Tag Archives: faith

Gratitude Journal Challenge: Day 1

Standard

Well, as I’m looking for things to make me write, to dust off my creaking fingers and cogs, I figure a 30 day gratitude challenge is as good as anything to start me off. Some of these particular may be quick drafts to be fleshed out more in the future, some may get a long form shot out right. Who knows!? So, here goes…

#1: How has an “attitude of gratitude” blessed you in the past?

My life hasn’t been a bed of roses. Though the majority of the “rough stuff” occurred prior to my marriage in 1992, there has been plenty of buffeting about in the past 27 years, too. I don’t believe I could be as functional as I am today without a sense of gratitude.

Sad to say, but not unexpectedly, it took a number of years for the comprehension of my blessings to develop. Yet, once it did, it made understanding my life’s challenges much easier…and it has kept me sane. It can be easy to stew in the anger that often results from loss and disappointment, to muck about in the mire of regrets and “what-ifs.” Yes, it’s very easy, but not productive for oneself or those near by.

As long as we live, we will have trials, things to stretch us- often beyond our sense of comfort. I’ve had a few times I’ve screamed “UNCLE” at God, among other things, but these crisis moments have been short lived.

Several years ago, after my car accident, after my last knee surgery, when I was trying to make a racewalking “comeback,” but everything that could go wrong biomechanically was and I had to stop walking. My mental health was not the best, as it felt like my body was rebelling for no good reason other than to piss me off. Nothing was working. 

It was then that I happened upon a disabled vet who had lost both legs above the knee because of an IED. We chatted for a few minutes about his injuries. He noted that he missed being able to run and play with his kids like before (and here I was whining about not being able to exercise in my preferred manner). It was definitely a sobering moment, a reminder that we just don’t always get what we want, but more often than not we have a helluva lot more than many others. Interestingly, this young vet told me he’d had his own moment at the gym one day, when he ran into a vet missing an arm. “At least I can still play catch with my son,” he observed.

It is during such times that I am grateful for the “smallness” of my struggles. I am still unable to racewalk, but I am little hindered anymore as I scale ladders for work. Yoga doesn’t feel as good as it once did, but I am still more flexible than 95 percent of the population! I still deal with depression, and was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (low thyroid) and I’m barrelling headlong into menopause, but I’m not bi-polar or schizophrenic, my thyroid issue was caught early (I had no idea!), and I can afford bioidentical hormone replacement (though I white hot hate being pelleted in the hip every 3 months!). Even my childhood traumas, and there were a few, including a broken home and sexual abuse, don’t hold a candle to the pitted path upon which so many others walk every day. 

No, I shall take my troubles and simply say ‘thank you’ to God for having the support network, the mental and physical health, the financial resources (for a therapist, and life), and my faith in a better world to come. I don’t want the difficulties others must endure. Mine are quite enough. Perspective truly is everything!

 

Activism Over Obedience? Not for this Crazy (former) Red Head.

Standard

Note: this is another post started a while ago, but which has been sitting unfinished in my drafts. Nevertheless, it is of sufficient weight for me that I feel the need to compete it for posting. Started in October 2018.

_________________

I am a proud member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and every six months we have this thing called General Conference. It’s a big deal- lasting ten hours, spread over the first Saturday and Sunday of both April and October. Been that way forAChristus2 many, many, many years, and will likely continue that way for many more years to come.

At General Conference, the leaders of the church, collectively known as “General Authorities,” who include our prophet (also called the president), our apostles, our seventies (yes, we believe those are still necessary offices in the authoritative leadership of Christ’s kingdom on Earth), as well as women who serve in high leadership positions, speak on important topics concerning the Atonement, Christ’s mission, our doctrine, the world, our responsibilities as Christians, and a myriad of other subjects, all with the intent to push us to strive for a higher purpose.

Well, the other night in the course of the Women’s Session, which is held only once a year in the fall General Conference (the men get their own session in spring), our beloved prophet Russel M. Nelson issued an invitation, as seen in this graphic. It was a powerful invitation, and one I, and many other sisters, did not take lightly. Social media accounts went silent through out the world- some almost immediately. It was definitely an E.F. Hutton moment (Google that, youngsters).

