Followers

Do I Trust God Or Not?

This is what it all comes down to - when life is hard, when I can't understand something, when I think THIS way has got to be the better way I have to ask myself -

Do I trust God or not?

Sometimes I get so frustrated by life or feel bogged down by how things are. I really feel President Hinckley best summed up what life is like:

“Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride”

When there are delays, sidetracks, smoke, etc. do I have enough faith to trust God, that those things are a necessary part of life?  And while the difficulties may be the larger part of the journey, the beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed will make a large part of the difficulties worth it. And for those it doesn't, can I trust Him that at the end of this mortal journey, when I can see the big picture I will be able to easily say, "Yes it was all worth it."


I've also been thinking alot about trusting God when there are things in the gospel vs the world or human nature that I don't understand or cannot explain. I don't understand why exactly the priesthood was restricted from black men. I don't know why some people love those of their same gender. I don't understand why exactly plural marriage was commanded in the early days of the Church and why exactly Joseph Smith Jr married some of the women he did.

The thing is, there will always be things to cause us to question. We will never understand everything especially things in history since we are applying our knowledge and understanding of now. We also are finite beings that cannot comprehend all of the things of God at this time.

Will all things be revealed at some point?  Yes

Will it all be clear? Yes

Do we have to live by faith now? Yes

And this is where it matters in asking yourself - Do I trust God or not?
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Why The Definition of Marriage Matters

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I believe strongly that marriage is and should be between a man and a woman. Recently the Supreme Court decided not to hear arguments on the validity of same-sex marriages performed in Utah, which means as of right now, according to the government they are legal.

First, I want to state that different views and beliefs do not constitute bigotry, hatred or unkindness toward anyone. Read my blogpost "Bigoted? Prejudiced? Hateful? My Take On Gay Marriage" for a more in depth discussion about how disagreement should and can work. I strive to love all people regardless of any factors or things that are different from me. I can disagree and still show kindness and love.

Today I wanted to explain WHY I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman only and my understanding of the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It isn't because I'm narrow minded, think homosexuality is a disease, that same-sex couples will raise deviant children, want to deny people their "rights" or any of the other things proponents of "traditional" marriage have been accused of believing.

There is a two-fold purpose for why we are here on Earth - to gain a physical body, which provides a unique learning experience and environment that couldn't be obtained in a spiritual form only. This life is then for us to learn and grow in our physical body and to see what choices we will make during this time. We believe we lived before this life - in heaven with our Heavenly Parents and the whole human family. They are the "parents" of our spirits. However, we do not have recollection of this for the purpose of this time on Earth being a test: who will we choose to become and what choices will
we make when faced with challenges and difficulties.

The other purpose is to form families - the family unit is a core foundational unit of the entire gospel and the church's doctrine. This purpose is where the majority of the weight falls for my defense of marriage being between a man and a woman. One of the main purposes of LDS temples is to seal a husband and wife together for this life but also beyond. We believe families are eternal and what makes up eternity is our continued growth and progression beyond this life. We believe we can become like God is and will some day be gods and goddess with eternal posterity like God has now with us.

So marriage isn't just about today or now or even this life. It is about what eternity means and what we believe Heavenly Father wants for us in the eternities - to have eternal families with eternal posterity. Same-sex marriage completely undermines the entire foundation of the doctrine of eternal families. It is IMPOSSIBLE for two men or two women to have children biologically. That is an indisputable fact. In this life of course many heterosexual couples are unable to have children, but we believe that after this life our bodies will be perfected so that will no longer be an issue.

Now you may disagree with that foundation to begin with, but understanding the WHY of our defense of marriage being between a man and woman goes to the very core of our beliefs and is a much larger and complex issue and has nothing to do with denying rights or being bigoted or prejudiced.

Some may ask then, why God would allow people to have these feelings if they could never act on them without being condemned in the eternities?

That is a great question and I think no one can answer that completely. But there are some things I do know.

Every single one of us face challenges - things that tear at our very core and that feel like a weight greater than we can bear. Why do bad things happen to people in this life? Why would we be faced with feelings and emotions we were never supposed to act on?

Its a thing we call agency - or choice - we are here in this life to make choices. All of which will shape who we will become. Despite what society seems to encourage today, self-control and/or self-denial is not a bad thing and true happiness is not just about what we perceive that to be right now in mortality. Personal growth comes from making choices that are difficult for us. If we are to become like God, we need ALOT of growth of shaping. Heavenly Father wants to see if we will choose Him even when it is EXTREMELY hard.

