Hey, it’s Darla. Before we jump into today’s episode, I just wanted to let you know, I’ve been doing a lot of things behind the scenes while I’ve been taking a break from the podcast and I’m so happy to be back. But there are so many things I want to share with you. And the best way to be informed and to know what I’m sharing is to get on my email list.
And you’ll also get a free video of me sharing about how I’ve been prayer journaling for many years. I would love to share all of that with you. So to join my email list, you can find the link here in the show notes. You can find it in my profile on Instagram or on my website, spirituallymindedwomen.com.
And now here is this week’s interview. Welcome to the Spiritually Minded Women podcast. This is Darla. I am so happy to be here with you today. I say that every week, I say that every week, because I just get so excited to interview people and to introduce you to new friends that we can hear about their journey on the covenant path. So today my guest is Grace Moore.
[00:01:18] Darla: So Grace, welcome to the podcast. I’m so happy that you’re here.
[00:01:22] Graciela: Yes, I’m so happy to be here. Darla. Thank you.
[00:01:25] Darla: Will you start off and just tell everyone a little bit more about you?
[00:01:29] Graciela: Yes, for sure. So I am 36, born in Puerto Rico, born and raised. We live in Florida now. I was raised Catholic and then didn’t go back to church after my high school graduation.
That was interesting. Went through the whole college experience, knowing my worth yet finding evidences of my worth in the wrong places, if that makes sense. Yeah. So in Puerto Rico that drinking legal age is 18. It’s not 21. And so you get out of high school and it’s woo. And I now, after investigating, building up an incredible testimony and just looking back, I call those my apostasy years, the year where I just had, the total movie type college experience of a heartbreak, confusion, being the front liner singer in cover bands.
Where do they perform? They perform at bars, right? The nightlife lots of art, I’m a literature major. So writing was always, in the forefront expressing myself. I’m a published poet in Puerto Rico. So that was always just there for me. And then moving to from Puerto Rico, having a terrible car accident.
That just really changed it for me. So now I look back at that car accident and I know for a fact that was one of the steps in that plan of happiness to just push me and propel me forward. I’m a firm believer that when you don’t take a step that Heavenly Father really wants you to take, if that step is really necessary, he shakes things up and he makes it happen.
And that’s what happened with me. So that car accident this girl was texting and driving and she drove past her red light and smashed into my car. I was driving my straightaway in a green light, and I didn’t see her coming in her pickup. So I got a whiplash injury, severe whiplash injury in my neck. I got disabled from my work, from my job because of that whiplash injury.
I moved back into my parents’ house at 25, I think, which was super depressing. So imagine you’re 25, you have a full-time job. You have this life. I was doing my masters all in Puerto Rico. Super fun, super nice. Or I thought. And then that car accident happened. And so being disabled and going back to my parents was pretty low.
I would say the lowest. That was the lowest time. I remember going to church like two days after my car accident with my parents, with my neck brace, because that’s how bad it was. And so a week I would say three weeks into that lowest point in my life and just feeling so depressed and getting disabled from my job, I applied to become a teacher in Texas.
And then boom, I made the jump from Puerto Rico to the U.S., which was always a dream of mine yet it didn’t happen until 27. Waiting for things to happen and to come, that’s my story because I was six years old when I felt this need and this really burning desire to get out of Puerto Rico and move to the States. Six.
And then that didn’t happen until I was 27. And then I moved to Texas and my experience was very mixed. And I ended up being there for less than a year. So I guess the mix turned more into a negative cause I left and yeah. And I was a teacher in Texas, a bilingual teacher, fourth grade teacher. I was never a teacher before. My job couldn’t have been farther from teaching in Puerto Rico.
And then I’m a teacher, so really it’s I don’t know what I’m doing, but I know this is a step in the right direction. It’s like that faith was always there. Even after not going back to church in high school and then going through my college experience, I’ve always been very faithful, if that makes sense.
Like I always knew who I am or that Heavenly Father is real or that it’ll all work out in the end. And so it could be the literature major in me. Romanticizing all of these horrible situations that were happening and still me flipping it to it’ll be okay. Or it could have been that innate faith that just was there from the beginning.
