Always Question…

 

love questions

I had the neatest experience yesterday. I watched the Time Out For Women DVD. I do love the stories and the great faith and courage that people have in sharing their stories. If I could get paid to listen to peoples stories, I would have a happy life.

Anyways, Michael McLean shares his faith journey of feeling like the Lord is quite silent in his life for nine years…it’s beautiful and told by a performer. He referenced the story of John the Baptist. How he related the story of John the Baptist and what it reads in Luke 7:19-23. Was an interpretation of the story that I never heard before.

It was amazing but in all my studies I had never heard it interpreted like that before. As I do when I hear conference talks I began searching for my own witness.

The story is that as John the baptist was in prison, he sent two messengers to go ask Jesus is “Art thou he who should come? or look we for another?” Basically they said, ” Are you really the Christ?”

Instead of giving them an answer he shows them miracles… then tells them to go back to John and report the miracles. They do and we really don’t hear the end of the story. (At least I haven’t found any more…)

But the way Micheal McLean had interpreted this story he thought John was having the faith crisis… that John wanted to know the answers to those questions. I knew Micheal was sincere in his interpretation and at this point of life this is how the story must have struck him or been presented to him. I too, have read scriptures and felt like they might be interpreted a particular way. But I have since learned to keep an open heart. I say to myself, I will believe this unless I am proven false in this idea. How I prove my idea false is I hear modern revelation about  it. Or when I pray and study the holy ghost can whisper that idea is not quite right. Often when I ask a question, the Lord can let me know the answer through others faith and study… I still always take it back to the Source and try and get confirmation from God. Often the answers don’t come immediately some of them take years… but as I continue in faith they do come.

If you, like me purchased the Time Out for woman DVD and heard Micheal McLean share his beautiful faith journey and wondered about John the Baptist and his faith struggle… here is the answer I found in the Institute teacher manual for the New Testament.

Luke 7:18–20. Did John the Baptist doubt that Jesus was the Messiah?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a clear answer to this question:

“Any inference that the Baptist was uncertain or doubtful in his own mind, as to the identity and mission of the Master, is totally unwarranted. In reality, the imprisoned Elias and forerunner of our Lord was using this means to persuade his disciples to forsake him and follow Jesus.

“John knew who Jesus was; the Baptist was not wavering as a reed in the wind. … This act of sending his disciples to Jesus was in effect a final great testimony on John’s part that Jesus was the Lamb of God, for the Baptist knew that his disciples, seeing the Master personally and hearing his teachings, could not help but follow the greater light” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary,3 vols. [1965–73], 1:261–62).

John the Baptist understood an important truth that President James E. Faust of the First Presidency reiterated:

“Each of us has to receive our own witness concerning Jesus as the Christ. We cannot get it secondhand from someone else” (“A Testimony of Christ,” Ensign or Liahona, Mar. 2005, 3).

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Always Question…

A beautiful thing… Choice.

prayerOne of my favorite questions to ask the missionaries is ” What did you learn in your study of Preach my Gospel today?”

Yesterday as I had a lovely dinner appointment I asked my question and was pleasantly surprised when one lovely Elder Klinensmith gave me this reply.

He told me about a quote he read in the section 4,  Recognize the Spirit. This was exactly where I was studying and I hadn’t seen it yet. But I wish when I taught my class about personal revelation I would have had this quote.

Consider the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“[A person may have] a strong desire to be led by the Spirit of the Lord but … unwisely extends that desire to the point of wanting to be led in all things. A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances in which they pray for guidance and don’t receive it. For example, this is likely to occur in those numerous circumstances in which the choices are trivial or either choice is acceptable.”

