Christian, mormonism

Devotion, Community, Responsibility.

In Chi Alpha we have three pillars that we are challenged to live by.  To be devoted, to live in community, and to take responsibility.  Today I want to offer that challenge up to you, because these should be things prominent in every believer’s life.

The first pillar is to be devoted.  Now, what does that mean?  We need to be devoted to Christ, not just on Sundays when we go to church, but in every aspect of our lives.  We need to show our devotion to God in the way we live.  Devoting our time by reading our Bible and spending time in prayer.  Devoting our finances by giving tithing.  Devoting our lives by striving to live like Jesus every day.  This shows that we are trusting God.  Everyone is busy.  You may be reading this thinking you don’t have time in your day to dedicate to reading your Bible or spending meaningful time in prayer.  By taking that time and setting it aside to specifically devote it to God shows that you trust Him with your time and you know He will provide enough time in your day to get everything you need done.

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When I get up in the morning the first thing I do is read my Bible.  If I end up sleeping in, I make sure to do it that night.  I try to read 4 chapters every day, two from the Old Testament and two from the New.  I also take 15 minutes to just talk to God, no matter what it’s about.  Whether it’s sitting docile for Him to speak to me or going through a prayer list, I talk to God for 15 minutes.  I also set aside time to write this blog because I know this is something that God wants me to do.  I try to show my devotion through the way I live, the way I talk to others and interact with people.  Jesus said to, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and trying to do that in your everyday life is a great way to show your devotion to God.

The second pillar is, to live in community.  This means spending time with other believers.  God wants us to go out and spread the gospel, but it’s also important to grow in your own relationship with Christ and spending time in fellowship with other believers is one of the best ways to do that.  Join a Bible study.  Take some time and have lunch with a friend from church.  Even just taking the time to chat with some people after church instead of rushing home can do amazing things for your relationship with God.  I’ve experienced this first hand.

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Growing up, I didn’t really have any Christian friends.  We didn’t start going to our home church until I was in 6th grade.  The majority of my friends were Mormon and I only had a couple of friends from church.  When I started college things changed a lot.  I started going to Chi Alpha and met some of my very best friends there.  Being surrounded by Christians grew my relationship with God enormously! I finally had people I could talk to about what God was doing in my life that were my age!  The impact that living in community and fellowship with those Christians had on my life has been amazing.  I have grown, in God, so much in the last year.  I don’t even think I would recognize the person I was a year ago! Spending time living in community with other believers is life changing and gives you someone to live life with.

The last pillar is, to take responsibility.  This one is a bit harder for all you introverts out there like me.  Taking responsibility means to pour the love of God into others.  God told us to, “go out and make disciples of all nations.”  So go out and do it!  Pick someone (or more than one person) in your life that you’re going to pour into this next week or even the next month or year.  Talk to people about God and pour the love of Jesus into their lives.  Take responsibility for helping God’s kingdom grow!

responsibility

At the end of Chi Alpha this year they gave us a little card for the summer.  On it we were supposed to write three things; a believer, a non-believer, and a residence hall floor at ISU.  Those two people and the residence hall floor were what we were supposed to take responsibility for this summer.  I prayed and God gave me more than just those three and I’ve been praying and doing my best to pour love into those people that God put on my heart.  Sometimes it’s hard because a couple of them I don’t know very well.  Luckily, all I have to do is trust God and He will give me the courage to start up a conversation and give me the words that will speak to their hearts!

The Chi Alpha pillars are what a believer’s life should look like.  We need to be devoted to God, to live in community with other believers, and take responsibility for the job God gave us.  My challenge to you this week is to think about how you are living out the pillars in your life and take time to live them out.  Take time to read your Bible every day and pray.  Spend some time with a fellow believer.  Pray and ask God to point someone out in your life that you can take responsibility for.  I would love to hear about how doing this impacts your life. Let me know in the comments.

diciples

I’m just the daughter of a small town girl… standing on the pillars God gave me.

Images taken from Google.

