Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Old Joe Smith

I've often been asked how I can believe in a man that lied, misguided, used people, stole, had many wives, and on and on. My answer to that is always the same. It makes me believe in him more. Let me explain.

When I was growing up I was taught that Joseph Smith was basically "Christ incarnate". That always puzzled me because I thought he was just a man that was doing the will of God. Making him the 2nd Christ led me, and so many others to believe he was something different than a man called of God. It led me to believe that he did nothing wrong. That never sat well with me because that meant I couldn't relate to him whatsoever.

At the age of 14 when I left the church I started to read all about the founder of my church. I started to hate him even more. I started to hate him more not because of the things he did, but because of the way I was taught to believe in him in my youth. Joseph Smith wasn't perfect. That's something I've come to love about him now. As a 14 year old girl though, that went against everything I had been taught and everything I believed. What a found out later in life is that to truly know if something is true, you have to discover it for yourself.

I'm having a difficult time with people these days who leave the church in their later years and say they were lied to. It bothers me because I think, "How did you ever say you believed in something when you knew nothing about it in the first place?" The reason I was gone from the church for 10 years was because I had to do my research. I had to know the good and the bad. I had to know it all, because then and only then could I decide if I believed. At the age of 14 I knew that I couldn't tell people I believed in a church I knew nothing about.

As I grew up and studied more and more about Joseph Smith, the more I hated him. The more his lies, secrets, and actual history, came to me; I despised him. I thought he was a liar, cheat, and a thief. If we're being realistic, he kind of was. The thing that occurred to me though, is that I had never read the Book of Mormon. I had never read the keystone of the religion that I was raised in. If I didn't read their book, how on earth could I know if I believed it or not?

As I started the Book of Mormon, and all the way through, I knew for a fact it was true. I knew these people existed, and that this incredible story was true. What did that change about my feelings towards Old Joe Smith? Not very much. The thing it changed though, is that I knew that he was inspired by God. I know God lead him to that Book, and that it was translated correctly. Nothing else mattered to me. If the Book was true, than Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and I believed the rest would work itself out, and it has.

After I accepted that the Book of Mormon was true, I started reading every history book about my church that I could. I know I believed the Book of Mormon, but to say I believed in the church meant I had to know about my church. The more I read and learned the more I saw and believed that the church and it's teachings were true.

Let's just say for fun that I didn't believe in my church. I'm still a better person living within the guidelines of my church than I was when I wasn't living them. My church teaches incredible morals, family values, respect, honor, and all the things that I want for my future family. Even if it isn't true, I'm better being part of it than I am being not part of it.

As I've learned more and more (and by no means am I a scholar), I learned how much I appreciate and truly love Joseph Smith. I love him for his imperfections. They're a testament to me that the church isn't made of perfect people that I can't relate to. The church is made up of imperfect women and men that are trying to do their best. What a beautiful way of life. Each of us make mistakes, but we're each trying to do better. I respect Joseph Smith for that. I respect him because he was a MAN, not a God. He was just trying to do the best he could with what he was given.

Our church may not be perfect, but it's the most perfect for me. Our leaders make mistakes, say things that offend, and even make us sound crazy, but we're better being part of this church than we are not being part of it. I'm grateful for those imperfect people because they made me feel a little closer to my Father in Heaven.

I know my church is true. I believe it. I'm grateful for it's teachings, and values. I'm grateful for the men and women that make up this church, and all they teach me. My only hope is that each of us has something that brings us as much joy as my church brings me. If it's not my church that brings you joy, I hope whatever you love brings you peace, happiness, and joy. I'll respect your choice, and I appreciate you respecting mine. What it all comes down to is the 2nd greatest commandment ever given. "Love one another, as I have loved You."

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sexual Sin

I want to start this post with quoting one of my most favorite scriptures, and then talk about how it had affected my life.
Alma 39:5
"Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?"

I never realized how important this lesson was until I married Dave.  I didn't understand why sexual sin was one of the top 3 greatest sins on earth. It was fascinating to me when I read this, this past week while studying my scriptures.

For those of you that don't actively follow my blog, I was born into the church, baptized, but left at the age of 14. From 14-24 I didn't live the Gospel principles and I didn't tell people that I was Mormon.  I never wanted them to think of Mormons by the way I was choosing to live my life. I didn't feel that it was right to claim to be something I wasn't.

When I came back to the church, and went through the temple, it was the first time that the truth of sexual sin became real. It's one of the 3 greatest sins because you're taking the power of procreation into your hands. How amazing is that?! You have the power to create life! What can be more beautiful, more sacred, more loving, and more precious than the gift of a child? It hit me hard.

