Follow-Up to Post Straight Judgment

In regards to post Straight Judgment, I have received phone calls from a couple of women who were in Relief Society on Sunday. After I left, a lot of the points I brought up in my post were also spoken. The main consensus was we all are struggling with SOMETHING and we are all without sin. As Christians, we are to be loving and judge not. Only God is the final judge and what we know is God is a loving and just god.

In my post, I wrote I too was being judgmental and was very irritated with myself for feeling that way. I also was having a difficult time finding the correct words to express my feelings regarding the subject.

What is important for readers to know is I believe the LDS Church is true and I have a very strong testimony in regards to this. This does not mean I’m perfect and have all the answers, because if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know this is not true. This blog is not intended to argue or debate the teachings of the Church, but to chronicle my journey as a convert who is dealing with a variety of issues-as many people in any religion or faith are. This is my blog and my thoughts, opinions and perspectives.

What I’ve come to appreciate from my own experiences and trials, along with stories shared by readers and friends, is this: heterosexuals also face far greater challenges to live the gospel. Does this mean homosexuals who sacrifice to live the gospel as they understand it are being slighted? I don’t know. What I do know is we can’t possibly know one’s conscience as God knows it. An individual’s relationship with a person’s God is theirs and theirs alone. Selflessness is required of everyone and we should all follow the commandment of “Love One Another” as Christ has loved us. Gay or Straight.

Priesthood Blessings and Joy

I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror this morning, and my haggard appearance made me want to gag. It also reminded me of how fatigued and achy I am. Most disturbingly, my usual optimistic mood had been already been replaced by something darker and pessimistic.

The last few weeks I’ve been dealing with medical issues. This past weekend it seemed to grow prominently worse. Being one who does not like  to ‘slow down,’ this new change in my life only brings out the worst in me. I don’t like for anything to change my schedule, do not like sympathy, and do not like to be viewed as anything other than capable. So you can imagine that dealing with any type of illness is somewhat of a buzz kill in my life.

Yeah, I know. Pride, much?

After a few freak-outs in my head (only because I was too tired and sick to freak out on anyone in person) it finally dawned on me to ask for a blessing.

It has been over a year since I’ve received any type of blessing. I hate to impose on anyone and whilst my logical mind knows better, this not wanting to ask for help is not in any way helping my situation. (Again! With the pride!)

After a moment of prayer, I received some clearing of the negative debris covering my mind. A sense of peace and clarity filled my soul. It became clear that not only did I want a blessing, but I needed a blessing!

A priesthood blessing is sacred. It can be a holy and inspired statement of our wants and needs. If we are in tune spiritually, we can receive a confirming witness of the truth of the promised blessings. Priesthood blessings can help us in the small and great decisions of our lives. If, through our priesthood blessings, we could perceive only a small part of the person God intends us to be, we would lose our fear and never doubt again. ~President James E. Faust

Priesthood Blessings

Wanting healing through prayer is not in conflict with  the miracles of medical science from one’s life. (It shouldn’t be.)  Brigham Young would ask those who asked for healing through a blessing, “Have you used any remedies?” When the individual would reply no because “we wish the Elders to lay hands upon us,” President Young replied: “That is very inconsistent according to my faith. If we are sick, and ask the Lord to heal us, and to do all for us that is necessary to be done, according to my understanding of the Gospel of salvation, I might as well ask the Lord to cause my wheat and corn to grow, without my plowing the ground and casting in the seed. It appears consistent to me to apply every remedy that comes within the range of my knowledge, and [then] to ask my Father in Heaven … to sanctify that application to the healing of my body.”  (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1954), 163.)

D&C 90:24 tells us to pray always and so whilst we are using wisdom and faith simultaneously, we should not deny ourselves the blessings God has bestowed to us, especially when it is because of pride.

The Apostle James taught that we should “pray one for another, that ye may be healed,” adding, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). When the woman who touched Jesus was healed, He told her, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matthew 9:22). 3 Similarly, the Book of Mormon teaches that the Lord “worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men” (Moroni 10:7). ~Dallin H. Oaks

Last night, after 8pm, two members of the Priesthood from my Ward, came to my house and gave me a blessing. It wasn’t earth shattering, the walls didn’t shake, the Heavens did not open, nor did I instantly feel better. What did happen was that I immediately felt at peace, my fear of what is wrong disappeared and the worry I felt about my doctor’s appointment today vanished.

