Tag: Jesus

Mormonism and Pain

judaskiss

Last night I had a spirited discussion on twitter about trials.  The statement was made “In the present, we call them trials; in the future we will call them tender mercies of The Lord.” .  I took issue with the statement because trials are still trials even if they serve a noble purpose in the end.  To me calling them tender mercies from the Lord is like giving people permission to cause pain because in the end the Lord uses it to do good.  As my old seminary teacher used to say

‘Judas is not off the hook’. 

I actually heard someone argue once that rape victims should be grateful for their experience because it made them strong and turn to the Lord.  The person last night was not inferring this but isn’t it a necessary stretch of the argument that if trials are truly blessings from the Lord than when we are victimized (the worst kind of trial) it is secretly a blessing and we should be grateful for it.

No! Now, we shouldn’t be bitter and allow it to control our life but call evil, evil, call trials, trials and be grateful for the Lord helping you through the evil and the trials. Just because you are able to clean dirty clothes does not mean the dirt didn’t exist!

This goes to the question of forgiving and forgetting- a question of much debate in the church, can you really forget?  Some claim that through the atonement you can forget sins and move on.  I’d say you can forget the pain but not the event itself.  We are humans and I don’t see how you can just erase such trauma from your mind and I have about as intimate and close a relationship with Jesus Christ of anyone I know.  So far no forgetting but the pain is lessened.

In fact, I have found that those moments of pain are sometimes the most clear, the most distinct of my life.  I’ve always found it ironic that the memories of being bullied and harassed as a child are clear as day in my mind but the happy times like Christmases and family vacations are a blur.  Why is that?  Why do we remember the tough times so clearly and not the good?  I’m not sure.

In any case, I have not been able to forget my pain; nor, do I necessarily want to.  I learned a lot of hard lessons through God’s walking me through the pain.  I grew close to Him as He helped me see the higher purpose and that I was loved by Him.  Does that mean he sent down the bullies so that I would be close to Him?  Of course not!  Judas is not off the hook and neither are the bullies or rapists or whatever hurts us in this life!

Perhaps we cannot forgive and forget because time does not stand still and we can forever live with effects of even repented sin.

The reason I wanted to title this post Mormonism and Pain is I thought I might explain why some things seem to be particularly painful to Mormons compared to other Christians.  You see, we believe in an eternal growth cycle.  We believe the things we do here on this earth have eternal consequences and that a mistake now while always redeemable still can have eternal results.

For example, I met a family on my mission who years before decided that paying tithing was too hard and fallen away from the church.  Eventually they came back to full fellowship and restored their temple covenants, which was great, but it could not take away years of inactivity when they were raising their children.

In addition, the family found no suitable replacement for teaching their children right and wrong (as many who leave Mormonism are able to do quite successfully) so they were without much of a moral compass and certainly far away from the teachings of the church.  Zoom ahead to the present and the children are way off track with prison sentences and illegitimate pregnancies as examples. So, yes they came back to Jesus and His grace, which is fabulous but their eternal family could be forever damaged because of choices they had already made. They cannot after all raise their children over again. It is that eternal gravity that can make us sad.

Another example can be seen in marriage. While divorce is never a pleasant experience for anyone of any faith or persuasion, think of the added pressure for Mormons where an eternal family is being dissolved.   Even a break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend can be all the more devastating because for at least a moment the individuals involved could see them as part of an eternal union.  When things don’t work out its brutal because of the potential.  Of course, when they do the eternal covenants make things all the more sweet and happy but there is that darker, more morose flip side to our beliefs.

So, when you scratch your head and wonder ‘Why are they making such a big deal over this?’  Remember that for Mormons we are seeing things through a longer and larger telescope than you.  To us, we can see eternity and have it as our goal.  There is nothing more important to a Mormon than eternal families but that is not a guarantee.  Human action does affect whether we will be with our loved one’s again.  The song after all says ‘families can be together forever through Heavenly Father’s plan’. Pain and trials are an essential part of getting there but still more weighty than just a ‘hard time that will pass by’ especially when they are the result of sins, whether our own or sins of others that can, even if repented and forgiven, have eternal ramifications.

