder, "Did I tell my children everything I wanted them to know? Did I tell them that I know Christ lives? Did I tell them that their Heavenly Father loves them and will never leave them? Did I tell them that love and living temple covenants keep families together? I wasn't sure that I had. I started to text them frantically--just in case this was really it. Well ... thankfully, that was not my last day on earth. I was given a second chance, and with that second chance I want to tell you the same things that I wanted my children to know. I know my Savior lives. I know this--not because of some magnificent vision in a sacred grove but because I found Him in the scriptures. I am here to testify that the scriptures truly lead us on the path home; they empower faithful men and women to stand as witnesses of Christ in all circumstances. And, finally, the scriptures saved my life and renewed my hope and joy in the truth that my Redeemer lives.
First of all, the scriptures lead to the path home, and through them we can come to know our Redeemer.
The adversary knows the power of God's words, and works hard to keep us from studying them. He tirelessly places deceptions and distractions in our path. He has worked hard to set up many roadblocks to keep the scriptures from becoming part of our daily lives. We need to recognize these deceptions, be grateful for the prophets who sacrificed so much, and choose every day to fish from living waters.
My mom was raised on a dry farm in Squirrel, Idaho. (This was before she went to Chile to marry my dad.) Her dad would buy grease in five-gallon buckets. Once emptied, the buckets served multiple purposes. Grandpa often carried his tools around in these buckets. Sometimes they would hold chopped barley to feed the pigs and chickens. One summer Mom found a bucket placed outside the house under a faucet--not sure why. Having caught the summer-day boredoms, she decided to use the bucket as a fishing pond. She found a stick and a piece of string to which she tied one of Grandma's sewing pins. The pin made a perfect fish hook. That first day she fished for a couple of hours. She didn't catch anything. As the summer passed, she and her siblings spent several more hours fishing out of the would-be fish pond. She said to me, "By the end of summer, none of us had ever caught a fish." Now that she looks back on her fishing days with a bit more life experience, she realizes with a smile that there were no fish in that bucket.
To catch fish, you must fish where fish live. To find Christ, we must fish in the rivers of living waters. There is no need to fish in empty buckets. We can find Christ in our scriptures, in words of latter-day prophets, and in personal revelation through the gifts of the Spirit. As we study God's words, we learn who we are, where we came from, and what Heavenly Father's plan is for us. We will also come to know the Savior and will feel our Heavenly Father's love. The adversary does not want us in the scriptures. He doesn't want us in church on Sundays nor to listen to general conference. He would distract us with thoughts that we are too busy or our testimonies are just fine. Missing church this once won't affect me. Yet this causal observance will make us weak and unprepared for the storms ahead.
In 1 Nephi 8:30 we read, "He saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree." The iron rod guides us through the mists of darkness in this life. We cannot just casually hold on to the rod. We must cling to it, continually holding fast. This takes active effort on our part, not just a casual reading of the scriptures nor casual sacrament attendance. We must go to the scriptures and to our meetings with purpose, specific questions, humility, and faith that our Heavenly Father's words are found there. As we study, the Holy Ghost will open our hearts to hear the individualized messages our Heavenly Father has for each of us.
The word was so important that the Lord commanded Lehi to send his sons back for the brass plates. Nephi said, "And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children" (1 Nephi 5:21).
In Mosiah we read about the people in Zarahemla, who originated from the son of Zedekiah, who escaped Jerusalem around the same time Lehi did. His people had forgotten God and did not remember the great things He had done for them. Their language had been corrupted. A blatant difference between the Nephites and the Mulekites was that the latter lacked the written words of God. They did not have a cornerstone from which to build their foundation on the Lord (see Omni 1:17).
By contrast, you and I have been blessed to live at a time when we have easy access to written revelation. Many have made sacred sacrifices so you and I could go to a shelf or to our phone and have the word of God within seconds. Back in the early 1500s, William Tyndale hid from authorities as he worked to translate the Bible into English. His hope was to put the scriptures into the hands of the commoner. He is known to have said, "If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture, than [(the Pope)] dost." Having the words so accessible would thwart Satan's plans. Knowing this, Satan has continuously fought to keep the word from us. (D. Todd Christopherson, "The Blessing of Scripture," Ensign, May 2010)
Tyndale fled from country to country and endured much tribulation as he continued his work. He was finally imprisoned and after a year and a half brought forth, strangled to death, and burned. Joseph Smith sealed his testimony of the truth with his own life. Countless other prophets have given all they had--many their own lives--to provide us with God's words. It is tempting to let distractions keep up from serious daily scripture study and prayer. Let's not let the prophets' sacrifices be in vain. Let's not let that which now is so easily found lie on our shelves unopened. There is power, faith, hope, encouragement, testimony, and guidance within the scriptures. They truly testify that the Savior lives.