Christian, mormonism

Never Been a Moment

This week the song, “Never Been a Moment” by Micah Taylor has been on my mind a lot.  I love the chorus of that song, especially the last part.  “There’s never been a moment that I was not loved by you”.   God’s love and acceptance for us always amazes me.  He loves us so much!  He couldn’t love us more!  Unfortunately, so many people don’t know about God’s amazing love and grace, or doubt that He could love them.  There was definitely a time in my life that I questioned God’s love for me.know-whose-you-are-stg

Middle school is a rough time in life, as everyone knows.  I have never met anyone who said, “Let’s go back to the good old days in middle school!  Best days of my life!”  If anyone has ever told you that, they were probably lying to you.  In middle school you’re struggling to find your place in the world.  All you want is to be accepted.  I was no different.  All I wanted was to be accepted by my friends, peers, and teachers.  And for the most part, I was.  Except, for one thing.  As you know from when my mom was writing, I was raised a Christian in a dominantly LDS community, and everyone knew we were different.  Because I was not LDS, and thought I knew everything there was to know about the Bible, this caused a lot of animosity between me and the people I interacted with.  When I was in 7th grade, our differing beliefs caused a huge fight between the rest of my friends and me.  Teachers got involved, and being LDS, they took the side of my friends.  At that point I lost almost complete faith in God.  Not only did I question whether or not there even was a God, but I questioned that if there was, why would He put me in a place I didn’t belong?  If God truly loved me, He would put me in a place where I was accepted by my friends and teachers, right?  With that line of reasoning, I thought God didn’t love me at all.  Maybe He was punishing me for all the lies I had told, or the times I took a piece of candy without asking my parents.  Maybe that’s why He didn’t love me; because I sinned too much.  I thought, that because I was not being fully accepted by the people around me, that God didn’t love me.  I was seeking the acceptance of others, not from God.no-mistake-stg

If I had realized then that God loves and accepts me for who I am, no matter how many times I sin, no matter what I do wrong, no matter how many mistakes I make, the rest of middle school and beginning of high school would have been a lot easier for me.  It took the better part of two years for me to realize that God’s love for me is unconditional and that He loves me so much that He sent His son to die for me.  Back in middle school I never would have believed that someone could love me so much, so unconditionally, and so perfectly.

October of my freshman year in high school, I had the opportunity to go to a Casting Crowns concert in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I was still seeking the approval of people rather than God.  I don’t remember exactly what was going on at the time, but I remember that during the concert we were asked to take a moment to pray for whatever God put on our hearts.  I was at one of my lowest points so I was crying out to God, asking Him if He loved me and to show me that He did.  As soon as I finished that silent prayer, the woman next to me, who was a complete stranger, turned to me and said, “I love you and God loves you,” and gave me a big hug.  This answer to my prayer started me on an uphill climb that hasn’t stopped.

That next summer, my youth group went to the Hills Alive Music Festival in Rapid City, South Dakota.  I was still not in a very good place.  I had a lot of insecurities, especially about my appearance, as most teenage girls do.  I didn’t think I was pretty enough or skinny enough for any guys to even consider liking me.  I was still seeking acceptance from others and that was the basis of my insecurities.  Sunday, the last day of the festival, there were several different Sunday services we could attend.  I went to the one that the band Seventh Day Slumber was holding on the main stage.  As the lead singer, Joseph Rojas, shared his testimony, I was in tears.  He shared about God’s unconditional love and acceptance for us and for the first time, I truly believed it.  I rededicated my life to Christ and have come a long way since then.  Because I know God loves me for who I am, and accepts me, made me perfectly, my insecurities have fallen away.  There is no need to be afraid of what other people think of me because I know only one opinion matters – God’s.  I had His love and acceptance the whole time and never realized it because I was too sucked up in what the world wanted me to think.  There is so much freedom in Christ.  Knowing that He loves me no matter how many times I mess up is the most amazing thing ever.  He never left my side, even when I doubted Him, which is why I love Micah Taylor’s song so much.  There has never been a moment that I was not loved, fully and completely, by the God of the universe.  He has always been with me by my side, ready to catch me whenever I fall – and He’s doing the exact same thing for you!  Never forget.  God loves you exactly as you are.  So much, that He sacrificed His son to die a horrible death on the cross so He could spend eternity with you in Heaven.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.cross stg

I’m just the daughter of a small town girl… loved unconditionally by the God of the universe.

 

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Honest Liars…

I’ve had many different thoughts go through my mind this week. Different subject’s, different experiences, and how different my life has been since leaving Mormonism.  I kept coming back to same thing.  It’s so easy to stay in a situation, or in a life you don’t like, or that doesn’t make us happy, because we’re scared of the unknown or because it takes too much effort to get out of it.