We also believe in covenants made on earth have massive importance.  In fact, they can only be made here or via proxy.  That’s how important our behavior and life on earth is to Mormon theology.  Mortality really matters, and the behaviors of human beings can have consequences for forever which can make us feel an eternal sadness (and joy!), and the sadness is sometimes shared even by God Himself:

Moses 7: 28-33 (this doesn’t sound like a God who is glad for trials/sadness of his people)

28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the aresidue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

 29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst aweep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?

 30 And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of aearths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy bcreations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;

 31 And thou hast taken aZion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, bjustice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst cweep?

 32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own ahands, and I gave unto them their bknowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his cagency;

 33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should alove one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they bhate their own blood;

btw- I’m not necessarily saying this pain is right or wrong, it just is, and so if you puzzle at why certain things are so painful for your Mormon friends this is the lens that many I know are looking through.  Just thought that might give a little empathy when you see the tears! Thanks

https://smilingldsgirl.com/2013/04/01/a-god-who-weeps/

Sacrament Meeting Talk: Developing a Relationship with God

images

So tomorrow I am giving a talk in church for the first time since 2010.  (My last talk was on patriotism https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/patriotism-my-sacrament-meeting-talk/).  The topic was ‘The Power of Testimony”.  The more I thought about it the more I kept coming back to my relationship with my Heavenly Father and how essential that relationship is to my testimony.  It’s not just a set of facts or experiences but a lifetime of being nurtured by the Lord.

It is a missionary farewell so I tried to relate it to my mission in a way that felt natural and on topic.  So this is what I came up with , with a few modifications for the blog.

I’d be curious to know what you all think.

————————————————————

When I was a little girl I was bullied for 2 years.  After trying the normal school channels, my parents took me out of the situation and then we moved across the country.  It proved to be a fresh start for me and a chance to figure out how to make friends which I was able to do.   However, I always knew that despite my best efforts the world could reject me.  I could not rely on them for my self-confidence and happiness.  So what was I supposed to do?  I looked at the people I loved and none of them relied on other people for their self-worth.  They had an inner fire that come from something higher.

I realized I needed to not only pray to God each night but that I needed something that could build a life around.  Something that could protect me in the lonely times.  It was then that I first started building my relationship with God.  Some may call this a testimony but I prefer to think of it as a relationship that but is a work in progress.

Speaking to the women of the church Elder Russel M.  Nelson described this type of relationship with God

“Her self-esteem cannot be based on physical features, possession or lack of a particular talent, or comparative quantities of anything. Her self-esteem is earned by individual righteousness and a close relationship with God. Her outward glow is generated by goodness within. And her patience is much more apparent than any imperfection.”

So to God I went and the first step in building this relationship was learning that He was there and that He loved me.  As a middle schooler , I first asked these questions and have asked them again and again with each time getting the sweet confirmation that ‘Yes, Rachel.  I love you.  You are special’.

How could the bullies hurt me again with that in my pocket?  I had the God of the Universe tell me I was special.

As I grew the relationship grew.  I learned repeatedly about repentance, forgiveness, family, trials, rejection, patience and hard work and all of these experiences made the relationship better and stronger.  It was work, but it was a sweet work.   There were seasons where I forgot to trust him where my anxieties felt almost overwhelming but in the end I always knew He was there rooting for me if I just took the leap of faith.

Elder Wirthlin said,

“I have been impressed recently with the thought that this life is made up of little things—little things that count a great deal. I believe that the little things are of great importance in our relationship with ourselves, in our relationship with others, and in our relationship with God.

The Lord has said, “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).

Now I don’t know if I’ve done many great things but I know the Lord is happy with my efforts.  I know this because of the relationship I started way back as a bullied youth.

Elder Oaks described this type of relationship with God:

Of course, we have leaders, and of course, we are subject to their decisions and directions in the operation of the Church and in the performance of needed priesthood ordinances. But when it comes to learning and knowing the truth of the gospel—our personal testimonies—we each have a direct relationship with God, our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, through the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost.

So what can we do to develop such a relationship with God?

