His Glory and not Our Own

A few days ago I was studying my Scriptures and I started to feel antsy. My mind began to wander about how little I do in the Church and how unfulfilled I feel when it comes to doing things within our ward. I found myself dwelling on the fact that if only I could do this and this and oh yeah this then I’d be spiritually uplifted.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m walking an uphill battle in regards to spiritual things within my family and what I feel is important to help me grow spiritually in my ward. I find myself irritated with the thought that the entire universe is working against me.

As my mind was having this conflicted pity party, I suddenly had this thought that the adversary is working to lure people away from our Heavenly Father by placing these obvious great ideas in our heads. These great ideas that seem harmless and spiritual aren’t always working for the greater good…but to our own spiritual detriment.I believed this was what was happening to me.

Wait…what? How could something holy with positive actions NOT be good for our spiritual growth?

It happens easily and sometimes without us even noticing. I’ve witness it time and time again. Callings given to people sometimes take over their identity and they feel as if their calling defines them as a person. There are parents and spouses hardly seeing their children and sweethearts because of their over-involvement in church activities which they feel is bringing glory to God.

But is it really?

As a convert, I know this isn’t strictly within our faith, I’ve seen it in other religions. I know the over involvement in church activities isn’t always a good thing if you’re doing it without your family members. I know the adversary works on me continuously as I use my writing and speaking engagements to share the gospel with others. This isn’t a bad thing, yet if I allow it, I can be lured down a path of faux holiness. In my busy moments to do ‘God’s work’ I can become edgy and temperamental when interrupted by family members because I’ve convinced myself it was going to bring so much glory to God. I want to simply be left alone to do what I want- which if I’m honest with myself- isn’t really what God wants for me or my family.

With my natural disposition to be busy, it is easy for the adversary to have me focus on some big project and neglect the people I love in the pretense of doing God’s work.

So what are we as Christians supposed to do?

Heavenly Father is a loving and gracious father and He has set for us clear and easy instruction for our daily lives. We know Heavenly Father would never have us do anything that would mean being neglectful to our spouses and children. He would never have us involved in spiritual activities in which we are beginning to feel resentful towards our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we feel as if these things are taking over our spiritual work, it is time to evaluate what we’re doing and make sure we’re doing it for the right reasons.

Leaning on Heavenly Father and giving Him complete control over my life has allowed me to be sensible in deciding which duties I’m involved in. The moments in which I have felt frustrated with ward members-and even God- were the times in which I was trying to glorify myself. I’ve also noticed when I’m thinking of only myself when involved in projects, it is those projects that usually never work out. Yet, when I’m obedient to God’s instruction and work my projects in accordance to His word, I’m astounded to see His hand opening more doors for me.

Remaining obedient to God when deciding on what projects to accept has been completely liberating. I’m not plagued with the thoughts that I’m not doing enough in service. I’m doing what I’m capable of doing and keeping harmony in my family life. I also know the difference between ‘holy’ inspirations and ‘selfish’ ones. Having the inspiration to read my Scriptures instead of playing on Facebook or even doing the dishes has never been a disappointment. If anything it makes cleaning the house or doing the most mundane tasks later a bit less daunting.

I’ve found a sense of peace in understanding God’s commands in my life and by doing His work for His glory (and not my own) my family and I will continually be blessed.

 

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Take 5 Friday Quick Notes (2)

— 1 —

Better late than never, right? It’s after 10pm on Friday night and I’m just now able to blog. This has been a hectic week, but that seems to be the norm nowadays. The day starts for me at 4:45am and I’m not getting to bed till sometime after 11:30PM. I haven’t worked out in almost two weeks and I can feel myself becoming all sloshy and soft. Regardless of the fact that I’m not sure if sloshy is even a word, I am sure that it is the most descriptive word EVER to explain how I feel. Sloshy, that is.

— 2—

My daughter turned fifteen last Friday and we had a fantastic birthday party…although the entire day everything that could go wrong…did. Which if you’ve read enough of my blogs, you’ll know that’s pretty much the norm in my world.

I went with the theme of Hollywood and even had trophies and sunglasses for souvenirs. I had a blast with my friends Betty and Sara decorating the house for my daughter’s party. I couldn’t have done it without Betty, her husband Jarod and Sara. Betty did my daughter’s makeup and Sara took some wonderful photographs.

I had a small budget to work with but was able to borrow and buy a lot of cool stuff to turn our house into Party Central. All the kids seemed to have a really great time and I hope Kid #1 knows I’m pretty darn proud to be her Mom.

Especially during the hours of 10pm-5am when she’s asleep.

— 3—

I’m not hallucinating…I’ve actually accumulated a good deal of readers and subscribers for Mormonlly Speaking. I’m tickled about it so pardon my optimism with creating a blog carnival this early in the game. I know last week’s debut of Take 5 Friday looks pretty grim with no players…but it’ll catch on. I know it will. Carnivals are fun. So bloggers…especially those with fairly new blogs…let’s link up and share each other’s blogs with our readers.

