Christian, exmormon, LDS

Death…

This has been an emotional week for me and another week of learning just how far I have grown as a Christian and in my faith and trust in God.  The beginning of the week my mom called and told me my almost 90-year-old grandma, who is a strong Christian woman was in the ICU with the flu and pneumonia. I was so saddened by this news.

traveling

My grandma lived less than a mile from me growing up, but I didn’t get much of an opportunity to spend time with her or my grandpa because of religious differences between my family and my grandparents. It wasn’t until a couple years after Brain and I walked away from Mormonism that I really began to realize the role my grandparents had in me coming to Christ and that they were Christians.  My grandparents found out about us leaving the LDS church by running into us at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon.  The church we attended at the time was 30 minutes from home and was in a bigger town with more options for grocery stores and other shopping.  I remember when we saw my grandma at the store, she was so surprised to see us!  Brian was working that day, but she was so surprised when I told her we had been attending a Christian Church in town and we had realized the problems with Mormonism.  She told me her and my grandpa had been praying for all of us kids our whole lives.  She told me they always attended our baptisms and church things they were invited to, to be supportive, but they always prayed that God would open our eyes to the truth.  It was awesome to know I was an answered prayer for my grandparents.

Just a few years after seeing my grandma at the grocery store, my grandparents decided to sell their home in our small town and travel around the United States, taking time to visit their kids that lived all over.  It was sad to see them go just when I started to have a close relationship with them.  I felt so blessed that my kids were able to know my grandparents. After Brian and I became Christian, we had some of the most amazing and in-depth conversations with my grandparents, and especially my grandpa.  I learned a lot about my grandparents in a short time and they gained an extra special place in my heart.

breath

Growing up, all I knew about them is they weren’t Mormon, and they drank coffee.  As a child in my head that made them not very good people.  As an adult, and a Christian, I was humbled by the love they had for God and for their family.  I remember a conversation I had with my grandpa on one of their visits home, he said he had my back, even with my family and if I was having a hard time because they didn’t support my choice to be a Christian he would stick up for me and even talk to my dad for me.  It felt good to know I had an ally.

My grandpa passed away almost 6 years ago, and I miss him so much. I haven’t had to face death very much in my life.  I remember feeling so sad and bitter when my grandpa passed away. When I heard about my grandma, I was sad, but I had a conversation with my husband, and then the next morning on my way to work, I had a conversation with God, I knew that she was in pain and suffering.  My grandma was able to come and visit us this past summer and it was so nice to see her.  I didn’t spend the time with her I wish I would have.  But I know she said it has been hard without grandpa around.  She has lived a great life.  My prayer to God was, “Your will be done.”

psalms 62 1

When grandma passed away, I was sad that I didn’t get to know her more, sad I didn’t send the pictures, I always meant to send, sad I didn’t call or write more.  I was sad for me, but the first thought that came to my head was the song “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me.  I knew that Grandma was in Heaven with Jesus and grandpa.  The Bible says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  The next song I thought of was “Home” by Chris Tomlin.  Grandma was Home and happy.  And although, I was sad for me.  I couldn’t help but be excited and happy for her.

It made me think, I am so grateful to be a Christian and to know I am saved. I have a lot of atheist and agnostic friends, and I can’t imagine living life without a belief in an afterlife or feeling uncertain of what that is.  I am also so grateful I don’t have to worry or hope that I have done enough to make it to Heaven.  All that needed to be done was done on the Cross.  I just have to accept Christ as my Savior.  I know my grandma is home and I will see her again.

I’m just a Small Town Girl… Living in a world where Heaven is certain.

