Christian, exmormon

Twinkle Lights…

One of my Facebook memories from today was an excerpt from the book; Ending Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer it said, “The highest call on your life is to enjoy God. But you can’t enjoy Him if you are convinced He is upset with you. Jesus came to deliver you from the wrong kind of fear in your relationship with your heavenly Father. You should be relaxed in His presence. You need to have reverential fear, the kind that provokes respect, honor, and obedience. But you must refuse to believe any thoughts that the Lord is angry with you.

You are no surprise to God. Jeremiah 1:5 states that before He formed you in the womb, God knew you! He knew what He was getting when He drew you into a relationship with Himself. He already knows the things you will do wrong in the future. God is not nearly as hard to get along with as you think He is. It is not your sin that hinders you, it is unbelief!”

Oh, how often I still struggle with this concept.  It is so hard to let go of the thought, “I will never be good enough for God”.  Life is hard.  Every day is a struggle.  That’s one of the things that has been the hardest things for me to accept as a Christian.  I want God to make life easy.  I want Him to say, “Hey you’ve accepted me, here ya go… here’s an easy life”. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.

gods plan

John 10:10 says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”  God has a plan and a purpose for each of us.  We are our own biggest barriers. The devil uses us as a wedge to get between us and God.  He feeds on our fears and our doubts.  We fall into that trap and we often feel worthless.

I remember growing up the struggle I had with myself and believing that God loved me.  I struggled with feeling that I was good enough.  I struggled to find happiness.  I spent a good part of my life searching for joy, for happiness, for purpose and meaning.  I really believed the mantra of; I’ll be happy when… but when those moments came, I was happy for a moment but it didn’t last very long and then I was focused on the next big thing that I wanted in my life. I had no identity and no real purpose for living other than what my religion told me.

Growing up I often struggled with the thought that God was mad at me. I struggled with believing that God could love me even after some of the things I had done.  At times I felt like God wanted nothing to do with me. I believed the more I accomplished in my life, the more God would love me.  The better chance I would have at going to Heaven.  I believed the lie that I could do enough.

When I found Christ, I was at rock bottom in my life.  I was at a point where everything I was afraid of happening was and I had lost all hope for myself and my future. I felt worthless and hopeless. It wasn’t that there wasn’t anything good in my life, it was just I was so focused on the big things, I couldn’t see the amazing details of my life.

little things

As I have mentioned many times, I am a huge fan of Brene Brown.  I love her books and insights, I love watching her Ted Talks and using them to help people improve their lives.  One of my favorite Brene Brown quotes is, “Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant.  It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments.  Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments.  Other times were so afraid of the dark that we don’t let ourselves enjoy the light. I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s, or become so afraid of doing things or afraid of the good moments that I don’t take time to enjoy them. But God didn’t create us with a spirit of fear.  God created us to draw near to Him when we struggle.  God isn’t a god of anger.  He is our Creator.  He loves us and wants us.

joy

The closer I draw to God the more twinkle lights I have in my life.  Knowing God, helps me appreciate the small moments in life. He helps me embrace the struggles and find meaning and purpose in every situation.  I think because I have found purpose in Christ and I know He loves me regardless of anything, it is easier for me to appreciate the small things in life.  Life isn’t about the big extraordinary moments.  It’s about learning to appreciate the small everyday things knowing that God has your back.

I’m just a Small Town Girl…living in a world of twinkle lights.

 

 

Christian

Is That All…

A couple of weeks ago, I was part of a conversation where the question was asked, “Why did God create us if we weren’t destined for something greater? We go to Heaven and that’s it? We’re done? What do we do for Eternity?”  I was surprised by the question and sad for the person who asked it.

“Heaven is the dwelling place of God and the saints who are ultimately saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone” (CARM.org).  In my mind, Heaven is the ultimate reward.  Heaven is where we will be with our Creator and be in continuous worship and fellowship with Him and other believers.  “We go to Heaven and that’s it?”  What more could there be? The stress and pain of this world is gone.  You’re filled with love and joy and in continuous worship.  I struggle to understand why that isn’t enough.

image

Last weekend I had the opportunity of spending the weekend at a ladies retreat for church.  We spent the weekend focused on Jesus, learning about discipleship, and in continuous worship.  It was a stress-free weekend.  Filled with fun, great food, and a focus on God and what He wants for our lives.  I don’t think we can ever understand or comprehend what Heaven will be like.  But if there is anything similar to what Heaven will be like here on Earth, I think it is things like the ladies retreat I attended.  I think spending time in community with others where the focus is on Christ.

