E got baptized shortly after Thanksgiving.  Now, I suppose I’m biased since I am her mother, and probably her biggest fan, but I thought it was one of the most moving services I have attended. Aside from L’s criticism of her father’s baptismal technique, “you didn’t put her down far enough!” And N’s accompaniment of my talk with a brief piano solo, the mood was reverent, peaceful and close – like a family reading stories before bed.  Grandpa gave a great talk on baptism, Daddy and S played “Where Love Is” together on the piano, the prayers were lovely, my parents and one of my sisters were there, many friends, many people from our ward family… E’s confirmation was inspired and moving, and thanks to a great friend who had the presence of mind to write it down, we have it almost word-for-word to put in E’s baby book. I gave a talk that felt a lot more inspiring when I wrote and was giving it than when I read it later. It was one of those talks that just writes itself. I woke up with it running in my head one morning and rushed to get it down before the loop quit playing. It must have been meant just for E. At any rate, here it is for the sake of journaling… and if you bother to read it, it will make more sense if you know I had a roll of fax paper that I put a time line on and I left the line attached to the roll.

E, do you know what this is? It’s a timeline. Over here is today – November 25th, 2011. Way back here is when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, and somewhere on the rest of this roll, Adam and Eve were made by God. I wasn’t there, and as far as I know, no one was writing books yet, so I’m not sure exactly when God made the first people.

All through time, the Holy Ghost has been working in peoples’ lives. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they could talk directly to God, but when they chose to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, so they could have choices and learn and grow, they had to leave the garden and they had to work a little harder to hear God’s voice. They remembered the things God had taught them in the garden, and they taught those things to their children and grandchildren.

Over time, people forgot parts of the story and parts of God’s teaching, and in some times and some places people forgot almost everything, but God didn’t forget his children. He shares the Holy Ghost with each of us so we can be closer to him and know his gospel better.

I know that you have heard that voice, E. I’ve seen you do the right thing even when it was hard. I’ve seen you get up in the morning and jump right into your chores and your school work without being asked. I’ve seen you love your sisters and brother in special ways – reading to them, making them presents, watching over them and making them feel better when they are sad.

I know I have heard that voice many times – I heard it all growing up and I made sure to pay attention so I could hear it better and better. Sometimes it was hard to do what I knew was right, but the more I listen and obey, the more adventures I get to have.

I want to tell you a story about a man named Socrates who lived over here on the timeline in 399 BC.

He didn’t know about Jesus or the Book of Mormon. He didn’t even know about Heavenly Father, but he knew that still small voice even if he didn’t know the Holy Ghost’s name. Socrates was a teacher. He didn’t teach in a classroom, he spent his grown-up years walking around Greece talking to people about truth. He wanted to know why people are on Earth and how we should act while we are here, so he thought hard, he studied hard and he talked to other people about these questions. The more he studied and thought about these questions, the more he learned about the gospel – not the stories of the gospel as we know them, but the principles of the gospel – the truths, the lessons.

The men who were in charge of a city called Athens were not very happy with Socrates because he was teaching people that all men should be honest and brave and choose the right, and these men in charge did not wish to be good, they wanted to steal from the people without having to answer uncomfortable questions. So what did they do? They arrested Socrates and convinced a bad judge to say that Socrates was a bad man and must die. This judge told Socrates that he must drink poison and die. Socrates’ friends were very upset and wanted to help him escape from jail or at least to give him some medicine so he wouldn’t have to feel the pain of the poison. But do you know what Socrates said? He told them he would be brave and stand for the right even if it meant dying a painful death. And then he told his friends about the still small voice that had been guiding him for many years. He told his friends that every time he wanted to make a bad choice he would hear a whisper in his heart telling him, “no! Don’t do that!” Socrates was confident that he was doing the right thing in letting these bad men kill him. He knew that the Holy Ghost would whisper guidance to him if he ever went astray.

Now that you are baptized, you will have even more opportunities to hear the Holy Ghost’s voice, and when you are confirmed, you have the privilege of the Holy Ghost as a permanent resident in your heart for as long as you welcome him there and have the courage to follow his promptings.