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Growing up, I lived with the mentality that one of the most important things is what other people thought.  I had to live with the ongoing belief of, “what will people think”.  In a town, predominantly LDS, it still can be a struggle.  I always felt that people were judging me, pointing out the things that I did wrong, and in many ways waiting for me to fail.  I feel like this is still the mentality of the town I live in, but my mentality has changed.

I remember when Brian and I had taken out our temple endowments, and after we left the temple that afternoon, we talked about the things we experienced.  I think we both knew then we would never go back, and yet, for several years after that we pretended to be a part of that world.  Yet, in the back of our minds, at least, in the back of mine I knew something just wasn’t right about it and that I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.  But how do you walk away from everything you’ve ever known?  It’s so easy to justify things that are wrong when you want to stay where you’re at or when you’re too fearful of the unknown and don’t know where to go.  There is a Ted Talk I once watched and have used with my clients called the Honest Liars.  It talks about the lies we tell ourselves every day to justify the things we do.  I encourage you to watch it.  I learn something every time.

I think Brian and I lived in and participated in that world for so long that we didn’t really question it because we didn’t know anything else and we were scared of the alternative.  Comfort zones are kind of a catch-22.  It’s not a bad thing to be in a spot where you’re content, happy, and everything’s going okay.  The problem is that you can’t grow there, you aren’t challenged.  You become stagnant and just go with the flow because it’s easier.  It makes me think of the quote, “even a dead fish can swim downstream”.  It was easy to justify some of the things we experienced because that was easier than facing the truth.

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But even after we quit the Mormon Church, I still identified as Mormon on a regular basis.  Every time I went into the hospital to have one of my kids and I was asked to identify my religious affiliation on paperwork or anything, I would put LDS.  I didn’t necessarily live by their standards or attend regularly, but that was my identity, my culture, it’s who I was, or so I thought.  I was still in a place where being a Mormon was part of my identity because that’s how I was raised and I didn’t know anything else was out there.

I often say that Brian and I went through the difficult time in our life because it was the only way that God could get our attention.  I think we were so caught up in just living life, a life of self-deception because it was easy.  We were going through the motions and just living our life, we were stagnant.  We didn’t know that we needed something different.  It was easy to lie to ourselves.  Easy to justify and conform to what everyone else around us was doing.  I didn’t want to stand out, to be different, after all, what would people think?  We didn’t know that God was missing from our lives.

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But when God revealed Himself to us, He did it in a BIG way.  God came into our lives and immediately began healing years of damage.  He took away the negative self-talk that I struggled with my whole life.  For the first time ever, I began to believe that I was good enough.  I didn’t need to please anyone.  And one of the biggest things He did was begin to heal our very broken and damaged marriage.  For the first time in my life, I began to be honest with myself.  I didn’t like the belief system I grew up in.  I didn’t like trying to fit into someone else’s view of how I was supposed to live my life.  I did like this new God I had been introduced to.  A God who created me to be exactly who I was.  He created me with the good, bad, and ugly of who I was.  He wanted me to be me.  And as I grew in my knowledge of Him, the bad and ugly started to become good too.  The things I hated most about myself, I began to love.  The things that I was taught to hide from others I began to embrace.  I was learning to love God and love myself.

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Self-deception is easy. Going with the flow is simple.  Floating downstream is effortless.  Lying to yourself and justifying things you don’t like or agree with is easier than change.  Questioning, discovering, letting go and finding yourself, that, is hard.  Being honest with yourself, that’s one of the most difficult things to do in your life.

I know the closer I am to God, the more I focus on His Word, the more honest I am with myself.  I’m still an honest liar.  I think it is a part of life.  But I think the more you start to reconcile the big questions and struggles in your life, the easier it is to be honest with yourself.  If you challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone, that is when you grow the most.  A comfort zone is where dreams are just dreams and everything seems impossible.  When you look outside your comfort zone, dreams become reality and the impossible becomes possible.

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I guess my point this week is, don’t stay in your comfort zone.  There is a reason you are having doubts and questions.  There is a reason for you feeling uncomfortable.  God wants your attention!! Don’t wait until God has to do something big to get your attention.

