The Atonement or what does it all really mean?

I had the opportunity to teach a lesson this last Sunday about the Atonement to my 12-14 year old class. We had to start out with the basics and I feel it is too good to not share some of it.

First of all, what is it?

Well, we all sin. Either we have in the past or will in the future. It is because we are not perfect and mistakes happen. We are not perfect. We are here to learn that.

We are not able to return to Heavenly Father because of those sins because he cannot be in the presence of sinners.

Therefore, we need someone to atone for our sins. To pay for them so that we can return to Heavenly Father when the time comes.

What kind of person should that be? Well, I found the best description here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/04/he-lives-all-glory-to-his-name?lang=eng

Richard D. Scott said this of Jesus Christ’s challenges:

First, an enormous sense of responsibility, for He realized that except it be done perfectly, not one of His Father’s children could return to Him. They would be forever banished from His presence since there would be no way to repent for broken laws and no unclean thing can exist in the presence of God. His Father’s plan would have failed, and each spirit child would have been under the eternal control and torment of Satan.

Second, in His absolutely pure mind and heart, He had to personally feel the consequences of all that mankind would ever encounter, even the most depraved, despicable sins.

Third, He had to endure the vicious attack of Satan’s hordes while physically and emotionally pressed to the limit. Then, for reasons we do not fully know, while at the extremity of His capacity, at the time the Savior most needed succor, His Father allowed Him to shoulder the onerous responsibility with only His own strength and capacity.

Wow! Now that we put it this way,  Jesus did do something amazing for us!

Now, can we still sin and be able to enter in the presence of Heavenly Father? No.

So what can we do and how do we learn about it?

We are to repent (see the sin within ourselves and never do it again, doing all within ourselves to repay what we did). That is simple-even the worst sins can be let go.

We learn in going to church, reading our scriptures, listening to Apostles who will teach us, and praying for understanding.

With what Jesus did for us,  is it important for us to do all we can to keep from being part of the pain that he suffered?

Look within ourselves and see what we can do to become better. In doing so, we will be greatly blessed!

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My response to incorrect concepts

SEVEN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MORMONISM AND CHRISTIANITY

1. Mormon scripture teaches that all the various Christian denominations, particularly the Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists, are all considered by Jesus Christ to be “wrong.”

2. Mormon scripture, prophets and apostles teach that there is more than one god who created this world, that there are many gods who rule over other worlds, and that worthy Mormons may one day become gods themselves. Even though Mormons claim there is only one God for them, they still believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate gods who are only one in their purpose rather than in a personal being that they share eternally.

3. Mormon scripture, prophets and apostles teach that God the Father is an exalted man with flesh and bones.

4. Mormon prophets and apostles teach that God the Father has at least one wife by which we were all literally born from as spirit children prior to coming to this earth. Some of these prophets and apostles have even taught that Jesus had wives and children.

5. Mormon prophets and apostles teach that God the Father had a Father whom He followed as Jesus had followed Him. This follows from the preceding points.

6. Mormon prophets and apostles teach that there are many things that Jesus did not create. For example, He did not create our spirits, nor did He create Lucifer, nor did He even create the planet that He was born on as a spirit. The reason for this is because Mormons believe that Jesus and Lucifer are literally brothers, and we as humans are all the younger brothers and sisters of them. We were all born of heavenly parents, who did the creating work of their world (not all worlds whatsoever) before we arrived spiritually in heaven.

7. Mormon prophets and apostles teach that we should not pray directly to Jesus. Rather, they can only pray directly to the Father in the name of Jesus.

 

My response to this: The title is incorrect. Mormons are Christians. Check out the title on the church buildings “The church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints.

1. We are not taught that all other denominations are wrong, but that they were correct at their beginnings as much as they could be, but that through the years, many of the things that were correct became incorrect by dictations of the congregations or their leaders. I knew someone back in the 80’s by the name of Rex who mapped out the differences between all religions and he had done his research personally and had each of the leaders review his data before he published it.

2. We do not believe that the Holy Ghost is a god. We believe that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are one in purpose-which is to teach us (Heavenly Father’s children) how to become like him. They are separate beings-not in one body. If this is so, why was Jesus talking to the Father while on the cross. Was he talking to himself or to another being? When he was baptized, in Matthew chapter 3 verses 16 and 17 it quotes: 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

This shows that there are 3 beings and not just one because if there was only one, who spoke?

3. Is it hard to imagine that we were created in the image of our father? In Genesis chapter 1 verses 26 and 27, it quotes: 26 ¶And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

What is the image? A mirror or something more substantial such as a body of flesh and bone? It is comforting that when I die, I will be able to reach out and touch Heavenly Father and be able to hug him and not some puff of air.

