Christ-like Love

We will be focusing on Christ-like love. I remember one time that we were taught that a marriage took 3 people, you, your spouse and Heavenly Father. With this unbeatable mix, we have the ability to do much more than we would have ever been able to do with just the two of us.

What is Christ-like love? Well, please remember the saying “As I have loved you, love one another.” Think about it. What kind of love did Jesus give to those around him? It was unconditional love. It was a love where he was willing to give all that he had for his brothers and sisters. Not only then, but those who came before him and those who came after.

We are not expected to sacrifice ourselves like he did and it would not be accepted because we are not able to do so. We are not begotten of our Heavenly Father. We are not perfect. Jesus was. But, he did teach us many wonderful things and the one that we can use to change the world is to love unconditionally. We can love those who are not perfect and have difficulties in spite of those difficulties.

My family has taught me this kind of love and I am grateful to them for it. As you know, my family is quite dynamic. The ones who taught me this love were an ex-husband who taught me that I could love someone and walk away from them to protect myself and their soul, my daughter who joined the Army(which can be quite frightening to any parent), my oldest son who decided that he was gay and has been living the lifestyle, and my youngest son who gave me a very difficult time just before I encouraged him to move out on his own. I found that I have the ability to love each of these people in my life without having to love their choices.

Spencer W. Kimball said, “For many years I saw a strong man carry his tiny, emaciated, arthritic wife to meetings and wherever she could go. There could be no sexual expression. Here was a selfless indication of affection. I think that is pure love.” I was in a ward where I saw more physical and emotionally challenged people than in any other ward. One couple that I saw was the organist. She guides her husband in and gently sits him down on the front pew by her. After the sacrament was passed, she would then guide him out for a short time before she brings him back for the rest of the meeting. There is a gentleness that I see in her eyes and a trust that I see in his body. I am glad that I have the opportunity to see this in my life experiences. I have a chance to see many variations of Christ-like love on a daily basis and I am truly blessed for this.

May we all have a chance to encourage it in our hearts as well as see it in others.

Am I Fasting or Starving?

Matthew 6:16-18
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy
Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Many times, I have taught the value of fasting to my children, but it seems that I had at least one that did not understand no matter how I have tried to teach him. On Fast Sunday, as soon as our meetings were finished, he gathered his brother and sister and found me and dragged us to the car so that we can drive home as quickly as we can and eat everything in sight!
What is fasting?

Well, to me, it is a time set aside to focus on the most important issue that needs to be addressed with our Heavenly Father. It is a time where all other things are set aside, including eating, so that the communication is clear. How can you focus on your closest desire and be making a sandwich? How can
you talk with Heavenly Father with a singleness of thought when you are trying to decide if you want cheese or not on that sandwich?
Is Fast Sunday a day once a month that we suffer because we miss a couple of meals? Or is it a time to reflect? A time to heal?
I had a question that I felt that I needed to have answered. I asked for my Home Teacher to come by that night for a blessing. I wanted to make sure that I was hearing what was correct and not just my imaginings. So, I decided to fast. I thought that it would be difficult. I do not normally fast other than on Fast Sundays, or for a long period of time. It was in the middle of the week, so I was able to skip breakfast, then when lunch came around, my non-member friend who always walked with me to find restaurants to eat at, wanted to go. I told her that I was not going to eat. This surprised her, but not so much as the fact that I told her that I also was not going to drink anything-including water. So, we walked together. She ordered a meal and ate it in front of me, but it did not bother me because we were talking about the value of fasting and it has opened up a lot of doors to discussions that we have had since. I was not hungry. I was still praying through the day in preparation for the blessing that I was to receive. Meanwhile, many of the answers were being answered during the day, but not the main one. I was grateful for each answer, but I was still waiting for the big question to be answered. My Home Teacher came by and brought another with him. I am not sure if they had been fasting as well, but I had found that most Priesthood holders will fast before a blessing. This helps them as well. I was given a blessing. I asked specific questions, but the answer was not specific. In being thus, it has even blessed me more than I had thought! Instead of a yes or no, it was more along the lines of being “You will receive the peace to know your answers.” For many days afterwards and even now, I am still blessed from this particular blessing. No, I never got a direct answer  for the one question to be answered, but I had let it go and began focusing on what is far more important-
Eternal Life.
That is more important. The rest will fall into place. By the way, I did not eat until the next day because I was not hungry. I really was not hungry even then, but when I did break my fast, then the body reawakened and let me know what it’s needs were.
Try this, use it with a sincere desire to understand not only the act of the fast, but to understand the blessings that come from it. I know that you will be blessed if you do these things.

