Sunday, October 22, 2017

Abandoned blog suddenly updates

I am re-picking up this blog because I found that I write in the least confusing manner here.  I want my family to have somewhere to go to answer their questions about me. Because this became much about my religious thoughts, I should let you know where I am at. (I had a mental break down April 2013, I was on heavy meds for 6 months and the summer was a super dark depression, End of October, My psychiatrist let me off med. Nate lost his Job at the end of October 2013) For the two years of my husband's unemployment I was a missionary, I was temple attending, I was so Mormon.  I highlighted, made inserts for, and delivered the most beautifully given gift of a Book of Mormon to my friend.  I put it with chocolate and the message, "Just like with this chocolate bar, you have to open it to enjoy its contents. ;)" Good heavens.  I then started in on the Book of Mormon project for another friend of mine who was without a testimony of Christ, so I figured I would center focus on Him as I prepared it.  It also prompted me to write a research paper on the three witnesses- complete with bibliography at the end (We are at Summer 2014)! I didn't end up finishing this second Book of Mormon gift.  I remember vividly the moment the unemployment was finally over (less than a week before Halloween 2015).  I walked into the house and Nate lay on the couch in the living room with a look of dread.  Worried, I asked him what happened... "I was accepted for a job."  Not what I was expecting.  I wanted to celebrate, but he was so worried.  He had to leave for 3 weeks to train for his job in Arizona.  He came back to Portland just before Thanksgiving.  My thoughts were, "How peaceful, how nice to be at the end of this trial.  Everything is right." I had learned in those years which I fondly called "The crash course in discipleship" to trust God, trust that He is aware of me and has my situation in His capable and loving hands and there is so much more to it than I can see.  I thought not just, "God sees where this path is heading", but "God sees the importance of each moment in Eternity- even this really lame moment, God sees it and knows why it is here."  It gave me peace in the storm.  So, with the storm settling, and things as they should be, I felt God's favor had finally shined on us.  The peace was wonderful. Except, I had wondered about what God would do with one like me- though I tried so hard to grow and be with God, I could see that my testimony of the LDS faith had become this scarred testimony and wasn't able to catch fire in my heart the way it used to.  I struggled to feel Him near- I worked really hard for touches of love and the spirit.  I felt like I had been trying to amend the wrong I had done to God in questioning my faith. I thought the distance was due to some sin.  I was trying to work off the sin for a proper show of contrition.  I sat in my bed one night, contemplating these things and the fact I had thought that this feeling would get better once the trial had been lifted.  I had thought that connection would be restored.  I sat up in my bed, I prayed and asked God to remove the scar from my testimony and from my heart, heal it with the atonement.  I know that the atonement means there is no gap too wide that it cannot be healed.  I know that God loves me and that He wants that close relationship as much as I do.  I know that my Savior died so that gaps like this could be healed." and I went to sleep, confident that God would honor this prayer, apply the atonement and bridge the gap.  Within the week, someone commented after a testimony I left on a youtube video which cast Joseph Smith in a poor light.  A conversation began and eventually, someone encouraged me watch a video by Earl Erskine.  Earl was a former bishop, he had devoted his long life to the church and loves the members with all his heart.  He spoke so lovingly it disarmed my defenses.  He talked about the humble way he found his way out of LDS faith.  He took a challenge from the then Prophet, President Hinkley, to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year.  He finished early and picked up an 1830 version to read.  He saw huge differences in the very nature of God being portrayed.  The LDS people love their doctrines and one in particular is the belief that there is a Godhead made of three separate beings.  In the 1830 version, it says that God the very Eternal Father is the Son of Mary.  As an LDS person this should strike alarm for a number of reasons.  First, the very beginning of the church, before the Book of Mormon was The First Vision- there are a few different ways it is told, but the accepted doctrinal version in the LDS church speaks of God the Father standing next to Jesus Christ as they tell Joseph Smith that none of the churches are correct. Joseph's scribe for the Book of Mormon that we have was Oliver Cowdery.  He said is also that the seer stone would not let Joseph go from one word to the next without having it right (<--this and="" as="" authoritative="" be="" but="" church="" is="" it="" minimal="" not="" of="" on="" one="" statement="" testimony="" the="" there="" this-="" three="" u="" witnesses="" would="">the