4. Is it so difficult to think that Heavenly Father has a wife? That she is so sacred to him that he protects her and her name so that it does not become a swear word such as we have treated his and his son’s names in this world? If it is common sense that it takes a male and a female to create a baby, would there be an example somewhere that was determined before we were put on this earth? Yes, it is possible that Jesus had a wife and maybe even children. We do not discuss this because it is not important to our personal growth. There are other religions that consider this possibility or there would not have been a book created called “The DaVinci Code” which discusses this and other religions’ beliefs. I have read it and found it fascinating, but if Jesus had children, what would we do about it? Let them live their lives as he would have wanted them to do or worship them because they have his blood? I am sure that he would not have wanted us to do the latter for that would defeat the purpose of them being here.

5. It is possible that Heavenly Father had a father. It would make sense as well. But, why not? Why believe there is only one possibility? We are told that all will unfold and we will understand after the second coming of Jesus. So why dwell on this?

6. Is it so hard to believe that we were all brothers and sisters and that we are children of Heavenly Father and that some of us chose to not follow the plan of salvation as much as others? That as family, this would mean that Jesus and Lucifer are related? Personally, I have sometimes wondered what Lucifer may look like. The answer that fits the most would be that he looks like us. Not with horns and a tail, not with a pointed face, but like someone who may live next door. The difference between these 2 people that are mentioned are the fact that they personally choose to follow different pathways. Which pathway do we want to be on?

7. In our bible dictionary, this is what we are taught about prayer: As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings. Jesus teaches us at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 6 verses 6-13: 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

If Jesus is telling us to pray to the Father, why should we do anything else? Please note that I used the quotes from the King James Version of the Bible only. This is easily found and easily referenced.

I truly believe that we are here to learn to love ourselves unconditionally and to love others unconditionally as well. That if we do so, we would do our best to not hurt those we love and if we teach others to do this as well, that it would make this a better world. To me, the “Mormon” church teaches how to do this with all of their “rules” and I am glad that I have a goal to reach throughout my life, that I am not alone and that there is a way to do this.

Shall the youth of Zion faulter?

I am a mother of 3 children. I have done my best to raise them with the gospel. The results are very dramatic!
Let me explain:
I have been an at-home mother during the first part of my children’s lives. I worked at night while they were sleeping and their father was there to take care of them. I worked these jobs so that I could help buffer the family income. A number of years ago, I found that I had to work during the daytime because my children’s father decided to walk another pathway from the one that we were walking together.
The nice thing about this, was that 2 of my 3 children were able to roll with the changes. The one that suffered the most was my youngest child. I will explain later on this.
I was home for most of my first child’s needs. I was able to be with her up until a couple of years into high school. She did not resent me for going to work, but rather, supported the choice. Her heart is strong.
My second child has had it just a little harder. He had times that he had need of his mother at home, and
I was not able to be there for him. We worked through this, but he did understand that I could not be in two places at once. I look into his heart and find that I did not need to worry about him. His spirit is strong.
I held 3 jobs for quite a while and it was difficult! I would be there when they woke up, then I would get home just after they got out of school. Be with them for a few hours, then went to work again. I would come home to a dark home and I would check on my children to see if they were sleeping in their beds.
This was hardest on my youngest son. He needed his mother at home just to be there for him. I had not been able to do this. He showed signs of his need through hiding his feelings. He made friends who were not members of the church and they encouraged him to stray from the pathway. I come home to loud-angry music, him playing on the computer-games that I would never let him play if I was home to control the issue, and having him talk to me in a manner of showing no respect.
I found that I needed to make a choice and I had to give up a job due to an injury, but the benefits are that I was home again. We “Tightened our Belts” even more than we had been so that I could be home for a short time.
I was able to have face-to-face conversations with my children. I was finding that my son is changing his type of music. He was learning that I am putting good influences in his pathway that he either has to reject-which he would never do to my face, or accept what I had to give.
Can he stray? Yes! What could I do about it? I voice my concerns to my Bishop, my home teachers, his teachers, even his home teaching companion. I tried to place good men who would create great influences in his life. Did this worked? Not as well as I hoped when I started communicating my concerns. I find that if I voice my concerns a lot, someone eventually tries to do something. What can be done instead? I am still looking for the good answer, because I know that there are many who are looking for the answer to this question also. So, what can I do? Pray for my child, place good leaders in his way, and hope that he hears what I am trying to say.
President Benson states in a conference talk back in 1971:
Never has the Church had a finer group of young people. They are choice spirits—sent to earth in this most challenging and important period of the world. Charged with the great responsibility of building up the kingdom of God on earth, they have an awesome challenge. This great and momentous responsibility and challenge comes at a most difficult time. Never have the forces of evil been so insidious, widespread, and enticing. Everywhere there seems to be a cheapening, weakening, downgrading of all that is fine, good, and uplifting—all aimed at our youth while many of their parents are lulled away into a false security as they enjoy their comfortable complacency. All is not well in Zion. The inspired Book of Mormon prophets saw this day and, as watchmen on the towers,
issued grave warnings. I quote: “For behold, at that day shall he [the devil] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good. “And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. “And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. …  “Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion! “Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well! “Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!” (2 Ne. 28:20-22, 24-26.)
Also, he states:
For young people to be in the world but not of the world has never been more difficult than today. But this burden must be shared by the parents.

