Friday, June 29, 2012

Teancum and Obamacare

Yesterday I heard an interesting comment, in response to the US Supreme Court's ruling of Obamacare.  The ruling in a nutshell (for those completely uninformed on US politics) was that Obamacare passed, meaning that all US citizens will be required to have health insurance, or pay a fine (aka tax).  Someone commented how this issue is dividing so many within the country, and they foresee major catastrophes.  They referred to someone acting as Teancum, with a javelin to the heart of the opposition leadership.  I can see the parallel, because most readers of the Book of Mormon who have a clue who Teancum tend to rashly gather simply what he did, and not much about who he really was. 

In the middle of the Book of Mormon, the people the BoM speaks of were living in a very seemingly prosperous time.  It says at one point that they had never enjoyed such prosperity, since the days of Lehi.  This is saying a lot - mainly that in nearly 600 years, this was the most prosperous their civilization had become.  (Parallel: the US's prosperity of recent years, pre-recession.)  During the height of this Nephite prosperity, a group of people who thought they were of "high birth" began gathering together, to try to change the government into a kingship.  This would mean there would be one ruler, some sub-rulers, and control, opression, and even slavery for the rest.

This position was opposed, and eventually brought a lot of trouble to the Nephites.  Enter Teancum.

The was a faction, before this issue of kingships began, that tried taking their little group up to the Lamanites, who were the enemies of the Nephites.  The Lamanites were always provoking wars with the Nephites, so upon learning of this group wanting to go join the Lamanites, Moroni (leader of Nephite army) wanted to do everything he could to stop them.  He knew if they didn't stop this faction, they could have major catastrophes ahead.  So he sent Teancum and his men, who were described as "great warriors" (Alma 51:31).

In Alma 50:33, it says:
33 Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward.
This army was sent "with their camp".  It was not only a long journey (which required camping materials), but meant as a peace-keeping mission.  It doesn't say they went in their full armor, even though they were an army.  Or with cimeters, swords and shields.  They went with their camp to stop their flight.  Verse 35:
35 And it came to pass that the army which was sent by Moroni, which was led by a man whose name was Teancum, did meet the people of Morianton; and so stubborn were the people of Morianton, (being inspired by his wickedness and his aflattering words) that a battle commenced between them, in the which Teancum did bslay Morianton and defeat his army, and took them prisoners, and returned to the camp of Moroni. And thus ended the twenty and fourth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.
It appears that not only was Teancum a great warrior, but also sent as a negotiator, to try to convince Morianton and these dissenters to turn around.  He was highly liked, affable, and well loved, and surely he could convince Morianton to come back and figure something out peacably.  But due to Morianton's stubbornness, wickedness and flattering words, a battle commenced.  Do you think Teancum threw the first punch?  Or went in with weapons blazing?  Or do you think Morianton threw it?  I imagine so.  As Teancum was righteous, and was not only a great warrior but also supported by the hand of God, he killed Morianton in self defense, and those who were not defeated to death were taken prisoners.  I believe those prisoners had been given fair enough of a chance to concede to peace.

My point in sharing all of this is that Teancum was not one to wage war for war's sake.  He was sent to prevent it, on a small scale with this faction of Morianton and his cohorts, thereby preventing a larger war with the Lamanites.  He was a peacekeeper, but did what it took to be a great warrior to prevent such things.

In regards to how this applies with our nation's divisions, it inspires one to realize that through the intensity of what Teancum and other Nephite leaders went through, their goal was to keep peace and prosperity.  They had learned the destruction that came to their people through kingships, and did everything they could to prevent war and slavery.  If we relate our country's situation to their situation, if anything we should imitate their virtues of patriotism, involvement, preparation, wisdom, and peacekeeping.  They valued life and liberty, at all costs, but above all, they sought God's will.  People who think it's ok to push their protests to violence are beyond the mark, and encouraging destruction.  War may be prophesied of for the last days, but that does not mean we won't be judged for what we did or didn't do to prevent it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


About a year ago, I learned from a mentor about the notion that we send signals to people that they "hear" before we ever say a word to them.  It's so true.  Do you ever notice certain phrases we say, without ever thinking of it, that are linked to this principle?  Two examples:

  • A dark cloud followed him everywhere he went.
  • Her excitement was contagious.
Does that mean literally that a dark cloud follows someone?  Like a cartoon?  Or that her excitement was contagious as a bacterial strain is - just by being in the room, people automatically lose all their boredom and are infected with excitement? 

