Prayer

I have had difficult few months.  Not difficult in the sense of anything truly bad happening to me, but just months in which there are a lot of little things I’m dealing with and a lot of time spent wasted with being worried, instead of being productive.

I’m mentally tired and cranky, feeling as if I’m at a point in my life in which I’m just wading in the water, not really going anywhere. In truth, I’m really not at all that happy. I can’t really explain other than I feel as if I have hit a huge boulder and can’t find a way around it. There are a lot of things I’m dealing with in which there are no immediate solutions.

My prayer life hasn’t been great lately. When I sit down to meditate and have my time with God, I find myself uncharacteristically speechless. My prayers are something out of a Valley Girl dialogue. “Like, yeah, God, you’re like so awesome, like you know, all awesome like. And like, you know, I am like grateful for you and stuff.”  Granted, I do know there is the option of keeping still and communing with our Heavenly Father without words, but I find myself having a double dialogue inside my head which adds to the insecurity of me losing my mind- for reals this time.

Faith is a funny thing. When we are dealing with struggles within our faith, an important question to ask, “Is it really our faith we are struggling with? Or is it what we’re doing-or not doing?”

A lot of my unhappiness has been the way I have dealt with life’s struggles. I have not been praying or even taking the time to look over my scriptures. I am an all or nothing person and if I can’t devote all the time I need for anything,  I tend to throw my hands up in discouragement.

In a moment of what I can only describe as Heavenly Father slapping me to reality (with love, of course) I remembered God is the literal Father to all of us humans. He loves us and is genuinely interested in our welfare and wants very much to communicate with us-if we are open to listen and to turn to Him. Despite all that may be going on in our lives, God tells us that no matter what-no matter how… we should always pray.

Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. (D&C 6:36)

We are all prone to sin. Yet, with that said, God knew all of our shortcomings beforehand, yet He sent His Son to assume responsibility in our place.

A huge part of my drawing a blank in prayer was due to the feelings of shame I felt when I prayed. Understanding and accepting the sacrifice of God’s Son and knowing God is a loving Father, I immediately felt at peace.

And I felt the glowing warmth of His love.

Luke 21:36

2 Thess 1:11

2 Ne. 32:9

3 Ne. 18:15,18

D&C 10:5; 19:38; 20:33; 31:12; 61:39; 88:126; 9:24; 93:49

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Done

Ever just felt done? Done with people and relationships? This entire year of 2011 had been a troubled year of broken promises, relationships and the dealing with unexplained illnesses. Today, I took in a deep breath and muttered, “I’m done.”

Just done.

I have found I am more content inside my home, in my favorite sweats, hair in a bun, working on articles, school work or the never-ending manuscript. I love my daycare kids and working on our art projects and taking long walks. What I have come to loathe is the dynamics between groups of people and how and where I fit in. I never really thought about fitting in because my huge ego automatically thinks I do, so I don’t question it. It’s either that-or the hard truth that I don’t really care.

What happens when you are in a ward and the friendships aren’t real? Gossip is everywhere, hypocrisy is spreading, and the friends you thought you had only viewed you as a ‘project’?

A few months ago, a friend and I shared a day together which included lunch and shopping. Nothing specatacular happened, certainly not newsworthy, but of course, one incident has seemed to make the rounds. (Totally G-rated, legal and actually, boring.) I found myself getting my ghetto on last night when accused of something I didn’t do by a very well known pot-stirrer (I’ll never learn with this one!) and today I get a text by the friend that said  she looks back on our day with regret.

That hurt.

It isn’t only the gossip in which has gotten me down. It is also the hypocrisy.  Don’t do something you can’t own up to. You do it, own it. But don’t play it off as if the other people who have done it are less ‘Christian’ than you because they’re not lying about it.

I want to permanently remove myself from my ward. No longer do I feel a part of the ward family and I was quite comfortable with my decision. I began to bemoan the fact that unlike other denominations, I couldn’t just switch to another congregation. Across town. In another state, perhaps.