Yesterday was Mothers Day. I don't have children. I would do anything in this world to have them, but unfortunately Dave and I have not been able to have kids. Again, with having so many difficulties with getting pregnant, I realized how beautiful the gift to create life is. As I watch young mothers give birth to children, I often wonder if they realize how lucky they are. I also realize why it's so vitally important that a child has 2 parents.

The reason sexual sin is so great in my opinion, and why it is to be saved for marriage is because a child needs 2 parents to help raise it.  It needs to learn things from both parents that one alone can't teach it. It needs to have love from people who chose to bring them into this world. The child needs so much from each parent which is why God set it up as he did.

I'm so thankful for the power of procreation. I'm grateful to have learned why it's so beautiful, so powerful, and why it should never be messed with. I'm so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father that forgave me of my sins, and allowed me to enter his temple and be clean. My repentance and the atonement are some of the most special things I've ever been blessed with in my life. It's truly a gift because our Heavenly Father loves us so much. I'm grateful for his love, and gift.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I was Born to do This

I've noticed that we as women tend to let "stuff" get in our way of what we are supposed to be doing.  I was reading a blog by a non-mormon girl that was talking directly about Mommy Mormon Bloggers, and the "Perfect" image they portray.  She said they were fascinating because she'd never known anyone like that. She said she found herself wondering what was so wrong with her that she couldn't manage her life as well.  The truth is that we as Mormon Women Bloggers need to show the truth.  We need to show how crazy, hectic, unmanageable, disorderly, and crazy our lives are.  We need to do as Joan of Arc once stated when it comes to allowing the world to see our imperfection. It can be scary, but be not afraid, for your were "Born to do this."

I recently moved to a new home.  I have loved getting it put together, pictures hung on the wall, letting my crafty side come out, decorating my mantle, and on and on. That's fun, as it should be.  If you leave my front room though you'll see that I'm a wreck.  My jewelry desk that I sit at 35% of the day is covered with random stuff, and completely unorganized. Go to the next room and you'll see the kitchen counter covered in dirty dishes, along with the sink packed.  I have mountains of laundry sitting outside my bathroom, and heaven forbid I have yet to dust.  The blinds are always open though, it's always bright and sunny, and you'll always get a nice cold Pepsi (sorry, no Diet Coke here) when you walk in and sit down. I might even feed you.

I'm not saying I'm perfect.  My crazy house makes me just that, crazy.  I can't let it control my life. I'm not going to just not open the door if my front room is a mess.  I figure if it bothers the person then that's on them, but I'm going to choose to focus on them and give them my love an attention.

This isn't to say that I don't love the pictures of the perfect looking children, or the beautiful houses decorated with the most in style trends.  They're fun to look at, and it's great that people are able to have nice things in their homes. I choose to not let it get me down though. I like to focus on the amazing relationship I have with my husband. Sure, we're not taking family trips to Hawaii or building a new home, but we have a really comfortable bed where we snuggle every night to watch our movies together. I'll take that for right now.

So dear blogger where ever you may be feeling pretty down about your life. I want you to know that that every Mormon blogger out there isn't perfect.  We all don't own a fashion blog, or have our kids pictures taken professionally every week, or have homes that look like they came out of a magazine.  We have heartache and pain, trials, and hard times.  We have pitfalls, and screw ups, and we even put our foot in our mouth on occasion (just ask my sister's and mother in law).  We live real lives just like you do, so don't feel alone.  Because being a member of the church doesn't make us immune to real life.  I like to think it makes us more real. That's who we should be striving to be anyway.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Judgement is of the Devil

I had a very interesting opportunity to teach one of my nieces a very valuable lesson last night.  Her Dad is my brother, and was very harsh and judgmental of me growing up. For those of you who follow this blog, you know that I was not always a member of the church. From the ages of 14-24 I was inactive, and didn't even tell people that I was ever member of the church. During this time I had a lot of family members say that the bad things that happened to me were because of the choices I was making. They never saw that if they would have just shown unconditional love, like the Savior taught, I would've come back a lot quicker.

As I sat with this niece allowing her to tell me all about her life, experiences, friends, and what's important to her, she made a comment that struck a nerve with me. She was telling me of a young girl (my niece is in 5th grade) that is choosing to "Go Out" with a boy.  She was telling me in not so many words that she was better because she was choosing to not "date" because she's not old enough. She then made a very revealing comment. She said, "This girl probably won't get very far in life because of the choices she's making." I about jumped out of my skin. It reminded me of the way so many of my family members treated me over the years. As I finished letting her tell me about this girl, I said a silent prayer asking the Lord to help me teach my niece a very valuable lesson. We should never judge anyone.