Christian

Even If

“I know the sorrow and I know the hurt would all go away of you’d just say the word.  But even if you don’t, my hope is you alone.”  So many people turn away from God when things get hard.  When the going gets tough we can get angry at God and blame Him for our pain because we know He can take it away.  This song by MercyMe should be our prayer in times of hurting.

even if

We all have been hurt.  We have all had times in our lives where we are at our absolute worst and have no hope at all.  There is so much pain and sorrow and we wish it would go away.  Most of the time we curse God and beg for Him to take away whatever is causing us so much hurt, most of the time believing He won’t.  So instead people turn to drinking or drugs or self-harm or something else to take away their pain.  We put our hope into materialistic things that in reality won’t help at all.  Instead of getting angry at God for not helping us in times of great sorrow, we need to put our trust and hope in Him.

hope

Once again we’re going to go back to when I was in middle school and high school.  I was in so much pain during those few years.  I turned away from God thinking He couldn’t help me.  I was one of those people that turned to self-harm.  I had so much heartache from feeling so alone that I thought the physical pain would help and take it all away.  But it didn’t.  Finally, when I was completely at breaking point, God saved me.  I put my hope in Him and He was able to bring me away from all of that and showed me I wasn’t alone.  If I had put my hope in Him from the beginning I would have saved myself a lot of pain and trouble.

Now for a story where I did put my hope in God.  Going to college is a really scary thing at first.  You are alone, without friends, and expected to do a lot of things for yourself because you’re an adult.  You have to completely start over.  After my first day of classes my first semester I completely broke down.  I cried for hours.  I felt so alone and had no idea what I was doing.  I was convinced I wasn’t going to make any friends because of how introverted I was.  I had my roommates but I knew I wasn’t going to be good friends with them because they were all into the party scene.  I had so much sorrow and hurt, but instead of just letting it consume me, I turned to God.  I prayed and asked for peace and comfort.  I asked Him to give me complete contentment in Him.  I put all my hope in Him.  I knew that God would provide me with friends.  Maybe not right away but I knew he would provide for me.  The very next day I met one of my best friends completely by chance.  We had two classes together and ended up being paired up for a short class project.  Ever since we have been best friends and I know we will be friends for the rest of our lives.

psalm 62.5

It is so important that we put our hope in God in the midst of all our hurt and fear.  I know it’s hard, but even when He doesn’t give us an answer right away or doesn’t take away our sorrow right away; we still need to completely trust and rely on Him.  He will provide for us, just like I talked about last week.  Even the sparrow knows He holds tomorrow.  Put your hope in God even in your darkest times.

I’m just the daughter of a small town girl… putting my hope in God alone.

images taken from Google.

Christian, LDS

Even the Sparrow

I am a worrier.  I always have been.  I worry about everything from having enough time to get everything done with my busy schedule, to my future and everything in between.  For me, it’s worry, worry, worry and go, go, go and sometimes I barely have time to catch a breath.

From the moment I first heard it, “Sparrows” by Jason Grey, has been one of my favorite songs because it is the perfect reminder that God has everything in control and I need to let go of my worry.  When I feel overwhelmed and like everything is spiraling out of control with no hope, this is my go to song.  This song is the perfect reminder that we are always in God’s sight and He is in control. He will make sure everything turns out exactly the way it should.

Worry

A few weeks ago my boyfriend, who is LDS, got his mission call.  This was a moment I had been dreading and worrying about for months.  When he opened his call and read that he was going to Ghana, Africa, the whole world seemed to turn upside down.  As I walked out to my car afterwards I was a mess.  I couldn’t help but think of all the things that could happen to him while he is gone and worrying he would never come to a relationship with Jesus if he left.  We had already spent many months arguing about our differing beliefs and all hope seemed lost.  But God always know exactly what I need to hear.  As soon as I turned on my car I heard the words I needed.  “If He can hold the world He can hold this moment.  Not a field or flower escapes His notice.  Oh, even the sparrow knows, He holds tomorrow.”  When I heard that song I knew God was telling me I needed to let go of my worry and that everything was going to work out.

