Saturday, August 23, 2014

What does God have to do with it?

HERE IS A DRAFT FROM AUGUST 2012.  Interesting...since I just spent a lot of time reading and studying Ecclesiastes and Job in the Old Testament.  The post ends somewhat abruptly and doesn't seem to talk about "liberating atonement" (I'm not sure what that is), nevertheless, it is a bit of a teaser and I like what I started. 

Okay, so my nephew wrote a paper that talked about liberating atonement. Not sure I understood everything he was saying, but I am thinking.

Now, I shall reveal. (get it? think and reveal.)

God does not need us to defend Him. When people wonder where God is when bad, evil, horrific things happen, what is the answer?

So we shift. We take God out of the equation. If someone doesn't believe that God exists because there is too much evil in the world....etc. Then why not think in terms of God not being in the answer.

What are we doing to stop the evil? What are we doing to keep bad things from happening? Why, in the first place, do people expect God to "take care of it"?

If something bad happens to you, what are you doing to make it so that bad thing doesn't happen to someone else?

Friday, August 24, 2012

My opinion about Ether 12:27

Okay, so I thought I would write a little something about a verse of scripture from the Book of Mormon that seems to be quite popular; yet, in my opinion it seems to be pulled out of context regularly.

I thought about writing something on Sunday and then kind of let it go. Then, I read something else later this week where the author used the same scripture I will be writing about here, and he used it the same way it was used in a church meeting. I was going to let it go again and then I thought I’d just write about it and see if I could explain what I mean about this scripture.

27. And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

The verses leading up to verse 23 are about the marvelous things that have been done by different people because of their faith. However, most significant to my point is that verse 23 talks about Moroni’s concern about his weakness in writing. He says that the Lord “has made us mighty in word by faith,” but not mighty in writing. It was apparently very difficult to actually write on the metal plates and Moroni said it was “awkward” to write (verse 24). He goes on to say that the words themselves are powerful and great but he stumbles to place them.

This makes sense to me since I understand what it is like to have a feeling or a kind of “knowing” inside of me that there aren’t words for. It is challenging to express the feelings and wordless thoughts of our spirits. I feel like this might be what Moroni is talking about – his feelings of weakness in being able to fully express what it is that he has in his heart along with the awkwardness of actually trying to write on the metal plates. It isn’t like he had a word processor with spell check.

The Lord tells Moroni in verse 26 that fools mock, but His grace is sufficient and “they shall take no advantage of your weakness.” The Lord acknowledges that this is a weakness for Moroni. THEN, we get to verse 27. I understand people want to apply scripture to their lives in ways that can help them overcome their trials, and so forth. However, I think it is interesting to keep verse 27 in Moroni’s perspective. This is the Lord speaking to Moroni and not his interpretation of something the Lord said. It says that weakness leads to humility. The Lord’s grace is sufficient for those who humble themselves and have faith in Christ; and, then weak things become strong.

Somehow this verse has taken on a life of its own even though the verses before and the verse after are referring to a specific “weakness in writing” that Moroni is sharing with the Lord. Verse 28 continues with the “weakness in writing” reference when the Lord refers to the Gentiles and how their weakness will be revealed (hence their humility to read the words and use faith to understand them).

Moroni goes on to say that he was comforted by remembering how important it is to have faith in the Lord and he again starts listing great things that can be done with faith. He remembers that what he is doing will be manifested through grace because that is what he was promised: “my grace is sufficient.” (I think that most of the time that we are comforted it is because we remember something that has come to us by grace. The Holy Ghost, the Comforter, brings all things to our remembrance.)

Moroni ultimately remembers the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, is a witness of Jesus Christ) and he reasons through his feelings of inadequacy with the realization that the Gentiles need to have charity when it comes to his “weakness in writing.” He then prays for the Gentiles to have grace so they might have charity. (If the Lord’s grace IS sufficient, then the Gentiles will humble themselves with charity; therefore, they will be able to see beyond the “weakness in writing” with their faith in Christ.)

