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

Heart Problems…

I’ve struggled with writing my blog lately.  Recently, I even thought maybe, I would just stop writing.  I feel God has made it very clear to me that isn’t an option.  So, as I was pondering the last few weeks, I thought about the world and all the turmoil going on right now.  I thought about a friend who is going through a really rough time, I thought about the church shooting that just happened and that mass shootings seem to be an almost regular event anymore.  I thought about my job and the hurt and pain that people struggle with on a daily basis to the point they want to take their own lives.  I remembered, my purpose in writing this blog is because people need Jesus!!

life hurts

There is so much hurt and heartache in the world today.  I sit and think about all of the yuck in this world and I remember when I was there.  Hurt, broken, feeling worthless and hopeless.  When I opened myself up to the love of Christ, when I heard that it didn’t matter to Him all of the horrible things I felt I had done, He still loved me, it changed my entire world.   In the past I would have told you I knew who Jesus was, and I believed in Him, and I tried to live a good life.  But having a relationship and opening yourself up to God’s love is different, it changes you, it changes your world.

I try not to be political in my blog.  I try to just focus on my religious experiences.  But as I think about the state of the world today, I can’t help but take more of a political stance.  I’ve seen a quote many times that says you don’t need religion to have morals, and while I don’t disagree with that, I feel as a society as we work to remove God from our culture, our morals are going by the way side.  I have worked in a school and worked in a prison and it blows my mind that we discourage kids from freely pursuing and practicing their faith in school.  We put many barriers in their way and yet if you are in prison, religion is encouraged.  I remember sitting in parole hearings and listening to inmates talk about going to church and Bible studies and how God was changing their lives.  One of my many hats at the prison was the religious coordinator, I oversaw all religious activities and made sure all religious volunteers were in compliance with facility policies.  Just imagine if we put that much energy into assisting the development of spirituality and religion for our children.  Maybe we wouldn’t have the struggles we have now.

universe

I’ll be honest, there were many different religions in prison, and several weren’t Christian based, and I could tell those who were genuine in their pursuit of a relationship with Christ and those who weren’t.  The difference was, their lives, even in prison, just seemed to go better.  They didn’t get in trouble with the jail staff, they followed the rules, and they didn’t argue.  They were accepting of their situation and if something didn’t go their way or if they felt they had been wronged, they had a conversation with the staff and tried to work it out.  They were different.  Their hearts were different.

There is truly something amazing that happens when you give your life over to God.  When you are willing to accept that He has a plan and a purpose for you it changes your perspective and changes your heart.  I know when I came to that realization, I wanted to know God more, I wanted to know everything I could, I read devotionals, Bible studies, I listened to sermons on the Radio. I began to develop a relationship with this God, who before seemed so scary and condemning, but as I learned more about Him, was loving and kind.  It blew my mind as I read the Bible and learned about the people he chose to spread his message.  The people he chose to be the ones that would represent Him.  They were not perfect people who always did right.  They were very much sinners.  But…They all had one thing in common.  They all loved God.  They had a relationship with God and they pursued Him.  They wanted to please their God.  And although they made mistakes and struggled with their sin, they still pursued Him. It wasn’t just because they believed in Him, it’s because they had a relationship with Him.

jesus heals broken hearts

In today’s world, God is a foreign concept.  Society teaches trusting in God is a weakness.  In today’s world, we want to be our own gods.  It’s heart breaking to me.  As I watch people struggle, I think, “You need Jesus!!”  And I struggle to say anything for fear that they will condemn me or make fun of me.  I can say, “You need Jesus!!” on my blog because it’s not face to face.  That’s easy.  And yet, I know that’s what I need to do.

The thing that needs to change most in this world is we need to get back to the basics.  The 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes, and having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  The problems in this world are not about race, religion, sexual orientation, politics, gun control, or any other social issue the media wants to glorify or criticize at the moment.  It’s about the heart.  It is what is important to us as a society and where our priorities lie.  Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.  In today’s world our hearts are anywhere but with Jesus.

giraffe

I’m just a Small Town Girl… living in a world in need of Jesus!