We attend an amazing church in our little community.  Because we live in a rural area with several smaller towns, we have people from all over the valley who travel to our little church.  When Brian and I first heard about this church we were honestly, a little leery.  A church community.  People who spent their time together.  Not just on Sunday, but people who did life together.  We were concerned because we didn’t want to spend that much time doing “churchy stuff”.  It’s amazing how our perspective has changed over the years.

encouragement

Brain and I had attended a few different churches in our short Christian walk, but when we started attending our current church, everything changed.  As leery as we were to be so involved with all that “churchy stuff”, it was exactly what we were looking for.  For the first time in our lives we began to grow in God’s word.  We began to understand why we believed what we believed and we began to become who God created us to be.  That “churchy stuff” that we didn’t want was just living life with fellow believers.  It was fellowship, worship, honoring God in our daily lives and making Him the center.

People think that worship is bowing down or raising your hands in praise.  But in reality, worship is showing love, honor, respect, and praise, to what is important to you.  As a Christian one of the greatest ways to worship God is to be in fellowship with other believers.

breath

I really think that Heaven is going to be an awesome time of worship.  It will be better than anything I can fathom.  It is being in constant fellowship and worship with God without the distraction of life and the stressors we experience as human beings. “Why did God create us if we weren’t destined for something greater? We go to Heaven and that’s it? We’re done? What do we do for Eternity?” Why did God create us if we weren’t destined for something greater?”  I can’t imagine anything greater than being in eternal fellowship and worship with my Creator.  We go to Heaven and that’s it? We’re done?  We’re done with the challenges, we’re done with the stress.  We get to live in peace and contentment.  Isn’t that what people are searching for in this life.  Chasing the dream of contentment and happiness, only to be disappointed by the next stressor that life throws at you.  So, I guess yeah, in my view, that’s it… we’re done.  What do we do for eternity?  I think we live in worship and fellowship with our God and fellow believers for eternity. I can’t imagine a greater way to experience Heaven.

bored

I’m just a Small Town Girl…Living in a world of worship.

 

Christian

Putting life in Perspective

“On the mountain I will bow my life to the one who set me there.  In the valley I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there.  When I’m standing on the mountain I didn’t get there on my own.  When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone.”  I love this song, “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells.  I think it puts life into perspective perfectly.

ups and downs

Life is full of hills and valleys; ups and downs.  Sometimes we are on a mountain top and things are going absolutely perfect.  You feel like nothing can bring you down and nothing can go wrong.  You also have your low points.  Days when you think nothing is ever going to get better and you’ll never be happy again.  When we get to these high or low points it is important to keep life in perspective and remember that God is still here and is still the Lord of our lives.

We’ve all had good times and bad times.  I’ve already talked about my younger years in middle school and high school when I was feeling so alone and abandoned by God.  Most of the time I didn’t turn to Him.  I didn’t ask Him for help or to make me feel better.  More often than not I buried my feelings deep down inside and continued to pretend to be happy.  I hid behind books and writing to make myself feel better.  It only would work for a little bit before I was once again drowning in a pit of depression.  Finally I realized God’s love for me and turned to Him to fix my broken spirit.  He fixed me permanently, unlike my books or writing ever could.  I still get in sad slumps, but I know where to turn to now, and I know I’m never alone.

picture 2

I’ve also had a lot of high points in my life.  One of those was my first semester of college.  Things were going great for me.  I had easy classes, was making lots of new friends.  I didn’t think anything could bring me down.  I forgot who had brought me to that place.  I forgot that God was the reason for my success and the new friends I had made.  Second semester I was still feeling on top of the world and still didn’t give God the thanks and glory He deserved.  Second semester turned out to be a lot harder without God by my side.  I had to turn to Him in order to get out of the slump I had sunk into because I wasn’t relying on Him.

“On the mountain I will bow my life to the one who set me there.”  When we are at our high points and loving life, we need to remember to thank God and acknowledge that He is the one that got us to where we are, not us. “When I’m standing on the mountain, I didn’t get there on my own.”  We are not the ones who make our lives great.  God is.  When you get that pay raise you’ve been waiting for, yes you may have earned it, but remember that God is the one who gave it to you.  He blesses us with so many things.  When things are going well we tend to step away from God and think we don’t need Him anymore.  This couldn’t be further from the truth! God gives us everything we have in our lives.  Even when things are going well, we still need to pray and ask God to help us continue on the path He wants us to live.  When we live for ourselves, and not for God, that’s usually when things start to head downhill.

picture 1

The other thing we need to remember is that God is always there for us.  “In the valley I will life my eyes to the one who sees me there.”  When things are tough and it seems like there’s no end in sight, God is still there!  He’s watching us and taking care of us!  He sees us in our struggle and when we reach out to Him, He will always help us.  One of my favorite poems of all time is “Footprints” by Mary Stevenson.  “One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.””

I love the last line. “When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” God is always watching out for us.  He is always there and would never leave us alone, even in our darkest times.  “When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone.”  If you’re in a valley right now I promise you are not alone!