How it works is you use the logo for my Take 5 Friday Quick Notes and write your own Take 5 Friday Quick Notes and encourage your readers to do the same. (Make sure you link it back to my url of this post.)  Then add your name and url to Mister Linky at the bottom of the post. Make sure it is the url to the actual entry of your Take 5 Friday and not the home page to your site.

— 4—

Have you heard of Meal Train? If you haven’t…you’ve been missing out! If you are involved in Compassionate Leadership, or part of a Meal Ministry this site is a must! The meal train is the act of organizing meal for a family or group during a life changing event and the website eliminates the confusion when dealing with a big group of volunteers.

From their website:

With mealTrain.com:

You eliminate confusion by creating a shared calendar and answering questions in advance like; What do they like? When are they available? What have the already had?

MealTrain.com includes:

  • Real-time meal calendar
  • Ability to customize dates, times, and meal preferences
  • Invitations via e-mail and facebook
  • Reminder emails
  • Add booked dates to a personal calendar automatically

Ensure that everyone has the necessary information so they can focus on supporting friends with meals.

Oh yeah, did we say that it is Free!

— 5—

I have to give my friend Nichole a shout-out. Nichole and I met last year at a political fundraiser, but we had known of each other from the blogging world and mutual friends. She also read my book which of course, being that she was one of the tens of people to actually read it…she became a friend for life.

My family and I have changed our lifestyle dramatically in the last couple of years and opt to live frugally. I’m still very much a beginner in the art of couponing but I’m learning. I still try to catch the good deals around town and via the Internet.

Nichole really doesn’t need my plug…and she didn’t ask me to do this. However, I find myself depending on her site a lot and wanted to share it with my readers. (All six of you!) If you want to be in the know of great money saving deals and the best coupons… then Nichole’s site is a great resource. Here you go: Good Deal Divas.

And because she’d kill me if I didn’t mention her…Betty did Nichole’s website and also designed Mormonlly Speaking as well. (And this website too.) Betty and Nichole both rock…which is understandable considering I chose them as friends. (Yes, I’m humble and modest.)

And is it just me or are you as excited as I am about the three day weekend?

Take 5 Friday Quick Notes (1)


— 1 —

Fifteen years ago on a hot and humid afternoon at 3:20pm, I gave birth to a 7lb 12oz baby girl in Fort Benning, Georgia. I was nineteen years old and scared to death. When I began having contractions, I remember thinking it was because I ate too much corn on the cob the night before. It wasn’t until my water broke that it dawned on me I was actually in labor.

Fifteen years ago, my life was forever changed…enhanced by this child who has brought me tremendous joy, has driven me crazy, has made me laugh, has made me cry, gives me hugs and gives me migraines. She’s been a blessing and a pain.

Fifteen years ago…I finally understood how amazingly intense and complex love actually is.

Fifteen years ago…I became a Mom for the first time.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. (Psalm 127:3-5)

— 2 —

It’s only been Day 5 of waking up at 4:45am to have my daughter at Seminary by 6am and all I keep thinking is…”It’s only Day 5.” She’s not complaining and seems pretty happy about attending. However…call me a pessimist…but it is only Day 5.

— 3 —

There are many things occurring in our lives right now including the unexpected roadblocks which had me on the telephone all morning yesterday. I also was finding myself trying to track down paperwork from almost twenty years ago and trying to remember how to speak my birth language: Hillbillynese.

— 4 —

I received a new calling this past Sunday in which I’m in charge of our ward’s bulletin. Having always felt the font on our bulletin was difficult to read, a bit jumbled and confusing, I’ve been working on creating an easier to read bulletin that isn’t causing anyone to strain their eyes. In my ‘research’ (AKA Google) I found this wonderful site that has everything you need to assist you in your church callings. I’m sure many people who have been members for a long time already know about this site…but for us recent converts…this site is fantastic! MormonShare.com

— 5 —

I received a couple of emails from readers (which allow me to say…I LOVE receiving emails from readers of my blogs! I’m tickled of how many readers this site has already accumulated. I’ll blog for comments and emails, people. Really.) who have asked me if I had any book suggestions regarding spirituality and LDS faith that has helped me since my conversion and aided in the conversion itself. With the exception of The Scriptures themselves (which is a total given) here are some of my favorites and must reads:

The History of Joseph Smith by His Mother

Not only does this book give you a sense of who Joseph Smith is as a person, but it also gives you an insight on how difficult it must have been for not only him and his young wife, but also his mother. It strengthen my testimony in knowing Joseph Smith is a true prophet and helped me understand all that he had to suffer and lose to do God’s will.

When You Can’t Do It Alone

I went through a very difficult time after my conversion. A friend had given me this book and it is still a book I turn to every now and then when I need some reminders that I don’t always have to try to do it alone.

“It’s easy to trust in the Lord when everything’s going your way. But what happens when you experience challenges and difficulties that leave you so spiritually exhausted that you can’t see God’s hand in your life? As a newly called mission president, author Brent L. Top experienced a severe emotional and spiritual crisis. Desperate for help, he discovered that knowing where to turn is not enough; we must allow the Savior to rescue us.”