So often in life I am guilty of this. I want the Lord to tell me exactly what to do and I will follow. But I see the error of my ways. In wanting the Lord to command me in all things I am actually acting against his plan. This lesson really came to a head when I was trying to decide what I wanted to choose as a university career. I prayed and fasted and really wanted to know the Lords will. I considered occupational therapy and felt really good about it. I did well in my classes and then I missed the application deadline and not wanting to put my life on hold for a year enrolled in the University of Lethbridge education program. I graduated as a teacher and always had a little regret that my lack of planning had made me miss my real first decision. At the time I remember being a little upset that I never got a clearer answer to my sincere desire. With time though, I realized I would have made a good occupational therapist, I am a good teacher too… in fact even thought I felt like it was the most important decision of my life I realized the possibilities are endless and the Lord really did just want me to choose. I fought so valiantly in premortal realm for the right to choose and was so willing to give it away the moment a decision seemed to heavy.

I love as Elder Oaks comment continues….

“We should study things out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed within us. Then we should pray for guidance and act upon it if we receive it. If we do not receive guidance, we should act upon our best judgment. Persons who persist in seeking revelatory guidance on subjects on which the Lord has not chosen to direct us may concoct an answer out of their own fantasy or bias, or they may even receive an answer through the medium of false revelation” (“Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 13–14).

When the missionary first showed me this quote… I asked… “Oh this is good… have you ever seen this in your life?”

The Elder has such an interesting answer. He told of a boyhood friend who as praying to know if he should read the book Harry Potter or not. The boy was frustrated as no answer came. His friends trued to explain that this might be one of those trivial matters Elder Oaks was talking about. But he persisted in his questioning. Finally one day he asked a missionary if he had read the book and he said yes and the friend took this as a sign that he should read the books.

Now I don’t know all the circumstances regarding this boy and his story.. nor do I want to judge but I know that I have been equally guilty of seeking desperately for the Lords will when really he just wants me to choose.  Besides I have found that if I choose and am heading in a wrong direction He will lead me gently back to the proper course. But I have learned the beauty and faith that is found in using my beautiful gift of agency that was bought at such a cost. I am grateful that I am learning to have more faith in my ability to choose which way to move forward.

A beautiful thing… Choice.

Lessons from Helamens’ 2000 sons

“But, behold … we trust God will deliver us, notwithstanding the weakness of our armies, yea, and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies.”

Alma 58:37

warrior

I just have to take a moment to write the lesson that the Lord taught me today. It’s simple and beautiful and never has the Lord shown me these verses in this way.

In Alma 58 we see Gid and Teomner, Nephite army captains, waiting for provisions. (vrs 3, 4,7). Finally when they “were about to perish for the want of food” Helaman shows up with his 2000 sons and some provisions. It was sufficient to sustain them but it was all they received. Meanwhile the lamanites were receiving new supplies and men constantly. (We did “contend with an enemy that was innumerable” vrs 8.) This is not the first time God would win a battle with these odds.

Nevertheless, the Nephites began to be “grieved and also filled with fear” (vrs 9). But I love their reaction and think there is a great lesson in here for all of us. Verse 10 begins with “Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people.” I loved how they managed their fears by crying out to their Father who could save and sustain them. When I read and studied this passage I finally felt their real desperation and need. I could imagine what some of those prayers felt like. I know what it is like to pour out my soul to God.

I also know that the next verse is full of truth too. “The Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us, … he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, …that we should hope for our deliverance in him…And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer.”

“There is also another lesson to be found in the response of Helaman and his men to the Lord’s promised deliverance. Rather than idly waiting for God to provide for their needs, Helaman’s armies maintained their faith as they took the initiative and successfully executed a military strategy to take over a Lamanite stronghold. Helaman recorded, “And thus we did go forth with all our might against the Lamanites, who were in the city of Manti” (Alma 58:13). Elder D. Todd Christoffersen has taught, “Likewise, as we plead with God for our daily bread—for help in the moment that we cannot ourselves provide—we must still be active in doing and providing that which is within our power.” ( taken from book of mormon central)

Just like the Nephites of old we too must learn to keep lines of communication of a spiritual nature open. We must seek and plead with God to strengthen us and bless us with a hope of His deliverance.

Elder L. Whitney Clayton has taught: “The promises of the gospel are uplifting and ennobling, even exalting. We receive those promises by covenants which are conditioned on our living lives of purity and morality. When we live right and seek to purify our hearts, we draw closer to God and the Spirit. The condition of our heart determines how much evidence of divinity we see in the world now and qualifies us for the eventual realization of the promise that the pure “shall see God.” Ours is a quest for purity.”

