Tag: LDS church

I Am a Cheesy Mormon

My whole life I’ve heard things like “I love the Mormon church but hate the Mormon culture”.  What they are referring to is the cultural traditions in Utah that many times are equally popular in other places.  For example, the cliche of green jello, funeral potatoes, scrapbooking and the Osmonds.

I don’t know if it is because of the ‘Mormon Moment’ but lately I feel like anything remotely connected with the church automatically becomes lame and uncool in certain people’s eyes. For example, the recent City Creek Shopping Center is looked down on by some purely because of the church’s involvement. If it was any other investor they wouldn’t give it a second thought. Another example- Mitt Romney mentions Etch-a-sketch and all of the sudden that is lame.

Its very annoying because sometimes I just want to be a cheesy Mormon and not care. That’s all I’m saying. I don’t want to have to defend everything I do or view.   I like the culture and religion.  Not everything but more often than not I like it.  I’m done defending myself and my culture.  If you don’t like it, don’t live here.  There are plenty of other places to live.

I also do not believe there is anything more educated about being critical of one’s culture.  In fact, it is equally easy to be heedlessly critical as it is to ignorantly follow.  Most of these things do not matter in regards to faith or intellect but add a nuanced value to the quality of your life. They actually can make you a more interesting and colorful person.

So here goes- I love living in Utah, blogging, temple work, Utah symphony and opera, family home evenings, tabernacle choir, crockpots, book clubs, pinterest, acapella music, funeral potatoes, food storage, Hawaii, Polynesian Cultural Center, Brandon Flowers, journals, stay-at-home Moms, Gladys Knight, sherbet punch, service projects, frozen yogurt, eternal marriage, most Mormon authors, family history, pioneers, big families, republicans, homeschooling, Hallmark movies, David Archuleta, live theater, watching dancing like the BYU Ballroom dance, BYU Volleyball (pretty much anything associated with BYU I like),  Jimmer, general authorities, volunteering, CTR rings, Church History sites, Utah Olympics, Mitt Romney, firesides, General Conference, missionaries, and all versions of BYU.

I get excited when I stay at a Marriott hotel and see a Book of Mormon.  I smile and wave whenever I see a missionary.  I get excited when I see a Mormon has done well in business or any other field. I like that Mormon’s help each other move and are quick to bring a meal to a friend.

Some people are just critical of anything because its associated with Utah or the Church. I think that is lame. Oh well!

I am a cheesy Mormon- Deal with it!

(Btw, this is my 400th blog post.  Pretty amazing!)

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31 Year Old Breakdown

I’m afraid I’ve got insomnia tonight so to the blog I go…

So as all my facebook friends are aware I had a mini-meltdown today. (ps.  I take facebook status’s as just that the status of my life, good, bad, happy, sad, whatever.  I know others don’t look at it that way but I chose to be this real in my social media interactions).  It has been a long week with lots of work hours, and not as much exercising as I would like.  In addition, this Sunday is my last Sunday in my ward, which makes me sad and freaks me out, but also on Monday is my 31st birthday.  How you ask could a 31st birthday be worse than a 30th?  Well, last year I had just fallen down a flight of stairs and was in great pain/drugged up on my birthday. So, this is the first functioning birthday of my 30s.

Anyway, let me tell you about my ward change first.   For those outside of the Mormon church we have several sectioned off wards (congregations) to suit certain language needs and lifestyles.  For example, there are Spanish wards to help people who speak Spanish to attend and understand church.  There is also what they call YSA Wards (Young Single Adults).   This includes any person unmarried 17-31 (can be divorced.  Usually if you have kids you are encouraged to go to a family ward because YSA wards do not have a primary for little one’s).

I have been in YSA wards since I was 17 years old and at the time the idea of turning 31 and ‘graduating’ out of the singles wards seemed impossible and yet here it is.  This April I am helping to plan our 10 year BYU College Graduation Reunion.  10 years since I finished at BYU.  It boggles the mind.   To me it is a little scary- what did I do with that time?  Did I do the right things?  Is God happy with my efforts? I believe that He is and that knowledge is very comforting.

