To Nurture and Teach – thoughts on my role as a woman.

To Nurture and Teach – thoughts on my role as a woman.

I’ve been reflecting deeply on my role as a teacher lately, not only as a teacher in a professional or church setting, but as a mother. I watched this “Happy Families” message the other day and it struck me how simply this mother taught her children from a very young age and the fruits that it bore.

After watching it, I began to invite my older daughters again to help me in the kitchen (something I had done before, but not continued) and they were thrilled to help me make smoothies and grilled cheese sandwiches and spaghetti and salads – simple things, but they were so happy to help. Actually, I ask one at a time to help (taking turns helping cook and play with the baby) and that seems to make things go a little more smoothly in my house.

I also have been trying to teach the baby (she’s 16 months old) to help as well. Every time we clean up toys, I show her where the toys go and give SO much praise if she can catch on to the simple task of putting the items in the bin. I’ve also started to have her help with the laundry. I place the wet clothes from the wash into a basket and she puts them in the dryer for me (and of course I praise her for her good work and efforts).

But it doesn’t stop there. I’ve been reviewing my role to be a teacher of the gospel in the home. I was a full-time seminary teacher for seven years and so I’ve always known that I could teach them, but for some reason, I thought that it was my hubby’s role to be the teacher (you know as the “presider”, see the Family Proclamation). I always assumed that we’d share the teaching responsibilities, (and in some ways we do) but I guess I’ve been waiting for him to get up and take charge with family scripture study, etc. Please understand, my husband is a good man, but I’ve been the one to remind the family to pray, read, and have FHE on a consistent basis.

So I’ve been pondering a lot lately if I am usurping a role that will help him to grow as I continue to insist on religious family activities. I’m not sure. But the more I insist on the activities, the more he becomes involved – yay!

Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that part of my role as a mother as the primary nurturer of our family is that of teacher and that it shouldn’t be one that I can neglect or delegate away or my children won’t learn basic things like laundry or dishes or meal prep or spiritual things like having a personal relationship with the Lord. And, I’ve been wondering if other women in the church are having the same struggle.

Years ago, I wrote my master’s thesis on the Spirituality of women and conducted some primary research to see how confident LDS women felt in giving talks, teaching lessons, and speaking about gospel doctrine (making comments in class, etc). The results were that women who had experience with testifying (i.e. serving a mission) or daily experiences with personal study of the scriptures were much more likely to feel confident discussing the gospel, and I assume feel much more confident teaching the gospel at home. Well, maybe we can’t be a missionary now, but we can have daily experiences in the scriptures!

Right before I had my baby, a dear friend asked me for ideas on how to study the scriptures. I began to compile some ideas, which I will now post as these ideas about teaching and studying are becoming more fresh and clear. To begin the next several posts, I want to quote from a talk by Elder Bednar which discusses the VITAL need for teaching in the home.

Brothers and sisters, think of the total amount of time in a week devoted to doctrinally based, spirit-filled instruction for our young people through the programs of the Church. Let’s assume they go to seminary. That might yield three or four hours of quality instruction during the course of the week. What would they receive in church on Sunday? Thirty minutes in sacrament meeting; thirty minutes in Sunday School; and thirty minutes in Young Men’s, Young Women’s, or Gospel Doctrine. A total of maybe five, six, or seven hours for the entire week, if we are optimistic. Think of the evil influences in the world. Will the Church and its programs alone safeguard you and me and our children in an increasingly wicked world? The answer is no. Please do not misunderstand this statement–I would not trust my children exclusively to the programs of the Church. I love the Church, but the Church operates as a support to you and to me as we create a home that is a house of learning. First and foremost, the responsibility is ours as parents to create a Christ-centered, spirit-filled home environment where the Holy Ghost can teach and testify to our children. If they know the why, they will quickly learn the how.

Take a look a the full talk – Teach them to Understand from a  1998 (then) Rick’s College Education Week address. I have sent it to my husband and we are going to study it together and try to find ways to make our home a better place of gospel learning.mormonad-unlimited-text-messages-1118424-gallery

Finally, I’ll leave with a couple of ideas for daily personal scripture study and a challenge. My sister is an amazing spiritual woman. When she had a lot of young’ins running around the home, she went to the distribution center and picked up a bunch of the cheapy copies of the Book of Mormon and placed one in every room in her house (bathroom included). Then, if she found herself with a moment or two in the bustle of mommy life, she would read a verse or two. She said that just by giving those few minutes of time, she had given a sacrifice to God and was taught from the scriptures.