Why? You might ask. Well, again, we Latter-day Saints believe in prophets, and most of us still believe they speak for God. As such, their counsel is not on level with just any old motivational speaker or religious leader. No, the prophet and apostles are more like Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Isaiah were for the Jews: men with a mantle of authority, called of God and able to receive revelation for the body of believers.

Alas, just as many in Israel took their prophets’ counsel for naught and mocked those anointed to leadership, so do plenty in our world-wide congregations of modern-era saints. Since I am a small, very small, business owner, I had to at least keep up with my business social media accounts, but I did do as asked and chose to steer clear of my personal accounts and new feed…mostly. Very quickly I repented of the “mostly” part of the preceding thought.

Apparently, asking women to temporarily and voluntarily minimize the negative influences of social media and digital devices, influences which I thought an abundance of digital ink had been spilled in recent years documenting, is tantamount to asking women to wear ball gags, handcuffs, foot bindings, and burkas!

Sadly, I only knew this because I failed to avert my eyes from the darn FB newsfeed, which was alight with stories of women howling to raise the roof about this “misogynistic” request, which was “clearly” meant to stifle women’s political voices in the run up to the mid-term elections. Not to mention the “obvious” fact that the men weren’t asked to do something similar (their (the brothers’) conference is in April… maybe they will (or maybe social media isn’t as big an issue for men)). The travesty! Like Lot’s wife in the Old Testament, I felt like I had been turned to salt for looking.

Nevertheless, yawn. In the popular phrase, I will take refuge: sorry, not sorry. Of all the things by which to be offended in culture, the simple request by our prophet to take a break from the negative and time sucking influences of social media, to read the scriptures, to attend the temple, and to participate in our church women’s group (Relief Society), should fall way at the bottom of the list.

But no, not in 2018. In 2018, everything just be questioned. Every benign request from a male to a female must be scrutinized for motives, for surely they are nefarious. Every suggestion to improve. Every comment that isn’t equally directed towards the men. Every opportunity to run down leaders and assert one’s “right to…” must be taken, and taken publicly, with as loud and large a platform as possible. Indeed, I found the response by some supposedly believing, active female members of my faith to such a simple suggestion to be akin to burning down a house to kill a single ant. The perpetual outrage is ridiculous… and usually misplaced.

Get. A. Grip.

There was nothing of love, perspective, grace, or even thoughtful consideration or constraint in the stories I read of the aggrieved. Unremarkably, in several articles I read on the “firestorm,” it seemed the conservative-leaning women moved more easily towards compliance or “obedience” to the prophet’s request, egregious as some may find those terms. Whereas, more left-leaning women, whose primary concern appeared to be political activism in the weeks after the Kavanaugh hearings, seemed to have a knee-jerk “Hell, no!” What the hay, ladies?

The later response left me shaking my head to the point of dizziness. I freely admit there are a things in my faith with which I struggle from time to time, but like Paul, who in 2 Corinthians urges us to keep our eyes on the prize of eternity, not the things of the world, I try not to get bogged down in what are often inconsequential matters of this terrestrial realm.

I’ll drag across the plains, but don’t you dare take away my tech!

Now, lest it be said, “You just don’t understand how important this election is!” I’m very politically active. I get that politics are important. Elections have consequences, etc, etc. However, elections don’t matter more than obedience to a righteous request any more than Saul’s unholy sacrifice to God did in I Samuel 15. Why must “But I…” or “Doesn’t apply to me” be the first response, like a petulant child who believes she knows more than her parents about most any situation?

Gratefully, Faith is one of my spiritual gifts. All things in me draw me towards an Eternal Father, Christ, our resurrected Savior, and the wonderful Holy Spirit. If I believe in those beings, and also believe Christ’s church has been restored in these latter days as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then I am compelled to take the words, challenges, suggestions, and exhortations of our leaders, most of all our prophet, whom I believe is called of God, with due soberness and a mind towards implementation.

