Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Scars…

“So I’m thankful for the scars

‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart

And I know they’ll always tell of who You are

So forever I am thankful for the scars”

~Scars~ I AM THEY

This has recently become one of my favorite songs.  The words “I am thankful for the scars ‘cause without them I wouldn’t know your heart” go through my mind several times throughout the day. In my line of work, I am often reminded of my past and there are so many times I want to tell people, “You need Jesus!” But I don’t…

Over the past several months, I have had some family ruckus, and it has brought up a lot of past emotions and memories.  I have had days where I am tearful, frustrated, and angry. But then I remind myself of where I am at.

Merriam-Webster defines a scar as “a mark remaining (as on the skin) after injured tissue has healed”.  The best part of that statement is after injured tissue has healed.

never be ashamed

The difficult things with scars, is that even though they have healed on the outside, doesn’t mean they are healed on the inside.  And even when they have healed, they can be tender to touch or bump. There can be a buildup of scare tissue and if you bump that scar just right, the pain can be excruciating.

Our brain is much the same as those physical scars we see.  When the scars on our brain are “bumped”, it can activate painful memories and emotions that put you right back into the moment you were hurt.

I already had many scars from the bumps and bruises of childhood.  And many others from my adolescence where I struggled with low self-worth, depression, and anxiety.  If you look closely, I have a few scars on my wrist from cutting or passive suicide attempts.  I have one big scar on my shoulder from cutting where I had to get stitches.

When I am in certain situations or around certain people, those scars the physical and emotional can make me feel like I stick out like a sore thumb. This most often happens when I am around my family and especially my extended Mormon family.

The most recent episode, was recently at my uncle’s funeral.  I was speaking with an uncle and a cousin came up and interrupted our conversation.  She didn’t even acknowledge that I was having a conversation, she didn’t say excuse me or apologize for interrupting, she didn’t say anything to me. She just butted into our conversation, didn’t even look my way, and spoke with my uncle as if I didn’t even exist.   She finished her conversation and walked away without even conceding that I was there, that I am human, and I have feelings. At the same funeral, another cousin who I grew up spending a lot of time with and I was close to, didn’t come up and talk to me.  I attempted to talk to her but she was busy and didn’t even look my way.  I walked out with my head held high, but inside I felt like that teenage girl who would never be enough.

amazing grace

There was another situation a few months ago were I had another cousin post something about immigration he quoted Matthew 25:40 “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  This cousin has been highly judgmental of me since I left the faith of my childhood and have walked away from many of the toxic relationships that fed into my feelings of not being enough.

These situations come up more often than I like to admit. I think it is easy to feel ashamed by my scars, especially when I am in a place of struggle.  My scars can weigh me down and make feel embarrassed and worthless. It is in these times I am so grateful for my God and the knowledge I have that He loves me and created me to be who I am.

One thing I have realized recently is that Jesus had scars.  He was God in human form.  When He was resurrected and showed himself to the apostles, he had scars.  Thomas didn’t believe it was Jesus until He showed him His scars.  John 20:27 “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here see my hands. Reach out you hand and put it to my side.  Stop doubting and believe’”.

his scars

Jesus had the ability to heal himself of the scars.  To make it so the physical marks of his torture and anguish for our sins were gone, and He kept them.  Christ’s scars are a reminder to me of His humanness.  A reminder that he knows my pain.  He struggled and suffered as a human.  He was tempted but resisted sin in a way I can’t so He would be a Holy sacrifice for me.

As I have grown in my life and healed, from the traumas of my past, I have realized, it is my own negative self-talk that brings me down and holds me hostage the most.  I am grateful for the scars, and the experiences from each one.  I know it sounds sort of cliché. But I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those experiences and with those comes the scars.  It is part of what makes me human and makes me, me.

If I didn’t have the experiences, I wouldn’t know Christ, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn’t have met all the people along the way who have helped me become me. So, I am thankful for the scars.

I’m Just a Small-Town Girl…Living in a world where I am thankful for the scars.

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Christian

My Size 9’s Are Different Than Yours…

I once had a client tell me “My size 9’s are different than your size 9’s or any one else’s, size 9’s”.  She was talking about her path in life.  Although there are other people who have been through similar experiences, her experience is unique to her and will never be the same as any one else’s.  I don’t even wear a size nine, but that stuck with me.  I use her analogy a lot with clients and discuss their circumstances and their life path.  Their journey is different than anyone else.  They will have times when they are doing well and times when they struggle.  They will have times when they are growing and thriving and times, they feel lost and like they are starting over. But it is all part of their journey.

called wm

I think it is easy to look at that analogy and use it in the context of life as a whole.  However, I think in the Christian walk, there is an expectation that once you accept Christ, life may have its up’s and down’s but your Christian walk has expectations and milestones that need to be met to measure your level of belief or faith in God.

