Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Megamoon and Intercession

I am always, always transfixed when I see a full moon.  I was born on a night of a full moon, and my body and my family always notices when it's full.

Tonight it's a "supermoon", or as I like to call it, a MEGAMOON.  It's absolutely stunning.

Some people say the moon represents Christ.  They say the sun represents the Celestial glory, where the Father, Son and Holy Ghost dwell.  That the moon represents the Terrestrial glory, where the Son and Holy Ghost can go.  And the stars represent the billions of souls, and the Telestial glory.  (See 1 Corinthians 15.)

Remembering Christ on the full moon has been a beautiful thing for me.  I also remember Him when I think of the Sun, as a play on words for the Son.  But thinking of Him on the full moon is fun too, especially when symbolically we have a "blood moon", knowing that we are cleansed through His blood.

One thing I love to consider with the full moon is Christ's intercession on our behalf.  Everything He did was for us, and infinitely He acts as our mediator.  Rather than accuse us, he would seek to show mercy to us for our faults.  He intercedes between us fallen "stars", and links us to the Father, who is full of glory.  It might not be a perfect analogy, but seeing the full moon always reminds me that if I am to be like Him, I ought to consider the idea of being like Him.  How do I do that?  To imitate him in intercession is a big deal, and not an easy one.

One way I believe we can intercede is to pray on behalf of those who are our enemies, or who would spitefully use or abuse us.  There is a lot of talk of abuse towards many I love, as well as strangers.  How would it benefit us, to pray for those who treat us so poorly?  I have honestly felt such a quick lifting out of my sin, also known as hatred, by calling on the Lord for help when the natural woman in me would prefer to strike out in retaliation or hate.

Helaman 5:10:

And remember also the words which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom, in the city of Ammonihah; for he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.    
So frequently when I ask the Lord where I ought to read, I am directed to Helaman 5: 10.  Fascinating how in this verse, Nephi and Lehi are remembering the words of their father, Helaman.  Helaman was asking them to remember the words of his father's friend, Amulek.  Here they tell me this message has been repeated at least three times, telling me how important it is.  (Makes me laugh that I've been led to this verse over and over again as well.)  It links back to Alma 11:34, where Zeezrom is contending with Amulek.

"Shall he (Christ) save his people in their sins?" Zeezrom asks.

"I say unto you he shall not, for it is impossible for him to deny his word," Amulek declares.

Talking to the crowd, Zeezrom tries to lawyer him, twisting his words as though Amulek were saying that he (Amulek) could command God.  Amulek calls him on it.

Amulek says, "Behold thou has lied(!), for thou sayest that I spake as though I had authority to command God because I said he shall not save his people IN their sins.  And I say unto you AGAIN that he CANNOT save them in their sins; for I CANNOT DENY his word, and he hath said that NO unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven?  Therefore ye cannot be saved in your sins."

Having read this a ton of times, I never really understood, but after seeing the shopping cart lady this week, the lightbulb went off!  Jesus can't save me IN sin, but he saves me, lifts me out, and pulls me above my sin.  This is walking me toward that inheritance of the "kingdom of heaven".  He does not want me to be a jerk to those who are jerks to me.  Retaliation is not pleasing to him, just like it doesn't please me when my kids fight.  But Jesus certainly does a fabulous job at lifting me up out of the mire.  

The moon's full circle reminds me that we are to come full circle.  We are to not repeat and recycle our sins, but be lifted out of our sinful behavior and progress.  It reminds me of "one eternal round".  It also reminds me that the light shines on the good and the bad, even though through the daily rising setting it waxes and wanes.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Jesus Take the Wheel

Alma 41:12-15:

"And now behold, is the meaning of the word restoration to take a thing of a natural state and place it in an unnatural state, or to place it in a state opposite to its nature?
O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish–good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.  
Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually ; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again. 
For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all."
This is Alma, talking to his son, Corianton.

I want to share this post not to glory in myself, but to glory in my Jesus, for He hath redeemed my soul from hell today.  Truly.

About a year ago, I had a really wonderful trip with my son to the grocery store.  His siblings had all gone off to school, and since it was just he and I, I dared take him shopping.  Typically shopping with children stresses me out so badly that I will go late at night, when I can go without kids along.  But I thought I would try my patience with him, and we ventured together.

Well we had just a truly marvelous time.  I felt great success at not having any personal meltdowns inside the store.  (Imagine that!  A mom melting down with a child in the store!)  We loaded all the groceries into the trunk of our van, and he wanted to climb over the seats and play while I returned the cart to the cart return.  I was happy to let him do it.

