Saturday, February 14, 2015

the type in the wilderness

The type in the wilderness. Image here.

1 Nephi 17:41
41 And he did straiten them in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.

Alma 33:18-21
18 But behold, this is not all; these are not the only ones who have spoken concerning the Son of God.
19 Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live.
20 But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them.
21 O my brethren, if ye could be healed by merely casting about your eyes that ye might be healed, would ye not behold quickly, or would ye rather harden your hearts in unbelief, and be slothful, that ye would not cast about your eyes, that ye might perish?

Sometimes one of the trials we face is having to be open-minded. Sometimes the things God puts in our paths seem too easy to be true. Or too "crazy," too off-the-wall.

If the prophet showed up at your house and said your family would be healed of all illnesses and never get sick again if they just looked at a special stick, would you believe him? Would you look?

Yes! you might say. It's the prophet! Of course I would look if the prophet showed up on my doorstep!

But of course God knows that. And the prophet is busy. Sometimes God sends us quieter answers to see if we're listening.

Like the person with mental illness who just so happens to discover that someone she knows practices RET.

Or the person with chronic infections whose friend tells her about essential oils.

Or the person struggling with addiction who is put in the path of a Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher.

Sometimes God orchestrates it so our paths converge with people who have very specific skill sets--skill sets that for all we know were pre-designed to help us specifically. When that happens, it's up to us to recognize them and be open to them.

Moses and the rod. Image from an
article on the bronze snake
and the caduceus
In a lot of ways I feel like my life has been abnormally blessed. I have an incredible family. We had a hard life because we did not have a lot of money and we did have a super disabled brother, but we had the Gospel. My college years were a dream. I found my husband at 19 and married him at 20. I have beautiful and obedient children. I am happy and my health is good--even though ten years ago I was not as happy and my health was not very good. On occasion things show up that put a wrench in things, but they never last for long. A lot of times I've looked at my life and wondered: why is it that my life can be awesome, and so many people I know have lives that just aren't? Why is that fair?

I used to feel guilty about it, but now I don't. I feel that the secret lies in those scriptures I quoted at the beginning of this post. Having an awesome life comes down to being open to things that are uncomfortable, or even that contradict your current paradigm--and following the Spirit to determine which things are true and which things are false. It comes from a willingness to rigorously examine ideas, even ideas that seem counterintuitive or flat-out wrong at first, and trust the Spirit to lead even if it leads you to something you wouldn't have picked for yourself.

In the case of the Hebrews following Moses, God afflicted them with afflictions and gave them the promise that if they would just look up they would heal and be fine.

Many of them chose to die rather than just look up.

It's easy to judge them for that, but I feel I see that same attitude replicated today, over and over again.

It's the attitude of the person willing to try "anything" to lose weight... as long as "anything" is just pills and never involves any meaningful dietary change or shift in exercise regimen.

It's the attitude of the addict who will do "anything" to recover... except go to 12-step meetings or take up Kundalini Meditation for Addiction Recovery.

It's the attitude of the girl who will do "anything" to get married... except take care of her body, put on some makeup, or go meet people.

It's the attitude of the depressed person who will try "anything" to be happy... except meet with the missionaries, try an essential oil, or go to an energy worker.

People are willing to try "anything," as long as it fits in with their pre-conceived notions of what "anything" entails.

Have you met anyone with these attitudes? Are you a person with these attitudes?

I feel like the great secret to success in my life has been a willingness to do things that didn't make sense, a willingness to entertain ideas that I didn't like, and an openness to being led by the Spirit even when it didn't make sense.

Let's face it: a lot of answers don't make sense. If you're reading this blog it's probably because you were led here by things that maybe a few years or months or weeks or days ago, you would have assumed were crazy. Sometimes the answers God puts in our laps are crazy.

Jesus heals the man born blind. Image here.
And yet, sometimes out of crazy, miracles happen.

Like when Jesus spat on some clay and used it to heal the blind.

Or told a man to bathe in a river and be healed.

Has God been giving you an answer that seems crazy? Has He been telling you to look at the "type in the wilderness," that you might "look and live?" What does that mean for you?

How many weird things are you willing to look at with the Holy Ghost in order to find an answer?

How hard are you willing to work for a solution?

How far are you willing to go to get the blessing that you want?

Friday, February 13, 2015

where is the love?

Note: I just wrote this whole post, and realized how awesome the timing is. Happy early Valentine's day, people! LOVE!!!!

LOVE! Image here.

It is everywhere.