Have you prayed today?

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye
When none but God is near. …
O thou by whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way!
The path of prayer thyself hast trod;
Lord, teach us how to pray.
(Hymns, 1985, no. 145.)
Have you ever taken the time to read the words to this song?
When I was a little girl, my parents had a book that was called: “Do your prayers bounce off the ceiling?” I felt that I had not been praying in a manner that would do more than do the bouncing. One day when I was delivering candy, pop and other items to vending machines, I decided that I wanted to try to pray for the whole time that I had been working. This would be for 6 hours! I had never prayed for longer than a couple of minutes without running out of things to say.
So I decided to try this. I began really early in the morning so that I would not encounter too many of the employees at each of the locations that I was visiting. I would have everything set up the night before so that all I needed to do was drive away. When I was in the car and before I turned the key, I began my prayer. Then I would continue praying from that point on until I returned home. It was hard at first, I was grateful for the interruptions that happened at most of my locations because then I could begin again. But after a while, I found that my prayers were becoming more of a conversation and that when I was interrupted, I would listen instead of doing all of the talking.  I found that many times, I was crying because the spirit was so strong! I found also, that each of my prayers were being answered in an immediate way. Sometimes with a sense of humor, such as if I complained about the traffic, then seconds later, the next light was green and the rest of the trip was clear. I would then acknowledge that the answer was there and that the ones answering my prayers were better on top of things than I was. I always felt that they were right next to me and that they were always smiling when I understood the message. This created a closeness that I had never felt before. I desired to keep this feeling closer to me, so I would stop the prayer at the end of the trip, but then check in throughout the day. Eventually, I found that I was praying all day long, but in a manner that those around me did not know. I had a spirit that was always there so that I could just pick up where I left off. I did not have to wait to create this feeling. I was glad for this, so much that I reveled in it!
When I did not pray, I found that I was empty, that I was alone and that it took me a long time to recreate the feeling that there was a 2-way communication with our Heavenly Father and our Savior.
Pray.

Pray always. Try this, for it is a good way. Do it a little at a time, for as we are guided in 2 Nephi 28:30, “Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little.” If you do this, you will be blessed considerably!

Love thy neighbor

Matthew 22:39
This is such a hard topic because if you do not love yourself, then how can you love another?  How can I love myself? How do I know that I love myself?
Love is such a strong word, but not easily defined.

What is it? How do I know if I feel it? Is it defined by books? How about movies? Songs?  Is it something that you feel for a short time? Is it something that is forever?
To me, love is a forever feeling. It has many levels. You can love an animal, a child, an eternal companion, and the Savior and each has a different feeling. This is a good thing because it is an individual feeling.
This is why the definition is so difficult to pin down. I can love a dog because it is there for me for all of its life, but I can love dolphins and never be around one. What is this feeling of love?
Poems have been written for centuries concerning this word.
Now, do I love myself? How do I treat myself? Do I care about me?
I am a child of my Heavenly Father and I am to be treated that way.  This means that I am to take care of myself. My body is a Temple that I have been given. How do I treat my Temple? Is it clean and bright and open for good things to happen? Is it a little dusty from misuse? Do I have rooms in it that I would not like a guest to walk in? Is there enough light in each of the rooms? Is it welcoming, or do we avoid it when it is around us?
How about what I am stuffing in my library? What kinds of media is in there? If I went into my memories of music, will I be assaulted by pounding, screaming noise, or will it be soothing and peaceful? What about the movies? If I open the door to this part of my mind, will the movies be supporting or will they be bad? The same thing about the time I spend on the computer and books.
How does this affect my connection with Heavenly Father and our Savior? If I thought about them, will they be right there, or will they be far away because I have turned away from them.
My soul is a very precious thing and it tells me what is right if I listen to it. It will guide me to find out what love is.
Love is the total acceptance of another person, place or thing. Most of the time, this is used in reference of another person. But it is also in reference to ourselves. We desire to accept ourselves. We desire to find the person that we were born as.
When I look in the mirror, I can either look for the flaws, which will bring in the negative feelings, or I can look for the light of Christ. When we find this love of ourselves, we then have the ability to shine with the love of our Heavenly Father and our Savior. We are able to express ourselves better and then go from looking inward, to giving outward.
How do we do this?

