Thursday, October 8, 2015

Spiritual Mud Cookies



Recently I viewed a video.  It made me sick.  For generations poor Haitians have been making, serving, selling, and eating Mud Cookies.  



This is what they eat to survive.  They work for days to mix the mud batter, carefully spoon every drop on to these sheets.  They purchase the dirt to make the cookies.  Sometimes they even have to go in to debt to buy it.  If it rains they could loose their investment.  When the cookies have baked in the sun they bag them and sell them.  I see images of women and children eating them.  They grimace.  There is little to no nutritional value in the cookies.  The mothers realize this, but they say, at least it is something to fill their hungry stomachs.  It makes them sick.

 I feel so guilty.  We have all of the food we could want.  We waste time during the day reading, watching movies, or checking our social media.  We sweep our warm clean floors and complain if ants or flies happen to invade.  We have every convenience at our disposal.  I can push a button to wash clothes and dishes.  I turn a handle to get hot or cold water.  I can walk or drive to a fully stocked grocery store.  If for some reason I couldn't afford any of these conveniences I would be able to find assistance to help provide for my families needs.

I was discussing this with my husband the other night.  I was telling him how blessed we are.  I just felt like I needed to do more than I am doing.  What is the purpose of my life.  I don't think Heavenly Father sent me to this earth to keep house.  I want to go to Haiti and teach those women how to never make another mud cookie, ever again.  I want to go to Africa and dig wells.  I want to go to India and teach about how aids is spread.  I want to go to Russia and lift spirits and hold orphaned babies.  I want to go to South Korea and save the abandoned children.  I want to got to Ethiopia and  feed the people.  I want to go to Syria and encourage.  I want to have a meaningful life.

My sweet husband in a moment of inspiration said, "We live here and there are people all around us who have been eating spiritual mud cookies for generations.  It is up to us to teach them what is better."  I knew that was right.  He was absolutely right.  We know the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We have the ability to open our mouths and share it with everyone that will listen.  We have the scriptures.  We can teach others how to feast spiritually.  This is my purpose.  This is why I get to live with all of these conveniences.  So that I can share Christs message of hope and love with all of those searching.

In the end, Gods work and his glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.  Our work should be to point others to Christ.  We can only do that if we are lights shining for him.
  This morning as I was cleaning I was thinking of my husband and I's discussion and I realized that sometimes I eat spiritual dirt cookies.  Just today I followed a link of gossip on my news-feed.  It led me through a waste land of mud slinging.  The whole time I was grimacing.  It made me sick.  Finally I pulled myself away.  I had partaken of a spiritual mud cookie.  Knowing there was no spiritual nutritional value, and with a mound of other spiritual food around me, I had chosen the mud.

Recognizing it for what it is might help me to leave it and opt for a spiritual feast in the future.  The Savior has asked us to come to him for he is the living water, he is the bread of life.  I in turn invite all to "Come unto Christ."  Through him you will find everlasting happiness.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The internet

I use the internet often.  I use it as a tool of my daily life.  I check in on friends.  I listen to music.  I work on finding my ancestors and learning their stories.  I journal.  I send messages to those I am praying for.  I look up how to make stuff.  I look up symptoms to see how sick my kids really are.  But I am really starting to get sick of one thing.  I hate the public shaming on the internet.  We tell our kids not to bully, and then we post pictures of people that we think don't look good enough to be seen in public. And we laugh!  At their clothing or their face.  We laugh at a child of God.  We give no thought to their feelings.  To the fact that they may see their picture associated with some terrible joke.  Why?   Is this what God would have us do?  What about our Savior that says "Feed my sheep" This is not feeding.  It is slaughtering.



We comment about people we do or don't know and the decisions we don't think they should make.  We profess to believe things, but do we actually do what we profess?  As Mormons we state, "We claim the privilege to worship all mighty God, We allow all men the same privilege to worship HOW, WHERE, or WHAT THEY MAY.  I've seen friends call for taking away another's rights in the name of liberty or religion.  What right do we have to do that?   None.
Why do Muslim women choose to wear veils?
We as Americans profess to believe in freedom.  Our Rights.  The rights that were written into our constitution.  The “unalienable rights” explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights include, but are not limited to, the rights of free speech and religion, self-determination with regard to one’s own property, the right to be secure in one’s own property,  protection from cruel and unusual punishment, and so forth.   The Romans and the Jewish leaders took those freedoms from our Savior.  He forgave them of course, because he is perfect.   He will also forgive us for our imperfections.