19758218_10155091325284213_1653840349_n

“If He can hold the world He can hold this moment.”  God holds the entire world in His hands.  He is in control of everything.  If He can carry the weight of the world, He can definitely hold you in the moments your worry gets the best of you.  Trust Him to hold your worry. Let it go and give it to the God of the universe.  “Not a field or flower escapes His notice.”  God’s eye is on everything.  He takes care of even the smallest plant, so why would He not take care of you? He will provide for your every need.  Sometimes you may think your problems are too small for God to handle, but nothing is too small for Him to notice.  “Even the sparrow knows He holds tomorrow.”  This is my favorite part of the song.  God holds our future.  He holds tomorrow in His hands.  The sparrows know that.  So why don’t we understand it?  Matthew 6: 25-27 says “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.  Isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds.  They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”  Jesus said it himself; we are God’s favorite creation, His pride and joy.  He made us in His image.  He cares and provides for all the plants and animals on the earth, so why would He not take care of you, too?  God wants to take care of you in every way.  He wants to take your worries and fears away.  Worrying will only stop you from living life to the fullest.  So give your worries to God!

sparrow

I’m just the daughter of a small town girl… who’s smallest worry doesn’t escape God’s notice.

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.

19181941_10155017748259213_2060736969_o

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.

19206104_10155017730004213_1093712265_n

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!

19239440_10155017754619213_2054639438_n

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

 

Christian

Do Not Be Afraid

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about fear.  Fear is everywhere.  Everyone is afraid of something.  I can’t even begin to count how many pointless fears I have.  But lucky for us, we have a God that is bigger than every fear we could ever have!unknown stg

This summer my cell core for Chi Alpha (a small group of leaders for support throughout the year) is reading “A Fresh Look at Fear” by Dan Baumann.  Dan was doing some mission work overseas in the Middle East when he and a friend were imprisoned in Iran.  Throughout this book, Dan tells his story.  In the midst of his darkest hours, when he was most afraid, God was there and protected him.  Even when he had lost all faith in God and was trying to kill himself, God stayed by his side.

This is one of the most important things to remember in our lives.  Fear can easily cloud our judgement and turn us away from God.  Do you know how many times the Bible says not to be afraid?  365 times! You know God means it when he says it that many times!  So why are we so afraid of things like spiders or our future?  One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will lead your path straight.”  It says it right there.  All we have to do is trust God.  He has great plans for all of us. There is no reason to be afraid when He has our back.1 TIM 1 7 STG

I was so afraid when I was first asked to be a Chi Alpha leader.  My first thought was to run in the other direction as fast as I could.  I was so scared I would be a bad influence and that I wouldn’t do a good job at helping other girls my age grow closer to God.  I was going to turn down the offer.  Then I came home for Christmas break and God was obviously telling me I needed to do this.  I read it in my Bible, my pastor talked about leadership in church.  I swear everywhere I looked, God was shouting at me “Cheyenne! Trust me! You need to be a leader!”  Finally, I set aside my fears.  I put my trust in God and allowed him to lead me.  Since then, I have grown an astronomical amount!  I’ve already helped some of my friends grow closer to God and I’ve grown more confident in my ability to talk to people about Jesus.  I would never have had the confidence and the courage to write this blog without God.  He took away my fear of leading and helped me to rely completely on Him.god's plans STG

That was only one area of my life though.  We need to give up our fears to Him in every aspect of our lives.  Unfortunately that’s easier said than done.  But as Philippians 4:13 says, anything is possible with God.  The more we allow God to take control of our lives, the less fear we will have because we know He will provide for us.  That’s all it takes.  Trust in God, and He will take away your fears.

I’m just the daughter of a small town girl… living in a scary world without fear.

