Have you ever wondered about someone’s story? Someone’s background, upbringing, trials, successes? It’s so easy to sum people up when we meet them, but deep down we know there’s more.
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I was 5 years old and sitting in my LDS (Latter Day Saint, or, Mormon) Primary class for children, singing “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” wondering why Jesus would want me to be a piece of the sky.
I was 8 years old when I was baptized into the Mormon religion. I remember stepping down into the warm baptismal font in my neck-to-ankle white suit knowing my sins were about to be wiped away. My last thoughts were, “Wait, I’m not ready. I wish I could sin more, and THEN be forgiven.”
On my 10th birthday, we had a family pizza party. I didn’t wear shoes the entire day as I played outside in the green Spring grass. Dad gave me a black “Coleman” sleeping bag and a “MagLight” flashligh. Always one for emergency-preparedness (including everything from cold Colorado temperatures to bear attacks to Y2K) it was an awesome gift. (To this day I favor the MagLight brand over any other flashlight.)
I was 12 years old and snuck into the Youth Dances held in the gymnasium of the Mormon church I attended. The appropriate age for a dance attendee was 14, but I snuck in with my sister (who was 17).
I was 14 when I house-sat for a friend and got drunk for the first time. I walked home with my “boyfriend” and kept repeating that I thought I was going to die.
I was 16 when my sister went to college and I snuck into more dances. My mom and I ate Twizzlers and listened to Backstreet Boys on the way home from visiting my sister at Southern Utah University.
I was 17 and on top of the world. I was on the high school swim team, had a college scholarship waiting for me, had a cute boyfriend, and was a rock solid believer of the Mormon religion. I attended early morning Seminary classes and was very active in my church functions.
I was 18 when I converted my aforementioned cute boyfriend to Mormonism.
I was 19 when I knew something was missing for me- spiritually speaking. I withdrew, (most of my rebellion happened around age 14) and stopped believing in the Mormon church.
I was 21 when I partied like a “normal” (worldly) college student.
I was never raped, hit, or shockingly hurt, but I was lucky, on many occasions.
I was 22 when a coworker told me about a Christian radio station she listened to during the day for encouragement. I looked at her weird, but knew something was different about her.
I was 22 when I saw a woman in the shaving cream aisle of Wal-Mart wearing a cross necklace. I thought to myself, “I want that. I want to be so bold for God, that people see me and know me as one of his.”
I was 22 when I moved away from my college town and took my dream job in Arizona.
I was 23 when I started attending a Baptist church every now and then. One day, the Pastor was preaching so hard, his fake front tooth fell out! This was truly my first introduction to a non-Mormon church. The people were friendly, the food was good (Baptists are known for that) and the friendship was genuine.
I was 24 when I asked Jesus Christ to be my personal Savior and I gave my life to him. It was September 12th, and I was sitting on my bed. I had met with my pastor many times to ask many questions. I had previously submitted my paperwork to the Mormon church requesting they destroy my record of membership (a requirement in order to leave the church.) On September 10th, I received confirmation that my request had been completed.
I discovered that what was “missing” for me was a true relationship with Jesus Christ. More than following a religion (Mormon or otherwise,) it was about the personal relationship.
I got on my knees, resting my elbows on my bed and prayed the prayer and read the Bible verses my pastor gave me. Nothing happened. Lightning didn’t strike. In fact, my condo was eerily quiet. I called a friend from my Baptist church and asked her if I did it right.
She told me it wasn’t a matter of right and wrong, but it was an act of submission to the Lord. She said that in time, and with exercise in my faith, that I would start to feel new.
September 13th I woke up and felt new. I was not ashamed! (Romans 1:16) I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I was now a believer of Christ.
That day I left for a work trip to Tucson, where I was able to find a church to attend. I worshipped like never before, since I was a new believer, and knew no one. The praise and worship was very moving. I knew I had made the right choice to give my life to Christ. I knew I was never going to be the same again.
A must see video. Please see the YouTube page for proper specs. (Truth is I have had nothing to do with the production of this video!)
I will say that I believe we should all be fighting false-religion, not necessarily religion itself. This video is not aimed at anyone particular person or religion, just a mind-opening perspective of the church.
Powerful; I dare you to pass it on.
An incredible excerpt from the Bible,
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We know because he first loved us.”
– John 4:16-19
An incredible excerpt from the “He Is” reading plan in the “True Identity” Bible by Zondervan (italics are from the author of this blog):
He is love: “How appropriate that John, the disciple Jesus loved (see John 20:2), reveals the simple yet profound truth that God is love. God sent humanity the greatest love letter ever written, the Bible. He demonstrated his love by dying for those he loved. It is his very nature to love. Because God is love, we too are learning to love- not because it’s our nature, for human love is fickle and failing, but because he loved us first. Because God is love, he commands us to love our brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends, and even our enemies- those people we find hardest to love.”