In verse 37, the Lord tells Moroni that if the Gentiles don’t have charity it isn’t Moroni’s fault because he is faithful. “And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.”

1) Moroni expresses concern about his weakness in writing unto the Gentiles.
2) The Lord tells him that His grace is sufficient and the Gentiles needs to humble themselves.
3) Moroni is comforted and remembers the great things that the Lord has done through grace, charity, and faith.
4) Moroni remembers that ultimately our strength will come when we sit down in “the mansions of my Father.”

It has been my experience that most of the time when people refer to verse 27 they isolate the verse and it becomes some kind of promise that if we have enough faith we can overcome our weaknesses. I don’t see it that way. I see it as a process of concern over a weakness and then having a spiritual encounter with the Lord that leads to another process of remembering the big picture, with some reminders about humility, charity, and grace thrown in for good measure. Yes, of course faith is important and powerful and miraculous. However, in the context of these verses I see Moroni's experience here to be more about grace and the process of Moroni coming to terms with his weakness rather than actually overcoming it.

Like Paul, there may be a “thorn in the flesh” that lasts longer than we believe we can tolerate. Both Moroni and Paul were reminded that the Lord’s grace is sufficient to see us through WITH our weaknesses. We do what we can to be faithful, to turn to the Lord with humility, but in the end it is about the grace of God that will see us through to the eternities.

If we can overcome our weaknesses then of course that is a good thing. My point here is that if we have to continue to bear our weaknesses with humility and experience grace then we have become stronger than we were before.

NOTE: I think we all define weaknesses differently. Perhaps that is where the biggest misunderstandings come from. I'm not always sure what people are referring to when the talk about "weaknesses". We each have our own concerns that we take to God and hope that we can work through them with light and truth. Some weakness we might be able to overcome and others we simply learn to cope with as we become stronger through the grace that is sufficient to our needs.

What happened to 2011?

Okay. So I don't know what happened to 2011. I don't know whay I didn't ever post anything. I think about things all the time. I guess I just don't have the patience to reveal the things I think about HERE. I don't know about turning over a new leaf. I don't even know what that expression really means. Honestly. What is it about a new leaf that you have to turn over. I am more likely to turn over a leaf if it doesn't look new, but looks diseased or something. I then turn it over to see if there is something on it. There you have it. No promises. Let's see if the last four months plus a week or so of 2012 has something to say HERE. Carry on!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Life Stories

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I read a book a while ago where the author talked about how as we experience different things in our lives its like we are writing stories. Not writing with pen and paper, but figuratively writing stories that tell about who we are.

One thing I found particularly interesting was when the author talked about how heaven would look and feel to someone who had been through a lot of hardship and adversity. He thought those who had endured a hard life would see heaven differently than those who had lived an easier life. He also wondered about what kind of story he’d have to tell about his life when he got to heaven. He wanted it to be a good story – something meaningful.

I’ve been thinking about what makes a good life story. Yesterday at a church meeting a young man who is graduating was asked to bear his testimony. He was on the track team with my daughter and he had done really well this year jumping. I leaned over and told my daughter that he should tell his story about the district track meet. She said that would be too hard since he didn’t qualify for state and he had done winter track and worked really hard and everything. I thought that sounded like a really good story. I like interesting stories. I like to know what it is that helps people endure their trials. I wanted to know what he was thinking. He didn’t talk about track.

This afternoon I was thinking about how there are parts of our stories that we feel so strongly about that we don’t have words for them. Maybe that’s where this young man was at – that stage where our emotions are pretty raw and we are forming words in our minds but we’re not ready to let them go. We’re not ready because there’s still too much emotion. Some times it is just for a short while that we have those kinds of strong emotions and some times that feeling lasts for a very long time. Maybe that’s why some of us have such a hard time bearing our testimony - we’re trying to put words to something that is a strong emotion.

