Thursday, May 31, 2012

Being Ashamed

Tonight I did the most ridiculous thing, and I'm not even sure why.

I was meeting at a class, and sharing with someone about my efforts at the work I engage in.  I shared some business cards, and then clarified the email address on the: ilovejesus @ amajorshift dot com.  "It says 'I love Jesus' but I'm open to people of any beliefs,'" I said to her.  WHY did I feel the need to say that?

After I walked out, I realized just how pathetic that was.  Did I feel that my cards would not be passed on to others, once the email address was viewed?  Was I ashamed of the address?  It was exactly to clarify who I am and who I worship that this email was designed.  It is so that neither I nor the people I work with ever have to question who I worship, and my motive for the work I engage in.  And in passing out my measly business card, I essentially apologized in order to appear tolerant and open and accepting of all faiths.  Not that that's a bad thing, but for someone who made promises to stand as a witness for the Savior, I'm ashamed.  More than the minute before I said what I said.

With this realization, I have become incredibly aware of how much those in healing circles fall back on "your higher power".  Why?  Do we think that we're being pushy?  Or is it acting "tolerant"?  I don't know for sure.  But I do know that I felt like I gave myself a mudbath the minute after I realized my thought process.  That's not how I choose to think.

It gave me empathy for Peter.  Surely he didn't want to deny Christ.  But when the cock crowed thrice, he realized that Jesus' prophecy had come true, and he wept bitterly.

I kinda felt the same tonight.  Hopefully my shame at being ashamed will remind me never to walk that road again.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

1 Nephi 1:7 - Being Overcome with the Spirit

In 1 Nephi 1:6, we learned about Lehi's first visionary experience, which caused him to quake and tremble.  Here, in 1 Nephi 1:7, we learn several things about the nature of that experience, and what it did to Lehi's physical body.  

1 Nephi 1:7
And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being aovercome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.
It says he returned to his own house, which was at Jerusalem.  This indicates that the experience that followed him praying with all his heart, did not occur in Lehi's home.  It was elsewhere.  The pillar of fire which appeared dwelt upon a rock.  Perhaps it was without his home, just as Joseph Smith, in his first visionary experience, went to a grove of trees near his home.  We don't know for sure with Lehi, but we do know that he returned home.  

In returning, he cast himself upon his bed – his place of rest.  I sometimes laugh when I read this line, because it makes me think of my kids when they have a tantrum, throwing themselves on their bed, kicking and screaming.  I trust that's not what happened in Lehi's case.  Often one's bed is one of the most energetically secure or sacred spaces in their home.  There are a variety of reasons for this, but for myself, I enjoy reading and studying near my bed.  For Lehi, he didn't go to the kitchen, the tv room, the busy areas.  He went to his quiet space.  And then he likely told himself, "Ok, breathe.  You're not crazy.  You just witnessed a pillar of fire.  And more.  Breathe..."

Being overcome with the Spirit, he cast himself upon his bed.  There are several instances where other mortal men experienced this same symptom, of being overcome after experiencing something highly spiritual.  In the book of Moses, it says that Moses experienced similarly:
9  And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.
10  And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed. (Moses 1:9-10, italics added)
It is apparently not a weakness of Lehi's, but something inherent in mortals that when they experience something otherworldly, their physical strength is often drained.  This is reported to be the case with Sidney Rigdon, after he and Joseph Smith witnessed the vision(s) recorded in D&C 76.  I suppose one explanation could be that God is full of light, much more than the sun at noonday.  Just spending a few hours in the sun will tend to drain me.  Perhaps spending even short amounts of time with beings in higher elements would tend to have this affect on a mortal. 

When we learn that Lehi's weakness was due from being overcome with the Spirit, and also from the things which he had seen, it makes me wonder, once again, what did he see?  And what did he hear?  And what prohibits so many of us from asking the Lord to show us, as He did with Lehi?  Do we fear we too will be overcome?  Or are we just lazy?  Is it not a priority?  Do we think we're not righteous enough?  How righteous was Lehi?  What did he do to warrant such attention from heavenly visitations?  What do we need to do to warrant such things?  It is not improper to ask. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Letting Go - toxic personalities

With spring and summer coming on, I've been doing a lot of weeding.  Lots of life lessons are given in nature, and one of them always seems to hit home for me when pruning my small attempt of a garden.  It's the parable of the wheat and the tares.

Unless we do it ourselves, God will prune us.  While our structure is often left standing, He will whittle away the cankerous weeds that sprout up around us, allowing us to grow a little taller each time.  

When we refuse to let go, our growth is stunted.

(I believe the photo source is from here.)

Once we do let go, while painful, it seems that we're more able to grow fully, breathe deeply, and in essence, grow "good fruit"... or vegetables. ;)  Just because we let them go doesn't mean God won't take care of them.  But our growth does not need to stagnate because of them.

