Beyond The Checklist

024 The Next Step When Your Answers from God End in Commas Instead of Periods with Alisse Coil


Darla: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. This is Darla and I am so delighted to be with you today. So happy to be here. I have another great interview for you. And I’m very excited to introduce you to my friend. We have been friends for a very long time. Her name is Alisse Coil. So she’s going to share some of her experiences journeying on the covenant path. So, Alisse, welcome. I’m so happy that you’re here. 

Alisse: [00:00:49] Thank you. Thank you. I’m glad to be here. 

Darla: [00:00:52] So glad that you’re here. If you have been a listener for a long time, you may remember I’ve interviewed Alisse before about motherhood. And so I can link up in the show notes. If you want to go hear another interview with  Alisse. She shares so many great insights about motherhood back on my previous podcast, Spiritually Minded Mom, but today we’re going to talk about something different. And so Alisse, before we dive in, will you just introduce yourself. Tell everyone a little bit more about you.

Alisse: [00:01:14] Sure. I’ve been married to my hubby for almost 29 years. We have five kids, five grandkids, and we live in rural Utah, Eastern Utah. Moved here 22 years ago totally on purpose. We had a definite feeling that we needed to raise our kids in a small town. And so that’s what we’ve done. And a lot of people are usually pretty surprised when they find out we moved somewhere where there’s no Walmart for 60 miles on purpose, but we did.

And we love it. And now I’m on our last one. Our youngest is a senior in high school. And so starting that transition of what life looks like after, but yeah that’s me. 

Darla: [00:01:56] Okay, so Alisse and I grew up together in a very small town. You stuck to those small town roots. I had to live by a Target. So I live two minutes from Costco, Target.

Everything I need is right here. And I love that. But it was definitely great growing up in a small town. I have to say that for sure. I am really happy that you’re here today because you submitted your application to be on the podcast and your story was just a little, you took a little bit different approach than other people did, and I loved it and I’ve loved everybody I’ve interviewed, but I really loved this experience that you shared with me.

You’ve shared with me that you, when you were 16 your family went back East and you were going to the Sacred Grove and you were sure that you were going to have this big moment where you’re going to, gain this testimony. And so let’s start off there with your journey at the age of 16.

Tell me about that experience. What happened? 

Alisse: [00:02:43] Yeah, so we did the whole five kids in the minivan road trip back to Palmyra. And my mom would joke, if we can make it through this trip, we can really be a forever family. And I was so excited to go to the Sacred Grove. I felt like i I was going into my junior year of high school. And just those feelings of I need to know. I need to know I’m in the right spot. I need to know I’m moving forward in the right way. And I felt like this was going to be that opportunity for me. Like when else do you get to go to the Sacred Grove? So I went there with the thought in mind that I wanted to be able to pray to our Heavenly Father and just check in with Him there in the Sacred Grove. And it just so happened when we got there that we were the only family in the Sacred Grove. So we knelt down and had a family prayer. And then my dad was like, Hey, see you in 30 minutes. This is your time.

And it was like, Oh, the heavens are aligning everything’s happening just how it was supposed to. Went off and found me a quiet spot and knelt down in prayer. That was probably the first time that I was kneeling in prayer, not in my bedroom. So I was really out of my element and I felt like I was really stretching myself spiritually and I just said Heavenly Father here I am.

And I’m here for you to tell me, to show me to teach me, guide me. And I listened. And I’m going to check my notes because I have to make sure I always say this. But the answer that I got after that prayer was you already know, and it was like where’s the angels? Where were these things? I know you can do them. I absolutely believe that happened here and now it’s not happening for me. Cause I just know. And it did feel a little disappointing. I wanted that write in your journal for the posterity, for the ages to read. My grandma Alisse went to the Sacred Grove and had this happen.

And so it definitely caused me like, just time to pause and I wasn’t mad. I just, I really had to think so. I already know. I already know what I already know. What did I already know? And, first I reflected specifically back on just those primary things, those primary songs. Say your prayers. Read your scriptures. Be kind. Say nice words, all of those things.