Of course, my phone rings.

Voice of reason on the other end.

“Take a break,” she says. “I get that. But do not let this rob you of your right to receive your spiritual time on the Sabbath. Don’t let it rob you of your desire to go to church. With or without hypocrites and gossipers.”

In every church, there is going to be your ‘drama’. It’s the Adversary’s way of creating havoc amongst God’s people. I know this, I get it. However, sometimes, even knowing the logic behind it, a person can only take so much before they finally say, “I’m done.”

Elder Harold B. Lee made a comment at a Branch Conference in a small town in Texas in November of 1942 which I stumbled across whilst writing this entry: He  said, “Be kind, forgiving and overlook the faults of others.”

The reality is everyone at one point or another says unkind things about others. (Raising hand! Guilty.) It does feel as if I’m being singled out (big ego) yet, logically, I know this is not true. I know by shifting my focus from this useless crappola of drama and focusing on the Lord and care only what He thinks about me, I’ll be a much happier and content person.

I’m done with the offensive ghetto-smack down attitude wanting to take down whoever pisses me off. It’s not worth it and it is simply not the legacy I want to leave behind.

Does this mean I’m going to be a doormat for people to stomp on? Um,  No.

It does mean I will treat people with kindness, rather than showing offense by things they say (or don’t say) and treat them in such a way that it  will merit their respect, not their fear.

Simply put: I’m done.

Temptation

I don’t know what it is, but when you’re struggling within your faith, it seems as if Heavenly Father reaches out to you more. The thing is-and this is vital-you have to be willing to listen. He knows your heart and knows what is going on with you. You may not understand it-but He does.

I’m struggling. Not just with spiritual things but in all things. I wonder when the things of the past few years that have crippled my mind, body and spirit will come to an end and I can walk away with some appreciation of the lesson(s) learned.

During this time, one of the things  I think I’m supposed to be learning is being more equipped to resisting temptation. I’m an impulsive person. I like to say I go by instinct, but the truth is… it is more out of my own selfishness.

What is temptation?

The word “temptation” is from the Latin root word tentare, to try or to test, its meaning deeply rooted in Judaism and the Old Testament.

 

Temptation is based on lies and distortion. It is an incitement to sin.  It is a confusing concept because on one hand, we  hear temptation as a good thing. Advertisers use this word to get consumers to buy what they’re selling. Here’s something else in which boggles my mind when it comes to temptation: we’re made in the image of God so we naturally desire goodness and beauty, however, what we may forget is we’re also prone to sin and we’re easily tricked. It is naturally easy for us to accept the appearance of goodness, to embrace it and want to be it, especially if it we think we have found an easier and painless way to achieve it. We want instant gratification.

Temptation is not itself however, sin.

I read somewhere once that those who find themselves beset with temptation on all fronts can probably consider themselves called to prayer and service even more. I know in my own life it is only when I’ve let down my guard or succumb to laziness when the urge to resist the temptations that are sinful is difficult. It is easier to do what is wrong without trying to do what is right.

Pride leads to sinful temptations

My short-term memory is damaged due to illness and this has caused many problems in my relationships. Mainly because of my own pride in not telling people that hey, I don’t always remember what the heck we talked about yesterday, so if I were to meet you somewhere-and didn’t- it is because of not remembering. This has led many to believe I’m not a good friend or not dependable, when it reality, it isn’t the case. I’ve been tempted to lie to cover up this problem and actually have. Pride is another virtue in which can lead to the temptation of sin.

This is what I know: When we decide (and we must decide this!) to live a life of building our faith by praying for strength and wisdom, see evil for what it is, and desire to have the clarity to be virtuous we will be equipped to see beyond the appearances of what seems to be good. We will be wise enough to see beyond the enticing promises of sugar-coated ‘easiness’ and sinful desires.