One thing I do know beyond a doubt though is that Jesus Christ is my and your personal Savior. The Atonement is infinite - it has the power to strengthen us, change us, support us beyond what we can even comprehend. THIS is how you make it through choices and feelings that seem impossibly hard.

I also know beyond a doubt that Heavenly Father loves us and that He knows what true happiness is. Heavenly Father doesn't want us to be unhappy or face heartache beyond what is necessary for our growth and learning. And my understanding of eternity means that I stand firm and strong in defense of marriage between a man and woman.

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There Is No Such Thing As Coincidence

I don't believe in coincidence....at all...not one little bit.

I believe in a Heavenly Father that loves and knows us. He doesn't micro-manage us and the sometimes seemingly "small" aspects of our lives.

But because I know all things are present to the Lord, I believe the very threads that make up each of our lives, don't happen by chance and you don't just HAPPEN to end up with a picture at the end.

I love thinking of Heavenly Father as the Master Weaver - putting into place all the threads we need to become the very best we can become. To be changed into something even more divine. We came to this earth with divinity in each of us as we are spirit children of our Heavenly Father, but to become perfected required a mortal body and this mortal experience.

He knows each of us intimately and knows EXACTLY the things we need to become the best we can - both the happy moments but the sad and heartbreaking.


This is one of my all time favorite songs that illustrates this perfectly.

video


And it is amazing when you are able to see a thread placed so masterfully in your life that you couldn't see it until afterwards but then suddenly it was SO clear.

Earlier this week I had an experience that showed this so clearly to me. I had made a decision to proceed a certain direction in an interaction with someone. I had decided I was going to state that I was going to go the direction I usually had previously in similar type of interactions. But then some things happened in a certain way that changed that interaction I had all planned out in my mind. The outside circumstances and situations, exactly as they happened, influenced and changed this other interaction.

Perhaps by chance? I don't believe in coincidence.

Because then today I had realized the entire interaction with this person hadn't been "typical" in a number of ways. The funny thing is I had been slightly annoyed by it NOT working as I would have wanted or expected. BUT that had been for the better. Things are working out differently in such a way that I think something that hadn't been possible before or allowed to develop because of circumstances might now happen.

Sometimes it blows my finite mind, since we cannot see the entire picture right now, even if we think we can, how the Lord is intricately placing the threads in our lives that will create a masterpiece of us all.

Of course we can reject the threads - I don't believe in fatalism - in fact we all do at one time or another. Yet because the Lord is omniscient, when we do reject them, its not like, "Oh crap NOW the picture is totally going to be messed up!!"

He knows 

He knows what is best. He knows us. He knows what we can become.

There is no such thing as coincidence because the Lord knows all and He loves us all, more than we can comprehend. My life matters to Him. His entire work and glory is to bring to pass my immortality and eternal life. And yours and the person down the street and my neighbor and the people I don't know living halfway across the world. All of them.

He is the Master Weaver.
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Live Inconveniently: Some Thoughts on Becoming More Christ-like

As human beings we like what we know - regardless of whether it is actually good for us - if it has become comfortable we tend to become very unwilling to let it go or to change. We LOVE convenience and work very hard to only keep things in our lives that are convenient.


While perhaps a slightly extreme example the following illustrates my point very clearly. I worked for over 3 years with victims of domestic violence. I talked, interacted and learned from more people than I could count. One common statement/question victims would hear and I would hear when explaining I worked with domestic violence was, "Why don't they just leave?" Now there isn't one answer that is the entire reason but for many victims I talked to, often an underlying reason they didn't leave is because it was what they had come to know. In a sense it was what they were "comfortable" with. And it seemed SO much easier in many ways to just stay then to try and leave.

All of us live this way in some area(s) or aspects of our life. Too often it becomes the only way we live. We deal with change when it is forced on us, but for anything else, we fight tooth and nail to keep our "comfortableness." We want convenience!

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the things I think about very often is how I can become more like the Savior. While our belief is that this life is to come here to earth to experience mortality, we came to experience mortality to learn and be changed to become like the Savior. So I ponder frequently about where I am at, where I want to be, what the Lord is trying to teach me each day, and how my experiences, with the help of the Atonement can change me to be more like Him.

Over time I have learned that a huge thing "becoming" requires is a willingness to

Live Inconveniently

The Savior did NOT live conveniently. He lived and loved when it was hard and when He had every reason not to. He gave His time when He could have chosen to do other things. He loved people completely and fully, not just those that society said were "acceptable" to love. The scriptures teach us that He grew grace by grace, which means He would have faced times and things that were not comfortable to Him. But he didn't shy away. He embraced the inconvenience and uncomfortableness.