President Uchtdorf tells us how:

We improve our relationship with our Heavenly Father by learning of Him, by communing with Him, by repenting of our sins, and by actively following Jesus Christ, for “no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Christ].”10To strengthen our relationship with God, we need some meaningful time alone with Him. Quietly focusing on daily personal prayer and scripture study, always aiming to be worthy of a current temple recommend—these will be some wise investments of our time and efforts to draw closer to our Heavenly Father. Let us heed the invitation in Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God

Doesn’t sound too hard right? A little quiet time, personal prayer and scripture study?  I’m sure all you Mom’s are wondering how you can get such time and if it really exists?  My only thought on that topic is to think of the quiet times I’ve had in my life where I was surrounded by people and yet alone.  The mind can ponder while the body is busily engaged.

Regardless, Heavenly Father knows when we are trying.  He loves us.  He wants to bless us.  He will bless us with time, patience, enhanced spirituality or the ability to persevere through seeming droughts of spiritual knowledge.  We must trust in Him.

President Uchtdorf continues on:

Our relationship with God is most sacred and vital. We are His spirit children. He is our Father. He desires our happiness. As we seek Him, as we learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, as we open our hearts to the influence of the Holy Spirit, our lives become more stable and secure. We experience greater peace, joy, and fulfillment as we give our best to live according to God’s eternal plan and keep His commandments.

I have a friend who went to the MTC and felt sad that her testimony wasn’t as seemingly strong as the other members of her district.  Such comparisons miss the point of a relationship with God.  Just as strong marriages come in many forms and styles a strong relationship with God can manifest itself with different strengths and weaknesses.

A testimony when seen as a relationship is not thrown off by questions in theology or seeming offenses of church members because a relationship ebbs and flows. It leaves room for questions and it can always be better.  A relationship is never finished.

Now I have a long way to go in my quest for perfection and my relationship with God can be much stronger than it is today.  So how do I do that? How do I make it stronger?

Since this is Elder Lampings last talk before going into the MTC, I thought I would answer this question with a little missionary advice.  Because I think how to be a good missionary is the same as how to develop a relationship with God:

  1. Be obedient-  You will meet people, even companions, who want to shrug off some rules.  Many will say ‘I’m living the spirit of the law’.  You will not know the spirit of the law unless you are living as close to the letter of the law as you can.  Be obedient.
  2. Pray for Love- pray for love of yourself, your companion, your investigators and all the people you serve, even those that reject you.
  3. Study as Hard as You Can-  Use your study time well.  Yes, you will have mornings where you fall asleep into your scriptures but try your best to think about the needs of your investigators and how you, using your skillset can help them.
  4. Be happy- Find something to be happy about each day.
  5. Serve with No Regrets-  Leave each area, each companionship knowing that you did all you could do, spiritually, emotionally, physically all you can do.

When I was flying home from my mission I had a distinct impression from the spirit that ‘We had done it’.  That the Savior and me as His representative had found everyone we needed to find, we had helped everyone we needed to help and that the work was done.  I promise it was the best feeling of my life.  I left my mission with no regrets.  I wasn’t perfect but I had no regrets.  I honestly thought that all missionaries had a similar experience but in speaking with some of my fellow sisters none of them seemed satisfied with the breadth of their efforts.  They had not received this same assurance

Now the reconciliation of their missionary labors is between them and the Lord but shouldn’t a life with no regrets be our goal no matter if we are missionaries or members.  It’s certainly my goal.  I want to be able to have a similar feeling that I had on that plane when I’m in the spirit world ready to move on.  It should be a feeling of ‘we did it’.  Because of our relationship, Jesus Christ and I did it together.

Our goals should be to say like Elder McConkie before his death

“And now as pertaining to this perfect Atonement, I testify that it took place at Gethsemane and at Golgotha. And as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God who was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person… And in the coming day I will feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s almighty Son and he is our Savior and Redeemer and that Salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.”

May we all strive to be obedient and to develop this relationship with God

Name of Jesus Christ,Amen.

Jesus hugging a man

Not Smiling All the Time

Sometimes I’ve wondered if I am doing myself a disservice by declaring myself as a ‘smiling lds girl’. Some who do not know me very well think I am perpetually cheerful but the truth is much more complicated.

The germ of the name started when I set up an email after my mission.  I was on such a high then that I really was smiling all the time.  I felt like nothing could be harder, nothing more intense than my mission, and I had done it, done it for God.  In many ways I felt invisible.

But such bubbles are made to be burst and they sure were.  It took just 2 years to get to one of the lowest times of my life.  I’ve talked about it many times but in 2007 I left a job that was like a black cloud in my life.  The details don’t really matter. All that matters is I was in a low spot and I had the courage to claw myself out of it.