Be tempted to do good

We also need to remember that being children of God and wanting to serve Him will never be easy. When we have decided (again, it is a decision!) to diligently serve our Heavenly Father, the attacks from the adversary will be relentless. To conquer sinful temptation we need to be humble and trust in God. Let us not be arrogant and feel we are too confident to ask Heavenly Father for help to avoid sinful temptation.

Be tempted to always pray, to study our scriptures, to do good in our community, to love one another-even our enemies-strive to succumb to the good temptations.

Rely on God, not religion

Religion is not your safeguard. I don’t care what religion you are. The relationship you have with your God is your safeguard. Relying on Him-and not the practices of your religion-is of the utmost importance. Don’t get me wrong here-I’m not saying religion is a bad thing-I’m only saying it can’t be the ONLY thing and it cannot replace your relationship with God.

Accepting it will never be easy

Avoiding situations where the temptation to sin is great, should be a no-brainer. It isn’t rocket science, but still we will always struggle. It is in our nature not to want to miss out on what seems to be fun and an exciting time. Not allowing ourselves to fall into situations to begin with is the easiest way to go…

But whoever said life was going to be easy?

 

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.

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.

 

Welcome Love and Kindness

Last night, my husband and I had dinner with another couple whom we hadn’t seen in a couple of years. All seemed to be going okay until the conversation shifted to mutual acquaintances. There was an abrupt comment made by the wife as if to basically shut the conversation down.  I was about to respond when I felt the immediate urge to close my mouth. In my mind I saw the sentence: “It isn’t about you. I was about to take her comment personally and counter-attack with lady like venom and prestige. (As you do.) Yet, having the immediate urge to not speak and take a minute-I saw the statement made from her perspective. It wasn’t towards me or my husband at all. It was a statement, pure and simple. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Creating drama in our lives with snappy words and harsh comments is a symptom of resistance. We are resisting relationships and are robbing ourselves from seeing the good in people. This type of drama is baseless and a waste of time. Words should always be spoken to lift others up, not bring them down. When we’re always ready to be on the offensive by what words are thrown our way,  it’s time to take a step back and think for a few seconds before reacting.

It isn’t always about you.

One of the things I’ve found to help me keep this thought always in my heart is to begin each day with a plan to love. If I’m about love and kindness then I will attract love and kindness. Even if I find certain words spoken by others to be rude or hurtful, by coming from a place of love and kindness, my first assumption would be that they too are coming from the same place.

It’s easy to find a way to twist words around and make them into something they’re not. If we resist love and kindness and strive for drama and chaos, then that is what we’re going to get.

Love and kindness are two wise attributes for a person to have. True kindness is described by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:32:

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

 

It is in kindness and love I write this post. If you do not get anything from this post other than the fact that you can finally say you are reading a blog created by a half Puerto-Rican, half Hillybilly who is a recovering alcoholic with a mental illness who converted to Mormonism and lives in Alaska…then I’ve done a great job.

You’re welcome.

*Charm and wit were also included in the writing of this post…and again…you’re very welcome.

Obedience

Today, I’m thinking about obedience.

Many people feel that the commandments are burdensome and that they limit freedom and personal growth. But the Savior taught that true freedom comes only from following Him: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32). God gives commandments for our benefit. They are loving instructions for our happiness and for our physical and spiritual well-being.

Why is it so difficult to be obedient? I’m ashamed to admit I’ve always struggled with the act of obedience. I’m a natural rebel and question everything. It is a challenge for me to remain obedient. This may come as a bit of a shock to those who know me personally. (Sarcasm for those who don’t.)

I work very hard to always tell the truth daily no matter what. Telling the truth should be easy, but I often find myself wanting to tell ‘little white lies’ to spare someone’s feelings or avoid confrontation. (What’s the big deal of omitting exactly how much money I spent to The Husband?)

This thought appeared in my head when I was thinking of this topic of obedience and honesty: little white lies accumulate to such the point it will be difficult to differentiate from what is the truth. It seems as if it isn’t a big deal-these little white lies that aren’t hurting anyone-but in truth (irony) is it is inflicting damage to one’s soul.