What have we to gain by being contrary simply for the sake of being contrary? More importantly, what do we have to lose?

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.    2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 (KJV)

 

P. S. In true Murphy’s Law fashion, my desktop has decided to be a pain in the rear about opening my blog. Alas, I’m having to write in my phone, which I hate almost as much as I hate writing on a laptop. Hence, this post is, for the timeline, ridiculously devoid of appropriate placed visuals and links. As soon as I can get a desktop page opened for editing, I’ll liven things up!

Something Much Better Than Overpriced Roses and a Sugar Coma

Standard
Something Much Better Than Overpriced Roses and a Sugar Coma

The three most important words ever uttered are not “I love you,” but rather, “It is finished.”


btwPreface: I have decided that I must carve out space to start writing again. In doing so, I am starting by looking through the ten drafts I’ve had sitting on this site for faaaaaaaarrrrrrrr too long.

This particular post is from Valentine’s Day 2017: the day Brownie got accepted into a private school for her freshman year of high school. As overjoyed as I was in the original post, last year it became screamingly obvious that school, the one for which I prayed, was not the place for Brownie to thrive for another two years. My more studious, philosophical Blondie might have flourished there, but it became suffocating to my more… light-hearted…Brownie.

You see, dear reader, somewhere in the early days of the 2018-19 school year, Brownie finally convinced me to pay for voice lessons. Annnnnnd that changed everything. She is just not a classical Christian school kind of girl, and certainly not if that school is under 160 kids, K-12, with few opportunities for exploring her seriously amazing voice. Nevertheless, more on that later. Suffice it to say, School A was the right place at right time, but School B, with its expansive choir and drama departments, will see Brownie through to graduation. Praise be!

Oh, yes, an an additional aside, Blondie went on to start school at BYU-I in January 2018. As they are on a trimester system, her school terms run from the frwhatozen days of early January to the more temperate end of July. She comes home for 6 months, helps me with my business (also, gotta write about that!!), then heads back up. However, she’s only got one more trimester to go. January to April, and then she’s only got a summer internship to complete to wrap up her illustration degree. Tempus doth indeed fugit!

There was a clear indication I had other thoughts to add way back when, but I think where I left off works well enough as an ending, I’ll just let it lie.

      ——————————————————————————————————————————
My heart is very full tonight, and none of it has to do with what many would consider a “traditional Valentine’s.” Somewhere between spending two years in the pit of depression a decade and a half ago and the stresses of mothering two high intensity girls and wifing a type A work-a-holic, my inner romantic realized there was a lot more to life and marriage than roses and chocolate once a year. Overpriced flowers & crap in place of the strawberries I’d much prefer doesn’t do much for me. Yeah, got a little too practical for my own good. So, Valentine’s… Meh.

Nevertheless, lots of wondrous, marvelous stuff today…

~ My Brownie has a place for school next year that is an answer to my frequent and fervent prayers; and I cannot express the pure love I felt pour out on me when I saw the acceptance email this morning from the small classical Christian school to which we made application last month. God, indeed, hears our prayers and knows our needs…ours and those of our children. Through tears I said ‘Thank You!’ over and over again.

We have homeschooled Brownie (in one form or another) since 2nd grade, but the older she’s gotten the harder it has become. When Blondie came “home” for high school and stepped directly into college classes, I became her chauffeur to two different campuses, 25 and 45 minutes from home, respectively, and her “required on campus guardian” for two solid years. When you are constantly in and out of the car, killing time here and there, particularly when it entails dragging a kid with ADD along for the ride, and expecting her to get anything out of your time together…yeah, not cool. Brownie suffered in the process, and so did I. Blondie, however, will graduate high school with 75 hours of college under her belt. But it hasn’t been accomplished without a tax on her younger sister and an increasing strain on the relationship between Brownie and I. Please, pile on the mother guilt. Heap on the ashes.

