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.

family

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.

matt 17 20

 

Christian

Tag you’re it…

I’ve known this blog has been coming for a while. I’ve been putting it off for as long as I could but I can’t put it off any longer. Tomorrow, I go in for surgery on my hand and I don’t know how long my recovery will take.

For the next few months I won’t be able to type and therefore I won’t be able to blog.
My whole purpose in writing a Blog has always been to share my story with people and hopefully help more people learn about the God I have come to know in my Christian walk.

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I’ve really struggled with the thought of not being able to blog over the next few weeks to months. But I know that God has a plan and a purpose for everything. And I know that God works everything together for his glory and his purpose.

I really struggled with a way to use my blog that it would so continue to reach people and glorify God.  As I thought long and hard about this, I realized one of the people I know who has the biggest heart for Jesus, is a great writer, and would be perfect at writing a blog, just happens to live in my home.

After talking to my amazing oldest daughter, she has agreed to take on my blog for the next little while. Unlike me, she won’t be sharing her experiences with growing up in a Mormon world, she will be sharing what God is doing in her life on a weekly basis.

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This daughter of a small-town girl is a college student, she’s in the honors program at her school, she works full-time, and she is going to be a leader Chi Alpha next year. It is an honor to me she is willing to take this on while I recover.

I want to say thank you to my baby doll for being so willing to do this. You are amazing and I love you so much. I’m proud of the person you are and the woman you are becoming.

I want to say thank you all of you that follow me. I appreciate your support more than words can express.  I would love your prayers for comfort and healing during this time.

So please stay tuned, is this small- town girl takes a break from blogging for a while.

I hope you enjoy the thoughts and theories of the daughter of just a small-town girl…

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.