Bethany Tolley was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1978, the youngest of her parent’s four biological daughters. Prior to the age of six her family moved to Idaho, Texas, and then settled in Moberly, Missouri in 1986. In the small mid-west town of Moberly, which at the time was home to a small branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a tiny Wal-mart, Bethany attended first through twelfth grade. During those growing-up years Bethany had various experiences that contributed to an early, and very strong, conviction of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Among those experiences she treasures: receiving her very first set of bound scriptures on a Christmas Eve when she was barely able to read; often glimpsing her mother’s well-marked scriptures and feeling deeply that all that red pencil meant something special; learning for herself the importance of Sabbath-Day observance after choosing to play in a basketball tournament on a Sunday; defending the creation story on her own front porch to a contentious boy; listening when an older sister invited her to begin diligently reading her scriptures; responding to the prompting to receive and then trust warnings and guidance in her patriarchal blessing when the temptations to stray were strong; having her mother as a seminary teacher; singing in the ward choir and with her sisters; taking piano lessons and then quitting only to end up teaching herself; learning to draw and paint at her mother’s side; playing basketball successfully only to be prompted to quit her Junior year and pursue a path other than playing in college; and the opportunity to have deep gospel discussions with her parents on Sunday afternoons when all of her other sisters had grown up and left home.
These and other experiences, along with her family’s gospel traditions, gave her the opportunity to solidify her own testimony. Bethany’s family is led by faithful convert parents who sacrificed to ensure there was church attendance, family prayer, scripture reading, Family Home Evening, and unparalleled support for all their righteous goals.
Bethany, at the age of eighteen, had already developed a keen sensitivity to good lesson development and teaching skills. She credits much of this to her mother’s teaching gifts and example. Along with a seed of teaching knowledge, Bethany sang, played the piano, and treasured a profound love and loyalty for her family and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After graduating high school in 1997, Bethany attended Moberly Area Community College on a choir scholarship. While attending her freshman year, she worked part-time at the newly opened Scholastic Books, Inc. call center. While taking book club orders from school teachers over the phone, Bethany immersed herself in the vast and enjoyable world of fiction. Having before always read only for school work, she learned that reading could transport her to new worlds and provide a needed, as well as entertaining, escape for her from everyday life.
After marrying young, at age nineteen, Bethany was immediately called to teach early morning Seminary to a large and sometimes troublesome class in the Columbia Missouri Stake. The challenge was daunting, but she accepted it because no one else would. In this early and difficult experience in the world of teens—not much younger than herself—and the unique world of the Church Education System (CES), Bethany learned quickly that teaching was about much more than good delivery and presentation skills. She discovered that all truth and doctrine must be delivered with love, patience, understanding, and sincerity. Though this experience only lasted a year and a half, Bethany went on to serve frequently in church callings that honed and trained her natural teaching and presentation gifts.
In the year, 2000, a combination of books read, life struggles, and book movies contributed to a sudden desire within Bethany to begin writing fiction. “It was no passing fancy,” she said. “I’ve felt deeply compelled to write since that time, as if an internal part of me that’s always been there got woken up. I didn’t know it was there until it woke up inside me. Since then, it’s never gone back to sleep.”
Reacting to this prompting, Bethany began pondering, creating, writing, and learning how to become an inspired writer. She wanted to create an uplifting and exciting escape for others as she had discovered in her years at Scholastic Books. She prayed for the spiritual gift to write and confided her new mission to her family. But, that was only the beginning. Bethany threw herself into the craft of writing, attending writer’s conferences, entering contests, and seeking feedback from friends and acquaintances. She started a writing group at a local bookstore, and continued to hone her craft. Lots of failures and feedback over the years felt like insurmountable setbacks at the time, but Bethany persevered writing more than 16 fiction and religious commentary books for herself and family. [Note: These books are not currently available to the public.]
While Bethany wasn’t born knowing what her mission in life was, the Lord has led her to it through her many and varied experiences. After getting a BA in Business Administration from Columbia College and spending years in the business world, Bethany bumped into Corporate Training and found that she loved the challenge of teaching difficult concepts, and often boring topics, in an intense and exciting way. She enjoyed the science behind learning styles and memory retention, and finding ways to reach people of all kinds of learning styles in one presentation. She has devoted time and practice to learning how to create retention of Gospel principles and doctrines. She took easily to Instructional Design and went back to school to get an MA in Education: Curriculum and Instructional Design from the University of Phoenix.