Despite trying on-line classes, small Great Books-styled pre-college classes at one of Blondie’s campuses, and a few one-on-one subjects mother y daughter, I finally, with the help of hubby and Blondie, ceded my dreams to reality on New Year’s Day and we started searching for a private school we could (choke) afford and still…eat… and put gas in the cars! Very quickly, we focused in on two excellent prospects. Within a month, however, it was crystal clear there was only one choice; gratefully, God agreed.

~ After deciding to have Blondie skip her 9:30 class and me opt out of my usual Tuesday morning scripture group due to some hellacious rain and tornadic winds in the area through which I chose not to drive, the girls and I a blessedly relaxed morning. Unfortunately I considered the holiday a little too late and got to the south side of town too late to meet Hubby for lunch (when your day starts at 4:30 a.m., lunch comes pretty early).

Despite missing my scripture group, which is made up of some dear ladies with whom I look forward to studying God’s word every week, and my husband, I got to speak to two dear friends- and on the phone no less (not usually my favorite mode of communication, but a necessary evil at times). First I talked to a fellow athlete wannabe who is such a stalwart spirit and a sweet, thoughtful soul (much sweeter and more thoughtful than me most days). She actually thinks to pick up her phone and call people. I think of a 100 different ways to get around phone calls! Then, a bit later, my BFF rang me up to congratulate me on Brownie’s school acceptance. I am always grateful for her calls. Seeing as neither of us are big “phone people,” it means a lot. I’m thankful that at this point in our lives neither of us requires an umbilical attachment to maintain the blessing of our friendship, which has dragged out over nearly two decades and several moves. Great is the blessing and the joy that is a low maintenance friendship with the person to whom I would entrust my children.

~ Picking Blondie up from classes has been a high point of my days since she was a freshman taking Great Books I and Philosophy from a local Christian university. She is always so willing to communicate what she has learned; her passion for learning is an energy source of its own. One of her courses this semester is the VERY intense “Art of Storytelling,” taught by two men who spent time writing and working in the movie industry in California. It is a class that lights her up when she considers her future. She wants to work on movies that cut the political crap and the filth; movies that make people remember the days when films were of good quality AND entertaining- for everyone. Alas, one of her frustrations with the kids in her class, and at this university, in general, has been the quality of expression of their religious values. The way they speak (word choices), they way they dress (barely, in some instances), and the way they demonstrate their faith has been quite puzzling to her. Today (this being several days post-Valentine’s that I am working on this post), for example, a girl came to her art class class wearing a t-shirt with “Magical Motherf*****” emblazoned across the front! Really?!

Well, for Tuesday’s class they had had the assignment to watch the Brandon Routh/ Kevin Spacey “Superman” from 10 years ago or so. The students had to do a write up on it to be turned in, but the class also discussed it amongst themselves. In my chat with Blondie, she observed how difficult it was for her to wrap her mind around a film in which the creators tried so hard to sell Superman as a type of Christ, yet they chose to give him an illegitimate child? Yeah..connection fail. However, not a single kid mentioned that as an issue. Lots of other stuff, yes, but not ‘knocked up Lois Lane.’ Furthermore, not

saywhat

her kid in class made the comment, “Most people I know, and I’m sure most of us in this generation, don’t really think about being Christian except during church on Sundays. I mean you do the church thing and then you go back to what you were doing.” He meant it, too. He wasn’t joking. No one dissented, at least not vocally. Blondie desperately wanted to speak up, to challenge him with, “I DON’T! What is the point in calling yourself a Christian if you don’t demonstrate it by your actions and let it show in your countenance every day!?”…but one of the profs shifted gears shortly thereafter, and her moment was lost.

happyvholyShe has said it a few times in recent months since taking classes only on the main campus, but today, there was a heavier weight to her sentiments: “I thought the difference between the students at [the local junior college] and those at [the Christian university] would be greater, but it isn’t. You still hear foul language, maybe not as much, but they are just as unapologetic and open with its use. The kids at the university aren’t even as friendly as the ones at the junior college, but then to hear ones I’d expect to be more serious in their faith treat it with so little reverence? Well, I’m just looking forward to seeing if there isn’t a more serious expression of faith in the students at BYU (where she’s hoping to go after Christmas break).”