Secondly, the scriptures empower faithful men and women to stand as witnesses of Christ and proclaim with their lives, "He lives."
Corrie Ten Boom, the daughter of a Dutch watchmaker, and her family courageously hid and rescued many Jews during the Holocaust. For this, she was eventually imprisoned along with her family. In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom describes some of the sufferings she endured and witnessed at the German concentration camps (Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place, 1971). At one point, Corrie shares the miraculous story of how she and her sister Betsie smuggled into camp a few pages of the Bible. They sacrificed their very lives to have the words of God accompany them into this dark world.
Corrie describes Betsie thanking God for the fleas which overran their sleeping barracks. Appalled at Betsie's gratitude, Corrie questions her sister. Betsie explains that the German guards choose to bypass their infested quarters while on patrol because of these heaven-sent bugs. Thus, each evening Betsie is safe to read aloud from the Bible. Prisoners crowd around. Translators whisper the words throughout the body-packed building, sharing the messages in various languages. These verses bring hope, light, and some solace during a time of darkness, evil, and tragic disregard for human life. Betsie continued to read from these pages until illness stole her from this world. Before she returned home, she clung to Heavenly Father's words to remind her of our Savior and a better world.
With permission, I'd like to tell you about another person who held on tightly to the word and found guidance and solace in times of trial. When I married Brandon Moon, I was so excited to become his eternal companion that I didn't really care to ask him about his future career goals. He was good to me and loved me. He decided that he wanted to attend vocational school and pursue an associates in drafting. After being married 10 years, I found an old journal of his. In it he had written, "I want to be a mechanical engineer." Hmm. That was odd. Was it true? Did he really have different dreams before we married?
I asked Brandon about this. He said he could never make it through the math. I understood this somewhat. When Brandon was 14, he was in a BMX biking accident which robbed him of sight in one eye and put him in Primary Children's Hospital during the beginning of his freshman year. When he finally returned to high school, he was quite behind in mathematics and never did catch up. So there it was. Mathematics was keeping him from accomplishing his goal.
Sometime after our conversation, Brandon was impressed to go back to school. He was unsure of how he was going to accomplish this. He would need to cut back his hours at work. We decided I should not work full time--we still had young children. We would need to live on less. He had a very demanding church calling. In addition, his math background was insufficient for an engineering degree. School did not seem like a good idea. We needed a miracle. We needed the faith described in Moroni 7:33: "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me."
So, with faith, very little money, and the promise that the Lord would support us, Brandon started back to school. He started in the very first math class--the one that doesn't count for any college credit--the one you take if you don't remember anything from your high-school education. Then he took the next one. Finally, after four years of preparation, sacrifice, and a little help from his wife, he applied to the engineering program at BYU-Idaho. He eventually graduated with the very first cohort in this brand new degree at this brand new four-year university.
Along this journey back to school, I watched Brandon put the Lord first. He continued to study his scriptures and pray. He invited light into his life every day, and the Lord supported him. He did learn mathematics. He did become a mechanical engineer. He also learned that the Lord loved him. He had to start at the very beginning, but now he understands principles that he had skipped through before.
At one point in his life, President Henry B. Eyring and his family experienced a similar circumstance. In a talk recorded in the October 2002 Ensign, President Eyring describes the beginning of his graduate-school days. He was in a program he felt ill-prepared for; he was struggling to meet the demands of his school work, a very busy church calling, and a young family. He knew it was a test of his faith as he tried to put the Lord first and trust that the Lord would help him with the rest.