Seeing that my dad and husband both work retail and have to push carts not infrequently, I typically return the carts to the front of the store, because I hope it might be a small service to the folks that work there.  On this occasion, I chose to return the cart to the front, since it was decently close to where I parked.  We were about 30-40 feet away from the entrance.

When I returned to my car, I got a decent scolding from a mom who observed that I had left my child in the car, unattended.  I don't know if she believed it evil that I left him to return the cart, or if she mistakenly assumed that I had gone shopping completely without him.  Either way, she unleashed her evil wrath at my horrid negligence at leaving my poor child with a piece of pretzel in his hands.

"He could have choked!" she stressed.  Well, obviously he didn't.  But SuperMom of the Year felt it her job to correct me, regarding the state laws pertaining to leaving children unattended.

I had simply walked the damned cart to the front of the store.  Seriously woman.

Well I googled the "law" she claimed, and found that many states do not permit you to leave your child unattended, period.  I read one mom's horrific account of a complete stranger who videotaped her leaving her child in the car when she ran inside for a quick whatever.  She was taken to court, lost custody of her child, and had lots of fines and lawyer costs.  Her defense was that it was a 70 degree day out, and her son was playing a Nintendo DS or something.  He was fine.  But the onlooker videotaped her, her license plate, and her son; then they turned her in, and never once spoke to her.

{And lest anyone take this to mean I condone leaving kids unattended in hot cars, that is NOT what I'm doing.  I understand the need for the laws to prevent kids being harmed through that kind of negligence.  We saw it happen just a few weeks ago, and parents ought to not be stupid about this.  It's serious, and I get it.}

Back to the other mom with the kid playing the DS.  It was a horrific example of abuses of this law and a complete lack of common sense, or even common courtesy from her accuser.  She was put through hell because she left her 9 year old kid in the car, and he didn't want to go inside but was content to play a video game in the cool air.

Well anyways, this put quite a bit of anxiety in me, and I resolved to be careful how I left my kids, and I would also keep my eye out for this woman.  Today I saw her again.

I saw her brown car with the white stripe on the top.  My hands began shaking.  I waited for her to get out of the car to make sure it was her.  I pulled up next to her car, peeked in the window, and sure enough, it looked like her.  Unnerved, I pulled forward and into the shade, to see if when she got out, her features were the same in my memory.  Yep.  I watched her and her friend examine something on the back end of her car, and walk into the store.

Recognizing the increase in the shaking of my hands, I pondered what I should do.  For a year I've been wondering if she would have confronted me had she realized I'd just simply returned the cart to the cart return.  I have wanted to set her straight, and see if her intent was to be a mean human, or if she just jumped to conclusions.  I hoped maybe she was just mistaken and had a measure of common sense, and I could go back to dreaming that people in this town were kind and concerned, not concerned and rude.

Eventually I realized I could not walk in the store and confront her, and pulled away, but first wondered what they were looking at on the back of her car.  In giving it a glance, I noticed her car registration was expired.  Not barely expired, but FOUR MONTHS expired.  I pulled out my cell phone, took a pic, zoomed in further, and took a close up pic.  Oooh, WOW!!!  The woman who had cause to accuse me of breaking the law, leaving my child endangered, and invoking the fear of all hell into me was in the store, leaving her beautiful car right there with an expired registration.

Holy cow.  I could so easily accuse her.  I could so easily call the police that second and have her car impounded, fined, or something that would give her a true pain in the arse.  Jesus take the wheel!

And he did.  And drove me to the store just across the parking lot, where my dad and husband were ironically both on shift working.  The verses above this post were swimming through my mind.

"...the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish–good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful." 

I shared with both my dad and Dan the scenario.  I had evidence in my hands that my previous accuser was driving while breaking the law.  Raw, living evidence.  Should I go confront her?  Ask her to apologize for bringing unnecessary anxiety into my life?  Should I ask to be friends, and thank her for caring enough to bring the dangers of my actions to my attention?  Should I take my evidence to the police, and let them decide, and tell me if I have any standing for my fears of leaving my kids even momentarily unattended ever since the incident a year ago?  

My dad and husband had varying views.  Fortunately my dad distracted me with something else, and I had to ignore the severe temptation to confront her and bring contention into my otherwise beautiful day – ironically which was again, a beautiful day with my son. 

"Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually..."  
I had asked the Lord after the incident with her a year ago to give me another try.  I didn't like how I handled this beast of a woman last year, and I wanted a chance to do better.  Here it was.  Would I be merciful, vindictive, or exact judgment?

 "Judgment is mine, and I will repay."
Ok Lord.  It's all you.

I let Jesus take the wheel, and drove home.  I am learning that something truly magical happens when we go to our Lord for help in situations like this.  I used to seek others' opinions or solutions.  I used to also trust in the arm of the flesh, and think I had to sort it out, or act as judge and jury, holding onto grudges.  But again, LOVE... LOVE wins.  

The Spirit whispered that I could go give her a hug.  I could offer her a free massage, because obviously she was stressed to approach a stranger and be Mrs. Police Officer.  I could ask her if she knew how much her actions bothered me.  Or I could simply let Jesus work it out, and let HIM hold the judgment, and take hold of this ONE scenario in my life as an opportunity to forgive as I want to be forgiven.  This used to be so hard, but on a daily basis I am finding that the more I call out to Him when my hands start shaking with apprehension or contention, the more quickly He takes over!  I love it!  It is truly, truly a wonder – wonderful – to behold.  He is quicker, more fast acting than any essential oil, vitamin, psychotherapist, or guru.  I don't even need to read a scripture verse to call on Him.  He's so quick, even if I don't get to call Him by name.  I just think of Him, and there He is.

"...and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again."
Daymon Smith points out in his Volume One: A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon that these verses are the only space in the Book of Mormon where the concept or word "restoration" is discussed.  And it is entirely a different principle than how we refer to the word in the church today.  But I really love this teaching, in this accurate form.  I wish we would stress it more, as followers of Christ.  Rather than exact justice on this stranger woman, I was able to practice extending a measure of good for bad.  She didn't even know I was there!!!  But here in my hands, I had the power to accuse *anonymously,* or forgive.  I could also pretend to be her judge, and confront her with shaking hands and a heart full of fear (which she had dished out, thereby offering my own form of "restoration"), but it felt so much better to give it to Christ, including the fearful, trembling heart.  Would He offer me a better reward, for letting Him do the job of judge and jury?  After all, He knows her better than I do, and He knows what was plaguing her to say and do what she did.  He knows how to teach and coax her better, and He knows that it would do me a world of ill and near heart attack to confront her.  Let's test Him.

By giving it completely to Him, He offered me healing.  All I had to do was let go of the tightness of my grip on the situation.

For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all."
I hope that in this one instance, I (actually, "We") got it right.  Joy!  Yay!  It feels good to know that I can go to sleep, confident that I (We) did what Jesus suggested in this one instance.

"...I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell!"  (2 Ne. 33:6)  

Thank you, Lord!  One step at a time, right?

LOVE to you!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I'm Sorry for Being a Half-Assed Friend

I'm not sure that there's any other way to put it.

To Joseph,

I'm sorry for being a half-assed friend half my life.  I believed I was pretty loyal to you, and pretty supportive of your role and mission.  I always felt a strong connection with your testimony and experiences.  I even related to your home life in the country in the beautiful northeast.  But I'm sorry I only knew half of it.

I acted like just because I related to your story, that I honestly had a clue about half of what you taught.  I'm sorry that I only took things as they were fed to me, and neglected what you were really about.  It apparently was quite concealed for many years, but I should have been more valiant in respecting the whole story.  I'm sorry for not caring to get myself a copy of the Lectures on Faith until a few years ago.  I'm sorry for not being more stalwart in your defense when friends drag your name through the mud.  I look forward to the unclear history being sorted out in full, not just in part.  I'm sorry for being a half-assed friend.  I hope as things continue to unfold, that I'm not speaking in ignorance.  But I really regret being a friend in name only.

I also hope that moving forward, I respect your request to not put so much trust in you and your experiences, but I hope I can grow in my own relationship with God.  I will try to remember that you were human.  I pray God will grant me discernment to know which of your words are accurate, and which have been tainted by men.  I'd also like to know which revelations were true to begin with, and will attempt to not be darkened in my mind by assuming that because you received them, that I have no need to verify them by God.  You warned me of that, clearly.  You cannot help it if I act in ignorance.  You certainly tried very hard to share as much as you could.

I will try to be a better friend.  I love that you gave so much of yourself and sacrificed so much for us to have the information you passed along.  You truly gave a lot, as well as your family.  I can't even imagine doing that myself, and am so grateful to you and your family.  Truly.  