The reason for this post is today was that it was a sad day for me.  A family was tragically dragged through the mud after discovering infidelity and pornography addictions among their family members.  The wife can't privately mourn for her husband, her innocence or her future.  There is no where for her to hide while she walks through her pain.  This family is known especially in the USA.  There is no where that they could move to get away from the pain and anguish of their situation.

I pray for the hearts of our generation.  Please Father don't let our hearts fail us.  Please help us to remember to count our blessings not our trials.  Please help us to remember to give grace to those around us.  It is not up to us judge others.  That judgement is for Thee, the all knowing, loving, giving God and Father.  I worry about those of my friends who seem to  be caught in a whirl wind, grasping for something substantial to hold on to as they struggle to raise their families just like the rest of us.  I pray that they will find light.  Something of Thy teachings.  Something worth finding.  I pray that we can teach goodness.  I pray that we can show grace and understanding.  Father let us be the shoulder to cry on not the arm throwing garbage.  Let us wipe tears not cause them.  I know that Thow has sent thy son to bare these burdens.  Please help us teach of Thy divinity,  please keep us from turning others away from Thee and Thy Son.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Lord Giveth and The Lord Taketh Away BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD

If you want to compare notes on trials and hardships, I would say I have had a pretty stinking rough couple of years.  If you want to compare blessings and understanding, compassion and grace, I would have to say I have had a pretty stinking blessed couple of years.
                                         
Newly Weds, What would I tell that me now? Hunker down the Saviors at the Helm

In January of 2013 my world as I knew it with health, job security, insurance, independence, naivety, trust, certainty, goals, dreams, plans, and doe-eyed youth came quickly and painfully crashing down around me.  But like the pioneer stock I come from I tried to go forward with faith, prompting this post.  I remember later having a conversation with my brother in law. (Life obviously hadn't gone quite as lovely as I thought it would)  I commented how lucky I thought the martyrs of the church were.  They could profess their belief in Christ and die for the cause.  He quickly said, "Some are called to die in the name of Christ, but you are called to live in his name."  So there you have it I was stuck with all of the pain and anguish of loss.  I thought.
Four Kids, Great Job, Post Marathon, What would I tell that me now? Trials to come, the Lord will never leave you.

I remember one day when I really couldn't take it anymore and I hit my knees. I didn't know what else to do. I poured out my soul to Father and he showed me something I had been missing.  I had been missing the listening ear of an all compassionate all knowing Father. All of my prayers before had been, "Thanks for all of my blessings help me to be good, Amen"  This prayer looked light, "Oh Father I can't do this anymore, I am inadequate and hopelessly flawed and I am not gonna make it."   He basically told me, none of that matters, but I love you.  I felt such relief.  I had to have similar prayers many more times during that year.
5 kids, No Job, What would I tell that me now?  He loves you Perfectly

Almost a year later we became a little more independent.  We were starting over.  One day we had crazy hit the fan again.  My anxiety started to rise.  I was getting light headed.  I didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I didn't know how we would make it.  I couldn't breath.  I was having a panic attack.  I prayed. "Oh Father, I don't know what to do but I can't handle this. We are inadequate and we aren't going to make it on our own"  Nothing changed in my circumstances.  Instantly after that prayer my heart stopped racing, I could see straight, I did not feel sick to my stomach, and I knew the Lord was at the helm captaining my ship.

We moved again.  This time completely on our own two feet.  Real Real life started to sink in.  We had seen the Lord bless us too many times for us to think he was going to abandon us now.  We couldn't be fooled by not enough money in the bank and an unexpected bill come in any more.  We had seen the blessings of tithing too many times!  The Lord's math doesn't work like our math.  2+2 does not equal 4 when the Lord is the mathematician.   We had gone from $110,00 a year to less than $40,000 for our family of 8 and we were making it with the help of the Lord.  We had learned patience.
rental, panic attack, no money, 6 kids,  What would I tell that me now? More to come, through Him you will make it.