 

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.

nemeiah

 

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, exmormon, mormonism

UNCONDITIONAL…

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything.  I enjoyed a great vacation and am adjusting to new changes in my life.  But, I’m back and pray that I can continue to post on a more regular basis.

Facebook reminded me today that 1 year ago today is when I started writing my blog.  It’s amazing how fast time seems to go and how many things can change in 1 year.  One year ago, my life was so different than it is now and the changes that have happened in my life weren’t even on my radar a year ago. However, there is one thing I have been praying for, for the last 2-3 years and God finally gave me a yes and a wide-open door to that prayer.

overwhelming

For the past 2-3 years, I have struggled with my place of employment.  I have spent a lot of time pleading with God to open the doors for a new place to work.  I went to interviews and whatever the circumstance, the timing wasn’t right.  No matter how many times the door shut in my face, I knew in God’s time, He would provide what I was praying for. Although, the last several months have been very difficult, I know God is watching over me and only wants the best for me.  My answered prayer is a new place of employment and for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about the future of my career.

I still struggle sometimes with that internal dialogue of not feeling good enough when God doesn’t give me the answers I want when I pray. I often think it’s because I’m not good enough for God or I’m not living right.  It’s amazing how quickly those thoughts can over take me when God says, “No” or “Not right now”.  I get so caught up in what I want, I forget that God loves me and has a plan for me.

In my Mormon belief system, the ongoing message was live according to what the church teaches you and Heavenly Father will answer your prayers.  One high up leader, Boyd K. Packer said, “Keep your covenants and you will be safe.  Break them and you will not.”   A more recent quote by another high up LDS leader, David A. Bednar said, “Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently, do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results”.

Romans 3 28

I feel like when I was growing up, I was never really taught about God’s love.  I believed God’s love was contingent on being the faithful, diligent, consistent Mormon; which I was not even close to.  So, how could God love me? I believed God’s love was always connected to how I was living my life and when prayers weren’t answered, it was because I needed to learn something or because I wasn’t reading my scriptures enough. I think back now about being a kid and the things I prayed for.  It’s a good thing God doesn’t answer every prayer.

As a Christian, I have learned God’s love is unconditional.  I don’t have to earn it.  I don’t have to be good enough.  It doesn’t matter what I have done in my life, God loves me.  I am His child.  It still blows me away when I stop and think about God, he created the universe and he created me.  He wants the best for me in my life.

beach

Now when prayers aren’t answered, I know it’s because God has something better for me.  When those thoughts creep into my head and I feel like I have to be better, I stop, and laugh at myself because I know God isn’t going to withhold blessings because I’m not good enough.

PSALMS 136 1 4

I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of God’s unconditional love.

Christian

Tag Backs

Hey everyone!  I have some great news!  My mom will be returning to her blog next week, so unfortunately this is my last blog.  However, I am thinking about starting my own blog.  I haven’t decided yet, but I will make sure my mom keeps you all updated.  If I do start one it won’t be until school starts back up again.

This week I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about.  I was thinking about just writing about some of the awesome things God has done in my life.  Then yesterday I was listening to Klove on the way home from work and “Prodigal” by Sidewalk Prophets came on.  Instantly I knew that’s what God wanted me to write about.

20614543_10155181229859213_748184217_n

This song comes from the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.  The son of a wealthy man takes his inheritance and squanders it all on partying and worldly things.  Then he comes back, hoping he can at least work in his father’s fields.  But his father welcomes him home with open arms and throws him a huge feast.  That’s how God sees us.  He wants nothing more than for all His prodigal sons and daughters to come home and He will welcome us all home with open arms.  No matter what you’ve done, all He wants is for you to come home.  “Where ever you are, whatever you did, it’s a page in your book but it isn’t the end.  Your Father will meet you with arms open wide.  This is where your heart belongs.  So come running like a prodigal.”

