Posted in LDS, mormonism

Family…

One thing the Mormon church is good at is teaching that family is important.  Since I was a small child one of the most important things in my world was my family.  I would do anything for my parents and my siblings.  It didn’t matter if I had gotten in a fight with them or if my siblings were mean to me, they were my family, my world.  They were who I would be with for eternity.

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As a Christian, one of the hardest things I have struggled with is not being able to share my faith with my family.  When Brian and I first started pulling away from the Mormon church, I struggled to explain to my family why.  I had no concrete evidence or new belief system that would help me explain to my family why we had taken off our garments, why we weren’t going to church anymore, or why we didn’t believe in the Mormon church.  The only thing I knew was Mormonism is wrong, and I didn’t want to be a part of it.

There were many times my family tried to have a conversation with me and ask me why.  I would get very defensive and walk away.  It wasn’t because they were right, it was because I was uneducated and I didn’t know how to answer their questions.  As I’ve grown in my knowledge of the Bible and in my relationship with God, I have longed for those conversations.  Not for a debate or a fight, but to share with my family the love and joy that I now have in my life from knowing Christ.  I sometimes get really frustrated and think, “Can’t they see, don’t they know how broken I was?” I want them to acknowledge how far I have come and see the change that has taken place in my life.

If I could sit down and have a conversation with my family I would share God’s love and grace with them.  The words that changed my life forever were something like, “God loves you no matter what, and there is nothing you can do to change that.”  I would love to share that message with them.  I know they would say they know that, but it’s such a different message from what the LDS church teaches.

I know I’ve had my struggles in the past.  I know I wasn’t the best daughter or sister that I could have been and I still struggle to be there for my family because of the religious barrier that stands between us.  I still love my family more than anything, and although I don’t spend a lot of time with them, I would do anything for them.  It’s just so hard when I feel like I can’t be myself or share my faith with them.  I can’t talk with them or have conversations with them like I can my Christian family and it’s heartbreaking to me.  I am not a part of their world and they aren’t a part of mine.

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I miss they days when we could celebrate birthdays and holidays without religion being a hurdle in our communication and connection.  I miss being around my family and just having a good time without having to be careful with my words or watching what I say so I don’t offend them.  And yet, I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I can’t give up the grace and salvation that God has given me.

Someday, I pray that God will open that door.  Maybe someday we will be able to sit down and have that conversation.  Maybe we will be able to talk about God and my family will open their eyes to the true message of grace.  I want to be with my family forever.  My dream is to be in church worshiping God with my family next to me.  I am so grateful that God has given me kids who love God and are willing to worship with me.

Mercy Me sings a song called Even If.  The second verse and chorus state:

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

My hope and prayer is that God will move the unmovable and My family will open their eyes to the saving grace of Christ alone.  But if He doesn’t, I pray that He will give me the strength to trust in Him alone.

I’m Just a Small Town Girl…Living in a world of unmovable mountains.

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Posted in Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Broken into Freedom…

This weekend is the 187th semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Growing up, this weekend was always filled with family and great food.  Often, we would spend Saturday playing with cousins while the adults watched the Saturday Conference sessions.  On Sunday, we were able to sleep in a little and were up just before 10 to watch the Sunday morning session instead of going to church.  In the afternoon, we would again spend time playing with cousins while the adults watched the final session of conference.

As a kid, conference Sunday was my favorite; mostly because it was like a typical Sunday.  We didn’t go to church and we spent time playing with cousins.  As I got older, especially as an adult in the Mormon world, I was expected to watch and pay closer attention to all the sessions of conference.

Conference was hours and hours of the LDS Church leaders telling you how you are supposed to act and how you will get through your trials if you pray harder and read the scriptures more.  They pushed the importance of listening to and following the church leaders.  The leaders would talk about the importance of the Book of Mormon and the church.  They would bear their testimonies and vow that they were witnesses of the Book of Mormon and the truth of the Mormon gospel.

For someone who always struggled with the person I was “supposed” to be and feeling like I was someone different on the inside, these messages were hard.  I would listen to those in leadership positions and feel shame and guilt for the thoughts and feelings I had that were different from what was being taught to me. I wanted to be a good Mormon and a good person but I felt lost.