Years ago, I saw this example about what lies-any kind of lie- can do to your soul. You take a glass of water which represents your soul. There is also a little bowl of black dirt which represents a lie. You have a regular teaspoon for your big whopper of lies and your first finger and thumb will be for your white lies in which you’d add only a pinch to the clean water AKA your soul.

Above the picture is of a clean glass of water. No lies have been told. Imagine adding only a pinch of dirt for one of those little white lies…only a tiny little pinch…would you still drink the water?

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving. …”

~President James E. Faust (1920–2007), Second Counselor in the First Presidency

Aristotle said that wicked men obey because of fear and that good men obey because of love. (See Useful Quotations, ed. Tyron Edwards, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1933, p. 428.) Ask yourself: Are you obedient because of love or because of fear?

We  have free agency in which we can decide to be obedient in all things or not. I’ve found myself justifying my rebellious attitude by implying it is part of my genetic make-up as if can’t be helped. (IE: “That’s just the way I am, deal with it.)

Obedience is the beginning of wisdom and wisdom will come to the humble who are obedient.

The gift of wisdom comes to those who seek it with humility. “Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God … ;

“For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite” (D&C 136:32–33).

When I study my Scriptures, make time for prayer and listen to uplifting wholesome music, my demeanor is different from if I never read my Scriptures, didn’t pray and listened to music unbecoming for Christians. Our spiritual diet is as important as our physical one. If we eat bad foods that taste good more than we eat the healthy stuff…we have the instant gratification in the taste but have the long-term effects of what that junk food does to our bodies.

It’s interesting how easy it all really is…how if we do the things our Heavenly Father commands of us we will not only be in the act of obedience…but we will be exercising  faith and enjoying the wonderful blessings bestowed to us.

It’s so easy…

Yet, we still struggle, because as easy as it all is, we have the Adversary throwing down the hurdles and blinding us with harmful detours. It is not a matter of what is the right thing to do, it is the matter of doing what is right…easy or not. This is faith. This is wisdom. This is obedience.


(From LDS.ORG)

Feeling the Love of the Lord through Obedience

President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Why are we such a happy people? It is because of our faith, the quiet assurance that abides in our hearts that our Father in Heaven, overseeing all, will look after His sons and daughters who walk before Him with love and appreciation and obedience. We will ever be a happy people if we will so conduct our lives” (“What Are People Asking about Us?” Liahona, Jan. 1999, 85; Ensign, Nov. 1998, 72).

How Can You Find the Strength to Be Obedient?

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985): “When we are inclined to think it is vain to serve the Lord, we should stir our faith, believe in the rich promises of God, and obey—and patiently wait. The Lord will fulfill all his rich promises. … To the faithful, lavish rewards are offered. Blessings beyond one’s understanding will come. … Great as are the blessings in mortality which follow righteousness, they are dwarfed beside those awaiting in the world to come” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 305–6).

Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “You will need the help of heaven to keep the commandments. You will need it more and more as the days go on. … But you can bring the protective powers of heaven down on you by simply deciding to go toward the Savior, to wait on him” (To Draw Closer to God [1997], 98).

How Has Obedience Blessed Your Life?

Mosiah 2:41 : “Ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. … They are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “We can … know, through obedience, how much God loves us as his immortal children. It happens just as President Brigham Young said it would: ‘How shall we know that we obey [God]? There is but one method by which we can know it, and that is by the inspiration of the Spirit of the Lord witnessing unto our spirit that we are His, that we love Him, and that He loves us. It is by the spirit of revelation we know this’ (Deseret News Semi-Weekly, 26 Nov. 1867, n.p.). If we can get that witness for ourselves … , then we can cope with and endure well whatever comes” (“The Pathway of Discipleship,” Ensign, Sept. 1998, 7).

