Friday, October 17, 2014

Has It Really Been Five Years?

Most of you weren't reading my blog five years ago. That's okay.

Five years ago, I snapped a picture of Brad for this post--the day he was sustained as the bishop of our ward.
My photography skills have improved a lot since then--the flash shadow, the composition, the editing. ARGH. This is not a post about my photography skills. I had taken the picture to mark how grey his hair was at that moment in time--still dark on top, with a little distinguished white at the temples.

Here is a picture I snapped of Brad as he left for work Monday morning.
Brad was released as the bishop of our ward (congregation) on Sunday. The grey has crept up and covered most of his head now and the dark hairs are definitely in the minority, but he's still sporting the same 'do.

Many of you are not members of the LDS Church, and you probably don't know much about being an LDS bishop. Here's a quick summary. What is not included in that summary is how much time it takes to serve as a bishop (with no salary) and how much a bishop falls in love with the people of his ward. It was labor, but a true labor of love as he came to know the youth and kids and families who live in our ward.

Sunday was a emotional day for me. Not only was it Ben's first Sunday in the mission field, but it was the last Sunday Brad would serve as bishop. I was a mess, from the second I woke up until I got home from Church around 5 pm. The new bishop, his wife, and his new counselors were asked to speak, as were Brad and both of his counselors and me. I wanted to share with you what I said to our ward family, and I hope that it gives you a better understanding of what it's like to serve as a bishop of an LDS congregation.

I’ve reflected a lot about the time I’ve spent sitting on our bench in this chapel over the last five years. We used to sit behind the Wudels, much closer to the front, but having to manage my wild monkeys alone pushed me closer and closer to the back as I tried to minimize the commotion of Denton kids being regularly taken out. When Brad was sustained, I was eight months pregnant with Eve. Tucker was a senior, and Hyrum was 2 ½ years old. Our bench has changed a lot in that time, and hopefully gotten a little bit quieter as well. We may be back up front soon, but we’ll see.

Think about how your own bench here in the chapel has changed over the past five years. How many callings have you had? I’ve been a RS teacher (twice, actually), a Primary counselor, a Stake Institute teacher, a Sunday school teacher, and now the choir accompanist. Have you moved here since then? Have you welcomed babies or sent off missionaries or married off children or lost loved ones?

In these last five years, you all have never been far from Brad’s thoughts. So many times, your families’ lives have interwoven with his. So many happy memories.
  • He’s cannonball’ed with your children and reminded me to get more tootsie rolls at Sam’s Club so he could dole them out—one per customer—on Sunday.
  • He’s trekked miles across the dusty Arizona desert with your youth and counseled them as they received temple recommends.
  • He’s watched your young men and women leave for missions and proudly embraced them when they return.
  • He’s attended baptisms, endowments, and sealings, and held many of your newborn children in his arms.
  • He’s visited many of your in your homes and invited others out to lunch and remembered others at the holidays with special celebrations.
He’s been bishop of the 30th ward for about 250 Sundays. Most of those Sundays I would roll over and go back to sleep when his alarm went off—signalling time for him to prepare for early morning meetings. I will say that on the Saturday nights of General Conference, he would stretch out in bed and say, “I get to sleep in tomorrow!” and I would be lucky to see him downstairs and ready for conference before 8:55 am.

I’ve seen so many miracles in your lives, both small and great, as he’s served—from getting a cell signal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean just long enough for the temple to call verifying a young woman’s worthiness—to being inspired to hold a ward fast for a family to be brought into our ward and seeing that miracle happen right on my street.

I’ve heard him pray for many of you by name as you prepared for baptism or temple ordinances or faced the loss of loved ones. I’ve heard him include the names of countless pairs of missionaries who have served in our ward boundaries, and I’ve heard him pray for many more of you as he’s repeated, “for those in the ward who are struggling at this time.” On those nights, he often would linger longer on his knees as he privately supplicated the Lord on your behalf.

I’ve seen him change into a white shirt and tie during the day or after he was ready for bed at night, telling me who was in the hospital or who had just lost their son or simply that “someone” needed him and he would be gone for a while.

When the announcement was made that a new bishopric would be sustained, I got comments that usually fell into one of two categories: Some people would say, “You get your husband back!” Though I do feel a lot like Hannah as I have “lent my boys to the Lord” for their two-year missionary service, I never felt like I lost Brad while he was the bishop. I’ve heard it said that when a young man dedicates two years of his life to serving a mission at 18, he is tithing one-tenth of his life back to the Lord. Brad is almost 50, and I can see how he has once again willingly tithed one-tenth of his life as he’s served as bishop these past five years.

While some comments congratulated me on surviving, other comments touched my heart deeply. Some of you have quietly told me, with tears in your voice, “Thank you. No one will ever know what Bishop Denton has done for me (or for our family or for our son or for our daughter).” I will never know, but I have seen the change that has come upon him as he has sacrificed and labored and prayed and partnered with our God to help bring to pass “the immortality and eternal life” of the members of our ward. He has developed compassion and patience and empathy and wisdom—and an understanding of the power of the Atonement that he couldn’t have gained any other way.

So, as you look down at our bench in the chapel today and see our husband and dad sitting with us for the first time in Eve’s life, I hope you see how much you and your family have grown closer to the Savior over the past five years. I want to thank you for praying for him, for sustaining him, and for loving him. I need to thank you for allowing him into your lives, for allowing him to serve you, and for helping him to grow. While I have had my own stormy moments where I struggled and begged the Lord to help me to change my heart or to forgive or to be forgiven during the last five years, I need to thank the Lord for bringing the blessings of heaven down on our home over this time.

It is truly a blessing to serve the Lord in any capacity in any church anywhere in the world. It may be the end of his time serving as bishop, but I know that he will have a new calling and a new job and a new group of people to love very soon. 

For now, Hyrum and Evie will love having Dad sit with them on our bench again. And so will I.

If you have any questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), leave me a comment or send me an email. I will do my best to try and answer them.


  1. I have found that the blessings continue even after the release in the form of sweet relationships.

  2. It was a bittersweet day when Dave was released, and the text of your talk brings back a lot of memories. I will always think of our time serving the Monta Vista ward as a golden period in our lives.

    Love and hugs.


  3. I loved your talk, and so hoped you would post the text. It is such a fabulous description for those who wonder what it is like for the Bishop and his family. Thank you for all you allowed your husband to do for all of us. Thank your for letting us into your family prayers, and the late night visits you didn't murmur over, and the intrusions into date nights and vacations you simply smiled over. Thank you for everything no one will ever know about. Thank you.

  4. Really a blessed tribute. Can't imagine the emotions at this time and what faith you are witnessing. God bless.

  5. Brad doesn't look any older. In fact, I think that he looks younger now than five years ago. How is that fair? :)

  6. I too have been a bishop's wife and have been in your shoes. Some things are better left unsaid and kept between you and your Bishop husband. Humility speaks for itself.

  7. What a journey. Congratulations to you both for taking the journey, and making it through.

  8. How wonderful to have Brad sitting with you and the kids again. And how wonderful of you all to share him for all those years. Hope everything is going well for you!

  9. Thank you for this post--it really helps me understand more of what I'm going through and what I will yet go through....

  10. beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.