It rears its ugly head in many ways. Right now a great place to look for it is the vaccine debate. The CDC admits that only around 1.8% of the population is unvaccinated--and yet the amount of vitriol spewed at so-called "anti-vaxxers," who in reality, I would guess, are mostly just concerned with vaccine safety, is incredible. Even among members of the Church. There is so much judgment and so little love.

But another place to look is in the family. I see so many people--even in the Church--whose spouses offend them, who then just give up on being kind. They use their spouse's bad decisions as a reason to justify any loveless action or reaction on their part. Then they wonder why their marriages are falling apart. Someone has to be the one that loves, that turns the other cheek. Waiting for an apology just doesn't work all the time. Sometimes you have to take the insult and respond with love anyway.

Someone has to love.

Look at the whole modesty debate in the Church. Women freak out over the implication that they should be modest in order to help men control their thoughts. I used to freak out over that myself: men
are human! Can't they just control their own thoughts already??

Image here.
But where is the love in that? If we love the men in our lives, wouldn't we want to make their battle against lust a little easier? Is it charitable, is it loving, if when we dress modestly, it is specifically not to help others, but only to help ourselves? What kind of Christianity is that? Is that really putting others first?

Really, the same argument could be reframed in the context of kindness. Why are we asked to speak kind things to others, and to not speak unkind things to others? One half of the reason is because of what sort of people we become when we are kind versus unkind, and the other half of the reason is because of how we affect others when are kind versus unkind. But what sort of person says that they will only be kind in order to make themselves a better person, and other people be darned? What sort of kindness is that, anyway? You know?

Anyway. The point is, lovelessness is rampant. You can find it in nearly any place. Scroll down your Facebook feed for ten minutes and see the lovelessness there. Or spare yourself. You won't be missing out. Facebook has become one giant selfishness fest. That's what it was always designed to be, but I feel it's gotten more and more out of control with every passing month.

It's time to love.

God's people are called to love.

We are called to turn the other cheek.

As it is put so beautifully in Philippians 2:3, we are called to esteem others as better than ourselves.

Do our comments reflect that?

Are we sufficiently humble?

This has been on my mind because I personally believe in vaccine safety, and I believe that there are a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of propaganda surrounding the vaccine issue. I believe that the reality of vaccine injury is too often marginalized and ignored, I believe that people concerned about vaccine safety are too often ridiculed and vilified, and I particularly believe that the overall conversation about vaccination right now is toxic. I feel it is important to stand up for parents and citizens who have legitimate, unresolved medical and religious concerns over vaccines and the vaccine schedule.

Image here.
Earlier this week, I got a comment on my Facebook wall stating that while the writer "loved" me, she thought I was a narcissistic psychopath for publicly stating concerns about the safety of vaccines and the US vaccination schedule.

Fortunately, a number of people realized how ridiculous this comment was, and people started sending me private messages: I can't believe that lady! She says she loves you and in the same breath accuses you of being a psychopath?! What?!

But that is how it is today. Fear takes its root in the hearts of men and love and reason flee. Pride takes its root in the hearts of men and love and reason flee.

What do we do?

In the past, things like the vaccine debate on my Facebook wall would have gotten me very upset, but this time around, I am not. I feel very calm and pretty happy about it, actually, even though it's me "against" all these people who feel it is important to squelch any discussion about vaccine safety. I don't take their comments personally. I don't feel judged, even though I know I am being judged. I've been praying for an energetic shield against their judgements for me and my children, and it's been working. I can sense the negative energy of their thoughts, but it just bounces right off. I don't have trouble sleeping at night over this (in the past I would have). So I'd say, praying for a shield against other people's lovelessness is a good place to start.

But the most important thing is to proactively love. It is to start looking at the content of our own hearts and uprooting the darkness there. Easier said than done--particularly without the help of energy work. I really recommend the Emotion Code to get started with this. In the past few weeks I felt a bunch of blocks in my own heart against love, and I ended up having to release a number of trapped emotions that were prohibiting charity in my heart. What is blocking your heart from love?

And when you've uprooted the blocks to love, it's time to start actively loving others. When we protect ourselves from others' lovelessness, uproot our own lovelessness, and begin filling our own hearts with charity, the pure love of Christ, good things start to follow.


Image here.
It really is time to start keeping the commandments. And the commandments are all about love. Loving God, and loving yourself and others. The time for fear and pride is past. Now is the time for uprooting that stuff and letting charity take its place.