It’s hard to remember that God is always watching out for us when we’re feeling depressed and lonely.  It’s hard to remember to give God the glory when things are going well.  We need to put life in perspective and remember that no matter what is going on, God is there and is helping us get to where He wants us to be.

god is greater

I’m just the daughter of a small down girl… living in a roller coaster of a world.

Images taken from Google.

 

exmormon, mormonism

Perspective isn’t truth…

In this weeks blog, names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Any connection to real situations is completely coincidental.

perspective-stg

A few weeks ago, at our grow group there was only a few of us and we ended up having fun discussion about a conflict I’m having with someone in my personal life, I will call them Bob.  This is a situation I have been struggling with for a while.  Bob and I have had several interactions which always end up in a big conflict these happen on a regular basis.  As the grow group talked it the group leader Carol suggested we read Romans 2:1-5.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

As we read this, I was feeling the guilt and shame about how I have handled the situation.  Although, I feel like I have done everything I can to be kind and look the other way.  Carol didn’t shame me at all.  She didn’t tell me I needed to be kinder and do more.  She told me they know I am a good and kind person and they know I am trying to do God’s will in this situation.  As we read, I thought this was going to be turned on me when in all reality, the whole point the Carol was making was that God is in control and he will take care of things.  The group members all validated me and told me to just keep doing what God wants me to do.  And in the end God would take care of everything.

It was in this brief moment I realized the clutch the Mormon belief system still has on me at times.  I realized it’s all about perspective and how you look at things.  It made me stop and think about how much my thinking has changed and wonder about what I am still looking at from my Mormon lenses and not from my Christian view.

perspective

In Mormonism, people often struggle with, have I done enough.  That is because it is a works based faith where your eternal salvation is based solely on what you have done in this life.  So, it is no wonder when I read the above passage, I took on the perspective that I wasn’t doing enough, I needed to do better and make the situation better.  This was very frustrating for me because, although, there are things I could probably improve on or do better, the conflicts between Bob and I, isn’t going to change because, I am not the problem.  As we discussed the passage, Carol and the grow group members confirmed to me what I felt like God had been telling me all along.  It also confirmed what many other people who know of, and are involved in, the situation between Bob and I have told me.  Bob is the problem.  Bob isn’t going to change.  And yet I struggle with, am I doing enough?

It is so hard to change things that have been ingrained since childhood.  But just because it is something you have been told or taught doesn’t mean that it is truth. It’s all about perspective and how you look at things.

As I have grown in my new life, from the time I became a Christian until now, I have learned so much about myself.  I have learned a lot about how I look at things and look at the world.  As a social worker, I have learned a lot about people and perspective and that we are all products of our environment.  The hardest part of all of this is realizing that just because we believe something doesn’t mean that it is true.  And often, even if you can prove to someone something is true based on fact and credible evidence, most often, people will stick to their belief system because it is comfortable and what they know.  Truth, becomes unimportant.  Truth becomes what they believe.

fact-truth-stg

I have been a Christian for 16 years.  I have done a lot of studying of the Bible and a lot of research to come to my belief system.  To me there is no doubt that God is real!  I can see it in everything.  Just last weekend one of my daughters talked to me about laminin an important protein in our cells that are shaped like a cross. Coincidence or perspective? You can go on Google earth and see places in the Bible where Jesus walked and taught.  You can go to Israel and physically walk where Jesus walked.  Many of the places talked about in the Bible are still in existence today.  Lakes, rivers, towns, cities, they are all tangible, real places that you can see and visit. There are historical records that refer to Jesus.  Historical records outside of the Bible.  Verifiable, historical figures that have referred to Jesus. There is a higher chance that we are created beings over being people that have evolved. To me, that is all enough to be credible evidence to truth.  And yet, still, it all comes down to perspective.

As I have walked away from Mormonism and learned more and more things, I have realized there is no evidence of truth.  There is no historical evidence.  There is no document-able proof to show that what Joseph Smith said and what is written in the Book of Mormon is true.  Nothing!  In my view this is reason enough to believe that it isn’t true but for many they aren’t willing to consider a different perspective or walk away from their belief system.  Their perspective is, that it’s true, and there is no reason to take a step back and look at it from a different angle.

change-stg

The hard thing is, if you are willing to look at something from a different perspective, how can you know truth?  In the video, I post a few weeks ago, called Unveiling Grace about the formation for the Adam’s Road Band.  Micah talked about being challenged to read the Bible with the eyes of a child.  It’s a different perspective.  If you can’t challenge your perspective how can you know what you really believe and how can you grow.

I’m so grateful that God allowed that interaction with the few of us that were able to be at grow group.  It was one of those moments where I just stopped and said in my head “Thank you God!  I know this whole night was planned by You!”  It was one of those moments where my perspective was challenged, my truth was confirmed, and growth happened!  Those moments are the best moments.

I’m just a small town girl… living in a world filled with perspective not truth.