God is my comfort zone.  When I follow him, when I’m in his word, I don’t have opportunity to become stagnant.  When I start to get too comfortable, God challenges me and makes me grow.  These opportunities make me become a better person.  They make me trust more in God and rely on him more than myself.

I’m just a small town girl…living in a world where God is my comfort zone.

Christian, mormonism

Not a symbol of death…

Finally had a minute to finish this up and get it published.  I hope you all had a great Easter!

I’ve thought a lot about what I would write about this week.  There is no better subject than the Cross!

Growing up in Mormonism, Easter was a holiday that was more about the Easter Bunny, Easter eggs, and candy than anything about Jesus.  I never knew anything about Palm Sunday or Good Friday.  And I was taught that Christ bled and atoned for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and not on the Cross.  The focus for me as a Mormon was that Jesus rose from the dead.  The events leading up to that really didn’t seem to matter much especially His death on the Cross.

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I remember thinking as a teenager about the anguish that Christ went through in the Garden; the weight of sin that he had to bear for me, let alone the whole world.  I knew I was a sinner and I knew that just for the weight of my sins, a lot of blood was shed. I always felt guilty for the pain I caused Jesus. I had no clue about the things that happened to my Savior before he was hung on the cross. I don’t think I even had a clue about the suffering he endured while hanging on the cross.  I think in my Mormon world, that was skimmed over, because it’s brutal and violent, and because Mormons struggle with understanding the concept of death.  It’s difficult to imagine, the beating that Christ took.  The lashes and whipping that he received.  Not because of any crime but because of who He was. That he carried his own cross up to Calvary.  He was then nailed to that cross and left there to die.  He was made fun of and the guards gambled for his belongings.  He was tortured and he suffered and died.  Christ chose to go through all of this, because He loves me…

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It’s overwhelming to think, of the pain and agony that he must have felt.  The humiliation and embarrassment.  And yet, even though He had the power to remove Himself from all of it, He still took it all on so that I, an undeserving sinner, can be forgiven of all I have done wrong, and everything I will ever do wrong.   Wow!  Amazing!  Just the thought of what Christ went through, so the world’s sin would be paid for, leaves me in tears.

In Mormonism, the Cross is a symbol they choose not to focus on.  The official statement on the matter from LDS.org is:

“The cross is used in many Christian churches as a symbol of the Savior’s death and Resurrection and as a sincere expression of faith. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we also remember with reverence the suffering of the Savior. But because the Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith.”

The purpose of the Cross is so much more than a symbol of Christ’s death.  It is a symbol of sacrifice, forgiveness, and grace.  It is important to understand the purpose of why Christ had to die.  In the Old Testament, the Israelites, had to perform animal sacrifices to receive forgiveness of their sins.  They had 613 laws they had to follow.  When they would go to the temple to perform the rituals and sacrifices, they would pick the best animal they had.  The one that was closest to perfection that they could get.  Yet, the animal sacrifices weren’t enough.  We as Humans needed sacrifice to forgive us of our sins.  It couldn’t be just anyone.  It had to be a perfect living sacrifice, who’s blood would be spilled for the redemption of the world.  1 Pet. 1:18-19, ” knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”  Christ came down to earth as that perfect living sacrifice.  He faced sin, temptation, ridicule, and willingly spilled His blood so the Old Law would be fulfilled and the animal sacrifices would no longer be needed.  This started a New Covenant with Christ where our sins are already forgiven and we are covered by grace.

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I don’t understand how the Cross can so easily be swept away.  It’s like recognizing the beauty of a butterfly and saying the caterpillar doesn’t matter.  The butterfly wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the caterpillar.  Christ wouldn’t have risen from the dead if he hadn’t first died on the Cross.  They are one in the same.  You can’t separate his death from his resurrection just as you can’t separate a caterpillar and a butterfly. To me, Palm Sunday, the day that symbolizes Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, through Easter Sunday when Christ is no longer in the tomb and has risen from the dead, are all one event.  Intertwined and connected.  And his death on the Cross is where my sins were forgiven.  The reason I know, I am forgiven is because Christ conquered death. Christ’s resurrection is proof that He overcame and conquered death.  If he conquered death, I am forgiven.  But you can’t celebrate His resurrection without first accepting his death.