Here's to all of us letting go of the toxic people in our lives.

And for the record, just 1 week left until "A Major Shift" finally makes a major shift. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

1 Nephi 1:6 - a Pillar of Fire

Previously, Nephi's father, Lehi, had prayed for the people of his city, who had been warned to repent or be destroyed.  Lehi's prayed with all his heart for them.

1 Nephi 1:6

And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a apillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did bquake and tremble exceedingly.
 I find it interesting that the verse starts with pointing out that what Lehi was about to experience began as he prayed to the Lord.  It wasn't after the "amen", and he stood up refreshed to walk away like we do after most of our prayers.  It was during the prayer.  Deep in his thoughts, while accessing his emotional heart.  He was invested in this prayer.  It wasn't one he memorized, or knew by heart from hundreds of repeats. 

(photo source - beautiful artwork!)
So while Lehi prayed, there came a pillar of fire.  When reading the references (by clicking on the link for "pillar"), it's fascinating to read some suggestions for study.  In Exodous, it says that "...the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night..." (Ex. 13:21)  

Another reference seems to indicate a visit involving the presence of the LORD.  In D&C 29:12 it says that when the Lord returns, He will come in a pillar of fire, with his twelve apostles.  It makes me wonder if the pillar of fire that Lehi experienced also involved a personal visit from the Lord.

It's also interesting to note that in Exodous, the pillar of fire came "by night", while in the day, the Lord came in a pillar of a cloud.  Is there a difference?  Tonight I watched an outdoor movie at my kid's school.  It was notable that despite trying to start the movie at 7pm –while the sun was still up –no one could actually see the movie until the sun was completely down.  Perhaps the visual affects principles are the same.  Perhaps we could assume that Lehi's experience was at night?  Perhaps this also ties into the fact that scripture tells the Lord will come "as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2).  And maybe not.

Nephi writes that Lehi "saw and heard much".  Denver Snuffer writes in Nephi's Isaiah that he is utilizing the principle of veiling.  (He also discusses the significance of the "rock" upon which the pillar of fire dwelt upon.  I won't explore that here, but will refer back to his books.)  We are prohibited from seeing and hearing what Lehi saw and heard, but instead, like Nephi will show us later, invited to ask for ourselves.  We are told that these things caused Lehi to "quake and tremble exceedingly".  Has learning information ever caused you to have this kind of reaction?  It causes me to pause and consider if what he learned in this experience caused excitement or worry.  It's not just mild shaking.  It's quaking and trembling!  There is a difference!  Definitely a great opportunity here for all of us to ask God and find out if He would be willing to share with us what he shared with Lehi.  And why wouldn't He?  At this point, we know very little about the difference between ourselves and Lehi, such that we could easily be in the same shoes as he was.

Definitely a power packed verse.       

Monday, May 14, 2012

1 Nephi 1:5 - The Prayer with "Heart"

1 Nephi 1:5

Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his aheart, in behalf of his people.

This is one of those short verses, that often get overlooked because it seems so simple.  Yet it tells us a lot about Lehi.  In the previous verse, we learn that he had just heard many prophets telling the people of his beloved town that they would be destroyed if they did not repent.  His heart is likely filled with anxiety for his people.  Did he have brothers and sisters, in-laws, neices, nephews, cousins that lived in this great city, Jerusalem?  Business partners, friends in the community, even parents to worry about?  His heart was full, surely, and he took his full heart to the Lord in prayer.  Can you imagine the words of that prayer?  The emotion?  The pain and worry he felt? The pleading for their welfare, and for God to perhaps spare them? 

Yesterday in church we had a lesson on prayer.  It seemed as though several in our group had many comments.  I had a comment too, but the others were far more eager to share than I was, such that I didn't get a chance to think about raising my hand. ;) Regardless, they emphasized how powerful prayer was.  I have no doubt that prayers are heard and answered, although not always as we are taught, or expect them to be answered.  I have one friend who thinks God is her personal wish-grantor, and if she keeps buying Lotto tickets, one day, He'll pull through for her.  An interesting view, indeed.  On another website, I read a girl forsake her faith, because she said God was never there for her.  I'd beg to differ.  But that's a whole other topic. 

I do have a few thoughts that were not mentioned in class about our end of prayer that I'd like to share.  They revolve primarily on King Benjamin's sermon in the beginning of Mosiah.  The main points?  We need to always acknowledge our nothingness, our unworthiness, and our dependence on God for everything we have, including even the breath we take in.  This is a well-known concept in many Christian churches, and a turn off to some.  But in LDS circles, this is rarely discussed, and this kind of talk is often frowned upon.  Yet I think it's exactly what we need.  (See "All is Well" for more on that thought.)  We boost one another up in our talk of "self-esteem", but we forget that without God, we are nothing.  And without humility and a contrite and broken heart, it is hard for Him to reach us.  This is the case here, with Lehi.  Was his heart broken, after hearing the words of impending doom for those he loved?  Was his spirit truly contrite, in seeking for God's mercy upon them?  Was Lehi praying for their hearts to be softened, made humble and contrite?  One can only guess.  But we do know that at very least, he prayed with all his heart.    