President Eyring says to college students, "You've carried your scriptures all day but still have not found a moment to open them. There is someone in your family who would be blessed by your thoughtful attention, but you haven't gotten to them yet. You go to a job tomorrow that barely pays enough to keep food on your table and pay your bills. Rather than finding ways to capture leisure time for learning, you are trying to decide what to leave undone. There is another way to look at your problem of crowded time. You can see it as an opportunity to test your faith." He continues, "The Lord loves you and watches over you. That is a true promise. When we put God's purposes first, He will give us miracles. If we pray to know what He would have us do next, He will multiply the effects of what we do in such a way that time seems to be expanded."
I invite you to put God first and study faithfully while you are here. Ask him for guidance every day to lead you to what He needs you to do. As you seek Him first, the important things in your life will fall into place, and the rest will fall away.
In Ether 6:5, 8 we read,
And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.
If the Lord had just sent a calm, gentle breeze, the Jaredites would not have made it to the promised land. It was the ferocious tempests that pushed the Jaredites to the place the Lord needed them to be. As with the Jaredites, the Lord will send each of us storms to help direct our barges to our own heavenly prepared promised lands--to places better than the ones we are at now. Remember, we don't travel alone. As we rely on the Lord to guide us through, He will help us find the light as long as we cling to Him through the darkness.
When a student of mine, whom I will call Dillon, walked into my math class a few years ago, he lit up the room with his smile. He spread this joy and peace to all who worked with him that semester. He made my day. I don't know about other professors, but whenever I run into a former student, I rarely remember the grade they earned, but I always remember how I felt around them. Around Dillon, I felt like a daughter of God.
When Dillon introduced himself that first day, he spoke of his fiancée and their plans after BYU-Idaho. He was full of hope and promise. Now, I did notice that he had a peculiar physical characteristic for one so young. He was bald. I soon found out he had been battling cancer since his mission. That semester, the good news came that he was in remission. I was so happy for him and his future bride. He reminded me of the faith described in Hebrews 11: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Dillon's faith in his Savior was strong.
In Hebrews it goes on to share many of the miracles of the Bible which came about by faith. By faith, Noah built an ark. By faith, Enoch did not see death. By faith, Isaac offered up his son. By faith, Sarah bore a child later in life. By faith, Dillon found hope and peace in his journey.
The next semester, I received one of those campus e-mails that none of us likes to read. The e-mail let us know that Dillon had passed away. He had lost his battle here on earth. I didn't understand. He was so good, so faithful. Why didn't the Lord grant him healing? How could one so young and so good be called home so early?
Sometime after Dillon's death, I returned to Hebrews 11. Further on it says that even the faithful are called home and sometimes tortured, mocked, scourged, and imprisoned. And yet in verse 40 of the Joseph Smith Translation for this verse, it states, "God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect." Dillon had not lost his battle. He had won. He had come to know his Savior and lived a life which shared this testimony with all he knew.
I have been inspired by the faith and diligence I observed in these examples and many others. I could easily see how the Lord had something better in store for each one. I understood with my mind how important the Savior was for Betsie Ten Boom; my husband, Brandon; and Dillon in their respective trials. Yet it wasn't until recently, when I had my own trial of faith, that I discovered how desperately I needed the Savior and His Atonement. I needed a lesson for my heart.
Finally, the scriptures saved my life and renewed my own hope and joy in the truth that my Redeemer lives.
In the fall of 2015, on the first day of the semester, I woke up with a searing pain through my chest to my back. After teaching my classes, the pain intensified. A battery of tests determined I had experienced a spontaneous pneumothorax, or a partial lung collapse.
After some consultation, my doctor and the pulmonary specialist decided not to operate to inflate my lung. They were hopeful--as was I--that it would heal with rest and deep breathing. Wow. Rest. That turned out to be a challenge.
My lung eventually began to improve, but I was not prepared for the emotional turmoil that followed. I had a sudden onset of fear. In addition to the collapsed lung, there were other events in my family which I began to focus on, and this misguided focus threw me into a pit of discouragement and deep despair. My faith was tested, and my hope was fading.
I felt broken. It was more than just being anxious or downhearted. I lost my appetite. I no longer wanted to participate in daily activities. The depression finally became so debilitating I had to take medical leave from work. Sleep escaped me and magnified the intensity of the darkness. I began to worry for my life as I lost almost 30 pounds in one month.