I look back at my life and wonder in those 10 years did I do enough to help people, to serve others, to mentor children?  Sometimes I’m envious of teachers because they have written into their job professions opportunities to nurture future generations.  Working from home I have limited interactions with other people, limited chances to mentor.  I’d like to find something to volunteer for but haven’t come across the right thing for me.  I’d love to work with Big Brother’s Big Sisters but the closest one is in Salt Lake.  If anyone knows of a teen that could use a big sister send them my way.  I’d love it!

Anyway, today I started thinking about the next 10 years.  What are the 30’s?  The 20’s are so clear- college, mission, grad school, work etc.  30s are much harder to define.  What are the big accomplishments for a single girl in her 30s? Its honestly hard for me to come up with a list.  With no big things coming it is easy to ask the question- has all the big stuff happened or if it didn’t happen, should it have happened?  Is the game for big stuff over?

This left me feeling sad.  As a single LDS woman how does my life matter?  How do I contribute to the world?  What would be the lesser because I’m not here?  I do not have anyone who needs me for physical survival such as a young baby needs her mother; nor, am I a teacher who gets to influence many children and make a difference.   There are a few people that need me for emotional and other support.  My Dad told me yesterday that ‘he leans on me more than almost anyone else in his life’.  That meant a lot to me.  Its nice to feel needed.

My Dad also said ‘I know if you were gone there would be a lot of people grieving at your funeral and I think that says something’.  It is comforting to think about ways you’ve helped people and added value to their lives.  (Not that I’m dying or anything, friends.  Just an example).

This is going to sound like such a pity plea but oh well-  If any of you would mind sharing a way I have contributed to your life  it would be the best birthday present I can think of.  I would love it.

I know I can do better but I also know for sure that the Lord is happy with my life.  If I try my best he will fill these 30 years with excitement, adventure and moments that matter.

I must admit diving into this new huge mid-singles branch with nearly 600 people freaks me out.  I’m just so happy in my little ward family and I love being Sunday school teacher.  Its sad to see a change but as it is in the Lord’s hands I am sure it will be change with blessings at the end of it.  It might not be easy but it will work out.   I am so grateful that my friend Stefanie is going to join in! She is awesome and we’ve been friends since 2005. It will be so nice to have a kindred spirit to share this big new adventure with.  Hurray!

I also am no longer considered young by my church- rude! 🙂

How do you get through your 30s?  What worries you about growing older?  Do you ever fret about your legacy or lack of one? Do you worry that your life doesn’t matter like you hoped it would? I have felt all of these emotions and asked each of these questions and I am a mere work in progress at this point!

I found this quote by President Hinckley that gave me a lot of comfort (as he always did.  I miss President Hinckley sometimes). President Hinckley said  it best when asked about his legacy:

“I don’t know and I don’t care! That’s not my concern. I’m not trying to build some legacy of some kind. I’m just trying to move the work forward the best way I know how. And as I believe the Lord would have it move forward. And let the future take care of itself.” 🙂

I hope I can follow his counsel and keep moving forward with whatever the Lord puts in my path.  I am positive that will lead to peace and a recognition as a good and faithful servant  in the hereafter.

General Conference Highlights

This post is mainly for my Mormon friends; although, I think there are inspiring messages for anybody in the talks I will share.

Last week in the midst of the chaos of my race I got to enjoy my church’s General Conference.  This is a meeting held twice a year in April and October and it is a chance for the prophet, apostles and other leaders to share messages that both inspire and clarify doctrine.  I look forward to conference each year but with the struggles of this year I have felt particularly fed by it.

I feel so fortunate that I have a faith to lean on when times get rough.  Sometimes I wonder why I need certain challenges but it is always comforting to know that God knows the reason. I know that I am in His hands, and as I seek to follow Him, I will find happiness.  I have read and prayed and have gained my own testimony of Christ’s love for me and the validity of His Church.

So here are four talks that I particularly liked at Conference.  Each of these talks display the love of God for his children and how that love is expressed in the lives of good people.  For some reason I needed to hear that this month:

President Uchtdorf on service and worthy sacrifice

President Uchtdorf on overcoming loneliness and despair.