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

1 Nephi 1:4

1 Nephi 1:4

For it came to pass in the commencement of the afirst year of the reign of bZedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at cJerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many dprophets, prophesying unto the people that they must erepent, or the great city fJerusalem must be destroyed.
 Right here, in the forth verse of the Book of Mormon, 1st Book of Nephi, we are given a time reference.  Almost like a date on the letterhead.  Nephi knows (although it is not addressed here) that we will have the Bible, which will refer to Zedekiah, king of Judah.  He knows there are many, many references to this king in the Bible, and by sharing this, Nephi knows that all the scholarly people who like to figure out timelines and dates, etc., will do so.  He doesn't have to tell us, "I left Jerusalem at 600 B.C."  Well, at least not yet.  (At 600 B.C., I don't think they referenced their time as "B.C."  That's just my guess, from logical thinking.)  

This reference to Zedekiah does many things.  
  • It bears witness of the validity of the Bible, acting as a "second witness", which is applying God's "law of witnesses".  
  • It tells us the date of when this part of his history began.
  • He asserts that he knew that Zedekiah was king.  He didn't just hear of Zedekiah.  He knew of him, and likely knew of the political happenings of the day as well.  
  • It may tell us that Nephi was of age to be aware of political happenings.  I was about 12 when I started realizing what was happening in my country, politically.  Perhaps it helps us presume that Nephi was at least of maturity to understand a bit of political events.
Next, we learn a little more about Lehi.  It says he dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days.  Have you, or anyone in your family, lived in generally one location all your days?  As I explore my family history, I can assert that yes, most of my family has lived in the same 100 mile radius most of their lives, if not their whole lives.  It is only in the last 15 or so years that my family has felt to become more mobile, thanks to ease of transportation.  Prior to that, however, my parents and grandparents for generations back lived in the same place.  And before they emmigrated, they generally stayed in the same province, from what I understand.  

Here, Nephi is telling us that Lehi dwelt at Jerusalem all his days.  This leads me to make an assumption.  There is likely a lot of family tradition here.  There are emotional, family, and traditional ties.  This family was likely very well established, if not well known in their community.  Lehi was settled enough to have had at least four sons, and some daughters.  To afford to support such a family, he would have had to have supported an honorable income.  He was likely highly successful. 

" that same year there came many dprophets"  This is also a second witness to what is evidenced in the Bible record.  It also says there prophets Not just one, but many.  Can you imagine their personalities?  We are told in the New Testament that there was a prophetess named Anna.  Perhaps were any of these prophets prophetesses?  The Bible references the names of some of these prophets.  (If you click the link above over "prophets" there are many Bible cross references.)  
(photo source - courtesy of AP/DailyMail)
"...prophesying unto the people that they must erepent, or the great city fJerusalem must be destroyed." Here is a perfect "if/then" lineup. And it sums up what the prophets shared. Repent or the awesome city of Jerusalem is going down! This brings up a few points.
  • Repent of what?  We're sure to find out what they had to repent of, if not directly, then by the example of others who end up being destroyed in this record.
  • The prophets were pointing out their sins.  Were they popular because of this?  Are prophets ever popular?  Have you ever heard of a prophet who is loved by those who are being chastised?  
  • There was a chance for Jerusalem to not be destroyed.  The people had to repent.  It would likely involve a lot of personal change and repentance, but it was possible.  They just had to embrace the message and believe.  Believing and changing proved harder than the ensuing destruction.  There was probably a lot of self-justification and denial of miracles going on too.

From this verse, we can learn so much.  Even continuing the thought from the last bullet point, we can see how hard it is to get un-ensnared from the tangles of sin.  How much easier it is to not willingly commit sin, than to engage in it and have to get freed somehow? 

Your thoughts on 1 Nephi 1:4?

A Note about the Book of Mormon Introduction

When I start the Book of Mormon over, I usually try to include the preliminary things.  I overlooked sharing comments on my thoughts of those when I started.  While I won't go into too much detail, I did want to share one thought that came to me when reading the Introduction.  This is the part I want to focus on, which is quoting Joseph Smith, the prophet who translated the plates on which the Book of Mormon was written:
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
Many times people point out the important points which I underlined, but I think often the highlighted part gets overlooked. 

Why are we here?

What is the purpose of life?

Where do we go when we die?

What's the point of church?

Why is life so hard?