And then moving to Florida was very quick, very sudden that was my previous relationship. This was six almost seven years ago. Yeah. So I was in a previous relationship and that one was also very it was a struggle. There was a lot of neglect in that relationship. And so I kinda knew that it wasn’t going anywhere, but I was just waiting and waiting for the right moment.
Actually it’s like everything. It’s a process. You have to come to terms with the fact that you have to accept the reality and then move forward. So I moved from Texas to Florida with that person kinda knowing again that we might not make it as a couple. But we’re okay right now we’re making this move. Let’s see where it happens because I know who I am and I know I’m going to be okay.
So it was that mindset and I’m in Florida. I got the real estate license which is what I’ve been doing for the past seven, eight years, whatever. And that’s where I met my now husband. And that’s where the church comes in.
[00:06:56] Darla: Okay. Let’s just back up here. Like you’re telling the story. I’m just, I’m loving this. Everybody knows I do this because I love hearing other people’s stories. I love hearing it, but it’s so easy to see how god was guiding you every step of the way. And I love how you were you were recognizing that you were seeing his hand, you were being patient and, looking for the signs and, just seeing how he has guided your path and all of those experiences, even good ones, bad ones. Like all of those experiences add up to him, guiding us to help us become who he wants us to be. And I can see that so clearly in your life. Okay. So you said though, this leads you to your relationship that you’re in with your husband now, and that led you to the church. So tell me about that.
What was that process like? How were you introduced to the church? What was your investigation of the church? What’d that look like? And I know you’ve only been baptized for less than a year. So tell us about that story.
[00:07:48] Graciela: So I meet Michael. We started dating and he’s an inactive member of the church. And that’s okay. But I still, at that point, I have no idea what that means.
[00:07:57] Darla: Were you familiar with the church? Did you know what it was?
[00:08:01] Graciela: I did. So when I was in college, there was a I’m about to drop a name and who knows even where he is, but there was a missionary, there was a returned missionary who decided to when he came home to Idaho from his mission, do an exchange.
And so he spent an entire semester in Puerto Rico, in the English department doing his exchange. Jacob handed me a Book of Mormon before he left right before his semester ended. And he highlighted in Moroni 10:5, really cute. And he said out of all the friends I’ve made here, you’re the one I want to give this to.
And I was like, whoa, I must be really special. Thank you so much. However in in high school now in college, I was still being supported financially by my parents. I was still very connected to them. In Puerto Rico you go away to college, but you’re only two hours away. It’s tiny. So I was going home every day every week in the car that my parents paid for.
And so out of respect, I didn’t investigate. I was handed this Book of Mormon and I really did just put it in the bookshelf. I didn’t touch it. And it was really about my parents and that, the fourth commandment. So it’s honor your father and your mother. And I just didn’t feel like it was right for them, obviously it was right for me, in the moment that was the mindset. And so I never touched it. And then when I meet Michael it’s like this, who knows what I would have been avoided if I would have just opened the book when Jacob gave it to me five or six or 10 years ago? I don’t take it for granted though, right?
[00:09:29] Darla: I was going to say you can never discount those experiences and Jacob, what a great example of just planting a seed, he followed a prompting and sometimes we give a Book of Mormon to someone, or we invite them and they don’t accept it, but we don’t ever know what God’s purpose is or what’s coming down in the future.
That’s your story clearly illustrates that. So you have this Book of Mormon on your shelf, then you meet your husband and he’s an inactive member.
[00:09:51] Graciela: It all started with him explaining the. Oh, my gosh, the gospel of eternal families. And so that conversation with Michael about the gospel of eternal families tied up to when I was 18.
So 10 years before, and my grandfather passed away after being married to my grandmother for 50 years and how I felt about her being left alone. And I was like, oh, that’s it. I need to know more. I need to read this book. Who is this Al Caraway person that has tattoos? Cause I do too. And I want to know who she knows.
And so that’s how it started.
