Monday, February 23, 2015

I Don't Understand


This quote is from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  I love the man.  I used to repeat this belief, but since being awakened, I see everything differently.  Everything.

Sweet Elder Holland, what about this?
"We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory." - Joseph Smith, Article of Faith #10
When I was a kid, if I recall correctly, we learned the Articles of Faith as songs.  Maybe I wasn't a kid.  Maybe I was just a teacher.  Do any of you remember having Article of Faith included in any of your Primary Presentation lineups in the last 20 years?

And what about this?
"God will gather out His Saints from the Gentiles, and then comes desolation and destruction, and none can escape except the pure in heart who are gathered."  -Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 71
And then 3 Nephi 21.  Read it!  Now!  If you don't believe the Book of Mormon, and if you don't believe Joseph Smith, then why go to such effort to print millions of and have missionaries give them out free?  I don't get it.

May God bless you. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Source of Truth and Light

I felt pretty crummy after last night's post.  I don't think I explained the idea very well, but it's a start.  The biggest awakening came when I realized that Satan didn't just want to be the one to redeem, but that he wanted God's glory.  And he said, "Here am I, send me... wherefore give me thine honor."  I don't just want the honor from whatever comes from this world being built, experienced, and lived.  Let me have it all.  In essence, "I can do it better than you.  Let me show you.  Here AM I.  My way is better.  And no one will be lost.  We have lost some before, and it's grueling, so let's not do that again, shall we?"

When I think on this further, I think of energy flow.

Let's look at two words.  Selfish, and selfless.

Narcissism is selfish.  Everything is about the self, and all the attention, glory, praise, adoration, and energy goes to the one who is the narcissist.

Love is selfless.  It is said throughout scripture that God IS love.  Does one just feel love?  How is love best manifest?  I believe it is felt, for me, most powerfully, when it extends beyond my person.  It is positive energy flowing outwards.  Inevitably it is love flowing towards people, places, and things.  It often feels like gratitude and joy.

To set the two side by side, at the discussion in heaven, we see an interesting juxtaposition.  God the Father, being ALL LOVE, the Great I AM, facing a Son of the Morning, obviously having understood something to make it to the highness of his position.  Do you find it interesting when  he says, "Here am I?"  Isn't God the Great I AM?  This Son of the Morning faces Him and says, "Let me do it.  My way.  And let me be the recipient of all the glory."  All the love will go his way.  Let me greed it in.

Am I misunderstanding?  Does Satan have some ulterior motive, with which he intended to share this love?  The fact that he has a sense of greed for glory indicates to me that he somehow flipped from learning whatever principles allowed for godhood and priesthood, to a state of believing that incoming love and incoming glory were worth more than outgoing love and outgoing glory.  I don't even fully understand this, but I think there is something to this.

Am I content to live a life of love, and let go of the need for increased glory-seeking, brought about by my own works?  Or brought about by my pride and making myself higher or better or richer than another?  Can I be simply content and completely edified to experience daily joy and love with my children?  What would it take to grow into godhood, being like This Father, rather than the Deceiver?  How would I guarantee an ever-increasing amount of Love, outwards?  How does one do this and continue to be filled?

Gratefully, The Father gave us The Son as the perfect example, to get a good idea how to start.  He is The Source of Truth and Light.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Sin of Narcissism

For a long time I've been pondering on one particular subject.  It might seem clear as day to everyone else, but it really puzzled me, and I felt like there was more to this concept.  It has concerned me for so long, I began praying and asking for understanding.  It is about this.  

In Mormonism, we tend to re-tell the story of the pre-mortal life.  The nutshell version goes like this.
God the Father presented a plan.  He wanted to offer us an experience where we go to Earth, get a body, and get tested to see if we can return to Him.  He needed a redeemer, and Satan steps forward and says, "Here I am, send me."  He presents an addition to God's plan, but the catch is, Satan won't lose one soul; all will return, but he will get the glory.  

Then Jesus steps forward, and says, "Father, thy will bedone, and the glory be thine forever." (Moses 4:2)  We teach that he prefers to offer us agency on earth, and 2/3 of the host of heaven follows Jesus' plan.  1/3 follow Satan.  Jesus wins!  And we all come to earth, get a body, and have to find the correct church.  Once we find his correct church, we just have to do all the right ordinances, endure the end, and all will be saved because we did all the works we could, and Jesus' grace and Atonement cover the rest.  Right? :)  This is the story a sister in my ward summed up this past Sunday.  