May we go and spread the love Jesus designed for us to have. Let us first hold it in our hearts and then let it dwell in us as we lift our eyes in freedom to our God. Let the love we have from Jesus stir in us and spill over like a river.
Some things come to us not of our own doing.
That is exactly how I came upon my theme for 2012. I had been trying to think of a new theme during November and December. If you are just tuning in, check out my other posts, in which I describe the idea of having one theme to focus on for the year. In 2011 my theme was “love”.
While contemplating my new theme, I kept thinking how I wanted the theme to reflect.God. The word “daily” came into my mind, meaning a daily study of God, his word, and his plan for me.
At first I was scared of the idea, thinking a daily committment of reading God’s word would be… very challenging. I was already reading at least one verse a day, usually more, but I didn’t dedicate my time to the Lord like I should have (and wanted to). I decided to table the idea for a while, but I kept hearing “daily,” “daily,” “daily”.
Once I prayed about the word “daily” it was revealed to me that 2012 is the year to dedicate my daily life to reading the word. I already channel my thoughts and prayers to my creator constantly, but it’s not the same as getting deep in his word daily.
May 2012 be a wonderfully themed year for you.
God’s blessings, CD
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.”
Most people write, on average, ten goals at the start of the new year. How many are actually realistic? They are probably broken into a few categories such as “short-term” and “long-term,” “home,” “career,” “family,” or “spiritual.” Some are realistic, some are not. Some are put into movement, some are not. For more on goal setting, you can click here.
At the start of 2011, I decided on a one-word resolution for myself. You can read the post here. Instead of making a list of ten things I might forget I ever wrote down, I chose to focus on one single word/thought/action. The word I chose was “love.”
As 2011 dwindles down into mere days and hours, it’s time to share how I’ve done.
Well? I think I did ok. My husband says I did well, but I know there is always (always) room for improvement.
Here are some of the things I did to show love:
Worship and praise God regularly so he knows my love for him.
Learn more about God to learn of his great love.
Pray for my husband.
Show (not just tell) my husband that I love him.
Care for the homeless. (I only participated in one event for this in 2011… major room for improvement.)
Love those who are hurting or unloved.
Share my love of the gospel with others.
On Thanksgiving day I went for a walk with my wonderful Aunt. In my arms I carried my one and a half year-old nephew, whose head bobbed against my chin as he napped. I told my Aunt about my one-word resolution, and she described how for years she’s stumbled upon (rather than planned) a theme which she focused on for the entire year. I much enjoyed the idea of a theme, and decided whatever I call it, I like the idea of focusing on one thing intently for the year, while simultaneously setting goals for my health, money management, relationships, career, etc.
Stay tuned as I gear up to reveal my theme for 2012.
Until then, wishing you a blessed close of the year, and a happy New Year.
WE MADE IT! Sorta. I actually scheduled this post to be published this morning, (and then I accidentally sent it to your email box early – DUH!) so I might not have made it to today. The way my week went, I wasn’t sure I would make it.
First of all, I have to tell you this: My hair is falling out, thanks to my double-dye job. OMG I am losing so much hair I’m afraid that soon I’ll have all those short frizzies, and nothing long and pretty. POUT! (Thank you, GNC, for your hair, skin and nails pills. I hope you work super turbo fast.)
Life is a beautiful exchange. Think about all the things we exchange. Looks and glances, words, (positive, negative, loud, soft) hugs, material items, written documents, items to a store… life is full of exchanges.
Take a moment to think about the exchange between you and Jesus. How often is there communication back and forth? How often do you meet him when he is waiting for you? How often do you reciprocate the love he poured out for you? Do you exchange your experiences and thoughts on God with others?
Sometimes the hardest person for me to invite to church is the person I’m good friends with who has different views on God. I am a very accepting person, and I do believe a bit of “to each his own.” If you know what you believe already, I respect that. Heck, I respect you even if you don’t know what you believe. I respect you if you don’t believe the same thing as me, but I will encourage you to exchange views with someone close to you. Someone who might be a little awkward to communicate “churchy stuff” with. Someone who might make you feel a little embarrassed that you went for such a long time without bringing up the subject.
Take the opportunity to share what you believe. I am forever grateful to the woman who invited me to a very different church than I was used to. Although she is not in my life anymore, her impact on me was far greater than I could ever express my thanks for.
I have an anniversary (not wedding) coming up, but more on that later.
Exchange…exchange…exchange. Meditate on that word. What does it mean to you? Who will you exchange with, and what will you exchange?