And I’m like, okay, I know all those things. And then it was like, no, I know where they come from. I know they’re from Heavenly Father. I know they’re from God. And that was enough then for me to feel like I’d had a moment. Definitely wasn’t the moment I thought I was going to get.

Wasn’t the moment I felt like I had built up to in my life but it was my moment and that was okay. And I reflect back on that time so often I can think back right now and picture just the greenness than what was around me and just how much I have learned that was a foundation, but that’s what all answers are in the gospel.

To me, any answer to prayer that we get is a block. It’s a piece of something to give us more. To think of it like a comma; it’s a comma. And I think, we think when we get an answer it’s you already know, period. Joseph Smith, none of these churches are true period. That wasn’t a period for him.

That was not 

Darla: [00:05:55] Such a great way to think about it. I love that. 

Alisse: [00:05:58] So once I started to wrap my head around that and that didn’t happen in the Sacred Grove that was years. That was college and marriage. And so many experiences that I realized he was telling me, what you need to know right now. So go and act. Faith without works is dead.

Go and do. And as I’ve gone and done, I’ve been able to recognize other times when Heavenly Father has given me an answer. And if I see it as a comma, then I’m able to get the rest. I get one more step on that covenant path. And to me, one more step closer to Christ. So I’m going to pull up this quote on my phone that I absolutely love.

I love how the scripture apps work on our phone because we can make all these fun little tags. So I have this tag that I’ve labeled conversion. So my husband and I have traveled to the Philippines a lot, and that’s where he served his mission. And every time we go, my husband and I get asked the question, are you a convert to the church?

And I don’t know how to answer that because yes, I was born in a home where religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a focus. It was baptized at eight years old, but yes, I’m a convert. I have my own conversion story. Just like someone who took the missionary discussions. That’s the only piece of mine that didn’t happen because I didn’t take missionary discussions, but I am still a convert.

And Elder Bednar said this back in 2015. He said, “Knowing the gospel was true is the essence of a testimony.” That’s what Heavenly Father was telling me in the Sacred Grove. You already know the gospel is true. Comma. And then Elder Bednar says, “Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion.”

And so all the pieces that come after the answer are what we can choose to help us be converted. I love that a testimony isn’t actually being converted. There’s in the Bible dictionary, it says, ” Changing one’s views in a conscious acceptance of the will of God.” And so then that to me is that you got the answer. You have your testimony that the gospel’s true. And then comma.

Align your will with God’s will and that’s. how drawing closer to Christ has helped me on that covenant path is understanding when I get answers, there’s more. 

Darla: [00:08:23] This is so good. I was thinking when you were talking about that, there’s some other things I’ve read recently and how you just you hear something and then you hear it another way and another way.

And it’s like Heavenly Father trying to teach you something and it’s that same concept, like you were talking about. I love that quote by Elder Bednar, we’ll put that in the show notes, that sometimes we think the goal is a testimony. That’s only the first step. Just like your experience illustrates that so perfectly. There’s a comma.

And then we keep going. And the real goal is conversion. If you go and read the Come Follow Me manual. And you read the introduction, the very first thing it says, conversion is the goal. And I’m rethinking like everything, as a mother do I want my kids to have a testimony?

Yes. But do I want them to be converted even more? Yes. And do I want that even more myself? Yes. So this is so good. Like I love this concept. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about, and it’s more than just having a testimony. Staying on the covenant path means that we become truly converted and we continue to have experiences that draw us closer to Him.

So I would love to know what happened after that experience in the Sacred Grove? What are some of the experiences that you’ve had after the comma that have helped you to become converted? 

Alisse: [00:09:32] So many, right? We have all the things of life that come along and as I was thinking back on that and thinking about this interview, I thought. So you asked if you could sum up your journey in one word, would it be, what would it be?

And I wrote commas and whispers because once we know the gospel is true, once we have that testimony, then to me, the whole exercise of life is hearing the spirit. And recognizing the spirit and then acting on that. And that’s those whispers. So I’ve picked a couple of experiences that I’ve had.

And I’ll explain why I chose both of them maybe later if I need to make more sense. One that I go back to often happened when we had all five of our kids. Our first four kids came in five and a half years. We did the whoop thing and then a couple of years, and then we had our last one.