I'd like to present a new version, one which might align more with our scriptures.  In fact, it might align more with truth, although my mind is currently veiled from remembering any of this, so my own interpretation might be just as erroneous as the nutshell version.  

My question I have been asking for some time is this.  What was so wrong with Satan insisting that not one soul is lost?  I mean, we teach that if we follow the prophet, we will never be led astray.  What's wrong with that?  This is not far from Satan's plan, if we really think about it.  So why is this a bad thing?  Do we not want all the souls to return?  

Our explanation?  Well, by doing this, we remove agency, as all mortals would need to do exactly as was required.  We'd have to keep all the commandments, and perhaps it would be a grueling experience.  What would that look like?  To follow Satan's plan, where not one soul would be led astray?  That's probably a question I really don't care to look too closely at.  Seems kind of ugly.

This past Sunday, I came upon another question, when reading Moses 4:1-4 in Relief Society.  The verse that really stuck out was this one: 

1. And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
2. But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
3. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
4. And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.
I was going to create a really long post with this, and hopefully soon I will have more steam, but for tonight, I want to share this much.  Two points.  

One, this was not just a war over agency.  We already had it (vs.3).  It had already been given to us of the Father.  To belabor the war in heaven as a war completely over agency is not accurate.   

Two.  Satan wanted the Father's power.  Even more, he wanted to dethrone Him.  Yes, we may have heard this before, but let's take it a step farther.  I want to claim that the reason that Satan was so thoroughly thrown down was narcissism.  

Last week I went to an activity, in a sheer state of near depression.  It was a week of overwhelm, and I went to a ladies activity, almost seeking some sort of refuge.  I mean no offense to anyone who may read this, but after attending and pondering the evening, I experienced a wild amount of unveiling of this information.  I hope to lay it out clearly.  

The greatest sin is narcissism.  

Satan was thrown down for his insane amount of pompous, arrogant, proud narcissism.  

Our world is filled with, through and through, an ever increasing amount of narcissists.  

At the activity I went to, I arrived late (normal).  I sat in the back, and was then invited to sit next to a sister.  It felt remarkably comforting.  As the night went on, I admit I was feeling extremely introverted, almost wounded, out of sheer exhaustion from the labors of the week.  This was one time where I thought I might find some solace at a church activity.  There were several sisters who I got to talk to.  In talking with one, then one, then one, then one, I noticed a pattern: no one really cared about a single thing I was saying, at least not enough to let go of the activity and actually just converse more than 2 minutes.  

Yes, they cared, I'm sure.  Yet when the opportunity came up to continue on in the craft, or continuing talking to me, they chose to step away, mid-convo, and carry on with the craft.  

I came home seriously bummed.  I didn't even say goodbye to anyone.  I don't take it personally, because I know it wasn't me.  It was an activity to do an activity, and maybe I'm a poor sport for expecting it to be anything other than that.  But when I arrived home, it hit me.  

People like talking about themselves.  Email.  Facebook.  Twitter.  Social Media (like this awesome blog).  Look around.  Selfies, selfies, selfies.  Look at my kids.  Look at my job.  Look at my money.  Look at how awesome, awesome, AWESOME I am!  Heck, I am so awesome, I'm better than the next guy (pride).  I'm so awesome, I'm going to be the best ______ in my field, better than the person who taught me the ropes.  I'm worth so much more than I'm getting paid.  And everything is for sale.  

Doesn't that just make you feel creepy, just to read it?  It makes me shiver to write the words.  Satan got hewn down for his insane amount of narcissism.  And the best thing, in his world, that we can do is imitate him.  Not one soul will be lost, because they will be so flipping awesome, so perfect, so self serving.  And when we imitate him, and only care for ourselves, we have no love.  All we care about is ourselves.

Look at our country.  My husband has long said a certain man in power is quite the narcissist.  What does it mean, when the leader of the free world cares nothing for the ever increasing amount of poor and unemployed, yet takes entourages on endless -- and I mean ENDLESS -- vacations?  The man has played more rounds of golf than I have put on makeup this year.  Seriously.  No, seriously.  What kind of example is this to the people who put him there?  What is wrong with the people who put him there?  They were narcissists, seeking only the best for themselves, thinking this man would save them.  I remember the speeches, in front of white pillars, echoing speakers, as if he were some type of god.  Now, he gets to act like one.     