Often people across the country will have a "feeling" that a loved one needs a phone call, an email, or some other uplifting communication.  These are the channels through with unseen yet present energy works. 

In the last month, I've paid particular attention to the idea of genuinity.  I'm not sure what has drawn my attention to this, but perhaps it's the feeling I get energetically.  It seems to me that there are a lot of "fakes" – people pretending to be something they're not.  A few examples.

Some people I know pretend to be wholly spiritual.  They walk the walk, preach how everyone is to be, but when it comes down to living the faith, they do everything but live it.  To bring it "full circle", they tend to have a way of judging others when they falter, not seeing the hypocrisy in themselves.  Are they genuine?
Others pretend to be quite friendly.  They make a good congenial appearance, but behind closed doors, they are excellent at throwing others under the bus.  This is a tough one for me, because of wanting to feel like I fit in.  It's as if disparaging someone else when they're not present somehow elevates me in the eyes of the one I'm communicating with, who was perhaps offended by the person now under the bus.  We often use the term "validation" to excuse this behavior.  Does that make it right?  Does that make me genuine? 

Some people pretend to be rough and tough, but beneath it all they are gentle and kind.  Is this genuine?  Is there integrity in putting forth an act that might not be true?  Is that genuine?

Does everyone live an act?  Do we all feed our ego (aka "personality"), trying to maintain the persona that we work so hard to put forth? 

It seems to me that regardless of our common weaknesses, I really prefer honesty in presentation.  If you're a snob, I tend to think I'd like to know it at first junction, so I don't bother exposing my open book personality to your energetic, verbal, and visual darts.  If you're kind and giving, I'm sure your reputation would precede you, and the 6 degrees of separation (which supposedly connect all of us) would get you to my attention before your physical body ever would in person.  Either way, regardless of anything that is said, more and more I notice it's not that hard to tell if someone is genuine in what they put forth. 

So be careful.  People like me are picking up messages that you may not even know you're sending. ;)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1 Nephi 1:12 - as he read...

1 Nephi 1:12

And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the aSpirit of the Lord.
Such a short verse, yet so power packed.  

As Lehi read.  What an interesting word choice.  While there are numerous ways for someone to be filled with the Spirit of the Lord, in this instance, Lehi is in the process of reading.  It is an action, not simply observing a vision unfold.  I wonder why the Lord gave Lehi this format to unfold the things we are about to see that he witnessed.  As he read. 

He was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.  Is this "Spirit" the same as the Holy Spirit?  Or is this the Light of Christ?  Either way, Lehi was filled.  Not just touched, but his whole soul likely emanated with the radiance that comes from an encounter with God.   

Putting these two phrases together is powerful.  How often do you read a book and become so immensely filled with the Spirit of God?  And what does that feel like? 

In Galations 5:22-23 we learn what the fruit of the Spirit is - or the byproduct, basically.  

 22 But the afruit of the bSpirit is clove, djoy, epeace, flongsuffering, ggentleness, goodness, hfaith,
 23 aMeekness, btemperance: against such there is no law.

I wonder if Lehi felt love?  Or joy?  Peace?  Longsuffering for the trials he was about to face?  Gentleness for his ever growing family?  Faith that what he was witnessing was REAL?  Faith that was the prophets had testified of in Jerusalem was real as well?  Meekness and love of his fellow beings, and temperance against their wickedness.  Against these things there is no law.  They are good virtues, and part of what is often felt when being filled with the Spirit of the Lord.  Such a Spirit testifies that what is being learned or experienced is true!  