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.

trust in god stg

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.

known God stg

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”.

psalms 31 24 stg

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.

romans 8 28 stg

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

Alone in the world…

After my last blog, I spent a lot of time thinking about Brian and I and how much I rely on him.  It was a very rough week for me and God reminded me that although Brian is my rock in this world, God is the one true constant who is always with me.

psalms 46 stg

Brian and I got married when we were both 18.  I can’t remember much of my life without him.  He was always supposed to be my knight in shining armor and take me away from a life I struggled in.  I had him on a very high pedestal for the first few years of our marriage.  I sometimes think I rely on Brian more than I rely on God.  And although, I believe God brought Brian and I together, God needs to be #1 in my life always.

A couple of weeks ago, I fell at work; this week, I had to go through some unexpected medical procedures that were very difficult for me.  I don’t remember going through a medical procedure without Brian by my side.  We have been married for almost 23 years.  He has always been there to hold my hand.  I unexpectedly had to have an MRI, which most people would think is no big deal, but I first had to have some dye injected into my wrist so they could see things better.  I have a very hard time with needles.  I struggle because all I wanted was for Brian to be able to be with me.  To sit next to me and hold my hand.  But he works in a city about an hour from where I work, so there I lay in a cold hospital room with the stinging of the needle in my hand and the only one I could call out to was God.  In that moment, I was alone.  Brian couldn’t be there.  I couldn’t call him on the phone, I couldn’t text him, there was no one but God to support me in that moment. The next part was almost as difficult.  I have a very hard time being enclosed in tight spaces.  I am very claustrophobic.  I had to go head first into the MRI machine, not all the way but enough, that I couldn’t see out either end of the machine.  Brian wouldn’t have been able to be there for any of the MRI.  He wouldn’t have been able to hold my hand.  The MRI guy asked if I had any music I wanted to listen to.  I asked him if I could listen to Christian music.  He said “Sure? Any specific band or group?”  I said “Casting Crowns.”  So, he turned on the music and I laid on a cold hard table and went head first into the machine.  The whole time all I could think was God please help me, God please keep me calm.  The first song that came on and played all the way through was In the Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson.  I truly was in the eye of a storm.  I struggled and held tight to my God knowing that He is my anchor and my rock.

I made it through but it was hard.  It was interesting the whole time I wanted Brian by my side but I knew God was telling me that He is who I need to rely on.  I think I struggle with that a lot.  I have such a hard time sometimes trusting that God is always there.  Brian is my knight in shining armor too often and I need to focus on God and that He is always here.

left my side stg

So, you may ask, what does this have to do with Mormonism?  In Mormonism, no one trusts in God and what God can do for them.  It is all about what they can do for themselves and when you strip away all aspects of religiosity from Mormonism, nothing is left.  When you take away Joseph Smith and all the things that Mormonism is founded on, nothing is left but feelings of emptiness and loneliness.  There is no God at the center. There is no God to trust in.  The faith in Mormonism is put in empty promises and ritualistic ordinances that have nothing to do with God.  It is all about doing and being enough instead of accepting that God has already done it all.

lead to god stg

Also in Mormonism, a woman’s salvation is dependent on her husband.  She has to trust that her husband is going to be good enough to make it in to heaven so that he can “pull her through the veil to the celestial kingdom”.  In the Mormon belief system, a woman doesn’t need to put her trust in God and believe in God for her salvation, her trust is put in her husband. Not only that, if things work out right, she can be a god alongside her husband.  If one doesn’t have to trust in God for salvation, and can become a god themselves, what is the point of God?

As a Christian I know everything can be taken from me but I will still have my relationship with God.  I can be sitting alone and scared in a hospital room and feel God’s presence around me and comforting me.

worry stg

I love Brian to death, but I don’t trust him to be good enough for his own salvation let alone mine.  And what if we got in a fight just before he passed away and he decides he doesn’t want me to be in the celestial kingdom with him?  I just can’t put my trust and belief in man.  That’s what God was showing me this week when I went through some hard things by myself.  I wasn’t really by myself.  God is the only one I can count on to always be there 100% of the time.  God is my rock and my salvation.  He alone deserves the pedestal that I so often try to put Brian on.

I’m just a small-town girl… trusting in God when I’m alone in the world.