Susan W. Tanner, Young Women general president: “Each week we renew our baptismal covenants to take His name upon us, to ‘always remember him,’ and to ‘keep his commandments’ (see D&C 20:77). We are steadfast in Christ when we do these things, and our spirits are lifted and our hearts are filled with love. … Covenants enlarge our hearts and allow us to feel the ‘love of God and of all men’ (2 Ne. 31:20)” (“Steadfast in Our Covenants,” Liahona, May 2003, 101–2).

John 15:10 : “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.”

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.

Tips to Begin Your Day in a Positive Light

Having to deal with insomnia when your workday begins at 4:45am should be non-existent. There should be something to prevent this from ever happening. I went to bed at a decent hour, but could not fall asleep. I found myself wandering through the house, flipping through books, the television, going back to bed trying those silly sleep exercises like counting sheep and saying the alphabet backwards…but for whatever reason…sleep wouldn’t come.

Well, I finally succumbed to sleep around 4am. And my alarm promptly went off at 4:45am.

Needless to say, I found myself in one of my moods this morning, shuffling through the house in my PJ’s and even driving my daughter to seminary in them. I thought of all the million and one ways in which my life could be better and systematically pondered on all the negative things going on in my world. Somehow in the midst of this thinking, I had decided that today was going to be a pretty terrible day and went ahead and counted all the ruminations that would undoubtedly make it so.

Without realizing it I had confessed in confidence that I would have a terrible day. Did I want a terrible day? No, of course not. But in my negative mood I didn’t seek happiness or even want it. I was miserable and couldn’t see pass my misery.

I’m a charmer in that way.

Years ago, I had printed out a list of things for my family and I to do individually to prepare for a good day. I haven’t been following the tips because in my need to be an ultra control freak, I guess I had decided I didn’t need it.

I’m cute like that.

I figured this morning would be as good as any to put these tips into practice and also use it for today’s post:

TIPS FOR BEGINNING YOUR DAY IN A POSITIVE LIGHT

  1. Give a prayer of thanks. Make time this morning to give thanks to your Heavenly Father for all the blessings in your life.
  2. Ask Heavenly Father to give you wisdom and protection as you go throughout your day.
  3. Take a few minutes for some scripture reading. Write down a verse and keep it on you today.
  4. Did you make a To-Do List? Look over your list and make a plan for the day to accomplish your tasks.
  5. Pamper yourself this morning. No matter what the day holds, make yourself beautiful. Feeling good about yourself makes you shine with confidence and you will undoubtedly help others you come in contact with shine.
  6. Make sure to tell your loved ones you love them.
  7. Make someone’s day today by doing something for them. An act of service is a blessing for both parties!
  8. Remember to laugh today.
There you are…eight little tips on how to start your day off right. If you need me I’ll be napping in a corner somewhere…
Do you have tips of your own to start your day off in a positive light? Please share in the comment section below!

 

 

Atonement, Repentence and Addictions

Most of us know the scripture in Matthew 6:24 in which we are told we are not to slave for two masters. I have to always go back to that scripture daily…so I will always remember I was once a slave to two masters.

I am an alcoholic/addict.

As an addict, converting to Mormonism wasn’t easy. At the time, giving up alcohol wasn’t a huge deal. I didn’t believe or even consider I was an alcoholic. I believed this based on how I drank compared to others in my life who suffered from the disease. No, I didn’t drink everyday. I could go months without drinking with ease. Yet, when I finally became honest with myself and looked at the reasons WHY and HOW I drank…I knew I had a problem.

Drinking was my escape. Tequila was my outlet I used to ease my anxiety, cover my insecurities and lose my inhibitions. I’ve always been somewhat of a dork in a socially awkward way. I have a moronic laugh and I’m anything but graceful. That’s how I am sober. Apparently, I thought drinking erased my social quirks. Turns out…they only enhanced them…I just didn’t care.

Alcoholism isn’t a black/white disease. It isn’t the same for everyone. When I accepted I had this disease, I was already a baptized member of the Church. I had some slip ups and it was only after I fell into old habits that I had to come to terms with the truth concerning this illness.