The family home evening is an important barrier to the works of Satan.

The Mutual program must protect our youth against every evil influence and should fill a vacuum left by rejecting worldly enticements.

And, of course, a great panacea for all problems and personal doubts: prayer—private and family prayer, night and morning.
The critical and complaining adult will be less effective than the interested and understanding. And love and understanding are only effective when they are genuine. And to be genuine they must be motivated by love. We must love our young people, whether they are in righteousness or in error. In this way we can give them a chance to discern and to learn. But we must also give them a fair choice. Today many are not succeeding.    End.

Now my children are good- not perfect-young adults. They look for the good in those around them. They encourage the good and try to help those who are hurting and in pain. Because I see this, I feel that I have succeeded in being a good mom. I do not “sit on my laurels”, but continue to try to be the good mom, example and someone they can come to when they need a confidante.
My recommendation is to look around at each individual youth and see beyond the surface. See if there is a way to help that youth keep to the strength and testimony that they carry in their hearts. Be that
person that they can look up to. Help them before they are on their own and need to make those hard decisions that will affect their lives. We can do this for all youth, not just the ones in our family.

Love them.

Spiritual Fire Insurance

D&C 64:23
“Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a
day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.”
I remember when I was in Seminary many years ago and this was the scripture that was called the Fire Insurance Scripture. It was always an incentive to keep my tithing paid.
I hear that there are many people in our church who do not pay their tithing. A large part of one of my congregations that I attended  had not been paying. This had been a shock to me because I always felt that this is what separated us from the other churches on a temporal level. Did you realize that we were and as far as I still know, still are the only church organization that is out of debt? Why is this? Because we pay our debts.
During the time of the early Saints, people brought their tithes to the bishop’s storehouse. This was paid normally with food or other items of value. Now days, it is simpler. We write a check then we put it in one of those many gray envelopes and hand it to a member of our bishopric.
When did the time come that we have forgotten what the blessings are that come to us if we pay our tithing? What are the blessings we receive if we do pay? We receive both Spiritual and Temporal blessings.
For example, when I left home to go to College, I carried my tithing with me in hopes that I would be able to pay in my new ward. I did not pay it. I held the money for a month. While I did this, I was looking for a job. I could not find one. I looked and looked. When the time came that I decided to pay, within the next 24 hours, I had 3 job offers! Why did I not do it sooner? Why did I “Rob God?” and why did I rob myself of these blessings? Other times, when my health needed to be strong, when I paid my tithing, I had a miraculous amount of strength. I had endurance! My family was happy, there was peace in my home. These are great blessings!
There are many talks from our Prophets and other general authorities concerning these issues.
Why are we not listening? Do we really want to be burned? Have we forgotten what happens if we do not pay?  Are we earning so much money that we do not feel we need the blessings? Are we earning too little money where the question of whether we pay the rent or our tithing becomes the issue? Have we talked with our bishop and asked him for guidance? Have we gone to our family?
Tithing has been around since the time of Adam and Eve. We are to give a percentage of all that we have to Heavenly Father because it is his anyway. I understand that we have heard this before, but have you thought what the tithing would be used for? For buildings, learning materials, for Temples…

How about the fast offerings? How are they used? These items are in the hands of our chosen leaders and they are to listen to Heavenly Father as to what they are to do with it. Normally, it is used to assist those in the ward who needs that little blessing to help them keep going.