With love, to you, Emma, and the rest,

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Floor is Falling

Tonight I was reminded of a dream I had a few weeks ago.  I attempted to share it then, but felt restrained from sharing.  The timing now feels appropriate.

My parents own a home in a neighboring town which my mother, grandmother, and family has lived in for generations.  It is over 100 years old, and one of the oldest homes in the town.  It is small, two story, and according to my dad, was made by laying wood board by board, without studs in the wall, with plaster and lathe.  He described one point years ago, where he picked up the linoleum in the kitchen and there was a dime sized hole.  Upon returning to repair it, the hole had spread and he ended up needing to repair quite a bit more.  The home is old, but miraculously holds up despite years of renters and change.  My dad is a master repairman.  Truly a "Jack of all Trades".

In the dream, I began by entering in the main floor, at an entrance which, as in most dreams, is not where it currently is in real life.  I entered this main floor, and spent some time there.  After playing with friends (I felt like a child), I climbed up a stairway which went to my right (I was facing eastward), then turned to the left halfway up.  Upon arriving on the second floor, I noticed that the only steady and safe ground on the flooring was right at the top of the steps.

Realizing this, I clung to the solid area of floor, as if it would save me.  My family and friends were enjoying some sort of party on the second floor, and although the floor was literally beginning to droop beneath their feet, they did not notice, and continued to eat and drink and enjoy the music.  I kept calling out to them, "Don't you see the floor is falling?!  Don't you feel it falling???!"  They all seemed to say, "No, it's just fine!" and carried on with their fiesta.

Fortunately, and typical of most dreams, I woke up before anything else happened.  The floor around the stairway did seem to sink at least 6-8".  I woke up troubled, as I knew the interpretation.

The floor is falling.

This photo is one I took tonight after painting a kitchen wall in the home tonight.  This is exactly where I was in my dream, although the center of the floor is where the stairs came up in my dream, and I was looking from the opposite corner.  The floor literally is sinking as the house settles at the corners of the structure.  But that's not where I'm going with this.

A house not built upon a Rock is not steady.  It is NOT sure.  It is NOT safe.  And the floors ARE falling.  Even though everyone around you might be eating, drinking, and playing merry, there is ONE sure foundation, and we must cling to the Rock, whereupon if men build they will not fall.  Because the floor is currently falling.  Eat, drink, be merry, and feel free to marginalize me if it helps you sleep better.  But be warned.  It is falling.

Is your home built upon the Rock?  I can say with certainty that feeling your world fall around you is not an enjoyable feeling.  But falling with it would be worse.  Please don't fall with it.

I write this because I LOVE you, and I hope this helps someone out there reading.  Please find the Rock, and build upon Him, even Christ Jesus.  When my heart began pounding tonight as my dream returned to my recollection, and fear literally overtook me, calling out to Him again and again was the only thing to bring me calm.  It only took a minute or so before the Blessed Peace was there.  May He be the One to bring you Calm in the days ahead.

With fullness of LOVE,

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Focus on ONE thing

When you focus on one thing, with stillness, all other things seem to fade away.

(Tip: watch the video below on full screen.)

"Be still, and know that I am God;" - Psalms 24:10

I LOVE you. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I LOVE you

Today is a special day.

Yesterday I was searching Pinterest for some decorating ideas.  My two younger sons were tasked by my dad with painting an old bookshelf.  I ended up joining in to help spread the paint, and then took it further and worked on another bookshelf someone donated to me weeks ago.  They were painted pink.

I searched Pinterest to see if there were any creative bookshelf ideas, or ways I could spruce up this bookshelf, and came across this post by a gal named Toby Fairley.  The post really moved me greatly.  She chose a word to focus on for the year, which was a personality trait or characteristic she wanted to not lose sight of.  The word for her was DISCIPLINE.  This is one of my weakest areas.  Our family struggles with obesity, addiction, and in many ways, laziness.  So I'm always looking for ways to break free of these habits and traditions.

Toby's focus on a word for a year really struck me, so realizing that for me, today is an important day, I set my mind that I too would pick a word for the year to focus on.  It's not discipline (HA! -although she did inspire me) but has to do with lifelong intention, and that is LOVE.

Some of my deepest running weaknesses, when I stop to self-examine, are pride, envy, jealousy, hate, and anger.  Yesterday's post was a perfect example of pride on display.  Gossiping, criticizing, or open jealousy in the form of "venting" are easy for me.  This morning as I pondered what I wanted to make of this year, I asked God what I could do to change for the better.  What would help me better hear God speaking to me?  It is so easy to be confused in thinking that my way of hearing God's voice has to look or sound like someone else's, and I tend to believe their words, opinions, or warnings over what I feel God has told me.  I compare myself to them, and think that I am inferior, and covet their clarity or gifts.