This morning, I feel better. Not 100%, but better, mostly due in part of feeling at peace and some of that negativity I allowed to erode my mind is gone.

My husband also got to witness the experience for the first time. This is a miracle in and of itself.

One of things I’ve learned since my conversion is this: Joy is something vastly different from happiness. It’s different from the surface of physical comfort. In my opinion, joy is divinely inspired and goes with the flow of our emotions. It’s a constant contentment during the most troubling of times. It doesn’t go away when we are facing challenges, yet because we mistake joy for happiness, we may feel we are joyless. My discontent in being sick made me think all the joy in my life had been sucked out of my life, but the truth is, my life is joyful. Before my conversion when things seemed to be the worst that they could be, there was not anything to bring me back to the feeling of love my God has for me. Now, I feel His love, and also the joy of knowing how intense and true that love is. Where there was once a sense of bleakness…there is now joy.

The more we know of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, the more joy we will have, no matter the circumstance. A friend once told me that life does not have to be easy to be joyful and I took her words for granted, not understanding the depth of truth she spoke.

I understand now.

Being a Mormon is Being a Christian

“You don’t look like a Mormon!”

It could be taken as an insult, I guess. Depending on the context.  If let’s say I were at a club, shooting down shots of whiskey and table dancing to a hip hop song and someone mentions in passing, “Wow. I can’t believe she’s Mormon,” then perhaps that would be a wake-up call that I am not living in accordance with the Gospel and surely not being a good example. (Of course, my dance moves would be a great example of how I have skills. Just sayin’.) However, if it is stated: “You don’t look Mormon” simply because I’m awesome and have great hair, then yeah, that would probably be a tad bit insulting. (Not for me, mind you. But for all other Mormons.)

Interesting statistic, especially for those who are converted: 70% of Mormons worldwide were not born into the faith. (Accurate as of 2006.) What does that have to do with anything? Well, not much, except to show that the cookie cutter Mormons you may have imagined in your mind, simply do not exist.

Granted, as with all religions, there are those who may shed a poor light on the Church and there are those who give it a bad name. Each individual who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is unique, made up of the same complexities as any other human being.

What does being a Mormon mean?

  • There’s a Plan and I understand it.

The LDS Church  teaches that God has a plan for His children.  As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints we believe life here on earth, is like a refiners fire.  If we turn to God in our trials, He will strengthen us, and ultimately through the atonement, purify us.

  • The Gospel being true, doesn’t mean life is easier.

To truly experience joy, we must also experience pain. Within our own experiences of tough times, we know we can appreciate and grasp the intensity of pure joy. I equate this to being a mother. Yes, I knew love before having kids. I loved my parents, my husband, my siblings, however until I became a mother, I never knew the intensity and complexities love actually has. It didn’t mean the love I had before was less so…far from it. If anything, it made my showing and receiving love more grand.

  • You may not think I’m awesome, but Jesus thought I was to die for.

I have a Savior in Jesus Christ who loved you and I so much that he died for us. This has always blown my mind, because the thought of it is complex and escapes human logic. I know the details, yet cannot hold it together. This was a human being…the Son of God…who is my Savior. His love for us and the love from our Heavenly Father knows no bounds and hearing it isn’t the same as feeling it. This is where faith comes in. My faith is stronger than the words and details. It overrides it in all capacities.

  • Knowing Jesus Christ and having faith

Faith is a choice. It’s also our choice to be willing to accept and receive the redemptive efficacy of Jesus Christ’s death on our behalf and it is still our choice to receive him into our own heart and soul. Being a Mormon is many wonderful things, things in which I didn’t think existed…but the biggest and greatest is that being a Mormon is also becoming a Christian. And whilst some may disagree with the assessment that Mormons are indeed Christian-I don’t wish to argue the point. I only know what my heart tells me and it is a heart who now knows how to receive and give love…one in which was taught to me by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Having a gift and sharing it

The Gospel is a wonderful gift, one in which I don’t want to keep all to myself. I share the Gospel with anyone who wants to know it, keeping in mind that I’m offering a gift, not wishing to convert for my own glory. That’s not what Jesus taught. He taught kindness and love and he did it with those virtues. Being a Christian isn’t about conversion, it is about love. When I extend the invitation for those to know Jesus, I do so with love.