With a renewed vision of my potential for happiness a smile was back on my face.  All of the sudden the moniker of ‘smiling lds girl’ seemed appropriate.  I also had a bit of time and decided to join the blogging world and gave it my email name smilingldsgirl.  My first entry was in May of 2008. The freedom of Joblessness.  Back then I said:

“my first foray into the world of blogging…It is hard to describe my last 6 months but let me just say that I am in the job hunt and I couldn’t be happier. I honestly think I will be a bit sad when I have to go back into the work force. There is something wonderful about living my life the way I want to without regards to supervisors, bosses or routines. I have always been a big one for planning but after a bit of a breakdown last year I needed a change more than anything.”

It was so strange because in the eyes of most people my situation might have appeared quite pitiable (no job, no man, overweight, etc) but I was happy as can be.  I knew that I had done what God wanted me to do.  In many ways it was the same feeling I felt after my mission.  I had survived and new adventures awaited me.

So I was smiling again.

I had a period of peace and then in 2010 the crazy health challenges started and really I spent a lot of the next 2 years surviving again.  I don’t mean to seem ungrateful because I have been incredibly blessed during this time but let’s just say it was harder to smile for a little while.   It was rough and I remember going to Hawaii and just thinking ‘ why can’t I be this happy all the time?’.  But I kept pressing forward and smiling in spite of it all.

Then I found open water swimming and boxing and started smiling again.  Now I can hardly envision my life without it.  What did I do with all my time before?  It takes up so much of my time and yet I do most everything (with the exception of grad school) I did before. I wish that everyone could feel the way I feel when I’m in the water.  It is joy.  It is smiling.

Honestly it makes me a little nervous because I feel like I’m smiling again.  What does God have in store for me? I am certainly going to enjoy every season of joy I get and try to store it up for the testing that will inevitably come my way.

I suppose I had my mind on this because I am thinking of buying/building a house.  It is overwhelming and I can’t help but feel it will make my life more complicated.  It’s just one of those seminal moments of life so it seems appropriate to feel a bit introspective.  I never thought I would buy a house by myself. It makes me excited and nervous for the future.  Can I do it?  Will I keep smiling?

The answer is yes, but it will be interrupted by periods of tears; and, I believe that is how God wants it.  If we think about Jesus and His life He was not always smiling.  He wept with his followers.  He mourned with those that mourned and comforted those that stood in need of comfort.  He even got angry on occasion when it was appropriate.

We are told to have a broken heart and contrite spirit.  I’ve had broken hearts in my life and each time I have come out of it smiling because I learned in those crucible experiences that God loved me.  That is why you need a broken heart and a contrite spirit because you simply need Him more in those moments than ever before.

So in the end, I am smiling deep down inside even in the tender moments because I know God is turning me into what He knows I can be.

Thank you to everyone who has loved me in the low times. Kept me smiling. 🙂

Perception

Have you ever noticed how 2 people can tell the same story and yet it doesn’t seem like the same story? I’ve particularly seen this with couples, especially after a break up.  It would seem like they couldn’t have been in the same marriage.  I think only in time does the nuances of memories cement in our brain.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this lately, as life has been a bit stressful.  My reality has not always been what others see.  I came across this quote and it really rings true.

“Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans. . . . If reality differs from person to person, can we speak of reality singular, or shouldn’t we really be talking about plural realities? And if there are plural realities, are some more true (more real) than others? What about the world of a schizophrenic? Maybe it’s as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we are in touch with reality and he is not, but should instead say, His reality is so different from ours that he can’t explain his to us, and we can’t explain ours to him. The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication … and there is the real illness.”
Philip K. Dick

Don’t you think understanding another person’s reality is the hardest thing? Its especially true when you think you know and it turns out to be more ‘unique’ than you thought.  As he says, the worlds collide and there is the real illness…

Its strange because I am an open book.  Its hard for me to think of a single thing that would surprise any of my friends. That is my reality and that’s how I communicate but I know it isn’t everyone’s. Still, seeing through their glasses at their reality is super hard- sometimes in extreme cases impossible but most of the time the act of trying expands our views, our realities, and makes us better people.

