It was while reading “The Power of Everyday Missionaries” by Harvard business professor and best-selling author Clayton M. Christensen that Liz Jensen, a native of St. George, Utah, initially felt impressed to create a website. A friend had invited Jensen to prayerfully read an advance copy of the book and to record any promptings she had.
As she read Christensen's book, which encourages readers to share their testimonies in everyday situations, Jensen said she felt “the strongest impressions” that she needed to start a website. Her initial response to the prompting was, “You’ve got the wrong person.”
Jensen was not a blogger and had no photography skills. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in family studies before graduating from Fordham University School of Law in New York. She is an attorney and a mother, not a Web developer. But the feeling wouldn’t leave her.
So Jensen created a website and called it The Small Seed.
“It was my small seed of faith that God is real,” Jensen said. “I’m really sick and tired of us being so uncomfortable of just talking about him. Let’s talk about him with everyone.”
Three years later, Jensen’s Small Seed has reached readers in 162 countries. It has told the stories of more than 45 people, including those who share Jensen's faith as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others who don’t.
“What we’ve been so impressed with and what we are so touched by is how many outside of our Mormon community are so active in sharing what they believe and sharing their faith in the Savior,” Jensen said. “And sometimes they do it a lot better than we do, in a very natural, nonconfrontational way. They’re not trying to make a point. … They’re just trying to share the joy that they have in Jesus Christ.”
When asked to summarize her website’s purpose, Jensen answers confidently and without hesitation: “to help others find the joy that comes through living a life of faith.”
The Small Seed has provided people, regardless of their faith, with a place to share their own stories, the experiences that have strengthened their faith. Jensen and the six other women—Tiffany Webster, Kim Stoddard, Melanie Burk, Jeni Awerkamp, Ali Miller and Krista Horton—who help her run the site do not shy away from sharing their beliefs as members of the LDS Church, but they also try to share insights from a variety of different faiths.
“Each of us have been touched and our testimonies have grown of everything because of the Book of Mormon,” Jensen said. “It means the world to us, and we don’t want to not let that shine, but we also feel like our purpose is to unite with other women of Christian faiths, and when they write, we share the verses that they share. … There are too many who are drawing divisive lines in different religions and faiths, and that’s not what it’s all about.”
This is the reason the site tells stories of conversion regardless of religion and stories of battles with addiction and loss of loved ones. The Small Seed explores the struggles of this life that require faith.
Shortly after creating The Small Seed website, Jensen was hospitalized for two months during a high-risk pregnancy with twins. The website gave Jensen a purpose during her time in the hospital, and her own trials have allowed Jensen to speak from personal experience about life’s difficulties.
“We’ve all gone through really hard stuff, but each of us find joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ," Jensen said. "… Even as moms of busy kids and busy schedules and running other companies on the side, this is where we find our purpose. This is where we feel like we get to share the purpose we’ve found in our trials, and so it’s inviting others to come unto him and finding the joy that’s there. We know it’s there.”
Jensen feels she has been led to the right people to help her share messages of faith.
One of those people is Tiffany Webster, who manages the site’s Instagram account, which has more than 10,000 followers. Webster, who has experience with marketing and social media, had just closed the doors of her own business when Jensen, whom Webster knew in high school, asked if she would like to be part of The Small Seed team.
“I was really broken at the time, and my faith was … kind of struggling,” Webster said. “I had lost myself, and everything felt broken. … It honestly has been the biggest blessing in my life because it has been a source of healing for me personally. I feel like God broke everything I had and called me to his feet. For the last year and a half, because of the Instagram, I have been at his feet and really just healing myself and in the process trying to help others find goodness.”
Webster spends her time building a database of quotes and then prayerfully considers which quotes to post on any given day. She pairs the quotes with pictures that she has either taken herself or found available for free use online.
Webster says the response has been a “humbling thing.”
“When I started it, I was just really aware that God is very aware of ‘the one,' and because I felt so broken, I felt a great need for God’s help to do this,” Webster said. “And I knew that if I were to run this Instagram, it wouldn’t be about me. It had to be about him.”
Webster has seen the Instagram account impact lives over and over again. For example, a mother sent a message from the hospital room of her son, who was battling cancer, expressing gratitude for a quote Webster posted.
“I always just pray that I can be an instrument because if there is one thing that this work has taught me, it is that God loves his children, and that he is highly aware of their needs at every second, and the things we do are often for one person," Webster said. "It's often because God needs one person to hear something from him.”
The Small Seed team's goal is to fill a void. They begin by asking themselves, "What are the resources that we feel aren’t out there that we want to use in our families?" If they find that the resources they are looking for are available elsewhere, they try to draw attention to those, but if those resources don't exist, they spend their time creating them. For example, over the past two years, the site has invited readers to participate in a "Give With Thanks" November service challenge. This year, the site had 5,000 downloads of the "Give With Thanks" materials.
Jensen said that even if the resources they publish only benefit her team member's families and only create traditions within their own homes, the effort is worthwhile.
“I couldn’t put a cost on what it could mean if this is a 20-year tradition later, and my kids are focused on giving or the Savior or whatever the object is,” Jensen said.
Still, managing a website is hard work, and there are times when Jensen wonders whether her small seed is making a difference in the world or if it is worthy of the time she devotes to it during late nights and nap times, but that is when she receives a text or an email from someone expressing gratitude. These reassurances keep her going and remind her that she is on the right track.
“It’s amazing to see … God answer your own prayers and your own heartache as you do his work,” Jensen said. “It’s pretty incredible. … God answers our own prayers, and he truly works miracles that we couldn’t do for ourselves.”
Jensen knows there is nothing better she could be doing with her time.
“Everything that I do with The Small Seed is going to make me a better mom and a better wife and a better friend,” Jensen said. “It’s going to make me dig more into my scriptures. It’s going to make me have a stronger relationship with Heavenly Father and with my Savior. If there is any place that I want to spend my free time, this is where I’d want to spend it.”