It was in the mix of all these learned skills, innate gifts, and beloved talents, that Bethany found that her greatest passion in life was teaching the Gospel and helping others to understand it on a deep doctrinal level. As a natural teacher and Instructional Designer, with a love of memory science, Bethany also loves teaching others how to teach by the Spirit—or in other words, using both preparation and delivery methods that allow the Holy Ghost to fulfill His role as the true teacher and the rest of us as active, agency-exercising learners.
Bethany has spent nearly all of her callings (to date) in some contact with the youth or gospel teaching. Whether Youth Sunday School, the YW presidency, a YW advisor, Gospel Essentials, RS President in a Spanish branch, Primary teacher, and RS teacher. All of her varied talents have come into play in these callings. She has learned to use her art, music, writing, and teaching skills to serve the Lord in teaching His children.
While serving in a Spanish Branch she received the inspiration to paint a unique, doctrinally-focused, and more detailed plan of salvation picture from the ones commonly used in the Church. This painting has formed the foundation for much of her past teaching experiences and her current doctrinal focus on her blog.
“I painted that picture for my parents as a Christmas present. But, I know now the Lord revealed it to me for me, as much as He revealed it that I may teach others. It changed the way I saw the Gospel and changed my focus from that point onward. It provided the groundwork when I needed hard-to-find answers that I’d never asked before. It still is the foundation of my testimony. My testimony is unshakeable because God’s plan of salvation is unshakeable.”
After a difficult divorce, in 2009, Bethany came back home to Moberly, Missouri from Arizona, where she was living at the time, to rebuild her life and pursue her love of teaching. Within months she was called to teach early morning Seminary again, in the Moberly Ward, and did so for four and a half years. These critical years sharpened her Gospel Teaching experience and brought out her natural knack for boiling the Gospel down to the critical doctrinal truths and whys. It strengthened her love of the youth of the church and increased her desire to reach them in fundamental, impactful ways. This time around, her love came first in her teaching and it changed her deeply as she watched the Lord work with her each and every day as she devoted her time to loving His children.
In 2013, four years after her divorce, Bethany was approached by a missionary serving in her ward for her email address. Only, it wasn’t for him. It was for a man in another ward. Loathe to be set up, Bethany rebuffed the request, but with some perseverance the missionary succeeded. Two months later she was contacted by her current husband, Luke Tolley. Taking nothing for granted, she ended up being a difficult catch for the recently divorced former bishop and Seminary teacher. She tested and tried him severely, confident that she wanted a spiritual and intellectual equal as her eternal companion. After several months and two very spiritual experiences, Bethany married Luke in May of 2014. Having never had children in her first marriage, Bethany was overjoyed to get pregnant and bring her first, and only, biological child into the world in January 2015. Her daughter, Anna, along with her seven step-children are the greatest joys of her life.
Bethany began her Doctrine Lady Blog after attending the October General Women’s Conference in 2016 where President Nelson’s quote of Spencer W. Kimball was reiterated, “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world will be drawn to the Church in large numbers…to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”
She had been approached before about blogging and had immediately refused for various reasons. But, sitting in that session she felt strongly impressed to do exactly that. Since then, the promptings have continued as she has prayed for opportunities to share the Gospel and to be one of those women that stands apart from the women of the world as “distinct and different in happy ways.”
Perhaps of most surprise to Bethany has been that as she has pursued publication for her books, the Lord has prompted her first to rework songs written in years past, write new ones, strengthen her song-writing ability, and to find a way to bring all her talents to bear in standing as a witness of God and His everlasting gospel. This is her focus today.
Bethany’s most recent project, in conjunction with her blog, is a podcast titled, “The Stuff Life is Made Of.” She and her sister, Tawnee Saunders (CEO and founder of Omnilife Consulting), collaborate on this blog to mesh doctrinal insights with everyday life. The blog is focused on personal progression and growth. Some common themes that run through the podcasts are: get to know yourself, own who you are and use what you know about yourself not to justify or apologize but to progress forward in becoming your best self, seek your best life.
Speaking and Presentation Requests
Bethany enjoys talking about her life’s testimony-building experiences. She also loves to teach and present on all topics to all age groups, though she does have a minor preference for the youth of the Church. True to her moniker, all her speeches and presentations, no matter the topic, focus on THE DOCTRINE: the fundamental unchanging truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Bethany, and her sister Tawnee, also like meeting with groups of all kinds to present, speak, collaborate, and to converse live about The Stuff Life is Made Of.
Bethany resides in the Mapleton, UT area.
All music, text, art, video, and other proprietary content on this site is copyrighted by Bethany Tolley but may be copied, shared, used, and performed for personal, church, or other non-profit incidental use. Any other personal or commercial reproduction for profit is prohibited. To use any content for personal or commercial reproduction for profit, please contact Bethany via her Facebook page to request licensing information.