By praying to our Heavenly Father for guidance, by reading the scriptures that are available to us, by listening to our prophets who already have this gift.  When we have learned to love ourselves, we then have the ability to open our hearts and to “Love our neighbors as ourselves”.

Who should we trust?

Many times we have heard the words in many ways: Trust Me.

In this day and age, most of those who say these words are using them to hurt us. So, who can we trust? The car dealer? The bank? Our Lawyer? Our landlords? Our boss? Our family members? The insurance company? The government? Spiritual Leaders? Heavenly Father? Our Savior?

Who can we trust?

I had 2 very wise men who talked with me and they have both basically said the same thing. “Trust, but Verify.” One was my hometeacher, who is always watching out for me as best that he can, and the other was my Bishop who also watches out for me.

So, this means, do your homework. Test the sources before you let them take over a part of your life.

But does trust mean that you put the source under a magnifying glass? No, most of where you put your trust in, is where your heart is. Listen to it, it will always tell you true if you try to do the right things and bring the Light of Christ into your life. Also, the Holy Ghost is a great source to lean upon as to
who should be trusted.

In 2 Nephi 28:31, it states: Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

You will never be hurt by Heavenly Father, the Savior or the Holy Ghost. This has been proven time and time again. But if you feel that you need to test your feelings about them, it is recommended that you do so. Read your scriptures, Pray about them, Ask if these things that you are reading about are true! Then listen. Listen with all of your heart. Take time from the world to search this out.

Remember, the Gospel is active. Take action! Learn about something that you want to believe in and try it out! This creates joy in your heart and brings you closer to Heavenly Father.

I have done this myself. I challenge what I am being taught, with an open heart. Each time that I have done this, I pray first, then do what I am asked from Heavenly Father and see what happens. I am so
pleasantly surprised because what I am expecting is so much lower than what I receive!

I was asked if I had a glass of water, was it ½ empty, or ½ full. I told him that not only was it ½ full, but full to overflowing!

I trust in Heavenly Father! I trust in our Savior! I trust the Holy Ghost! They help me to know who else to trust in my life and I truly appreciate it.

In Mosiah 4:6-7, it states:

I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—

I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world.

The Gospel according to Mary

I was born and raised in the church and found that many words had no meaning to me because I had heard them so often and assumed that I knew what they meant. They were words such as “Remission of Sins”, “The Atonement of Christ” and “The Gospel”. At one point in my life, I decided to really find out what “Remission of Sins” really meant. When I did a lot of studying in the scriptures, I found that it really meant that every little sin was removed. That the soul was pure and if we work hard at it, we can keep it that way.
I found that I really did not understand what “The Gospel” really meant. People threw the word around so easily, that I knew that it was a thing. I knew that it was so important that people have died for it. I knew that the whole basis of our church was founded on it, but I did not know what it really was.
What is it? How complicated is it? Is it something that I could understand in it’s simpliest form?
I began to fast and pray. I began to really open my scriptures.
Now, I do believe that answers can come immediately because they do. They happen to me quite often and I appreciate it. If the answer is not one that I want to hear, I hear it anyway. If I do not receive an answer, that is my answer. The key is that after I pray, I listen. I spend maybe more time listening than
praying. Some people may think that I am sleeping because I relax so much when I do this, but when I am finished, I know what my answer is and I act upon it.  The words “God is Love” began to form in my mind. Then “The Love of Christ” followed after.
I found that I have to put my information to the test, so I challenged the Lord. I told him that if I did everything possible to be Love, to give Love for one day, that I would be following his commandments. I would then expect to receive the blessings that he has promised to me.