Most interesting to me is how this seems to be a much bigger struggle for members of the church than those who are not, though it is an area we probably all could be better at. Too often we may fall into the trap of thinking because we are members of the church, have participated in certain ordinances, that we now just have to "get by," coasting along until the end. But becoming Christ-like is a lifelong and something we must ACTIVELY engage. And it will not be easy.

Here are some good questions to ask yourself to see where you are at:

Do you let people into your life only up to the point that is convenient for you?

Do you embrace things that are uncomfortable - coming to an understanding for yourself of why it is uncomfortable and being willing to stick with it, knowing uncomfortable doesn't mean bad?

Are you willing to create space for people in your life - embracing fully the challenges, growth and learning that can come from differences?

Are you willing and do you seek to learn from others?

In life are you going through the motions, or are you engaged deeply, accepting that life will hurt sometimes, and that different is often hard for at least a time?

How important is it to you, that things be the way you want them to be, and you leave, run away, turn your back on things, when they aren't exactly that way?

Do you MAKE time for things and people, not just take time?

Are you afraid of people that ask you hard questions?

Do you actively seek change?

An analogy often used in church is that of a tree - that when it faces winds frequently, the roots go deeper and it becomes more fully rooted in its spot, while also being more flexible to bend. This is a great analogy but I think misses an important aspect of becoming. Becoming requires seeking - we can't just wait for and deal with the winds when they come. We are actively engaged meaning sometimes it is as if we are seeking out the winds. If the Savior had just waited around, I'm sure alot of things would have just come to Him. But He went out seeking and always striving to know and do the Father's will.

We become as we are challenged and not just by the challenges we choose or are forced on us, but the challenges we don't run away from because we can. We strive to live inconveniently.



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"En Guard!" - On Defending, Faith and Who's Right

Challenging discussions are great, in my mind, because they make you really look at where you stand. And the only way you can be secure in where you are standing is by being aware of why you stand there.

Last night I had a great discussion with my friend and her husband who I had gone to visit. You know the joke that you should avoid religion and politics if you want to have a polite discussion?

Nah! Avoiding those topics are for sissies :P So we jumped right in and and a good discussion, which gave me alot to think about.

I really feel there are some heavy misconceptions of what it means to defend our faith and how we really do that.

 I have a firm testimony and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and specifically in the gospel as taught and outlined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though I grew up in the Church I had a falling away period, which then gave me the opportunity to really come to know for myself - outside of family, culture and and other pressure. I believe there is right and wrong and absolute truths. But I also confess to not knowing the meaning of all things - I cannot always explain why some things are the way that they are, when juxtaposed against absolute truths I wholeheartedly believe in.

For example, as stated in The Family: A Proclamation to the World it states, "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose." I believe gender is eternal, but I can also freely admit to not understanding then why life and who they are for those that are transgendered, is the way that it is. I cannot dismiss them as simply being confused or brainwashed - having interacted with a number of transgendered individuals, I have witnessed the difficulty and confusion.

Thus, I can stand and/or defend my beliefs without condemning people simply because I have no right to condemn anyone. Christ will be the judge because He can judge perfectly and knows the thoughts, intents, desires, and experiences of each of us. And this is where I think much confusing arises in "defending" our beliefs - defending is not EVER about attacking. Any time contention is present, the "defense" has gone contrary to what the Lord would have us do as His disciples. I can say that since in the scriptures it clearly states, "...he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil... (3 Ne 11:29).

Its also not about proving the other person wrong. Do we think they are in the wrong? Of course, we wouldn't need to defend our beliefs if that weren't the case. The problem is, THEY think they are in the right. So if both people go in with the attitude or belief of proving the other person wrong, contention will inevitably arise. Doing that also makes it about us - it makes US the attempted teacher, which in  the Church we know is not the case. If someone is to ever listen and be touched by what is said, the spirit MUST be present.

Thus, it is about calmly stating what we personally believe and know, this allows the spirit to be there, and if someone's heart is going to be touched it can then happen. Doesn't mean it will since everyone is in a different place and are seeking different things. In acting this way we can also have the spirit with us to guide us what to say since sometimes speaking specifically about something, or in a certain way is what that person needs at that moment. But we will not know that of ourselves.

THAT is defending our beliefs.

Too often as members of the truth we act as if we have the monopoly on goodness and truth. I want to use an analogy to illustrate what I see happening far too often.

Consider that truth and the way to eternal life is a big lake. The gospel and Church is A boat or way we partake in the truth and the means to keep us connected to and "afloat" atop the truth. But members of the Church aren't going to be the only ones on the lake. There will be large numbers of other people with different types of boats also on the lake.