Then the heat got turned up again.  I was starting to feel pretty comfortable in our money trials.  Time for a new trial.  I had miscarriages before.  5 of them.  They were all early in the pregnancies (6-8 weeks).  It was a struggle but I knew if I made it past 8 weeks I would be fine.  Until I wasn't.  11 weeks into a pregnancy in February of 2015 I miscarried.  I was devastated.  It took me a little over a month to recover emotionally.  What did the trick?  I was listening to a Christian radio station and I can't remember what they said, but I can remember that it reminded me of a talk I had heard in church.  A woman had experienced a tragic death in her family.  She walked around in pain and anguish (how I felt) receiving comfort from others and the spirit, but never recovering.  Until one day she prayed for healing.  So, that is what I did.  I prayed for Christ to heal me.  He did.  Immediately.  I was whole again.  I could move on.

In April we became pregnant again.  I started spotting in July, but then it stopped.  I woke up on August 5th 2015 it wasn't spotting anymore.  It was a miscarriage.  I was 1 day short of 18 weeks. I prayed, "Oh Father I can't do this again."  A thought went through my head.  "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."  I knew it was supposed to bring comfort.  The Lord that I trusted as captain of my ship had taken away.  So I was going to bless his name.  I went forward with faith.  If that's what I am supposed to do, that is what I will do.
Now me, Today, unedited, no makeup raw broken/healed me. With God All Things Are Possible.

Over the last couple days I have thought more about that scripture, A LOT.  The Lord giveth...what?  He gives us opportunities to grow.  He gives us Life.  He gives us Blessings.  He gives us the Atonement.  He gives us Commandments.  He gives us Covenants.  He gives us Eternal Families.  He gives us Grace.  What does the Lord take away?  Not my Baby.  He took away sorrow.  He took away grief.  He took away my sins.  He took away the finality of death.  He took away pain.  BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.  Through God's Grace, through the Atonement of Christ I am alive.  Without Him I am nothing.  With him I am saved, sustained, comforted, carried, blessed.  Yep, blessed. I would have to say I have had a pretty Stinking Blessed couple of years.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

How to title pain?

almost 2 months ago I experienced terrible pain and loss. a miscarriage.  It was my 6th.  I was 11 weeks along. I cried. I wept.  I sorrowed.  I longed.  I felt empty.  I experienced suffering.  It was incomparable to anything I had ever gone through.  I wanted to hold a baby.  Several of my sisters were having babies.  my baby was going to come in August.  I had hoped for a girl.  I hoped for a sister for my little girl.  I had felt the babys presence.  I knew that babys spirit.  The baby died.  When I saw the blood I knew in my heart that it was over.
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Do you know that miscarriage feels like labor.  Like the labor you feel when you are going to deliver a living baby.  Do you know your water breaks. Do you know you bleed.  Do you know that your cervix dilates and your uterus contracts.  I tried laying down.  I tried willing the baby to live.  I tried.
 Do you know that there is a baby.  A body that you decide what to do with. No Parent ever should have to decide how to put there child's body away.  Do you know you cry?  So many tears.  The shaking, sobbing, rocking, holding your stomach kind of tears that only stop from exhaustion.  Mercifully you sleep.

I couldn't handle it.  I couldn't carry on with normal life.  I asked my husband to care for our oldest three children.  I took my youngest two and my broken heart/ bleeding self to my mothers.  I laid in bed with the worst headache.  My mom and my sister cared for my children.  After 3 days I had to face normal life again.  I had practiced my everything is fine face.  I would manage.

Everything was not fine.  I didn't want it to be fine.  For a month I went on that way.  For a month I told my husband as gently as possible that I did not want to be intimate.  I wanted to co-exist.  Living side by side with two separate lives.  I did not want to be kissed or comforted.  I did not want to conceive another child.  I did not want to feel "that way".  I could not convince myself that I would ever want to feel that way again. I would honor my covenants and remain married.   I did not want anything more.  