scribe).  How is it that Joseph had translated words that spoke of a Trinitarian God if he saw them as separate beings? In fact- the first vision account we have in the Joseph Smith History part of the Pearl of Great Price is the most late written of all accounts and is the only one that speaks of two personages.  It was released shortly before the reprinting of the Book of Mormon with the now 'distinct beings' nature of God.  The importance of this is that it is not a story of a flawed, human prophet- it is the story of restored doctrine.  It is the story of central doctrinal truths being restored and then re-restored flipped on their heads.  Every piece of canon had a big restoration flaw- (but I will not go into it all here).  The question went through my mind- "Would God restore false doctrine through his prophet?" "How does 1830 Book of Mormon make sense with the first vision account? Is it Trinity or three separate beings?" In Deuteronomy 18:20-22 God protects us with a test we can administer to men who claim to be prophets.  I believe this test to be more reliable and honest than one where you feel by the spirit what to do. My argument is that because our hearts are very hard to know sometimes. How do the LDS answer for the fact people have feelings of the Spirit while reading the Quaran and that it was just as miraculously brought to Islam as the Book of Mormon was to the LDS people. I don't feel that a later work should be allowed to skip past the tests outlined in the first work.  It should also be in agreement with the first work. Happily, Brother Erskine didn't leave it there- demolition of faith done, and walk away.  He continued to lovingly express his faith in the Savior and encouragement to read the Bible.  Peace rested all around me. Fire of the Holy Spirit consumed my heart, healing the wound which had been there. "You will be ok," is the peace the spirit spoke.  A tear fell down my cheek because what was done could not be undone- my family, my dear husband would sorrow and have pain as my faith has been changed.  I felt divine love surround me.  Also, the knowledge settled in my mind- "Yes, you work hard, and yes, you are flawed, but because of Jesus Christ, you are accepted in Me." - "Accepted"!  I hadn't felt that before.  I felt striving to be good enough to earn enough faith points and the work pulls the love along behind it... this overwhelming feeling of gifted love and acceptance for my soul not because of me- anything I had done, but because God loves me... it was a powerful moment.  I felt my testimony of Christ in that moment, was gathered into the barn, and the rest of the field was burned.  This is the transformation that took place- as you will see in earlier postings in this blog, it was after long hours of study and years grappling with questions, insisting that they had an answer and trying- then a period where I felt marred -I felt my faith and striving would only take me so far.  I carried a strained relationship with God and at last I trusted him enough to let it all go and trust Him.  The feeling did not go- I felt the spirit sustaining me through the entire next year as I dealt with the huge change and I didn't want to be alone.  "Letting it go" is not as easy as singing Elsa's song and tossing up your arms.  I had once felt safe in these promises and doctrines.  They were a part of me and how I associated with the entire world around me.  It was not a light thing to let them go.  I loved them so much- but I had to come to a place of honesty in myself where I evaluated in my heart- If this is not true, why am I afraid to let it go? Perhaps I love and trust this mirage of safety more than I love and trust the truth or God.  Instead of letting go of the Joseph doctrines the first time, I clung on with all my might and it tore sanity out of me and then once my brain was back, it still had my peace with God. It wasn't until I learned to really trust the real God that I was able to let go of my attachment to Joseph's Church.  I am sorry if that story offends- it is how I understand my experience and was not written in effort to attack.  I say real because it is hard to believe anything spiritual can be real after many spiritual experiences among teachings of a false doctrine.  And so, where am I now?