Now imagine the scenario, where two boats draw close together and the occupants of the different boats proceed to try and convince the other occupants why THEIR boat isn't float-worthy. It would end up with upset feelings on both sides, and neither would be any closer to accepting the other as right. What is even more unhelpful is that if we as members of the church think we should be able to tell the other boat's occupants why their boat is not good, shouldn't be on the lake, etc. and then *GASP* in horror when they don't immediately abandon their boat and jump into ours, but rather start pointing out why we should get in THEIR boat. Or we grab our paddles and try and bash them in the head, make a hole in their boat and hotly say, "You shouldn't be on this lake." Seems so silly when stated in those terms, yet too often we act that way in "defending" our beliefs.

The thing is, the different people on the lake are going to come from a wide variety in background, beliefs, and current state in their life. Even people who SIN (oh my goodness!!) will be on the lake. But given that we ALL sin, that shouldn't be a surprise. There will be those that believe things against what we believe and/or what we call wrong. I say this because if we think about what will occur during the Millenium this fits. The only people that will be burned at the Second Coming are the "wicked." I put that in quotations because wicked DOES NOT equal sinful. We are all sinful - the state of the world during the Millenium will be a Terrestrial state. This means all people that truly worked to make the world a better place, and tried hard to be good people will be on the earth. There are certain parameters that will govern things, i.e. Christ will reign and be the Ruler but as far as how it will work for all of us during that time, we don't know. But it won't only be members of the Church. And thankfully at that time, Christ will get to figure out where justice and mercy is to be applied in all of our cases.

So.............

Stand for and defend your beliefs by stating and testifying of what you know.

Avoid trying to prove anyone wrong or pointing out the faults of others.

Listen to others beliefs and positions just as you want them to listen to yours

Focus personally on coming closer to Christ....

....not pointing out to others how you think they should be doing this

Don't attack anyone or feel like you have to have all the answers

In the end sometimes it simply comes down to faith - we do what we do because we have faith in our Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, in His perfect plan, that the Prophet is His mouthpiece and that He loves His children but we can't always explain why things are the way they are.
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One Of The Most Damaging Fallacies We Live By

I've had it said to me explicitly

I've seen it in actions, implied implicitly


I DON'T NEED ANYONE OR ANYTHING

Its scary and very damaging because every single one of us have needs and in connection with that we need other people. 

I will admit I'm a recovering "no-needs." I lived a large part of my life not giving any note or attention to my needs. Then I shifted to being more aware and at least recognizing my needs but expecting people to be "mind readers" - meaning I didn't ever want to have to say out loud what my needs were. I will forever be grateful for the time I volunteered at the women's shelter and a couple of awesome women I worked with. They taught me to recognize, understand and express needs. 

Since that time I've spent alot of time thinking about needs and had a great desire to share what I learned with others because it is so damaging as it undermines every type of relationship and also hurts us individually. We don't understand how to have our needs met or to help meet others needs and this eats away at the very foundation of what human life should be about.

So lets talk about where the belief may come from and how we can change things for ourselves and to benefit society, personal interactions and our relationships.

Our Mask of Perfection


 Trying to project a life of perfection leaves no room for needs because if we are perfect (as we work so hard to project) then we don't have any needs. And if we have such a thing as needs (picture gingerly picking up a dirty sock by two fingers) then they are all being met, thank you very much. So not only do we kill ourselves trying to project this perfection, we systematically ignore the very things we need to function the best we can, to learn and grow and to really be authentic. 

Needs Are All About Vulnerability...
...and society teaches us to avoid vulnerability like the plague. Expressing what we need places us in vulnerability. There is no way around it and no ifs, ands or buts about it. Asking for what we need places us in a position that we may be disappointed. If only expressing our needs meant they would be met - sadly I will break the news to you - it doesn't. 

You may be thinking, then why would I ever express them if it requires me to feel vulnerable AND they might not even get met?!?!

Well because they NEVER will if you don't express them. 

It helps you to know where the people are at in your life. YOU will know what your needs are, which helps you to understand yourself, how your life experiences have shaped you and to begin to recognize your UNHEALTHY coping skills. Because when your needs aren't being met, you must employ something to help you make it through. But its like drinking salt water when you are thirsty - it may seem to help for a SHORT period but ultimately doesn't help and even makes it worse. 

Above all it creates the POSSIBILITY of connection. Vulnerability is what allows us to create deep, strong connected relationships. 

Being Aware of Needs Asks Something Of You
Needs are two sided when talking about any kind of relationship. Meaning it is important for both people to strive to be aware of their needs and create a safe place to share them and strive to meet them. 

