Friday, October 14, 2016

The Difference

"Do your best, and He will make up the difference," she said, as I have heard said a thousand times before. It's a standard theme, and it is a good theme. I think I wasn't the only one in that room having a mental image of carrying my load, struggling for the finish line, and then falling short, face hitting the dirt. Then Christ comes along and carries me to the finish line, and at long last the race is done.

Yes, it is SO true that I, by myself, do not have it in me to be perfect. Yes, it is SO true, that I rely on Christ's redemptive power to get me where I want to be. Yes, I know that without Him I am nothing. I openly admit to my imperfection.
I love my Savior, and I want to submit a different imagery for his divine influence in this race of life, one that reflects my own experience of Him.

I have been in the post stumble phase my whole life. I feel like I'm in this perpetual state of stumble and He is there the whole time, lifting me up.
At times, it HAS felt like He carried me, but let's be honest here, I didn't enter this to be carried. I came to run, to finish, to become something I wasn't before. So I don't want to be carried.
I want to be strong, like Him. I want to be quick, like Him.
He wants me to be strong, like Him. He wants me to be quick, like Him.
We want these things because we know this race isn't about getting to the finish line, it is about becoming finished. Is He not the "finisher" of our faith? (Hebrews 12:2) Has he not prepared the way for all of us?
Christ won, that we all might win, if we will only try.
There is no competition, there is no clock. This isn't really a race, this is training, crucial, defining, developing, and deciding training.
He is the one who helps me do better. He is with me each step, one at a time. He teaches me how to hold myself. He teaches me how to find the strength, so I can build my strength. He guides, encourages, and sometimes when I am too weak he lifts me and holds me.
The more I walk with Him, the more it feels like we are one, like I'm not falling out of step so much, like somehow I'm truly becoming what I was meant to be all along.
Strength and power flows all through me. Some logical part of my brain tells me that this isn't my strength, because there is no way that this comes from me, so of course it must be His. Yet He smiles, and tells me it is OURS. OUR strength, OUR power, OUR run.
Christ doesn't complete for us, he doesn't finish for us. He completes US. He finishes US. He PERFECTS us. Christ doesn't make UP the difference, He makes the difference, He IS the difference. and He is already at it in your life, whether you know it or not.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Jesus didn't live the "perfect life"

It's my Sabbath, finals are next week, and when I need the spiritual uplift the most I'm home sick with the flu.
So I'm taking this bed-rest opportunity to bring  my brain on-line, and as I ponder I'm sharing this with you:

Jesus didn't live the "perfect life."

What a scandalous thing for me to say, isn't it? But think about it again. Exactly what was there in His life that was perfect?

His mom was pretty special, that's to be sure. Great gal that Mary, if you overlook the part where she was pregnant before she got married. Bit of a thing for her family and friends to overcome there, eh? Thankfully the Christ Child was not aborted, and thank goodness for good men who can be awesome step-dads.
But then there was the little snag with tax day and long commutes and over-crowded health care facilities in a strange town... oh wait they did home-births back then, didn't they? It's bad enough to give birth in your car, but this woman did it in the hotel garage with an audience of animals.
Some greeted Him, praising His name on the steps of the temple, seeking Him from lands unknown. Some saw Him as a threat, and just to be sure He was killed, killed an entire cohort of Jewish baby boys.
So His life as a refugee began, and though I have no proof of what the Gaza strip was like back in Roman times... how many political refugees in the middle-east manage to build a good life? (No-matter which side of the Abraham question they are on.) His step-father somehow found work in Egypt to keep them alive until it was safe to go back to their extended families.
The Bible tells us that Jesus grew and waxed strong in the favor of the Lord, but every kid gives his folks a massive heart attack at least once, and Jesus was no different. Joseph's usually-so-obedient step-son went missing, and with no Amber alert or nightly news, after three days of searching, they found Him. He had a good reason for going missing, come on mom, but then my kid seems to think he has a good reason for every crazy thing he does too. Like Mary I really don't get what he is thinking half the time.
Mary's troubles didn't stop there. Sure her kid had a knack for catering, water into wine, and boy could he stretch a loaf of bread, but how many nights did she lay awake worrying? He was out there hungry in the desert, on stormy seas, consorting with lepers, Samaritans, Romans, and ticking off some very powerful people. He had a habit of walking into town and turning the whole place on its head.
His cousin John was the same way, and look where it got him.
And yeah... they got  Him. One of his closest, one of the few who SHOULD have loved Him, betrayed Him. They took Him, they bound Him, they lied about Him, they accused Him, they spat upon Him, they beat Him, they mocked Him, they denied Him, they condemned Him, they drove Him through the streets like an animal until He crumbled to the ground, they stole the clothes off His back, they drove nails into Him!
As she stood at His feet, He opened His eyes and saw her face, beloved mother so tortured.
Yet in His agony... even in His agony, He did the right thing.
Christ did not live the perfect life. His life was HARD. It was hard from conception on. It was bitter. It was impoverished.

