Episode 1: How Latter-Day Lights Got Started…

In our pilot episode, Latter-Day Lights creators Scott Brandley and Alisha Coakley are interviewed by their mutual long-time friend Cameron Dailey.  Cameron asks them a series of questions to determine what caused caused Scott and Alisha to create Latter-Day Lights, and what they hope to accomplish. 

(Scott) Hey, everyone. I’m Scott Brandley.

(Alisha) And I’m Alisha Coakley.

(Scott) Every member of the Church has a story to share, one that can instill faith, invite growth, and inspire others.

(Alisha) On today’s episode, we’re going to share how breakfast with a friend, lunch with a stranger, and a missed opportunity ignited a hope within to help others share their stories. Welcome to Latter-Day Lights.

(Scott) Thank you so much for joining us today on our very first episode of Latter-Day Lights. We’re so excited to be able to launch this and to have you here with us.

So Alisha and I have been working on Latter-Day Lights since October of 2021, and we put a lot of hard work and effort into it, and we’re just super excited to finally be able to launch it and share it with you today.

(Alisha) Yeah, definitely. And we thought it would be really fun to kind of flip the script and have Scott and I be the very first guest.

And so we have our very good friend Cameron Daley, who has volunteered to come on here to be the host for today to grill us with all of these questions. And one of the reasons why we picked Cameron is he’s a good friend of both Scott and I.

Scott was a Bishop in Ogden when Cameron was one of his counselors, and I was in the Young Women’s Presidency. And so we got to spend a lot of time together in those callings and just really got to know each other. And I think that our personalities mesh really well. So we totally trust our baby in the hands of Cameron. And we’re excited to see what you have for us, Cameron. We’re excited to see what kind of questions you got.

(Cameron) So a couple of weeks ago, Scott, you came to me and invited me to be a guest on the podcast. And I had a lot of questions for you. So if you wouldn’t mind, Scott, just telling us what gave you the idea in the first place. Why did you guys decide to create this podcast? What are your goals for it? How was it all started?

Why did you guys decide to create this podcast? What are your goals for it? How was it all started?

(Scott) Sure. Basically, I had no plans to ever do a podcast. And the way this all started was when I was a Bishop, when we were all serving together. And you both know who these families are, but we had two families that we all knew at the time leave the Church. And that really hit me hard as the Bishop at the time because I put in a lot of time and effort to try to get them to stay.

Ultimately, that inspired me to write a book. But as I was getting near to finishing the book, Alisha, like we said, was in the Young Women’s Presidency with my daughter, and her and my daughter became really good friends during that period of time. My daughter went on a mission to Sacramento, and when she was finished, we went and picked her up, and we were coming back through Elko, Nevada, and Alisha had actually moved to Elko. And so we connected on the way home from picking up Clarissa and we went to breakfast on the way back with her and her husband John. And as we were eating breakfast, I found out that Alisha was also writing a book in the LDS market.

(Alisha) Yeah, it was fun. So my book is a little different than Scott’s. My book is called Salted. I’m not quite as far along as Scott is. I’m about halfway done, so I have a little bit longer to go. But it was just kind of neat. And we just kind of got to talking about the book that Scott was writing, the book that I was writing. And I had mentioned to Scott at the time that I hired a book coach to kind of help me get past my walls that I was hitting in this book. Her name is Kim Clement, and she is amazing.

Through our coaching and stuff, she mentioned this conference that happens in October called the LDSPMA Conference. So it’s specifically for Latter-Day Saint Publishing and Media Association. And she and I kind of set this goal up where I was going to go ahead, and I was going to have my rough draft done, and I’d go to this conference to pitch my book.

And when we talked about that, I was like “Scott, you should totally go to this conference because your book is so close to being done and go ahead and pitch it to some publishers and see what happens.” So that was kind of the initial start of this. I know nothing about the podcast. Right. But we got a little bit more story to tell you.

So that’s kind of where this officially all sort of took place was just Scott was working on a book. I was working on a book. And we just happened to have that little colliding, I guess, where all the stars met at breakfast.

(Cameron) So is it okay that I’m here asking you these questions, even though I’ve never written a book and I don’t really have one on the burner?

(Scott) That’s okay, we won’t hold that against you.