I warned her not to get her hopes too terribly high, people are still people, but ‘yes,’ I think BYU actively cultivates the Spirit in its student body (I’d love some feedback on this point). No doubt the profs at the Christian university are serious about their walk with God, but sadly, it’s not immediately visible in the students- cross necklaces and themed t-shirts aside. They are young though. How many of us didn’t have our own true conversions as adults until our mid to late 20s, or older? Still, I am so grateful to have a kid with her head and her heart pointing to Christ with such depth and understanding at this point.

I’m OK With Being on the “Wrong” Side of History If It Means being Alright With God (and the US Constitution)

Standard

“Eros ceases to be a devil only when it ceases to be a god”  C.S. Lewis

“They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.” Doctrine and Covenants 1:16

When I heard about the Obergefell v. Hodges verdict on the morning of June 26, my heart sank. It did not fall because I am a bigoted, hateful, homophobic religious freak who wants to keep gays down, as most activists, or liberals in general, would claim. It sank because I believe in the Constitution, not case law; and I believe in States’ Rights in so much that I believe the voices of the people of each state have a right to be heard, even if the opinion(s) they voice aren’t trendy or popular with some who really like trendy and popular things. Seriously, for a political party that cries so loud and so hard about the “disenfranchised” voters (think back to the hanging chads in Florida during the 2000 election cycle), one would think Dems/ “Liberals,” who are the ones screaming louder than everyone else in favor of gay-everything (and against God-anything) would care a hair more about overturning the votes of millions in multiple states that included many of the same sorts of folks who were supposedly cast on the side lines during Bush v. Gore!man-woman

I also believe that unless a judge or a panel of judges can point directly to the Constitution when they make any legal decision, and in the case of Obergefell they didn’t even try, then a decision should not be allowed to stand. No, all the five unapologetic liberal judges (well, Kennedy, he doth vacillate) did was pull that decision out of their La-La Land handbag where the unicorns and rainbows frolic (the same place Roberts found his two decisions on Obamacare, btw). By doing so, these puffed up demigods in black gave the final “middle finger” salute to the faith and freedom of conscience held dear by millions upon millions of Americans. Indeed, the religious folks, at least that aren’t just marginally so (you know, those who believe more in the “social” gospel than the actual Gospel), and particularly those Christians, Jews, and Muslims who find much to object to even the concept of “gay marriage,” were just told that they may be looking at the final act of their REAL, unambiguous, not-court-created First Amendment rights in a variety of areas.

Is it not enough that kindly declining to participate in a gay marriage ceremony or celebration can cost a business owner his livelihood? Apparently not. It is clear to me, and has been since Massachusetts got gay marriage via judicial fiat that this issue was never, ever about “love;” it is about retribution, about punishing those who deviate from the current culturally dictated, media driven norms. It is about power. Love, and certainly not tolerance, not in the traditional sense of that word anyway,  play no part in this argument. No, this whole “Love is love” mantra that has been fabricated to appeal to the softened heads of “enlightened” Millennials and their ilk, is just a red herring. If it were just about love, then passing civil union laws and using existing contract law would do just fine. But what is loving about shutting down adoption agencies because they don’t want to adopt to gay couples (when others will)? What is loving about ruining someone’s business because they express a religious objection to participating, even obliquely, in a gay wedding (when others will)? What is loving about protesting and demeaning people of faith or firing individuals who support “traditional” marriage, or not allowing judges to be judges who are a part of groups like the Boy Scouts (California)? What is loving about being a small-minded totalitarian who demands acquiescence to what SOME in society have deemed the “new normal,” particularly when such a small fraction of society is actually even gay or just plain confused?  Does the majority have an obligation not to trounce upon the minority? Absolutely. Sadly, that is only a one way street in modern society. It is a classic case of the mouse who roared, but this mouse has fangs, carries a gavel, and had been given a pedestal and a bullhorn by the shortsighted folks who are also being into to the argument that men and women are exactly the same, that gender is a “social construct.” Geesh, and they think Creationists are delusional.