This is scary for people. This in fact is the biggest thing I've heard people say - "If I know what the expectations (needs) are then I have a responsibility and maybe I don't want that. I can't always do it so then they would be disappointed."

Am I the only one that is like, "Um, really?!" 

What kind of life and society are we continuing to perpetuate/create by not being willing to engage fully with others because we don't want any responsibility towards them? 

When there is an open dialogue about the needs of both people, part of that dialogue and awareness is that neither person is perfect meaning it isn't about being everything all the time. But it is surprising what an honest and sincere effort does in a relationship especially when both are committed to that. This also helps both to set appropriate boundaries that are respected and a foundational part of the relationship.

Sometimes you CAN'T do what they need - that is a needful and necessary part of life to recognize that just as it is by being willing and able to say when you can't. When both of you are expressing needs and giving sincere effort there is a space created to be able to say - I'm sorry I can't do this or I need this tonight but here is what I can do.

And other times it simply means you put aside yourself for a few brief moments - it doesn't mean you ignore your needs - as they will be expressed to - but that we strive for selflessness. Selflessness does not mean an ignoring of ourselves, but a recognition that part of life and relationships is putting someone at the forefront for a time. 

Relationships are the strongest when there is a balance of give and take on both sides. At some point one might need more than the other, but that balance always shifts when the needs are being met. 


Misapplication of Doctrine


2 Nephi 4:34 says: "O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm."

I think this scripture and others similar have been misapplied to mean we shouldn't need people. That needing people is "putting our trust in the arm of the flesh." If we weren't to need people I'm pretty sure Heavenly Father would have created the dynamics of our world much differently.

When Alma is talking to the crowd asking them if they are ready to be baptized he says they are to be willing to "mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort," which means part of being a member of the church is to need other people. Since if no one needed anyone else there would be no need to mourn with anyone or offer comfort to anyone. 

Part of our mortal journey is to learn how to be there for others and to learn how to accept help from others. Doing that adds an element of learning and growth for us. Often times the Lord answers prayers - which are often an expression of need - through other people. He wants us to learn how to recognize and respond to needs. 

Of course ultimately, others cannot save us or do things for us that can only be done through the Savior and His Atonement but much of what we need in this life can be given or at least supplemented by people around us. We must always rely on the Lord but not to the point where we close ourselves off to expressing needs to others and being willing to help meet needs. 

We often are willing to meet needs around us in a removed capacity - the neighbor that needs some yard work done or the ward member that is moving and needs some help but are unwilling to engage with those we have a closer or more daily relationship. Yet those are the relationships and interactions that have the most purifying potential because they will ask more of us. 

My parting words are 

Where do you start?

First, ask yourself what your needs are? Do you know? Identify what they are. Let go of the projection of perfection. No one is perfect - so just STOP IT. 

Second, identify those people in your life (family, spouse, friends, etc.) where needs play a vital part in a strong, healthy relationship. 

Third, have a conversation. Don't be afraid to start small - perhaps only expressing one need. Ask the other person to do the same. When both people in a relationship are vulnerable together it creates a safety bubble around both of your where the vulnerability doesn't seem or feel as scary. 

It will be hard at first as anything new is. It won't feel comfortable or fun. But if both people willingly engage, the relationship will be strengthened beyond what you know or have experienced. 
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It's Not About Questioning - The Excommunication Uproar

This morning as I drove to work, the scripture in Nephi from Nephi kept running through my mind and I thought: I don't know the meaning of all things but I too know that Heavenly Father loves His children. I hold on to this when there are things I don't understand - that even though I can't understand why something is the way it is, above all else I KNOW that He loves me and all of us.

Its sad when anyone is excommunicated - it doesn't matter who you are. Personally I've thought alot about what Kate Kelly must be feeling and facing but I've thought even MORE about the issues surrounding Ordain Women and her excommunication. After reading numerous articles and hearing many, many opinions, I felt it was time to throw my thoughts into the mix.

First, its not about asking questions.

Kelly stated several times in interviews that the Church was punishing her for asking questions and that the Church is stating it isn't ok to ask questions. If you are going into a discussion with your mind already made up about what the answer SHOULD be, then you aren't really questioning. Questioning indicates an openness to whatever the answer is. I think about what if Joseph Smith had done to the Sacred Grove and instead of asking, WHICH church was true - indicating an openness to whatever answer was given - he had prayed THIS (insert whatever religion he might have chosen) church is true, having already decided specifically in his mind what he thought God's answer would be. Pretty sure the outcome would have been different and Joseph Smith wouldn't have been the prophet we know.