Mere Christianity

This book is an easy read and one of the first books I read after I left the Jehovah Witness organization. It helped me understand true Christianity. “Rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity’s many denominations, C.S. Lewis finds a common ground on which all those who have Christian faith can stand together, proving that ‘at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks the same voice.’ “

Below is a linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own Take 5 Friday Quick Notes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.

Being Humble in a Humble Way

“I can’t believe you’re Mormon.”

“I can’t believe you still think that hairstyle looks good on you.”

I’m not good at being tactful. I do try though and there are these moments in which I surprise myself with how amazingly subtle I can be. However, my being subtle is usually premeditated in regards to getting some much-needed information from a teenager.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with a few irritants of my fellow siblings in Christ. Before I joined the Church, I thought I’d never fit in because HELLO! MORMONS ARE FREAKING HAPPY AND PERFECT. My happiness usually stems from kicking back watching a UFC fight with The Husband. Obviously, not exactly ‘Mormon Mommy” behavior. Yet, not long after I joined, I realized, rather quickly, that Mormons are not perfect. They were not always happy. And I knew some to let their hair down and even shout: “Oh my heck!” You know, all ghetto like.

With the realization that my fellow Christian siblings were imperfect, I found myself torn with my feelings. On one hand I was relieved. I didn’t have to try to be something I wasn’t. Yet, on the other hand, I was disappointed. If they were perfect and their life was filled with hot cocoa, rainbows and jelly beans then I had a shot at having that too. I mean, C’mon? Who hasn’t wanted to have a little part of their life resemble the children’s cartoon Little Bear? Tranquil days filled with talking animals who normally would want to eat you, but have decided to be your friend because…YOU GUESSED IT: you were Mormon.

Being a convert is a challenge, especially when you’re married to a non-member. A friend of mine who is a convert in another religion told me she has the same feelings of inadequacies as I do.

“I always feel I have to know a little more church history than anyone else. I feel like I’m going to be tested on everything…which is silly, because the main reason why I joined my church was to develop a better relationship with Christ. My religion doesn’t teach or even condone the things I find myself feeling.”

I could relate.

Last Sunday, I had a meeting with my Bishop and I confessed to him my lack of testimony concerning callings. In the LDS church, ‘Callings’ are assignments or positions in which church members are asked to serve. In our church, we are asked to serve one another. We are taught that these callings are important and prayed about before the callings are extended. Usually, a calling for a person lasts a few years.

Usually.

But not for me.

I’ve had five callings in two years, none of which have lasted more than a few months. With the exception of one calling, I never have felt it fit me or was a benefit to anyone else.

You don’t choose or request your calling (even though I do mention what I’d like to do to anyone in the church who will listen.)

The thing is I have seen and felt good about others’ callings and felt it was divinely inspired. But just not with me.

And this is where the insecurities begin. I couldn’t help but wonder if the reason I wasn’t asked to having a calling that was more “my style” was because I was a convert with a non-member husband. Perhaps I couldn’t have a calling that I felt was important because I couldn’t handle it…being that I was all a convert and watched rated R movies. (It’s okay though. They were violent R-rated movies. Not sexual. See? I’m doing so well.)

More than anything…how could I inspire anyone when I couldn’t even inspire my husband to embrace the Gospel?

I had been invited by another ward last year to speak to the young women about chastity and modesty. I speak at other churches sharing my story with mental illness, addictions and letting go of the past. I can’t help but question why I’m not asked by the members of my own ward to share my talents. (Which is talking…if you haven’t guessed that already.)  Why am I not benefiting others in my ward by what I know how to do instead of being asked to bring a jello salad to a church gathering when I have no idea what a jello salad even is?

In my prayers yesterday, I started out by whining to my Heavenly Father. “Why, why, why? So not fair. Blah…blah…blahblahblah.” On and on I vented about how unfair it is to be a convert. How terrible it is that not all my children want to go to church. Why couldn’t God slap some faith into The Husband so I didn’t have to be at church spouse-less?

Mid-whine, I felt the Spirit and the words: “It isn’t about you. It’s about Me. It’s about your brothers and sisters.”

That’s what I would call being slapped by The Spirit upside your head.

Being truly humble and serving others with a whole heart isn’t your spotlight moment. It isn’t about how great and caring you are. It’s about the persons you are serving. It’s about God. It’s about His Son, Jesus Christ. It’s about love.

I started to think about my past callings and I realized that I could see how in even the smallest way, I was a benefit to at least one person. It may not have been huge or seen by anyone…but God showed it to me.

Today, I’ll be thinking about faith. I’ll be thinking of others and how I can meekly serve them with a humble heart and a giving spirit.

It’s not always about me. But it is… always about God.

Scriptures to Ponder On:

Fight the good fight of faith. – 2 Timothy 4:6-7

Glorify God by good works.- Matthew 5:16

Hold up God’s light. -3 Nephi 18:24