Posted in Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Overwhelming, Never-ending…

“While others are congratulating themselves, I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.” ~CH Spurgeon

Growing up in my Mormon world I struggled with the idea that I had to be perfect.  I believed that I would never be good enough to go to Heaven.  As a Christian I know I will never be good enough to go to Heaven, I will never do enough to get to Heaven.  I take comfort in knowing that because of Christ I will go to Heaven.

do not fear

Every day I am so amazed by the love God has for me.  It blows my mind to think of His suffering and pain on the cross and although Christ knew of the anguish he would go through when He was put on the cross and yet He willingly went through it all for me.  I am so undeserving of His love and grace, and yet, He is so willing to give it to me.

Living everyday life is hard.  I try to be the person I want to be.  But that is also fueled by the expectations of those around me.  I fail every day.  The most amazing thing is when I fail God’s love and grace are still there for me.  Every day, I try to keep God at the center of my life, and every day I fail.  I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think back to my life before Christ and I wonder where I would be if I hadn’t answered the phone, or if I hadn’t believed that God loves me. If I still lived in my Mormon world I don’t know how I would survive.

reckless love

There is a song called Reckless Love by Cory Asbury, the chorus states:

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

Think about that for a minute…God loves you so much, He would leave his flock to find you, to fight for you.  I fail every day.  I fall short every day.  I can’t earn God’s love or grace.  I will never be deserving of Gods love or grace.

I know I am a sinner, a failure, a hypocrite, a disappointment, and yet my God still loves me.  He’d leave the 99 to come find Me! In my hardest darkest days, that is what keeps me going.  Knowing that I can’t do anything to make God not love me. Knowing that no matter what, He has forgiven a horrible, hypocritical, sinner like me.

you are enough

Knowing all my failures and shortcomings, “I have to sit humbly at the foot of the cross and marvel that I’m saved at all.”

It feels amazing to know…

I’m Just a Small Town Girl…Living in the Reckless Love of God.

 

Posted in Christian

Stepping Out Of The Boat…

It’s been awhile since I have written anything.  I like to tell myself it’s because I have been busy and my new job made my schedule difficult.  But, I know that isn’t all true.  My new job has kept me busy, but I still could have written my blog if I had made time for it. The truth is, I let fear overtake my thoughts and stand in my way.  I know God has put it on my heart to write a blog, and I know he will provide a way for that to happen.

comfort zone

The past few weeks I have had several different blog ideas in my head.  I even started a few, but I was easily distracted and found other things to do instead of focusing on what God has asked me to do.  As I was thinking about writing my blog this week, I had a totally different topic in mind that I have been thinking about for a while and will definitely be a blog in the future.  But I woke up this morning and really questioned myself as to whether or not I would “find time” to write my blog today.

As my thoughts wandered and I tried to go back to sleep at 6 am, I started to question myself.  “Find time, really?  What is taking up all of my time that I can’t sit down and write a blog that I know God has asked me to write?  Taking a Sunday nap, playing my games on my phone, scrolling through Facebook, watching my tv shows?”

nothingness

I really began to think about what is keeping me from writing, and I decided it is being at my new job.  But not because I don’t have the time, it is because of fear of what people think.  I am in a new place and I want people to like me.  I don’t want to offend anyone.  I share my blog on my Facebook page and the more friends from my new job I have the less time I seem to have to write my blog.

As I was thinking about this and fear, I thought of Paul when he walked on the water.

Matthew 14:25-31 NIV

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

I’ve always loved that story and thought how amazing it would be to have faith enough to step out of the boat onto the water.  One of my favorite songs is by Casting Crowns it says;

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me

Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”

The thing is, I did have enough faith to step out on the water when I started my blog.  When I was confronted by people who didn’t like what I was writing or when concerned friends said to me, “You could offend someone and lose your job.”  I responded with complete and total faith in my God.  So, what happened?  I, like Peter, “saw the wind” and took my eyes of Jesus.  I lost my faith and began to sink.