Thus, the issue isn't with Kelly asking the question. The Church didn't discourage her when she first asked - it became an issue when it stopped being about asking and began being about demanding - the ONLY answer that was right was that women be ordained to the priesthood.

So as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ask questions. Ask lots of them but with an open mind as to what the answer will be.

Another issue that has bothered me is some comments I've seen that indicate the prophet hasn't prayed about this issue and is simply ignoring the requests or questions. The problem with this line of thought is that it gives rise to a bigger underlying issue. The question really becomes - Is this the Lord's church? Does He guide this church? Is His promise true that He will never allow the prophet to go contrary to His will? If the answers are yes to these questions, then I'm sure President Monson has prayerfully talked with the Lord about this issue and knows confidently His will. That leads us then to the above problem - it becomes not about questioning but demanding and stubbornly holding to the line that unless women are ordained the prophet must not be asking.

My last thoughts are about the priesthood itself. Too often it is like we picture the priesthood as a house - beautifully built and maintained. But within the house are only men and that we as women in order to "use" the house or have access to it, we have to go to the door, knock on it, and be allowed entrance. This is NOT the case - both men and women are a part and make up the house. By not HOLDING the priesthood I am not denied any of its blessings. Yep not one blessing am I denied by not holding the priesthood. I enjoy the house as much as any man and can get as many blessings and benefits. I am not unequal in any way. The Lord has not denied me anything by being a woman. My exaltation can be as sure as any person on this earth - male or female. It is all dependent on one thing - the choices I make. The Lord has given me everything I need as a woman to be able to gain that most prized blessing - to live with Him again.

Let us all focus on all the work there is to be done - the feeble knees to be strengthened, the hands we can offer in help, the message there is to be shared that Christ's church is restored on the earth. We are led by a LIVING prophet who guides us according to the Lord's will. The Savior lives and has overcome all things that we may live with Him again. And not only that He loves us beyond what we can comprehend and has all things set to work together for our good as we seek to follow Him. Ask questions when you have them but above that listen to the Lord's chosen servants on the earth for the answer. The Lord has organized the structure of the church so that we may know who to follow to know we follow Him.


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Yep, Its True - 10 Life Truths to Consider

Life is a never-ending pool of experiences to learn from. The best thing we can do is try to learn from each experience we have.

#1 - We often live as if life is all about us though it rarely is.
In high school I had a bumper stick that said "Its All About Me." I only had it because I thought it was funny. But there was some truth to it, even to this day. I live too often inside my head, which means I see life and my experiences and interactions with others only in relation to myself. Which computes to seeing others' actions as having something to do with me, when in most cases they have nothing to do with me. The key is to strive to understand what is going on within ourselves (focusing inward), and focusing on others simply as themselves, completely separate from us (focusing outward). Think about only them and what might be happening for them, without connecting it to yourself at all.

#2 - Life gives all of us struggles that seem more than we can bear
No one is exempt and everyone's own personal struggle feels like an extreme burden to them. Use this for courage and for compassion. Courage when you may feel overwhelmed by your struggle and compassion to seek to reach out to others when you are struggling. One lesson I've been reminded of again and again is that my struggle(s) feel a little easier when I reach out to someone else.

#3 - Asking for complete honesty can be brutal, but worth it
Honesty can hurt, which may be why the "white lie" was invented. Sometimes we may feel living in a bit of fantasy world is better than really knowing the truth. But in my experience, though I've been told some extremely hard things to hear, that hurt me, I've never been sorry afterwards to really know the truth. To know what that person thought, felt, wanted, etc. That is how you can know where you truly stand and only that way can you stand on a secure foundation in any relationship.

#4 - The hardest time of a trial, grieving or difficulty comes after the first couple of weeks
This is when the pain is still fresh, you are trying to move on, and everyone has gone back to their own lives. The first couple of weeks people call, text or talk to you about how you are. They check in or drop by. They bring things. But then they go back to their lives, which is not a criticism. Just next time someone close to you or not close to you is struggling or has experienced some kind of loss - remember them in the time after that initial thought or kind gesture. Check in with them and see how they are - don't forget them or their pain - it only takes a little bit of your time but makes a big difference.

#5 - Let yourself love and care deeply
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” 
~ C.S. Lewis

#6 - Busy-ness is not a badge of honor
Being busy gives us a sense of purpose and also something we don't have to invest in too deeply. We often use busy-ness to avoiding having to feel and be vulnerable. Don't be too busy to love and connect deeply with people. We all have responsibilities - there is no denying that - but there is a balance to be had to really live. Connecting with others is what makes life meaningful, encourages personal growth, and creates a real love.