I don't hear Jesus talking, or really know His voice like many say they do.
I don't have dreams which contain clear messages.
I don't have 100% moral clarity or confidence in understanding messages in the scriptures, nor to I believe that I am any authority worth really listening to.

With such lack of understanding of how God speaks to me, and such confusion, I asked God what I could focus on this year, to achieve more clarity, and truly understand His voice and how He speaks with me, individually.  The answer that came to mind that no part of me can shoot down with deductive reasoning is that LOVE is the one thing that I can't go wrong with.  And if I did go wrong with it, it would be more of someone else's weakness or insecurities getting in the way, not mine.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. -Moroni 7:46-47 
So beginning this day, demonstrating LOVE in whatever way that comes to me will be the motive. Whether I get to tell you outright that I LOVE you in every conversation, or perhaps I will say that I love something you do, you wear, you said, or anything else, I intend to find ways to share LOVE fully.  Even if I have to fake it till I make it, I will work on it.  Mark my words.  Starting this day.  

LOVE to YOU and yours,
~Jen <3

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pride and a Chocolate Pool

Hard hearted

A few days ago I broke my Facebook hiatus.  I had someone sign up for my business services, and part of my service for them includes adding them to a private Facebook group.  So I broke my hiatus in order to add them to the group, and in the process, felt good about sticking around for awhile.  

In doing so, I noticed that the same things that led me to get off of Facebook were still there.  Here are about 15 of favorite and least favorite.  

  1. The folks who believe they have to be witty and creative in their posts, still are.  As if they are an artist or poet on display, trying to entertain their "reader" friends with something reminiscent of Animaniacs.  It rarely makes sense and is completely self-absorbed.    
  2. Some still complain about their ex-boyfriends, or "smh-ing" every post.  It took me a long time to realize what "smh" meant.  I used to think it was an expression of the mouth, made in exasperation.  Then I realized it meant "shaking my head".  Either way, it verbalizes their expression of public shaming towards someone who obviously isn't reading the post.
  3. We need to pray that dominoes don't fall so that the world won't fall apart in September, due to economic, political, and physical continental collapse.  We need to pray, pray, pray, just to make it today, 'as why we pray... (pray!) pray... (praaay!!!)  
  4. The world is not going to end in September.  But then again, we are not to "follow" people who say this anyway, so getting hopped up in believing it will or won't end according to these "not prophets" is a good exercise in swimming with the tides.  And we're still all fools for not believing these "not prophets", whichever way they turn on any given day.  Did you know that "Fools!" is the Disney foul-word of choice when the villains are really angry at the protagonists?  {"Fools!  What are you doing?  I told you to follow Ariel to the palace!"}
  5. The ward Facebook group continues to be a place for happy thoughts, only now men are permitted into the "Relief Society Gals" group.  Kind of an interesting timing, don't you think? 
  6. Du+chs1nse still is right about his earthquake predictions, and will tell you (again) that of course he predicted this, and of course fracking is going to cause earthquakes of monumental proportions, and soon.  Stupid frackers.  And of course the government is trying to marginalize him, because he is doing such a fine job exposing their backroom deals.  
  7. We still all matter.  All you black folk too.  And you Muslims, Buddhists, and Mormons.  And you Indians on the Rez.  
  8. People are still arguing over Joseph Smith and what he did or didn't do with his genitals.  Let's not worry about what terrorists or human traffickers, or even loved ones addicted to porn are doing with theirs though. Because that might actually make a difference in the present world in which we live.   
  9. Some are still facing religious excommunication.  And others are still flying under the radar.
  10. Kitties and dog videos are still so cute.  
  11. Ben Phillips is still pranking his friend, and his friend doesn't think it's funny.  He still has a mohawk, Just like Ryan Tedder.  Only Ryan Tedder's is cooler, imo. 
  12. One of my friends has a new boyfriend.  And the picture of their tongues touching was really kinda disgusting.  Sorry if you're reading this.  But you shouldn't put that stuff on Facebook, ever. 
  13. I had two friends I didn't wish a happy birthday. I hope they had happy birthdays!  
  14. No comment. 
  15. Pride among various groups is as strong as ever.       
Needless to say, I got back off about as quickly as I got on.  Maybe I'll be back, but I found I was just as addicted as I was before I got off in July, despite the ever-so-pleasant observations.  When I look at the time I spent with my kids, I don't regret it for a minute.  Did I miss anything of import?  Is it all just gossip?  Was my life improved?  Did my friendships develop any better with the people entrenched in it?  Most didn't really even realize I was gone.