Then I was wondering about the stories I’ve read about people that have died and come back to life – the near death experiences that people share. They talk about seeing a bright light and an indescribable feeling of joy and love. So I decided that maybe we won’t need words to tell our stories when we get to heaven. Maybe we’ll have the kind of strong emotion that we don’t have words for.

If we were all telling stories about our lives when we’re in heaven it makes sense that we might not need words. After all, we all speak different languages and have different kinds of beliefs and ideas because of our experiences on earth. The one thing we would all have in common is our feelings and emotions.

Maybe we would know and feel the stories that other people were telling because of how we felt, because of what we know from our own experience. We wouldn’t need words because we would know and understand a story by virtue of its feelings. We knew those feelings on earth and we may feel them even more profoundly in heaven.

I’m thinking we’ll be able to feel each others stories when we get to heaven. I may not know the entirety of someone's hardship if I hadn't experienced something as painful, but I would know pain and I would know the emotion. It would just be a deeper level than what I know and maybe I would feel it. Maybe I could feel what they feel because we would both be safe enough to feel it together.

We have a hard time finding words when we feel an overwhelming sense of grief and pain, or an abundance of joy. Both feelings could come from experiencing the light of heaven after enduring a hard life.

I wonder… If we didn’t know what adversity and hardship was like would we have lots of words to tell our stories? I don’t know if all those words would make a very interesting story if there wasn’t a depth of emotion to carry them. I think the most interesting stories to listen to in heaven would be filled with endurance and persistence. Just like the kinds of stories I appreciate right now.

The stories we are creating in our lives are the stories that will be most meaningful when they can be felt by others. It makes sense to me that heaven would be perceived as a brighter and more joyful place when we realize what it is that we have overcome to be there.

When I think about what young kids that are graduating are experiencing right now I understand that they are making decisions that will have a lot to do with how their stories are written. They are deciding whether or not to go to college, how to pay for college, where and how to get a job, whether or not to join the military, go on a mission, whom to date and whether or not to get married, and basically how to take those next steps into their personal stories.

Stories are filled with lots of disappointments and trials. These young people can expect all kinds of experiences to pop up in their stories. They may trust someone who betrays them or fall in love with someone who turns out to be a vampire. Whether it is vampires, wizards, or superheroes there are parts of different stories that resonate with us and touch our hearts. What elements do these popular stories have that stirs our emotions? What do we learn about ourselves and our hearts when we feel strongly about something?

I had an experience today where I saw the difference between two hearts. In the same situation I saw one person’s heart soften and another person didn’t appear to feel anything from what I could see. In my mind I saw the difference between one person who was touched by an experience and another who looked like he was closing himself off to feeling part of his own story.

Don’t you think our hearts need to be open in order to learn from our challenges and trials? The strong feelings that touch our hearts are what make our stories interesting. They are what we have in common with one another. They are the feelings we share when we don’t have the words to express ourselves.

More importantly, they are what help us to feel the power of the Atonement in our hearts. If someone is all about sunshine, lollipops and rainbows then I’m not particularly interested in hearing their story. I never really liked happy endings anyway. To me those endings were just part of a story, but not the whole story. Life doesn’t keep going with endless happiness where everything turns out just the way everyone wants it to over and over.

Feeling discouragement, disappointment, hopelessness, helplessness, sorrow, pain and grief are part of our life story. Our stories also need hope. They need joy. They need goodness and light. Above all, they need truth. All of these feelings generate strong emotions. They are all part of our life story. They are all part of the Atonement.

Ultimately, God is the author of our stories, but we choose how much of the Atonement we will use in our lives. We choose the elements in our stories that touch our hearts. It will be interesting to understand how it feels to share our stories with one another without words. It will be interesting to feel what heaven is like after all we’ve been through.

Saturday, March 27, 2010



So, the nurse practitioner that the compounding pharmacist recommended actually e-mailed me back. Miracle? I don't know. She said she was familiar with CFS but not an expert, but she is an expert with adrenal fatigue and hormones. I'll take it.