I didn’t lose my faith in God, I just got caught up in the world around me and took my eyes off my compass, my grounding point.  The longer I was away from my blog the easier it was to not be able to, “find time”.    But I called out to Jesus and he pulled me out of the water.

haters

The chorus of the Casting Crowns song “Voice of Truth” says

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

trouble

I think every time we do what God asks us and it takes us out of our comfort zone we are taking that step of faith and walking on water.  The key is to keep our focus on Jesus and not get caught up in the world around us.

I’m just a Small Town Girl…Stepping out of the boat I’m in.

Posted in Christian, exmormon

Neon Lights…

I was having a conversation with a friend this week and she said one of the things she struggles with is, she wants big neon signs from God telling her the answers she is looking for.  I often feel the same way.  I want a clear and concise answer from God.   But God doesn’t work that way.

directional signs

It’s not that God doesn’t give us answers.  God always gives us answers.  I think that most often the problem is that we don’t get the answers we were looking for, so we look for a different one or try to create the results we want.  God’s answers are yes, no, or wait.  And if you’re anything like me, only one of those answers is the one I am looking for.  When I pray and ask God for something I want Him to provide it for me.  I don’t want to wait, I don’t want God to say this isn’t for you.  Sometimes I feel like I get angry and think, “God you don’t know me! You don’t know what I need!”  But if God doesn’t know me or know what I need, then who does?

I have realized as I have grown in my Christian walk the closer I am to God, the more I get to know Him, the clearer I see His answers.  I have also found, that when I don’t get the answers I am looking for, I am able to accept the answers even when I don’t like them.  My faith has grown, and I have learned to trust God completely.  He has always been faithful and followed through and provided me with more than I need. And even when I have struggled through situations, he has always been faithful in meeting my needs with something better than I could have imagined.

god whispers

I think the devil uses what we think is God not answering to create doubt in our minds.  When we have doubt in our minds, it makes us not trust God and lets the devil into our minds.  Doubt can create so much chaos in our lives.  We stop trusting God and try to do our own thing.  I don’t know about anyone else, but that never works out well for me.

god whispers

I found this story about doubt recently (adapted from Inspirational Short Stories About Success and Happiness Verusha Singh/Virend Sigh):

One day the devil decided that God had received too much good publicity and he too deserved some publicity for the work he does to make this word an interesting place.  He called a major TV news network and, after identifying himself, he arranged an interview.

For the interview, he transported a report and camera crew to Hell and gave them a tour of his “Art Gallery.” His gallery didn’t consist of elements of great art.  Instead, his gallery was made up of many rooms varying in size, each one dedicated to a specific item of interest.  In one room were piles of gold on a marble table, stacked to the ceiling.  “This is my greed room” the devil said, “Greed is one of my most favorite tools.”

Moving to the second room, the devils showed the reporter and his crew a group of men and women enjoying themselves in a cocktail lounge.  “This is my infidelity room,” the devil claimed, “This is a place of temptation for many, especially when they are away from home.”

The devil continued the tour of his gallery, proudly presenting rooms with many different vices, drugs alcohol, and many other destructive and harmful items and lifestyles.

Finally, the news crew care to the last room.  The devil paused and said, “Herein lies my greatest tool.  With this tool, I can accomplish more evil than with all the other tools at my disposal.  In fact,” the devil gloated, “without this tool the other tools would not be as effective.”

Excited to see what could be behind this door, the reporter and his crew moved closer to the door and prepared for some amazing footage.  The devil opened the door triumphantly.  It was a small, plain, room with a small pedestal positioned in the middle and spotlight highlighting a small item on top of the pedestal.

The news crew was greatly disappointed, for it appeared what was on the pedestal was a common door stop.  They moved closer to inspect the item, sure they had missed something.  As they moved closer they saw a small wedge-shaped object that was very similar to a doorstop.