These are questions that people seeking religion often ask.  But I think the true question at the heart of those is "How do I get nearer to God?"  And this book is the answer.  

Over the last many months, I have had all sorts of peculiar things happen to my body, physically, that I have determined are spiritual in nature.  I seek answers from gurus and spiritual "mentors", people with "gifts", and read many books to find answers to my unique bodily observations.  But upon reading this line, this time around, I realized that I can always get my answers from God.  To get my answers from God, I can follow the "precepts" shown in this book, and witnessed by countless of its characters.  (I use that term affectionately.  I know they're real.)  So while I enjoy the opportunity to seek help from people with spiritual gifts, I am learning more each day that the BEST way to find my answers, is to seek God directly, and trust the means He has already provided me, which are witnessed of in the scriptures.  

I LOVE the Book of Mormon.  And while I love it, I realize that it is not to be the object of my adoration and worship, just like I am not to worship anyone or anything but God.  When I say that I know "this" or "that" is true, it is all pointing to the bottom line, in that these are tools to help us get back to God, which IS the point of our existence.

Can I get an Amen?!  :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Less I Know

Have you ever felt like by learning more, you find out you know less?

A long time in my life I presumed everything was as I thought it was.  People testify and know all the answers, and I generally trusted everyone, that their intentions were good, and I could put my money where their mouth was.  I could trust people to be worth trusting with my heart, mind and soul.  Often lately, this has proven to me my naivete, and I try to prevent myself from becoming jaded.  All the jaded people I've ever met seemed desperately sad and hopeless.  And cruel on top of it.

Tonight I read some information that makes me feel a little more jaded.  A little less trusting, and a little more frustrated.  I found that the more I learned, the more I found out I didn't know anything.  I was wrong.

I really have appreciated reading the works of Denver Snuffer.  I don't know if he's right on half of what he writes, but I appreciate his effort, as well as his effort at humility.  It has taught me much, including that sometimes being humbled is the only way to learn.  The LORD wants no part of pride.  He prefers us humble.  Being humbled is probably the fastest, and often the most enduring way to learn.  Today I read this post of Snuffer's.  His observation of Joseph Smith's thoughts on friends has become a litmus test for me.  I wonder if Joseph felt humbled at learning some of these same lessons.  I am very grateful for both of these men, and hope to keep learning from them.  Joseph was a great prophet, and I appreciate Snuffer's insights on him.

That said...

The more I learn, the more I find I know less than I ever thought.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Invisible Moms

I don't know who wrote this, but my mom sent it to me today, and I thought it was worth sharing, in case it never makes it to your inbox.  And many thanks to the hands that composed it.  She is, in deed, unaware of her affects. 


One of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

Some days I'm a crystal ball; 'Where's my other sock?, Where's my phone?, What's for dinner?'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from
England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. 2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was Almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.

No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he'd say, 'You're gonna love it there...'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

Share this with the Invisible Moms you know... I just did.

The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.

To all the wonderful mothers and grandmothers out there!! God bless and keep you.

So to all those who have an adult child who shut you out of their lives, don't give up, keep praying and asking God to bless their lives and for your children who are Christian, ask Jesus to use the Holy spirit to remind them of their parents at any given moment.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Health Bus: Falling Off

I've heard a lot of comments lately from people falling off their diets.  They have no interest in eating the way they're "supposed to".  What does that mean?  What the diet entails?  Or the plans they impose upon themselves?  I'm not sure. 

(photo source - includes a great article about getting back up when you fall)
 The more I study (or don't study) diet and eating healthily, I'm coming to think more and more that the self-abuse we give ourselves when we fall off the health bus is more detrimental than that actual falling off.  It's sometimes verbal abuse.  It's also mental and emotional abuse.  This is my word to you, if you suffer from this kind of maltreatment. 

Knock it off!!!

Get back on the horse, and start over.  Tomorrow's another day, and even tonight is a new night.  Don't think because you wrecked lunch and mid-afternoon snack that you can't have an awesomely healthy dinner.  (And this applies to much more than just food choices.)

Speaking of which, I ate tons of junk today!  And at dinner, I had a plate full of spaghetti, loaded with tomato sauce, mushrooms, onions, and hamburger.  And while some people might think that's healthy (and others would beg to differ), it gave me a stomach ache.  I realized I had had nothing fresh, nothing raw, and nothing living.  (I cooked the brains out of the mushrooms and onions.  Ah well.)  And I'm not a raw food Nazi, but I find that my stomach appreciates at least a few portions of fresh/raw food each day.  So at 9:00pm, I busted out my apples and peanut butter.  My stomach isn't perfect, but I think this choice worked better tonight than the dose of Tums, or even oils.  I love apples.

Anyways, this is my lecture for the day.  If you've fallen off the bus, wipe off your pants off and get back on.  You can do it.  (And God will help you if you let Him. :)