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I had heard about “Freedom in Christ” but never really understood what that meant until I became a Christian.  Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery”.   In my Mormon life, I was very burdened by the “yoke of slavery”.  I was bound by rules and laws that had nothing to do with God and everything to do with religion.  The yoke of slavery was trying to be the person I was “supposed” to be and fit into a mold that wasn’t made for me.  Trying to follow the LDS leadership and strive to do everything right.  I struggled with depression and low self-esteem.  I hated myself so much because I could be that person I was supposed to be.

Before I gave my life to Christ depression and suicidal thoughts were a constant in my life.  I believed everyone would be better off without me because I struggled so hard to be that person that I was never meant to be.  My life was full of chaos and frustration.  I was never calm and even when I had a good day, I would find things to be discontent about because that was the only way I knew how to function.

When I gave my life to Christ, I immediately felt the bonds that were holding me loosen.  In that moment, I began to realize what it meant to experience Freedom in Christ.  Over time I learned that being Free in Christ was being the person He created me to be and not trying to fit into another person’s perception of who I should be.

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As I grew in my Christian walk and grew closer to God, I became more comfortable with myself, my flaws, my scars, and my insecurities began to melt away.  As I began to learn about God and His love, I began to understand that He created me and loves me just as I am.

The song, “Broken Things” by Matthew West has recently become one of my favorites.  The chorus and 2nd verse say:

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true
You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours

The pages of history
They tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect
It’s always the ones with the scars that You use
It’s the rebels and the prodigals
It’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me.

I love this song because it reminds me of although I’m a sinner, broken, a prodigal, and weak, God has a plan and a purpose for me.

This weekend as I watched the quotes of the LDS leadership fill up my FB page, I reveled in the truth.  I am so grateful that I am no longer bound by religion and I am now free.  I have true freedom in Christ.  I am no longer a slave to rules and laws of man.  Many people believe being a Christian is what binds you or holds you back from being free.  But I believe being a Christian is the only thing that truly makes you free.

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I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in the freedom of Christ.

 

 

Posted in Christian, exmormon, mormonism

UNCONDITIONAL…

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything.  I enjoyed a great vacation and am adjusting to new changes in my life.  But, I’m back and pray that I can continue to post on a more regular basis.

Facebook reminded me today that 1 year ago today is when I started writing my blog.  It’s amazing how fast time seems to go and how many things can change in 1 year.  One year ago, my life was so different than it is now and the changes that have happened in my life weren’t even on my radar a year ago. However, there is one thing I have been praying for, for the last 2-3 years and God finally gave me a yes and a wide-open door to that prayer.

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For the past 2-3 years, I have struggled with my place of employment.  I have spent a lot of time pleading with God to open the doors for a new place to work.  I went to interviews and whatever the circumstance, the timing wasn’t right.  No matter how many times the door shut in my face, I knew in God’s time, He would provide what I was praying for. Although, the last several months have been very difficult, I know God is watching over me and only wants the best for me.  My answered prayer is a new place of employment and for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about the future of my career.

I still struggle sometimes with that internal dialogue of not feeling good enough when God doesn’t give me the answers I want when I pray. I often think it’s because I’m not good enough for God or I’m not living right.  It’s amazing how quickly those thoughts can over take me when God says, “No” or “Not right now”.  I get so caught up in what I want, I forget that God loves me and has a plan for me.

In my Mormon belief system, the ongoing message was live according to what the church teaches you and Heavenly Father will answer your prayers.  One high up leader, Boyd K. Packer said, “Keep your covenants and you will be safe.  Break them and you will not.”   A more recent quote by another high up LDS leader, David A. Bednar said, “Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently, do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results”.

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I feel like when I was growing up, I was never really taught about God’s love.  I believed God’s love was contingent on being the faithful, diligent, consistent Mormon; which I was not even close to.  So, how could God love me? I believed God’s love was always connected to how I was living my life and when prayers weren’t answered, it was because I needed to learn something or because I wasn’t reading my scriptures enough. I think back now about being a kid and the things I prayed for.  It’s a good thing God doesn’t answer every prayer.