When we are the farthest from God, we have no love.  No concern for the beggar, no concern for the poor.  No concern for the sick.  No concern for the 21 Christians who lost their heads this week.  No concern for the sweatshops that give us cheap clothes.  No concern for the people in various lands who dumpster dive for trash to eat, or are so poor they do not even care to bury their dead.  No concern for any number of ills that we really can't solve, so we don't even try.  

My biggest concern this week was that my laptop crashed, after beginning this post.  It was as if Satan knew that I would have just a smidge of something to expose, and hijacked my laptop.  I am praying sincerely for something to be salvaged, but the man fixing it says it's highly unlikely I'll get anything off it it.  Four years of family pictures (b/c I'm too wrapped up in taking pics to actually take the time to get them developed), four years of work documents, important files... hopefully not gone, but quite possibly.  As I prepared to write a post about narcissism, all the things that make me think of myself could be inaccessible.  And to think I could have spent hours and hours printing them out.  But what does it serve humanity or my brother, to be self-inflicted with endless albums of photos, cropped and mounted just so?  Or endless stacks of "important documents"?  

I see the irony, and once again, realize I have so many flippin' idols.  I am yet SO SO far from putting God first.  I would pay $100, no $250 to get those pics back, but do you think I'd trust to put $250 into some effort to help Christians in Iraq?  Am I a narcissist?  I could say no, but I really don't think we have any comprehension of the nature of the people that exist in heaven, or will make up Zion.  So much of what we do is just nonsense.  What stops us from overcoming narcissism?  The only answer I have is love.  What else could there be?  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Shielding

After I wrote my last abysmal post, I had a bit of a very large revelation.  I was blown away by it, and scribbled as much as I could into my journal.  The next day, I went to my computer and began typing up an outline, so I could clearly share.  I didn't know if I was to share it here, or go so far as to write up something more extensive, but I began writing to get it out of my head.

Ironically enough, when I went to write more yesterday, my computer died.  Like, black screen of death, died.  I turn it on, and hear the fan running, and get the recovery screen up, but it will not power up completely.

Yes, my computer was attacked by the adversary.  Don't laugh.  I mean it!  Can it be explained any other way?  Of course it can.  But I see the irony as highly intriguing.

It's got all our family pics from the last 3 or 4 years.  I was a goof and didn't back them up in that long.

So next time I get a mind blowing understanding and find myself inclined to share, I will pray for my computer.  Yes, I will do it and not be ashamed!  :)    

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Failing

Yesterday I quit my kids' cyber school before finishing.  We weren't really even half way done.  I was ready to smash their computers because the program the school uses is crazymaking.  I think they made the program that way so people wouldn't want to do it, and would go back to the building for school..

Today I missed my daughter's special "Release Time" where she learns about Jesus at the local church.  Completely forgot until it was halfway over.  

We were late for storytime at the library for my son, because we took too long getting ready to pick up my daughter from school before hand.  10 minutes late.  So we kinda pretty much missed the story... at storytime...

We missed Activity Day Girls last night because when we got home from buying Valentine's cards for school (for Friday) it was already time to leave for Activity Days, and we hadn't even thought about dinner yet.  And I was feeling worn out.

I almost forgot my son had to show up at the school for band today.  My mom took him in.  

I got reprimanded for not submitting a sports registration for my son's team.  I only finished half of it.  The lady who is the secretary wrote some words in all caps in an email to me.  I didn't appreciate that.  

I also forgot to order materials for a class I'm teaching next week for 15 people.  I ordered them today, but it will be a miracle if they come in on time.

My kids' insurance renewal was due today.  It's not in.

I'm a week behind in getting an account fixed for my work.  Two clients have been waiting on me daily.

My son's lacrosse team is doing a fundraiser, and we only got notice of it via a curt email (FROM THE SAME GIRL WHO LIKES THE CAPS LOCK) last Friday.  The info is all on the website, the lady said, but it wouldn't print right from our computer.  We needed another day, but we got them in a day late.  Today my husband had 9 more orders come in, so I get to be the fool who calls to see if they'll still accept the orders.  After they already gave me an extension.

My chest has been feeling like a sumo wrestler has been sitting on it for about two weeks.  It feels like I have a knife in my back and a dislocated rib, but after 2 chiropractor visits to two different chiropractors, it still hasn't changed much.  If I had my own insurance, I would get it checked out, but until then I am using prayer, chiropractic, massage, essential oils, supplements, meditation (when I can), and spiritually sighted friends to help me figure out why I can't take a deep breath.  Apparently my heart needs a lot of help.