I really struggle when people start putting expectations on my faith. I don’t believe God has a check list or a chart that measures a person’s faith.  I don’t believe that getting baptized, paying tithing, volunteering at church, attending church, or even reading the Bible determines my love for God, where I am in my journey, or how much faith I have.  None of that can determine the level of my relationship with my Savior.  None of that can determine my salvation.

This summer I have been in a small group Bible study that has talked about becoming a disciple for Christ.  I have very much enjoyed the time with the ladies in my group and I have learned a lot.  For a long time, I had a belief that a disciple was a teacher, someone who taught people about Jesus.  But the definition of a disciple is any follower of Christ. Not someone who has done all the right things, not someone who is good enough, not someone who has checked all the Christian boxes on their journey.  I loved this realization.  I am a disciple of Christ.  I follow Him.

 

I think when people become followers of Christ, when they truly surrender their hearts and have a desire to follow Jesus, there is a desire to grow, to change, to become better in your life.  However, with anything, there are stages of growth and change. In the Bible study book, we have been using this summer the last chapter talked about how in Alaska due to the way the seasons are the amount of sunshine during the summer months there is a rapid growth during that time.  The author talked about the “hot house” effect stated how in awe he and his wife were of the flowers, pumpkins, and other vegetables they found in Alaska in early July.  The reason is because of the rapid growth that happens from May to through August.  It is a short season but the growth is fast an amazing, but then Alaska has a long season of cold and dark, where there is little to no sun, and nothing grows.

following wm

I think it is so easy for the religiosity of people to get caught up in the judgments and measuring people by the tangible things they see.  I have mentioned before my struggle with religion.  I think when people start creating expectations, rules, requirements for salvation or faith, that is the most detrimental thing a disciple you can do.  Jesus never had expectations except to follow Him. Your path, your size 9’s are part of your journey, part of your demonstration of your faith.  God will use you where you are at on His terms.

God has always used regular everyday people to spread his message. I recently heard a new song by one of my favorite Christian bands Casting Crowns.  The song is called Nobody and the chorus says:

Moses had stage fright
And David brought a rock to a sword fight
You picked twelve outsiders nobody would’ve chosen
And You changed the world
Well, the moral of the story is
Everybody’s got a purpose

So when I hear that devil start talking to me, saying
“Who do you think you are?” I say

I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody
All about Somebody who saved my soul
Ever since You rescued me, You gave my heart a song to sing
I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus
I’m living for the world to see nobody but Jesus

know wm

I guess the whole point is we all have our own size 9’s and as long as those size 9’s are on a path to Jesus, God will use us as he sees fit.  My size 8’s are way different than your size 9’s and just because you don’t like someone else’s shoes or you don’t like how they are progressing in their walk doesn’t make you the expert in the journey.

I’m just a Small Town Girl…Living life with Jesus in my size 8’s.

Christian, exmormon

Do It Afraid…

I’m currently listening to a book called, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, by Sheila Walsh.  As I was listening today, she talked about having faith of a mustard seed and how much power that little bit of faith in God can have in your life. As she was talking, I thought about why I haven’t written or been consistent in writing a blog over the last year, and I think the biggest reason is because I am afraid. God has given me everything that I’ve wanted in a job in more. I have more than I ever thought I could want in a career and he’s opening up doors for me that I never even thought would be a possibility for me.  I am setting goals for and pursuing things that never even crossed my mind in the past and I am excited about my career and my future.  I know God put me where I am in my job and my career.  He has opened every door, cleared every path for me to be where I am at today, and yet I can’t trust him. I fear that if I share my faith with my new co-workers and friends, that I might offend someone. Maybe someone will find out something about me they don’t like, or maybe, somehow my faith, blog, or past will come back to haunt me or come back to me in a negative way.  Funny thing is, God loves me, and God put me there.  I know that.