13 Articles of Faith


1.
We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2.
We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3.
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4.
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5.
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
6.
We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
7.
We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
8.
We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9.
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10.
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11.
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12.
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13.
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

I’m a Mormon

 

 

Gaining a Testimony

When I was researching Mormonism, I constantly heard about the power of prayer and gaining of a testimony. I understood the power of prayer having been a long time person of prayer, but I didn’t understand the whole testimony thing.

What did it mean to gain a testimony?

A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost. The foundation of a testimony is the knowledge that Heavenly Father lives and loves His children; that Jesus Christ lives, that He is the Son of God, and that He carried out the infinite Atonement; that Joseph Smith is the prophet of God who was called to restore the gospel; that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior’s true Church on the earth; and that the Church is led by a living prophet today. With this foundation, a testimony grows to include all principles of the gospel.

I believed the Church was true. Yet, believing this, I expected the occurrence of a testimony to be a phenomenal event. Heavens opening, angels singing…you know, small miracles like that.

I prayed for a testimony, still not understanding what it meant to gain one. Nothing seemed to happen…meaning the gates of Heaven didn’t open up with angels singing Hallelujah! Undeterred, I started to study and talk to others about what gaining a testimony actually meant. I guess I believed I could study it to action.

The thing about testimonies is you can ask twenty different people about the definition of a testimony and you’ll get twenty different definitions.

Not one person’s miracle of a testimony is exact. For me, this makes it even more special and divine.

I wanted one. So I did what I always have done: I prayed. I researched. I rushed through my studies as if I were writing a term paper on the subject and then it hit me…

Since I started studying and praying for a testimony, I had never actually sat still long enough to actually meditate on anything to gain a testimony on.  Ever. I was so excited with the teachings of the Church, I rushed through my studies and wanted to go on to the next spiritual subject.

I had not been meditating on His word. I was not meditating in prayer.

I wasn’t meditating on anything, period.

The revelation occurred when I was trying to wrap my head around The Vision. I asked myself, ” Why Joseph Smith? Why him?”

I thought about this for a very long time, allowing the question to flow through my brain.

And then…I felt the words: “Why not? Why NOT Joseph Smith? Why Paul? Why Peter? Why is anyone ever chosen?”

Gaining a testimony about Joseph Smith being a prophet was a tranquil moment. There wasn’t a gigantic burst of energy within me wanting to yell it from the roof tops. My testimony regarding Joseph Smith being a prophet was a silent whisper in the form of a question:

“Why not?”

President Loren C. Dunn of the First Council of the Seventy wrote in the January 1973 issue of Ensign:

The three steps, then, in seeking a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel from the Lord himself are to read, ponder, and pray with real intent and sincerity of heart. If a person will prayerfully read the pages of this inspired book and carefully turn over in his mind what he has read and constantly ask the question, “Could any man have written this book?” the promise of the Lord is that he “will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Gaining a Testimony in Three Steps:

  1. Read
  2. Ponder
  3. Pray

I try to do those three things everyday…gaining a testimony on a variety of spiritual things and sometimes despite doing those three things, a testimony doesn’t always occur. It doesn’t always happen instantly…yet there are times when it seems a testimony has always been.

Testimony—real testimony, born of the Spirit and confirmed by the Holy Ghost—changes lives. ~Elder M. Russell Ballard

My testimony: I believe this Church is true. I believe we have a modern day prophet in President Monson and I believe the Book of Mormon is added Scripture to the Holy Bible and all the Scriptures are inspired Word of God. I have felt and seen the power and blessings of prayer and I believe with all of my heart that our Savior is Jesus Christ.

I say all these things in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen

 

 

 

 

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Why I’m Mormon

Disclaimer: I am asked with increasing frequency why I converted to Mormonism as opposed to one of the other Christian denominations.  I’m apprehensive about sharing my reasons because I’m quite aware the subject could attract a heated debate. This is not my intention…it is my experience, my story.