It surprised me that the relationships that developed the most were with these people who chose to keep up outside of Facebook.  Texts, calls, and visits increased in quantity and quality.  And in returning to Facebook, even for a day, I observed that even the people I previously felt most drawn to were some of the least likely to have any personal communication with me.  The relationships I imagined were there, in all actuality, weren't.  And aren't.  Not that it's their fault or anything.  It takes two to tango, you know? 

In studying the frequency of the words "heart" and "hardness" in the Book of Mormon, I am convinced that Facebook is a place for the hardening of hearts.  It is a distraction, where people like me often forget that there are other people behind their monitors with real hearts and feelings.  There is little effort in self-censorship.  There is little true caring or buoying.  It's a 24-7 war of words, self promotion, and self flattery, even if we think we're putting good stuff out there.  Finding a fitting quote on pride was easy: 

"I think that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, but the Bible also teaches that pride is a sin, jealousy is a sin, and hate is a sin, evil thoughts are a sin. So I don't think that homosexuality should be chosen as the overwhelming sin that we are doing today." - Billy Graham

I believe pride and self-promoting found on Facebook are a sign of our times, almost more so than homosexuality.  Take a break and look at how real your Facebook "relationships" are.  Compare it to how much time you spend on it, and divide it by 7. Times your answer by 43 and you'll get how many steps it takes to get to heaven.  Just kidding.

Doesn't this post sound hard hearted?  That's how I felt by the time I got off.

The Pool

We have a pool in the backyard.  I've taken pictures over the years we've had it.  Sometimes it's blue, like when we clean it out.

Sometimes it's green, which is quite frequently, because we can't seem to keep the ph balanced.

And then today, for the first time ever, after re-filling it this weekend, and my dad adding chemicals last night to shock it, it turned green again.  And then I looked a few hours later, and it looked like this.

Coffee!  Chocolate?  Never in my life have I seen a pool this brown.  Never.  I'm sure it's just a chemical reaction.  But worth sharing, for what it's worth.  It took me at least 10 hours to consider that it might be a sign or symbol of some sort.  It will take at least 10 times cleaning the filter before we have any hopes of it becoming clear.  Or we could just drain it and start over, again.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Alma 42: Justice and Mercy

Alma 42:4

And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.

Alma 42:7

And now, ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow after their own will.  
Alma 42:9

Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.  

Alma 42:13

Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice.  Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God. 

Alma 42:17

Now, how could a man repent except he should sin?  How could he sin if there was no law?  How could there be a law save there was a punishment? 

Alma 42:28

If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God.   

Alma 42:29

And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance.  

Alma 42:30

O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more.  Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.   

Sunday, August 9, 2015


"A heart is able to sustain life 70 - 80 - 100 years. But the heart that takes time to touch another heart has truly accomplished something that will outlast both of their lifetimes."

This quote was hand typed onto a page inserted into a notebook given to a friend of mine. She gave me the name of the sister who wrote it, but it's hidden away on my closed Facebook account.

While at BYU, I attended a Book of Mormon class offered by Reed Benson, President Ezra Taft Benson's son. As part of the course, he had us read and semi-memorize some of his father's talks.  One of them was his "Beware of Pride" talk.  It was stressed that President Benson felt that one of the key messages of the Book of Mormon was pride, and the cycle that followed a proud people.

During the most recent Passover, I began reading the story of Moses.  I observed the repeated use of the word "hard-hearted" in the account, and I began drawing hearts around the word "heart", in any form.  This practice took over my study of all scripture (and sometimes other books too), and has become an interesting visual as I flip through my scriptures.  

A day or so ago I was led to Psalms 24.  I read it over and over.  These verses stuck out: 

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.  He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and his righteousness from the God of his salvation.  This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob.  Selah.  - Psalms 24: 4-6
As I was cleaning out some boxes yesterday, I came across an old book about baptism.  It was interesting to me, that the primary lesson for the intended childhood audience was that doing and performing good and was the key to making it into God's kingdom.  Yet that is all about outward things, and we are a people of outward ordinances.  But the Lord wants a pure heart.

When I skim over the pages in the Book of Mormon that I've read with my children since Passover (springtime), it is somewhat astounding to view how frequently hearts are referenced.  I'll paste in some page views for your viewing pleasure.