I’m trying to expand my view, look at others realities instead of just my own.  I don’t know if this will make any sense to anyone else but it makes sense to me.

However, at the end of the day you must also be willing to stand alone.  Jesus set the example, standing alone, being spit upon and dragged through the street, nailed to a cross.  Through it all He never stopped looking at others realities and having compassion for them.  He had compassion for Peter and Thomas who doubted, the Roman guard who chopped off His ear, the fellow prisoners who hung with Him, and even for Judas.

He saw through their reality and yet stood alone.  We all have our moments where we must stand alone (even if it is just a perception of standing alone, which again perception is reality).  My prophet President Monson spoke about this and it gave me great comfort recently:

“As we go about living from day to day, it is almost inevitable that our faith will be challenged. We may at times find ourselves surrounded by others and yet standing in the minority or even standing alone concerning what is acceptable and what is not. Do we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone?”

I hope I have the courage to look at the world through other’s eyes, but also to stand alone when necessary.  I know I have the faith to stand alone because the Savior understands ALL perfectly.  He loves Me and my world perfectly.  What a comfort that is.  In truth, we are never really standing alone because He is always with us, even when we don’t feel Him near.

Help with Lesson

Today I am asking for help.  This Sunday I am teaching the New Testament lesson in Gospel Doctrine (Sunday School) at church.  The lesson focuses on John 9 and while it is an undeniably moving chapter, I am having a tough time putting my feelings in a coherent form.

John 9 focuses on Jesus’ miraculous healing of a blind man.   Jesus declares ‘I am the light of the world’ and then spits on the ground, making a clay which he applies to the blind man’s eyes.  After the man washes in the pool of Siloam he rejoices saying ‘whereas I was blind, now I see!’.

Such a dramatic healing is without a doubt one of the most amazing miracles in the New Testament.  I suppose where I am struggling is why Jesus chose this man?  There must have been thousands of blind people in Jerusalem, why heal this man?  Was it just to prove a point about healing on the sabbath to the Pharisees?  Was it to because Jesus knew the man would be such a diligent missionary?  Was the man somehow more worthy or faithful than other blind people?

Also, why did Jesus feel a need to go through the spitting and the clay ceremony?   I can find no similar ordinance or practice in any other scripture story?  Biblios says that making clay with spittle was part of many spells and incantations of the day, so it may have been Christ’s way of refuting superstitions and myths?  Perhaps he was doing this just to prove that his laws and methods do not follow the worlds?

I guess in going through such difficult health problems I find it tough to teach about miracles.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in them and have faith in my Heavenly Father, but I just wonder why?  Why are some people seen as worthy of healing and others struggle so? Is there anything I could do to be more worthy? I know my faith can always be strengthened.  It is never a finished transaction but it seems strong.  I have never wavered throughout my life in my belief in Jesus Christ’s atonement or His love for me.  I know He loves me and it is His love that has carried me through these hard months.

Still, I don’t understand why when I am trying to do such a noble thing as get in shape I am confronted with so many obstacles? I know someday it will make sense but right now I am forced to go with faith alone.   Perhaps that is what He is teaching me?  It wouldn’t be the first time.  There have been many times in my life when I faced unknowns and only years later did I understand why I needed that lonely experience.

For example, my emotionally abusive missionary companion comes to mind.  At the time I could not comprehend why the Lord had abandoned me when I was showing such faith as his obedient servant.  Why when others have such positive training experiences did I get this sister?  It was only later in my mission that I saw those months in a new light.  It was during those lonely times that I turned to the Lord the most; thereby, making me a strong and powerful missionary.  The last six months of my mission were full of converts, amazing companionships, and powerful experiences and I believe that was a direct reward from the Lord for my faith during those tough months.

There are also experiences which I still don’t understand. For instance, why did I have to gain weight at 9 years old- at an age when I was practically helpless to solve the problem?  Why did I have to be picked on and made fun of?  Was that just to make me strong and independent? If so, why is that independence so important to my character?   Couldn’t there have been another way?  God and Jesus Christ know all and evidently the answer is No, but I am not going to pretend like I understand all the why’s behind that No!