I have a testimony of Christ and I try to understand the Bible and live according to the guidance I have from God.  I attend with a Nazarene church near me.  They are wonderfully welcoming and I am blessed to be able to attend with them.  My relationship with the LDS church is something I am figuring out as I go.  I still attend 3 hours on Sunday with my family.  I love and admire the people so much.  I try to balance being respectful and being honest- it usually doesn't ruffle feathers.  I don't tend to stick around for lessons on the Book of Mormon or Priesthood or Prophets or Temples or Eternal Family... because these things are not in my heart and there is nothing supportive I can say.  Sitting in a room with people who believe and are actively agreeing with statements which I have learned are not sweet and correct, it just makes me feel "other" and it stirs a pot of anger in me.  I don't want that pot stirred so I excuse myself.  I have been learning how to converse with members about "What happened".  I realize that while I don't mind answering questions- my volunteering information can be rude.  I have also learned that setting and time available are important factors in what I ought to say and if given the opportunity, I would love to pray beforehand for a spirit of love and friendship and respect and honesty to be with us that we communicate effectively what is in our hearts and no one leaves alienated.  I can tell when someone wants to consider and talk about questions and when someone wants to be right and shut it down. It is like an error message pops up on their foreheads and the information doesn't compute.- I totally get it- the current operating system in their brains is set to a certain world view and things that don't blend well- it's like a bug in a computer.  I could be better at figuring out what to do in circumstances where I can tell it is not being received well.  I want to be supportive to my LDS friends and family.  I want them to come to me with whatever question they have- whether it be, "How do I communicate effectively with my friend/family member who left the church?" or "Why does your bible look different than mine?" or "Why did you leave?"  I feel this desire to see in others the love I had for my friend- the one who left- I wanted to find answers for her and be able to defend the gospel.  From where I sit, I wonder why no one asks or cares about why I left.  This is salvation to them.  It seems to me that no one loves me like I loved my friend- I faced my fears to answer her questions.  No one loves the LDS gospel the way I loved it- even that I fought long hours trying to defend it and be there for my friend. I would love to have a real conversation- where heavy things are considered heavy and not brushed aside. It is important if for nothing else because if you truly feel I have fallen and you truly love me- then why are you ignoring the cause of my "fall"? There, My Novelette.  I list the date of leaving the LDS church as December 6, 2015.
-(In an earlier post I talked about having to be Mormon for my sanity.  Here is exactly what I was doing when my Brain broke: Non-stop for about three days, I was studying the Book of Mormon and trying to prove it right. With the knowledge of Joseph's magical practices, his polygamy and polyandry and his talismans and masonry- it felt like the spirit could speak out of anywhere and with lack of sleep and lack food which had combined for chaos in my body and mind, I broke. My family woke up the next morning to over 70 new messages on our facebook group, mysterious writings where I felt I had the gift of prophesy- it is super embarrassing and nothing like that has ever happened to me before or since.  I think the result of having my world crash the month before and trying to pick up the pieces and make them fit again- it wouldn't work and I couldn't sleep about it. Sadly, my mental moment went on for a week I think and I couldn't make it home one day while driving- so I stopped and police came and checked on me and called an ambulance to take me to the hospital.)-

Friday, October 20, 2017

Being a rock

I found this- written in fall 2014.  I read it and thought it was a good insight to where I was then.  I think my loved ones would appreciate it.
I love who I am.  I don't feel boastful saying that.  I should approve of myself.  I love how I play with and enjoy my boys, finding silly side paths to getting upset and instead being silly.  I like how honest I am.  I not only cannot tell a lie, I have to be true to my heart and my belief.  I like how diplomatic I am, and empathetic, and I care about people.  I sometimes struggle though- to figure out how I feel about a particular situation and whether I am making decisions that reflect my heart.  I sadly, don't have many close church friends right now.  The people I talk to the most are not religious.  I love them for their boldness and their insights.  I love their unveiled personalities- there are no masks of perfection.  Now, I am not generalizing all of my religious people to be mask wearing... many of them are "real", but I've had such trouble making friends- having meaningful conversations, it is as if there is a wall and if it's my fault, I wish I knew how to break through it.  I often have felt that I don't fit in well with the ladies at church.  They are so loyal and so bright eyed- it's as if there is no doubt in them- no worry, no question or wavering.  They are so shiny and good at being "Mormon".  I just think that I am not a production piece- not the piece someone would send down the runway to display the "mormon woman". How the practices of the church grow a person.  