20616310_10155181230564213_1187684804_o

This song seems to be more targeted at an audience that thinks there is too much bad in their past for God to love them, but I think it also has a meaning for believers.  There are no lost causes.  In 1 Timothy 2:3-4 it says, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God wants everyone to come to know Him, no matter what they’ve done.  I see this song as not only a message saying God loves me and wants me no matter what, but also a reminder that there are no lost causes.  You never know how much a single prayer or word can change someone.  The simplest things can move mountains.  So don’t think that the extreme atheist or the most devout of other religions can’t be saved.  God wants ALL of His children to come home.  Everyone can be saved.  So go out and help them get there! Show them the love of God!

20624185_10155181230109213_1654889460_n

No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve come from, God wants you to come running into His arms.  It’s our job as believer to help others find their way home too!  So, I leave you with this; “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19.

I’m Just the daughter of a small town girl…living in a prodigal world.

Christian

Freedom Isn’t Free

Images taken from google images.

So this weekend was Memorial Day weekend (that’s the reason this blog is so late!).  Memorial Day is a day to honor the fallen heroes that fought and died for the freedoms we have in this country.  So many brave men and women joined the military knowing they might not come back.  They went to war knowing they may never see their loved ones again.  Their sacrifices are why I am able to write this blog without fear.  Freedom is not free.  The freedoms we enjoy here in the United States were bought with the blood of men and women who died fighting for you.  Jesus did the same thing for everyone in the world.

sacrifice

Jesus bought our freedom with his own blood when we deserved nothing but death.  Because of our sin, we shouldn’t be able to live with God forever or enjoy the everlasting peace and love that He provides. “For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23.  Because we turned away from God, we should be dying a physical and spiritual death.

Lucky for us, God loves us an exceptional amount!  He loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us, to shed his blood, so that we could be free from our sins.  Freedom is not free.  Jesus had to die so that we could live with Him again in Heaven.  Our freedom from sin was bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, who went through everything we go through, the trials and temptations, yet lived a perfect life.

john

Now, I want to take a minute to talk about what is free.  God’s unconditional love is free.  He loves us no matter what we do and we can’t do anything to make Him love us more or less.  He already loves us perfectly!  Loving others is free.  God tells us that the greatest commandant is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, but the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.  We live in a world where there is so much hatred.  Often times it seems that loving others, especially people you don’t like or complete strangers, is an insurmountable task that will cost us so much.  It doesn’t cost a thing to say a kind word to someone you’re passing on the street, or offer a smile to everyone you meet throughout your day.

jfk.png

We take advantage of the things in our lives that appear to be free but really aren’t.  How many times have you used your freedom of speech to hurt others?  Probably far too many to count.  And yet we don’t even think twice about it.  So many men and women died to give us that right, so shouldn’t we use it for good?  The same thing goes for Jesus’s sacrifice.  Yes, Jesus died for our sins and because of that we are forgiven.  But that doesn’t mean we can still live in sin.  We take advantage of Jesus’s sacrifice choosing to continue to live in sin instead of giving our hearts truly to God and allowing Him to change our hearts so that we no longer want to live in sin.

My challenge to you this week is to start taking advantage of the things that are free in our lives.  Take advantage of the freedom you have to smile as much as you want and to love on people.  People have died to give you that freedom.

cross sacrifice

Jesus died to give us freedom from our sins.  So many brave men and women have died to give us the freedoms we enjoy in this country.  Let’s honor those sacrifices by loving others.

I’m just the daughter of a small town girl… living in a world where freedom isn’t free.

Update: My mom’s first surgery on her wrist went well. It’s in a cast right now. She had shoulder surgery today which also went well and she says she’s feeling okay. At this point in time we are expecting that she will be out for another four to six weeks. She appreciates all your thoughts, support, and prayers.

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.