One day I remembered something.  I remembered that Christs atonement heals.  You know, the way a bone heals.  Meaning all better.  Meaning you are broken and I fix you.  All I had to do was ask him to heal me.  I went in my room.  I knelt.  I prayed.  "Father you have sent your son to heal us.  I am broken and I need to be healed.  I need to be fixed."  I was fixed.  I was healed.  Instantly . That deep depressing longing for the child I lost was gone.  The brokenness of my body was gone.  I was whole.  Jesus Christ said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Yes I miss my baby.  Through Christ my soul is healed.   

Monday, December 8, 2014

Scripture Study and Motherhood

As a mother my scripture study has gone up and down in consistency.  Some times I do well and other times I struggle.  Now that I am a mother of 6 I feel like there is little time for myself.  From time to time I have attempted getting up earlier and earlier only to inadvertently wake a baby or need to immediately care for a toddler.  As I pondered the problem I wondered what I would do.  Would there ever be a time again when I could meet the Father in study and prayer?

I went to a class one night, where I heard the teacher ask us to think of times in the scriptures when the Savior showed us that he kept his covenants.  As I pondered the question instantly the story of the Savior in the Garden with Mary Magdalene, came to my mind.  Mary was in the garden crying.  She was seeking comfort.  The Savior loved her so much, that he came to her to comfort her.  "Mary" he said.  She turned around, "Teacher".  She felt great comfort.  She must have gone toward him.  because he said, "Touch me not for I am not yet ascended to my Father".
Christ wanted to love and comfort this woman that he cared so much for.  He came to her.  He let her see him.  He had more pressing business with the Father.  As mothers we can comfort those that need comfort and then, like our Savior, continue on to the Father.
This has made such a difference to me.  Don't get distracted from your journey to the Father.  You can return to your little flock when your finished.

Renew your efforts.  Ascend to the Father.  I know the Lord will bless your efforts.
with love
-Jo

Friday, October 4, 2013

What is Faith, Why Baptism?




Last night I went to a mans home with hope to teach him the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we spoke, he kept referencing the book of Romans, in the New Testament.  His comment was, "If  Paul taught the people in this epistle that faith was enough, then it is enough for me."  No matter what was taught in the lesson, he kept referencing that statement.
       
So, in this post, I hope to cover some points that I was not prepared to cover last night.  First, who was Paul addressing in the Epistle of Romans?  He was living in Corinth at the time.  He was hoping to make a trip to Jerusalem, and IF he survived the trip, he would then head over to Rome, to be with the saints there for a time.  Reference  The letter or epistle was an attempt to prepare them for his anticipated arrival.  One of the main problems that he needed to address was the separation between Jews and Gentiles, because of rituals, namely circumcision.  The Jews, according to previous tradition showed their faith in Judaism, by circumcision.  The Gentiles had not been circumcised.  Paul was trying to teach them that even though their traditions were different, their riotousness depended on their faith, not the outward signs of their religious practice.  He taught that Abraham was good and faithful even before circumcision.  Which is why he was chosen to be a father of nations.  Even after his circumcision, it was his faith in Gods word which produced Isaac in his old age, not his circumcision.  So, faith is heart based, not ritual based.

                                              Come listen to living prophets

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I am also known as a Mormon.  As I have taught many people the gospel, one of the main hang ups I have found, is that we have a different way of saying things.  We believe that throught he atonement of Christ, everyone can be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.  I have told that to people, and they say, "Oh wait, you mean, you believe that Jesus Christs grace is not sufficient?"  But, as we talk about it, and I ask them about faith, we come to the same conclusion.  It is this, a literal definition of faith in your own life.  What is Faith?  I asked the man last night.  He said, "faith is knowing that Jesus Christ is my savior, and wanting to follow his teaching even or especially when no one is watching."  Why do we add that second part?  Why do we add the action to the knowing?