This is because I do not have the innocent sparkle- the childlike enthusiasm for whatever is asked of me or whatever I ought to believe.  I question things rationally, like- The scriptures were written by men- inspired men, but they had cultures and some of them wrote what I would consider personal beliefs that were possibly derived from their culture, but weren't accurate.  Like- Dark skin.  It is illogical to believe it is a curse.  It is logical to believe that different areas of the world with different climates raised people with varying skin tones and genomes that survive best there.  I just don't know how much of the bible (The OT specifically) is allegorical.  I struggle to understand which stories I am supposed to believe as factual and which are parables.  I seem to have an easier time finding the illogical pieces and questioning the veracity.  But that is not my purpose when I read the scriptures and I wonder how effective I can be as a missionary when I read critically.  The thing is though- I have this concept of God- who he is, isn't it who he always was?  unchangeable- whose course is one eternal round.  He seems to me to be merciful and loving, with a discerning eye for justice and discipline.  He seems lovingly involved and ever handing out wisdom and knowledge to mankind.  I know he exists.  I know that this is his church.  I feel stronger with the first of those two sentences though.  When I pray, he answers me.  He sends me dreams and people and experiences which powerfully testify of his involvement in my life.  I mean, last night I felt so confused and I wrote in my journal, said a prayer, and instantly picked up the book with the answer, felt inspired as to where to look, and found it.  It was a few paragraphs I had written about how the gospel affects growth in a person, tips for missionary work.  I also have miraculous stories- like how chidi, my hermit crab, got lost-- and I prayed to find chidi every night for months. Six months later, in the middle of winter, downstairs behind a couch, under some blankets, my chidi was alive.  And there was the time I got so buried in questions that I felt I had to leave the church and basically, I went insane.  The message from God was so clear- "Yes, you can make your choices- you can leave, but if you do, you will hurt, your brain will suffer, your heart will fear.  This is who you are and where you belong.  I need you."  I felt as though leaving tore out my center- the core of my being and I was lost and confused and my brain stopped working and my heart was scared and alone- I felt like I was trying to follow God but I couldn't find him.  I think that I cannot exist outside of this church.  I think that is for my health.  I also think that God, accompanied by many prayers of my ancestors and possibly those who will come after me combined to tell me I was important and if I left, my heart would drown in fear and sorrow, my brain would cause me anguish with depression and mania, my body would never rest, and I would be miserable.  It is not so with everyone because not everyone has had the life I have.  With greater light comes a greater responsibility and greater blessings come with greater responsibility and also greater sorrow with separation.  So here I am- I am mormon, I question things sometimes and I forget to do what I should.  I am sparkly, but not as loyal as I wish I was.  I felt as though I tried to leave and God pulled me back.  I have a friend who is spiritual but not religious.  Her presence nurtures my heart.  When I see her, I feel a sense of home and love and shelter.  I thought about her the other night when I prayed.  I thought about God... I love how I feel around my friend.  I wish I had such a relationship with God.  I wish I had that familiarity with him.  It's hard to explain- but I want to feel like 'with God is my comfortable place'. But it's hard because I cannot physically see him or touch him.  I just sense his feelings and sometimes his thoughts.  I want to be full of His light and love... I am having such trouble clearly expressing what I wanted to say.  I wanted to say- that I am trying to be a rock.  solid, immovable, sturdy in the gospel.  Also, I want to be God's... but I am not able to go about it as everyone does.  I cannot just "be believing"... I am rational and spiritual.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Good Good thoughts

I am often going about my day and a beautiful thought passes my mind- it is inspirational, profound, or just plain excellent at making it's point.  I don't generally have a list running through my mind as the day proceeds, I have philosophy and I ponder over everything and my mind holds and considers certain relevant topics to that day.  This might be the reason that I forget everything and need to write everything down.  I love this- pondering life as it plays out, it adds some depth to my communications and to my actions.  It does get distracting sometimes- sometimes the thoughts are caught up on injustice or I am distracted by the mess of the house which whispers failure to me or I wonder if I waste my time with my disorganized manner- if I am cleaning my house while ignoring more important matters or missing out on a greater purpose I might have had that day.  So, I have decided that my thoughts need a place to be collected- especially those that are inspirational, profound, or excellently put.  Here is a quote and the rather unrelated thoughts today (perhaps my thoughts will circle around back to this quote tomorrow):
Neal A Maxwell said, "The cavity which suffering carves into our souls will one day also be the receptacle of joy" I love that concept- to think that our suffering deepens our understanding of joy- not only that, but it creates a place for joy to fill in.