And so a typical night was get done with dinner, kids help clear the table, and then I would get dishes soaking in the sink and then we would start baths. And we didn’t have a lot of hot water. Our water heater was pretty old, so we would just have to rotate.

Like we’d bath a couple of kids, take one out, fill it a little more hot water. And we’d just rotate them all out. Then while my husband would get them all on their jammies and was reading bedtime stories, I would finish the dishes before we would do on a good night scriptures and prayer. Our bathtub drained really slow.

So we finished fast. I would close the door to the bathroom, start dishes. Hubby’s doing the rest and I’m doing the dishes and it’s all the chaos of five kids, jammies, stories, everything. And I kept having this feeling “Where is Shandi?” Shandi was number four, my youngest daughter. And she was somewhere between three and a half and four.

And it was like, she’s getting her jammies on, she we’re reading story, whatever, and I’m doing dishes, you, and it was where is Shandy and it kept coming over and over again. And so I remember hollering over my shoulder to my oldest, ” Where’s Shandi?” And when I was just like, I don’t know, putting on her jammies. I’m like, no, I need you to go find Shandi.

And she was dragging her feet and I looked around and said, Brittany, You need to tell me where Shandy is. I need to see Shandy right now. And then I kept doing dishes because I dishes to do right. And a couple minutes later, Brittany brought Shandi who was soaking wet. I hadn’t latched the bathroom door tight and Shandi had gone into the bathroom and reached in to get a bath toy and was in the bathtub headfirst.

And. So total reset moment as a mom, right? Oh, I should not have been ignoring the spirit. And I said to Brittany, how did you know to look in the bathroom? And she said, I think the Holy Ghost told me, cause that’s not where we would have looked because normally that door is closed while the bathtub slowly drains.

I learned two things. I learned that I needed to listen the very first time, but I think Heavenly Father used that opportunity for me to realize that he is going to keep nagging at me so that it does happen, but that he will also use other people in my life. So when I wouldn’t stop what I was doing to go find Shandi, he made sure that my daughter, Brittany, who would have been nineish at the time, nine or 10, recognized the spirit and knew where to go find our Shandi.

And I don’t know what that whole ending would have been. But the piece after the comma of knowing we listened to that was that we all learned how important it is to listen to the spirit, and to act on what we’re feeling and that as a family, we can count on each other to listen and to act.

And that we’re a team, that unity. And I just, I’ll never forget. We just sat on that kitchen floor and just hugged and cried for a little minute because the three of us, I don’t think Shandi really knew what had happened, but Brittany and I fully recognized what had happened there amongst the chaos of getting ready for bed.

And you can dang. Sure bet we had a pretty good family prayer that night because of thankfulness because we had been taught. We’d been taught how to listen to the spirit just a little bit more. So fast forward three or four years, my father-in-law had been in a car accident and I’m going to just give the fast version. There’s so many tender mercies and blessings that came along, but that’s not my focus in this regard, so he had been flown to Salt Lake and was in the ICU. He was in critical condition. And we had been in Nevada for Thanksgiving. So we had rushed everyone to Salt Lake that first night that he was there. We had stayed in a hotel, farmed the kids out with some cousins that lived there on the Wasatch Front, and then had spent the next day there with my father-in-law and he wasn’t getting worse, but he wasn’t totally improving either. They were working on that balance of enough pain medication to keep him calm, but not so much that his blood pressure wasn’t regulated. He had lots of broken bones, lots of bruising, some internal bruising and things from this accident, but they felt like he would be fine. We just have a really long road to recovery and that second day was a Sunday. At the end of the day, the doctor came out and had a meeting with the family and just said I really feel like you guys need to head home. Go home, shower, brush your teeth, get clean clothes. He’s going to be here for awhile and he needs to be rested.

And my mother-in-law had spent the night in the hospital the night before, so we had talked about having her go stay in the motel, so she could get a good night’s rest. And we would go home and my husband was not hearing it at all. He was really struggling with leaving his dad. And so I actually pulled the doctor aside and said, okay, I’m married in. It is my father-in-law and I love him dearly, but I’m not blood. I’m a little bit removed. So you have to tell me the real answer. If this was your dad or your child. Would you drive two hours home and take a shower and come back the next day? And he said, I absolutely would. So I said a prayer and I felt peaceful.

