This is not an anti-Mormon video

I like this. If you’ve left the LDS church or are having a hard time with the church, that’s okay with me. I like this guy’s willingness to be bold and talk about it and “bridge the gap.” If you have left because of historical things like he talks about, I empathize with the feeling that learning about history has brought you pain and disbelief to the point where you left. I have nothing but love for you and trust in your journey.

I also want to say where I am at in my journey. I stay for reasons similar to his. I love seeing that despite humanness and mistakes, prophets have brought about beautiful doctrine that rings true to me, which isn’t found anywhere else. There have been MANY times when I have failed to carry out what the Lord expected of me, even simple things…or that I fought against it, delayed, performed poorly, etc.

Despite my mistakes and failures and clear LACK, I see beautiful things happen in my life as I follow the gospel laid out by Jesus Christ. Even if I don’t see clearly now how it all works, I know it does work.

For me, faith has become everything and is the principal I keep choosing daily to build my life upon in so many areas of my personal development. I have witnessed miracles, healings, power, visions, inspiration, ministering of angels, and the quiet whisperings of the Spirit. I realize that lumping all of those things together in one sentence sounds incredulous, but it is true.

And yet, honestly, it is hard to keep choosing faith. Every day I find myself making that conscious choice as I decide whether or not to pray, read scriptures, and follow inspiration I’ve been given. I have to remind myself what I already know from past spiritual experiences.

Like this guy said, if the evidence weighed heavily on one side or the other, there would be no place for faith. The lack of hard evidence gives me much empathy for friends who believe differently. But my favorite thing about faith is it looks for the good and holds onto it tenaciously. Faith trusts. Faith helps me repeatedly give all of myself to God. I am keeping faith. 💜

I am She, and She is Me

“Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” –D&C 38:27

For the longest time, I have felt that I fall extremely short in having humility. I have spent much of my life prideful and also fearful. I have felt that if I can’t be the best at certain things, then where is my value? If somebody excels at something, somehow I start to feel worse about myself. I know these thoughts are backwards, but I can’t help myself.

I have prayed for charity for those around me. I have prayed to be able to let go of my jealousies. I have prayed to have love for my “enemies.”

And oh, how I have admired those who are able to cheer on everyone around them, with no discrimination and no need for recognition themselves. I want to be one of those people; but when I try, it always feels very forced. And it requires a lot of mental exertion to go against my natural inclination of jealousy and feeling “less than.”

When I heard this talk by Sister Marriott a few months ago, her words described how I felt:

“Independently forcing ourselves to have humility and trying to make ourselves love others is insincere and hollow, and it simply doesn’t work. Our sins and pride create a breach—or a gap—between us and the font of all love, our Heavenly Father. “

But lately I feel like I’m feeling a sort of breakthrough, a merciful change of heart from God.

It started at Time Out for Women. Zandra Vranes gave a life-changing “spoken word poem.” The kind where you get the chills because of her inspiring vulnerability, pin-pricking truth, and excellent delivery. The kind where the whole audience jumps up with a standing ovation. It was titled, “I am She, and She is Me.” Racism and sisterhood were the primary topics; but for me, the message opened my mind to a universe of connection.

Microbiomes have been in my thoughts because I have been reading a lot about how our diet affects the microbes in our gut. As it turns out, the microbes in our gut have been with us for millions of years. Reading about how big of a role these living organisms play in our lives has been almost eery to me. We rely on these living things to help us stay alive and maintain good health. And actually, “The human we see in the mirror is made up of more microbes than human cells, … [and these] microbes provide more genes for human survival than human cells.”

We universally crave human connection. Could it be that the reason is because we are all more physically connected than we realize? What about the fact that we are all spirit children of God…? Are we all bound together in spirit somehow, unseen to the human eye, as brothers and sisters? Do we all carry some sort of homogenous spiritual substance from our Heavenly Parents with us? What about the way God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ are one? Just how connected are they? Can we all be connected as fully as they are?

I don’t think I am eloquent enough to describe this change in my perspective, but this is what God has granted me: I am starting to be able to look at everyone around me as if they ARE me. We are ONE.

She is better than me at something? That is wonderful; seriously, way to go! I am She, and She is Me.

She is hurting and alone? Wanting to help bear her burden becomes very easy because I am She, and She is Me.

She has messed up big time and made serious mistakes? Let me be the first in line to extend mercy because I am She, and She is Me.

She rubs me the wrong way and seems to judge me at every turn? I can extend my patience for her journey and realize she is not a badly finished product because I am She, and She is Me.

I can truly love her!

And this new perspective doesn’t feel forced or contrived, like I sometimes feel when trying to force charity. It feels very real and true to me. I feel like this insight has been a gift from God, an answer to prayer. It feels different than the idea of just imagining how someone else feels; it is one step further – I AM she; she IS me.

Of course, I am not perfect in applying this perspective; it may depend on the day and how “at one” I am with God. But I have found it applies well in any relationship. In marriage (I am he, and he is me): Can I envision us as truly “one flesh?” Can I parent with this perspective in the middle of a tantrum? I am my daughter, and my daughter is me.

My parting thought is about having the right kind of confidence so that jealousy has no place in my heart:

No matter what, we always have worth in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

I don’t have to be or do anything to have great worth. My value as a daughter of God is the same and is unchanged no matter what I do.

And that is the beautiful, gospel truth.

“[W]e put His will first and with a broken heart plead that Christ will pour streams of cleansing water into our pitcher. At first it may come drop by drop, but as we seek, ask, and obey, it will come abundantly. This living water will begin to fill us, and brimming with His love, we can tip the pitcher of our soul and share its contents with others who thirst for healing, hope, and belonging. As our inner pitcher becomes clean, our earthly relationships begin to heal.” –Neill F. Marriott

As I read that final quote, I get the overwhelming feeling that I haven’t arrived, and this is just a baby step on my journey to feeling more of Christ’s love for others. But for now, for me, it is working.

Image result for be one lds

A Silent Christmas

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Four years ago, I created a video presentation for my ward’s Christmas Relief Society activity. I had seen the idea from someone else, but I wanted to create my own version.

At the time I created the video, I had in my head that I wanted to share my creation with others on the internet, especially since it took me so long to create (about 10 hours). I had no idea at the time that so many people would end up viewing the video.

While creating the video, I felt heaven’s help in choosing quotes and especially in piecing everything together in a good sequence with the music. When I watched the completed video, I had the feeling that it was not my work.

“A Silent Christmas” was our theme for the night. After having a buffet of appetizers in the cultural hall, we entered the chapel silently where this movie was set up on a projector. The video is 25 minutes long, with a 20-minute message and five minutes of reflection time at the end. The women were asked to remain silent until they returned to the cultural hall  for a dessert buffet afterward. It was a great night!

I wanted to share the video here with all the links I have for downloading because the more I can share the message of Jesus Christ, the better.

This YouTube link has the video as originally presented, with text telling the women to return to the cultural hall afterward for dessert.

To download your own copy of this version of the video, go to my Dropbox page here.  The video will preview as 15 minutes long on Dropbox; but when you download it, you will get the full length.

I had multiple requests for a different copy of the movie, edited to remove the slide talking about returning to the cultural hall. Here is that version on YouTube. And if you’d like to download the video with no cultural hall text, go to my Dropbox page here.

If you’d like a Word document with the text used in the video, here it is.