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

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="">

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How History and Faith collide

Last year I left my church.  I also returned. To make it short- I left over historical muck & I had very valid reasons.  That is a long story which I will also share- but not here.  My purpose now is to talk about coming back- the things I learned about from this experience (of which I am terribly ashamed).  Originally I came back after researching some passages in the Bible which talk about things in the Millennium or the second coming of Christ.  Those scriptures (mainly Malachi 3 & 4) talked about how to find Christ's church before the Millennium- that we would bring tithes into the storehouse, that there would be a temple, that there would be "Levites" (or temple workers/priesthood holders), and there would be a herald to prepare the way before His coming.  The commentaries online had 3 interpretations for this.  1. The temple was Christ in the Meridian of time. (I accept this as one interpretation, in the scriptures there are often a few interpretations that prove viable for the same verse). 2. The temple was an actual stone temple in the Millennial Day.  (This is supported when you take out the chapter breaks and realize they are talking about the final days).  3. There might have been another interpretation about the temple being in our hearts.  So, I had concluded that the pattern shown in the meridian of time- with a herald going before Christ, was a divine pattern which had been repeated for the second coming- to prepare the world.  This acknowledgement only solved one issue for me though- it said that I had a testimony of temples and a testimony that Joseph was a herald (He having had a visit from Elias- John the Baptist as part of the restoration)- but so many things about his life and some of the things he did were too weird to shove into my heart to fill the gap between those two items.  Which had me wondering again and again- Why would a God let all of this muck surround the beginnings of His restorative work on the Earth?  This All knowing God seems pretty foolish.
The beginning of that answer comes by great patience and humility.  "The wisdom of God is foolishness to men" (1 Cor 1:18,25; 2:14).
 Lets start at the beginning- God created an Earth and sent us here to learn, to grow, and to test our hearts.  By tests we are made strong.  In this fallen world, we find many things to grow strong against.  One of the key characteristics of our journey here is our ability to choose & have faith in things we don't see.  So, we find the wisdom of God in (his allowance of historical muck & lack of scientific evidences for His work) because:
1. Life = A Heart Test- Not a Mind Test:  In the final judgement, God will look on the state of our hearts- not the wealth of knowledge we have obtained.  Our first purpose here is to love God with all our hearts- to be sanctified by His Holy Spirit, to follow Christ.  Knowledge is good, it will stay with us forever & continually bless us.  However, when I say this life is a heart test- not a mind test, I mean that it is to feel and know by your spirit that Jesus is the Christ- to trust your spirit which "comprehends things that man cannot comprehend for the spirit is of God & understands Godly things"(not a direct quote- 1 Cor 2:10),  over your personal research and logic.  As humanity, we know so much! Yet, there is so much that we do not know- We have only scratched the surface of science and history and obtainable knowledge. This means we can acknowledge our limited information and listen to the Spirit.  Instead of proving faith is viable logically- by finding archaeological/scientific evidence and then exercising it. We know by God that Jesus is the Christ, that this is His church. " Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
2. Choice & Faith: God is loving and He is wise in that love.  He does not want to have our devotion by any means other than by faith.  If we follow him because Archaeology and History prove He is God & Jesus is our Savior & our minds cannot say otherwise- then of what value is our conversion?  We don't believe because he touched our hearts- but because he convinced our minds.  Therefore, he gives our minds considerable evidence to make the choice for ourselves whether we trust Him or our own reasoning.  When we came to this Earth, did we come with a memory of Heaven? No.  God placed a veil over our memories so that we could be tested in another way... perfecting another part of our being.  If we know, we have no reason to have faith.  Faith is a belief in things hoped for and not seen.  The scriptures are full of explanations on how one builds faith.  None of those examples says that you have to find historical evidence to back it up and if you don't find that evidence, abandon your faith.  Instead, it says that your evidences will be felt and seen with spiritual eyes.  On occasion after you have exercised faith, you will also experience miracles & that will also serve as your evidence.
3. Judging God by the things of God and not by the flaws of men.  It is very possible God works through flawed means to bring about great things.  "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise" (Alma 37:6).  He uses flawed humans and sometimes even the imperfect means that they have of accessing Him to do His work. When God chooses a prophet, that man is not perfect.  He is not the Christ, he is an imperfect man.  There are expectations we have about who God should choose.  People also had expectations about what Christ should be like; the humility of His humanity in his mortal ministry offended them.  God can preserve an imperfect thing through time and bring an imperfect prophet to restore it to it's godly design (temples).  He never has a perfect set of everything on Earth to work with.  I believe also that no mortal hand can stay the work of God.  It is His work and He has preserved all of the important pieces for us.  Of all things to preserve on this Earth, His word is most precious.  God works with many imperfections, but He is perfect.
