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

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.

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

 

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

Great Expectations…

I had plans to post a blog all week last week but I have been super busy and, much like life, things didn’t go as planned.  So here I am, a week later, finally finding time to write my blog.  So often, this is how life goes.  We have great expectations of how we want things to be or things to turn out.  I never thought my life would be the way it currently is. expext define

I recently read an article that talked about the biggest problem in relationships, and it wasn’t anything most people think.  It listed the biggest problem in relationships as “expectation”.  I completely agree with the article.  And although it was referring to romantic relationships, I feel expectation is the biggest problem in every relationship; including our relationship with God and our relationship with ourselves.

Expectation creates so many problems in life.  I live in Idaho and we “expected” thousands of people in our area for the eclipse.  As of today, those expectations haven’t even come close to reality.  And, that’s the problem with expectations.  So often, we have a prefect picture of how things are “supposed to be”. We know in our heads how everything is going to happen.  We worry and fret over this picture in our heads and when things don’t turn out like the picture, we are angry and frustrated; and often feel like life isn’t fair.  The thing is, life isn’t fair and nothing is certain.

Living in my Mormon world, there were a lot of expectations but the outcome was certain. I knew if I was good enough, I would reach the highest level of heaven with my family.  That was the ultimate goal.  I’ve talked in many blogs about all of the requirements that the Mormon faithful have to accomplish.   The picture that is painted is one of bliss and happiness if you remain faithful to the end.  But I struggled to fit into the picture of what those expectations were. I liked the picture but had a hard time being one of the faithful followers.  It didn’t matter how much I tried, I would always give into my sinful nature at some point.

uncertainty

As I mentioned, the biggest problem in relationships is expectation, that includes our relationship with God and ourselves.  As I progressed through my Mormon life, my expectations for myself began to change and hopelessness filled me.  How could I ever reach the perfect picture if I couldn’t even manage a day without doing what was expected of me.  Hopelessness turned to depression and suicidal thoughts.  I hated life and myself.  At times, I was angry with God.  The expectation was that God would help me through my struggles and God would give me strength.  But time after time I failed and the only thing that was certain was that I wasn’t going to make it.  I have never done well with expectations.

peace

As a Mormon, my expectation was that I could complete the requirements necessary to go to Heaven.  My expectation was if I lived according to what the Mormon Prophets taught, I would be happy and be able to be with my family forever.  The requirements were black and white and I could check them off as I completed them.  Baptism ü, Young Women’s awards and recognition ü, Marry a return missionary in the temple ü, and so on.  The criteria are clear and the expectation is that you will complete all criteria to go to heaven.

As a Mormon, I relied a lot on myself and the Mormon leaders for my salvation.   Becoming Christian and understanding what it means to give your life to Christ was a life saver for me.  I learned very quickly that my salvation had little to do with me and everything to do with Christ.  I also learned when you truly rely on God and try to live life for Him, expectation goes out the window.  So often as a Christian I think God should do things the way I have pictured in my head, and a majority of the time, that is not what happens.  The best part of being a Christian, is when I have those expectations and the perfect picture in my head, God’s is always better.

There are many times when I have gone through difficult times as a Christian and I have cried out to God to make things different; or there have been times when I have been angry with God about the struggles in my life.  The biggest problem with both of those scenarios, those are my expectations.  And even in those times when I am struggling and saying to God, “this isn’t fair” the positive results far outweigh the struggle.

I have said many times, I don’t think I could have gone through my current situation if I was still Mormon.  I truly feel that way about most experiences in my life.  This most recent struggle is life changing and sometimes it’s difficult to see there might be something positive that comes out of it.  But if there is anything that I expect as a Christian, God is always faithful, and he wants more for me than I could ever even imagine for myself.  On the hardest days when I get overwhelmed with the struggles in life I focus on that.  I know Who is in control and I know He only wants the best for me.

His promises

I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of great expectations.

Christian

Storms of Life…

Well, this Small Town Girl is back at it.  Before I get started I want to thank Cheyenne for writing my blog while I was out.  She did a great job.  I am so proud of her. She has such a heart for God and is a great example to me.

The last several months have been a huge struggle for me.  The end of February I fell and injured my hand and shoulder.  In the last 3 months, I have had 2 major surgeries and one minor surgery.  There have been times when I have felt as if I was being tossed around on the waves and whipped around in the wind and yet I felt God’s calming presence in the chaos.  Even though I was in the midst of the storm and most often after a moment (days) of panic and struggle God calmed me and I knew it would be ok.   Then there were times when the chaos died down and things didn’t seem to be so bad.  God would calm the storm and although, I knew the struggle wasn’t over, I knew it was God who was in charge of the storm.

storm

I’m still in the midst of the storm and have a very long road ahead.  Through it all, there were ups and downs and there are many more to come. So many days, I struggled with depression and being overwhelmed by the current life I was living.  “This isn’t how my life was supposed to go!  Life isn’t supposed to be this hard”.  I already overcame that struggle and yet, here I am struggling with many of the same feelings I have fought so hard to move past.  Life is supposed to be easier with God.  Right?

I don’t think God ever promised anything would be easy.  Actually, if you read the Bible, most of the people in the Bible that God used had a very hard and difficult road.  People like Jonah, Gideon, Moses, David, Rahab, Rachel, Paul, they all had very hard situations they had to work through.  Their situations required God’s guidance and direction.

God had great plans for their lives.  Their struggles and hardships are documented in the greatest book of all time.  God had a purpose for their struggle.  I don’t think Jonah ever thought “I bet I’m going down in the history books for being swallowed by a whale”!  He didn’t want to go through the struggle but in the end, he did what God wanted and God used his struggle to help others and we get to read about Jonah in the Bible.  Life isn’t supposed to be easy especially when we do things on our own.

Recently, I had a very important but difficult situation I had to confront.  The outcome of this situation would be life altering. I was so anxious and nervous.  Consumed with my own expectations in life and how limited I was in the situation.  I had no control.  I knew in the situation I was in there was absolutely nothing that I could do to affect the outcome.  And honestly, I was unsure of what I wanted the outcome to be.  As I was waiting for this situation to resolve its self, Danny Gokey’s song “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” came on the radio and I broke down in tears.  I felt it was God saying to me, “I know things have been hard.  I know you are grieving and hurt, but you are going to be ok.  I have great things for you”.

song

My life has been altered by this whole experience and it will never be the same.  I still have a long road ahead but today is a new beginning for me.  The situation I discussed above is still unresolved.  I still have a long road for recovery.  There is a lot of unknown in my world but the one thing I know for certain is that God is in control of my future and He has bigger and better plans for me than I can ever have for myself.

Every day I still struggle with the overwhelming feelings, I fight the depression and the desire to stay in bed and hide from the world.  But when I take time to talk to God and remember He is the one who is writing the script to my life, it makes it a little easier.  I’m so glad to be back writing my blog and I’m looking forward to where this new path will lead. I hope you all will be patient and willing to continue to ride through this storm with me.

peace

I’m Just a Small Town Girl… Living in a Stormy World.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4rRCjrAyCs&spfreload=10