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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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

 

 

Service Shouldn’t Be Stressful

I’m a little stressed. Ha! I kid, I kid. I’m more than a little stressed…I’m a lot stressed! There isn’t enough time in the day to get what I need done and by the evening I’m exhausted. I haven’t exercised in weeks, my house has seen better days in the clean department, I  have writing assignments, school work and there is a list here with a million and one other things that have yet to be checked off. Having a daycare in my home is a tremendous responsibility and I love it, but there isn’t  time for anything other than taking care of the children I’m paid to care for. People tend to forget this fact and think because I work from home then I’m not busy.

Which to be quite frank: Annoys the everliving crap out of me.

In the past, I would say yes to anyone who asked favors from me. Now, because of my time factor, I’m more likely to say no than yes. Which is difficult because it isn’t that I do not want to help people, I do, but there comes a time when a person needs to keep things in the proper perspective and realize-despite all the good intentions in the world-they can’t do it all.

When I do say yes and offer assistance it is after careful thought and prayer. It is a huge blessing for me to serve others, but I have to make sure I’m serving for the right reasons in which resentment and frustration will not overwhelm the blessings given when serving. When we burden ourselves with an overload of activities with the premise of ‘serving’ we can actually find ourselves depleted and tired. It isn’t about the people we’re serving anymore…it’s about us and our martyr facade.

There is a happiness through service, this I believe. I also believe with service there comes a responsibility. Taking time to pray to communicate with our God brings the spiritual power and wisdom for us to serve others properly. And in doing so we not only serve our God, but we reap the blessings of true service.

My Mission

One of the biggest eye-opening moments for me since my conversion was a conversation I had with Elder J before his transfer. This was over two years ago, but I found myself thinking of that particular day this morning as I drove my daughter to seminary.

The missionaries had been recounting their memory of receiving their mission letter which told them where they’d be serving. I was touched as I heard these two young boys share their excitement and some of their concerns about leaving home and traveling to Alaska for their mission. In a state of envy and moved by my eagerness to share the Gospel, I blurted: “Man! I wish I could have went on a mission!”

I’ll never forget the look on Elder J’s face as he stared at me for a moment before replying with: “But Jaime, you are on a mission.”

I was taken aback. No, I’m not on a mission! Are you kidding me? I was only a few days into my being a baptized member of the Church with an angry husband and some confused friends. No one in my circle was happy for me…and certainly had no intention of listening to me share my testimony with them.

Me? On a mission? The only mission I had ever been told I was on was the mission of driving my husband crazy, which he reminds me of this weekly.

Elder J. explained that whilst my mission wasn’t the mission I was envisioning for myself…a letter with family gathered around in excitement as I read outloud where I’d be traveling…my mission was just as important. If anything, I had to be even more diligent, even more resilient in practicing my faith because my husband-whether he believed it or not-depended on me.

Yes, I was on a mission. I still am. And whilst there are days when I lack the demeanor of a missionary, there are those gentle reminders from The Spirit which urge me to always choose the right. I am driven to be a good example to my family and friends and show humility. It isn’t easy…in fact, I probably fail more than I succeed. Yet, I remain steadfast in my faith. It isn’t that I don’t have my days I’m clouded with doubt and disappointment. I’m still very much a human being with the same faults and complexities as anyone…but I never stop trying to be the best person I can be.

My goal each day is to be a humble missionary to all I come in contact with-not just with words-but with my actions. There will be those days in which I stumble into muddy puddles, but if I do not ‘puddle sit’ and whine about the fact I fell-Heavenly Father will extend His hand and allow me to brush myself off and continue down my path. Showing others my human side with my imperfections, is not being vulnerable and weak, but being true to myself. In this way, I believe people are more apt to hearing my testimony and the truths of the Gospel.

As a missionary…I still have to be true to myself but at the same time I must be diligent in keeping the commandments and remain faithful to my God.

Yep, I’m on a mission. It’s been pretty eventful and the cool thing is…it is only the beginning.

You’re Not Helping

Sometimes I find myself thinking: “I do not have anyone helping me!”

Okay, I kid. It isn’t sometimes…it is practically all the time.

The Husband is a neat freak but lacks organizational skills. I’m pretty relaxed with housecleaning chores in the sense I do not see the need to dust the same piece of furniture five times a day. However, I’m a stickler for having things organized. I like things to be in their place…but with six people living in a small house, that’s not always the case.

Yesterday, I found myself in a mood of frustration. The kids and their friends were in and out of the house, dishes were piled in the sink, none of the kids had done their chores and I had a list of things I needed to do before The Husband got home. I was feeling overwhelmed and I started to whine to God: “I need help!”

Immediately, the thought of a conversation I had with my visiting teacher came forth to my mind.

VT: “Jaime, is there anything I can do to help you?”

Me:”Nope! I’m good!”

The same conversation with different people asking the same question came forth like a slide show with my answer always being the same: “Nope! I’m good!”

And there it is.

The truth hit me hard. It wasn’t that I didn’t have help…it was I wasn’t being humble enough to accept the offers of help given.

Pride and being stubborn were the biggest reasons for my declining help. Believe it or not, I’m a private person when it comes to my space. I’m also a tad of a control freak with a dash of laziness. I have a routine and anything that shifts from this routine or has me giving up control makes me want to climb back in bed and pull the covers over my head.

It dawned on me as I was sweeping my living room for the fifteenth time that day...not because of cleaning OCD but because it truly needed it…that my stubborn inability to delegate and my snobbish pride had been blocking me from receiving the blessings of having help AND preventing others from receiving blessings derived from being able to serve.

Who hasn’t enjoyed the feeling of serving someone and knowing in some small way you have made an impact on their lives in their time of need?

I have denied help from people because I didn’t want to admit I was not ‘Super Woman” and couldn’t do everything on my own.There is also this discomfort when I veer off from my routine, even when it is for my own benefit.

Is it just me or are there others who find they have difficulty asking and accepting help? What ways have you found that has helped you get over it?

Serving Online

I had no idea until a few minutes ago when I was surfing the LDS website there are opportunities for members to serve online!

How freaking awesome is that?

Helping in the Vineyard is linked to lds.org and reads:

“This Web site provides access to volunteer service opportunities of the LDS Church.”
The serving opportunities listed include evaluating church documents, indexing family history, translating articles into different languages, and opportunities for techno geeks experts.