There are two loads of laundry that were washed on Saturday sitting stacked in their baskets in my bedroom.  There are at least 5 loads waiting on me to be washed.

I can't fit my favorite jeans anymore.

Relief Society is tonight, and they're making pillow cases.

Dinner is mini Peanut Butter Cups.  

Sometimes I wish we could be a little kinder to one another.

On the plus side...

My kids are over their colds and strep throat (although one has an ear ache).  Praise God!

My kids are no longer fighting like cats and dogs every day.  Praise God!

My kids are learning that mommy is not perfect.  Praise God!

My son (who still attends school) is actually getting his work done.  Praise God!

My other son is ENROLLED IN LACROSSE AND I KNOW HOW TO USE THE CAPS LOCK TOO!  Praise God!

We (HOPEFULLY) don't have to pay an extra fee, since we SUCCESSFULLY completely the fundraiser in a handful of days.  Praise God!

My clothes are mostly clean and so are my ears.  Although I'm getting fatter, which much mean I'm eating well. :)  But in my affirmations I say "I'm so skinny and awesome!"  Because skinny is cool.  Praise God!

And the best part?

I just got an email asking to complete a survey for the Church Information Division. :)  YAY!  I LOVE surveys and opinion polls.  Praise GOD!!!

Just praising God makes me happy.  Perhaps that's the best medicine for all kinds of stress.  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Riddle me This, Batman!

I'm typically not a good riddle guesser.  But I want to present a riddle.  It had me entertained this morning for quite a while.  I will give you some clues clues.  Let me know if you guessed right.  If you want to pretend you're sitting with the Riddler, feel free.

(Hysterical blog post from blogger Chase Variant!)  



Clue #1.  This is a religious party.

Clue #2.  Its name denotes that they are separate from the other parties of their time.

Clue #3.  This party takes great honor in their strict observance of the religious laws.

Clue #4.  This party is greatly careful in avoiding contact with things considered sinful.

Clue #5.  This group believes in the doctrine of immortality and the resurrection of the body.

Clue #6.  This group also believes in the existence of angels and spirits.

Clue #7.  This group upholds the belief that there is authority in oral tradition which is equal to the written law.

Clue #8.  They believe certain observances of ceremony are required.

Clue #9.  Self-sufficiency is highly encouraged.

Clue #10.  They believe they are spiritually correct, while others were spiritually incorrect.  In essence, they are going to be saved, while others are not.  


Any guesses?


My daughter and I like to play guessing games.  Usually after a few rounds we have to give more clues.  So here's final clue, just in case you need it.

Clue #11.  The answer is found in the 1979 edition of the LDS version of the King James Bible.  Answer is on page 750 of the Appendix, column 2.


Leave a comment if you guess the right answer.  :) 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

So you think you're Celestial Material?

So you've been married in the temple.  Or you haven't, but have been through all you believe the temple has to offer.  You're pretty sure, according to what's taught at church, that you're aaaalmost celestial material.  If you've been married in the temple, you're probably pretty confident that you have hit all the benchmarks required of you, and now the only task at hand is to endure to the end, faithful.

(This was a pic I took several months ago, when my nephew went through the temple for the first time before his mission.  He was going to receive his "endowment", or gift.  Sun just before noonday, when he was to arrive.)

What does enduring to the end mean?  It likely means you go to the next stage of life, whether that means to get married, or to do so in the temple.  After that, you listen to the Spirit and have babies, whom you rear in righteous, and then they too go to the temple and repeat the process.  This is how we endure to the end, right?  We don't flub up, commit adultery, start using drugs, and most certainly keep the Word of Wisdom.  We sustain our leaders and magnify our callings.  We endure and grow in patience and virtue and inevitably are pretty much surely considered celestial material.  Add in becoming Bishop or Stake President, and if we're lucky we might even make it to become a General Authority.  Or shake their hand. ;) 

My friend and I used to make up mottos at girl's camp, and one that stuck for a very long time was that we were going to make it in the Celestial Kingdom.  Yes, we were going to the CK.

If someone would have told me that my interpretation was incorrect, I would've told them they were insane.  

So what if someone told you your interpretation was highly incorrect?  What if you learned, despite your emotional confirmation that you're a pretty good, righteous person, that your expectation is incorrect?  What if you meet God when leaving this life, and have quite the shocker brought to your attention that while you thought it was you who was making it to the CK and everyone else was unfortunately not accepted (because of course they weren't baptized and part of his One True Church), it was actually not the case?  What would you do?  Would you be shaking in your boots, wondering why you deserved to be taken and swindled in this manner?  Deceived?  