[00:10:32] Darla: Okay. So did you get introduced to the missionaries? You start meeting with missionaries. I know this was like not a very short process for you. So what was, what did that look like? You’re learning about eternal families. What other things were intriguing to you?
[00:10:46] Graciela: It was a process for me because, and maybe that’s because I’m so methodical research oriented. So it was more of a, oh, what is this eternal family thing that you speak of. Oh, it’s this? Okay, great. Let me, then I read More than a Tattooed Mormon. That was the first thing I read because I really want it to feel that belonging from the start. And I think she really does a great job at doing that right in her book. Because Michael didn’t have any just that mindset and the people around friends and family didn’t either. And so that was the first thing I read. And then I read the Book of Mormon and it’s okay, let’s go to church on Sunday.
How do you feel about that? And so just little by little I didn’t sit with the missionaries for about two years into my investigation, just because I want it to just, take it slow. It was really just my own choice. I didn’t want to rush it because I really wanted to listen and really want it to just take it all in and tie the things from the past that really didn’t make sense once I started investigating, that’s been the biggest blessing of the mall of it all. It’s to look back and know that everything had a purpose, which is incredible.
[00:11:57] Darla: For sure. Yeah. Yeah. And I think what, you’re, what you’re saying points out brings up the fact that, I’m doing this podcast because I want to share other people’s stories.
I think it unites us. It helps us know we’re not alone. And I love that you resonated with Al Caraway’s story. You said she has tattoos. I have tattoos. So there might be a place for me here. And I think that’s just, I just, this kind of a little side note, but I think that’s so important to point out you might think your story doesn’t matter, but everybody has something to share that is important.
I always talk about Jesus in my journey, like #Jesusinmyjourney. Share your story on social media. Share how Jesus is in it because you never know who needs to hear that. And what you have to share is going to resonate with somebody. That was just a little side note that I was thinking when you were sharing all of that.
I love hearing your story and how that worked for you. So you went two years and then you started meeting with the missionaries?
[00:12:44] Graciela: And that was really awesome too. We weren’t married, but I was pregnant with my child. And so it was as an investigator before meeting with the missionaries, I took upon myself.
Nobody told me to do it, to do Personal Progress. A little booklet. I’m like, I’m just going to take all of this cross-references all of this material and use it as my investigation. Because I had already read the book twice and I’m like what else do you have?
[00:13:15] Darla: So you had read the Book of Mormon twice before you met with the missionaries?
[00:13:18] Graciela: Total geek literature, major here doing
[00:13:20] Darla: And Personal Progress? Like this is amazing.
[00:13:22] Graciela: Because I’m a geek, so it’s how else can I investigate? I really want to be sure. And that was the thing because dating someone who is inactive is there’s a disconnect. And so I want it to just really know for sure before committing. And I think that’s just part of growing up and a part of, just being a mature.
Sure. And Oh my gosh, my personal progress. Yes. So I started doing the personal progress. That was great. And then I paused it. When I turned 33, I have severe endometriosis. I only have one ovary after a huge surgery. And we didn’t know that if or when or how I would be able to get pregnant. When my surgery happened, my doctor said you really should have a baby right away.
And I said first I need to find someone worthy to have that baby with, because that’s not happening. I’m single but thank you so much because this was when I was single. And start dating, start investigating and I turned 33 and I was like that was the deadline for me, my own personal deadline to decide if I was going to have a child or not even try.
And so we prayed about it for a while. And we felt like we were guided to do that. And so I paused personal progress because even not being baptized, I just felt like I shouldn’t be doing that. If I’m not married and I’m about to get pregnant I shouldn’t be doing personal progress. And that’s my story.
And it was hard because I felt like there was a lot of back and forth contradictions of me feeling strongly in the fact that my Heavenly Father was telling me it’s okay to pause this. It’s okay to take a moment and work with the limitations of your body because I already had a testimony so on and so forth.
And so we pause, I pause. I remember telling the youth coordinator, I’m going to pause personal progress cause I’m pregnant, so I’m not going to do it. It just doesn’t feel right.
[00:15:22] Darla: I love this part of your story. Nobody else can judge what was right for you and what Heavenly Father was telling you to do. I love that you leaned into that. I think that is such an important part of your story.