As she finished I said, "Sweetie, do you think Aunt Jilly is a good person?" She said "Yes" then I said, "Do you think I've gotten very far in life?" (Knowing that this little angel thinks the world of her Aunt Jill). She said, "Well, yeah." I then took a beautiful opportunity to teach her something. I shared with her that I stopped going to church when I was 14 years old.  Her mouth about hit the floor.  I told her that I didn't believe in the church, I swore, I hung out with bad people, and I even dated boys before I was 16.  She was stunned.  Then I asked her this, "Do you think Aunt Jilly turned out okay?"  You could see her little brain turning. She said, "Yeah you did." I said, do you think that this little girl might turn out okay too? She's doing the same things that Aunt Jill did, and you just said that I turned out okay."   She said, "Yeah Aunt Jill. She might."  Then I took the opportunity to teach her how very wrong it is to judge another person.  Not only that, I taught her that judging someone can often keep them away longer, but if we will show them love like the Savior, they might come back.

When I was younger some of my family members were very judgmental of me.  Some even believed that I had Bipolar disorder because of things I did wrong in my life.  A couple were very critical, unloving, and harsh in the way they treated me because my life wasn't in perfect line with the church.  They have now seen how very damaging their judgments were, and that they should have shown me unconditional love. So many people think that judging is the way we should go about things.  If we truly believe in the Savior's example we would know that loving someone unconditionally is the most important.  The Savior is the only one that can rightfully judge us, for it is required of us to forgive all.  Until we are without blame we should never cast the first stone.

It's amazing what unconditional love can do for someone.  Loving someone will make miracles happen.  Love can change the world. Think how much better we would be as a people if we chose to love rather than to judge?  I know personally, I would've understood the Savior's message a lot quicker if I would've been shown unconditional love.

I'm so thankful for my Father.  He never judged me, punished me for not believing the church, and always let me figure it on my own.  He was always there to pick me up when I fell even if I still didn't choose the example he set. He never said mean things to me, he never said I was in the wrong, and he never held my choices against me.  He always loved, and hoped that one day I would see the correct path. Because of his example, and love, I came back to the church. I'm truly happy, just like he always wanted.

We should never judge another person unless we ourselves are blameless.  Since none of us are perfect, it is required of us to forgive all and love one another. If we claim to follow Christ that is how we should live our lives. I'm grateful for this opportunity I had to open my niece's eyes, and teach her a very valuable lesson. We should never judge another, but love unconditionally. That is how the Savior lived his life, and that is what he expects from us.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Where is your Faith?

As I sat in my big comfy chair in the early morning of this past Sunday, I was reading from "Jesus the Christ."  I try to study scriptures or church literature for a few hours every morning, but Sunday especially.  As I prayed that morning to be taught what I needed to, I was prompted to turn to a specific chapter.  That is when my answer came in the form of a question. "Where is your Faith?'

For about the last 2 months I have been really struggling with something.  I am dealing with an issue that pertains to my health, and how my health will be affected during the next few years of my life.  As I have stressed, and worried over this issue, I have been sent constant comfort and peace letting me know that it would all work out.  I don't know why I still allow it to bother me on a daily basis, when my Father in Heaven constantly comforts my fears, but I'm so grateful for his patience with me.

As  I read the Chapter "Peace, Be Still" it talks about when Jesus was on the boat with his disciples.  He's asleep when a horrible storm happens upon them.  The disciples are getting more and more afraid, until finally they awake the master in a panic. He instantly wakes up and calms the storm.  He then asks them, "Where is your Faith?"  I don't believe he is mocking them when he asks this, I think he is being loving and patient, asking them why on earth they would fret when he is with them?  Why would they allow their fears to overcome them.  At the same time, our Savior is so patient and loving, and knows that we are human.  I don't believe he was irritated with them in the least, in fact I believe he probably comforted them, and took a moment to teach them about Faith in Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior.

As I read this, my heart was filled with peace and comfort.  So clearly in my mind my Father asked me, "Jill, Where is your Faith?"  He then taught me a valuable lesson.  He taught me that he has sent me comfort and peace through the Holy Ghost, and has impressed upon my mind over and over the last few weeks that he is in control.  He has told me that things would be okay, and work out as they should.  He has constantly told me that I need to quiet my fears, and have Faith in him.  He also taught me that he loves me even though my Faith is lacking at times.  How patient he is with me for worrying, when I needn't.  

How often do we ask for peace, and then when it's sent, we dismiss it?  How often to we let our fears overcome us, and push out that sweet comfort from our Father?  We need to listen.  He need to heed his word, ask him for guidance, and then listen when he sends it.  In short, we need to have Faith in God.  Through him all things are possible.  He is in total control, and as long as we are doing the best we can, he will take care of the rest.