I am going to the temple today.  I am so excited.  As I read this morning, I remembered a testimony Lorenzo Snow shared with his granddaughter in the Salt Lake Temple.  He spoke of the place where he saw his Savior, and how Christ appeared. (connecting thoughts with Matt5:8; D&C 50:24) I thought of my life and what a consecrated life looks like.  I thought about how the temple is closed and cleaned once a year in such depth... how it already started as the cleanest building in which I have ever set foot- and it needs to be kept in the most pristine conditions.  I believe the home is to be a temple.  I had a friend over yesterday- she's a relatively new friend, so I wanted my home to be clean- as I did not know what level of cleanliness works for her comfort.  As my day filled with other things, my time to clean was shortened.  I frantically cleaned my home, noticing things I don't usually notice- like the fact my living room windows don't have curtains, or the fingerprints on the TV or the crumbs on the desk or the fact my walls needed to be cleaned... I was awakened to things which had been there all along, but all of the sudden they bothered me a lot.  I giggled nervously as I thought about how mothers have body dysmorphic syndrome about their homes... stressing about little things that no one would notice or judge them on unless they were shallow and their opinions not worth worrying about.  I thought about how when I was a teen I worried people would'nt be my friends because of how I dressed, now I worry about people not being my friends because of my home- more particularly, fingerprints on the TV & a cheerio in the corner.  How carried away my thoughts were on this thing!  Today I realized that I am like my home- I pretty much like myself, but there are certain times when I awaken and I see how I fall short.  I see the personal motive for my actions throughout the day and the lack of turning to Christ in my thoughts and purposes.  I see the missing scripture time and prayer with the family or individually and I wonder where my allegiances are and why I lust after such a slothful life, such a laid back existence... This is not what I want! I want to mean something- to use what I have...
Oh! and the most beautiful thing came to my mind... that day I had been caught up in wanting- wanting money, things, the advertised easy life on TV... I am never happy when I'm wanting.  "Man cannot serve God and mammon."  In serving God, you reject the value all of these temporal things as they are for just you and instead in them you see the potential to serve others, but you also see the value and potential for preventing suffering and providing mercy with what you already have.  It is losing yourself in God- treasuring up his kingdom.  Recognizing that the most valuable possession you have is your testimony of Christ and that is the most powerful producer of happiness in the world.  All things that distract from living in this testimony- making it a part of you- all those things produce sorrow.  The goal is desiring to be a source of mercy rather than a harbinger of things-- to put yourself in a position to give mercy rather than in the position of receiving mercy...
  So, today I clean my home, I listen to talks and strive to be a person who awakes with the motivation to live for Christ's purposes and with the fire of his spirit in my belly.  I hope that someday I might be purified in Christ, that I might see him as Lorenzo Snow did.  In that special place.  For now I continue, trying to be a source of mercy- that the atonement might work in my heart to produce a christ-like being of me.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The further evolution of scripture study

-Another old- unpublished draft- for your viewing pleasure.-
We have now given up the box thing.  The way we're doing scriptures now is, we ask the kids a question (ex: what is the most important commandment?) and we answer it by telling them a scripture story, then we ask the question again.  I like this method because it allows us to teach at their level- it might not be a straight through reading, but that's fine.  Other questions:
- Jesus told us, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" Who is your neighbor?
- How should we feel towards our enemies?
-What is the best way for us to serve God?
-What commandment comes with a promise of long life?
-Why did Jesus need to be baptized? 
-What is a virtue?
-What is the most important virtue any person can have?
-How do we show that we know and love God? (1 John 2:3-5)
-How do we find courage against our fears? (1 John 4:18)
-How can we find answers to our questions? (Matt 21:22)
-What does Baptism represent? (being born again)
-What is a soul? (D+C 88:15 Spirit and Body)
-Why did God send us to Earth?
-How can we know gospel truth? -When we hear a doctrine, how can we know whether it is from God?
-What does the sacrament represent?  What promise do we make when we take the sacrament?
-Why do we call God, "Heavenly Father"?
-Why is Christ sometimes called our Father and other times called our brother?
-Why is Christ called the good shepherd?
-How do we find hope in Christ?
-What is the mission/job of the Holy Ghost?
-Faith enables God to work miracles in our lives.  What is Faith?  How do we strengthen our Faith?
-Christ sat with his disciples around a fire.  He asked Peter if he loved him.  Peter answered that He did.  Jesus then told him to feed his sheep.  What does it mean to feed His sheep? How does that show our love for Jesus?
-Does God love us when we sin?