But He lived life PERFECTLY.

He loved.
He lead.
He forgave.
He spoke out against evil.
He healed.
He sacrificed.
He taught.
He died.
And He lived again.

My life is so much easier, and I am so much worse. So often I fail to do the right thing. So often I choose the easy path instead of the right path.

So today, on my Sabbath, I'm recommitting, as I have done thousands of times before.

I will love.
I will lead.
I will forgive.
I will speak out against evil.
I will heal.
I will sacrifice.
I will teach.
I will live for Him until I die.

And then I will live again.

Because of the man who lived life Perfectly.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Right and Wrong

For those who don't know this yet, I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so in other words, I'm a Mormon.

It kind of cracks me up that people think we are full of hate when we are really a very loving people. I think it's because we have different rules of right and wrong than most people. So, in a effort to clear this up a little bit I've decided to explain what "right" and "wrong" mean to me.

God in His infinite wisdom knows the happiest and best possible course and end for each of us. This is to become like God, literally. Our Heavenly Father, having attained this goal Himself, wants each of us to have all He has. So He has given us specific instructions, called commandments.

Following commandments is kind of like following a compass heading. There is only one "right on the mark." Everything else is wrong. They are different degrees of wrongness, but every last one of them will fail to get you exactly where you want to go. Being 1 degree off or being 90 degrees off, either way, you are going to miss the mark. Anything that does not lead you to Godhood is "wrong."

None of us are perfect, and yes all of us Mormons know we aren't perfect. As Christians, we believe that Christ can and will make up for our imperfections, after all that we can do. We don't, however think this is a one shot deal.

We believe that God constantly corrects us as we follow our compass and seek to follow Him. He doesn't force Salvation on anyone, but He knows it is easier for us to allow Him to correct our alignment a degree at a time than to turn a huge amount. The fewer degrees we are off track the easier it is for us to allow Him to bring us fully in line.

God doesn't force anyone to Heaven, we have to want it, we have to walk it, and we have to learn to accept course correction.

So when a Mormon says, "We believe it is wrong to drink alcohol."
Please, please, please, do not hear, "I think you are disgusting and evil because you drink that stuff."
Because, what we are really saying is, "It's hard enough for me to accept course correction as it is! I can't afford to deaden myself to feeling God's promptings."

We find safety, peace, and joy in walking as close to the right direction as possible.

Now here's the part where people get really confused: It pains us to watch people we care about walking in another direction.

People think, "You hate everyone who isn't like you. You can't accept that I have a right to live differently."

That isn't true.
We aren't about hate.
We do know you have the choice to do what you want with your life, your eternity.

We just wish you wouldn't make choices that turn you away from what we honestly, truly, 100% believe is the only path that ends in happiness.

And, isn't caring about your eternal happiness... loving you?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stage fright

I've been singing in front of people all my life. I get nervous when I'm up there. I get even more nervous when I'm singing in front of singers.
Well, why do any of us get nervous? I get nervous because I think they are thinking unkind things about me. I think they are noticing every note that is slightly off, every word slurred, every time I get off beat, and I think they are judging me for it.
I think these things because I've been around musician who sit there and unfavorably critique performances.

But what's more, I think these things because *I* have sat there and critiqued performances.

