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, LDS

Even the Sparrow

I am a worrier.  I always have been.  I worry about everything from having enough time to get everything done with my busy schedule, to my future and everything in between.  For me, it’s worry, worry, worry and go, go, go and sometimes I barely have time to catch a breath.

From the moment I first heard it, “Sparrows” by Jason Grey, has been one of my favorite songs because it is the perfect reminder that God has everything in control and I need to let go of my worry.  When I feel overwhelmed and like everything is spiraling out of control with no hope, this is my go to song.  This song is the perfect reminder that we are always in God’s sight and He is in control. He will make sure everything turns out exactly the way it should.

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A few weeks ago my boyfriend, who is LDS, got his mission call.  This was a moment I had been dreading and worrying about for months.  When he opened his call and read that he was going to Ghana, Africa, the whole world seemed to turn upside down.  As I walked out to my car afterwards I was a mess.  I couldn’t help but think of all the things that could happen to him while he is gone and worrying he would never come to a relationship with Jesus if he left.  We had already spent many months arguing about our differing beliefs and all hope seemed lost.  But God always know exactly what I need to hear.  As soon as I turned on my car I heard the words I needed.  “If He can hold the world He can hold this moment.  Not a field or flower escapes His notice.  Oh, even the sparrow knows, He holds tomorrow.”  When I heard that song I knew God was telling me I needed to let go of my worry and that everything was going to work out.

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“If He can hold the world He can hold this moment.”  God holds the entire world in His hands.  He is in control of everything.  If He can carry the weight of the world, He can definitely hold you in the moments your worry gets the best of you.  Trust Him to hold your worry. Let it go and give it to the God of the universe.  “Not a field or flower escapes His notice.”  God’s eye is on everything.  He takes care of even the smallest plant, so why would He not take care of you? He will provide for your every need.  Sometimes you may think your problems are too small for God to handle, but nothing is too small for Him to notice.  “Even the sparrow knows He holds tomorrow.”  This is my favorite part of the song.  God holds our future.  He holds tomorrow in His hands.  The sparrows know that.  So why don’t we understand it?  Matthew 6: 25-27 says “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.  Isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”  Jesus said it himself; we are God’s favorite creation, His pride and joy.  He made us in His image.  He cares and provides for all the plants and animals on the earth, so why would He not take care of you, too?  God wants to take care of you in every way.  He wants to take your worries and fears away.  Worrying will only stop you from living life to the fullest.  So give your worries to God!

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I’m just the daughter of a small town girl… who’s smallest worry doesn’t escape God’s notice.

Posted in Christian, exmormon, LDS, mormonism

God is the box…

Often as I get ready for work I listen to music.  I have a crazy mix on my Pandora, from 80’s music to Disney Children’s Songs.  The other day as I was walking out the door, the song How Great is Our God by Chris Tomlin came on and it made me stop and think. There were a few things that came up this week that reminded me of the difference between my God and the god of Mormonism.

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I have written many blogs at this point about God’s power and ability.  I remember when I was a kid and my dad did a family home evening lesson on God and his power.  He talked about God being omnipotent and omniscient.  Meaning that God is all powerful and all knowing.  I thought that was a pretty cool thing.   I as I have grown in my Christian walk I have also learned that God is omnipresent meaning in all places at all times.  I have heard mixed reviews on whether Mormon’s agree with this or not although, I believe most of them do.

As I thought about all of this on my 40-minute drive to work, it lead me to think about the differences between the God of the Bible and the god of Mormonism.  When I was Mormon, I didn’t realize there was a difference between the god I believed in and the God of the Bible.   I kind of remember when I was little and I asked where God came from.  I don’t remember the answer I was given but I remember from that conversation, a picture of continuous gods and I felt like my question was never answered.  Where did the first god come from then?  It was something that was difficult to answer and maybe my parents thought I was too young to understand.

As an adult, I now know there is a huge difference between my God, the God of the Bible and the Mormon god.  Mormons believe that the god of our planet was once a man just like you and me.  He lived life on a planet where he sinned and worked hard to be pleasing to his heavenly father.  Through his works and the plan of salvation he was exalted to godhood. He earned this through making good choices and keeping the covenants and ordinances that were put before him. They also believe that we, as humans, also have the opportunity to become god of our own planet; if we live the right way and do the right things.  Joseph Smith taught that men and women were co-eternal with God and could become like Him by “going from a small capacity to a great capacity,” until eventually they dwell “in everlasting burnings.”