Not very Christian of me, you say? I never said I didn’t esteem the beliefs and lives of others, nor did I say I wish ill upon any individual or want others to be unhappy or downtrodden, but I have read more than just a few lines out of my Bible and other scriptures, and I’m pretty sure beyond the concept of loving others and not judging unrighteously, Christ and his Apostles also spoke of self-control, overcoming our very human natures, bridling our passions/ sexuality, being sexually pure, not being party to evil or being blown about by the opinions of society, not to mention drawing near to God with our lips, but being far from Him in our hearts, or trying to serving God and Mammon. And I’m quite sure nothing other than marriage between a man and a woman was ever sanctioned in any of the more successful world cultures throughout history. So, you’ll excuse me if I don’t support the current overhaul of society just for the sake of “love.” Destroying traditional marriage encompasses much, much more than that, as does shredding the Constitution.

Still, because there is so much to say, nay “feel,” as all we feel is now sacrosanct in modern thought (and case law), I’m going to include in this post a series of links that state more fully and articulately my concerns and frustrations about this subject and the SCOTUS ruling.

“If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once. But, of course, when people say, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,’ they may mean ‘the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of’. If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I think it is everything to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips.” C.S. Lewis

#1 Judges, Hubris, and Same-Sex Marriage by Dennis Prager

#2 My own faith’s response to the ruling & The Family: A Proclaimation to the World

#3 Would You “Unfriend” Christianity? The Supreme Court Just Did

#4 The Dirty Dozen: Supreme Court Marriage Decision Launches 12 Religious Freedom Grenades

#5 Justice Roberts: “Just Who Do We Think We Are?”  (Would have been nice if he’d wondered that aloud with his atrocious SCOTUS care ruling!)

#6 The Supreme Court Ratifies a New Civic Religion That Is Incompatible with Christianity

#7 Let’s Drop the Charade: The Supreme Court Is a Political Branch, Not a Judicial One

#8 The Supreme Court Has Legalized Same-Sex Marriage: Now What?

#9 15 Reasons ‘Marriage Equality’ Is About Neither Marriage Nor Equality

#10 Here comes the bride. And another one. And another one! Meet world’s first married lesbian THREESOME . . . and they’re expecting a baby due in July   Truly, who gives a rip about the kids!

#11 Dems Declare War on the Words ‘Husband’ and ‘Wife’ Because mothers and fathers don’t matter, right? It’s just all about ‘love.’

#12 Thomas Sowell: Supreme Court Disasters Erode Freedom

#13 Male-Female Marriage Remains the Ideal  And not just “because”

Some Purely Secular Points, too:  Ten Arguments From Social Science Against Same-Sex MarriageThe Irrationality of Gay Marriage

jefferson

(Unless you are a harassing jerk)

Disagree? Feel free NOT to post. I’ll not be arguing with strangers or friends over this issue. Just suffice it to say that I’ll happily stand with my God, or my interpretation of His, and his prophets and apostles teachings on morality (that’s for ALL, straight and gay alike) and marriage, hence the cogent C.S. Lewis quotes. And I don’t care where that puts me in the mind of those who disagree.

“The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside of marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.” C.S. Lewis

My opinion is just as valid as they suppose theirs to be, but mine is not based on the fluctuating opinions of a fallen world. I am very happy to agree to disagree, and to be friends with those who don’t embrace my worldview. I love many people with whom I disagree on various issues, and contend that political differences should not lead to the dissolution of friendships based on much more than politics. Others, I’ve noted, feel quite differently, however. To each his cup of tea.

_____________________________

Origin of C.S. Lewis quotes in order:
https://www.cslewis.com/blog/spiritual-sins-are-worse/
http://www.pureintimacy.org/s/sex-where-it-all-starts/
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/139095-if-anyone-says-that-sex-in-itself-is-bad-christianity