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.

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.

Primary, growing up with only brothers and being me

When I was little, we had an activity that met on Wednesdays after school. It was called Primary. This was where we-as girls- wore dresses to school so that we could go to church after. We would get together and play on the lawn if the weather was good and inside if the weather was not so good. We would then meet in the chapel to sing primary songs and to hear a short lesson in the gospel. Then we would separate into our classes-separated by age to learn a longer lesson about the gospel. A lot of the times, we spent some of our time creating crafts.

One day, we were going to primary class and I remember that I was next to the outside door of the car(we had a family with 5 children, so with the bench seat, we were squished in), and somehow the door opened while we were moving. I did not have a seatbelt on because we did not have to have any at that time, and so I grabbed onto the door and was skinning my knee on the pavement before my mother stopped the car and then she helped me back into it and then continued on our journey to the church.

I remember being quite scared when this happened. But fear was not one of those feelings that I had too often when I was young. I accepted all challenges. I did my best to keep up with my brothers, and was always getting into trouble.

I was what you called a Tomboy with long, straight, blonde hair.

My mother told me that I never cried when I was a little girl until I had a sliver in my leg that was really quite large. I hardly ever cried afterwards because it showed weakness in the family and we were not weak!

I had no sisters, so to be busy doing “girly” things was not encouraged. I biked, wrestled with my brothers, played games with them, and had only a few dolls-which were loved, but quickly put away as things. They never took the center of my life.  I never really cared about makeup, the latest in clothes, keeping up with the current fashions.

Because of the way I was brought up, I could never understand the personalities of women who felt fulfilled making the “Perfect Dinner”.

To me, being with people and exchanging ideas made more sense. Doing things to improve life on a large scale was and still is my perspective. What can I do to make life better for myself and everyone around me has always been my focus.

Because of this, sometimes I make people uncomfortable. They wish that I could be more gentle and instead, I am more forthright. Instead of playing mental games to soothe and confuse, I focus on the truth and the best way to make good things happen.

I have friends without number. Those who love me back are the ones who accept me for who I am and know me to be quite open. I am blessed and I am very thankful that even though my growing up may have been a little bit different, it taught me a lot of what is real.

The heart of a child

Matthew 18:2-5
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of
heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Have you ever wondered about these scriptures? Have you wished that you might be just like the child that our Savior was referring to?  There is much strength and understanding in a child. More so than is appreciated by those around him or her.
Just think, they were with Heavenly Father more recently than us. When you look in the face of a recently newborn baby, you automatically love that child. Why? What is it that pulls our eyes to this
child? Why do you want to protect this child? Why don’t others feel the same way with me? What can I do to change other’s perceptions about me so that they feel the same? How can I put that light that they have in my face?
I painted a painting. This particular painting I knew that it was to be on a large canvass, I knew what it
was going to look like and how I was going to paint it.  This was to be a sword with a gold hilt with a small hand on it. This represents the fact that only a child could wield the sword. The flat of the sword was encrypted with symbols. These symbols were to represent life and what to use to get into the next
life.  There was a light shining off of the sword in a flowing manner, the background was pink and the
light cascaded outwards. This painting is called “The Sword of Truth and Light” and I find that all children
who see it, love it! I even have children who have decided that the painting is theirs. They cannot get
enough of looking at it because of what they understand from it.  I gave that painting to a child who had great strength in his heart and I wanted him to remember that strength throughout his life.
I find that when I need guidance to become like a little child, I look at this painting. I try to let go of all of those negative thoughts that hound me and be more childlike in my perspective of the world. If there is something that is wrong from the point of view of an innocent child, I need to remove it out of
my life.  Doing this actually makes me feel like a child! I do not act my age and those around me cannot believe my age when I tell them. I have decided that I want to live for quite a while, so therefore, I need to be like a child to have the opportunities that a child also has.
Their world is new! They can do anything! I love these concepts!
I combine the fervour of youth with the wisdom of the ages and find that I am a dynamic person. I love who I am and look forward to getting to know myself even  better.
Trust the Savior. Know that he is on top of things in your life. Let him be in charge. You will be blessed
constantly and with much enjoyment if you do these things.

Abuse

I have been abused, what do I do?

There are many different types of abuse. Mental, physical, spiritual are the 3 main categories.

Sometimes the person being abused is too young to be able to say anything and because they trusted the person they were with, did not realize what the abuse was.

At other times, the person feels helpless. They do not know what to do. They may love the abuser, they may feel violated and do not understand what to do when this happens.

Heavenly Father has never approved of any violation of any of his children in the past, in the present, or in the future.

As a matter of fact, until I realized these words were really true, I allowed abuse in my life: “I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father and I am to be treated that way.” At one time, I wrote these words on a board by the front door and changed who was either a daughter or a son for my children so that they understood that they were special people as well. This is very powerful and is very encouraging.

After realizing that I was being abused, I began to go back to the scriptures and praying to Heavenly Father to help me realize the extent of the abuse. I had no clue how bad it was until I was out of the situation. I had pictures that were taken of me during the abuse time of my life and then much later, I had other pictures of other events taken of me. I found that I had become an old woman. That I was a middle-aged, overweight, dumpy, did not care about life, woman. I had lost all personality and did only what needed to make it through the day. I took care of my family, but had no joy.

I found someone who would help me find who I was to be. She was a great counselor and also guided me to become one as well. She guided me almost daily because she also knew that I was a daughter of God and was willing to help me find my way to true happiness within myself. I do admit, I tried to go to my bishop for help, but at that time, he was not able to understand what my need was. This experience was totally alien to him and he had a difficult time supporting me. I realized this, was not angry with him, but did go find help where I really needed it.

Each day after realizing that I was abused, I began to see how it affected me. I began to realize that each thing that was told to me, each thing that was done to me, was false. I began to stand up for the very little things and change them. Then each of the bigger issues I began to stand up for. This progressed until I was able to stand up for myself again. The important part of this experience, was to blame no one, not the abuser, not the bishop, not my family, not my friends(or who I thought were my friends),not even myself. For when I blame, it creates more negative feelings and does not allow any healing to happen.

I realized at this time that I had a right to live. I had a right to be. I was an important person and should be treated as such. I can give love, I can receive it, but I had the choice to do so.

I also found that when I forgave my abuser, whether it mattered to them or not, it did to me. I also found that if I forgave someone, I did not need to allow them to continue the abuse. I had to stand up to them. I had to accept my feelings about them. I knew in my heart that I loved them, but that I had to let them go. They did not have the right to hurt me. This was a part that I had to learn on my own. No one had ever taught me this.

I had empowered myself! I look at the pictures that were taken later and I find that I look much younger, much happier, much more at peace! No one believes that I have teenage children. They really did believe that I am my children’s older sister. I act young, I feel young and I look young. This is just a side effect on my letting go. The main part of this is that I have loved and I have begun to love myself once again.

I know that with the support of the scriptures, the comfort of prayer, the knowledge that Heavenly Father really does love me and that I am not alone are all important keys to healing that which was taken from me.

I found that I have strength. That only I allow others to affect my feelings. I can love and it has taught me what true unconditional love really is.

Follow the councils of our leaders, they really do love us and wish the best for us. The hard part was, was that I was not receptive to their councils until much later. I did not even realize that they were really in tune with what may really be going on inside of my soul. I did not hear them. Try to listen to them. They do know us.