If it were me, I would be crying, sobbing actually, asking God why he didn't correct me along the way.  

What does it mean in Philippians 2:12, to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling"?  Why would Paul say this to the Philippians, if they had already become part of Christ's church?  

In D&C 76, I got a crazy wake-up call the other week.  I mercifully learned more recently to wrestling the scriptures to mean something everyone else would tell me, and began interpreting them for myself, as they stand.  When I actually read D&C 76 according to the words on the page, I was blown away.  In this section, the qualities of those who inherit this Celestial glory are set forth, specifically in vs. 50-70.  I'm going to list the qualities out in bullet form, because I do really well with lists.  Here is my interpretation.  Feel free to take it or leave it, but it's pretty much largely copied directly from D&C 76.  Those that are "Celestial" are as follows:  
  • They come forth in the resurrection of the just.
  • They received the testimony of Jesus - meaning Jesus appearing and testifying of himself.  (This is explained later in vs. 74, when the Telestial are explained, yet the understanding is largely ignored in mainstream Mormonism.  Sorry if this hurts, but it's true.)
  • They believed on his name.  
  • They were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, according to the commandment (3 Nephi 11:25) which he has given.  {We don't do it this way anymore, but have changed the words ever so slightly.  In Revelations Book 1, where the original copy of the first revelations is recorded, in the area where the baptismal prayer is instructed, it reads "calling them by name having authority given me of Jesus Christ I baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Ghost amen."  It says the same words in 3 Nephi ("having authority given me of Jesus Christ"), however someone, somewhere changed the word "authority" to "commissioned".  So we say "having been commissioned of Jesus Christ", rather than "having authority..."  In Isaiah 24:5, it is prophesied that when we change the ordinances (of which baptism is a crucial one), we have broken the covenant.  It reads, "The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.  Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth..." (Isaiah 24:5-6).  Is changing the words of a covenant ordinance, in fact, changing the ordinance?}  
  • They kept the commandments (see Isaiah 24:5 once again) and were washed and cleansed from all their sins.
  • They received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and SEALED unto this power.
  • They overcame (what? the world?) by faith.  Interesting that the Sons of Perdition were also overcome, but by Satan (vs.30).
  • They were sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are both just and also true).
  • They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
  • They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things.  (What in the world does this mean?)
  • They are they who are truly priests and kings.
  • They are they who have received of his (the Father's) fulness.
  • They are they who have received of his (the Father's) glory.  Not just the glory of man, or of the church, or of the "Priesthood" as we know it commonly.  I believe this is something magnificent, that we cannot even fathom in our limited estates, unless we receive it truly.  
Whoa Nelly!  This is only a third of the list of what we know regarding these people who are celestial.  Before I go on, one insight I have gained from this is that the Celestial truly is in glory like the sun.  It is one giant fireball of Glory.  Hot, bright, lighting the entire solar system and then some.  Going on.
  • These are priests of the Most High.
  • These are after the order (pattern, system, organization) of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.  {Both terms are special names, in and of themselves to be pondered.  This verse alone could likely be expounded greatly by someone who truly understood the mystery and vastness of what is the Priesthood, and what are these special names.  I am not one who yet understands completely enough to begin to expound.  I think Denver Snuffer offered an eye opening talk on the Priesthood which is best read in context of his other writings, but is definitely worth studying.  This link is to the 5th talk in a series of 10, which is best understood after reading his books, in my opinion.  Reading it out of context can dam up one's progression.  But it is worth studying, as I believe he's on to something.}   
  • They are gods!  GODS!  (This reminds me of Annalee Skarin's book, "Ye Are Gods".)  
  • They are even the "Sons of God".  What does this verse mean for those of us who say everyone is a child of God?  Are we calling ourselves something that we have not yet achieved?  Or are we already children of God?  Is this a false tradition?  It makes me feel good to sing "I Am a Child of God", but I wonder, having read this now, if there is so much more here I don't understand.  
  • All things are theirs, whether in life of death, or things present or future.  They are all theirs, and they are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
  • They shall overcome all things.
  • They glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet, rather than in man.
  • They shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.
  • They shall be brought with Christ when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.  (How are these people different – those of his whom he reigns over, vs. those he brings with him?)
  • They (again) shall be part of the first resurrection, which (we presume) is also the resurrection of the just.  
  • They come unto Mount Zion, unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all.
Regarding this last point, have any of us who claim to be CK material experienced being brought to Mount Zion?  The "City of the Living God"?  Has anyone reading this experienced what it's like to be in this holiest of all cities and places?  I do not imagine the Celestial Room in the temple counts, as pretty as it is, but I could be wrong.  
  • They have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn.  At my daughter's baptism last April, the bishop mentioned something about how "Now [she] had joined the Church of the Firstborn."  I think that is a misunderstanding of the term.  Unless attending church each Sunday means she is joining an innumerable company of angels/general assembly and CoE/CoF.  I think the Church of the Firstborn is quite different than many of us believe.  Again. :)   
  • Their names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all.
  • They are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant, who wrought out this Perfect Atonement through the shedding of his own blood.  Interesting how here it is said that he shed his own blood.  
  • And finally, 
These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.  
I don't know about you, but I'm certainly not there yet.  And I wonder what it will yet take for me to get there.  Each one of these points could easily be dug into and discussed for quite a bit of time.  I'm not an expert and don't know what it all means, but I have come to the conclusion that I must certainly refocus, and work out my salvation with fear and trembling before God.