Another idea is to listen to the scriptures (digital formats can be found here) while you are folding clothes, doing dishes, or being a taxi cab.

The challenge is to study this week. Everyday, study something in the scriptures (not someone’s thoughts of the scriptures) and ask the Lord to teach you. I know He will bless us in this endeavor in our own lives and we will find ways to teach our children as well.

Please feel free to share your thoughts, questions, ideas, experiences or scripture reading tips!

What’s the Difference Between a Saint and a Sinner?

What’s the difference between a saint and a sinner?

It’s really simple. Are you ready?

A saint repents. And then sins, and repents again. And then makes another mistake, and (you guessed it) repents again. I’m not talking about a person who laughs at sin and continues to do it, knowing that they can “just repent later”, but real people, with real addictive behaviors, working each day, hand-in-hand with God, to repent and try to be better.

You may think that I’m being trite, but I’m not.

A sinner either thinks that there is no need for repentance (is in denial that there is such a thing as sin) or thinks that he/she is so bad that they are incapable of God’s love, or is mad at God and doesn’t want anything to do with Him … right now.

All of it is a matter of the heart. Let’s go to the scriptures to see what the Lord has to say  –

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18).

I love that one. I love that the Lord wants to sit down and “talk shop” with us, “let us reason together“.

Here’s another one I love. This is for when the devil tells me that there is a quota on repentance –

But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven (Moroni 6:8).

Here’s one for when the devil tries to tell me that I’ve gone beyond the point of repentance, that the Lord is so disgusted with me that He doesn’t want to be around me –

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). 

And if that doesn’t work, I like this one –

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

But perhaps, one of my favorite scriptures of all, and the reason that saints go on repenting, and trying to be better –

Behold … I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love (Doctrine and Covenants 6:20).

A saint has felt the love of God in the most quiet reaches of the heart, in a place where no one else has access, and then desires always to have that love with them. Being a disciple of Christ is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work.  But the rewards are peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).

And here is the best part of this whole discussion. You and I and everyone around us can change from a sinner to a saint at any moment. Right now in fact. It is a matter of the heart. Going to God and confessing (telling Him what we did wrong) and forsaking (promising to not do it again), and if we mess up, confessing and forsaking again until we get better and better at making the distance between the sin and the repentance smaller and smaller. Until, eventually, we decide that we love God more than the sin and so we choose to pray through the temptation instead of committing the sin and praying after. Then, we begin to change our lives … to not be where the temptation is so readily available, to replace the bad in our lives with good.

We can do it. The Lord believes in us. I know that is true.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, …
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand (How Firm a Foundation, Hymn # 85).

Grace and Works – Becoming the Man or Woman of Christ

We just watched the Christian movie, “God is Not Dead” which was really fascinating. (Just as a heads up, there will be some SPOILERS AHEAD so if you want to watch it, don’t read the next few paragraphs). I liked the debates, I LOVED the conclusion that we all need to learn for ourselves, that God wants us to choose, but (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT) the end just left me without any joy or hope. To have the professor hit by a car and then just before he dies, he breathes out a final, “okay, yes, I guess I do believe in Jesus” didn’t really ring true or fair to me.

Perhaps it’s the age old Christian debate about faith and works. I absolutely know that we can be saved through the Grace (or as I call it the atonement) of Jesus Christ. But if we are saved to do nothing more than just keep living a sin-filled life, has the miraculous sacrifice been truly appreciated or used in the way that it was intended?

The Apostle Paul talked frequently about us becoming new creatures in Christ. The heavens watched with “anxious anticipation” to see what these new Heavenly Creatures would be like. Paul constantly tells us to be better. Look at some of his thoughts from Romans 6 –

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members instruments of righteousness unto God.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (verses 12-16)

I had a Christian friend who kept telling me that he was saved, so really there was nothing else for him to do. No need to change bad and destructive habits, no need to try to be better or to help others, or to read scriptures, or to pray, or to have a close relationship with God. He was saved, so any sinning that he did didn’t matter, because he was saved.