As a Christian, I have learned God’s love is unconditional.  I don’t have to earn it.  I don’t have to be good enough.  It doesn’t matter what I have done in my life, God loves me.  I am His child.  It still blows me away when I stop and think about God, he created the universe and he created me.  He wants the best for me in my life.

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Now when prayers aren’t answered, I know it’s because God has something better for me.  When those thoughts creep into my head and I feel like I have to be better, I stop, and laugh at myself because I know God isn’t going to withhold blessings because I’m not good enough.

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I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of God’s unconditional love.

Posted in Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Great Expectations…

I had plans to post a blog all week last week but I have been super busy and, much like life, things didn’t go as planned.  So here I am, a week later, finally finding time to write my blog.  So often, this is how life goes.  We have great expectations of how we want things to be or things to turn out.  I never thought my life would be the way it currently is. expext define

I recently read an article that talked about the biggest problem in relationships, and it wasn’t anything most people think.  It listed the biggest problem in relationships as “expectation”.  I completely agree with the article.  And although it was referring to romantic relationships, I feel expectation is the biggest problem in every relationship; including our relationship with God and our relationship with ourselves.

Expectation creates so many problems in life.  I live in Idaho and we “expected” thousands of people in our area for the eclipse.  As of today, those expectations haven’t even come close to reality.  And, that’s the problem with expectations.  So often, we have a prefect picture of how things are “supposed to be”. We know in our heads how everything is going to happen.  We worry and fret over this picture in our heads and when things don’t turn out like the picture, we are angry and frustrated; and often feel like life isn’t fair.  The thing is, life isn’t fair and nothing is certain.

Living in my Mormon world, there were a lot of expectations but the outcome was certain. I knew if I was good enough, I would reach the highest level of heaven with my family.  That was the ultimate goal.  I’ve talked in many blogs about all of the requirements that the Mormon faithful have to accomplish.   The picture that is painted is one of bliss and happiness if you remain faithful to the end.  But I struggled to fit into the picture of what those expectations were. I liked the picture but had a hard time being one of the faithful followers.  It didn’t matter how much I tried, I would always give into my sinful nature at some point.

uncertainty

As I mentioned, the biggest problem in relationships is expectation, that includes our relationship with God and ourselves.  As I progressed through my Mormon life, my expectations for myself began to change and hopelessness filled me.  How could I ever reach the perfect picture if I couldn’t even manage a day without doing what was expected of me.  Hopelessness turned to depression and suicidal thoughts.  I hated life and myself.  At times, I was angry with God.  The expectation was that God would help me through my struggles and God would give me strength.  But time after time I failed and the only thing that was certain was that I wasn’t going to make it.  I have never done well with expectations.

peace

As a Mormon, my expectation was that I could complete the requirements necessary to go to Heaven.  My expectation was if I lived according to what the Mormon Prophets taught, I would be happy and be able to be with my family forever.  The requirements were black and white and I could check them off as I completed them.  Baptism ü, Young Women’s awards and recognition ü, Marry a return missionary in the temple ü, and so on.  The criteria are clear and the expectation is that you will complete all criteria to go to heaven.

As a Mormon, I relied a lot on myself and the Mormon leaders for my salvation.   Becoming Christian and understanding what it means to give your life to Christ was a life saver for me.  I learned very quickly that my salvation had little to do with me and everything to do with Christ.  I also learned when you truly rely on God and try to live life for Him, expectation goes out the window.  So often as a Christian I think God should do things the way I have pictured in my head, and a majority of the time, that is not what happens.  The best part of being a Christian, is when I have those expectations and the perfect picture in my head, God’s is always better.

There are many times when I have gone through difficult times as a Christian and I have cried out to God to make things different; or there have been times when I have been angry with God about the struggles in my life.  The biggest problem with both of those scenarios, those are my expectations.  And even in those times when I am struggling and saying to God, “this isn’t fair” the positive results far outweigh the struggle.