[00:15:32] Graciela: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. And to be honest, it’s been, it’s very brave for me to bring it up because of what you just said, right? It’s it’s just not the norm and that’s okay.
[00:15:42] Darla: And that’s what I talk about all the time. I always say embrace your journey and no matter what it has looked like because there’s a purpose and it may not look like what somebody else experiences. And that’s why we can’t look at other people’s journeys and goes, oh, what are they doing? No, just worry about yourself.
But look at other people. Support them. Love them. And I really think that God will guide us in the way that is right for us. And I, I really do love that you have the faith to do that and to recognize it.
[00:16:08] Graciela: Yeah. And it’s been like, Like the story of my life is to wait. And I had my surgery in 2015 and I still had to wait five more years before I had my child.
And then it’s I meet this person. I didn’t know about any laws. I didn’t know about the law of tithing. I didn’t know about the law of chastity. I didn’t know about all of these regulations or commandments. And I moved in with this person that I fell in love with. And I became a step-mom before I was a mom and I filled a much needed gap in that family.
And so it’s It’s okay to put away your Personal Progress because it’s not your moment yet. And you still have to wait. Okay, fine. Here’s the baby that you’ve prayed about yet. You’re not getting baptized yet because this and that. So always been waiting for me.
So Elijah was born in 2019. And then it was another year before we finally got married and then it’s Hey, y’all this is the date of my wedding. My baptism is happening the next day. When
the stake president.
[00:17:24] Darla: Like literally
[00:17:25] Graciela: next door. So it’s he’s my neighbor. We can just talk to the stake president. And so it was beautiful. They were all there, five years investigating in the same ward. So all of these people who have welcomed me with open arms, they’re just amazing. I love this church.
[00:17:42] Darla: I would love to know what has making that covenant of baptism. How has that changed your life? Because it’s so fresh for you. Some of us think back, it’s been years and years, but it’s so fresh for you. And I don’t think it’s something we should ever take for granted, but how has that really changed your life as having that covenant in your life?
[00:18:00] Graciela: I can definitely tell you that I felt a hundred percent a change in mindset when I woke up the day after my baptism. I wrote about it somewhere in my journal. I get goosebumps now telling you now. Okay. Here’s the thing. I didn’t just get baptized. I got married on Saturday, had a beautiful wedding.
Nobody got sick, even though it was a COVID wedding. And then I got baptized on Sunday. So it’s like the whole weekend. There’s enough there to just last a lifetime. But on Monday, I don’t know if, I do know. It’s amazing how the spirit works, but back then I woke up and I’m like, wow being legit. Being official. It’s we’re not, we’re no longer just two adults shacking up. We are married. The confidence that, that just, I felt bathed in confidence and just, Heavenly Father’s approbation. And to be honest, I finished my Personal Progress before we got married.
My child was already born and I went to my Bishop and I said, they’re going to take the program away. And I really want to do all of it. Ask me how it is to live with someone and still keep the law of chastity. We can talk about it because that’s what happened, so listen, I really want my medallion.
I really want to finish this. So this is what we’re going to do. And so we did it. We, we took those boundaries and we. We just did whatever it took for me to finish whatever I had, like two of the parts left. And then I went to my Bishop and I said, I finished it. Before they take this program away, I really do want my medallion. And I thought that he was going to be like, sure, you’re just an investigator here. It is. As a little souvenir. You deserve it. Thanks for doing that. But it was a real interview. He took my journal, my Personal Progress journal, and he really brought it up. It was nerve wracking, but at the same time, it was so good to know that I was there for the right reasons and that I did it the way it was supposed to be done.
And so by the time I got married, it was like, boom yeah now I’m one of you officially. And then I received the Holy Ghost that same day because we did it all.
[00:20:07] Darla: Yeah, that’s beautiful. I think you’re wearing your medallion right now?
[00:20:11] Graciela: I wear it everyday.
[00:20:13] Darla: If you’re not, if people aren’t listening are not watching it on YouTube, they can’t see that, but I love that you’re wearing that and the significance of that has for you and your journey and how far you’ve come and isn’t it a temple on there?