How sad. How much more in life he could have been, could have done, if he had allowed the Grace – the ennobling power, the Divine means of help and assistance (see BD: Grace) work as a power within himself to become a greater being – the Man (or in my case Woman) of Christ.

That is why the movie frustrated me. (SPOILER, again) for years, the character of the professor worked at ripping down faith, and then to die and say, “sure I’m saved”, well it sure doesn’t seem fair to allow him the same heaven as those Christians who were sacrificed to lions for their testimonies.  A more ennobling ending to that film would have been to see the professor begin to unlock the power within as he came to accept his anger toward God and then try to work it out with God. To help him find the love of God would be so powerful. Yes, there would be a difficult path ahead, but he could use Paul’s life as an example. The Apostle Paul – talk about a man of Christ!

At the beginning, he tore down faith, but then, had an amazing conversion on the Road to Damascus. The Lord testified of Paul to Ananias, “he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9: 15). The Lord knew that Paul could be so much more than he was.

He knows that about you and me as well.

More reading on the subject –

Romans 6, Romans 8

Blog-post that I wrote, Grace the Price has been paid, the opportunity has been opened.

Elder Oaks talk, The Challenge to Become

When Nepotism Meets Callings, Can the Church Still Be True?

When Nepotism Meets Callings, Can the Church Still Be True?

I was just reading my scriptures the other day when I found this passage of the calling of the twelve disciples in the Americas –

And it came to pass that on the morrow, when the multitude was gathered together, behold, Nephi and his brother whom he had raised from the dead, whose name was Timothy, and also his son, whose name was Jonas, and also Mathoni, and Mathonihah, his brother, and Kumen, and Kumenonhi, and Jeremiah, and Shemnon, and Jonas, and Zedekiah, and Isaiah—now these were the names of the disciples whom Jesus had chosen—and it came to pass that they went forth and stood in the midst of the multitude (3 Nephi 19:4).

And it occurred to me that this was the Savior himself choosing brothers and sons into the calling. He wasn’t worried about nepotism or being “fair”. Was I surprised? He did the same thing when He called His twelve at Jerusalem. Peter and Andrew were brothers as were James and John (see Matthew 10: 1-4). He did it with Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Called Nephi and Lehi (both the father and son and then, years later,  the brothers). David was strengthened by his friendship with Jonathan. Ruth and Naomi. The Savior went often to pray to His Father.

Why might He allow close ties into the apostleship? Might they need to strengthen each other for the difficult days ahead? Might there be some truth to strong righteous familial lines? Do we need good and righteous friends to strengthen us?

I know that there are a lot of people who get upset because of close ties in callings. Some people have left the Church because fathers and sons, or cousins, or friends, or close colleagues have been called to work together. They leave because they think that there couldn’t possibly be inspiration at work. That it’s all a bunch of nepotism and cronyism in the leadership of the Church.

Maybe, instead of thinking there is “something fishy going on” we should take some time to ask Father if the callings were inspired. Then we can ask Him how we can better sustain our leaders. And finally we should look around and find those friends and family members that strengthen us in righteousness and cling to them.

Who has the Lord sent for you? Who is He asking you to uphold?

Don’t be surprised if you are together for a purpose, a mission of righteousness.

Father in Heaven understands that righteous people need righteous people. (See, Friends, in the Strength of Youth Pamphlet.) Please remember, as you see people all around you leaving the strength of the Gospel, their Covenants, and the Savior that there are five wise virgins as well as five foolish. We are looking for the five wise. We will stand with the five wise who take the Spirit to be their guide (see Doc. & Cov. 45: 56-57) and we will say to the five without oil – “go to them that sell … quickly!” But don’t worry, there are still five wise who also think and act as you. There are many who still believe. And if you find yourself alone, ask Father to raise up friends for you, as He has promised.

Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life (President Ezra Taft Benson, Jesus Christ – Gifts and Expectations, December 1988). 