 

Lessons from Helamens’ 2000 sons

You are beautiful…

I interrupt my anger management review for a subject that is weighing heavy on my heart tonight.

body image

One time I sat in a relief society class where we were discussing modesty. Someone made a comment about our bodies being temples. One of the women in the class courageously raised her hand and shared the statement that she didn’t feel like her body was a temple it seemed more like a bouncy castle. We all kinda laughed and related to that statement. Then the conversation continued on with modesty. Something inside me wasn’t right. As I looked around the room no one was struggling with modesty, yet we were all discussing it at great lengths. But we were all guilty of not recognizing how beautiful our bodies really are; and yet we breezed through the comment and continued on.

Why do we relate more to a bouncy house than a temple. Why would the Lord use a temple to describe our earthly tabernacles?

First of all, have you ever seen a temple?  The grounds are always immaculately manicured. They are beautiful and ornate. Have you ever entered into a temple and thought, “Geesh, we really dropped the ball… the architects messed up… the decorators were off their game…” Whenever I enter the house of the Lord I am always impressed with the cleanliness… I find that so calming. I love the attention to detail and am impressed with the beautiful mouldings and design. Sure I may have my favourites, Cardston temple, Washington temple and Provo city center… but there is not one that I consider awful, ugly, imperfect.

So why then when I look at my own temple, my own body, created in the image of the Divine can I look with such a critical eye? Why can I quickly list all the flaws and imperfections? Do I now know my Architect? Am I unaware of the Designer? Do I not know in whose image I really am created? Can I view my other brothers and sisters and celebrate their temples too.

Today I was at the community pool, never an easy place for mortal comparing eyes. But maybe that is the problem. Am I viewing all others with the same critical eyes… putting expectations on their temple too? or am I kinder and more compassionate to others and save that special critic for just my own body? Whatever the answer, we need to view ourselves and others with more love. It’s so hard to not buy into the media image of young, beautiful, thin, sculpted bodies… and its super hard to not go the other way and begrudge those who do take the time, effort and discipline to look amazing.

I guess my point is summed up by these two beautiful ladies…

55909c

May you see the beauty in others and yourself…

You are beautiful…

Anger Management ..coming home.

images

Anger Management ..coming home.

The two hours did pass quickly and even though I found the first class a little slow. I was proud of myself for being there. I was finally facing a weakness head on and it was going to be an adventure.

During this time my family had also taken on another project of renovating our home. I would not suggest doing this at a time you are working on your anger. Renovations bring out its own unique stresses that aren’t always part of your everyday life.

Anyways, I returned home from my first class and immediately started yelling at everyone.  My husband remarked, “I don’t think you should take anger management anymore it doesn’t appear to be working.”

Yelling is never the answer and you can express frustration in a calm voice but I wouldn’t learn that for a few more classes… (Actually I don’t think they formally taught that; some human courtesies are assumed.)

Here is my defense. We decided to do an epoxy flooring. It was relatively inexpensive and durable. We had done two rooms already and thought we had the way to obtain the desired color. I wanted an opaque white. We had purchased a pearl sheen to add to the epoxy and had painted the floor a white. We thought this effect would create a beautiful white with a pearl sheen that would be stunning. When I came home my beautiful pearl sheen was actually a disgusting peachy pink. But this is not what caused me to raise my voice. Not only was my new bathroom a horrid display of pink vomit but my husband and two children were flicking glow-in-the-dark epoxy all over the shower walls and ceiling and the rest of the glow-in-the-dark epoxy lay in a huge orb surrounding my toilet. The peach flooring was interrupted by a glow-in-the-dark ring around the base of the toilet. The scene was too much. I yelled.

I protested, “What are you doing?”

“Making a memory” replied my husband.

“This is awful. This shower looks disgusting,“ I insisted.

To which my husband replied, “It’s unique, it’s the only one in Lethbridge!”