I’ve sat down many times over the last few months and started to write a blog. Or I have written a blog, but it is still sitting on my computer. I haven’t posted it or haven’t finished it because I’m afraid of what people are going to think what people are going to say.  I’m afraid of offending someone or afraid that someone will find something out about my past. Which is really funny because, that’s why I started the blog in the first place, to share my past and to reach out to people. I keep going back to a previous conversation I had with a friend and that I wrote about where I said God’s got my back and if he takes my job from me, he’s got something better. I think it was easier to have that attitude at my last job because that was a negative environment for me, and I didn’t care if I lost my job anyway. I love my job now.  I love where things are going, and I am scared to lose what I have.  I don’t want to lose what I have, and I don’t even have faith of even a mustard seed to keep going, to follow through. I don’t trust God enough that if he provided this for me, he going to see it through. I know that it I don’t have to have “enough” faith or that I don’t have to be perfect.  I know God loves me and an even through my lack of faithfulness and my struggle that is He there for me every step of the way.

I’m so so grateful for His grace. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t stop and thank God for saving me!  Every day I look back and I wonder where would I be if I was still Mormon? I can’t even I can’t even fathom or imagine where my life would be. I’m so grateful to him every day for taking me out of a belief system where I was taught, I had to do enough, be strong enough, or have faith enough.  I will never reach that.

You would think when life is going right, you are at peace, and content, it would be easier to trust God.  But I am learning that it’s not.  God is definitely telling me to trust him, and I am more afraid than when I am in the midst of a storm. I don’t have faith enough, but I do have the faith of a mustard seed even though I am scared.  I can believe that God is going to take care of me I can do it while I’m afraid.

So, I guess, this is a kind of renewal of my commitment to God and what He has called me to do.  I think it is ok for me to be afraid.  I need to share my faith, my story, and keep being me because the only one who really matters put me where I am now.  I don’t know the future, I don’t know where things will go in my life and my career.  What I do know that God keeps telling me “You need to keep doing your blog and you need to keep sharing”. I need to be proud of who I am and where I came from. I need to have just the faith of a mustard seed and trust in what God has already done in my life.  I need to stand strong in God’s love and share my faith.

I’m Just a Small-Town Girl…trying to have faith of a mustard seed, even when I’m afraid.

Christian

Uncomfortable…

I read a quote today that said, “When God wants you to grow, He makes you uncomfortable.”  Well, let’s just say, I’ve been really uncomfortable lately.  I have been very busy.  I have been challenged in just about every aspect of my life.  I have had to stop and reflect on my values and core beliefs, and at times I have stopped and questioned “Do I really believe in God?”  Thankfully, that question doesn’t linger long in my mind.  God is real, and He makes Himself known to me often.

helplessness

I have had many times when I have thought I was going to write a blog, and for what ever reason, it just wasn’t what God wanted for me.  I’ve been growing.  The nice thing is that even when you’re growing nothing blooms forever, so I know there will be a time when I get to reflect on my growth.  I don’t know if I am there yet, but I know it’s coming.

The last several months, I have been through many hills and valleys.  I have prayed for things and God has come through in ways that I never could have imagined.  He has answered those prayers with more than I could have imagined.   I have also prayed for things and God has said no, or not now, wait.  These prayers have been for things that have been for somethings that are easy to accept but others have been heart wrenching.   In the moments when I have felt broken, I have also been able to feel God’s strength carrying me.  Through it all the message has been “Trust me.”  And with every step even in my brokenness, I can feel myself becoming stronger in my faith and I know God only wants the best for me.

Through all of the struggle, it has been made clear over and over to me that God is real.  I encounter people on a regular basis who don’t believe in God.  They are atheist or agnostic, I had a conversation recently where someone told me, there is no proof that God exists and until there is I have no reason to believe.  A statement like that baffles me because I see God every day.  I see God in the sunsets, the stars, flowers, I see God when I look in the mirror.  And I know without a doubt, even though I go through storms in life, I would rather go through them with God by my side, than with out Him.

science

Over the past few months of not writing, God has confirmed to me that I am His daughter! The daughter of the King of the Universe.  And the day I called His name and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior I became flawless in His eyes.  Even in the darkest, most difficult days, when I am having the hardest time, when I feel the most inadequate, and worthless, God reminds me, I am His, He is in control of my life and I have no reason to fear. God knows my struggle and He will take care of me.

limitations

I know that every hill and valley I am going through, every experience, every person He brings into my life, is preparation for the amazing future he has for me.  Change is hard, being uncomfortable is hard. But God knows what I need, and He has amazing plans for my life. He is continually saying “Trust me.”  And through every hill and valley, that is what I’m trying to do. God is putting the pieces of my life together and even though I am uncomfortable, that means I’m growing, and the most beautiful things take a lot of time and care to reach their fullest potential.

I’m just a Small-Town Girl… Uncomfortable growing in God’s world.

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.

 

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.

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.