Conversion stories can often be interpreted as an implication that ones who have had a different experience and have drawn a different conclusion regarding religion/spirituality/God are wrong. I do not believe this.

____________________________

It all began a few years ago when I became interested about why people chose their religion. I asked the question: “Is God actually leading individuals to their religion?” I couldn’t fathom that the majority of religions had to be wrong in order for one to be right. How could one religion have it perfectly clear and others have it so wrong?

It didn’t make sense to me. It still doesn’t.

I began to quiz my friends.  Each genuine and kind, they offered thought-provoking statements which gave me more food for thought. By then I had been studying different religions for four years and many considered my studies an obsession. Obsessed or not, questions rattled in my brain:

“How does one’s faith be so strong, they do not question their religion or need to seek out other religions? Is this short-sighted? Or is this simply a matter of having a security in one’s faith?”

I had always felt a special bond towards my father when it came to the Catholic Church. I have many beautiful memories of my father taking me to Mass on special holidays. Whether or not, my father was a ‘good’ Catholic is irrelevant in the sense he had some belief the Catholic Church was true. He felt a duty to at least fight for his children to be baptized and felt in good conscience he was saving us from limbo if we were to die as babies.

My grandmother took me to services at the Baptist church every Sunday. The sermons were often the fire and brimstone kind, yet what I remember most was the music. I always felt a certain feeling of goodness with those old southern hymns. Is there anything more moving than hearing Amazing Grace and Just As I Am?

As a child, I remember feeling as if it would be much easier if I could be one or the other: Catholic or Baptist. I felt drawn…in different ways, to both. Yet, couldn’t honestly call myself one or the other. It never seemed honest.

At the age of twenty, I began studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and was baptized at the age of twenty-three. I will not go into that part of my life just yet…it will have to be an entirely different post all together. I left the Witnesses in 2005 after certain life changing events. The questions I had found myself asking were difficult to push aside. I knew I was living a lie by claiming to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It wasn’t anything against them as a religion…it was me. I should have never joined to begin with and I joined for the wrong reasons.

The thing about leaving the Witnesses…is you have to give up friendships and relationships. That had been a main reason why I stayed as long as I did. I’m not disfellowshipped, but I may as well be. The friends I considered family do not talk to me. That was and is difficult. I miss them.

 When I left…I wiped out everything I had ever been taught…I started anew. A clean slate, if you will.

I read, I prayed, I talked, I bugged everyone I knew who had a faith in God and everyone I knew who didn’t.

I talked to a friend of mine during this time who is Catholic and believes that the Catholic Church is the original church founded by Jesus Christ. She explained to me that her church and other religions are governed by humans, therefore they are subject to sin. A relationship with God should be more important than the religion. It is the personal responsibility of the person to make this a priority, not the religion.

That statement changed my entire outlook.

“It is the personal responsibility of the person to make their relationship with God the priority…NOT the religion.”

Another friend during this time I spoke with is a member of the LDS Church. We were talking over lunch one afternoon and I began quizzing her about religion, spirituality and God. She told me she believed in free agency and told me basically the same thing as my Catholic friend: “The relationship you have with Heavenly Father is more important to me than my religion. My religion enhances my relationship with my Father in Heaven, but it isn’t more important.”

 I read the book Free At Last by Larry Huch and marked it with so many notes and highlights, I ended up having to purchase a new copy. The book explains how Christians can break free from their past. It delves into great detail on how one can find freedom from depression, anger, abuse, insecurity and addiction through Jesus Christ. Looking back, it was meant for me to read this book. As someone who was still trying to heal from a disturbed and abusive past, was terribly insecure, had bouts of hostility  and felt broken on the inside…there was no way I could move forward in my spiritual journey without some kind of healing. It was a stepping stone…and I was able to skip happily (although a bit dorky) towards my destination.

My days were spent praying with more belief and more passion than I could have ever thought possible to muster. I delved into more spiritual topics, intent on knowing Jesus my Savior and God my Heavenly Father.

I studied Judaism, but from the Christian standpoint. After all, Jesus was Jewish! I read my Bible with the mindset of the traditions Jesus taught as a Jewish man. I asked my Christian friends, “Why do Christians choose not to celebrate the Jewish Holidays? Why don’t we celebrate Yom Kippur and Passover? Jesus did!” (I still haven’t received a clear answer!)