President Eyring on service

Elder J.  Devin Cornish on tender mercies of God- I love the story about wanting a quarter and finding it.

 

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

Food Storage and Taxes

Here is my food storage organized by type- milk, tomatoes, meat and beans, and fruits and vegetables

With my saving and gathering together my funds I found a way to pay my return without borrowing a dime! A miracle!

One of the principles that the Mormon church teaches is called self reliance and part of living that principle is having food set aside for a rainy day.  These days that rain often comes in the form of financial difficulties.  For me it is a heavier than expected tax bill.  When you are self-employed you have to pay an added self-employment tax on top of the normal income taxes that everyone else pays (you think they would encourage entrepreneurship, not punish it!).  This can easily be over 40% of your income taken out in taxes.  This year I thought I had made a bigger dent with my estimated payments and then was shocked with a high bill last Friday.  Now I have 2 weeks to scramble together all of my savings, call in money owed to me and work my but off logging hours.  I think with concerted effort I will squeak by and make the bill.  Now I know I should have planned better and been saving more but one thing I am glad of is that I have slowly been acquiring a little food storage for myself over the last year.  This consists of canned vegetables, fruit, milk, pasta, meat etc.  I also have a freezer full of various proteins and vegetables.   My new goal is to try and spend no extra money until April 15th.  I will be eating my food storage and forgoing all extra expenses such as going to movies or the theater.

I am certainly not asking for sympathy on this front.  I know many people who have lived off their food storage for a year or more.  It is definitely going to be a challenge as I am used to cooking with fresh food and trying new recipes.  I also love eating out but I’ve been trying to cut down on that so this is a nice excuse to eliminate it entirely. If any of you have good food storage recipes that you wouldn’t mind sharing that would be great.  Today I made pork tacos using salsa and some pork I had in the freezer.  It wasn’t quite as good without any cheese or normal fresh condiments but oh well.  If I can make it to the 15th and have the money for this payment it will all be worth it.  Then my goal after that will definitely be to continue saving so this type of crisis doesn’t happen again.

Regardless, I don’t think I will be traveling any time soon.  As sad as that makes me it is a reality and it is certainly better than going into debt (something I have managed to not do.  I am completely debt free at 29 and intend to remain so!).  I will sorely miss my Hawaii this year but alas that is the situation. (I know- poor me.  I don’t get to go to Hawaii for the 4th time in 4 years but it does make a me a little sad. I love it so much.  The thought of the lovely island chain often helps me get through the bad, stressful days.)

One website that has been helpful in preparing my food storage is http://www.providentliving.org/.  There are lots of companies you can buy food storage from, but I just made small purchases at Costco, All-a-Dollar, Walmart and Macys (a low-cost Utah based grocery chain).   I also focused on buying food that I enjoy such as pasta, sauce, canned chicken, fruit etc.  On the other hand, I did not buy spam or spinach because I don’t like either.  Its funny because most single people do not have food storage but last year I felt a prompting to get a little saved.  Now I am so glad I did!  I am always amazed at the little ways Heavenly Father takes care of and guides me.

Seriously send me those food storage recipes!  Thanks.

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Happy Easter! Christ is Risen

I don’t have long to write this Easter morning, but I have been contemplating my relationship with Jesus Christ lately.  It amazes me how His sacrifice could be both intimate and infinite.  While every single person who ever lived is saved from sin and despair, I have also been saved.  His grace and power coupled by divine love and empathy gives me the strength to live my life with purpose and obedience.   What a comfort it is to know that because He conquered death and was resurrected on the third day- we all can live again with our loved ones.  In my limited experience with such things the knowledge of eternal life and resurrection was truly a balm of Gilead.  It is my greatest desire to follow Him and be a worthy disciple.  I love Him and know that His church has been restored. He truly did die for my sins and sorrows- as He did for yours.  I have gained this knowledge through personal prayer, scripture study and the promptings of the Holy Ghost to my heart.  I hope you all have a wonderful Easter morning and that you try to find ways to be more like Jesus Christ every day.  Build up your testimony and then strengthen others. This is the way you will be Happy in life!  God bless.