I guess in the end I just wish I was one of the lucky one’s.  I am a little envious of the blind man and of every other healing I read about.  I want that to happen to me! I believe it could happen.  I have faith in miracles but I do not feel it will happen.  I just know there are no easy solutions to this problem- no miracle drug, no quick fix diet, no exercise that will change everything.  For some reason the Lord wants me to chisel away at this bit-by-bit.  I wonder why?  What is He trying to teach me? At this moment, I don’t know.  I will someday.

Anyway, those are some of the issues I am struggling with in crafting this lesson.  If any of you have any thoughts about John 9 or healing in general I would love to hear them.  Also if you have any suggestions for teaching others when you are the one with all the questions that would be great!  How do you show the confidence to instruct others when you are unsure yourself?   You can post thoughts as a comment or if it is too personal email/call me.  Thanks in advance.

http://lds.org/manual/new-testament-gospel-doctrine-teachers-manual/lesson-16-i-was-blind-now-i-see?lang=eng

What’s Going On

Hello blogging community.  It has been a few days since I last posted.  This is due partly to my sister Anna’s visit but mostly to the recent chaos that is my life.  Let me explain.

Ever since I got back from Hawaii there has been one stressful crisis after another.  I don’t want to get into it but do you ever feel that you are having a losing streak?  It’s like everything I try fizzles.  The yards haven’t been good enough, the houses not well enough maintained, the tenants have been difficult, I’ve made some stupid mistakes, tenants have lied to my face, I’ve had squabbles with people, gotten my feelings hurt, and the home owner’s association is now threatening to make us stop our vacation rental business.  My dad has taken the brunt of all of this and for that I feel even worse because the last thing he needed was a time-eating legal process.

The other thing that makes me sad is my best friend is moving to California to start law school.  I will miss Melissa Noyes a lot.  She has been a solid support for me over the last 3 years and on my mission.  I appreciate her optimism and the way she makes me forget my troubles.  The thing I love the most about her is she is not a worrier like I am.  In a very non-cheesy way when I am with Melissa I forget my problems and have fun. I will miss our near-weekly dinners at Wingers (although my waistline won’t!) and the barrage of stupid romantic comedies we saw together.  With Melissa’s departure I will have more friends outside of Utah than in.  While I am able to keep in touch with these friends and they are SO important in my life, I do miss having the nearby interaction.  I am grateful for all my friends and all the support they continually give me.

For the moment, it looks like I may not be working in September and October on the rentals.  I will have Grabber work, which should be a enough to live off of.  Plus, I will be starting a real estate broker class that will keep my busy.  In addition, there are other potential business opportunities that could also develop. Anyway, it has just been a lot to deal with in basically a months time- particularly when you think I got a nasty sinus infection, a family reunion, and had other commitments as well.

I am trying my best to be calm and take each day as they come.  Almost all of the things that stress me out right now I can’t control, so I know I shouldn’t worry about them.  I also know everything will be Ok.  I’ve just never been a big one for change and that is particularly true when something that has made me so happy (my job over the last year) is changing.  Stepping into the unknown is scary and uncertain, but I also have to remember that it is exciting and full of potential.

I am trying my best to remember the Lord’s hand in all things and that without change I will never grow.  Already this situation has caused me to pray more fervently than I was before.  Please include me in your prayers.  I know my problems may seem small but the power of friends at prayer is strong.  If anything it will help me be strong.

In the end, I just have to increase my faith. I like to control things- to set a plan and micromanage them until they are accomplished.  Now I am in a situation where that control is impossible.  I must have faith.  My Heavenly Father brought me to this job, and He will lead me to my next assignment.  I don’t think I have ever felt the spirit more strongly than when I quit my old accounting job.   Then I spent 6 months in the unknown, interviewing for job after job, with nothing coming from my hard work.  Then this opportunity to manage vacation rentals came and it has been awesome, difficult in some ways but mostly awesome.  Hopefully things will remain the same, but I just need to believe in His plan for me, be creative, and work hard. Having faith in the unknown can be the hardest thing to do but isn’t that the definition of faith?

I don’t want to sound melodramatic.  I know others face far more stressful and devastating situations.  This is merely an unknown career change.  Nevertheless, it is difficult in its own way for me.  Again, thank you for your thoughts, support and prayers.  I will keep the blog posted on what happens.

Here’s a poem about faith I like by Emily Dickinson.