In addition to seeking medical help, I started searching the scriptures and general conference talks for answers. I had to know if I was going to make it through this.
Where was my Heavenly Father? I felt alone and hopeless. I thought I had faith. Did I? As I kept searching and pleading for guidance, I found Elder Richard G. Scott's talk "Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority" (General Conference, October 2014).
Elder Scott and his sweet Jeanene had lost two young children early in their marriage. Later in life, Sister Scott's untimely death left him to serve alone. If anyone knew about faith, he would. In his talk he encouraged me to make the exercise of faith a priority. He described exactly what this looks like. He invited me to study the scriptures every day, go to the Lord in heartfelt prayer, attend the temple, and hold family home evening. These were four things I could do. They were not out of reach. In fact, they were so simple I had been looking past them.
In Matthew 14:26-31 the Lord teaches us what happens when we lose focus on Him.
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
I had become like Peter and taken my focus off the Lord. I too had started to sink. I had let daily demands of life become more important than my daily scripture study, and I had allowed the focus of my family's turmoil to take my eyes off of Christ. I needed a realignment. It was time to refocus and use this time to find my Savior.
In addition to general conference talks, I found comfort in the Book of Mormon. One morning while home alone and struggling to start my day, I received a phone call from a dear friend. She had been studying the scriptures and found one she was prompted to share with me. It was in 1 Nephi 21:16: "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands: thy walls are continually before me." Wow. That was a good one. To know that He had already graven me upon the palms of His hands helped me see that I was not forgotten. He knew me. Christ had already carried this burden for me. This truth seared deep into my soul.
Then I found Mormon 5:23: "Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?" Yes, I was in God's hands. My very life depended on Him every day. He was in charge. I could let it go. He had this. What a great place to put our lives--in His able and loving hands. "
I posted Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's words on our family white board: "Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead.... You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come" (Jeffrey R. Holland, "An High Priest of Good Things to Come," Ensign, Nov. 1999).
The scriptures became my friends. I started to text my favorite ones to myself. I put them on notifications to arrive later in the day. I posted them around my home. I started memorizing them. Because I had committed a few to memory, I could call them up whenever I needed a friend to encourage me or a friend to comfort me. They became my lifelines.
Finally, Psalms 46:10 spoke to me: "Be still and know that I am God." We need a time each day to be still and remember. My medical leave turned out to be an unplanned blessing for me to refocus and remember what is truly important. The Lord needed to get my attention. As difficult as it was, I learned to be still--like the Sea of Galilee after a storm. Now that I am back into life, with deadlines and competing demands, it takes commitment and prioritizing every day to spend time in prayer and in the scriptures. We all have 24 hours. What we do with that 24 hours shows Heavenly Father and ourselves what is truly important to us.
Like Joseph Smith, we each need our own Sacred Groves, where we can escape the commotion and noise of this world and seek our Heavenly Father. I invite you to find place and time every day to visit your own Sacred Grove. Find a time when you will not be rushed. Husbands may need to take the children for a while. Some of you may need to find a place away from your roommates. Whatever you do, decide today when that time and place will be. Be diligent. You will find peace and hope as you exercise your faith by studying His word, listening for His guidance, and talking with your Heavenly Father.
I testify to you that spiritual power can flow into your life as you make this daily devotional part of your routine. These words will support you in trials and help you overcome. You will be conquerors. The word will keep you safe through the storms of life. "And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction" (1 Nephi 15:24).
I testify that Jesus Christ lives. Your Heavenly Father loves you. The Holy Ghost is here to testify of these truths and lead us home. Heavenly Father's love for you is evident in His giving of His only perfect and begotten Son. These are the truths I wanted my children to know as I sat alone in a hospital room. These are the truths your Heavenly Father wants you to know and feel today.
I know my Savior lives. If you are not sure about your testimony of Christ, don't wait for a trial. Immerse yourselves in the scriptures today. Find Him there. If you are in the middle of a trial, don't give up. He has already engraven you in the palms of His hands. Fish in the river of holy scriptures and words of the prophets; you will find Him there. As we study God's words, we are able to see and feel the Savior in our lives and the power of the Atonement in our hearts. Jesus Christ lives. His Atonement is for you and me. He carries our burdens, lifts our hearts, and grants the forgiveness we need to make us whole. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.