Anyways, I have really enjoyed this method.  It helps us think about the scripture rather than just read it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Update on Scripture study with the kids

With experience comes wisdom.  I am finding that the system with the boxes is more effective than the pictures of Christ which relate to parts of His divine mission.  The kids like putting things in the boxes- sometimes I'm more prepared than other times- once I had laminated word sheets, another time I had printed out pictures, and most of the time I write things in a notebook as we go and rip it out so they can place it in a box.  It is so simple and it's working great.  The current boxes are "Beware Sin", "Blessings from following Christ/How Jesus feels about us", "Following Christ", & "Names & Attributes of Christ".  It's going very well.  The kids are interacting and they enjoy scripture time.  It's very easy to review what we've learned too.  You just go through a box.  :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Christ focused scripture study ~ Preparing for baptism

I am preparing my 7 year old for baptism (when he turns 8 he will get to make this decision).  I feel like there are certain things that he should feel in his heart when he decides to get baptized.  I don't want it to be my day- I want it to be his day.  I want him to remember years later how he felt when he made the decision & how special that day was for him.  I remember my baptism.  I was 8.  I know that 8 year olds are still children, with a lot to learn about the world.  However, they are old enough to know right from wrong and to make choices and be held accountable and they are at an age of responsibility.  I remember how I felt.  I was excited.  I thought about the idea of my sins being washed away.  I had seen my friends and my older sister get baptized.  I thought about the fact that I was following Christ.  I knew that I would then be a representative of His church.  I was excited about every bit of it and I knew the responsibility I was accepting.  I did not know much about the spirit- other than that He witnesses truth to us.  People had talked about "offending" the spirit.  I had heard that you could receive warnings, promptings, inspiration, comfort... etc... I had felt the witness of the Holy Ghost- like a glow of love and light in my heart, and I had felt comforted, but I hadn't experienced the other things.  They said He would be a constant companion to me after my baptism.  I wasn't sure what that would be like.
Oh! how I love remembering that day!  My older sister was so excited for me. I remember when I felt that glow in my heart.  It was familiar to me. When all the fuss was over, I still felt that warmth in my heart.  I remember feeling it for an extraordinary amount of time.  It alarmed me to a degree, that it didn't dissipate.  I feel so blessed to have these memories.  I want my son to be prepared.  I want him to know what Baptism means, I want him to know what it means to make that sacred covenant.  I want him to be able to recognize the feelings of the Spirit.  I made some goals and as we progress, I find new inspiration to help me prepare my son.  My first goal was to read the Book of Mormon and the New Testament and have a few key lessons with Josh at home about baptism.  We're progressing in our scripture study.  The other night I read a remarkable testimony of Christ by President Joseph Feilding Smith.  As I read, I could feel the sincerity of his words and how deeply struck his testimony was in his heart.  I pondered over it for a moment and thought about my own testimony.  I had in my head, goals about helping Joshua know about the peripherals in the church- the plan of salvation, priesthood, the restoration, all of the things about the Book of Mormon prophets...  but I realized that those are not the things I was excited about on my baptism.  They were indeed cool, but I was excited about the core- I was excited to take part in the atonement Christ made for me.  So, I made this study plan to prepare my son with a fervent testimony rooted deep in Christ.
It is something we will do as we read the scriptures to help the kids interact with them and understand them in a more tangible way.
1. The Mission of Christ
(These are picture cards which we will use to show what part of His mission He is fulfilling as we read)
      T- Teacher/ Governor -This is when Christ is telling us the law and consequences
      H- Help/Comforter - This is the personal help and comfort he offers each of us.
      E- Exemplar- This will be expressed beautifully as we cover his life.  The light of example.
      M- Mediator/Redeemer- This deals with the sacrifice he made for us and the intercession he
                                          continues to make for us. The Mercy.
      C- Creator - He created the Earth & our physical bodies, he is still creating us spiritually.
2. Following Christ
     A. Christlike Attributes -A jar in which we put attributes of Christ as we come across them.
     B. Footsteps -This is an application idea- where we have examples of ways Joshua can follow                   Christ in his life. It will contain commandments. It will be printed on footstep shaped paper.
3. How Jesus Feels about me, Promises, and Blessings from following Him.
     This is a Heart themed pouch in which we put scripture quotes & such about the Love & Promises.
4. Beware Bucket
     This is where we put the warnings.  This will also contain commandments, but it will be the "avoiding sin" category rather than a "righteous acts" category as in the above under 'Following Christ'.

As you probably noticed, some of these things will be connected.   As He shows an example and what we are to do, we will have attributes to put in the jar footsteps to follow (part 2 above).  As Christ speaks help and comfort to us, we will have things to put in the heart pouch (part 3 above).  As He Teaches/Governs, we will be able to put things in the Beware Bucket (part 4 above).