#7 - Just be with someone when they share something with you
Giving unsolicited advice, trying to "fix" the problem, or remove the pain when someone shares something difficult is mainly because we are scared of their emotion(s). We don't like to feel whatever they are feeling, so if we can just "fix" it then we don't have to feel uncomfortable anymore. Don't be scared - sit with them in the emotion - feel with them and be with them. This is empathy and is truly soul stretching and defining. It allows for connection on a truly deep level and lets others know that you really do care.
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#8 - Be honest to yourself and to others
Most of us are not honest ALL of the time, though perhaps a number of us try to be. Often the person we are most dishonest with though is ourself, especially when it comes to things we struggle with. Yet honesty within ourselves and with others creates the possibility of greater connection, support and growth. Honestly look at the things you struggle with, that you don't like, that you wish were different. Not to beat yourself up, feel sorry or have a pity party, but to acknowledge they exist and are part of who you are. This actually lessens their power rather than giving them more. And we can only truly connect with others when we are honest or vulnerable about who we really are.

#9 - Never be afraid to hear a different point of view
Different opinions, beliefs, and values are part of what creates equality. Too often society would have us believe equality is sameness but if you remember in the Book of Mormon the times it states they had true equality is because every man was free to believe as he chose. Don't feel threatened when someone else believes or understands differently than you. Listen, engage, ask questions to try to truly understand where they come from. This will enhance your knowledge and also ability to connect with others and to live with kindness. Respect doesn't mean agreement - it means that we feel secure in our own beliefs. Often when we feel the need to attack or not listen to someone else's view it is because we are not secure in our own so we feel threatened.

#10 - Don't let designations and labels define you
We use labels in society to create distance between us and someone else. Or to categorize them a specific way. The problem with labels is stereotypes are their twin and they go hand in hand. You really can't have the one without the other. Try to avoid categorizing people with a label you ASSUME describes them. Be open to letting them show or tell you what it means for them or who they are outside of any labels. Labels may keep you "safe" but they will always keep you disconnected.


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These 5 Words Are Really Hard To Say

"I'm having a hard time"

Sunday in Relief Society we had a lesson on depression and anxiety and then I had a conversation with a friend that got me thinking. One of the other truths that should be universal with death and taxes is that we ALL struggle in life. We all face heartache and difficulties of one kind or another. No matter how glamorous or easy a life may look, there are always heartaches and difficulties - just very often well hidden. For most of us we carry our heartache close inside and put on a smiling mask pretending all is well.


Yet inside we feel like this

So I wanted to share some realizations I came to after Sunday's lesson and discussion. 


~ Striving for perfection doesn't mean we don't struggle ~

It is because we are striving to become like the Savior and for perfection that we struggle. Inherent in that striving for perfection, is struggles and difficulties. If we weren't striving for anything there would be no struggling. 

But often somehow in our minds we equate perfection with never struggling. So when, not if, we struggle, we feel that we are failing. We aren't good enough, which is why we are struggling. Then we hide - withdrawing into ourselves and hiding that we are struggling. 

~ Talking about struggles doesn't have to be negative ~

When Laman and Lemuel had a hard time in the Book of Mormon they murmured. Murmuring may seem like a good way to share our struggles but it is actually more harmful. Murmuring does little to help us feel better - the underlying purpose in murmuring is to be seen and to carry around the issue, grudge or problem and not let go of it. This keeps us rooted in the struggle and we feel like we are a victim, which leads to us being acted upon instead of acting. 


But venting can be healthy - it can be an uplifting and strengthening experience to share that we are struggling with someone we trust. The biggest difference is that the sharing is with the purpose of expressing the emotion so we can move forward - even if it is just a little. 



~ Sharing Struggles Doesn't Devalue Anyone's Struggle ~

I have had the thought before - "Well if everyone has struggles I'm sure they don't want to hear mine - they have enough to deal with." And on Sunday when I was talking to my friend it came very clear to me - when someone shares with me that they are having a hard time, struggling or just feeling overwhelmed with everything - if I'm also having a hard time their sharing helps in a couple of ways. 

First, is that I know I'm not alone in struggling and having feelings of inadequacy or being overwhelmed. 

Second, it helps me focus on someone other than myself. I start to think about them and perhaps what I could do for them even if it is just to offer comfort or a listening ear.

So in truth, when someone shares their struggling it helps me in my struggling and hopefully vice verse. And I feel the Lord blesses us when we listen to others share their struggles because I know more often than not, I'm filled with love as I listen. And I know that is a blessing from the Lord - He commanded us to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, etc. because He would make it possible for us to do that.

