Tag: religion

{ Abrahamic Tests and Wandering Souls }

meII e1371685718664 { Abrahamic Tests and Wandering Souls }

I’ve headed into a “Woman Cave” for a week long honeymoon with myself and my favorite things: paper and paints, a journal and pens, profound and thought-provoking books, and passionate music; and I’m hanging a big old ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign to life so that I may enter into the bittersweet nest of introspection without unwanted interruption.

After two months of ranching (which I really regret not blogging about), witnessing more life and death than I have in my whole life, unwinding and unraveling in the beauty of alfalfa fields, mountains at sunrise and sunset, old cotton trees, running on horseback through unpaved trails, herding thousands of head of sheep to greener pastures, being away from ‘busy’ and immersed in nature and cycles of life, and feeling the most content I have ever felt in my entire life (though my skin is weathered and aged from the elements), I find myself with a new challenge.  There is no rest for a wandering soul.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls we never in our wildest dreams expect, for better or for worse.  So here I am in a little town far from home, in a tiny room, with natural hot springs within walking distance.  I’ll be pouring in knowledge and wisdom through books and authors, and painting my expressions, pouring out the emotions of my soul.  I’ll be soaking in the healing waters of mineral baths under the moonlit nights ahead, pondering the issues at hand, seeking guidance from On High.  Pushing.  Pulling.  Stretching.  Growing.

I just recently read this, and nothing rings truer right now:

God doesn’t give you the people you want,
he gives you the people you need.
to help you,
to hurt you,
to leave you,
to love you,
and to make you
the person you were
meant to be.

We have plans for our lives, and God has other plans.  We can hold tight to what we hold dear, or we can surrender our will to His.  When we tell Him we will do anything for Him, we musn’t say it casually, because He will test us, and He may not provide a ram in the thicket to bail us out.  And sometimes He asks us to do things that seem contrary to His Word, which can leave us confused.  But then we remember that asking Abraham to kill his son Isaac, wasn’t exactly orthodox, and full of contradiction, and so we can find some comfort and assurance that not everything has a textbook answer; that it is by His spirit He reveals truth unto man (John 15:26).

I’ve tried to get inside the mind of Abraham.  He was willing to face persecution.  He was willing to be misunderstood.  He was willing to be falsely accused.  He was willing to risk and give up family, and friends, like Jesus says he expects of us if we are truly willing to follow Him. (Matthew 19:29: – “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”)

Though I’ve not talked about it much, if at all, in this space, I am of Mormon persuasion, and our modern Scriptures declare that we must be “chastened and tried, even as Abraham” (D&C 101:4).  The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through.  And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God… God will feel after you and he will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings.”

Why?

“We will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:24–25).

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19; emphasis added).

The Lord affirmed that He would “give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith. And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal. Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy. For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me” (D&C 98:12–15).

Abraham was tried in consequence of his righteousness.  But Abraham was not some anomaly in the Scriptures.  The Lord must try all his people “in all things, that they might be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom” (D&C 136:31).

Do we love our Lord above all?

Are we okay with rewards not of this world?

 Weighty matters to ponder, indeed.

 

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Forgiveness Part II | Infertility | and a Jewish Scholar

IMG 3080 e1313559347162 Forgiveness Part II | Infertility | and a Jewish Scholar

Day 2:  BYU Education Week

I just got home from a long day of back-to-back classes, out the door at 7am and just home now – almost 10:30.  It was a wonderful day, but I’m so spent and my brain is mush – so all I can do is give some highlights.

* * * Forgiveness * * *

Very interesting that I posted yesterday on forgiving loved ones after my mind ran wild during a class on how to write your family history… because today, I ended up in a class called, “Finding Healthy Forgiveness”.  In order to get a free pass for the week, I chose to volunteer a little bit of my time each day by hosting a class (welcoming guests, answering questions, directing traffic, etc.), and this was the class that I was assigned to.  How apropos.

Some might think I am insensitive to those who have been victimized because of my logical ability to forgive so easily, and to encourage others to do the same.  This class reminded me of many valuable points.  But first, I want to quickly add that the reason I am probably so logical and ideal about forgiveness now, is because I used to be the chronic victim.  And I had to work through a lot issues surrounding that.  It’s easy for me to forget that and take it for granted when watching others struggle with being a victim or with forgiveness.

Some valuable points I learned (sorry to do bullets… but I’m so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open):

  • Forgiveness only works when you are safe and no longer a victim (for those truly in victimizing situations).
  • Forgiveness only works with healthy boundaries in place.
  • You must implement an exit strategy to be safe if you are in an unsafe environment.
  • You cannot grow in a constant state of survival.
  • You must take control of your situation – you cannot wait for your victimizer to ‘get it’, or wait for them to apologize.  It may never happen.  Take control and get safe.  Then you can take your power back and work on forgiveness.
  • The only people who can be chronically victimized WITHOUT CONSENT, are children.
  • Real love may require bold confrontation – not repeated abuse, apology, and forgiveness (a never-ending cycle).
  • Act for yourself – do not be acted upon.
  • Forgiving is not forgetting, it’s letting go of the hurt.

