Christian

Where Does My Help Come From…

We all have vices.  That go to thing that we indulge in to get through a hard point in our day, week, life.  Some times we use that vice to numb our emotions and check out from the world, because let’s be real, it doesn’t matter who you are life is hard.  Sometime you need to have that little bit of something to boost you through the rest of your day or that something that allows you to check out for a brief time. There is nothing wrong with any of this until it starts interfering with your quality of life.

I have been discussing core beliefs and values a lot recently in my world.  One thing that has come to light through research and discussions is that our core beliefs that we say we have most often don’t line up with what our true core beliefs are.

psalms 121 wm

I know one of my core beliefs is my faith and relationship with Christ.  I also know that I often put my faith on the back burner and pick it up when it is convenient for me.  It is always on my mind and I profess that I am a Christian but I often struggle to live in my faith. But I am always looking for ways to build my relationship with Christ.

Forty-six days ago, I was listening to a Christian radio station, it was Ash Wednesday and they were talking about Lent and the purpose of Lent.  The DJ talked about giving up something for Lent as a sacrifice for your relationship with Christ.  He talked about using it as a time to prepare for Holy Week and for the Good Friday when Christ was crucified on the Cross for our sins. As I listened, I decided I wanted to give up something for Lent and decided to give up soda and alcohol.  I didn’t realize at the time but when you are fasting for Lent Sunday’s aren’t included or can be optional, so the actual fasting time for Lent is 46 days.

I didn’t realize when I decided to participate in Lent and give up soda and alcohol, we were on the verge of a pandemic and we would be quarantined to our homes, have shelter in place orders, and be highly encouraged to practice social distancing.

Although these haven’t been the hardest 46 days of my life, I defiantly have noticed I haven’t had my caffeine pick me up to get me through the afternoon, or my mind-numbing drink when it has been an exceptionally rough day at work. I have learned a lot about my self during this time and gained insight into my core beliefs and my Christian walk.

One of the first things I learned is how there can be pride and arrogance tied with even things we think are positive and healthy in our lives.  I started out focused on only drinking 1 cup of coffee and then drinking only water.  After about a week I had to take a step back a reflect on what my whole purpose of participating in Lent was.  Was it to be prideful and show that I could stick to it and complete what I said I would do? Or was it so I could grow in my relationship with Christ.  After that reflection I decided to allow myself to drink lemonade and flavored water.

mirror wm

There were many times throughout the past 46 days I have really wanted a pick me up in the middle of the afternoon, or a nice relaxing drink with my dinner.  As I have gone through this time when I have had the thought or desire for a Dr. Pepper or a drink, I have stopped and had a conversation with God instead.  I realized that my help in times of struggle through out my day was coming from my caffeine fix or from that drink at the end of the day.  I have other vices, my phone, Facebook, shopping, games, tv.

Lent has made me more aware of the things that I do to escape my world and the stressors around me, they are my first go to.  In reality Christ should be my first go to.  When I am tired in my day, I should say a quick prayer to God and ask for strength. When I have had a rough day, I should be laying my burdens at his feet in prayer.

I will be honest in my human and sinful nature I am looking forward to enjoying a Dr. Pepper and having an alcohol beverage again.  I think there is a time and place for the mind-numbing vices in our lives as long as they aren’t negatively affecting our quality of life and our relationships.God deserves. WMjpg

The biggest thing I have learned from the past 46 days is my help needs to come first from my Savior.  If I call on Him, I have a sense of peace and calmness that I didn’t have before.  It doesn’t mean my problems are solved or all the pieces fall into place, but I know I am not facing the struggles in my life alone.  I have the Creator of the Universe on my side and if He is with me, then I can conquer anything.

 

I’m Just a Small-Town Girl…Living in a world where God is my helper.

 

Christian

My Size 9’s Are Different Than Yours…

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

called wm

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

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

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

 

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

following wm

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

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

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

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

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

know wm

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

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

Christian, exmormon

Do It Afraid…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christian

Uncomfortable…

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

helplessness

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

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

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

science

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

limitations

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

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

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Overwhelming, Never-ending…

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

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

do not fear

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

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

reckless love

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

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

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

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

you are enough

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

It feels amazing to know…

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

 

Christian

Stepping Out Of The Boat…

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

comfort zone

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

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

nothingness

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

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

Matthew 14:25-31 NIV

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

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

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

29 “Come,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

haters

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

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

trouble

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

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

Christian, exmormon

Neon Lights…

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

directional signs

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

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

god whispers

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

god whispers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

selfdoubt

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

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