Don’t Take My Word For It …

learned for myself

So, my last two posts have been very intense. It is the side of me that is reserved for the disciplinarian at home, the professor that has to give grades to students who haven’t been working, and the teacher that has to establish rules and protocols to have an orderly and just classroom. Though it is a side that is intense, the truth of the matter is that I’d do almost anything to help my students succeed and that goes a million times more for my own children!

The most wonderful thing about the gospel is that, though there are rules and standards, a loving Father in Heaven and his equally loving Son want to help us succeed as well. Take a look:

For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;

And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours. (Doctrine and Covenants 78: 7, 17-18)

A while ago, I watched a video about a group of young women leaders who were trying to teach their youth why they should be modest. (I wish I could find the video, but after searching for half a day and coming up unsuccessfully, I couldn’t find it, so I will sum up.) Instead of doing a lecture, they sent the girls to the scriptures. Instead of spending an hour on it,  they spent several weeks allowing the girls plenty of time for thinking, searching, pondering, and praying. At the end of the time, each girl who had participated received direct revelation from Father in Heaven about the reasons that He wanted her (his own precious daughter) to be modest. I can’t think of anything better!

So, though I will teach revealed doctrine on this blog, the best thing that each of us can do is spend some real time asking Father directly about His teachings. The Savior himself said that the doctrine that He preached was not His own and then gave a special promise –

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:17). 

I would highly recommend that anyone who is facing difficult doctrinal issues (or as I like to call them, Doctrinal Abrahamic Trails) should spend some time with the Lord, taking His word at face value. Trying out His doctrine in all possible ways, or if we are not able to try it (let’s say the doctrine is about children and we don’t have any) we should carefully ponder with an eye on the eternities why the Lord would command that doctrine. I read in a blog once –  that we need to “approach the issue with an eye to what the Lord would have us learn from the law.” One of the sweetest things that a young boy of 14 said after he went seeking answers from God was, “I have learned for myself.”

Answers will come. All of these issues, questions, and problems are directly provided to help us turn to the Savior. And, just as I would do almost anything to help my students and my children survive and thrive, He would do, and has done, infinitely more for you and for me.

What does a religious person think about Marriage?

Last time, I talked about accommodations and trying to live together in peace with our neighbors. This time, I need to discuss Doctrine. There are many who will disagree, and their voices and opinions can be heard on many blogs, posts, tweets, newspaper articles, etc. This specific article is to try to help those who are honestly looking to understand why a religious person wants to uphold traditional marriage (I’m an English teacher, I have to explain who my audience is ;) ).

I had a conversation with a friend, we’ll call her Sue. We have a mutual friend, we’ll call him Bob, who identifies as homosexual.

“I can’t believe that you hate Bob!” Sue told me.

“I don’t hate Bob,” I countered.

“I can’t believe that you don’t want him to find happiness!” Sue said.

“I think that he is a wonderful person. I hope he gets whatever happiness he can find in life,” I said. (In fact, long after we had this conversation and well before I wrote this article, Bob asked me to be a referral for a job interview. I gave a glowing report because he has always been a hard worker and he got the job.)

“Then WHY don’t you want him to find love?” she asked.

“He can do whatever he wants and find love wherever he wants. But if you’re asking about what I believe marriage is, then that’s a different conversation.”

Then we had a long talk about what marriage is to a religious person (some of which I will recount here.)

Marriage is NOT something that religious people enter into for legal reasons. Laws of man allowing for taxes, healthcare, adoption, etc. were created LONG after marriage was established. Marriage was first established by God. It is His teaching, His law for morality. His definition of what marriage is. His law to bring children into this earth. He gave marriage as a blessing to His children Adam and Eve so that they could obey His commandment to multiply and replenish the earth (see Genesis 2:24, Genesis 1:28  and the revelation on family). You and I can debate and fight over a myriad of grays (of exceptions and accommodations) against such a black and white law, but unless you understand the LAW, it’s history and reason you will never understand why a religious person feels this way about marriage. It is not our law to change.

A religious person enters a marriage because they are entering a covenant relationship with God and their spouse. That means that God sanctions and blesses our relationship and we work to treat each other with love and respect. Anyone who has seen days of fighting and difficulties can understand why the Godly concepts of sacrifice, harmony, turning the other cheek, grace, and prayer are necessary to bring harmony to the home and stability for the children. I chose a spouse who agreed to bring those ideals into our marriage with me.