My Faith is larger than the Hills
My Faith is larger than the Hills —
So when the Hills decay —
My Faith must take the Purple Wheel
To show the Sun the way —

‘Tis first He steps upon the Vane —
And then — upon the Hill —
And then abroad the World He go
To do His Golden Will —

And if His Yellow feet should miss —
The Bird would not arise —
The Flowers would slumber on their Stems —
No Bells have Paradise —

How dare I, therefore, stint a faith
On which so vast depends —
Lest Firmament should fail for me —
The Rivet in the Bands

jesus

I Love Nice People

Today I was grateful for happy people! (Even if they might have been a little annoyed inside)
Today I was grateful for happy people! (Even if they might have been a little annoyed inside)

So, I can’t write long but I just wanted to say how grateful I am for kind people who are understanding.  I am especially grateful both personally and professionally today.

It was a stressful day because we had three people checking into the properties, packing up my stuff, did the moving inspection, and finally moved a bunch of stuff into my new place.  It’s a long story but 2 of the houses the Benji and the Anna were rented.  The Benji does not have hot tub.  The Anna does.   Last month we decided to set up a housing swap with a family from Redondo Beach.  Since it was available I scheduled them in the Anna.  A week or so ago we got a call from a group called Signing Times (they do signing DVDs for babies learning sign to communicate early on).  Since they are paying customers I thought I should try to give them the house with the hot tub.  I called the other group and they were willing to make the swap.

So now comes today.  I was preoccupied with packing and as I headed over to sign my contract the swap group called.  Rushing I told them to go to the Anna, and Jim went ahead and checked them in.  I then signed my contract, did the inspection and moved a bunch of stuff in with the help of friends.  As I was eating dinner it hit me I had 2 groups expecting to stay at the Anna, one of them already checked in!  I panicked and called the other group.  I apologized probably 500 times and to my great relief they said “we don’t care which house we stay in”.  A few in the group were a little annoyed but as a whole they were unbelievably understanding.  I don’t know what I would have done if they had not been so great.  One of the ladies kept saying “Life happens!”.

This is a situation where I screwed up.  They would have had every right to be ticked off with me but they chose to be sympathetic.  I realize not everyone is so wonderful.   For a summer in college I worked for a hogi shop that also served teriyaki chicken.  At the beginning of the day we made all of the chicken for the entire day.  Occasionally we would run out of chicken and disappoint customers.  This one day we ran out of chicken and a lady came in wanting to order it.  Instead of ordering something else she proceeded to ream me out, calling me stupid and lazy.  The whole time I kept thinking- “What is going on in your life to make you treat me this way over chicken?”.  It was amazing.  I’ve also had moments on airplanes or in crowded places where people treated me and others like garbage.  It’s far too common.

Suffice it to say I am SO grateful the tenants I messed up today had a much better reaction.  It’s one thing to accept our friends, flaws and all, but when a stranger makes a mistake often it is easier to come unglued.  It reminds me of Jesus’ teachings when He said in Matthew 5 44-47:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Not that I was an enemy of these people, but I was definitely not their brethren (or sister).  They had every right to be mad at me, but they chose a higher path and for that I am very grateful.   They certainly had more right than the chicken lady and nothing stopped her from unleashing her rage.

On a personal note I also feel grateful for Sunnie Bybee and my home teacher Josh for helping me move today and for whomever comes tomorrow.  Look at the nice note my fellow churchmembers sent out in my behalf:Hey everybody!
We are looking for as many people as possible that would be willing to gain a few extra blessings by helping out Rachel Wagner tomorrow, Saturday May 16th, to move into a new apartment within Adagio. We are all meeting at 13323 S. Pinnacle Point Dr. #3207 @ 11 am! Your help would greatly be appreciated!

Isn’t that nice?  Hopefully people will come!  I am sure they will and for that I am super appreciative.  I am not meaning to toot my own horn but I sacrifice a lot of my time to serving my friends and community, and it is nice to see others willing to serve me when I need it. I certainly can’t move by myself!  So, thanks everyone in advance!  Thanks for being so nice.

Thanks also to the understanding tenants who are the best!

I will update the blog next week and try to have photos of my new place.  I will be in a mad rush to get things unpacked before Hawaii!  Oh Hawaii!  That sounds so wonderful!!! I am all sore and tired, and will be near dead tomorrow.  Ahh I can feel that sun now!