Bewildered how this common everyday object could be the devils greatest tool, the news crew turned to the devil searching for an explanation.  The devil cunningly smiled, “This is the wedge of self-doubt. With it, I can shatter a person’s self-image.  I drive this wedge in the back of a person’s mind between their abilities and what is truly possible for them, then I can completely destroy that person.  In fact, I use this tool every day to destroy millions of lives.”

selfdoubt

I think the devil revels most when he can drive that wedge into our minds and sperate us from God.  The best time for that to happen, is when we don’t see our neon signs.

I’m just a Small Town Girl… Living in a world without neon signs.

Posted in Christian, exmormon, LDS

Death…

This has been an emotional week for me and another week of learning just how far I have grown as a Christian and in my faith and trust in God.  The beginning of the week my mom called and told me my almost 90-year-old grandma, who is a strong Christian woman was in the ICU with the flu and pneumonia. I was so saddened by this news.

traveling

My grandma lived less than a mile from me growing up, but I didn’t get much of an opportunity to spend time with her or my grandpa because of religious differences between my family and my grandparents. It wasn’t until a couple years after Brain and I walked away from Mormonism that I really began to realize the role my grandparents had in me coming to Christ and that they were Christians.  My grandparents found out about us leaving the LDS church by running into us at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon.  The church we attended at the time was 30 minutes from home and was in a bigger town with more options for grocery stores and other shopping.  I remember when we saw my grandma at the store, she was so surprised to see us!  Brian was working that day, but she was so surprised when I told her we had been attending a Christian Church in town and we had realized the problems with Mormonism.  She told me her and my grandpa had been praying for all of us kids our whole lives.  She told me they always attended our baptisms and church things they were invited to, to be supportive, but they always prayed that God would open our eyes to the truth.  It was awesome to know I was an answered prayer for my grandparents.

Just a few years after seeing my grandma at the grocery store, my grandparents decided to sell their home in our small town and travel around the United States, taking time to visit their kids that lived all over.  It was sad to see them go just when I started to have a close relationship with them.  I felt so blessed that my kids were able to know my grandparents. After Brian and I became Christian, we had some of the most amazing and in-depth conversations with my grandparents, and especially my grandpa.  I learned a lot about my grandparents in a short time and they gained an extra special place in my heart.

breath

Growing up, all I knew about them is they weren’t Mormon, and they drank coffee.  As a child in my head that made them not very good people.  As an adult, and a Christian, I was humbled by the love they had for God and for their family.  I remember a conversation I had with my grandpa on one of their visits home, he said he had my back, even with my family and if I was having a hard time because they didn’t support my choice to be a Christian he would stick up for me and even talk to my dad for me.  It felt good to know I had an ally.

My grandpa passed away almost 6 years ago, and I miss him so much. I haven’t had to face death very much in my life.  I remember feeling so sad and bitter when my grandpa passed away. When I heard about my grandma, I was sad, but I had a conversation with my husband, and then the next morning on my way to work, I had a conversation with God, I knew that she was in pain and suffering.  My grandma was able to come and visit us this past summer and it was so nice to see her.  I didn’t spend the time with her I wish I would have.  But I know she said it has been hard without grandpa around.  She has lived a great life.  My prayer to God was, “Your will be done.”

psalms 62 1

When grandma passed away, I was sad that I didn’t get to know her more, sad I didn’t send the pictures, I always meant to send, sad I didn’t call or write more.  I was sad for me, but the first thought that came to my head was the song “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me.  I knew that Grandma was in Heaven with Jesus and grandpa.  The Bible says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  The next song I thought of was “Home” by Chris Tomlin.  Grandma was Home and happy.  And although, I was sad for me.  I couldn’t help but be excited and happy for her.

It made me think, I am so grateful to be a Christian and to know I am saved. I have a lot of atheist and agnostic friends, and I can’t imagine living life without a belief in an afterlife or feeling uncertain of what that is.  I am also so grateful I don’t have to worry or hope that I have done enough to make it to Heaven.  All that needed to be done was done on the Cross.  I just have to accept Christ as my Savior.  I know my grandma is home and I will see her again.