(Alisha) I’m not going to hold it against you because you have such a great personality. But I am going to encourage you. I’m going to encourage you to sit down and write something, even if it’s not a book. I think that anytime that we can share a story, whether it’s face to face with someone or in a Journal entry or even I use Facebook as my Journal entries, I’m not even joking. I document stuff on there. I think it’s awesome. So you may not write a book, but write something. I’m going to hold you to that. You’ve already signed up for it. You just don’t know it.

(Cameron) I might have something going on up here underneath this part, that needs to come out onto some pages. Yeah. So we’ll see.

Okay, so you guys finish up breakfast, you both find out that you’re writing a book. You’re talking about going to this conference. At what point do you guys say, “Hey, we’re both writing books, let’s do a podcast.” How does that conversation go?

(Scott) So we’re not to the podcast part yet, but we’re eating breakfast. And she tells me about this conference, right? I go and buy a ticket thinking that I have somebody to hang out with. We’re going to go together and pitch our books together.

(Alisha) It was all planned. It was going to be so fun. We were going to do all of these workshops and pitch our books. And it was a brilliant idea on my part.

(Scott) Yeah, it was. And then the day before we’re going to this conference, she calls me, and she sounded like she was dead. There was definitely something very wrong with her! So I decided to go by myself anyway, because I actually had set up some meetings to pitch my book.

And so I go to this conference. There’s tons of people there, and I don’t know anybody, but I hang in there. And I actually went two days by myself. The first day I ate lunch by myself. There were some other people that came and sat at the table, but there wasn’t really a connection.

The next day I pitched my book, and that went really well. Then after that, we had lunch again, and I really considered just going home and skipping lunch and just calling it. And I thought, “No, I’ll go to lunch.” I went and I sat at a table by myself, and this girl comes up and she sits at the table and we start talking. And she tells me her name is Kristen Reber. As we’re talking, she tells me that she wrote a book called Early Homecoming. And it was about her experience when she went on a mission to the Philippines and she got a parasite. And so she had to come home early. And just the difficulties that she encountered socially, emotionally, spiritually, even physically coming home.

As she’s telling me her story, I’m like, “Well, how did you share it? How did you get it out there?” She’s like, “Well, I started a podcast, and I built my podcast over time. And the people that were interested in what I had to say would join and they would listen to my podcast.”

There’s just so many amazing stories that people have to share, and there’s just no platform to do it. And that’s when I realized, why don’t I just make one?

So, as I’m driving home after I meet this lady, it just kind of hit me. I started thinking that it’s not just me that has a story, but everybody in the Church has a story to share. And there’s no real effective way for members of the Church who have a story, to be able to share it other than to maybe their immediate family or even to their Ward. But outside of that, there’s not really an effective way for members of the Church to share these amazing stories of faith healing, overcoming tragedy, conversion…

There’s just so many amazing stories that people have to share, and there’s just no platform to do it. And that’s when I realized, why don’t I just make one? And the first person I thought of to help me do that was Alisha, because she’s very dynamic and she’s got this really sparkling, upbeat personality. And I’m kind of more like, I don’t know, conservative. And…

(Alisha) You are a very gentle, just very thoughtful kind of person. So don’t discredit yourself for that.

(Cameron) Well, it’s good to have those personalities, right? That play off of each other, too. You don’t want two people exactly the same, right? You know what I mean?

(Scott) Yeah. So after I talked to her, she was like, “Oh, this sounds awesome. Let’s do this thing!” And that’s kind of how Latter-Day Lights came to be. So we’ve been putting it together for over six months now, and we hope that it’s going to keep growing and that we’re going to enlighten people’s lives. And that’s why it’s called Latter-Day Lights.

(Cameron) So you have this epiphany, right. And of course, Alisha pops in your head as your go-to counter-personality. How did that conversation go, Alisha, when he called you and hit you up?

(Alisha) Oh, it was awesome! First of all, he had called me and he told me, “Hey, this is what happened at the conference.” And he tells me that publishers are interested in this book. And I was so excited for him. And then I thought to myself, that’s what it is, that’s the whole reason why this happened was not because I was ready to go pitch my book, but because Scott was ready and I needed to be excited about it so I could share it with him. And, you know, so I just kind of thought that that was like Heavenly Father’s way of using me and using the disappointment that I felt of not being able to attend this conference to be able to push that forward.

And then he starts telling me about he ate lunch all by myself, and nobody was there. And I was like, “I’m sorry. I would have gone.” He was laying on the guilt trip pretty thick, but he was just like, “So I met this lady and she talked about this, and I really was thinking a lot about it, and I think I want to start a podcast.