Oh, I try not to. I try to enjoy, I try to love and support, I try to fight the dark, judgmental thoughts that enter my head. I succeed a lot more these days, but I still fight them. I hate that I still have to fight, I don't want to be this way.

So naturally I've feared those dark thoughts in the heads of others.

But that thinking is on me too, and it's time that I accepted this. If my dark thoughts while others perform are my problem, then their dark thoughts while I perform are their problem.

No matter how badly I do, no matter how sharp or flat, or even perfect or flawed, my performance is, what people think during it, what they feel during it, that's on them.

I need to let that be on them.

Of course I will continue to work on my own ability to listen with love and not judgment. Maybe this realization I had this morning will help me with that. Maybe I just opened the door to a whole new world of music for myself.
Maybe, just maybe, I'll even be able to listen to recordings of myself and not hate every moment of it. Maybe even I will be able to actually enjoy hearing myself sing. Maybe I'll even get to the point with myself that I'm at with listening to my dear friend Kim, where I forget every tiny mistake because I'm too busy crying over the resplendent beauty of her playing.
I kind of laughed at myself just now. All this time I've been able to love Kim's music unconditionally, and I haven't been able to do the same for my own.

Sigh, oh how far I have to go... and yet... I'm so thankful for how far I've just come.

Thank you Heavenly Father, you're right, I needed this.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Being a Mormon Woman