To me Joseph Smith is stating we are equals with god and can be the same as god.  I think that is what started all of the problems in the world in the first place.  Satan was thrown out of Heaven because he wanted to be God.  Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden and sin entered the world because they wanted to be like God.  To me striving to be like God is trouble and something to avoid at all costs.

Joseph Smith also stated, “The soul, the mind of man, where did it come from? The learned says God made it in the beginning, but it is not so. I know better. God has told me so.”  This statement also baffles me.  I feel Joseph Smith is saying that the Bible is wrong and God didn’t really create “man”.  Joseph Smith doesn’t say where man came from but, that he knows better than what God’s word says.

Because they believe the god of our planet has his own heavenly father that means they believe there was another god before our god made his own planet.  And they believe people here on earth can also be exalted and become gods, therefore, they believe in more than one god.

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As a Christian, I believe in one God existent in 3 personages; the Trinity of God.  I believe God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirt are one God.  My pastor explains it Dr. Seuss style: 3 who’s and 1 what; the 2nd who has an extra what. They are 3 beings working together as one.  I’m not great at explaining the Trinity and I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it.  The Bible refers to the Trinity in many verses. John 14:9-11 says “Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”  And Philippians 2:5-8 states “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”  These are just a few of the verses that refer to God and Jesus being one. If you feel that the Trinity doesn’t make sense and you want to understand it more, here is a link that I feel explains it well https://carm.org/trinity-makes-no-sense-it-isnt-logical.

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I also believe God has always existed.  The Bible is full of versus that state that God has always existed.  Psalms 90:2 states “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  Proverbs 8:23 states “I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be.” And Revelation 1:8 states “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” These are just a few of the many.

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I think many people struggle with believing in God because He doesn’t fit into a box.  As I was talking to Brian about this blog, he said God is the box.  That is so true.   We are inside God’s box and it impossible to wrap our brains around the amazingness of God. Sometimes it’s so hard to even comprehend God and all of his awesomeness.  It’s easy to limit God because we can’t even imagine His power.

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How great is my God?  He is the ultimate.  He is the creator of all things.  He created the universe and he created me.  He spoke the world into existence and darkness trembles at His name!  The thing that I find most amazing about God is that He can make me feel like the most important person in the world and at the same time can be doing the exact same thing for someone all the way across the world.

I’m just a small-town girl…who has a God who is too big for a box.

 

Posted in exmormon, LDS, mormonism

Black & White

This week I observed a discussion online where somebody posted a quote from Joseph Smith that state:

“Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet…When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go.”

To me this is saying that Joseph Smith feels he is better than Jesus at creating followers. Many of the comments to this person were negative and not because of the quote but because they felt this person was bashing the Mormon religion or Joseph Smith. One person commented with another quote  from Joseph Smith that stated  “A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” They then stated the original post could have been something uplifting instead of pushing a hateful agenda. The thing is, is that both of these quotes were said by Joseph Smith, and regardless of whether you agree with them both or not they are his words.

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So the question is if these two quotes were both said by Joseph Smith, can you choose one over the other?  Can you choose to believe that Joseph Smith was a good man who believed in blessing his family and the whole world and choose not to believe that he had more to boast of than even Jesus?  Can I pick and choose what I rely on as truth and leave the rest? And what about the Bible and the Book of Mormon for that matter? Can I pick and choose what parts of the Book of Mormon are true and what aren’t?  Can I pick and choose what I want to believe in the Bible and what I want to follow, what I  want to be truth and inspired by God and ignore the rest?

As a mental health clinician I spend a lot of time working with people on thinking errors. One of those thinking errors is called black and white thinking. Black and white thinking is dangerous because it’s an all-or-nothing statement.  It means that there’s no gray or flexibility in thinking.  It means that it is or it isn’t and there’s really no in between. I am not a black and white person in most areas in my life. I live in a world of gray. However, when it comes to the Bible and God’s word there is no gray it is black and white and there is no in between.  To me God’s word is solid and concrete.

If you believe that the Bible is God’s word then you should believe every word in the Bible is inspired by God.  You don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you want to believe.  You don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you want to follow. And you don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you want to be truth.  God’s word is inspired for us, to guide us through life.  Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”. The Bible is full of Prophecy that has already come true; 25% of the prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive and powerful.  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow”.  His word is still meant for us today.  It is alive and powerful.