Here’s the thing about addictions of any kind: you can not get help for your addictions until you accept and understand you’re powerless against them. You can not do it on your own.

As a Christian…you have to take it one step further: you must grasp, understand and accept The Atonement.

Atonement of Jesus Christ

As used in the scriptures, to atone is to suffer the penalty for sins, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him or her to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of carrying out the Atonement for all mankind. Because of His Atonement, all people will be resurrected, and those who obey His gospel will receive the gift of eternal life with God.

For years…without even realizing it…I was a slave to alcohol and prescription drugs. I thought I was okay because hello…LOOK AT ME. I do not look like a drunk. I’m little. And cute. And I speak with a southern accent.

Alcoholics surely cannot be little, cute and speak with a southern accent. Right?

In His loving and firm way, God showed me I was fooling myself. As a creator of false facades in many areas of my life, I convinced myself and others that I didn’t have a problem with addictions. I had somehow shifted and justified my sins in order to be a slave to the illness.

Why?

Well, because it was fun.

Drinking was fun…in the beginning. That stage of drinking most call ‘tipsy’ is exhilarating. I always wanted to stay in that phase…yet as my tolerance level grew…the shorter the tipsy phase would be. And because I always felt I had something to prove, I’d find myself in these situations in which I tried to out drink everyone. I think my reasoning was because I was little. And cute. And spoke with a southern accent.

The first time I spoke the words: “I am an alcoholic” was one of the worst and best days of my life. I won’t sugar coat it…I felt as if I was a failure. I didn’t want to admit to alcoholism and addiction. It didn’t seem fair I had to say those words and do the steps and go to meetings and then REPENT? I had to repent too? Are you kidding me?

I didn’t want to repent to God. I was really mad at God.

Being angry with God did not align well with repentance. I was angry with God for allowing my life to be so messed up. It didn’t seem fair He created me to have all these things wrong with me.

My anger with God led me toward a season of rebellion. I gave up caring and trying to  live a spiritual life. I felt as if I had given everything I had to be a good Christian woman and I kept failing. So what can a person do but throw their hands in the air and give up? May as well have some fun!

Alma 34:32-34 tells us we shouldn’t procrastinate repentance. We will all have to one day answer for our sins and be held accountable. My having the disease of alcoholism wasn’t the sin…it was my ignoring it and acting with a rebellious heart that was sinful.

The fun of drinking was long gone. I knew that, but I wanted it to be true again. What was fun about it? Who can really say at this point…most of those days are hazy. Drinking can only be fun for so long for an alcoholic. The fun never lasts.

To admit weakness is also not a sin. In the scriptures we can find many righteous and humble men who admit their frailties: Moses, David, Peter, Paul, Alma, Ammon…those are only a handful of examples. When we repent…we acknowledge regret for doing the things that separated us from God. Admitting our sins isn’t weak…it is the buildup of strength in which creates a stronger bond between us and our Heavenly Father.

Accepting The Atonement of Jesus Christ for me was a huge factor in my recovery. Elder Boyd Packer explained it best: “Atonement is really three words: At-one-ment, meaning to set at one, one with God; to reconcile, to conciliate, to expiate.”  The Atonement could cleanse me of sin…but only after the condition of my repentance.

It seemed as if I would never live the life Heavenly Father created me to live. I continued to make the wrong choices, made excuses, and honestly didn’t care…as long as I was having fun! Then one day, life wasn’t fun anymore and the things I was doing in the name of fun had turned ugly. Yet, I couldn’t repent because I felt as if I wasn’t good enough to be a daughter of God.

Then one day I realized I wasn’t that “great” not to be forgiven for my sins. Yeah, I’m little. And cute. And speak with a southern accent…but I’m not that powerful.

Here’s the thing that we all must accept: We will never be so powerful to be to messed up for our Savior to redeem.

Ever.