I called to make an appointment and guess what? They are only in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Today is Friday. Hello! Why don't these people have real jobs? (just kidding)


I haven't been to a doctor for my chronic fatigue in years. Seriously. I just pretty much have given up on anyone's ability to help me. I know that sounds weak-minded perhaps. I went through so many years of trying EVERYTHING I could find that I just sort of gave up and carried on the best I could.


Well, I think my peri-menopause changed that. I think it whipped up my CFS symptoms. One or the other or both or whatever, I don't know. I just know that I have passed through a lot of storms and believed that this was my life, the end. I feel strongly that I must do something to try to help myself. Anything, really.


It's been five weeks or so that I haven't "slept". I sleep, but not normal or even semi-normal. It's affecting everything. Of course, physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. I've had droughts of sleep before, but this is harder to push through emotionally. I think because of all of the droughts the reservoir is dry, so this period of time is especially critical.


Oh, man. I don't want to have to go through 11 years of medical history. I don't have the mental energy to go through everything. I really, really, really don't like going to the doctor. Really.


Carry on.

Monday, March 22, 2010

a poem

a poem from 8-18-09 (after my walk along the canal bank)

The days are dark yet the sun is shining
waiting for a breath of life
three white doves flew up before I reached them
i shaded my eyes and watched them fly
what do I know from their flight?
Oh, how I wish they could have released me from my dark of night.


A tiny blue flower in my path
amidst the weeds it blossomed
and then the realization that the blueness in its delicacy
was also a weed
I saw the reflection of yellow in the water
before I looked up to see the sunflower on the canal bank
also a weed, I smiled.


There is beauty inside of my heartache
just like the tiny pink petals of a morning glory weed
twisting around a plant
just like the purple flush of weeds overtaking a field
and the yellow sprig of color on the milky weeds
in the flower bed


I can see the trees and mountains behind them
I can touch the soft white underside of the green
leaf of an ash tree
I can rub my fingers against the softness of a rose petal
the tiny red flowers on the ground cover catch my eye.


I just can't feel the beauty
I sense it
I'm grateful for it
closing my eyes I can try to hold on to it
why won't God let me feel it?
He's in charge of beauty.
The heaviness hurts
even with beauty inside.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My virtual friends at DS understand.

To my Daily Strength friends.

WARNING: a touch of bitterness and overwhelming fatigue below. Enter with caution.

Didn't sleep AGAIN last night. Not sleeping is weird. Things take on an eerie sense of meaning that is hard to shake off. Especially, when it goes on and on.

I've been having inharmonious conversations with God. I really haven't been able to feel Him much for a long time. Quite sad. Please, no lectures on grace. Not now.

When you're not blazing tired you can focus on blessings. When you ARE blazing tired things tend to get hazy, as in not so clear. There's a lot of emotional numbness. Yet, there's pain. If you don't know what it's like to be numb and yet in pain then you probably aren't blazing tired.

Part of my problem is that thoughts keep creeping in about how I’m not better than last year or the year before. In fact, I think I might be worse. There may be ebbing and flowing through this illness for some people but when the flowing is in flood-like proportions for what seems like an unendurable length of time it's just plain bad news.

Yes, there are those who are worse off than me. Yes, there are degenerative diseases that take a far greater toll. Yes, I GET IT! Dang it, I don’t want to get it. Getting it hurts. Getting it makes me realize this is it. Getting it makes me have to keep going when all I want to do is give up. Getting it makes me want to scream even when there isn’t anything inside of me to scream with.

A lot of the time I feel like I just can't do this. People who say you should never say “can’t” must not know what CHRONIC fatigue feels like. There are times when can’t is possible. An odd use of word play, a bit profound, but true.

Where does the bitterness come from? Too many sleepless nights and sad days struggling to move. Just tears. Even when I’m not crying.

I guess I wouldn't feel so upset if I didn't want to live.