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

Stepping Out Of The Boat…

It’s been awhile since I have written anything.  I like to tell myself it’s because I have been busy and my new job made my schedule difficult.  But, I know that isn’t all true.  My new job has kept me busy, but I still could have written my blog if I had made time for it. The truth is, I let fear overtake my thoughts and stand in my way.  I know God has put it on my heart to write a blog, and I know he will provide a way for that to happen.

comfort zone

The past few weeks I have had several different blog ideas in my head.  I even started a few, but I was easily distracted and found other things to do instead of focusing on what God has asked me to do.  As I was thinking about writing my blog this week, I had a totally different topic in mind that I have been thinking about for a while and will definitely be a blog in the future.  But I woke up this morning and really questioned myself as to whether or not I would “find time” to write my blog today.

As my thoughts wandered and I tried to go back to sleep at 6 am, I started to question myself.  “Find time, really?  What is taking up all of my time that I can’t sit down and write a blog that I know God has asked me to write?  Taking a Sunday nap, playing my games on my phone, scrolling through Facebook, watching my tv shows?”

nothingness

I really began to think about what is keeping me from writing, and I decided it is being at my new job.  But not because I don’t have the time, it is because of fear of what people think.  I am in a new place and I want people to like me.  I don’t want to offend anyone.  I share my blog on my Facebook page and the more friends from my new job I have the less time I seem to have to write my blog.

As I was thinking about this and fear, I thought of Paul when he walked on the water.

Matthew 14:25-31 NIV

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

I’ve always loved that story and thought how amazing it would be to have faith enough to step out of the boat onto the water.  One of my favorite songs is by Casting Crowns it says;

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me

Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”

The thing is, I did have enough faith to step out on the water when I started my blog.  When I was confronted by people who didn’t like what I was writing or when concerned friends said to me, “You could offend someone and lose your job.”  I responded with complete and total faith in my God.  So, what happened?  I, like Peter, “saw the wind” and took my eyes of Jesus.  I lost my faith and began to sink.

I didn’t lose my faith in God, I just got caught up in the world around me and took my eyes off my compass, my grounding point.  The longer I was away from my blog the easier it was to not be able to, “find time”.    But I called out to Jesus and he pulled me out of the water.

haters

The chorus of the Casting Crowns song “Voice of Truth” says

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

trouble

I think every time we do what God asks us and it takes us out of our comfort zone we are taking that step of faith and walking on water.  The key is to keep our focus on Jesus and not get caught up in the world around us.

I’m just a Small Town Girl…Stepping out of the boat I’m in.

Christian, exmormon

Church is My Favorite…

It has been a crazy few weeks!  Between holidays, sickness, work, and family stressors, I am so glad to be getting life back on track. It’s been a while since I have typed a blog.  I have really struggled with my focus and with where God is taking me.  I have had a lot of change in my life over the past year and the last few weeks my life has felt overwhelming.

Last night as all the thoughts and events were going through my head and I was trying to stress myself out, God whispered to me, “It’s OK I’ve got this.”  It amazes me, how in the past, the events of my life that I am currently dealing with would have sent me into a tail spin and today, I can stop and know that God is in control and he has a lot bigger and better plans for my life than I do.

jer 29 11

I wasn’t overwhelmed about anything specific but just life in general.  The last few weeks there have just been a lot of things going on in my already crazy world and I have just been able to feel the weight of all of them.  I think the thing that stands out to me most right now is that as a Mormon life often felt overwhelming.  It often felt like I had a lot on my plate and not enough time to even think about it all.  My life as a Christian I think is more busy, just because of life circumstances, but most of the time it is not as overwhelming.

My last blog I wrote about religion and the frustrations and irritations I have with organized religion.  What’s funny about that is I have realized over the last few weeks how much I love church, or I guess my church and my church family.

Brian and I have the amazing opportunity to be a part of the tech team at our church.  Brian runs the sound and I take care of the slides and videos for the church. We are at church early on Sunday mornings, and I am usually finishing up the power point presentation when I get home from work on Saturday.  As much as I love what I do at church sometimes I really don’t want to get up on Sunday mornings.  But… it doesn’t matter how I feel on Sunday morning, it doesn’t matter, if I take the time to get up and fix my hair and do my makeup, or if I just wear a sweatshirt and throw my hair up into a ponytail, I am always grateful that I showed up at church.

church

I enjoy the people I interact with, they always ask about my adult kids and how they are doing in their lives.  And I very much enjoy Pastor Roger’s messages every week.  The worship does one of 2 things,  sometimes both at the same time.  It will bring me to tears or brighten my mood. In many ways church has become my happy place.  It is one of my favorite places to be.

I haven’t always loved church.  Growing up, I despised church, I hated going. What teenager wants to go spend 3 hours listening to how you need to be a good person, live morally, listen to the prophets, “look at all the hard choices your leaders were faced with and they still made good choices, you can do it too.”  For me they were shame and guilt filled messages that reminded me I would never be good enough.  I rarely came home from church feeling like I was loved and with my mood brightened.  I was inspired and encouraged by some of the stories, but most often, I was reminded of how big of a failure and disappointment I was to those “amazing examples of the gospel” around me.

I think there is a huge difference between church and religion.  When Brian and I first became Christians, we attended a church that had 3 services.  There were a lot of people from many different walks of life who chose to worship there.  We met some amazing people there are we are still friends with some of those people today.  God led us to our current church and from the minute I walked in I loved the atmosphere.  I loved the people. And I loved that I could be me.  I walked into our church and saw just that people in different phases of life, with different struggles, different perspectives, but all of them love God.  Even in the big church we attended people weren’t there out of obligation, to fulfill a calling, or to check mark the box on their weekly to do list.  It was about giving back to God by loving other people.

lighthouse

So, even with the struggles I have with religion, I think church is essential.  My last blog I asked 3 questions, Do you know God?  Do you have a relationship with Him?  And are you being accountable in that relationship?  I think church helps me answer these questions.  My relationship with God is personal and can only be between Him and me, but it is though worship and surrounding myself with others that know Him and live according to His word that help me to grow closer to Him.  I am held accountable by being around the people who know me and challenge me to grow in my relationship with Christ. So as much as I hate religion, church is my favorite!

I’m just a Small Town Girl…loving my church!

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

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!

 

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.

 

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