~ Facebook is not a good substitute for talking to someone ~

It is tempting to vent on Facebook or share your struggle but honestly, it cannot replace having a conversation with someone. I know it may be easy to think, "I don't have SOMEONE I can tell so I use Facebook." But when willing to toss out the previous misconceptions, I'm sure almost all of us have at least one person we trust and know cares about us that we could tell. 

There is a connection that happens when we share with someone we trust. Facebook cannot create that connection no matter how hard it tries :) It creates a faux connection that actually often leaves us feeling emptier than before. 



Commit to being there for others (not everyone but those you are closest too) and also to sharing with others. We all will be benefited and helped in our struggles. Sharing a load makes it lighter for all of us and will improve our relationships. 

"Our trials are not tests so the Lord can measure us. They are tests and trials so that we can measure ourselves. It is most important that we know our strengths in adversity and grow from the experiences.”

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Bigoted? Prejudiced? Hateful? My Take On Gay Marriage

I will not be bullied

I will not be silent

I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I believe that sexual relations outside of marriage are wrong. I believe there are right and wrong things in this world. Here is a great article that states concisely most of my thoughts on this. And I will continue to stand for my belief of how marriage should be defined. But I will also work for rights such as protection in housing and employment in all relationships.

And those that believe in a broader definition of marriage will continue to fight for that. We each must choose to stand for the beliefs that we have and I would hope each of us stand strong for what we believe. But fighting for what we believe should not ever entail hate or unkindness to anyone. We just need to

STOP IT

S..T..O..P space I...T

Right now my sphere of interaction isn't very big. This is a sad thing to me but currently how my life is. So I don't have many people I interact with on a daily basis where we talk about deep important issues that matter to each of us - some of which we would probably disagree on, both in principle and what is considered right or wrong.

But I want to tell you a bit of story to illustrate my point. I went to UVU to get my undergraduate degree. I loved going there and learned a lot. The biggest and most valuable thing I learned though was how not to feel threatened when someone had beliefs, thoughts and ideas different than my own. Two of the people I most respect in this world are former professors, neither LDS, with who I know we share very different beliefs in a lot of areas. We disagree about what is right or wrong probably in many things even in ways and things we do currently in our lives. But in their classes and since that time (I'm still in contact with both) that has never been a problem.

I remember a particular moment that was kind of the capstone to this learning for me. I was in my Philosophy of Feminism class. It was almost the end of the semester and I went to class on a particular day knowing we were going to be discussing The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I was super nervous and a little afraid of how I thought this class would go. What would be said against the proclamation or about deeply held beliefs I had come to gain for myself?

But the class was awesome and I left feeling amazed and energized.

How? Why?

Definitely not because everything said in the class supported the proclamation or my beliefs - in fact very little was said in support. But the professor created a space of discussion and understanding. A place each of us could express our beliefs and thoughts about it and not feel threatened when someone thought differently.

That class and these two professors both create spaces of understanding and respect. That is what we need in this world. Not name calling. Not unkindness towards those that are different, believe different and fight for what they believe.

So tell your story....tell your experience...but don't project that experience onto everyone else. I DESPISE stereotypes. STOP IT....if you had a bad experience with the LDS Church, or it wasn't your cup of tea, or you disagree with its teachings, that is great. Share what you believe. But don't call names or place your experience onto everyone else. Likewise if your belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman, or you feeling strongly about what is right or wrong, or you know someone who identifies as gay or lesbian treat them as people. People who are trying to live their life the best they can. Show love and kindness. Talk and laugh about things that matter to you and create that space of understanding and respect that you see some things differently.

Teach our children and those in our lives that a difference of belief isn't about hate. Do some people act hateful when confronted with different beliefs.

DEFINITELY

But that isn't because disagreement and belief that certain things are wrong inherently generates hate. It is because people allow themselves to be ruled by fear - fear of what they don't understand.

So teach our children and in our classrooms how to create that space of understanding and respect for a difference of belief. Teach them they will come in contact with people who are not kind for a variety of reasons but that doesn't lessen their worth.

Teach these things instead of teaching that those that believe differently are hateful simply because of a difference in belief. Otherwise as soon as someone declares a difference in belief almost automatically the thought is they must hate me. And that hurts - no one likes to feel hated.

But we can change the suicide rate and help the feelings of self hatred...but not by bullying everyone into the same beliefs. But by teaching how to create that space of understanding and respect.

I hope we can all strive to show love and kindness towards everyone - same beliefs or not. And all of us stand for the beliefs that we do have while being open to hearing what others believe.
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OXYMORON

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My interests are wide and varied as my various blogs show. But one thing is for sure - any and all of them should provide some interesting tidbits.