As a Christian I totally and completely believe in God’s word and I use it to guide me to make many of the decisions that I choose in life. And yet, so many people, pick and choose what parts of the Bible they want to believe are true and want to follow.  I feel like this is especially true with my Mormon friends and family.  So often, things are brought up about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and LDS church history, and they often sweep it under the rug.  Their comments are, “God will work it all out in the end” or  “But it’s such a good belief system.  Mormons are good people”.  I don’t disagree, I think Mormons are are good people, I think that what they believe on the surface looks good. But in all reality, if you really dig and look at what Mormons truly believe, if you look at Joseph Smith and his intent behind what he was doing, none of that has to do with God, none of it has to do with the Bible. It was all for self-gain it’s all man-made and none of it is based on truth.

I think one of the biggest problems for Mormons is they only read the book of Mormon and they don’t take the time or don’t have an understanding of the Bible.  They don’t know what God’s word says.  I am no expert on the Bible I don’t know completely what God’s word says and I’m still working on reading the Bible completely. But I do enjoy spending time in God’s word and learning new things. And I do know that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God and anyone who claims that they were better than Jesus or did things better than Jesus, who was God on Earth himself, is not of God and is not here to further God’s Kingdom.

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We can’t pick and choose God’s word. God’s word is true and truth is truth. If you believe that Joseph Smith loved his wife Emma, I don’t know that you’re necessarily wrong. However, he still had at least 40 other wives and practiced polygamy.  Many of these wives his first wife Emma, didn’t know about. So you can’t say he was honest and faithful to his wife because he wasn’t upfront with her about his many marriages.  That’s a fact that’s provable and it’s documented by the LDS Church.  If you believe that he was a good man, I’m sure that he had his good days, we all do right. But that doesn’t change the fact that he stated more than once that he believed that he was just as good or better than Jesus. He created a religion where he could exalt himself to godhood. Isn’t that why Satan got kicked out of heaven in the first place, because he wanted to be  God?

One of the best things that the devil can do, is keep us away from God’s word and make us think that we know truth.  Satan makes us feel comfortable in what we believe and we believe we know more than God. That’s what got Eve into trouble in the Garden.

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I remember a few years ago when I was commuting to work, about an hour away, and I was in a hurry to get home to my son’s football game. There was a wreck on the highway and I had a brilliant idea that I would take a side road that I didn’t know instead of waiting on the highway. I didn’t know where the road would lead me but I thought it would be a good choice. So I got off the highway and I went down this unknown path. I got lost and I turned down a side road that led me to a dead end.  I had to turn around and I was completely lost.  My phone had died so I had no maps on my phone I had no compass and I was completely 100% on my own.  I had nothing to guide me nothing to give me direction I was driving blind. This is what happens when we walk through this world without God’s word and relying on our own truth.

If  we don’t have the Bible in our lives and we don’t have God’s word.  If we pick and choose the parts we want to believe we’re choosing not to follow God’s word. I had to stop and pray (thank goodness for that lifeline) and ask God to give me direction. I finally found a road that led me back to the highway; but had I stayed on the path that I knew to be true and correct, I wouldn’t have gotten lost in the first place.  I ended up being late because I tried to do things on my own.

It’s so important to know what God’s word says. I think that it’s important to take God’s word as it is. It is 100% true 100% whole and 100% inspired by God to teach us and guide us in this world. If you’re going to pick and choose what parts of the Bible you want to believe then I think you have to question, do you really even believe in God?

The problem is is that in this world of Grey that we live in the only place where we find truth and guidance, the compass that guides our life is often forgotten and laid aside.  We try to captain our own ships and to do things ourselves. I know when I try to do things on my own I tend to get myself in more trouble.

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If you’re going to believe God, have to believe in Him 100% you can’t pick and choose what parts you want to believe in. You have to be invested wholly or else you’re not really invested you’re just going through the motions.

I’m just a small town girl… Living in a world where God is my Captain and the Bible is my compass.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Christian, exmormon, LDS, mormonism

My Chains Are Gone…

I was thinking about writing about the forbidden drink of Mormonism this week which has become one of my most favorite drinks in the world.  But that isn’t what God had planned for this week so I will address my thoughts on that in a future blog.