I’m just a Small Town Girl… Living in a world where Heaven is certain.

Posted in Christian, exmormon

Church is My Favorite…

It has been a crazy few weeks!  Between holidays, sickness, work, and family stressors, I am so glad to be getting life back on track. It’s been a while since I have typed a blog.  I have really struggled with my focus and with where God is taking me.  I have had a lot of change in my life over the past year and the last few weeks my life has felt overwhelming.

Last night as all the thoughts and events were going through my head and I was trying to stress myself out, God whispered to me, “It’s OK I’ve got this.”  It amazes me, how in the past, the events of my life that I am currently dealing with would have sent me into a tail spin and today, I can stop and know that God is in control and he has a lot bigger and better plans for my life than I do.

jer 29 11

I wasn’t overwhelmed about anything specific but just life in general.  The last few weeks there have just been a lot of things going on in my already crazy world and I have just been able to feel the weight of all of them.  I think the thing that stands out to me most right now is that as a Mormon life often felt overwhelming.  It often felt like I had a lot on my plate and not enough time to even think about it all.  My life as a Christian I think is more busy, just because of life circumstances, but most of the time it is not as overwhelming.

My last blog I wrote about religion and the frustrations and irritations I have with organized religion.  What’s funny about that is I have realized over the last few weeks how much I love church, or I guess my church and my church family.

Brian and I have the amazing opportunity to be a part of the tech team at our church.  Brian runs the sound and I take care of the slides and videos for the church. We are at church early on Sunday mornings, and I am usually finishing up the power point presentation when I get home from work on Saturday.  As much as I love what I do at church sometimes I really don’t want to get up on Sunday mornings.  But… it doesn’t matter how I feel on Sunday morning, it doesn’t matter, if I take the time to get up and fix my hair and do my makeup, or if I just wear a sweatshirt and throw my hair up into a ponytail, I am always grateful that I showed up at church.

church

I enjoy the people I interact with, they always ask about my adult kids and how they are doing in their lives.  And I very much enjoy Pastor Roger’s messages every week.  The worship does one of 2 things,  sometimes both at the same time.  It will bring me to tears or brighten my mood. In many ways church has become my happy place.  It is one of my favorite places to be.

I haven’t always loved church.  Growing up, I despised church, I hated going. What teenager wants to go spend 3 hours listening to how you need to be a good person, live morally, listen to the prophets, “look at all the hard choices your leaders were faced with and they still made good choices, you can do it too.”  For me they were shame and guilt filled messages that reminded me I would never be good enough.  I rarely came home from church feeling like I was loved and with my mood brightened.  I was inspired and encouraged by some of the stories, but most often, I was reminded of how big of a failure and disappointment I was to those “amazing examples of the gospel” around me.

I think there is a huge difference between church and religion.  When Brian and I first became Christians, we attended a church that had 3 services.  There were a lot of people from many different walks of life who chose to worship there.  We met some amazing people there are we are still friends with some of those people today.  God led us to our current church and from the minute I walked in I loved the atmosphere.  I loved the people. And I loved that I could be me.  I walked into our church and saw just that people in different phases of life, with different struggles, different perspectives, but all of them love God.  Even in the big church we attended people weren’t there out of obligation, to fulfill a calling, or to check mark the box on their weekly to do list.  It was about giving back to God by loving other people.

lighthouse

So, even with the struggles I have with religion, I think church is essential.  My last blog I asked 3 questions, Do you know God?  Do you have a relationship with Him?  And are you being accountable in that relationship?  I think church helps me answer these questions.  My relationship with God is personal and can only be between Him and me, but it is though worship and surrounding myself with others that know Him and live according to His word that help me to grow closer to Him.  I am held accountable by being around the people who know me and challenge me to grow in my relationship with Christ. So as much as I hate religion, church is my favorite!

I’m just a Small Town Girl…loving my church!

Posted in Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Rock or Sand?