I felt that peace. And I went to Rick and I was I think we’re good to do this. I’ve asked the doctor. I’ve said a prayer. We are okay to do this. And so we did, we gathered the kids up, got my mother-in-law in the motel and drove home. And spent that night doing laundry, catching things up and then called my neighbor.

She was going to come first thing in the morning and get our kids ready for school, because we were going to leave at seven o’clock. She was going to make sure that they got on the bus. And we went to bed and about two o’clock in the morning, we got a phone call from my husband’s older brother saying that the nurses had called and they were losing his dad and immediately I. Immediately. It’s just like panic mode, right? So Rick’s getting dressed and I’m calling the hospital to talk directly with the nurse under said to me, maam, I can stay on the phone with you or I can leave and save your father-in-law’s life.

So she hung up the phone. We got dressed. I called my neighbor at two o’clock in the morning and said, I need you to come sleep with my kids. Didn’t even wake the kids up, left and headed back to the city two hours. About 30 miles into our drive, our gas light came on. And I’m like, okay, the top of the mountain is Daniel’s summit. There are gas tanks, right? So for the snowmobiles, so we can stop there and we’ll get gas. We stopped there. I’m banging on the wall, on the bell in the lobby at that hotel. And he’s they’re locked in the owner. I’m like, we need gas.

My father-in-law’s dying. We need gas. We need gas to meet gas. And he’s, they’re locked. The guy lives a half an hour away that has the key. I’m like we have to go. We just have to keep going. We went almost 50 miles with our gaslight on.

I know we went on the Lord, right? It was an absolute miracle. We’re booking our way there and it’s just all of these little blessings .We’re working to get there. These are going to be okay. It’s going to be okay. We pulled into that circular at the hospital and we just got out and left the car running.

We didn’t even try to park and we just ran up. And the minute I walked into that hospital, I saw the look on the  receptionist’s face. And I knew, but we, rushed. I don’t think Rick was even registering anything and got up to the room and he was gone. We had missed him. In fact, even my mother-in-law who was just five minutes away had missed him.

And that was in 15 years of marriage, that was the hardest thing I had ever done. And part of that was because I prayed about coming home and I got an answer that said, take a shower and come back the next day. I probably didn’t get the answer, come back the next day. But in my mind, I assumed, go home. He’ll be fine when you get back. But that was the problem with the answer. The answer was go home. Comma. But then I made up in my mind what the rest of that was going to be, and we don’t get to do that. We have to trust the consciously, align our will with the Lords, for that conversion process. 

Driving home we decided we wanted to be home before the kids got up. So I called my neighbor. Don’t wake them up. Let them sleep in, probably sleep in at least until seven 30, quarter to eight. And we were racing to get home. We didn’t want them to wake up with questions that we didn’t want my neighbor to have to answer.

And neither one of us could quit crying and I’m like, Heavenly Father. Did I screw up? Did I make my husband to leave when he shouldn’t have, and immediately the words to the hymn I know that my Redeemer lives came into my mind. 

And it says, I know that my Redeemer lives and I’m going to say I’m all out of order, but he says my kind wise, heavenly friend, and that just kept repeating and repeating.

And that was Heavenly Father’s way of saying you did listen and I was preparing you so that this part could happen. And I’m still your kind wise, heavenly friend. I’m still here for you. And I will continue to carry you because we don’t know, we don’t know all the parts that come after that. So with Shandi, my bath tub story, when we found her, it was the expected outcome.

We found her; she was safe just in time. Thank you  Heavenly Father. It was the story we read in the New Era, that gives us all the warm tinglies. This one wasn’t yet. There were still more commas that had to happen, more answers to prayer that had to come, more aligning with the Lord’s will to understand what was going to happen so that we could piece all of that together in our life.

And as hard as that was, it was an opportunity for us to learn and grow closer to Heavenly Father because there were a lot of hard questions to answer when we got home for our kiddos. Because when they went to bed, it didn’t look like what we told them it would look like when they woke up, like so many things that changed.