So whatever Lehi read, it is somewhat veiled from our view. but it was bold and powerful, I have no doubt.  Have you read anything lately that produces a similar affect?  Perhaps we should seek out such books.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

1 Nephi 1:11 - a Book

Continuing from 1 Nephi 1:10, 1 Nephi 1:11:

And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and astood before my father, and gave unto him a bbook, and bade him that he should read.
It says "they" came down.  I trust that this means "the One" and the twelve, and I will assume that is the case.  (In the previous verses, the One descended and the twelve followed him.  This verse follows, so I trust they is all inclusive.)  So they came down.  Not up, but once again, they are descending from their sphere onto this earthly one.

They went forth upon the face of the earth.  Is this a loaded statement, or was this just a simple description that they came in contact with the earthly elements on this earth?  Did they do more than just walk around?  Did Lehi witness ministering, and then veil it in such a broad statement?

The first came and stood before Nephi's father.  Is this first the Savior?  I assume it is, but I'm not sure why it's not a capital F for first.  But assuming it is him, this is quite a remarkable experience.  At this point, Lehi is having a one-on-one encounter with Jehovah, the firstborn of the Father.  And He - Jehovah - came to Lehi.  This is noteworthy, as this is not just Lehi feeling overwhelmed with the Spirit any longer.  He's not only witnessing the heavens open, but now the One is approaching him, and giving him a gift.  This is a very significant experience, and is changing Lehi's live, milli-moment by milli-moment.

Lehi receives a book.  Of all things!  Not a flower, a hug, or a chocolate ice cream cone.  A book.  Books are one of my favorite things, because in such a small space can be such powerful information be contained.  That is the case with this book, as we will soon find out.

Lehi was then bidden to read the book.  Can you imagine if he received the book, but never took the time to read it?  I've given out lots of books to friends as gifts, and I'm always curious to know if they've read it.  Can you imagine if Jehovah would present you with a book, bid you to read it, and then you just don't have the time?  The horror!  I can't imagine Lehi giving that excuse.

Yet often we do it all the time.

When I come home to my parents', I always love looking at their bookshelves.  I scour them for anything new, and even better–anything old.  Today I found some really great old books.  But I have to think that to be given such a book as Lehi got to read... wow.  That'd be quite the gift! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

1 Nephi 1:10 - the Twelve Others

Continuing Lehi's experience of being carried away in a vision (from vs. 8).

1 Nephi 1:10:
And he also saw atwelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.
Lehi saw twelve other beings following the One.  Why twelve? 

In the Bible, twelve is used on nearly countless occasions.  At, so many of them are listed and explained.  (Oh, and did you know you can now get a Bible Degree online?:)  I really enjoy the very beginning of their discussion, where it reads:
"Twelve is a perfect number, signifying perfection of government, or of governmental perfection. It is found as a multiple in all that has to do with rule. The sun which "rules" the day, and the moon and stars which "govern" the night, do so by their passage through the twelve signs of the Zodiac which completes the great circle of the heavens of 360 (12 x 30) degrees or divisions, and thus govern the year." (ibid.)
I've never given much credence to Zodiac signs, but it's interesting to find a website which co-mingles the two.  I like the interpretation of how this number relates to government.  It is as if in this tenth verse in the Book of Mormon, we are perhaps learning about the structure of how things run in the heavenly realm.  One descends, and twelve others follow him.  They follow him literally, physically, and spiritually.  Yet if we presume these are the twelve apostles in their premortal existence, we can assume a few things.  They must have done something noteworthy to be worthy of being distinguished from the heavenly host.  Perhaps they were created sooner?  Perhaps they had gained this position from noble actions.  They were clearly chosen to play the part they would play, and from what we read in the bible, their lives were not necessarily easy.  They were not only followers, but teachers.  They carried on the ministry, after Jesus was crucified.  Their roles were critical, important, and not taken lightly.

Interesting question: Did these twelve whom Lehi saw include Judas Iscariot?

Their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.  In the previous verse we learned that the One's brightness did exceed that of the sun at noon-day.  Now we see the twelve's brightness compared to that of the stars, yet brighter.  

(photo source)

In Mormon culture, typically those who give much attention to the sky and symbolism in the stars are somewhat mocked.  Why do we do this?  Do we confuse soothsaying with symbolism, and judge matter in the universe as hokey?  Here, as one of the primary verses in this book, Jesus and the twelve are likened to these things.  Perhaps we should pay more attention to matter in the heavens?  Have a class on astronomy?  Or a whole class devoted to paying attention to such things?  Surely God knows where the planets and stars are, why they are there, and if they have any symbolic meaning. 