Have you been one of those? I have. I cherish the moment that I have had to ask for help. This is because it is given. There is hope created because there will always be the blessing of plenty for those who truly need it. I may not like to go for help, but that is because I have been taught that I am the only one who will change my life. I should be able to support myself. But, there are times when this is not the best answer. If I am able to give back, I try to give what is expected in my tithing, but I try to give more in my fast offerings. If it is a matter of money, then remember, there is a promise that the Savior will give 10 times back what you have given. I have tried this and with a prayerful heart, gave all that I have and found that sometime during the next week, the amount has been multiplied at least 10 times!
Try this, what have you to lose? Give of your tithes and fast offerings first when you receive your bounty. You will not miss it if you do so.  I love this gift and I appreciate the ability to see blessings in action.

Commitment

Commitment is the word for this week.

In John 15:13, it states “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” To be able to do this, do we not need to develop a strong friendship first? Do we not need to have trust, belief in that person, faith in who they are? Should we respect and care for that person? To really think about it, is this not what I have been talking about all along?

We need to be able to develop a relationship based in honesty, common values, and ideas, respect and the big one-love. These are the building blocks that we need to have or wish to have in place before we face the challenges of marriage.

As Elder Marion D. Hanks stated,”Married people should be best friends; no relationship on earth needs friendship as much as marriage… Friendship in a marriage is so important. It blows away the chaff and takes the kernel, rejoices in the uniqueness of the other, listens patiently, gives generously, forgives freely. Friendship will motivate one to cross the room one day and say, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.’ It will not pretend perfection nor demand it. It will not insist that both respond exactly the same in every thought and feeling, but it will bring to the union honesty, integrity. There will be repentance and forgiveness in every marriage-every good marriage-and respect and trust.”

To have this kind of friendship is commitment. To stand up next to the one you care about when life gets tough, to be able to cheer them on when they are facing a challenge, this is commitment.

May we continue in our developing our friendships with each other, creating reasons to be committed to each other and finding the wishes in our hearts is my hope.

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.

In the Temple

Learning Christlike love in a relationship can be done in the Temple. For many of us, we have been to the Temple. Many of us have been sealed. When we are there, we make promises to each other and to Heavenly Father. These covenants, if actually taken to heart (meaning we actually do them, not just talk about them), give us an opportunity to open ourselves to give and receive love on a much larger scale than if we did not go. In many marriage relationship classes that I have been to, there is one concept that I have tried my hardest to incorporate into my life.

Marriage takes 3 people. Myself, my husband and Heavenly Father. It is like a 3 legged stool. One can be shorter(weaker) than the others, but the other 2 keep the stool steady. The key is to keep all 3 legs to make the stool work. With Heavenly Father as a participant in our relationship, we are able to open our hearts and discuss things with kindness and love instead of accusations and self-interest.

Bruce R. McConkie said, “I am firmly convinced that it is possible for a man or a woman to love his or her companion abundantly more in this thing which is called the new and everlasting covenant of marriage than it is ever possible to love such an individual outside this order of marriage, because we are entitled to have, and we do have all of the normal and wholesome affection that does and should exist between the sexes and then in addition to that, we can have in our family the sanctifying influence of the love of Christ. We can have a love which is abiding and eternal and which never ceases and never ends but will grow and increase until the perfect day is attained.”

This is the pure love that we are working for. We have the ability to stand up for each other and to be there for when the trials come.  Elder Parley P. Pratt said this of Joseph Smith, “It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband, wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter.

It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love… I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved-with a pureness- an intensity of elevated exalted feeling.”

What a wonderful thought! Can we ever feel this way? The answer is Yes! Let us prepare ourselves to go to the Temple and learn how to love and to become a better person. Let us go to the Temple and encourage each other to do so. Many of us do not have recommends or have let them expire without using them. Some may have a recommend and have forgotten when they went last. Let us try to make an effort to go to the Temple. Why deny ourselves the blessings that we are entitled to?

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

How do we show love?

Another foster child that we had and I can remember very little of was a boy from Alaska. He was an American Indian who’s family were having difficulties.

One day, he was in trouble and mother had him sitting in the living room while she sat in the rocker rocking quietly. When my father came home from work, he saw what was happening and noticed that her knuckles were white, so he told us to all leave and make some orange juice in the kitchen.

My father then calmed her down and then went to talk with the boy. The boy wanted to understand why he was not beaten. He felt that if he was in trouble, he should be beaten. Did they not love him? My parents then told him that it was because they loved him that they did not beat him.

My mother had the experience of being spanked with willow switches that she had to pull off of the tree herself, when she began to have children, she promised herself that she would use her parents as the example as to what not to do. She did do her best and because of it, we do have love for her.

When this young boy was taken away from us and returned to his family, he ran away to came back to us. He was caught before he reached us. A second time, he ran away again. This time, he was hit by a car trying to get back to us. Our family truly loved this boy and had hoped to be able to give him the love that he had been craving while growing up.

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.