I love the hymn Lead Kindly Light. Did you know the Reese family? 

Darla: [00:20:37] Oh yeah. 

Alisse: [00:20:37] Kay. 

Darla: [00:20:38] She’s one of my favorite people. 

Yep. I totally know. Love her. You have to tell the backstory really quick on her. Because she has this amazing story.

Alisse: [00:20:44] She was a young girl living in Berlin when World Ward II broke out and her dad was the branch president for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And if you need to know more, you find the book called We Were Not Alone and you read it and your life will never be the same. 

Darla: [00:21:04] She has amazing stories. 

Alisse: [00:21:06] Amazing. And Her favorite hymn was Lead Kindly Light. And she talks about this in her book. So her dad was sent to a work camp, her brothers were in the army or sent to work camps.

It was her mom and her and the three girls. She had two older sisters. They were all young adult youth, like 18 to 12, and then her mom, and towards the end of the war, when Russia was occupying Berlin, the bomb raids would go off and they would go down into the basement.

And a lot of times those Russian soldiers use that as an opportunity to go into those bomb shelters and do terrible things. And she talks about how, when they would go into their little storage area in the basement for the bomb shelter, they would sing this song. And that is what would bring them peace and security.

And they were absolutely protected and saved every single time. So I turn to these words so many times. It says, “lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom. Lead thou me on. The night is dark and I am far from home lead, thou me on. Keep thou my feet. I do not ask to see the distance. One step enough for me.”

And the rest of the song is beautiful. But “keep thou my feet. I do not ask to see the distance scene.” That is recognizing the comma. I just need this minute, this answer, and then I’ll trust in you because it just says one step enough for me. And I think if we can remember that  then our prayers make so much more sense and because they make more sense, we’re closer to Jesus Christ and closer to Heavenly Father because we’re praying to Heavenly Father and we’re praying to Him in the name of our Brother. And so the more we understand about what an answer to prayer can be, then the closer we are to Him. 

Darla: [00:23:06] Just thinking about that comma, and I think sometimes we don’t recognize it. Sometimes we do think it’s a period and we think, we should know what comes next and we don’t always, so what would you say to someone who’s just realizing, Hey, this is a comma and I don’t know what comes next and I don’t know what to do.

What would you say to that person? 

Alisse: [00:23:25] That is a really good question. I would say probably cry for a minute and then take a deep breath. There’s a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that I love. And for some reason, when I was driving home from my last appointment, I felt prompted to make sure I had this pulled up.

This is in Doctrine & Covenants section six  verses 22 and 23. It’s when Oliver Cowdrey is praying and saying. What’s my part? When do I get to translate? What do I get to do in this restoration? And Jesus says to him, because we’ve learned it’s Jesus talking in the Doctrine & Covenants, “Verily, I say unto you. If you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?

If you’re in a comma, you go back to the answers you’ve had. Write them down, highlight them, color them, make a poster, stick them on the bathroom mirror or whatever it is. Find quotes from conference talks, find scriptures that you need. And then you’ll start to piece together your relationship with Christ so that whatever comes after the comma, you’re good with or you can handle. I found the scripture when I was engaged and my husband or my fiance at the time, Rick, rodeoed in college, he rode bulls. And so he was gone almost every weekend and I worked almost every weekend.

And that day at work, I started having the Holy cow moment, like you said, yes, to this. And you’re going to affect lives, not just yours. And I was doing the freak out thing and went down to the temple grounds and opened up my book, my triple combination, said a prayer and looked down.

And that was the scripture that I read. You’ve got your answer. Comma, keep remembering it and I’ve got you. I’ve totally got you. And I reference that scripture on like the daily, like the 20, 20 daily, because that’s just that remembrance that he answers and he’s got me and he expects us to reflect back on those answers.

So that we can get the rest so that he can teach us. 

Darla: [00:25:35] I really love that you shared that scripture because I can pinpoint a time in my life when that scripture it’s probably the first time I ever remember the scriptures being an answer to my prayer. And it was when we were growing up. Like it was when I was a teenager.