In my studies, I learned Jesus died to take away the curse, but not the blessings!

Growing up I had a fear of the fire-burning Hell. I never felt good enough to go to Heaven, but was I really bad enough to go to Hell? Yet, what were the options? It was one or the other!

During my many talks with  friends, visiting churches and attending spiritual lectures, I always felt a strong connection. In every single circumstance. BUT, what I wanted was to have that contentment my friends had in their religion. I could feel the Spirit…but not the contentment in joining another religion. Nothing ‘clicked.’ I couldn’t tell you that the pieces of the puzzle were coming together for me.

Not then, anyway.

One afternoon, I was reading the Bible and I was trying to decide which church the kids and I would attend that Sunday. Something prompted me to go  lds.org and before I knew it…I was studying with two missionaries that same week.

As I’m writing this, I texted Jeff, the missionary who studied and baptized me (you can read more about how he is part of my story here) if he could share his thoughts on teaching/studying with me.

This is what he had to say: “You contacted the church the day I got in the area. I really felt the hand of the Lord in it from the beginning…We [his companion, Elder B.] were excited to teach you and shocked a little bit that you had read The Book of Mormon and bought your own quad.”

(To add to his text…not only did I contact the church when he arrived in our area…he was only in our area one transfer. Six weeks…long enough to teach me the Gospel and see me baptized…which he did.)

It was during one of our studies in which something clicked. I can’t even remember what we were talking about, but I clearly remember where we were and how I felt. We were at the church, studying in the Relief Society room. During the conversation, I had this amazing feeling that I had found what I had been looking for. It was this sense of peace…a feeling of exhalation. I wanted to be baptized which shocked the missionaries because they hadn’t even broached the subject of baptism with me yet. I may have been out of their teaching element…but I went with my heart. Everything made sense to me and I knew…without a shadow of a doubt…even with the discord between my husband and I about my joining the church…it was the right thing to do.

I’ve never regretted it.

When I started living my life according to the teachings of the LDS Church…everything seemed to fall into place. Things just worked. Do not misunderstand me… life didn’t get easier. After my baptism, I had a really tough road ahead of me…but there was and still is this powerful contentment that has never left me.

My life has changed profoundly and I can’t imagine not having this gift in my heart, in my soul.

When I enter Church, read my Scriptures, or close my eyes in prayer…I feel content.

I feel at home.

To follow up: Today, my husband is supportive of my being LDS and has close friends who are Mormon. This past Sunday, for no reason at all…he decided to attend church with me. Whilst he still maintains he’s ‘doubtful’ about there being a God…I have seen small miracles taking place in our home and in his heart.

My Words…Never Cease

Elder Holland’s testimony of continuing revelation.This touched my heart deeply. Each of us can have a testimony on revelation when we study the Scriptures and meditate with prayer and an open heart.

Continuing revelation does not demean nor discredit existing revelation.

Jesus: A Mormon’s BFF

It always strikes me as odd that there is this misconception out there regarding the beliefs that Mormons do not believe in Jesus Christ. People actually think Joseph Smith is our Savior! And if we really want to enter Heaven, then we must look like this:

The ‘official’ name for the church is: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Not Joseph Smith’s Posse.

Yes, Mormons believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son. We are Christians and believe Jesus is our Savior. We do not replace the Bible with The Book of Mormon. It is also not a prerequisite for women to know how to sew, cook, sing and wear hot pink. If it were, I could not be a member of the Church. (I actually like to sing. However, people prefer that I didn’t.)

Mormons do not believe that only Mormons go to Heaven. There is no “If you’re not Mormon, you’re screwed!” doctrine. I find comfort with that and to be honest, I don’t think I could be a member of this church if that was a doctrinal belief. (Not that the slang term ‘screwed’ would be used to explain doctrine in any official church pamphlet. Felt the need to point that out.)

I’m not writing this to sway anyone to embrace Mormonism. It is an explanation…if you happened to have been curious. As this blog grows with more entries, you’ll be able to pick and choose from the categories. There will be a lot…because, well, I have a lot to say.