WOW!!! Be careful what you ask for!
I found that my focus was on love. That if I felt any other feeling, that it meant that I was not a follower of our Savior. I did not want that to happen, so when other feelings crept in, I would then do my best to remove that feeling as soon as possible.
I then asked for a blessing to make some decisions in my life because the life of a single mother, raising 2 children basically on her own, who had lost her job, was losing her home, a boyfriend that wanted to marry her, but could not decide if he was ready, and had a plethora of other issues plaguing her.
I was told that I was going to be making a lot of hard decisions and that they were going to hurt. But to know that I was not alone and that I would have the courage to do these things.
Within 24 hours, I had found that I had a new place to live that would not cost anything for a short time and that it would give me a chance to get back on my feet.
I had a temporary work service that found a job that would give me more than the unemployment that was going to run out in 4 months. It was still temporary, but it gave me a chance to catch up and clear out some debts that were getting nasty. My sons were beginning to talk with me again-yes, we had encountered the teenage angst that I had hoped to miss. I saw old friends that I found that either have greatly improved their spiritual lives or else need my love to help them grow. I also realized that my boyfriend was not for me because he could not cherish me the way I needed, so I gave him up. This was difficult, but it really defines the word “Unconditional Love”. I loved him unconditionally, and so I hope that his choices in life will give him joy. I was saddened by his choice, but I was not angry at him.
So, now that I have rambled on, let me tell you what the Gospel really is to me. It is a four letter word called Love.
That’s it. Love.
Heavenly Father gave us this place to live and give us a chance to be like him because he Loved us.
Heavenly Father gave us his most precious gift because he Loves us.
Jesus Christ gave his life for us because he Loves us.

We are to love everyone around us no matter who they are because they need it.  I challenge you to try this out. Only for one day. Do everything throughout the day only with the focus of love. If there is any other feeling, address it and change it to love. If you like the results, keep it up each day. Pray for the ability to keep it with you each morning so that it stays fresh in your heart and mind. I promise you that many doors come open to you when this happens.

A matter of perspective

Elder Boyd K. Packer said this to the youth: “Oh, youth, if you could know, the requirements of the Church are the highway to love, with guardrails securely in place, with guide signs plainly marked, with help along the way. How foolish is the youth who feels that the Church is a fence around love to keep him out. How unfortunate to resent counsel and restraints. How fortunate is the young person who follows the standards of the Church, even if just from sheer obedience or habit, for he will find a rapture and a joy fulfilled.”

Therefore, if you really think about it, everything is a matter of perspective. If you let your heart be joyful and glad while doing all that you feel is right, than things around you increase in their ability to help you continue to be joyful. But, if you worry constantly about things, feel that things always go wrong, life is hard, than that begins to happen to you. They will be wrong.

Personally, my goal is to constantly bring joy into my life and to those lives around me. This is why I am so glad that I have the Church to give me wonderful ideas as to how to improve myself.

I find that the revolutionary part of who I am sometimes concerns people, but I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints because I want to be. Not because someone told me to be.

I use the ideas taught to me to change my world. I listen for things that ring truly in my heart and I find that this church is the place for that to happen for me. Therefore, the revolutionary part of me is that I do not just accept what I am being told, I weigh it for truth in my heart and then I act upon it.

May we always try to do our best to see things from a wonderful perspective!

A gift of God

“I am the one who believes that love, like faith, is a gift of God.” Spoke President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Please read that again and slowly.

What a wonderful thing to consider! That we try to become like our Heavenly Father, we attain the gifts that he has and one of those gifts is to become the Pure Love of Christ. Not just to have it, but to become it. To have it within our being so strongly, that it flows out of us like a waterfall. How do we become like this? By listening to the Holy Ghost. Elder Parley P. Pratt puts it this way, “(The Holy Ghost) quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them by the gift  of wisdom to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. It develops and invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, invigorates and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it  is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.”