"O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day."  (Mormon 9:27)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Spiritual Gifts and Talents

This past summer my family went to a family reunion about 2 hours away, and we got to attend a small local church.  Our family literally doubled the number in attendance, and got to really participate.  The lesson was on gifts of the spirit, but the congregation interpreted it mostly to be about talents, and offering to share talents with the church.  The take away was that there, if someone had a talent, it'd be a good idea to speak up about it and let it shine.

In my ward here, growing up there were few pianists, so since I was 12 or so I had an opportunity to play in church, whether it were just for the Young Women, or sometimes in sacrament meeting.  As a college student home on summer break, I would once in awhile get asked to play the organ (not my main instrument), and learned to adjust.  But it's been almost three years since I had a music-based calling, plus a cross-country move, and people have moved into our ward and most people forgot that I even played, so it was a surprise to a lot of folks when I got called as an asst. organist a few weeks ago.  I get to trade off and on with another organist.  

Well our building got upgraded a few years ago, and I'm not trained on the new organ, with 50+ buttons and stops.  (Who knew it was desirable to play the English Horn on your organ???)  So since the start of the year, I've been up there trying to just find out where the volume pedal is, and kinda feeling like a buffoon when I couldn't even get the basic sound I wanted.  Someone offered to get a more experienced organist up to help me figure things out, and while I didn't want her to know how ignorant I was, I accepted the offer.  So this seasoned organist shows me a few things, and WOW, what a difference!  From there on I was able to go to town, and really enjoyed playing.

Again yesterday, another organist friend (also a counselor in the Stake Presidency) was around and I asked him to help me find the buttons that the lady had shown me previously (yeah, I forgot from week to week!  It turns out the buttons toggle on both the top AND bottom.  I was only pushing on the top...)   Again, had even more of a blast.  Playing the organ!!!  I never thought it was my my thing, but I seriously loved it.

I'm sharing this because I really loved an example I heard Denver Snuffer share about mowing the lawn in Zion.  (Can't recall if I saw it on his blog or read it in a book.)  In Zion, he explains, one might feel inclined to mow the lawn, and love it so much that he keeps on mowing into his neighbor's lawn.  And so on and so on until he feels content and pretty much mowed the whole neighborhood and then some.  Can you imagine if that were how church were?  To sit and play music and learn/master a new instrument, just because you feel like it?  Or to stay at the church, studying scripture or visiting as long as you want, without worry of vacating the space?

What would you do, if you had all the time in the world, and no worries or pressure?  What gift or talent or service would you volunteer to go to town on?  And is this remotely related to any calling you have now?  How would church be, if it were small and quaint like the one we visited last summer, and you had to stretch and grow in the service of a calling that you chose, because you simply desired it?  I really love this idea.

For added fun, I must share.  Two Sundays ago, I realized if I really wanted to master the sound, I'd have to learn to start playing the pedals.  The only problem was that I couldn't see them because of my skirt.  So guess who's wearing pants to church!!!  First time in my life and I have never had such a fun time at church as I did yesterday.  I almost sat Indian style in Relief Society too, but didn't want to make my friend jealous that she had to sit in a skirt.  That is, after all, my favorite way to sit.  Maybe next week.

And for your viewing pleasure, a most amazing organ performance.  Enjoy!