This week as I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post that discussed the Mormon Church and grace + works. At first the writer seemed to express an understanding of grace.  That it’s free, and gives us hope.  But then they stated “The works that I perform are to keep his commandments, to feed his sheep and to partake of the saving ordinances that He showed us we need”.  This is the part I want to address. cheapen-sacrifice-stg

Anyone who is in the Mormon faith and believes they aren’t in a works based faith is lying to themselves.  The key statement from above is “saving ordinances”.  That is the biggest difference between my Mormon beliefs and my beliefs as a Christian.  In Mormonism there are requirements for salvation; “Saving ordinances”.  In Christianity, Christ did all the work.  There are no requirements for salvation.  When Jesus said “It is finished” (John 19:30) He meant all requirements were fulfilled. There is nothing left do except to accept Him- Christ, as your Savior.

In Mormonism, they believe in order to reach exaltation or the Celestial Kingdom the desired degree of Heaven, you have to follow or meet certain criteria.  You have to be a member of the LDS church which most people in the Mormon faith do at the age of 8 by getting baptized.  I blogged about that last week (the age of account ability). Being a member adds all sorts of requirements and those increase as your age increases.  You are not allowed to say no to any callings, you are required to pay 10% of your income to the church.  You are expected to follow all the rules and requirements which include family prayer and scripture study, tithing, fast offerings, monthly fasting, following the word of wisdom, temple marriage, and  regular temple visits if you are close enough.  Every year you are required to have worthiness interview to make sure you qualify for your pass to go to the temple.  Adults aren’t the only ones who are expected to go to the temple.  Youth, starting at age 12, begin attending the temple for the ritual practice of baptisms for the dead (this will be a future blog).  There are also all sorts of unspoken expectations and requirements that if you’re not meeting you are at risk of not getting your temple recommend, which is basically the pass that your bishop gives you verifying you are worthy.   All of these are exceptions you must follow in order to meet the Mormon requirement of worthiness, determined by a man in your ward who is deemed more worthy than you and now you have a piece of paper showing how “worthy” you are.  I’m not sure how any of this has to do with being saved and or worthy.

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As a Christian, the expectation for salvation is to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior.  He has already done all the work.  There are no expectations or requirements. Baptism, tithing, marriage, church attendance, service work, none of these things are a requirement of salvation.  Do I do these things. Yes.  I was baptized, I pay a regular tithe (an amount that I feel God has led me to give), I serve in my church, I attend church service weekly.  The difference is I do these because I want to.  I do them because they help me be closer to my God and help me grow in His word.  They help me be a better person and connect with other people who are also trying to grow their relationship with Christ.

Nothing in the Christian Gospel is about repaying God for my salvation or doing things so that I can earn my salvation.  Acts 4:12 states “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name  under Heaven by which we must be saved”.  I feel that Mormon believers put as much, or even sometimes more emphasis, on Joseph Smith  or the current prophet than they do on Jesus Christ. They accept the word of man over God’s word.  Romans 10:9-10 states “If you declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved”.  God’s word doesn’t say you need to get baptized, pay 10% to your church, do everything your pastor tells you, go through an annual worthiness interview, fast once per month, get married in a “sacred” ceremony that only those over 18 and who are deemed worthy can attend, do as many good things as you can, then cross your fingers an hope it was enough to make it to Heaven.

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I’m tired just listing a few of the expectations. It’s no wonder I felt so helpless all the time.  Really, I don’t know who would want to live their life under so many rules and laws.  I have a hard time just following the general rules of society. I have to set my cruise control just so I don’t get a speeding ticket.  It amazes me still to look back on my life.  I was truly bound by the chains of Mormonism.  I was bound by rules, requirements, and restrictions.  One of my first blogs was Cookie Cutters are for Cookies, because I tried so hard to be a Mormon.  I tried so hard to live with the chains and restraints of a religion. I believed, just like my friend on Facebook, that the Mormon Church was true and if I tried hard enough and did enough that maybe I would be worthy of God’s love and I would hopefully do enough to be with my family forever in heaven.  As a Christian, I know I can never do anything to be worthy of God’s love.  I was set free from those restraints when I gave my life to Christ.  I began to truly experience what life is meant to be like. I accepted what Christ did on the cross for me and it humbled me.