Since beginning this practice with my little red pencil, it has been astounding to see how frequently I come across the word "heart", referring to God speaking to one's heart, being hard-hearted, soft-hearted, and other variations.  Almost every time I open up the scriptures, there it is, regardless of whether or not I am looking at the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, or Pearl of Great Price.

It's also been tempting to start drawing hearts around similar words that refer to the same concept (like beloved, love, swelling, etc.).  My kids have really enjoyed having a reason to draw in their scriptures too.  More importantly it has reminded me as I read, that the Lord looks upon our hearts, and even more than pride, this is one of the most dominant themes in the written word – all of them.

God IS Love.  It is no wonder that so much effort is made to point out that this center for feeling love is so crucial for our understanding.  I wonder if we ignore it, in lieu of preferring to focus more on the damnable negativity and others' sins?  Guilty!  But working on it.

Love conquers all.  Charity is the Pure Love of Christ.  Without charity man is nothing.  Let us focus more today on Love than we did yesterday.  I believe this has more to do with rising up than we may have any idea of.   

Friday, August 7, 2015

On Your Knees

Wow, what a bizarre train of experiences this week.

Episode 1

Yesterday after a long discussion with my mother, she asked me to point out something we ought to do differently at church.  One simple idea I had was concerning the ordinance of the sacrament.  I believe it would be wise to follow the instructions in the scriptures, which indicate we are to kneel.

We spent the next several minutes with her objecting to kneeling, and saying she does not feel any closer to God when praying on her knees vs her backside.  She has bad knees, so I understand.  But I stressed the point that when we kneel, we are being subservient.  We are humbling ourselves.  I could not think of any human to which I had ever got down on my knees in front of.  It is an act of submission, and it is a big deal, especially for an ordinance we are to conduct routinely.

Episode 2

My oldest son was at Scout camp this past week.  He turned 12 in July, and has never been to a "12 year-old" scout activity, technically, although he's been pretty active with the younger scouts.  He showed up at camp on Monday with the rest of the ward boys, and they seemed to have a pretty good week.  Tonight the rest of our family showed up at camp for "Family Night" and observed a pretty cool Order of the Arrow ceremony, which is a group gathering for all the Scout troops at camp, and they offer awards for exemplary service, various badges, and congrats.  There is also a part at the end which is very ceremonial, and new scouts who are inducted into the "Order of the Arrow" are essentially called out from their packs to join this special group.

{I will admit the experience had me toggling between extremes of approval and disapproval.  I'll save it for later, after sitting on it awhile.}

The boys in each troop earned their given awards at this ceremony, and after an hour or so we were dismissed back to the individual troop camps, where more congrats and edifying of the boys was done.  Our troop didn't earn many awards at the ceremony, as most of our boys were very young, so the leaders wanted to boost their self esteem a bit, since other troops earned the bulk of the awards.

After roasting a s'more for myself and my kids, we started heading for home, which meant we got to walk through a very large, open field in the dark.  I turned on my flashlight on my cell phone, and as it lit the way, my young son noticed he looked like an alien in the shadow.  So he began dancing around like a little monster.  There were some boys walking on a pathway about 80 feet away or so, who noticed, and began laughing and commenting on him.  All fun, right?  They must not have realized we could hear them, because one of them dropped some seriously profane language, directed toward my son.  I called out and asked him to please watch his mouth.  I had 3 young kids listening, and scouts ought to be considerate, especially with language and courtesy.  Presuming this would be moderately well received, seeing that Scouting is big on honor and respect, I didn't expect to see my husband put our duffle bag down and start hustling towards the boys like he was going to bust some chops.  I told him twice to stop, and he did.  I didn't need to break up any fights.

"What did they say [that got you so upset]?" I asked him.

"That they're going to find that b**** and s**** her in the middle of the night."

Whaa---???  I then took his place and began running after the boys, who had begun hustling off a few moments before when they realized a big dude was after them.  I don't know what was going through my mind, except that I did not want to be an accuser, but someone had to call the behavior to someone's attention, and immediately.  When they realized my flashlight was after them, they began running back to their site, which was near our ward's.