We also see that the brightness of these twelve exceeded the brightness of those stars.  They were brighter!  Yet these stars are so bright that we see their light through our atmosphere and light years away.  Traveling at the speed of light, it would take years for us to reach these stars, yet their brightness still shines to us.  And these twelve shone more brightly to Lehi than that. 

It's amazing his eyes worked, when all was said and done. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

1 Nephi 1:9 - "ONE" and His Luster

Lehi's experience in being "carried away in the spirit" continues (previous post here).

1 Nephi 1:9:

And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his aluster was above that of the sun at noon-day.
Lehi saw "One".  One, with a capital "O".  I just had a funny thought come to me, just as I wrote that O.  In the last four years, it's been used heavily in the United States as a symbol to represent now President Barack Obama.  If you're reading from around the world, you may not be aware of all the bumper stickers, yard signs, and other paraphernalia in which the letter O is turned into an Obama symbol.  Even the Pepsi (cola) symbol was said to have been patterned after Obama's symbol, to show their support for the "first black president".  I won't wax political, but only comment that all politicians seem to act as if they are the Savior.  So many politicians are Anti-Christ – meaning they attempt to take the position of Christ, as if they will solve our problems.  Here, in just the 9th verse of this first chapter of the Book of Mormon, we already have a testament of Christ's nature.  He is the ONE, capital O.  He is the Savior, the God who will redeem us from our pitiful and fallen states.  If we let Him, I believe He would fix our financial situation, or wars, our broken families.  He would heal our disease, eradicating the need for a "health care system".  There would be no need for lawyers to fix problems of disputes, because if we truly followed Him, there would be none.  There would be no immigration problems to solve, no poverty, no abandonment if we truly followed Him.  How far we have come in the 21st century, haven't we? 

The One descended out of the midst of heaven.  From Lehi's perspective, this tells us a little about his viewpoint.  While the heavens had opened to Lehi, he is apparently still lower (physically) than where Christ came from.  The "midst of heaven" implies, as in verse eight, that He had been surrounded.  Likewise, He is the center of all, including the angels.  He is the center of the plan of salvation, the center of why we are here, and the center of where we are going.  He is.

(photo source - I really like this guy's zeal, and his website)

 He beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.  I have lots of thoughts about "luster".  We use this term to describe diamonds, gold, and sparkly things.  We often judge quality of a rare item based on this trait.  If we find silver with no luster, it is judged as old, tarnished, or difficult to utilize without bringing shame.  (Imagine pulling out tarnished silver for Christmas dinner and using it to serve guests with.  "Ooh, I LOVE your beautiful silver!"  Um, not quite.)  How did Christ shine like this?

A lot of people only believe what they see.  We have a body, and many believe when we die, that's just it.  They mourn the passing of their loved ones, often going to their grave site to display flowers and such.  On Memorial Day in particular, I don't know that I saw one grave in Utah without flowers.  I wonder why such attention is given to graves, when so many believe that death is not the end.  It's just a resting place.  Do these people believe that the spirit still hangs out there, as its new residence?  Or that such a place is the only way to get a message to the passed loved one?

I believe we have a spirit, and this scripture testifies to that.  Our skin does not naturally shine.  Skin is typically matte in appearance.  But Christ's "luster" was above that of the sun at noon-day.  It was shining, startlingly bright, such that surely Lehi couldn't even stare at it without his natural eyes burning out of their sockets.  (Also indicating that Lehi was likely taken in spirit, so that he could behold these things?)  So was his skin just shiny?  Or did he glow?  Did this light come from the cells of his then pre-mortal body?  Does this indicate that there is more to our bodies, and even our spirits, than meets the naked eye?

To me, this indicates that his body is intelligence.  The most minute particles of his body must have been so powerful as to emit this magnificent light.  Seeing that he came to earth to show us the way in all forms, and that he took on a mortal body, I think this is a great example that our spirits are and can be like this, if we follow him.  Some people are said to "glow", and I have met a few like that, although it wasn't anything physical I saw, I could see a radiance about their spirit.