“Yeah, I know why it’s the only one in Lethbridge. No one would want this. You are a professional painter, you wouldn’t do this to anyone’s home. Why are you doing it to ours?”

Actually the first time I told this story I realized how comical it is. But laughter was not my first reaction. Breaking down and crying probably wouldn’t have helped too much either.

But I am happy to report that we did not keep the glow-in-the-dark epoxy on the shower or surrounding the toilet. I don’t even think I took a picture of it. But to end this post I will share one of my favourite quotes…. From a beautiful lady..

The only way to get through li... Marjorie Pay Hinckley
The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.
Anger Management ..coming home.

Blob tree

blob tree

This is a funny little tree. There are several different emotions and feelings expressed on this tree. Every class at the beginning and the end you had to report  where you were as a blob on the tree. I did not like this activity but I did recognize it’s importance. I felt very uncomfortable admitting to everyone how I felt in that moment.  For someone publishing a blog about their life and feelings and the importance of sharing our true stories it seems a little hypocritical. But I am not naturally an extrovert. My older sister and my younger brother have never been shy. They always talked with everyone. But when I was young I was painfully shy. My sister did most of the talking for me. Sometimes there are still remnants of that girl. I have learned to love her too. But I have definitely learned the beauty of being the first one to be vulnerable in approaching strangers. I have also felt the joy of discovering new friends in just opening my mouth and saying hello.

The first week I choose the blob with her arm around the other blob sitting in the branches. Then I think I liked the one on top. I also picked the guy on the platform. After awhile, I started inventing my own blobs too. One week I said I was a blob with my arms wrapping and hugging the tree.

There was a time too where we decided that if you didn’t like the blob tree you could use some adjectives to describe how you were feeling if you didn’t use the words , “good” or “fine” to describe how you were feeling… but that I even found more exposing and was happy to retreat back to the ambiguity of the blob tree.

I found this paper to be really good to teach my children about feelings. They found it easy to relate to the different forms and we had some good conversations about feelings. Even though it was hard I am happy to have learned the skill about how to check into my feelings regularly.

 

Blob tree

Anger Managment

BRAVE is the actual title. I thought they should not try to sugar coat it but just call it what it is; but as I did the eight week course I decided that maybe it was an appropriate title.

 

Brene Brown said

brave

 

I love this quote. She sums up what I feel about my journey. I had to learn how to own my story. Whether I liked some of it or not, it’s mine. Also, loving myself through learning and accepting my story was hard too… But like another great teacher said, “the truth shall make you free.”

 

I had convinced a girlfriend to take this course with me. Just a few days before class started my mind tried to convince me of all the reasons I did not need to take this course.  For example, 8 weeks is a long time away from family, it’s June and that month is always hard and busy, and my anger isn’t really that bad. We both discussed lots of rationalizations as to why this might not be the time that this problem needed to be tackled. But in the end I was glad a good friend had the nerve to say, “ Let’s do it”. Even though initially it was my idea, in all honesty I probably would have backed out if it wasn’t for her example.

 

The very first time that I walked into class I was nervous. I did not know what to expect. But I knew that I would be dressed my best and prepared with notebook and pens. I scanned the room trying to decide where I fit into this crowd. The truth is that I did not want to fit in at all. I wanted to be different, to be the exception. So in my initial scan I figured that most of these people were probably court ordered to be there. At least that is the safety net I tried to create for myself. Ironically, I think most people were just like me. They knew they needed and wanted to change and were humble enough to admit that they needed help.

 

The first class was pretty slow. Lots of paperwork and not much information. We did however learn about anger as a secondary emotion… comparable to the iceberg image below.

anger image iceberg

Basically, anger is the tip of the iceberg. Anger is the secondary emotion. If we take the time to look at the whole iceberg and the feelings underneath, these are what Brene Brown was talking about. It’s an honest look at the discomfort underneath the anger. Its hard to look there but it is a happier way to live… but initially it doesn’t feel that way. But by the end of eight weeks and far beyond I am happy to look at what the real issue is and then I can deal with the real problem. I hope you enjoy my anger management journey too.

 

 

Anger Managment