This is, as yet, an untested scripture aid.  However, I'm optimistic about the outcome.  I'm hoping it will help engage the kids in the reading and help them gain a testimony of Christ and feel His love and know what He desires for them.  As a mother, I love my kids with all my heart...  Sometimes I don't think my heart is big enough for the love I feel for my boys.  I remember how my own mother's love protected me from making bad choices. However full and profoundly I love my dear little ones, I know they also need to know the love of their Heavenly Parents and their Savior.  In my wonderful love for my kids, I still make mistakes and find the end of my rope of patience. I want them to have a source of perfect love to rely on when my love isn't enough or when they question my love for them.  In God's love, he won't make mistakes and he won't lose his patience with them.  I feel like I could try to teach them a thousand other things and they would all fall flat if they didn't know about the love behind it all. I'm very excited about this plan.  I feel we all will benefit from the Christ centered- application oriented study.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Prayer & Authority on the Spectrum of Christianity

I want to tell you all the reasons I love prayer.  This week I had a wonderful opportunity to visit with two churches aside from my own. Everyone prays in their own way and has their own beliefs about prayer.  The first group I met with has a strong belief in "Gifts of the Spirit".  The minister's wife got up on stage after the rockband music and she pointed out a few sisters in the group who were in need of special blessings.  It was heart warming to see these sisters surrounded by their church family who put their hands on the shoulders of the woman in the center and prayed for her.  What a beautiful message of support!  To hear how these women pray for you and to even be encircled about by their prayers.  Now, I did not participate because I anticipated the next thing.  Suddenly the room was loud with mumblings- I think they call them "prayer tongues".  Anyways, with the minister's wife over the speaker mumbling and all the mumbling surrounding each of these women in need I wasn't comfortable- so I left.  I think they are wonderfully good people, but they do not understand the gifts of the spirit.  I have actually been prayed over by one of these women and she did not break into tongues over me.  It was a lovely experience.  We talked some about her beliefs because she & those of her church believe strongly in commanding things to happen in their prayers.  They do it all in the name of Jesus- so I asked (non-direct quote), "How do you know what the will of God is concerning these things?"  I did not ask it flippantly- I was genuinely curious about that belief.  The ladies responded that God does not want us to suffer- so if we have a trial, His will is always to take it away. I told them of the value I saw in the wisdom and compassion gained from the trials of life and how I felt it was a part of the purpose of life to experience trials and some of those trials would not be lifted until after this life.  We respectfully disagreed about it.  They are a curious people though- there is definitely a spectrum of what Christianity means to people.  Christ is a vastly different person/God from one set of beliefs to another. I also found it funny how we pulled a completely different main word out of a scripture which was discussed during the bible study, "For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith."  Mark 11:23.  So, when asked about this scripture- what was it about?  I said Faith.  They all agreed is was "saith". It bespeaks to their belief in commanding things to happen (which is not of itself a bad belief). They are a good people- just odd & some times when they're speaking English- it's as if it's a different English & I wish I had a good translation for it because I'm lost.  It's like Christian Jive. There is a peculiar pattern of speech and a lot of jargon.  (If you don't know "Jive" it comes from a comic movie called "Airplane"- it's supposedly an African-American English Dialect.  If you see it & you've heard the Christian Jive- it's totally fitting. you can check it out on youtube).  
Anyways, the other people I met with were the 7th Day Adventists.  I immediately felt at home when I walked in.  It was a modest old church building with a smell and a carpet that reminded me of the old church building I went to church in before we got a standard LDS chapel.  There was even an upper room tabernacle and some good pieces of Christian artwork which reminded me of "the good ole' days", it felt like a step back in time.  I love these people.  They are rather chill.  There was no fancy lighting or fanatical minister.  I wasn't able to attend service with them- just bible study.  People welcomed me and commented on their uniqueness of having a Saturday service- they seemed rather happy about that fact.  Other people who met me commented that they loved it there because everything was bible centered.  The Bible study had an ominous start.  The guy who had "prepared" the lesson didn't look prepared or very interested at first.  We sat in the upper tabernacle- a balcony that overlooked the rest of the chapel.  The man teaching the lesson delayed and delayed, but we eventually started. He opened the study book as if he hadn't cracked it open before that moment.  He had some trouble deciding where to start, and I wondered if maybe the other classes had a more interested teacher.  However, a short while later I found myself in the most wonderful discussion.  These people had a thrilling spiritual autonomy that was missing at the "church of tongues".  They loved the bible- they knew the gospel of Christ.  When they were asked a question, the most beautiful answers came from every person.  They spoke my English!  It was a wonderful experience to hear these people preach and learn even by the same spirit that I preach and learn.  The divine presence of the Holy Spirit is with those people when they discuss the scriptures.  I thoroughly enjoyed conversing with them and hearing their insights on scripture, faith, prayer, and authority.