Laws that favor marriage have been something that civilizations have been creating for centuries in every culture around the globe. Those laws were not created because human beings didn’t want gay people to be married. The concept of “gay marriage” HAS NEVER previously been part of our society (note that I said that concept of gay marriage, not the concept of homosexuality).

We are in a very interesting time regarding marriage. Right now, in the United States the 6th district court upheld the state’s defense of marriage acts which means that as of this writing, gay marriage is legal in some states and not in others by district court law and very likely to go to the Supreme Court for ruling. My previous question of “which amendment is more important?” will come into play in the months and years ahead. I still feel strongly that it is my right to speak up in defense of laws that I believe are moral. It is my right to vote for people who will write, enact, and create laws that are moral. I will talk more about why moral laws are important to society in the coming days. It’s not as if others are going to suddenly going to stop pushing to enact laws that erode moral living in the name of freedom of choice. As they are pushing to force believers to act in ways contrary to their beliefs, I will talk and persuade and ask for laws that may have them act in a way contrary to their desires. It is our right as God-fearing citizens to speak up for Religion in the Common Square.

I am heartened by the fact that the Catholic Church has called for a colloquium on marriage this month. They have invited 14 faith traditions from 23 countries to come together, “Topics range from the beauty of the union between the man and the woman to the loss of confidence in marital permanence to the cultural and economic woes that follow upon the disappearance of marriage” (Vatican to Host Global Meeting, News Release —  3 November 2014).  We need to work together because the fights that are coming concern all of us. I invite all faithful to join together to pray for these religious leaders as they discuss ideas that will strengthen families and marriages.

 

Accommodations for Exceptions Rather than Rule Change

Exception to the rule

Politics. Ahh – rrrghhhhh! They get so beastly … so nasty … so quickly. I have noticed a pattern as I have discussed points of view with many of my friends who agree and many who oppose my opinion. First of all, it seems to me that many of my friends who are liberal minded care deeply about  social issues that deal with exceptions to the rule. My friends who are more conservative minded care about those effected, but worry more about the oppression that will happen if we make those exceptions ‘the law’ rather than ‘the accommodation.’

Let me give an example using gay marriage. Previously, the law of the land was such that those who lived as homosexual partners were being oppressed (not given legal rights to care for children, have domestic health insurance, etc.). The accommodation to the rule, that I believe would have worked the best, would have been civil unions. This would have given the legal rights to the partners who desired to make a life together, while still upholding the views of  the majority (as evidenced by the vote of the will of the people in the cases of marriage protection acts) regarding marriage. Instead of having discussion and understanding others’ points of view and needs, Judges have overruled the will of the people and the exception has now become the rule (the far reaching affects of ignoring the voice of the people is a blog post for another day).

“Why should this matter?” say many of my friends.

Because, now the law becomes oppressive to the majority. Rather than finding a way to work together for a solution, the answer has become – “force everyone to act, even if that means to act against their moral conscience.”

Here are some examples – instead of a gay couple going to a photographer who would be happy to take their pictures they would rather force someone (by civil lawsuits) to act against their moral conscience. The same is true for bakers, florists, etc.  – instead of going to those businesses who would be over-joyed to serve them, they seek to force those who disagree to act in ways that go against their moral conscience. Many who are liberal minded shout “hooray” and say “it is the price of citizenship.

What will happen now when a priest refuses to marry a gay couple?

My liberal friends assure me that this will never happen. That homosexuals only want to work with people who agree with them. This (as evidenced above) is obviously not the case.

Which right in the Constitution is more important to be upheld? The first (which guarantees the free exercise of religion) or the 14th (which is the equal protection clause)?  We know from history that the law and the people of the land haven’t always been kind or tolerant of the free exercise of religion, and yes, vice-versa for the equal protection clause (but that’s another blog post for a new day).