I hate religion!  I absolutely hate it!  Religion is judgmental and hurtful.  Religion creates a set of rules you are required to follow to measure your righteousness in life and so you can measure your salvation.  Religion is about Christianese and culture, legalism and following the rules.  And I hate it.

 

Every day, I work with people from many different backgrounds and experiences.  A few weeks ago I had a very rough week, and one thing every difficult situation I experienced had in common was religion.  Religion is a place of rules, requirements, and unrealistic expectations.

I feel like religion is a breeding ground for perfectionism, and perfectionism leads to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and shame.  I think religion takes the uncertainty out of our faith.  We no longer have to have a blind faith with religion.  We don’t have to believe in something that isn’t tangible.  Religion makes our faith tangible and measurable so we know what we need to do to win the race, to get the crown.  I think people cling to religion because we don’t like the uncertainty of faith.

perfectionism

I also think religion is a place where personal accountability to our faith is lost.  If I put on the face, go out and serve in my church, do and say the right things, then 2 thumbs up, I’m on the right track.  But where is God in what I’m doing?  Where is my accountability to God and my personal relationship? It’s lost…

It makes me think of the song “The Wise Man Built His House”

 The foolish man built his house upon the sand

The foolish man built his house upon the sand

The foolish man built his house upon the sand

And the rain came tumbling down

Oh, the rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

And the foolish man’s house went “splat!”

The wise man built his house upon the rock

The wise man built his house upon the rock

The wise man built his house upon the rock

And the rain came tumbling down

 

Oh, the rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

The rain came down

And the floods came up

And the wise man’s house stood firm.

I feel like those who blindly trust in religion are the foolish men and people who have a personal relationship with Christ are the wise men.

Growing up in Mormonism the focus was so often on being a Mormon and not on God or Jesus.  It’s funny because when you ask Mormon’s if they believe in Jesus or if they teach about Jesus the typical response is, “Of course we do, it’s in our name”.  The thing is, growing up the focus was rarely on Jesus or God, it was on the religion itself.  The focus was Joseph Smith and Mormonism.  But in all reality, it wasn’t very often there was a lesson about Christ or having a personal relationship with Him.

In my experience as a Mormon, the focus was all about the current prophet of the church and following the prophet.  And don’t forget “Praise to the Man” referring to Joseph Smith.  When I left Mormonism, there were so many things I found out about God, Christ, Christianity, and religion that I never knew before.  I don’t think I had even heard of grace or salvation before becoming a Christian.  They were definitely not terms we talked about in Mormonism.

personal relationship

As a Christian, I believe the most important thing is to have a personal relationship with Christ.  That means you talk to Him, and spend time reading His word, you spend time with people who are also in a relationship with Him.  I think it means the intention behind what you do is to please God.  When you have a relationship with God and that is the focus of your faith instead of religion being the focus of your faith, the shame, guilt, and self-doubt that comes with religion, don’t have room to grow, it’s easier to embrace the uncertainty.

There are many times I struggle with my relationship with Christ, when He is not first in my life.  I know when I’m struggling in life, I need to stop and refocus.  When I struggle the most it’s because I am focusing too much on what I can do and how I can control things on my own. In these moments I know my relationship with Christ is struggling.

I do think worship is important, and I think having a church and people you can connect and fellowship with is important.  When people ask my religion, I tell them Christian without hesitation.  So, maybe it isn’t really religion that I hate.  Maybe it’s the judgmental, hypocriticalness that comes from religion.  Maybe it’s the focus on rules and works versus faith and grace.

hypocrite

What I do know is, it doesn’t matter where you go to church, what you wear, the color of your hair, if you wear jewelry or not, the size of your house, bank account, or the type of car you drive, God wants you.  He wants your heart.  He wants to interact and have a relationship with you.  Religion doesn’t matter, what matters is do you know God?  Do you have a relationship with Christ?  And are you being accountable in that relationship?

I’m just a Small Town Girl…building my house upon the rock.