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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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

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Christian

Who’s Voice are you Listening to?

Images taken from Google.

How do you know when God is talking to you?  God speaks to us in so many different ways.   I hear God talking to me through music a lot of the time, but there are many other ways He speaks to us, and when He does, we need to be able to recognize His voice.

God speaks to me through music a lot of the time.  You may have heard Him, too.  Have you ever turned on the radio during a hard time just to ear exactly the song you needed to?  Recently I’ve been talking to a friend of mine who doesn’t know God.  Sometimes it gets really difficult to talk to them.  After a particularly rough day and I was halfway starting to give up hope, I got in my car and was headed home. As soon as the car turned on “Giants Fall” by Francesca Battistelli was on at the part that says, “With God you know that anything’s possible.  So step into the fight.  He’s right there by your side.  The stones inside your hand might be too small, but watch the giants fall.”  God was telling me not to give up hope, that he was right there and had everything in control.  All I have to do is trust Him.

God also talks to us through prayer.  Something I learned at Chi Alpha this last year was how to sit and listen to God through prayer.  Sometimes God speaks to us in times of prayer, if only we are willing to listen.  He can give us a thought or a feeling, sometimes an image in our minds, of what He wants us to pray for.

The last week of Chi Alpha we got these little cards.  On them we were supposed to write three things that we were supposed to pray for and pour into this summer; a Christian, a non-Christian, and a residence hall floor at ISU.  I had absolutely no idea what to do for mine.  So I prayed about it.  I opened up in prayer and just sat and waited for God to give me some names that He wanted me to pour into this summer.  I ended up with 7 names instead of just the two.

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Other times when I’ve been docile before God, waiting for Him to lay something on my heart to pray for, He’s been silent.  Sometimes God talks through silence instead of words.  The answer isn’t always no.  Sometimes it’s wait.

With talking to God comes recognizing His voice.  In my leadership class for Chi Alpha, we were taught that there are three voices in your head that you can choose to listen to.  The first is the voice of the enemy. He’s the one that whispers condemnation in your ear.  Then you have your voice; all your emotions and desires that can easily cloud your judgement.  Then there’s God voice, and that’s the one you want to listen to.  God’s voice always lines up with what the Bible says and is always right and is always truth.

But sometimes it’s hard to figure out if you’re listening to yourself or to God.  Another friend of mine was having a hard time with a big decision.  She had two paths that she was thinking about following.  Both made fairly good sense, but they were completely contradictory.  She was having a hard time discerning which voice was God’s and which was hers.  I don’t know where she is at in that decision, but I told her that in order to figure out what God wanted for her, she had to get to know Him better.

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So how do you discern God’s voice from your own?  You have to grow closer to God. Spend more time with Him.  Pray more.  Spend time reading your Bible.  You could also talk to someone like my friend did with me.  Seek out a fellow believe who is not involved with the situation.  That way you have someone who knows the Bible and who isn’t going to be influenced by anything that could cloud your judgment.  Get to know God like you would get to know a stranger.  The more you get to know someone the easier it is to recognize them.  It’s not different with God!

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I’m just the daughter of a small town girl… praying my way through this world.

 

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.

Christian, exmormon, mormonism

My heart is Yours…

When I was a Mormon, life was life. I went through every day with out much of a thought about God or what impact He had on my every day life. When I was in high school, I would get up and go to school, practice for whatever sport I was doing at the time, and then come home.  When I had a bad day or things went wrong any thoughts toward God were never positive.  If I had a really bad day then I felt God was punishing me for not being good enough and I needed to try harder.

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Growing up we would sometimes have family prayer.  When we were all together we would pray for the food. Sunday is the day I would generally spend time really thinking about God.  I did have seminary every day in high school, so I guess for that hour I would think about God.  Generally, it was a passing thought.  God wasn’t the focus in my life. I though people who listened to Christian music and talked about God all the time were weird.  If you had told me even 10 years ago that I have more Christian music downloaded than any other, or that I spend most of my time outside of work focused on what God wants me to do, I would have never believed you.

I used to think that my religious beliefs were a private matter and people didn’t need to know what I believed. Most of what I did to worship God was done behind closed doors.  It wasn’t part of my everyday conversations and God didn’t cross my thoughts throughout the day.  When things went wrong in my life, I thought it was because I wasn’t trying hard enough and I would try harder in those times to read my scriptures and pray more.  But it was all on the surface.  My heart was never in the right place.  The intention behind my actions was all because I was supposed to be doing those things.  I was doing what the church leaders told me to, believing that some how they were more spiritual than me.  They had a greater connection to My Savior than I did.  This was another one of the misconceptions of Mormonism.