One cheesy but good quote from Dr. Phil:

“You have to forgive people, not because they deserve it, but because you deserve to be free.”

A great quote from James E. Faust, who understood that forgiveness can not be hastened in one who isn’t ready:

“Keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in.”

Happy I ended up here today to bring balance to my sometimes too logical approach to forgiveness.

* * * Infertility * * *

Another amazing “accident”.  Usually I map out all of my classes that I am going to take the night before.  For this hour, I had not really looked at the schedule, because I wasn’t sure how long I might have to stay in the previous class I was hosting.  When I got out early enough, I looked at the schedule and saw the title: “Enduring Well the Journey of Infertility”.  Okay.  Wow.  On my way I rushed.

Used to classes filling up fast and sometimes not getting a seat, I rushed in the doors and walked into a virtually empty room, reminding me that I’m a minority – part of a minority’s group.  The room was quiet, awkward, and dull.  And soon to be very tearful – my own tears contributed.

The speaker was infertile for many years until finally having success with invitro fertilization.

She got us.  She got me.  She gave a poignant analogy that I cannot repeat right now – that might help one to understand what it might feel like to be infertile.  ”Freak of Nature” and “Defective” are my choice words for explaining it.

In my Church it is taught that giving life is the single most virtuous and greatest thing you can do.  The first people, Adam and Eve were given their first commandment, “be fruitful and multiply”.  You can see how this can be hard on the psyche… forget about the innate urge and desire to procreate, teach and train a child, and have posterity…

Neal A. Maxwell said that some of us have trials to pass through, while others have allotments to live with.  No one escapes – no one is special.  If it’s not infertility for you – it’s something else, I know.  In a talk entitled: “Content With the Things Allotted Unto Us“, he also said that yearning childless couples have so many prickly daily reminders.

Babies and kids are everywhere.  While your friends continue to have babies through the years – you’re still fighting just to have one.  Baby showers come and go – and soon your friends kids are teenagers.  And because you haven’t had any yet – you pause for a moment thinking that is impossible, thinking you can’t be that old.  But you are.  You’re old and you have no babies.  And you cry and continue to move through life feeling insignificant and valueless, nonetheless searching for and convincing yourself you can be fulfilled, otherwise.  Hmph.

I swear my days of convincing myself that I’m at a place of being okay if I don’t end up having babies are getting more and more.  Which is a good thing, right?  But somewhere deep inside will just not be fooled.  Because I still have those moments, those unexpected moments that surprise me when that flood of emotion wells up and the tears start flowing.  I thought my tears and I made peace – but apparently not, and they seem to have the upper hand, much to my dismay.

At the risk of sounding insincere after relating all of my woes, I truly, truly trust in the Lord, His timing, and being part of a bigger plan that I cannot see.  So, while it’s still deeply painful, when all is said and done, I find peace in this.

* * * A Jewish Scholar * * *

By far, the best class I attended today.  If I could only attend one class for the rest of the week, this would be it: “Alfred Edersheim: a Jewish Scholar for the LDS community”… An orthodox Jew converted to Christianity.  He died in the late 1800′s.

Since learning about my own Jewish roots in the last year, I cannot get enough of Jewish history, culture, and religion.  I’m fascinated by it all.  And now I’m more than eager to consume all of the writings of Alfred Edersheim!!!

His works involve helping the Christian understand and appreciate Jesus the Messiah by teaching them the fullness of the Old Testament in Jewish context.

“For God to explain a trial would be to destroy its purpose, calling forth simple faith and implicit obedience.”

-Alfred Edersheim

Sorry no pictures and probably a little dry:-(  I just needed to do this brain dump and get to bed so I am well rested for tomorrow!  Hopefully I can make it back here tomorrow night.

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What I Love About Teeccino Herbal Coffee

IMG 1032 What I Love About Teeccino Herbal Coffee

Teeccino Herbal Coffee

There’s not too much I don’t like about being Mormon, but not drinking coffee is one thing!  I was a coffee drinker before I converted five years ago.  Not the kind that had to have her coffee every morning, but the kind that really enjoyed it with dessert. Especially cold, windy days called for a visit to Starbucks or Peet’s to get a cafe latte, and an iced Americano was a favorite treat on hot summer days.  Breaking the habit was hard.  Very hard.  Even today when a roasting pot wafts my way, I am delighted with its distinct smell and fight the urge to have a cup.  But today, my friends in similar quandaries – or those who are just trying to give up coffee for other reasons, I have great, great news.  It’s called Teeccino Herbal Coffee.