Luster.  Definitely something worth looking into.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

1 Nephi 1:8 - A Throne and Concourses

In my last post about 1 Nephi 1:7,  I wrote my thoughts on what Lehi was going through, as he had just barely experienced a remarkable situation of being overcome with the Spirit.  On to 1 Nephi 1:8:

And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a avision, even that he saw the bheavens open, and he thought he csaw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.
This post has really taken me a long to muster.  Figuring out how to really analyze this one is really challenging.  What did Lehi really experience here?  He was carried away.  Is that literally?  Physically, or spiritually?

I've learned a lot in the last several months about spiritual separation - how when many people experience certain things, part of their spirit will recede to somewhere else in order for the part of the spirit which remains to be able to tolerate the experience and still allow the body to function.  For those who believe we have a spirit that is fluid, is it not hard to imagine and believe.  Some may think that's way out there, but for those who have experienced trauma and undergo serious emotional and spiritual work, they will attest to the possibility, and even truth of this idea.

So what happened to Lehi?  Was he spiritually carried away, or is it more literal, in a physical sense?  Just some questions to ponder.

He was carried away in a vision.  What did he see?  He saw the heavens open.  Wow!!!  What does that entail?  Is it like a curtain parts?  Like a new realm simply appears where he was carried away to?  Or was he carried to a heavenly space?

He thought he saw God.  Remarkable.

Sitting upon his throne.  A throne is a strong symbol of authority.  It denotes a position of power, respect, and justice.  It is also, for some, a "mercy seat".  I know the term mercy seat is a loaded term, so I won't get in to that, but a throne is a very symbolic image.  It denotes Kingship.

God was sitting.  Why sitting?  Why not standing?  To me, this sends a message of calm attentiveness.  What was He paying attention to?  How would it be, to have God's attention?  How would that make one feel, to know they were privy to this scene?  How would it feel to be Lehi, and get a glimpse of this throne with the Almighty God, sitting on it?

God was surrounded - not just in the company of, but surrounded... Have you ever been surrounded?  How does that feel?  Overwhelming?  Exciting?  I know I personally get overwhelmed when I'm surrounded by people, but God is capable of this.  And apparently rather than get flustered, as many mortals do, He did not.  For there were numberless concourses of angels.  Numberless?  Holy cow.

The angels were in the attitude of singing and praising their God.  Can you even imagine?  True singing!  Real praise, not just lip service!  What does it take, to truly sing and praise God?  Is it showy?  Is it all hands in the air?  Or is it all hands on the ground?  Perhaps both?  Perhaps neither?  Have we mortals ever really experienced what it feels like to really sing to and praise God?  What a wonderful thing for Lehi to witness.  It must have been a remarkable sight.

p.s. - Denver Snuffer's The Second Comforter has an extensive and deeply poignant view of this verse.  See the chapter titled Ceremony and Knowing God.  Well worth the read.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Health Bus: Dancing

A few weeks ago, before my kids got out of school, their school had their annual dance festival.  Every year is a little different, but each class generally learns a dance and then performs it for the school and any parents who attend.  Often there are prizes and other fun things given away.

This year was a bit unique, in that a lot of the fanfare was omitted, but it was still a really wonderful event.  Balloons were released at the start, one by each student.  Following some brief introduction, each class performed a unique dance.  This year the school had a theme of "Sailing the Tides of Success," so the emcee for the event took us on a "cruise".  I'm not sure how foreign the dances really were, but they used a lot of music that I've heard in my Zumba classes, so most of the dances looked like Zumba class!  If you know anything about me, you likely know I love Zumba!

Somehow seeing all the kids of different ages dancing made me smile.  No matter how old, the dances were all so entertaining as to keep a smile on my face.  I couldn't stop.  And it once again reinforced the power of dance.

Dancing is so good for those whose bodies will allow it.  It produces natural endorphins, increases the vibrational frequency of the body's cells, and truly lifts the soul.  Therefore, for this installment of the "Health Bus", I recommend at least a few minutes of dancing every day!  See what it does for you!  (And then let me know!:)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Got a Headache

Does anyone remember that line from Kindergarten Cop?  "I got a headache."