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The bottom line is, we don’t need any saving ordinances like my Facebook friend stated.  The only thing we need is Jesus Christ.   The most heartbreaking thing is, I see so many people bound by the chains of Mormonism.  Who are exhausted by the struggle of trying to do enough and be enough.  I don’t know for sure, but I believe the comment I saw was in response to me posting a link to my blog post response to grace, of a friends comment that said, “I never think I am enough or doing enough… I just have to keep trying”.  It breaks my heart to see people share these things because I have lived in that world  and now MY CHAINS ARE GONE!! I’ve been set free. My God, My Savior has ransomed me.  Not by anything I’ve done but by what Christ did for me.

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I’m just a small town girl…free from the chains of a works based world.

Posted in exmormon, LDS

Life is What You Make It…

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This is the first time I have ever used one of my original poems in my blog.  But I really felt it was fitting.  Life is all about choices.  The world will tell you, you aren’t beautiful enough, rich enough, smart enough, talented enough, good enough, for anything.  And all too often we believe that lie.  Every time we make a mistake or do something wrong we add it to our list of inadequacies.  When we are put in a difficult situation where we make a mistake or we feel incompetent, we pull out that list so at least we have a reason for our failures.

Instead of owning our mistakes or our failures, instead of asking for forgiveness and learning from the struggles we face, we pull out our list and say, “Ha, ha, ha, yep that’s me.  I’m driving the bus straight to Hell.  Who wants to join me.”  We believe it is easier to live with the burdens of our mistakes and failures than to face them, own our stories, and really learn to live.

I talk with people all the time who think there is no way that God will forgive them for the things they’ve done or the paths they have chosen in life.  They believe they have been away from God too long and they can’t go back.  I love the saying by Lisa Bevere that says, “If you think you have blown God’s plans for the rest of your life, rest in this, you my friend are not that powerful.”  To believe that because you have made some bad choices, made some wrong turns in life, been angry with God, or turned your back on God, or it’s too late to turn around, is one of the biggest lies in history.  God the creator of the universe loves YOU!  He has a plan for YOU! He will never give up on YOU!

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Living in my Mormon belief system I struggled with this often.  I have said many times, I wasn’t a good person. I really wasn’t.  I always wanted to be more.  I wanted to be beautiful I wanted to be thin, more athletic, but most of all I wanted to people to like me.  I always felt like I didn’t have any friends and I wanted to be accepted by others. When I was in jr. high, I would steal money from my parents dresser drawer and basically buy friends, I had people who would want to be around me because I would give them money and I would buy them candy and soda.  When the money in the drawer got low, I had to find other sources of money.  I would find money anywhere I could, because I was afraid I wouldn’t have any friends if I didn’t.  I would go through my siblings drawers, I would go through coat pockets, and I would even go through piggy banks.  I would lie about all of it, every penny I took, what I was doing with it, and I would lie to my “friends” about where I got the money. Every bit of my life was a lie.  As I got older I lied about more and more things.  It came to the point that most of the time I didn’t even know if I was lying or telling the truth. I began to believe I was a mistake.  I believed that I was born into the wrong family, maybe I was really adopted at birth.  I believed I didn’t deserve to live.  I was such a horrible person and I didn’t believe I deserved to ever be forgiven. In my mind I was not much better than a murderer.  I made a deliberate choice to take money from my family and I made the deliberate choice to lie.  I knew what I was doing was wrong. I would lie awake at night and think about every drop of blood I caused Jesus to shed just for me. It was a lot.  I could have caused his death just by my sin alone.  Yes, this added a lot to my depression and feelings of worthlessness. But I think the biggest struggle was living in a belief system where there was no redemption.  Believing I had gone so far, there was no way I could ever do enough to earn the forgiveness I needed. There was no way I could be forgiven, and I didn’t feel that I deserved the forgiveness anyway.

Brian coming into my life helped cure me from my lying.  Even before we became a couple we were good friends, he held my feet to the fire and wouldn’t let me get away with even the smallest white lie.  I used to cheat on games all of the time.  I would manipulate and find any way I could to win.  I love games and am very competitive.  He wouldn’t play games with me.  He would walk away from the game and not play with me any more.  But he never walked away from me and never gave up on me. As our relationship grew, I didn’t want to lie to him, I didn’t want him to be mad at me.  I always wanted to be truthful with him.  And I realized winning fairly is a lot more fun than winning by cheating.