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What a greater symbol of Christ being alive, conquering death, and being forgiven of our sins than the Cross!! To me, the Cross encompasses Holy Week all into one symbol.  When I see a cross, I am reminded of what my Savior did for me, for the world, and that because He lives, I am forgiven and will live with Him again.

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I’m just a small-town girl…forgiven, loved, redeemed, by His death on the Cross.

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.

 

Christian, mormonism

Just be Held…

I had a whole blog written and almost ready to post but it just didn’t feel right.  I knew in my heart what God wanted me to write but I’ve been fighting it for 2 weeks.

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The past month has been difficult for me.  I fell at work and have some injuries that I am trying to work through and receive treatment for.  The MRI I had a few weeks ago was for my hand.  I found out that I am going to have surgery and will most likely not gain full use back.  I have some other injuries that I am still working with the doctors to treat and I’m unsure of what will happen with those.

Just like when I had my MRI, I was alone with only God by my side holding my hand as the doctor gave me the news about surgery and possible partial disability.  That combined with a few other things I have been working through with all of this, I have been swarmed with emotions.  I have felt fearful, scared, unsure, betrayed, anxious, and depressed.  So much of what I have been feeling is very similar to how I lived my life before accepting Christ as my Savior.

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I have been struggling with depression and anxiety.  I have never been so anxious in my life and every day I struggle. I am living in a world of uncertainty.  I have no idea where this path leads or what God has planned for me but I know he has a plan for all of this.

Last weekend we went on a very quick and short vacation for spring break.  Just before I left there were some things that came up with this whole situation that were very frustrating and defeating for me.  My hope for our vacation was to be able to put all the struggles on the shelf and not think about them for a few days so I could enjoy time with my family.  On our drive, I started thinking about all that is going on and I said in my head God what am I going to do.  The song Just Be Held immediately started on the radio and I burst into tears.  I think I have blogged about this song before.  But it again just spoke to me.

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So, when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

So, when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go

So, when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
(Stop holding on and just be held)
Just be held, just be held
Just be held, just be held

I have felt like life has hit me out of nowhere and I’m barely holding on.  This has become my life song for this season of my life.  Through the weekend, I was able to let go.  I spend very little time thinking about the stressors that waited me when I went back to my job.  I just surrendered it all to God.  And when it would start to creep back into my thoughts, God would whisper in my mind “Just be held”.

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One of the hardest parts of all of this is the feelings of depression, not being good enough, and hopelessness that are constantly invading my thoughts.  I lived with those emotions most of my life.  I hate feeling like I am not enough.  I hate the constant feelings of depression and not even wanting to get out of bed.  The biggest difference between the depression I have experienced in the past and depression I have now is that my past depression was created by my religion.  My feelings of depression and worthlessness were increased by a belief in a god that I had to work for his affection and love.

As a Christian, God is the only thing that is holding me together.  My BIG God, who can do anything, is who gives me the strength to get out of bed every morning.  He is my motivation.  And the most comforting feeling in the world is hearing God say “Just stop, I’ve got this”.

I don’t know what is going to happen.  I don’t know how my blog will be affected.  But I know God has a plan and a purpose for me and for this blog.  I know that my life isn’t falling apart but God is working things together so they will be better than I can imagine.

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So often I look back at my life and see how far God has brought me. This experience has shown me more than I realized.  I had forgotten how debilitating depression and anxiety can be.  I am so grateful for my God who is bigger than all of it!!

I’m just a small-town girl…just being held by my God who is bigger than the world.

mormonism

Vacation…

Hey Blog followers!  I thought long and hard about posting a blog this week.  I really thought I would.  But now it’s after 8:00 on Sunday night and I haven’t even started.  The reason, I am on spring break with my family and enjoying some down time; so I decided to put the laptop away and just enjoy my family for the next few days.  I’ll be back next weekend.  Thanks again for all your support.  I know God is using my story to bring people to him!!  Until next week.

vacation

Just a small town girl…enjoying vacation.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Alone in the world…

After my last blog, I spent a lot of time thinking about Brian and I and how much I rely on him.  It was a very rough week for me and God reminded me that although Brian is my rock in this world, God is the one true constant who is always with me.