I have said many times, I don’t think I could have gone through my current situation if I was still Mormon.  I truly feel that way about most experiences in my life.  This most recent struggle is life changing and sometimes it’s difficult to see there might be something positive that comes out of it.  But if there is anything that I expect as a Christian, God is always faithful, and he wants more for me than I could ever even imagine for myself.  On the hardest days when I get overwhelmed with the struggles in life I focus on that.  I know Who is in control and I know He only wants the best for me.

His promises

I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of great expectations.

Posted in Christian

Storms of Life…

Well, this Small Town Girl is back at it.  Before I get started I want to thank Cheyenne for writing my blog while I was out.  She did a great job.  I am so proud of her. She has such a heart for God and is a great example to me.

The last several months have been a huge struggle for me.  The end of February I fell and injured my hand and shoulder.  In the last 3 months, I have had 2 major surgeries and one minor surgery.  There have been times when I have felt as if I was being tossed around on the waves and whipped around in the wind and yet I felt God’s calming presence in the chaos.  Even though I was in the midst of the storm and most often after a moment (days) of panic and struggle God calmed me and I knew it would be ok.   Then there were times when the chaos died down and things didn’t seem to be so bad.  God would calm the storm and although, I knew the struggle wasn’t over, I knew it was God who was in charge of the storm.

storm

I’m still in the midst of the storm and have a very long road ahead.  Through it all, there were ups and downs and there are many more to come. So many days, I struggled with depression and being overwhelmed by the current life I was living.  “This isn’t how my life was supposed to go!  Life isn’t supposed to be this hard”.  I already overcame that struggle and yet, here I am struggling with many of the same feelings I have fought so hard to move past.  Life is supposed to be easier with God.  Right?

I don’t think God ever promised anything would be easy.  Actually, if you read the Bible, most of the people in the Bible that God used had a very hard and difficult road.  People like Jonah, Gideon, Moses, David, Rahab, Rachel, Paul, they all had very hard situations they had to work through.  Their situations required God’s guidance and direction.

God had great plans for their lives.  Their struggles and hardships are documented in the greatest book of all time.  God had a purpose for their struggle.  I don’t think Jonah ever thought “I bet I’m going down in the history books for being swallowed by a whale”!  He didn’t want to go through the struggle but in the end, he did what God wanted and God used his struggle to help others and we get to read about Jonah in the Bible.  Life isn’t supposed to be easy especially when we do things on our own.

Recently, I had a very important but difficult situation I had to confront.  The outcome of this situation would be life altering. I was so anxious and nervous.  Consumed with my own expectations in life and how limited I was in the situation.  I had no control.  I knew in the situation I was in there was absolutely nothing that I could do to affect the outcome.  And honestly, I was unsure of what I wanted the outcome to be.  As I was waiting for this situation to resolve its self, Danny Gokey’s song “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” came on the radio and I broke down in tears.  I felt it was God saying to me, “I know things have been hard.  I know you are grieving and hurt, but you are going to be ok.  I have great things for you”.

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My life has been altered by this whole experience and it will never be the same.  I still have a long road ahead but today is a new beginning for me.  The situation I discussed above is still unresolved.  I still have a long road for recovery.  There is a lot of unknown in my world but the one thing I know for certain is that God is in control of my future and He has bigger and better plans for me than I can ever have for myself.

Every day I still struggle with the overwhelming feelings, I fight the depression and the desire to stay in bed and hide from the world.  But when I take time to talk to God and remember He is the one who is writing the script to my life, it makes it a little easier.  I’m so glad to be back writing my blog and I’m looking forward to where this new path will lead. I hope you all will be patient and willing to continue to ride through this storm with me.

peace

I’m Just a Small Town Girl… Living in a Stormy World.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4rRCjrAyCs&spfreload=10

Posted in Christian

Tag Backs

Hey everyone!  I have some great news!  My mom will be returning to her blog next week, so unfortunately this is my last blog.  However, I am thinking about starting my own blog.  I haven’t decided yet, but I will make sure my mom keeps you all updated.  If I do start one it won’t be until school starts back up again.

