the source


The questions on all the administrators’ lips at the ACT 36ers luncheon were, “How many times did you take the test?” “How did you study? (not the kids, all the kids wanted to do was laugh and chat and complain about college applications. The 2011 Utah group consisted of ten boys, three girls– all well-rounded, delightful and humble.) For the sake of simplicity Stefan answered– “once” and “I took hard classes in school.” But the answer to the latter is far more complicated.

I’ve hesitated a long time to tell this story. I hope none of you will be offended. But my sister insists it should be told (and you know I always listen to my sister).

The Christmas of Stefan’s junior year he unwrapped two ACT prep books (because I’m so nice that way). With four AP classes he never found time to study the books and once he conquered the AP tests, end of school crazy-busyness took over. On the last day of school I told him, “You have one week; start studying.”

I was pleased to notice Stefan spending several hours a day in his room, coming down for study breaks every few hours, going out in the evening with his friends. “You studying?”

“Oh yeah.”

Friday night, Stef sat at the kitchen counter reading the Book of Mormon. He closed the final page, caught my eye and said, “Done studying.”

“That’s what you’ve been doing all week?” I asked. He nodded. And then I crossed my fingers and hoped it would work.

Now, this may sound simplistic; every kid who reads the Book of Mormon or the New Testament the week before the ACT isn’t going to receive a perfect score. But years of scripture study gave Stefan the discipline and steadiness of mind to excel. A few years ago I wrote about Stefan here, describing the sad, lonely fourteen year old without much direction. He could have gone either way, but he turned to God; reading scripture and refining his character and actions. He’d rather not tell you his exact regimen (just like he’ll never tell you how many pull-ups he does a night) but his efforts define every aspect of his life.

I believe anyone who spends time studying the teachings of Christ, reading the words of experienced leaders and delving into ancient texts will gain power in their life. A certain humility develops, when consistently seeking the word of God.

Ah, this is a weighty subject for a sunny spring day with children running through the kitchen. And I’m at the dangerous point in my writing where I could simply brag about my boy; but, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things.”

Everyone asks me, “What’s Stefan’s secret?” It’s the oldest one in the book, from the oldest book in the world– turn to God; He will form you into your best self.

March 27, 2012



  1. Michelle

    March 22, 2012

    I think Stefan is the best brother ever equal to Hans Xander and Ben
    Love Gabe

  2. Selwyn

    March 22, 2012

    Beautiful post, Michelle, about an amazing individual.

    And Gabe’s comment is awesome!

  3. Jeanelle

    March 23, 2012

    Oh Michelle, please thank Ruth for making you write this. I’m going to link from my blog today – this is simply amazing.

  4. Denise Schild

    March 23, 2012

    That is the most beautiful post ever. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Anne Marie

    March 23, 2012

    Thank you for sharing bits and pieces from your family’s life. You are truly a blessing to me. What you have done/are doing with your children is amazing and continues to inspire me. Stefan sounds like such a remarkable individual. Your fierce love as a mama has done wonderful things.

  6. Adri

    March 23, 2012

    Beautiful, Michelle. I think moms have every right to be proud of their kids, and Stephen is exceptional, so you should be doubly proud. Of course, you’ve got a whole crew of exceptional people living at your house. 😉

  7. Ginnie

    March 23, 2012

    Please raise my children as your own and then give them back to me when they are perfect. 🙂 You and your children amaze me. Did ben get a 36 too? I vaguely remember reading that. Truly incredible!

    You inspire me, Michelle!

  8. cristie

    March 23, 2012

    joy. xox

  9. Mormon Women: Who We Are

    March 23, 2012

    Wow. On one hand, I’m left just in awe — at how God can work, that this was Stefan’s approach to studying.

    But then at the same time, I’m not surprised at all. I know that God helped me in my studies as I tried to put Him first. I’m convinced of that. I also am so inspired by your son’s goodness.

    This leaves me wondering about ways I can trust God more to carry the ‘tests’ I face.

    Thank Ruth for me. Love you.

  10. jenjamin

    March 23, 2012

    Love this!

  11. Linn

    March 23, 2012

    This mother thanks you for sharing. I’m so grateful!

  12. Michelle

    March 23, 2012

    This was really hard to write. I did a lot of typing and erasing. But I need the message as much as anyone. I KNOW God could do more with my life than I can with my feeble efforts, and yet I don’t invest the time to find God’s will.

  13. katieo

    March 24, 2012

    thank you. so inspiring.

  14. Kit Linkous

    March 24, 2012

    Just think of all the amazing things the Lord will be able to do through this humble, wonderful man! I remember being inspired as we ran years ago by your MTC family home evenings and thinking then what great servants of God you and Erik were preparing. So thankful to know each one of you.

  15. Crystal Critchfield

    March 26, 2012

    Beautiful post, Michelle. Thanks so much for sharing Stefan’s example. I’ve got some work to do. 🙂

  16. Mormon Women: Who We Are

    March 27, 2012

    I had my son read this today.

    (He thinks he knows the proctor. Funny small world.)

  17. Jennifer

    March 27, 2012

    love this michelle. i’m glad you sister persuaded you to share.

    now, do you believe in arranged marriages (just kidding).

    you son is a gem.

  18. Claudia

    March 28, 2012

    So glad you wrote this down! It is truly inspiring!

  19. Heather

    March 28, 2012

    Beautiful. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and this post is my favorite. Thank you. You have an amazing family and the great capacity to notice each of your children’s strengths.

  20. Jeanelle

    January 31, 2013

    My 74 year old mom is taking a test in February to be a para-educator and has been worried for months about it, working with a tutor, studying every day. Our stake president challenged us Sunday to read the BofM before May 5 while our youth are rehearsing for an upcoming From Cumorah’s Hill performance. We’re of course reading and I sent her this link to hopefully give her a little peace in her studies and preparation. Thank you again for being brave enough to post this!

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