Now, Authority is something that came up among both groups.  The first group spent a long time on it and they emphasized how obedient and submissive you were supposed to be to your pastor.  I feel somewhat guilty for this, but I call it a "Bubble-Eyed Sheep" type of flock.  At the "Church of tongues" every person who came up to me to say why they liked it there (at least 5 people)- said, "Pastor Bob is anointed." or they commented on the wife being anointed.  I was actually confused by this- in what manner have they been anointed?  They talked about the safety they felt for being part of this flock... that they weren't to doubt anything the pastor or his wife said... I asked them about where authority came from- they got very confused and I tried to explain my question- as it went along with the lesson.  "So, they use the word government which creates a parallel between the government of the church and the government of a nation.  If any person decided to form a police force, formed in the name of stopping crime, they would have good intentions, but no authority.  They would be imprisoned for undermining the authorized police force... so, how do you know who has the authority to govern the church of Christ?" To continue:  Wouldn't it be easy for a person to lead many astray as a wolf in sheep's clothing- professing to be doing everything with authority and in the name of Christ, but not having it?  It is easy to get confused between the feelings of your heart and the feelings of the spirit.  This creates a need for spiritual autonomy and a need for proper lines of designating Authority.  I think it is better to meet as the Seventh Day Adventists- not claiming authority of themselves, but only claiming to seek the spirit's guidance as they open the word together and discuss and pray to know the Lord's interpretation individually, and it's ok to not have the same answer.  This is so much better than have it taught to them as a collective and taking everything at face value.  The Adventists said the only authority was in the word (The bible).  They also loved the Old Testament (another thing that puts them on the cool side of unique among Christians- some Christians just want to throw the OT in the bin).  Perhaps I missed something because I left early to attend to my other Saturday plans, but I felt the wonderful, familiar light of the Spirit with the people of that church.  I wish I had a tape recorder with me- very cool people. I will be back.  This is all pretty funny coming from a Mormon- how joyous I am about the 7th Day Adventists.  I love their parenting philosophy.  I love their mellow excitement.  I know about 3 things about them- so it's not a change of religion happening here.  I am just so pleased that they know my Christ.  So high fives to you Adventists who might happen upon my blog- y'all are a breath of fresh air.  If perchance you find your Sunday without plans, take a moment to bridge a gap between you and your local Mormons.  You might find you have a lot of cool similarities & they will likely enjoy your insights.
What are my thoughts on prayer and Authority as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?  well- We believe that all Authority must come from Christ.  We believe the scriptures to be the word of God.  The Scriptures are authorized by Christ because He called those prophets and gave them the authority to lead His people and write His word, prophecies, and commandments.  We believe that Christ appeared to Joseph Smith.  We believe that those OT prophets who had the priesthood and the keys of authority from Christ also visited Joseph and conferred those things upon him.  Does that mean that I am a bubble eyed sheep?  I certainly hope not!  I sincerely seek for myself a witness of all things that are taught to me.  I seek my personal understanding of the scriptures.  If something taught in the church does not align with my heart- I discuss it with God.  I patiently wait his answers & I do not completely obey what is not in my heart. I can have faith- but it is put there by the Spirit.  I am willing to test out certain doctrines to see if they produce that same Spirit that I know to be of God.  My Faith will not be renovated by any force other than the Spirit of God.  I claim the privilege of praying to my almighty God.  I know He hears and answers me.  I am so grateful that in prayer, I can gain a greater knowledge of God's thoughts and His will concerning me & my issues.  Such beautiful wisdom and peace and perspective!  Such light and joy!  When I pray with a question, I pour my thoughts and feelings out to God- I listen, I check my understanding, and continue to tell him how I think and feel about the things I understand by the spirit- (those answers I might be receiving from Him).  I do not want to be receiving my own human wisdom- this process weeds out my wisdom and leaves between me and God an alignment of thinking and feeling & a more complete answer.  Sometimes there is not an answer ready for me and I have to settle for a comfort that God will send the answer in good time.  I know that God loves you and me.  I know He answers prayers and He values a personal relationship with us- His children.  <3 p="">