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Brian and I got married when we were both 18.  I can’t remember much of my life without him.  He was always supposed to be my knight in shining armor and take me away from a life I struggled in.  I had him on a very high pedestal for the first few years of our marriage.  I sometimes think I rely on Brian more than I rely on God.  And although, I believe God brought Brian and I together, God needs to be #1 in my life always.

A couple of weeks ago, I fell at work; this week, I had to go through some unexpected medical procedures that were very difficult for me.  I don’t remember going through a medical procedure without Brian by my side.  We have been married for almost 23 years.  He has always been there to hold my hand.  I unexpectedly had to have an MRI, which most people would think is no big deal, but I first had to have some dye injected into my wrist so they could see things better.  I have a very hard time with needles.  I struggle because all I wanted was for Brian to be able to be with me.  To sit next to me and hold my hand.  But he works in a city about an hour from where I work, so there I lay in a cold hospital room with the stinging of the needle in my hand and the only one I could call out to was God.  In that moment, I was alone.  Brian couldn’t be there.  I couldn’t call him on the phone, I couldn’t text him, there was no one but God to support me in that moment. The next part was almost as difficult.  I have a very hard time being enclosed in tight spaces.  I am very claustrophobic.  I had to go head first into the MRI machine, not all the way but enough, that I couldn’t see out either end of the machine.  Brian wouldn’t have been able to be there for any of the MRI.  He wouldn’t have been able to hold my hand.  The MRI guy asked if I had any music I wanted to listen to.  I asked him if I could listen to Christian music.  He said “Sure? Any specific band or group?”  I said “Casting Crowns.”  So, he turned on the music and I laid on a cold hard table and went head first into the machine.  The whole time all I could think was God please help me, God please keep me calm.  The first song that came on and played all the way through was In the Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson.  I truly was in the eye of a storm.  I struggled and held tight to my God knowing that He is my anchor and my rock.

I made it through but it was hard.  It was interesting the whole time I wanted Brian by my side but I knew God was telling me that He is who I need to rely on.  I think I struggle with that a lot.  I have such a hard time sometimes trusting that God is always there.  Brian is my knight in shining armor too often and I need to focus on God and that He is always here.

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So, you may ask, what does this have to do with Mormonism?  In Mormonism, no one trusts in God and what God can do for them.  It is all about what they can do for themselves and when you strip away all aspects of religiosity from Mormonism, nothing is left.  When you take away Joseph Smith and all the things that Mormonism is founded on, nothing is left but feelings of emptiness and loneliness.  There is no God at the center. There is no God to trust in.  The faith in Mormonism is put in empty promises and ritualistic ordinances that have nothing to do with God.  It is all about doing and being enough instead of accepting that God has already done it all.

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Also in Mormonism, a woman’s salvation is dependent on her husband.  She has to trust that her husband is going to be good enough to make it in to heaven so that he can “pull her through the veil to the celestial kingdom”.  In the Mormon belief system, a woman doesn’t need to put her trust in God and believe in God for her salvation, her trust is put in her husband. Not only that, if things work out right, she can be a god alongside her husband.  If one doesn’t have to trust in God for salvation, and can become a god themselves, what is the point of God?

As a Christian I know everything can be taken from me but I will still have my relationship with God.  I can be sitting alone and scared in a hospital room and feel God’s presence around me and comforting me.

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I love Brian to death, but I don’t trust him to be good enough for his own salvation let alone mine.  And what if we got in a fight just before he passed away and he decides he doesn’t want me to be in the celestial kingdom with him?  I just can’t put my trust and belief in man.  That’s what God was showing me this week when I went through some hard things by myself.  I wasn’t really by myself.  God is the only one I can count on to always be there 100% of the time.  God is my rock and my salvation.  He alone deserves the pedestal that I so often try to put Brian on.

I’m just a small-town girl… trusting in God when I’m alone in the world.

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Ask no questions…

As I was sitting her thinking about the many different things I have struggled with about Mormonism, I thought about when Brian and I went through the temple for the first time.

I remember being taught about what a “sacred” experience the temple was and what a great blessing it would be to finally be able to go through.  Being “worthy” of going through the temple is a rite of passage in Mormonism and when we were given an opportunity to go through, how could we say no?

Going through the temple wasn’t the experience I thought it would be.  I honestly felt let down after that experience because I felt I had been promised so much more.  When Brian and I drove back to our apartment after that experience and we talked about it, we both agreed we didn’t ever want to go through that experience again.  I told Brian the experience we had in the temple made me feel that the Mormon church could be a cult.