Many people who are not religious will say, “what’s wrong with marrying them, or changing your religion to incorporate all views?” But if we did that, then our religion will cease to be a religion. We would effectively cut ourselves off from that Being which we believe in. We’ve been warned by Him about that [capitalization has been added by me for clarity] –

And wo be unto him that will not hearken unto the words of Jesus, and also to them whom He hath chosen and sent among them; for whoso receiveth not the words of Jesus and the words of those whom He hath sent receiveth not Him; and therefore He will not receive them at the last day;

And it would be better for them if they had not been born. For do ye suppose that ye can get rid of the justice of an offended God, who hath been trampled under feet of men, that thereby salvation might come? 3 Nephi 28: 34-35

You see, those of us who have received the gift of Grace from the Savior are under condemnation if we turn our back on Him, do not carry our cross, or change His laws and statues. We do not have the right nor the inclination to do so. He paid a dreadful price for every act that each of us would commit, simply to give us the opportunity to repent, if we chose to do so. It was completely unfair, and unjust, but I am so grateful that He did. I will not proudly wave my banner in the air proclaiming the opportunity and right to choose to sin at so great a cost.

So now, instead of finding a way to compromise, to allow accommodations for those exceptions to the rule (so that the effected might not feel oppressed) we have created new rules that oppress others.

Unfortunately, this issue is FAR from over and it will only get more divisive over time as we continue to deal with questions that force a religious person to be a part of action that is against their moral conscience (i.e. a pharmacist who is forced to dispense the morning after pill, a doctor or medical person who is forced to perform or help with an abortion, etc.) Can we not find a way to deal with another’s accommodation (for example allowing a different pharmacist to fill the prescription?) Why must we live in a world that insists on ALL have to do it my way without accommodation?

In my job as a professor, I constantly ask my students to discuss matters of disagreement with civility. I ask them to take a look at other sides with an eye of understanding (not total agreement, but with respect toward those ideas and opinions that are different). Then I ask them to come up with solutions that will help. Sometimes we have to table a discussion with the “agree to disagree” compromise which leaves both parties with the ability to walk away with dignity. Mostly, my sweet young students come up with the “too bad, they just have to deal with it because it’s what I want to do” answer, which (though it makes total sense for a kid who truly feels that way) is not a way to live in society!

With the new changes in the US government, I ask my friends, both liberal and conservative to try to discuss rather than name call. To try to understand and allow for differences and accommodations rather than to try and force EVERYONE to go along with your agenda. To at least try to look for a third way that will allow all to live in harmony.

To the believer who hasn’t spent any real time with God, please understand that there are and have been TRILLIONS of God’s children here on the earth and He has a responsibility to all of them (living, dead, and yet to be born) not just to the world as you know it and have experienced it.

I ask my sweet religious brothers and sisters to remember that though we are trying to build a Celestial City, Zion Community, etc (depending on which form of Christianity that you believe in) we are not currently “in one” as a total society. Put away that all of that Righteous Indignation and let’s find kind and merciful ways to build that great Kingdom together (following the example of the Savior who lovingly accepted the person as they were, healed them, and then invited them to live a better life by saying, “go thy way and sin no more.” He did not crack the whip over the broken person’s head with a “you stop doing this or you will go to HELL” mentality. He only cleansed the temple twice in His entire ministry  – NOT on a daily basis on Facebook). I am NOT suggesting that we drop the fight for the souls of our brothers and sisters, but that we put down the whip more often so that people will actually want to listen to the amazing message of the Gospel.

To members of my faith who are currently trying to change the doctrine, I ask you to go and find out WHAT the doctrine is from the PURE source (that’s the scriptures and words of the living prophets, folks. Not the blog posts of the disgruntled who try to make laws based on exceptions to the rules. It takes study, and time, and humility to ask God why things are a certain way, but if you go to Him, He will teach you.)

To my atheist friend, I will always allow you to disagree with me with the mutual understanding that “we shall see” when we come to the other side. If you are right, I’ve lived a good life. If I am right, well … I’m open to a chat about religion anytime you want! ;) (That’s how I left it with a sweet Bulgarian man who honestly believed in the principle of sharing the shirt off my back if I have two and my brother has none. I admired his goodness and desire to help his fellowman. He promised to listen to my message on the other side if I were right. We left with mutual respect and handshake of good fellowship.)

We can live together. We can find ways to hear each other out and work together to allow others to live freely.