And just recently reading that as part of Come Follow Me, all those memories came back at me and I thought about that experience that I’d had when the Lord told me, Hey, remember, this is all good. I’ve got this. This is all good. And I think that was such, that’s been such a testimony builder to me.

Like that scripture means a lot to me and I think you’re so right. Sometimes we’re on our journey on the covenant path and we just need to feel peace. And sometimes like in that song, we don’t know the next step. We just need to trust that he knows the next step and going back and remembering the ways that he has spoken to us before, or blessed us before can fortify us.

Because I don’t know about you, but in my life I feel him, but I don’t really feel the impact of how he’s helped me until later. It’s always in the reflection it’s in. And that’s why I like to record things because I can go back and I can see, Oh, he was everywhere in that in this part of my life.

And I didn’t even recognize it. So I think that I’m so happy that you shared that scripture. Totally love that. It’s meant a lot to me. And I think that will give someone else hope to know if you’re experiencing that common. You don’t know what comes next, cling to the things that you’ve known before.

I think that is so great. Alisse, this has been so fun. I love learning from you. I love hearing your stories and being able to connect again. And I have one final question for you, and that is how have you seen and felt the Savior in your journey on the covenant path? 

Alisse: [00:27:15] Oh, I knew you were going to ask this question and I think it’s in the small things, right?

It’s in those minutes when we need him most or maybe when we don’t need him. And I think I, what I learned is that I didn’t need the Sacred Grove to know the gospel was true. It was all right here. And I could have gotten that answer anywhere that I chose to ask for it. And I think remembering that he is in the trenches right there with us is what brings us closer to him.

And sometimes it takes looking back and reflecting and go, Whoa, tender mercy. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, and sometimes if we just take that deep breath and go, like you’ve got me, like right there. And he’ll tell us. We’ll feel it. We’ll learn to recognize however it is, right?

If it’s the burning in your chest or if it’s that warmth. For me, it’s I just feel that I just can feel that warmth in my shoulders. Whatever it is was we recognize that. And don’t put parameters around where he can be or where he’s going to show up or what you need to be doing or any requirements like that.

Because if you have the basic foundation that he’s there and that the gospel’s true, or that you are seeking to know that it’s true, he’s there. He’s just he’s there. And just allowing it to be wherever it is, whatever it looks like. We forget that Heavenly Father and Jesus came to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove, but Angel Moroni came to him in his bedroom in a little log cabin.

And he was in his jammies, probably under a raggy quilt. And he came. He sent an angel three times. You don’t have to be in the Sacred Grove to have Jesus Christ walking with you. 

Darla: [00:29:10] I love how you brought that back to your first experience. And I love that you’ve been able to share your journey on the covenant path, and I know that it’s going to help someone else. So Allise, thank you so much for being here. I’m so grateful. 

Alisse: [00:29:21] Oh, I am thankful. It’s helped me to take the time to reflect and really know. Like that scripture told you once it’s sit back and remember. 

Darla: [00:29:28] You bring up a good point. You don’t have to go on a podcast even to take the time to reflect, but tell your story. It’s important. Everyone has something to share that will help someone else. And you can never discount that you don’t have to be on a podcast to share your story with someone else.

Such a great point. I love that. So thank you so much. 

Alisse: [00:29:43] Thank you too. Thanks a lot.

Darla: [00:29:51] And now for this week’s journal questions. While visiting the Sacred Grove, Alisse received the answer, “You already know,” when she asked about her testimony of the gospel. Alisse shared that after this answer, she dug a little deeper and asked herself, “What do I already know?” What are the things you already know? Record the things you know in a place you can go back to often. 

Alisse shared this quote from Elder David A. Bednar, “Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion. How are you being consistently true to your testimony? 

What do you need to stop doing to be truly converted? 

What do you need to start doing in your life to be converted? 

Have you ever experienced a time when you just wanted to see the end? You wanted to know how things were going to turn out. Maybe you’re experiencing this right now. How can you embrace the words of the hymn Lead Kindly Light. 

Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom. Lead thou me on. The night is dark and I am far from home. Lead thou me on. Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see. The distance scene- one step enough for me. How can you put your trust in Jesus and say to him, One step is enough for me?