In  James chapter 2 we read that faith without works is dead.  What does that mean?  In the Book of Mormon there is a little analogy of a seed starting in vs. 28.  The seed is the word of God.  If you plant his word in your heart, and it is good, it will grow and swell, and help you to understand things of God better.  But, even this is not a perfect knowledge, so how do you get that perfect knowledge?  You nourish that seed.  How do you nourish a seed?  Again Christ teaches another analogy of the seed in Mark chapter 4   He starts to explain the parable in vs 14.  So what can we do, to nourish and grow the gospel of Jesus Christ in our hearts?  Lets go back to Romans and James.  They both reference Abraham, because of his great faith.  What did the Lord ask Abraham to do?  He was asked to give his only son as a sacrifice.  We see that this is an action.  What about the Noah?  He was commanded to build an ark. Moses? Hold up his staff to part the red sea.  Adam?  he was commanded to give burnt offerings.  Jonah?  Preach to the people of Nineveh.  Peter?  Fish for men.  Paul? Leave his former life and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  What about people who were not apostles or prophets?  Nicodemus asked what he could do.  Jesus told him to be baptized.  The children of Israel are plagued with fiery serpents, what does the Lord command them to do?  Look at the serpent on a pole, constructed by Moses and live.  He also commands them to cross the sea.  Rahab the harlot received messengers from the camp of Israel, and sent them out another way, believing and saving her family.  James calls her justified by her works.  So, what am I getting at, with these examples?  Faith is dead with out our works.  Our seeds of faith die, not because the seed is bad, but because we are not nourishing the seed with our works.

                                           
Christ says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."  By faith we nourish the word of God in our hearts.  Through nourishment or action that faith grows.  Now, for the next question, Why Baptism?  Does God need us to prove our commitment to him?  No.  So, why does he ask us to?  For our benefit.  I was baptized at 8 years old.  I made a covenant with Heavenly Father.  I promised to take his name, or become a Christian.  I promised to care for others.  I promised to keep his commandments, and to testify of Him.  In return, I believe he promised me that he would forgive my sins.  I received the gift of having the Holy Ghost with me at all times as long as I was a worthy vessel.  I was also given the promise that as I live the gospel, I will be able to live with him again.  Through this covenant, I feel great strength, given to me from a loving Heavenly Father.  I believe that he asked me to make this covenant, to give me the added strength and help.  He loves me enough to ask me to make a commitment.

Faith leads to action, actions results in greater faith and eventually knowledge.  Baptism is an action, that results in greater faith and strength in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  There you have it, my answers to What is Faith, and Why Baptism.
-With love.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Mink in the Chicken Coop

This morning my husband and I were sitting on the porch swing, enjoying the quiet and the beauty of the morning.  As we were talking about things, we noticed a chicken running over by the ditch.  It is not uncommon for the chickens to get out of their pen, so we figured that is what had happened.
Then after a little bit, I saw something that looked like a ferret run across the yard.  I pointed it out, thinking I had never seen a ferret in the wild before.  My husband instantly thought of the chickens.  He ran over to their coop and saw many dead- and the Mink not ferret fighting the Rooster.  He called for help.  I ran over there- a city girl at heart wondering what I might do.  Mostly I just stood back and cheered him on.  He chased the Mink back and forth until he had caught it and killed it.
As I looked at the sad scene before me- chicken feathers, dead chickens, dead pheasants, and dead chuckers, totaling nearly 20 dead,  I started to wonder why an animal would act that way.  The mink just seemed to kill for the pleasure of killing.  Why?

Then I thought of the evil in our world.  There is no sense of it.  Pornography or addiction, violence or stealing, murder and rape.  There is no reason for it.  It just comes into peoples lives and takes, for no other reason than taking.
The only thing standing between spiritual death by the evil that surrounds us is our shovel or weapon of choice(this morning it was a shovel), and willingness to wield it.  Will we be caught unaware like the chickens, chuckers, and pheasants?  Will we fight like the rooster?  Will we run like the loan chicken?  Will we chase it down like my fierce husband with his shovel?
When evil gets into the chicken coop, how can we react?
I am reminded of the scripture that encourages us to put on the whole armor of God.  You can read the whole thing in Ephesians 6, starting in vs. 11.
I am going to paraphrase it.
Girt your loins with truth
A breastplate of righteousness
your feet shod with the gospel of peace
a shield of faith
a helmet of salvation
a sword of the spirit
If we can be armed with God, we will not fall to the evil that preys on those around us.  We will certainly be talking about Gods armor in our family!