Here’s why I love Teeccino Herbal Coffee:

  • It’s not coffee.  There is no coffee, whatsoever, in it.
  • It smells as good as coffee.
  • You brew it in a coffee pot just like coffee.
  • It has the same texture and consistency of coffee.
  • It tastes strikingly similar to coffee.
  • You add your normal creamer and sweetener as you would with your favorite cup of joe.  (I use raw milk and Stevia)
  • It tastes great hot and cold.
  • It’s mostly natural, containing barley, carob, and a variety of other nuts, figs, and fruits to simulate the coffee taste.
  • I can drink it.  And I do… oh, I do.  Lots and lots.
  • There is no caffeine.
  • It’s non-acidic.
  • It restores an alkaline balance in your body.
  • It’s safe before, during, and after pregnancy.
  • It’s good for you!
  • It’s GLUTEN FREE!!!!

The one thing I cannot say is that it’s not ADDICTING.  Because I happen to think it is.  I start a pot in the morning, drink several hot cups, chill the rest, and have an iced-coffee dessert, or two, at night.  Mmmmmm.  I am in love.  So, so in love.  Maybe just slightly less than with my husband.

It comes in light, medium, and dark roasts in a huge variety of flavors from Vanilla Nut, to Chocolate Mint.  I’ve been sipping the Mediterranean Java, which I hear is a little sweeter than some from the Maya collection, which more exactly imitate the true taste of coffee.

Some things to know:

  • Despite there being Barley in it, it IS Gluten Free.  A study confirms that BREWED teeccino does not contain gluten.
  • The makers of Teeccino only deal in fair trade.  (yay)
  • Teeccino does not taste EXACTLY like coffee.  But it is a DARN good alternative!
  • You can buy a whole Teeccino sampler pack before committing to a one-pound bag.  Free shipping.
  • This is VERY hard to find in stores.  I did not see it at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but I did find some at a local no-name health food store by my house.  I do believe Sunflower Markets carry it.
  • The best place to buy is from Amazon.  A one pound bag is normally about $10.  You can buy a 3-pack for about $22 on Amazon.  Buy that book you’ve always wanted at the same time to get your total up to $25 and get free shipping :-)
  • You can drink it now, and thank me later :-)
IMG 1082 e1296531220997 What I Love About Teeccino Herbal Coffee

Brewed Java Teeccino

 

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I Am Thankful for Love, Versus Being Right

DSC 7548 I Am Thankful for Love, Versus Being Right

front row: Vincent, Enzo, Sophia, Gianna
back row: Emily, Savannah, Brian (brother), Laura, Joshua, Chris (brother), Sue (mom), Len (dad), Jenny (sister), Todd, me, Mark (hubby)

…Family.  This shot was taken just a few days ago.  We’ve been talking about doing a family photo shoot for years now.  This was supposed to be outside, in a park full of beautiful Oak trees, with all the fall brilliant colors among us.  But it rained most of the day.  I was glued to weather.com, found a break in the rain, rescheduled the shoot.  But alas, weather.com was wrong.  Thanks to my resourceful sister and brother-in-law, they found this wine tasting room just a few minutes away, who graciously let us use their space for our hour long photo shoot!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and as I reflect upon being grateful for my family, a few things come to mind.  Like most families, we’ve been through our ups and downs.  But what I’m grateful for is that I can always count on that upswing after hard times.  We’ve experienced challenges that would threaten the survival of any family – starting when my siblings and I were very young with my parents divorce (they remarried five years later), to only a few years ago when I converted to another religion than what I was brought up with (kind of – at least in their eyes).  It really shook my family up, and at the time, none of us knew how to handle it, and most of us handled it poorly (myself included).

After surviving my parents divorce, my sister, brothers and I were very tight growing up.  And we took that bond with us through our years of moving out and eventually getting married and starting our own families.  I took for granted a loving family, because nothing really challenged it.  So, when we were faced with this trial a few years ago, it cut deeply.  Something as personal as spirituality and religion can evoke overwhelming and often uncontrolled emotions when challenged, or when you think a loved one is headed down the wrong path.  It was a bittersweet time for me – finding my own way – but feeling cut off and misunderstood from my family.  I felt so very alone.

After a couple of years the awkwardness seemed to dissipate – something I so yearned for and welcomed.  It’s still lonely sometimes, not being able to share a sacred part of my life with the ones I entered into a familial contract with before the earth was born.  But I also believe that I signed up for this experience, to become strong and resolute.  Our families, as difficult as they may be at times, are a vital part of our personal growth in our earth school.  They are our most sacred teachers – the ones we chose to learn from and grow with.

Today, I am thankful for a family that has found its way, the best we know how.  For choosing love over our righteous positions.  For choosing a relationship over hanging on to being right.  My husband taught me, that he’d rather be friends than be right.  I love that.  And I love him for teaching me.  If being right means having a wall between us, then I don’t want to be right.  I want to be with you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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