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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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.

 

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

 

 

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.

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.

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.

Witnessing Without a Word

I like to use the phrase: “Witness without a Word” when it comes to sharing the Gospel with friends and my husband. No one likes a ‘Know it All’. I  find myself being offended when people want to be my friend only in their pursuit to convert me. I know many people like this from many different religions. This is not what Christ teaches us. There’s no ‘Conversion Quota” in Heaven with Jesus keeping a tally.

I don’t like the idea of trying to convert someone for my own glory and benefit. I believe we should share the Gospel with people, but ultimately their heart condition  and their relationship with God is personal. It should be respected. The Gospel is a gift and whilst we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves, we also shouldn’t bang it down on people’s heads.

Sharing the Gospel with just one person brings an amazing amount of joy, especially when it is being received. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus sent the disciples to teach all nations. Everyone deserved a chance to hear the Gospel. No one should be denied the choice.

Being a Missionary isn’t always easy. Sometimes we even have to give up the comforts of home to share the Gospel. In the LDS Church, young men of the age of 19 are able to leave their home and teach the Gospel in another country or state for two years. (Women must be 21) The sons of Mosiah gave up kingship and security to go on their mission to the Lamanites. Sharing the Gospel wasn’t lollipops and jelly beans for them. They endured persecution and suffering. They were spat on and mocked, stoned and thrown into prison. Yet, they prevailed. They knew within their hearts that all they needed to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord was to have His Spirit. They felt if only one soul was touched and accepted the Gospel then what they were going through was worth it.

I struggle with the fine line of ‘Nagging the Gospel” and “Sharing the Gospel” with others. It’s exciting to be a new Christian and we want to shout it off the rooftops! How wonderful is it to have this amazing gift! Yet, we need to be respectful and keep His Spirit with us. Let us not be so haughty that we are only sharing the Gospel to glorify ourselves.

Witnessing without a word is not being a coward. It’s showing others your testimony not with words…but with actions. It isn’t  a fifteen minute conversation with how knowledgeable you are…but it is how you live each day…everyday. You can be the best missionary by being an example…with humility, charity, love and an undying faith in God.

Someone may even one day see how happy and content  you are and may ask:  “Hey, what’s your secret?”