Today was a busy day.  Lots of fun, but lots of screaming kids also.  And when I say screaming, I mean SCREAMING!!!  Ahhhhhh!!!!  Which brought me to lots of headache.  Ouch.

Sometimes you know something, but applying it to yourself is a different story.  That's the case with Peppermint oil.  I know it works for headaches, but I always seem to wait out the pain, as if it's going to go away if I just relax.  For years, I avoided taking medicine for headaches because at one point along the way I started getting a reaction from my liver to so much ibuprofen.  (This was taken for postpartum delivery pain.) So to compensate, I just dealt with the pain as best I could, rather than cause any further stress to my liver.  But I forget that I don't have to worry about that anymore!  Not with oils!

So to deal with headaches, one of the most common remedies is to put Peppermint on the head.  I asked my awesome dad (from whom the subtitle of this blog is inspired by) to demonstrate.

Mmmm, not quite like that.  You're supposed to put it on your forehead.

Rrrrr, not like that either.  I mean, you put it on your hands, and then put it on your forehead or neck.  You might want to also dilute it with a bit of fractionated coconut oil, in case your skin is sensitive.  (Peppermint oil can be super-cooling on the skin.)

My dad's such a great sport!

It's amazing how quickly and efficiently this stuff works.  All from the natural essences of a peppermint plant. Thank God!  (I do!)  And thanks to my #1DAD for being such a ham for the camera! :)  He sure makes life fun!  (Happy Father's Day this weekend!!! xoxo!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Family History Bus: Miracles in Days

Two days ago I was at church, talking to a sweet friend who was almost like a second mom to me.  I spent many hours at her house growing up, and her daughter spent many hours at mine.  We talked about family history –she's a true expert– and I asked her for help.  She said to give her a call, and I fully intend to.

After talking to her, my family history juices were flowing.  When I got home, I decided to go traipse around a nearby cemetery.  I found information online about a year ago about a leg of my family that the bulk of whose remains were buried in a cemetery just under a mile from where I lived for over 20 years of my life.  So when I got home from church, the urge to go take pictures of headstones was almost enough to make me drop everything and run.  I found this:

I don't know how exactly we're related yet.  But I do know that we are.

And then this one:

Can you read it?  I can't.  But I know it's written in German.  And the cool thing is, it just so happens that my sister (who joined me in my traipsing) is married to a man who speaks German.  COOL!

And then I found this one:

Flanked by an American Flag and a special memorial, this plaque next to the grave marker on the right indicates that this ancestor served in the Revolutionary War.  I appreciate the marker, and the service.

Do you think this ancestor would be pleased to know that their great great great great great ??? grandson is inadvertently recognizing his efforts?  I hope so.

Upon returning home, I stumbled across this during an OCD cleaning rampage:

It's a book 486 pages long of my family history on my dad's side.  This book is priceless.  And it was just sitting on my parents' credenza, as if it had always been there.

Later in the day, I was asking my sister if she still had some family history stuff that my dad had loaned her.  She said she returned it, and it was somewhere at my parents' place.  So I looked for it, but didn't find it.  Until yesterday.

It's a giant scroll of family pedigrees.  I've been waiting to get my hands on this baby for years!!!  And there it was, just like the other book, sitting there, as if it had always been there.

And just 30 minutes ago, before I started writing, I walked into the computer room and came across this:

It's a Germen-to-English/English-to-German translator/glossary.  Very simple and easy to use.  On Sunday, when I came home from the cemetery, I had asked my sister's husb. about translating those tombstones for me.  When I found this book just now, I asked him if it was his, and if he had left it on the chair for me.  He said he hadn't.  But it was sitting there, under my camera (which I had been searching for all day).  Once again, as if it had always been there, just waiting for me to pick up.

I don't consider this a coincidence.  I'm thankful.

Forgiveness vs. Reconciliation

During the drive home this past weekend, I got to listen to a Catholic Radio Show.  I didn't catch the name of the host or the guest, but the topic was on the virtue of forgiveness.  This really piqued my interest, because there was an issue I was pondering how to forgive for.  It seems to me that some of the biggest burdens people carry, especially in terms of physical weight, is that they don't forgive.  And sometimes it's really easy to understand.