True to the Faith…Legacy of Pioneers

Today is a holiday in Utah. We celebrate the arrival of the Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.   This first party led by Brigham Young was called to leave their homes for the third or fourth time- most of them in a matter of hours.  Gathering their few meager possessions and loved ones, they willingly left all for a better, more free life.  This exodus on the heels of the murder of the prophet Joseph Smith and the  extermination order by the governor of Missouri Lilburn W. Boggs calling for the “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State”.  In the country founded by religious pilgrims and Christian ideals they were literally kicked out because of their faith.  Making things harder  is that the initial party only knew they were heading west – no more.  Brigham Young didn’t even have an exact idea of the final destination. While on the way Brigham Young happened upon famed tracker Jim Bridger who discouraged the Great Basin as an eventual landing place for the Saints.  Bridger claimed the soil was too salty for crops and the winter’s too frigid.  He recommend they move on to California’s more furtile lands.  However, Brigham Young knew the Saints needed a place that other’s found undesirable, so the Saints could have the peace and space to prosper.   Eventually arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham and his counselors climbed Emigration canyon and exclaimed by revelation “this is the place”.

The Mormon pioneers continued the exodus until the arrival of the railroad in 1869.  While still difficult, most groups traveled without serious problems.  This all changed in 1856 when two handcart companies, leaving late, found themselves in the middle of a brutal Wyoming winter.  Hundreds died of exposure, fatigue and even despair.  Finally, word came to Brigham Young of the suffering and he sent relief parties out immediately- halting all further addresses at the General Conference, which was occurring when he found out.   To rally the people Brigham Young said:

“The afternoon meeting will be omitted, for I wish the sisters to go home and prepare to give those who have just arrived a mouthful of something to eat, and to wash them and nurse them up. You know that I would give more for a dish of pudding and milk, or a baked potato and salt, were I in the situation of those who have just come in, than I would for your prayers, though you were to stay here all the afternoon and pray. Prayer is good, but when baked potatoes and pudding and milk are needed, prayer will not supply their place on this occasion; give every duty its proper time and place.”

Even with relief, hundreds died in the Martin and Willie handcart companies.  The suffering and sacrifice was great.   Here is an emotional video with President Gordon B. Hinckley describing the price that was paid for religious freedom by the pioneers:

I often think- “Could I have done it?  Could I have been a pioneer?”.  I know that I am a pioneer in some aspects of my life, but I do not physically suffer for my beliefs.  Could I do it?  The simple answer is- “I don’t know”.  I suppose many of the pioneers didn’t know if they could do it before they were forced on the path.

The closest I can come to estimating my physical stamina for my faith is my mission.  Compared to the thousands of miles walked by the pioneers, it is nothing, but to me it was a grueling experience.  With my foot condition I was in serious pain everyday.  Sometimes I handled it well and at other moments I wept in pain.  This was one of the many difficulties of a my mission.  Why did I keep going? The simple answer is I knew it was true.  I wanted to tell the people of Indiana that  God does speak to a prophet today,  He does love us, the Book of Mormon is true, and His gospel has been restored.  This was worth any sacrifice .  The few people I was able to teach made all the achy feet seem like a small price to pay (or at least medium price!).  I am grateful to my companions for walking slow with me and putting up with my bad days! I wonder if the pioneers had bad days where they complained about their aching feet and muscles?  They probably did!

Still, as a group they were amazingly optimistic- even taking time for joyous events while on the trail.  When I think of my mission I had tough days when I wanted to give up, and I was certainly not pushed as hard as the pioneers in any way.  How did they do it?  How did they hold on to their faith so hard that they not only kept walking but danced at night and held concerts to sing the hymns? They even had a band, which preformed along the way.  It’s an inspiration!

I hope  I can face my small challenges with the same courage, happiness and religious devotion as the pioneers.  I challenge all of you to look at their example and with me, try a little harder to serve the Lord each day. This way their legacy will not be wasted or counted for naught.

The pioneer anthem was Come, Come, Ye Saints .  Please listen to it and remember the sacrifices they made on this pioneer day!