Now we didn’t have a name for it or anything at the time. You know, this was just an idea. And so he’s like, “I think I want to start a podcast where we can get some people to tell their stories. Just everyday Latter-Day Saints, just the people that you’re rubbing elbows with in your Ward.”

It’s so awesome being able to hear stories from prophets and possible, but sometimes they seem so different from us that it can be a little hard to relate to them. And so I think that Scott’s idea was just beautiful just to get our friends and family, and our friend’s friends and family to be able to sit down and share with us just how their testimonies have grown and how they’ve really been able to convert to the gospel.

And so when he asked me to be his co host, first I was a little nervous. I was like, “Oh gosh, I haven’t done stuff like that in a long time.” And in case you didn’t remember, Cameron, I have a tendency to go on and on. I don’t know if anyone wants to listen to me. It was just that feeling you get when you’re supposed to get up and bear your testimony and Sacrament meeting, but you’re kind of like, oh, I’ll just wait for someone else to go do it. It was like that feeling. I was like, oh, I’m a little nervous, but no, I think this will be okay. I’ll do it.

And the more I thought about it and the more I prayed about it, I was like, this is going to be fun.

(Scott) Well, it’s been a lot of fun so far.

(Cameron) And you guys are giving other people an opportunity to share their stories and their testimonies. Regardless of how this pans out long term, I think this is a great idea, and it’s giving people that avenue that they can share what they’ve learned.

(Alisha) Right. We can all learn from each other.

(Cameron) I think that’s amazing.

There’s so much negativity and darkness in the world right now. We need light! And that’s what this is all about.

(Scott) So, Cameron, one of the things that I think can really help people with having this podcast is that there’s not enough resources out there where people share good. Where people tell stories of inspiration.

You hear a lot of people leaving the Church or questioning their faith, and one of the things that I’m hoping that this podcast will do, will do the opposite – kind of fight that, and hopefully be a force for good and inspire and help people want to stay closer to the Church in general, and really enlighten and hopefully grow their testimonies over time, because I really do feel that stories have the power to transform lives

And when we listen to the prophets and Apostles speak a lot of times, they’ll share amazing stories that are powerful and really do inspire us and help us to want to do better in our life. And so I’m hoping that we can do that with everyday members of the Church. And hopefully those people will touch other people’s lives.

(Cameron) I love that you say that. I think back on all of my general conference experiences growing up and how disinterested I would find myself being for so much of it until I start hearing a story. They start telling stories, and all of a sudden you kind of perk up and like, oh, a story! And then there’s the lesson or the moral and it kind of all ties in. I have very fond memories of the stories that they tell and how that can invite the spirit so well, so often.

(Alisha) Yeah, very true. And, you know, one of the things that I loved about this idea was it had reminded me of this quote. It’s one of my favorite quotes by John Weasley. And he says, “Do all the good you can by all the means you can in all the ways you can, in all the places you can at all the times you can to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” And I love that because I feel like that’s exactly what Scott’s whole thought was.

He just wants to do something good for people. He just wants to have this podcast be something that can just inspire someone to be a little bit better or to try a little bit harder or to keep going for a little bit longer. Just something that can really be like one of those good tools in our Arsenal against the adversary. And I just love it. I’m very excited to see where we can go from here.

(Scott) So what we’ve tried to do is we’ve tried to kind of front load the number of podcasts we have before we start. And so we’ve done several podcasts already that will be launching over the next several weeks. But it’s been amazing just in the short amount of time that we’ve already done this, just the stories that we’ve been able to share or the people on the podcast have been able to share with us very uplifting, very spiritually motivating. And in Cameron’s case, a very funny but uplifting story.

And it’s so inspiring just to hear these people and, you know, their struggles and how they overcame them. I just love it. This is just going to be the funnest thing ever! I can’t wait to see what happens over months and years.

(Cameron) Yeah. I even told Alisha when she was explaining how my episode was going to go, as I started talking to her, people started popping in my mind like, “Oh my gosh, my friend would be so awesome in an episode. He has this amazing story to tell.” And so it’s like this snowball effect is already happening. I could see it happening even from where I’m sitting way over here. People have stories they want to tell, and this is going to be such a great place for them to come and share those stories. I’m excited.

(Alisha) Yeah. Just a little spoiler here. So Scott and I, like you said, we’ve been working on this for months now, and in our kind of brainstorming ideas we would really love, we definitely want to be able to share these stories via audio visual podcasts and stuff like that. But we also kind of thought maybe it would be kind of neat to, eventually, not right away – we’ve got to finish what we’re working on now, but to eventually maybe even put some stories together in a book.