One of the callers asked the host how she should seek help from the church (the Catholic Church) when it was a priest who caused the grievance by their act(s) of molestation.  It was unclear if she had been abused, or someone she loved.  But regardless, it was clear that the question caught the guest off guard, despite his best efforts at answering it.  He seemed to be pulling at straws, trying to find a way for his Church to redeem this woman from her pain.  All the while, I'm waiting for some mention of the true Redeemer.  There was none.

This gave me pause for reflection.  What would I have said, in that instance?  Is not the purpose of life to become reconciled with Christ?  We all cause pain to someone else at some point or another.  And we all receive pain at some point too.  How do we forgive?

Tonight I was also getting caught up on some tv shows I missed.  One of the shows, Once Upon a Time, showed Snow White telling the Evil Queen for the thousandth time that she was sorry for whatever she had done that made the Queen hate her so much.  The Queen was calling for a truce, which required Snow White to eat an apple that would put her in a living coffin of sorts.  To put the burden to rest, Snow White ate the poisoned apple, trusting that the Queen would finally bury the hatchet and let everyone in the land live in peace, including Prince Charming, who Snow loved the most.

Well it didn't happen.

The Evil Queen still hasn't forgiven Snow White, and an evil curse covered the land for many, many years.  It's startling how powerful forgiveness is, and when it's not applied, the one who carries its lack bears the burden–in this case, it was carried by the Queen.

But I believe everyone carries it.  Every person involved in the story carried the burden of living under the Queen's curse.  The energy of the issue was still there for everyone to feel the effects of.

In another random story, I got an email from Dr. Laura, who is vigilant against sex offenders.  She often highlights stories and letters from children (now adults) who have been abused by another.  The bottom line is that there is no forgiveness, and she encourages this view.  I don't know what to think of this.  But as the Catholic radio show guest pointed out, "There is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation".  I would never actively suggest someone go reconcile with their abuser.  That's up to them.  But forgiveness?  By encouraging someone to not forgive is encouraging them to continue carrying an awfully heavy burden.  Even when abuse is not involved, to hold out forgiving someone so that they feel more pain from what they did is just cruel.  Adding pain to all involved, holding grudges and withholding forgiveness is evil.  Take it from the Queen.

The bottom line?  Christs asks us to forgive, even our offenders.  It's something He can help us with, if we let Him.

Friday, June 8, 2012

We Made It. Finally.

Over six months ago (probably more like 8) I started this website on a spiritual prompting I felt.  Part of the theme of it was that our (my family's) lives were about to take a major shift.  Personal and spiritual reasons played a big part of that, but also involved was the inclination I felt to move across the country.  Hence the name, "A Major Shift".  After many months of planning, we finally made it back to the land where I grew up.  I make it sound like some foreign land.  It's not.  It's Pennsylvania!!!  But for most of the people who surrounded me in Utah, Pennsylvania was foreign.  Most of them have never been past the Rocky Mountains, so I may as well have been from Germany to them.  It's a foreign land.

Anyways, we escaped those Rocky Mountains, and I felt like I could breathe.  I could see past the horizon, and the sun woke me up an hour earlier each day.  As we drove and drove and drove, I could breathe the humidity in the air.  Most people don't enjoy humidity.  I love it.  It carries the smell of mulberry and locust trees, peonies and fresh cut grass.  It's heavenly.

After 4 long and intense days of driving, we finally arrived.

The sign says, "Smile.  You're in Pennsylvania.  STATE OF INDEPENDENCE".  Oh yes, I smiled.  And then I cried my eyes out through just about the next 5 towns.  Tears of joy.  After many years of being away, I finally was home, and am so glad to be here.

Look at those trees.  And the green grass.  No sprinklers are required.  My little girl got stung by a bee while we were at this rest stop, but after throwing some clove oil on, she was good as new.  The kids have played outside for HOURS since we've been here, and being the "State of Independence" could not feel more true.  It truly is wonderful to be home.