I love my Heavenly Father. I love my Heavenly Mother. I love Jesus Christ. I love the Holy Ghost. I love being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I'm not a cookie-cutter Mormon woman. I can't stand scrapbooking, it's like nails on the chalkboard to me. I don't even much like doing crafts at Relief Society meetings (but that is just because I don't consider art projects that anyone can do and which look like everyone else's to be worth my time.) I'm re-married, semi-Goth, a Psychology Major, and my teenager is highly embarrassed at how tight my shirts are and how dark my lipstick is.
I think of myself as a fringe of the fold Mormon. I'm in the fold, and I'm going to stay. I had my little foray into never-never-land and figured out for myself that the Gospel is true and that the true path to peace and eternal happiness are in the things I was rebelling against.
I'm not heart of the fold. I'm not all hyper about how white my wool is. I know I'm not perfect yet. I'm okay with that. I'm okay with that because I know my shepherd is okay with that. I don't have to be spotless to be HIS. I know He loves me and is proud of me. I know what I mean to Him and what He means to me, and I don't have to prove that to anyone around me because anyone who spends time with me can just see it.
I'm at the fringe of the fold because someone has to be there calling out to the ones that are still out in the desert. I've gained a lot of compassion and perspective over the years, and I use it to love the people others find hard to love. That's me.
Some would think, "Oh, she's a strong independent thinker, I bet she wants the Priesthood."
I absolutely do not want the Priesthood.
In fact I find it laughable that people think that I should think that I need it. I'm sorry... why? Why would I need it?
So here's my perspective for anyone who is still reading accounts of us "downtrodden" Mormon women.
I am a DAUGHTER of God.
I have Heavenly Parents who are infinitely more wise than I am. I have a personal relationship with BOTH of them. I have seen the hand of the Heavenly in my life and I am so very grateful for it.
I understand that my life is a learning experience. I am here to make choices, to ask questions, to get answers from a LOT of sources, and in the end to learn to weed out which sources are true. I am here to learn the taste of truth, learn it so well that it is the only flavor I desire, learn it so well that I can find the tiny bits of truth in all things and recognize it when something is pure truth.
I am here to learn to be what I was Spiritually Born to be, a goddess. The path to renouncing all else and becoming a goddess is fraught with temptations and perils. My Heavenly Parents have provided a way for me to learn and get the answers to my questions. It is the BEST way there is for their daughters to travel this journey. That way is called being a Righteous Woman.
I have no need to be a Righteous Priesthood Holder. Why? Because that is the BEST way for their SONS to become a god.
They are different, but similar destinations. They are equal.
(Well, okay, in my heart of hearts I really prefer being a girl. Not that guys aren't equal to us, but it's just not my style. I am SO GLAD I am not a man.)
Men need the Priesthood to learn.
With all the HORRIBLE things that the world shoves in their faces and says "real men do this... and real men do that..." well it just stands to reason that God made a structured, guided, responsibility heavy, service oriented, program to help his sons know what future gods are really supposed to do.
I mean seriously, guys are up against a lot, and it's hard for them to know what examples to follow, what paths are right. The real, godly role models for men in this world are very few. It can be hard for men to develop the crucial traits they need and to cut out all the stuff they don't need. The Priesthood is there to help them learn compassion, honor, selflessness, responsibility, leadership, sacrifice, kindness, unconditional love, self restraint and other godly traits. They have the Priesthood to learn to be like God.
I don't need to horn in on that. I don't need to be part of that training program. I have my own training program. I learn from my womanhood every day. I am learning to be like my Heavenly Mother.
Yes I know, all those attributes that I listed that guys need to learn are things I need to learn too. Trust me I am painfully aware of how far I have to go. I just trust that my Heavenly Parents know me and themselves and the path well enough that the course they prescribed is best for me.
That doesn't mean I don't question either. Honestly, the accusation that Mormons aren't allowed to question is absurd. Of course we question. We are just careful of where we look for our answers. There are so many voices, so we trust a select few. One voice I trust, that I love to hear, that I give great regard to, is that of our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. It causes me physical pain to hear him vilified.
People say Kate Kelly got ex-communicated for asking questions. Um, no, she was teaching her own doctrine. She had previously asked questions, gotten whatever answers she got, and then she made a group, put together lessons, and preached her own doctrine. She set herself up as a teacher of new doctrine... ie a prophet.
That may be normal in other churches, but in our church we have a Prophet and we don't aspire to replace him. We are called to serve in the great network of church positions, and we do our best to carry those loads, but we don't push ourselves around on the ladder.
And that's another thing. The way that God has structured our church, people think of it as a pyramid of power. Well it is a pyramid of sorts. President Monson is at the point, and all the babies in nursery are at the other end. It isn't about power though. It's about service and responsibility. So President Monson isn't at the top, he's at the bottom. The whole church is balanced on his mortal, aging shoulders. What a weight to carry!
Yet, he loves us. He loves us deeply. That is why he is willing to carry our weight.
I feel bad for Kate Kelly, I really do, not because she was excommunicated, or that she doesn't get to hold the Priesthood, but because she has such a view of her Womanhood. I feel sorry for her that she thinks she needs the Priesthood. That breaks my heart, that she apparently doesn't get that her power is inherent, that her responsibility to serve is inborn, that the greatest among us will be the servants of all the others. She doesn't need the Priesthood to help shape and form her into what she needs to be, she just needs to trust the process that is already in place for her as a woman.
I pray this time away from the church will be a time of reflection and growth for her, as it is meant to be. I pray she will find the true path again, that she will come to understand the things that she doesn't, that she will one day be a goddess. God bless and guide you all.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

No Time for Poems

I haven't time for poems
Now that I'm in love with you,
I've not a moment to spare
There is just too much to do,

For who can write a poem
While loving a love so true?
And who has time for mere words
With such eyes to gaze into?

And who can make a poem
Who could ever find the time
To set aside such sweet lips
And just sit, and think, and rhyme?

Oh I can't write a poem
Not Tomorrow or today
For "Darling, how I love you,"
Is all I can think to say.

So I've set aside my pen
And I've started greater things,
Like basking in your presence
As my heart inside me sings.

No, I've no time for poems,
Unless I am missing you,
For when we are apart dear,
Missing you is all I do.

15 days until I marry my best friend

Sunday, December 15, 2013




When Fate dies
Is she reborn,
Of her wrinkles and
Gray hair shorn?

Begins she again
With promises new,
Just as good,
Bright and true?

Rises she up
Like Phoenix song?
Is second destiny
Quite as strong?

Or does she limp
And falteringly take
Steps into the future
Her new life a fake?

Is she Fate who
Once was dead,
Or some imposter
In her stead?

Is it possible
To delirious be
When my fate
Has died in me?

I guess that I
Will wait and see.
I guess that I
Will wait and see.