[00:20:26] Graciela: Yes, because this is the 2012 medallion. If I had been a member of the church as a youth, I would have received this one at 18 years old after I finished it.
[00:20:35] Darla: That’s really neat. And I love that it’s the temple because that’s the next step in your journey is going to the temple. And I know you told me you’re preparing for that. Getting ready as you come up on your one year anniversary. So you’ve made that covenant of baptism. I love the confidence that it’s given you when you were talking, I was thinking about power, the power that we gain in our lives from making covenants. It is so important. We can’t just go through life and say, I’m just going to be a good person. And we have to make covenants. It’s such an important part of our journey to make covenants because we get power that is beyond ourselves.
That confidence comes because we now have the promises of God in our heart and with us to help us like that is so powerful. I love that. So how are you feeling now as you’re preparing to make it go on the next step in your journey on the covenant path? Like your journey is just right here in front of us.
So how are you feeling about this next step of going to the temple and receiving your endowment and the other things that you’ll do there?
[00:21:32] Graciela: I’m so excited. The temples have been opened for a few months now, right? Yeah. However, I still haven’t been.
[00:21:39] Darla: Oh, because of COVID like you couldn’t go do baptisms?
[00:21:41] Graciela: And as soon as they opened the Orlando temple, phase two B, everybody can come and whatnot. You go on the day that they opened those appointments and they all get it’s.
[00:21:51] Darla: It’s so crazy. So someone could prioritize for you.
[00:21:56] Graciela: That’s what the Bishop told me, but here’s the thing. And here’s what I’ve learned is, the Bishop told me to call and be like, I just got baptized and I want to go and I can, and I have my recommend and I looked at him and said, It’s okay. I can wait.
[00:22:12] Darla: And you’re like, I can’t believe I just said that.
[00:22:15] Graciela: Yes. Yes. And this takes me back to when I got baptized and I wanted to give a talk. I was so excited to give a talk. And I, when you get baptized, you meet with the missionaries once a week for a few, right. Which I loved. I’m like you can come every week for the rest of your life.
And they would always tell me, grassy. I just tell the Bishop, just tell the Bishop that you want to give a talk and he’ll pick a Sunday and whatever. And that was the first time ever in my life where I said, no, I’m going to wait for the spirit to tell me what to talk about when the spirit is ready for me. I’m going to wait.
And I had never used those three words in my life. It was always such discomfort, such anxiety, seeing my dreams so far in the horizon and me assessing my life in the moment and the frustration that comes with it. And it’s like a complete change and no, it’s okay. I can wait. How many people are elderly in our community who probably took over those appointments.
It’s okay. Let them go to the temple. I’m going to have my time and I have nothing but time. That’s another one. It’s like I have nothing but time. I can wait. You asked me, how do I feel now, with doing the covenants and getting baptized. Let me just tell you part of my discomfort with the church that I grew up in was a feeling of not belonging.
It was a feeling of this kind of doesn’t add up. And it was clear when my grandfather died and then my grandmother reacts the way that she does. And can I just share a little bit about that episode really quick? Okay. Because here’s the thing she’s they were married for 50 years. So I’m 17 and she’s like bawling, crying.
Her life partner is gone and I’m like you’re not that young. You’re going to die soon and go meet with him in heaven. And what she told me was not what I was expecting. What she responded in her own much respected Catholic part was, oh, but in heaven, he’s not going to be my husband.
That’s not how it happens. That’s not how it works. And I was heartbroken. I was like, what? You’re telling me, I’m going to go a whole life building an amazing story with someone and they’re not going to know me like that. And so it’s almost like I had a testimony of this gospel when I was 18 in Puerto Rico being a Catholic. And so when I got here and investigate and get baptized, it’s it all makes sense. And I am home. It’s like this, I get goosebumps telling you because I don’t know how it is for other people, but that’s how it’s been for me. And it’s just been so incredible. So incredible.
[00:24:57] Darla: I love how the spirit was teaching you, clear back when you were 18 and helping you to know truth, you’re written, you would recognize truth because you had, you had felt what your grandma had said.