This week I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about.  I was thinking about just writing about some of the awesome things God has done in my life.  Then yesterday I was listening to Klove on the way home from work and “Prodigal” by Sidewalk Prophets came on.  Instantly I knew that’s what God wanted me to write about.

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This song comes from the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.  The son of a wealthy man takes his inheritance and squanders it all on partying and worldly things.  Then he comes back, hoping he can at least work in his father’s fields.  But his father welcomes him home with open arms and throws him a huge feast.  That’s how God sees us.  He wants nothing more than for all His prodigal sons and daughters to come home and He will welcome us all home with open arms.  No matter what you’ve done, all He wants is for you to come home.  “Where ever you are, whatever you did, it’s a page in your book but it isn’t the end.  Your Father will meet you with arms open wide.  This is where your heart belongs.  So come running like a prodigal.”

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This song seems to be more targeted at an audience that thinks there is too much bad in their past for God to love them, but I think it also has a meaning for believers.  There are no lost causes.  In 1 Timothy 2:3-4 it says, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God wants everyone to come to know Him, no matter what they’ve done.  I see this song as not only a message saying God loves me and wants me no matter what, but also a reminder that there are no lost causes.  You never know how much a single prayer or word can change someone.  The simplest things can move mountains.  So don’t think that the extreme atheist or the most devout of other religions can’t be saved.  God wants ALL of His children to come home.  Everyone can be saved.  So go out and help them get there! Show them the love of God!

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No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve come from, God wants you to come running into His arms.  It’s our job as believer to help others find their way home too!  So, I leave you with this; “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19.

I’m Just the daughter of a small town girl…living in a prodigal world.

Posted in Christian

There’s a place for everyone

Hey everyone.  Sorry I missed last week.  I got my wisdom teeth out and with everything that followed I forgot to write.  But now I am pretty much healed up and excited to continue!

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about people in the Bible and how God was able to use them no matter what circumstances they were in.  He uses us the same way.  No matter our circumstances, no matter how broken we think we are, God has a plan for each and every one of us that will use our skills and gifts He has given us to the fullest and further His kingdom.

god uses peop;e

God uses all sorts of people to witness and disciple to others; people from all walks of life.  Jesus himself used sinners and tax collectors to help spread the Gospel.  Think of Paul.  He was one of the biggest persecutors of Jesus’s followers until God changed his heart.  After that Paul helped the church grow so much and helped write a large portion of the New Testament.  God chose David, the smallest and youngest of his family, to defeat Goliath and become king.  He also used David to do so many more amazing things even though he was an adulterer and did a lot of other bad things. God can use you, no matter how broken, no matter what we’ve done.  God has a plan for each and every one of us.  He is going to use you to do amazing things!

I never thought God was going to use me for outreach.  I’m an introvert.  I don’t like talking to people I don’t know.  I won’t talk to anyone I’m not super close to unless they talk to me first.  I always thought God would use me to build up other Christians that I already knew.  I thought He would use me to help my friends and family grow in Christ and maybe bring some of my non-Christian friends to Christ.  But God had other plans.  I’m going to be a Chi Alpha leader, which means I have to go out and talk to people I don’t know a lot of the time, as well as building up my friends, old and new.  He is going to be using me in ways I never imagined, but He knows I have the skills I’m going to need in order to do my job as a student leader.

god can use you

God has a plan for all of us.  He has a way to use everyone.  And with that we need to remember the lesson taught by Balaam.

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Balaam.  In Numbers chapter 22, Balak son of Zippor sent a message to Balaam asking him to place a curse on Israel, but God said, “You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed.” In response to Balak’s persistence, Balaam said, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God.”  Balaam is so dedicated to God.  He refuses to do anything that is not God’s will.  So whatever God’s plan is for us, we need to listen.

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I didn’t want to be a Chi Alpha leader.  I thought there was too much wrong in my past and that I couldn’t do it because of my introvertedness.  But, like Balaam, I chose to follow God’s plan for me, no matter what doubts or fears I had.  God has a great plan for you.  He will use you in the best way possible.  And it’s your job to follow that plan no matter what.

I’m just the daughter of a small town girl… following God’s will.

Images taken from Google.