After we got married, and our life was in complete chaos, I became involved in an online relationship.  I’m very blessed that there weren’t online dating sites like there are today, otherwise I would have been in a lot of trouble.  In Mormonism, to be forgiven for adultery, you have to confess to your bishop, be excommunicated, go through a confession process, and then get re-baptized.  I’m not sure that I committed adultery according to Mormon standards.  But in God’s eyes and mine it was an affair, I became emotionally connected to a man I didn’t even know and had never even met.  The man I was having an emotional affair with lived in Canada.  If that man had lived closer, who knows how things would have turned out for Brian and I. This part of our lives was a very difficult chapter.  I struggled a lot with believing I deserved forgiveness for this from Brian and God. But God did forgive me, and so did Brian, not only was there forgiveness but through turning our lives to Christ, He made our marriage better than we could ever have imagined.  I still get giddy to see him after a long day of work, I love to hear him say my name, sometimes, his smile melts my heart, I feel like we’re still 2 teenagers madly in love (just a lot wiser).

Giving my life to Christ was one of the hardest and easiest things I ever did.  It is hard to let God have control.  When I do, the weight of the world is off my shoulders.  Accepting that Christ died for my sins for the most part, is easy.  Knowing  He loves me and has a plan for me, is easy some days and hard some days.  But it is the most healing thing I’ve done.  In her book The Gifts of Imperfection Brene Brown writes, “Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do”.  I’m learning to own my story and, most days, I love myself.  It took time for me to accept and understand that God truly loves me and He really did forgive me of all  the things I have done.  I think the hardest thing was to forgive myself and move on.

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As I’ve grown in my Christian walk I have learned that there is nothing that you can do that will make it so God doesn’t love you anymore.  There is nothing you can do that God won’t forgive you for.  The only thing you can’t be forgiven of is, if you turn from God and then die before coming back to God.

The awesome thing about God is that he can take the most shocking, shameful, appalling circumstances and work them together for His good. He can take the darkest of situations and make them into something great.

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I am still amazed everyday at what God has done with my life.  He took a broken, lying, adulterer, with a broken marriage, ready to end my life and the lives of my husband and kids, and gave us a life I could only dream of.  I’m not the most rich, powerful, thin beautiful, overly talented, or extremely smart but, through His grace and mercy, there is healing, redemption, reconciliation, and  restoration.  If God can do that to my life, what can he do with yours?

Are you tired of living a life of heartache, pain, despair, and misery?  God is waiting for you, He wants to help you.  All you have to do is ask.  You don’t need to wait for the right time, place, or situation.  The time is now.  God loves you, He created you, and  He has a plan for you.  There is no sin too big, no situation too great, nothing is bigger than the Creator of the universe. You can be anything you want to be.  Life is what you make it!

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I’m just a forgiven, small town girl… living in a healed, redeemed, restored, world.psalm 139 14 stg.jpg

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Posted in exmormon, LDS, mormonism

Perfectly Imperfect…

I have been dreading writing this weeks blog.  Last week was a rough week and I wasn’t a very good Christian, and in all reality, part of me didn’t care. I was rude to people, said and did things I shouldn’t have, and wasn’t the follower of Christ I usually strive to be on a daily basis.  THANK GOD FOR GRACE!grace-blue

I was reminded this week that I am a sinner.  No matter how good of a person I am, I still sin. I know very well I am far from perfect, but most of the time I like to think I’m a pretty good person and am picking up my cross and following Christ.  I make mistakes here and there, but overall I’m a good person. And yet I still have that sin nature inside of me.  I’ve come a long way in my Christian walk and I know I still have a long way to go.  But I am so grateful for God’s grace and that I don’t have to earn it, because I would fail miserably!!  Without the knowledge and gift of grace I would still be living in a depressed, lonely, miserable world.