4. History is a mystery: we have so much information about History- we have journals, documents, We know facts about what happened then!  Nevertheless, we do not have neither will we ever have a complete picture.  There are the ways each person experiences the same historical event- there are missing pieces in every story.  What if those are the vital pieces that would make a weird story make sense?  Acknowledge how little we know about history! Even how little you know about your own personal history!  How many times have people judged you and been wrong about your motives or character?  How often have you had stories told about you that were fictional? Even the smallest part being an assumption or filler detail makes the story a work of fiction in some manner. BUT! what about our eternal source of truth?  Surely when we pray, the true story will be revealed.   -This is not so easily done.  The reason is, Historical questions are complicated- the most complicated to receive an answer from your heart to your head.  Also, is the purpose of God to answer all of our historical questions or is it to bring us to Heaven?  Which questions will He place priority on?  ones that satisfy our minds or our spirits?  Sometimes the two meet- I had such a wonderful blessing fall in my lap- I had prayed with fervency for God to answer my historical questions.  They were affecting my Spirit & I wanted to know if I could trust Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God.  One day in church a lady invited whomever would come with her to a fireside which was given by the in-church authority on Joseph Smith.  This man had worked extensively on publishing the Joseph Smith papers and he wrote his own book on Joseph Smith.  "Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling".  It was a small fireside.  The man was in town for his grandson's baptism.  I think He was in town for me.  I am after all, God's favorite child and he organized the universe around my salvation... at least, that's how I think sometimes.  He talked about the relationship between Joseph and Emma- it was good to hear this.  It was wonderful to hear from a man who loved the church and spoke well of Joseph as many of Joseph's close associated had & He explained a character for Joseph that seemed to fit very well with the history.  He acknowledged the odd stories and didn't seek to 'make' an explanation for them- but to 'discover' the explanation for them.  He did not answer all of my questions, but he answered the most important one (I also forgot to ask him my questions); I believe this man knows the character of Joseph. After he spoke of that relationship between Joseph nad Emma and the struggles the two of them faced and the decisions Joseph made... He opened the floor to questions!  I loved the answers He gave- I was so grateful I could hardly think of anything to ask Him after the fireside- I just thanked him and thanked God for him.  God knows what is important to you.  To me- Honesty is a great driving force in my life.  I am not only a terrible liar, I'm terrible at holding close to anything that seems to have shadows of untruth.  I didn't want to lie to myself- to cover up things that were un-fitting.  I felt my heart needed some historical answers to satisfy it's desire for honesty.  I wanted answers so that I could defend the church- if not to anyone else, to myself.  I live on honesty & on truth... you have no idea how frightening it was to be unsettled- to feel I was without a place to stand.  Character is something that is understood from heart to heart.  There are hints to it in some places in History- in journal accounts where people describe the type of man He was.  It was nice to have this man, brother Bushman, shine a light on the character of Joseph Smith.
So, this is my belief.  This is why I am still Mormon.  It's not only those explanations... but it is also the many tests I have given to this gospel throughout my life.  It is the product of this faith that is remarkable- it produces a people who are unafraid of knowledge- they seek it out and they prosper and they are also full of faith.  The pattern usually goes that as one increases in knowledge, they decrease in Faith.  It is not so in my Church.  People are excited not because of their ignorance but because of the wealth of their knowledge & understanding.  They have autonomy & encouragement to discover truth in their hearts and to know it for themselves.  This is a personal journey for all people & it is yours and it is mine.  I love the autonomy of spirituality I have in this church.  I love the joy it pours into my life.  I love the flurry of blessings & the virtue it pours into my heart.  I love how it shapes my character.  How it teaches me to love, to be good to others and to find qualities I don't have- like ambition!  I love the knowledge that God is involved in my life.  It is the most comforting knowledge!  He knows me & He is still creating me in His image and He is preparing great things for me!  Because I have Him, I have someone to thank for the light and love my children share with me.  Someone to thank for the perfectly suited for me husband... the perfect way in which we found each other & fell in love.  I have a testimony that there is a God in Heaven.  He is the creator and organizer of the universe.  He loves me.  He sent His perfect son to die for me.  He shines His love on my heart and on my life.  The love of God is unlike anything found in this world.  It is ennobling, it fills your soul with light and joy.  It changes your desires. This love, it is real and perfect and stronger than any other love.  When it fills you it becomes a part of you.  I bear this testimony to you in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Financial Woes & Solutions