We really want to give people the opportunity to share their stories. And if they’re honestly too nervous to come on camera and to be recorded like this, we still want to encourage people to write us, to let us know what their stories are so that maybe in the future, as we start that project, we can kind of collaborate and put a bunch of stories together in these potential future books so that the stories can still get out there, so that these lights can still have that opportunity to spread.

My husband, John, wasn’t always a member of the Church. You guys know that. Before he was a member, he talked about this really cool candle lighting ceremony that one of his old churches had done. And he said it was neat because they turned off all the lights in the room. Everybody had candles, and they had one person light a candle, and then that person sort of put their candles towards another person, and then that person’s candle lit, and then they kind of spread from that.

Each person started lighting these candles. And he said, within less than a minute, this room that was just pitch black all of a sudden was completely filled with light. And it was a really great visual experience for him to see how the scriptures talk about men not hiding their lights under a bushel, and how important it is for us to get out there and to really share that light of Christ with others.

He said that that was a great visual representation of what it really means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It’s not enough just to sit back and to study and to pray and to keep in our little holes. It’s all about giving. It’s all about serving. It’s all about being open and honest. And one of the things that I’ve always loved is when people tell their stories, when they’re being really honest, I feel like that’s what the scriptures are. It’s a bunch of people who made some really bad, dumb decisions sometimes and who repented or who found Christ or who learned these beautiful lessons of eternity in the gospel.

You don’t have to have a testimony of everything to have a testimony of something.

And I think if we’re supposed to liken the scriptures to ourselves, does that not mean that we, too, should be like those people who took part in recording the scriptures? Shouldn’t we be out there sharing our stories and our experiences and letting other people be able to see how our testimony can grow? You don’t have to have a testimony of everything to have a testimony of something.

And you have no idea how much power can come from that one little bit of your testimony being shared.

(Scott) I love that Alisha, thanks for sharing that. I really love that visualization of the candles being lit because I truly feel that this could become like that – where we start out with just a few candles, but over time, as people share their light with others, that we can hopefully light up the world right with inspirational stories from members just like you who are watching this right now. And if you feel that you have an amazing story, kind of like Cameron said – his friend might have one, then go to our website, go to latterdaylights.com.

At the bottom of the homepage, there is a form that you can fill out and tell us about your story. And let’s get you on the podcast and have you share it. Share your light with the rest of the members of the Church, and let’s grow together. Let’s inspire each other and help grow our testimonies and our conversion, because we need it now more than ever.

There’s so much negativity and darkness in the world right now. We need light! And that’s what this is all about. So if you have a story, share it with us. Let’s get you on. And if you don’t want to share your story, tell people about this podcast and let’s share light that way. Let’s share light through telling others about it and let’s blow it up. Let’s get those candles lit all throughout the world. Every week.

We’re going to have a podcast every Sunday. You can listen to it when you’re at the gym. You can listen to it with your family on a Sunday night if you want just something to be inspired by. And every week is going to be a new story. Some of them are going to be funny, some will be sad, some will be uplifting. And maybe that’s the thing you need to hear that week that’s going to get you through to the next week.

So any last thoughts or comments, Cameron? Anything you want to make fun of while you got us on here?

(Cameron) No, I’m spent on the mockery, but I do really appreciate you guys. Thanks for letting me come on and ask you some of these questions about how you guys got this idea and how it all got started. I really do. I love you guys and I’m excited to hear these feature episodes. You guys are awesome.

(Alisha) Thanks, Cameron. We love you too. You’re such a great friend and we really appreciate it. And Scott, thank you for thinking of me and for letting me be your sidekick for this journey. I’m super excited to see and to hear what the future holds for this podcast. With that, I think we’ll sign off for today. If you guys enjoyed this podcast, if you think that there might be others in your life who would like it, please be sure to share the link here so that other people can hear the stories that are going on.

I know this week was a little different, because it was just kind of about how we’re getting started. But next week you’re going to start really hearing some stories and seeing what the hype is. So I invite you guys to head over to our Facebook page to like share and comment there. That would be super helpful. And like Scott said, if you have a story that you want to share, you’re welcome to go to latterdaylights.com as well. Anything else, Scott?

(Scott) No, I think you said it all. So thanks again for joining us on this journey and we will talk to you next week.

Till then, take care. We’ll see you then!

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