And then, when you hear about eternal families, that’s truth and covenants help us belong. When we make covenants, we have a place that we come together with other people with the same goals and we don’t all have that
[00:25:18] Graciela: Community.
[00:25:19] Darla: Yes, that community. It binds us. And I think, that’s something that is so important to all of our journeys is to know that we have a place that we can belong and to help other people feel like they belong as well.
It’s such, this has been so amazing. Grace, I have loved talking to you and hearing your story and the excitement that you have and that you don’t take anything for granted that, you’ve waited for the right timing and you’ve trusted in the Lord and that you have so much hope. Your story’s not over, you’re still walking that path like we all are. And there’s so much hope in that. So I do have one final question for you before we wrap up. And that is how have you seen and felt the Savior in your journey on the covenant path?
[00:25:55] Graciela: That’s a great question because it’s every day and everything.
I, when I finally got invited to give a talk. I received that call and I was expecting them to tell me that I could talk about whatever I wanted, but instead, and so I was already going to be like, okay I’m going to talk about my conversion. Pretty much describe what I just felt with you. That’s going to, so I was already like mentally ready for that open concept of a talk, but they asked me to talk about hope.
And I’m like, wow, that’s what the spirit wants. Okay, great. Let me investigate. And all of a sudden it’s like is in this whole story that I just described. To me, waiting from one thing to the other really hope was the fuel. Hope was the propeller to just keep me going. And all credit to the spirit and all praise to him because it’s really about how I could have given up so many times along that journey.
Or I could have gone back just to people, please, my family. But instead when you get baptized, they say, oh, the light of Christ. And then you have the new get baptized. First, you have the light of Christ, then you get baptized and then you have the Holy Ghost with you. Here is someone who really serves to testify, but the light of Christ prior to getting baptized is totally real.
That potential. I see it now looking back right. How it’s really, it was just always there, like a fire burning. And now hope is everything. And I’m so grateful to just talk about hope in general and hope in Christ , helping others. Get rid of that discomfort that comes from waiting for big things to happen, like covenants and endowments.
[00:27:44] Darla: Oh yeah. That’s so beautiful. I love that. Like I said before, like you’re waiting, but you’re waiting with hope. That’s a huge difference than just waiting and feeling that anxiety and all of that. And that hope comes from Christ. I love that. I love how you said that. Thank you so much, Grace. I know that you teach about hope and other things as a coach. And so if people want to find out more about you, they want to come and follow you. They want to maybe take you up on your services. Where can people go and find you?
[00:28:09] Graciela: So on Instagram is where they’ll find me to connect with me.
Cause if you go to my website sure. But that’s just a website. So I encourage everyone to please follow me on Instagram because that’s where you’ll find me all day @songofmyself.ig. Song of myself is a poem by Walt Whitman. And it’s been there from when I was a literature major and I really don’t want to change it.
And and then my website is SoMCoaching.com.
[00:28:34] Darla: Okay. And we’ll put all of that in the show notes. So people can just go and click the links and Grace, thank you so much for being here. You have filled me up. You have made my day being able to hear this, and I cannot wait to share this interview because I know that you’re going to give hope to someone else.
That’s it’s beautiful. I love it.
[00:28:50] Graciela: I appreciate that. Darla. Thank you so much.
[00:28:52] Darla: Thank you.
And now here are this week’s journal questions.
Grace shared that a common theme in her journey has been waiting. Is there a part of your life where you feel like you are being asked by God to wait? If, so how can you put your trust in him? And wait with hope? Record your thoughts.
I asked Grace this question: How has the covenant of baptism changed your life? What would your answer to this question be?
In the interview Grace described hope as the “fuel” and the “propeller” that kept her going throughout her journey. In the April, 2021 general conference, President M. Russell Ballard said this, “When we have hope in Christ, we come to know that as we need to make and keep sacred covenants, our fondest desires and dreams can be fulfilled through Him.”
What has having hope in Christ looked like for you in your life?
How can you use your hope in Christ to fulfill your desires and dreams?