As I have grown in my Christian walk, God is ever present in my day. There are many times in my day when I will stop and think “Thanks, God, I know that was you”.  It could be for the smallest thing or the biggest thing.  It doesn’t really matter.  I see God’s hand in every piece of my life.

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This week was a really difficult week for me.  I’m not sure why but I have been overly emotional all week.  Monday was a holiday and Brian and I took the kids out to a movie and dinner.  It was a fun time I love being with my kids, Monday was a good day.  Tuesday was an average day.  I went to work.  I love my job but there are some things there that are a daily struggle and I know that I am supposed to be learning something from the experience, I’m not enjoying the lesson.  Wednesday the weather was awful, I have a 4o minute commute each way to work and I knew about 10 minutes in I should just stay home.  But I didn’t. I was late for work and when I finally got there, got my car stuck in the parking lot.  I was told many ways to get it out, how to drive my car, and that I need to get new tires.  As I have written many times I don’t like to be told what to do. (I felt a little vindicated later when other people who were telling me how to drive and what to do also got stuck in the parking lot).  I arranged things so I could head for home at noon; and hour and 20 minutes later they closed the building I work in for the day.  It was a very stressful and irritating day for me.  When I got home I took a nap.

I pulled myself together enough to go out in the community and work with the clients I was assigned for the day.  I got back to the office and realized I had lost my ID badge.  I did exactly what I was told and went and told the person I was supposed to.  I was told I needed to go back out in the community an find it.  I was told the information on the badge could be used to steal my identity.  I completely broke down.  I lost it. At this time it was 1:00 in the afternoon and I hadn’t had lunch.  I wanted to leave but my daughter had my car.  I went into the bathroom and cried.  I was done with everything.  I was so glad it was Friday and was wishing it was 5:00 so I could go home.

In that moment I finally stopped and said a quick prayer.  I started working on turning everything over to God instead of controlling the situation.  I again pulled myself together, ate lunch, retraced a few of my steps and found my badge.  I was able to get through the rest of the day with out tears, and had a long talk with Brian and then God on the way home.

Thursday was a regular day but bitter cold as it has been the last few weeks. It was so cold here Thursday and Friday most of the schools in the area were closed.  Friday was the climax of my horrible week.  My son left to go back to college 9 hours away, I took my daughter back to her college dorm in the city where I work.  I got to work feeling a bit emotional already saying goodbye to my college kids. There were things that happened at work that day that added to my emotional state and I cried all day. I pulled myself together enough to say a quick prayer.

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My conversation with God was please give me strength, courage, be with me as I go through this.  Not once did I ask God to fix it or take it away.  In my Mormon life, I lived my life to please myself and only involved God when it was convenient.  When things went wrong God became the excuse; I would think I wasn’t doing enough to please Him.  When life was going OK God was generally an after thought.

As a Christian, I can see God in my everyday life.  I am a strong believer in the statement, “Everything happens for a reason”.  I know God has a plan for my life.  I know every struggle, every roadblock, every heartache, God will take and use for my benefit and His.  I’m still struggling with the emotional stress at work . But God knows what I need and He will open doors.  He already brought my sister in Christ to work in the same building.  I am so grateful that I can go talk to her and have her say a quick prayer for me.  Or I can eat my lunch with her and we can talk about God.  I love her and I love that God knew I was going to need her, long before I ever did.

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Romans 8:28 says God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.  Later in the same chapter in Romans 8:37 (NIV) it says we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. I love that because not only will God work all the struggles I had this week out to benefit me but I will do more than conquer.  I will be victorious.  In the NLT version Romans 8:37 says “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us”.  What a great promise “overwhelming victory, more than conquerors”.  If you commit your life to Christ and are living for Him you are going not only win but you’re going to blow away the competition.

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I think my whole point this week is that I became so caught up in my emotions, my struggles, my problems, that I forgot who is looking out for me.  I forgot to stop and focus on God and what it means to be His child.  I forgot who I gave my heart to and that He wants more than anything to protect me and keep me safe. I fell back in to some of my Pre-Chrisitian beliefs and was focused on me and what I could to do fix things not on God and what his goal and purpose is for all of this.  It makes things a little easier knowing at the end I will be “dancing in the end zone”.

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I’m just a small town girl… living in God’s world.

 

One of my most favorite songs click the link and watch the video.

Where I got the title for this weeks blog