I’m also very grateful that I have a direct line to God and I don’t have to ask anyone but Him to forgive my sin.  Growing up in Mormonism, when you sin, you are supposed to confess to your bishop.  Most things don’t really matter it’s just the “big sins”.  When you turn 12 and enter into the young men and women groups you have an interview with the bishop every year around your birthday.  I remember this was always nerve racking.  I’ve discussed many times how I struggled with not feeling good enough.  I think this added to it a lot!  Imagine, sitting in an office as a 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 year old girl, knowing that you had your own inner secrets such as cutting, swearing, and depression, that you are expected to confess to some man.  In the office it was just the bishop and I.   I would sit in front of this man whom my parents knew well, and he would ask me all sorts of questions. The questions were centered around if I was keeping my baptismal covenants (that,at 8 years old, I don’t really remember making).  I would be asked about friends, drugs, alcohol, sex, basically if I was keeping my self worthy of a temple marriage.  The LDS.org website has an article that listed the following in regards to baptismal covenants: “Strive always to remember and keep the Lord’s commandments. Keep your thoughts, language, and actions pure. When you seek entertainment such as movies, television, the Internet, music, books, magazines, and newspapers, be careful to watch, listen to, and read only those things that are uplifting. Dress modestly. Choose friends who encourage you to reach your eternal goals. Stay away from immorality, pornography, gambling, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Keep yourself worthy to enter the temple.”  I was a teenage girl!! I didn’t strive to always keep the Lord’s commandments.  I just stated at the beginning of this blog, I don’t always do this as an adult!  Imagine the guilt, shame, and frustration, that consumed me as a teenage girl already feeling inadequate, already feeling like I wasn’t enough, I could never measure up, and the only way to receive forgiveness was to confess to this man I was sitting in front of, the things I had done wrong, and hope that he would grant that forgiveness to me.

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When Brian and I were dating we became very “passionate” several times. We both knew we were doing things we shouldn’t and I believed I wanted to “be worthy” to go to the temple some day. The summer before my senior year of high school Brian moved to another state to live with family and go to college.  I was, of course, heartbroken he was so far away.  He came home to visit in September and signed up to take the missionary discussions from the LDS missionaries.  He took the missionary discussions while he was away at college and I mustered up the courage to go to my bishop and confess about our “passionate” rendezvous.  The bishop told me I need to break up with Brian and not see him any more.  I didn’t tell the bishop at the time that Brian was away at college.  I just told him OK.  I tried to be honest, tried to confess, and again I lied.  Brian was the love of my life, the bishop didn’t even take any of that into consideration.  Again shame, guilt, depression.  Hopelessness.

You all know that so far, Brian and I are living happily ever after  (I don’t listen to authority figures very well).

As a Christian, I am no longer bound by the chains of a religion that forces me to seek forgiveness for my sin from man.  My sin is forgiven.  Debt 100% paid. I take my transgressions and wrong doings directly to Christ.  The Message Bible 1 John 8-10 says “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves.  A claim like that is errant nonsense.  On the other hand, if we admit our sins- make a clean breast of them- He won’t let us down, He’ll be true to Himself.  He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.”  If we claim that we never sinned, we out and out contradict God- make a liar out of Him.  A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God. Verse 9 is the key, “On the other hand, if we admit our sins- make a clean breast of them- He won’t let us down, He’ll be true to Himself.  He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing”.   We need to confess our sins to God, not man, not a bishop.

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Although my behavior this week most likely wouldn’t have called for me to meet with my bishop and confess anything, I wouldn’t have passed the interview that I would have  been required to have with my bishop as a teenager.  My language and how I treated others wasn’t very Christlike, but I confessed my sins to God.  I am forgiven in Christ Jesus. I am always grateful for the gift of grace and today and am also grateful for mercy.

So often I fall short.  I am a perfect sinner.  I fall short every day and yet my loving God is quick to forgive me.  I am a perfectly imperfect human, made perfect by a loving and faithful God.  perfectly-imperfect-2-stg

I am glad last week is over and I get to start over this week.  But the thing that has been on my mind most this week is how grateful I am that I don’t have to sit in front of someone who I go to church with every week and confess my shortcomings to them and ask them to give me the forgiveness that God already promised me in His Word.  I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about the shame and fear that would rise up in me when I would walk into the bishops office.

I see my pastor several times a week.  There is never fear of judgement, shame, or worry.  I know he is a human, just as I am.  I know he makes mistakes at times.  I know he is also covered by grace.

The biggest struggle this week is that I was focused more on myself and was trying to take control of situations that I have no control over.  When I take my eyes off of God I very quickly fall back my sinful self and do things that I later regret.

I’m just small town girl… living in a sinful world.  Praying for a better week.