What a wonderful gift the Holy Ghost is! He has the ability to teach us all of these wonderful things and helps us to become so much better than if we tried to do it on our own.

May we never give up. May we always understand that we are never alone in our efforts to do better.

40 days-40 nights challenge

40days 40nights

I am planning on doing this!

It starts today, so if you want to join me, you are welcome to do so.

Let me know if you are unable to open the attached page.

Mary

Judge not

Ok, since the world is focusing on judging everyone for every little thing recently, I find this quite a lot frustrating!

I learned a long time ago not to judge anyone. I have a very colorful background and so I have learned to see the judgements of others and let them roll off my back like water falling off of Teflon.

I was married for the 4th time 2 1/2 years ago.

The first one decided to take a different path than the one I was on. He decided that we did not deserve to live and that we were bad parents, so we needed to all die. He even was on the phone calling around for a gun in the presence of our children while I was at church choir practice. After packing all of his things and then telling him to decide to be a part of our family or get out, he left.

The second one was all about eating, sleeping and bedroom experiences. He did not even talk with my children when in the same building with them.

The third used me to get a green card and was gone 2 days after receiving it. He was dating online and when asked why, he said that he was looking for another wife for when our marriage failed. Everything was all about him. He repeated the same kind of life with his next wife and when she contacted me, I guided her to what I understood. She and I are actually good friends now.

My fourth is the best! We work hard to make this marriage work. We do almost everything together. We always consider each other’s feelings and always do what we can to keep each other’s happiness in the forefront. I have been a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints all of my life. He has been a member for the last almost 3 years. Not because I pushed him, but he decided it for himself. I made sure of that! We have goals that we make together. No, we do not have all of the same tastes,  but that is what makes our lives interesting.

In our branch, we are truly diversified. It depends on the mood of the week it is as to if we have more whites or colors in our congregation. The only one that we have one of is a Hawaiian and we only remember because instead of saying “Good Morning”, she says, “Aloha” to us.

Now, here is something to think about: My husband is African American. Black. I am White. We have no issues concerning color. But, it is interesting to see reactions in the world we are currently living in. We live in the Northern part of St Louis. It is very interesting because very few white people live in this particular neighborhood. I go shopping in stores where I am definitely a minority. I have been pulled over 5 times since moving here over a year ago because the police want to know what a white woman is doing with a black man in our neighborhood. The last time I was pulled over, they actually admitted that they did not care about minor infractions, but were looking for bigger ones and then proceeded to ask me if I had ever been arrested. Of course not! But they felt the need to ask…

My daughter is a drill sergeant for the Army. She married a guy that is about 7 years younger than I am. He is older than my husband who is 10 years younger than me. Yes, it is a little bit different than normal, but you know what? This works for all of us. We are all happy in our relationships.

My middle child is gay. He believes in the gospel, but because of opinions of other not-enlightened family members, they chased him away instead of loving him for being him. The church states that it is ok to have the feelings, just do not act upon them. I have the paperwork to prove it but these family members are only thinking of one side of the sin-the act. So, I give my son the unconditional love that he needs and he brings light to those around him.

My youngest son went the way of drugs and the lifestyle that surrounded it for a while. He is pulling himself out of the messes he created and is doing a wonderful job with what he has. I wish that I could help him more, but he just wants someone to hear him, nothing else. I hear him.

Now, with just that much in my background, do you think that I judge? I find I cannot because it hurts those I make those types of decisions about as well as myself.

I learned to love unconditionally. To do my best to open my heart to all around me. Ok, so I may still have a lot to work on, but I find I now have friends from almost all walks of life. I accept them for who they are, not what they may have challenging them.

My life is not perfect. I am not perfect-yet. But is that not what we are all trying to become? If not, what are we doing instead? Is it healthy for us and those around us? What can we do to change? Do we need help to achieve it? Who can we turn to?

That last question is why I am LDS. It fits me. I use the lessons I learn to become a better person. To help others to become better as well-if they want to. It gives me a pathway that in my heart feels right.