Upon finding the boys, I found one who said the words and 2 who were alongside him.  One teen pretended to be the Scout leader, when I asked who the leader was.  I left him and asked around and eventually found the real leader, a tall, lean man with a white beard.  I told him what we had heard, and he was NOT pleased.  He found the boy with the foul mouth, and while turned away from me, received a confession that it was him with the language.  This is where the eye opening comes.  He insisted the boy apologize to me and my son (who he had been mocking), and he refused.  The leader apologize to me, saying he was "profoundly sorry" (and also likely embarrassed) for the boy's actions, and was just beyond disbelief.  He then turned to the boy, and commanded him to get on his knees and ask for forgiveness for his actions.  I do believe my mouth dropped a bit, when the teenager (probably 14) got on his knees, and said, "I am so, so sorry."  He looked like he was about to cry, kneeling in front of myself, my son, his leader, and his whole troop.

What happened next was not really worth repeating, beyond to say that my heart broke for this boy.  I assume there is no leadership at home.  I assume he is watching violent or explicit content videos, if not porn, where it is completely ok to say such things to women.  Perhaps he is being molested.  Perhaps he is involved with a gang.  Perhaps all these boys were.  I asked one of the boys which troop they were part of, and recalled that their troop had won zero special awards at the Order of the Arrow ceremony.  They were perhaps from an inner city church.  This isn't what we hear in the country.

It horrified me to have a young boy on his knees in front of me.  I expected nothing like that, and felt horrified on his behalf.  I did not want him humiliated, and it seemed unChristian to do so.  However I understand the need to teach him, especially as a scout, but more as a respectable human being, that it is never, EVER acceptable to tell a woman you're going to find her and rape or assault her.  NEVER.  EVER.

I begged him in the short time I was there to please don't ever speak to women like that.  To the random reader, I beg of you too to never speak to women like that, and teach your children to respect women, and men.  It horrifies me to think of any young man growing up in a home or even on the streets where such behavior is modeled.  And what's worse, is to consider that these were just words uttered to a stranger in the dark of night.  The truly horrific part is that there are grown men who treat women, or other men in this manner.  To speak the words is beyond vile.  I have never heard such things in my life.


Boys, please don't speak to women that way.  Men, please don't think you will have any standing whatsoever to ever treat a woman, much less any human, with that much disrespect.  God will forgive, and begs us to repent.  I was heartened by the seriousness with which the boy's leader handled the situation, as well as disheartened to wonder what this boy will go home to tomorrow, when this is all said and done.  I beg the God will protect and heal him and his heart.

After all that is going on with the Boy Scouts of America, and all the uncertainty I've had regarding Scouts for my children, I will say that more than ever, I am convinced that Scouting IS a good program, and while perhaps imperfect, for some kids, it is probably one of the few spaces out there which provides increased modeling of what it's like to be a man.  I am not convinced that the Church is the best outlet for implementing a Scouting program (I'll save that for another post, perhaps), however I feel content to say that I feel completely convinced after tonight that it would be better for us to lend the organization our prayers, rather than detract from it as I have in the past.  It is better to wrap an imperfect organization in our arms with love and prayer than to tear it down.  I will attempt to do more of that with both the Boy Scouts and the Church, however imperfect.

And to my mother.  I have no words to express how intensely I feel that seeing one on their knees in a position of begging does indeed demonstrate both humility, respect, and submission.  Absolutely humiliating, and rarely done to other humans.  I can understand why Nephi was so put off when his brothers got on their knees in front of him.  It is not comfortable to be in a receiving position of such attention, and I would submit that such things ought to be held in reservation for God alone.  Perhaps it is telling that men, when proposing to their future wife, will get down on one knee in an act of pleading.  There is more symbolism in the knees than we have any idea of.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Controversial Truths (Website)

Two nights ago I stumbled across a highly interesting website.

In various groups, I keep hearing various persons use the name Yahweh as the name of the Lord.  As a young woman, I had a friend whose father worshiped with the Jehovah's Witnesses, among other groups, and she frequently would use the name Yahweh for God.  I remember thinking it was weird.  Like, really, really weird, such that I thought she was a little "not all there".  But after reading this site, and having things explained in such a clear fashion, it makes a who lot of sense.

The site's name is Righteous, and the article which discusses this can be found here.  There is a whole series, much of which I have not yet covered, and may or may not support or agree with, but I found the first two articles in the series on Controversial Truths to be very enlightening.  In fact, I've found them so enlightening that I've considered adjusting my prayers accordingly, and may even try using a new version of the Bible for study.  (GASP!)  That's a pretty big deal for me.  No official decisions made yet though.  But if reading a new version makes the Bible all the more understandable as the author indicates, I should be all for it.

Hope you enjoy, and feel free to share thoughts or comments if you check it out!