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I know many of my LDS friends and family will just say we weren’t ready or didn’t understand.  And that may be true.  But, in Mormonism, you aren’t supposed to question things and if you do, you are encouraged to only use Mormon doctrine to find answers.  Going through the temple left me feeling uneasy and uncertain.  I didn’t know who I could talk to about it.  So, we continued to go to church but didn’t go back to the temple.

As a Mormon, there were so many things I didn’t understand, and that I questioned, and I never really got an answer for.  I remember growing up and thinking it was unfair that my non-LDS grandparents wouldn’t be able to go to heaven because they drank coffee.  They were good people and I just didn’t understand how coffee made them bad people.  As I got into high school I struggled even more with the coffee dilemma.  How can it be bad to drink coffee or tea but it’s ok to drink Dr. Pepper, one of my favorites, or hot chocolate?  There were no answers within the Mormon doctrine that made sense to me and so I just shoved it under the rug and went on with my life.

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I never understood when the guys messed up on the sacrament prayer, why they had to say it again or if the slightest piece of skin was out of the water when someone was baptized, why they had to redo it.  I always struggled to understand why 8 years old was the “age of accountability” and when you got baptized in Mormonism.  I never understood and still struggle to understand why kids can’t date until they’re 16.  Because turning 16 in June doesn’t make you any more mature than you would have been in May but you have to miss prom because you were a month away from 16.  So many little rules and regulations that never made sense to me.

I remember when I was in grad school, I commuted with some amazing ladies, and we would have some great conversations.  Two of us were Christians and one was a Mormon.  I remember discussing forever families.  We discussed many different scenarios and all my Mormon friend could say was, “God will work it all out in the end”.  If that’s the case, then why does religion matter?

As I came out of Mormonism, I found that all the little things didn’t seem to matter as a Christian.  The most important thing was my relationship with God.   The best thing about being a Christian was I was told to question everything.  I was no longer bound by the belief that questioning or not understanding something was a lack of faith.

When Brian and I found our home church, that we currently attend, we went through a Biblical Foundations Class.  It was the most eye opening experience ever.  I came to understand so much about God and the Bible.  I loved every bit of it.  We went through it a second time with our 2 older kids and now my 2 youngest daughters are going through the class.  The best part of it was our pastor who taught the class never said, “take my word for it” or “believe everything I say because I’m pastor”.  No, he told me to question.  He gave me references and list of arguments on both sides.  And in a world where you have access to unlimited information at your fingertips I was able to look for myself and find out why I believe what I believe.

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Going from a belief system where I wasn’t allowed to question anything, it was refreshing to be encouraged to question everything.  As I have grown in my Christian walk I have come to the conclusion the reason the Mormon church doesn’t like people to question or look outside of the LDS faith for answers is because they will find truth.  As I was writing this blog I asked my pastor for a definition of truth, this is what he said:

“Truth corresponds to reality and is internally coherent.  Truth is based on reality and “facts on the ground”.  It also needs to be logical and not changed from the beginning of the book to the end like the trinity in the Book of Mormon.”

Referring to the original writing of the Book of Mormon which references the trinity of God but now it has changed to refer to God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost as 3 separate beings.

So basically, truth needs to be based on something that really exists and can be backed up by facts and real evidence.  It can’t be changed.  It has to be consistent over time.  When you look at Mormonism, truth isn’t there and that is why they don’t want you to question.  That is why you are asked to believe the Mormon prophets and other leadership and not question.  If you don’t question, they don’t have to worry about a cover story.  If you do happen to question, and they label it as a crisis of faith, and the only information that is allowable is church approved doctrine, then how are you finding truth?

Have you ever questioned anything?  I think questioning is so important in everything, because if you stop questioning, you stop growing.  If you aren’t willing to question things, then how do you know if you have truth?

 

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I think those nuggets of doubt that you feel in your heart are God’s way of saying you need to look deeper into this.  Brian and I were talking about this and he said if you investigate truth, it always leads you back to truth.  If you investigate lies, it leads you to more lies or you find the truth.  So, the bottom line of all of this is never stop questioning.

I’m just a small town girl… living in a world of questions.