Our budget, like many, is tight.  Sometimes so tight it has holes in it.  Since we have moved into this amazing home, our "housing" payment went down, but we also added a new member of the family and there are at times, costs to owning a home.  Here is where we're at.  We have a lovely secluded room which is the entirety of the second floor.  It has it's own bathroom with a shower, jacuzzi tub, and great natural lighting.  We go for months without stepping foot in that room.  I want to rent it out to solve our financial problems.  My husband is not keen on the idea of inviting a "stranger" to live with us.  I have work to do to convince him... mainly organizing my kitchen and keeping the living areas at top level for a month (oy).  

Our second option is me.  I have a massage studio and a massage license.. I have not gone fishing for clients yet though- which is silly, but I am apprehensive... I've never self promoted before and I also don't want to have people think I am more of a miracle worker than I am.  That's silly.  I'm really amazing at what I do & sometimes what I do is miraculous.  Confidence is 70% of the battle.  If others are confident in you & see your confidence, they let their knots loosen.  If they are not confident in you, it will be hard for them to let go of their knots.  Let them know they are in good hands- the best hands.  So, I need to get a sitter.  Someone to watch my kids one day a week for a month so I can go fishing.  Ideally if massage business gets going, my day would be: Be a mom until 7. @ 7pm be a massage therapist until 9ish.  I plan on offering my clients water and a healthy snack.  I only do one massage a night.  Ideally I will only work 3-4 nights a week.  I am now charging $60.  Ideally I want to charge $70, but I have to gain a few Massage therapist points before increasing the price- like add hot stone & some ambiance.  So, that would ideally make 720-1120/month.  After thinking about this, I want to do both... but I definitely ought to work on my practice. (If you're wondering why massages cost so much here are some things to consider: 1. It is manual labor and most massage therapists only work for 5 years or less in many cases because of injury [ex: tendinitis]. 2. Skill & time- each skill costs something to acquire & increases the value of your time. 3. Maintaining practice costs -taxes, oil, sheets, laundry, cost of space, Continuing Education requirements to keep license.)

Personal Plug: I do not put an hour limit on your massage.  The price is per massage.  I only do one a night to make sure you get the most I can offer as a therapist.  I do Swedish, Deep Tissue, Trigger point release, Reflexology, and Acupressure.  I have these "Gua Sha" cups which instead of painfully squeezing the blood out of knots, use suction to create an antipressure in which there is space for blood to freely run through and take away toxins and nourish the tissue.  My cups are unique.  They twist instead of needing fire or pumping.  It creates a nice accuracy in practice.  I have my own space to work in.  It is the perfect place to relax and heal. You are my purpose.  With a love of massage and a love for my clients, I offer the best.  Walk in as a human, leave as a noodle.

Inspiration: For some odd reason, good Bollywood movies inspire me a lot.  Another thing that inspires me is the thought of having a little girl some day.  My dreams inspire me.  There is so much I want for my family and myself.  There is so much good we could do if only we were more provident and self-sustaining.  I also want to help people- to provide the best service I can & improve their lives.