If love does not come easily to you, or if you sense things in your life blocking your ability to love, reach out. I'm currently working by donation and there is nothing like energy work to clear walls around the heart.

It's time to love, people.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

life missions, life paths: who's to judge?

Mormons are among the most likely to believe that one true religion exists, but also that those outside their faith can attain salvation or reach “heaven.”
The scholars behind the study conclude that while many American religions make claims to being exclusively “true,” few religionists in the United States actually believe that “one true religion” exists. Of all American faiths, Mormons are most likely to affirm that there is a “true” faith (546). However, in what might seem a paradox to those unfamiliar with Mormonism, study data also indicate that while many Mormons believe that there is a “true” religion, Mormons are also the most convinced of any group that those outside their faith — including non-Christians — can “go to heaven” or gain salvation (535-537). While this belief is general among American believers, it is, according to the study, strongest among Latter-day Saints.
- Major New Study of Religion Has Much to Say About Mormons

It is really easy, once you've found some Truth, to start assuming that everyone needs it and everyone needs it right now in just the way you think.

Divine path. From here.
I have been this way a lot over my lifetime myself. It's hard to find something you believe is True and not want everyone to believe the same thing. And yet, not everyone's path is the same when it comes to things that are True.

As an example, I had a friend who studied the gospel, decided she believed, and prayed about it--only to be told not to pursue baptism until her mother decided to be baptized too. Her mom was not open to the idea of baptism at the time. When my friend told me about God's response to her prayer, I thought: no way. The Holy Ghost doesn't just tell people not to get baptized right away. God wants everyone baptized RIGHT NOW! And so I just assumed in my heart that my friend was being misled.

Of course, she wasn't. God's ways are higher than our ways, by a lot. In the end, her mother did get baptized before she did. And it was a beautiful thing and happened just the way God surely planned that it would. I had just been too small minded to realize that everyone's path is different.

Everyone's path is different.

I believe that everyone is led to what they are ready for. The gospel teaches that numberless amounts of God's children will not choose Him in the end. But I suspect the Holy Ghost and other unseen helpers are still leading those people to as much light as those people are willing to receive. Not everyone wants a Mormon lifestyle. Not everyone wants a celestial afterlife. God is happy to lead those people to as much as they're willing to receive (see D&C 88:32).

I bring this all up because I feel that it is important not to judge others for the paths they are walking. You might disagree with someone's path, but that doesn't mean it is inherently wrong, or inherently wrong for them. God works in mysterious ways. He knows more than we know. And even among faithful members of the church, people have widely varying life missions, and that is okay.

Divine path. From here.
One person's mission might be to be a voice of comfort. Another person's mission might be to spread the cry repentance. Another person's mission might be to be a voice of warning. Another mission might be to reach out to the poor and needy. We are all called to do many things--no one's mission is ONLY to cry repentance and never to reach out to others in kindness and love, for example--but at the same time, the Bible has that beautiful passage about the Church being the body of Christ, and every different part having a different mission and yet being indispensable. See 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.

Do the hands of Christ's body respect the bowels? Do the feet respect the elbows? Does the stomach respect the knee? Not all missions seem equally glamorous, but they can all still be valid. The stomach might sit there and look at the foot and judge it for walking instead of digesting, but that doesn't mean either part is doing a wrong or unnecessary thing. It means that their missions are different and sometimes from one perspective one mission looks lamer or worse or even unnecessary in comparison to the other.

We are the body of Christ. Do we all treat
each other's assignments appropriately?
Image here.
I think of our many modern prophets, and how varied their messages have been, even as they stay the same on matters of doctrine. Some prophets focus on missionary work and some focus on love, some focus on matters of political and spiritual freedom, some focus on matters of tolerances and bridging ideological gaps. Their different focuses don't make each other wrong; it just goes to show that two inspired people can be called to speak and write about things of the Lord, and He will use them and their strengths to accomplish His various purposes.

Which is another important thing. The Lord has various purposes. It is this way for a reason. That's why you might get one bishop who focuses heavily on addressing pornography addiction week after week in church, or you might get one who doesn't ever talk about that but who talks a lot about the importance of the pure love of Christ instead. It doesn't mean one bishop is necessarily less inspired than another; people are all just on different paths.

I'll admit it can be frustrating when it feels like you have something True and other people are just plain not interested, or don't take it seriously, or are just not as good about it as you are. But what I am learning is that it's almost impossible to judge accurately on whether or not another person is doing what is appropriate for their life plan or not.

I got a blessing last night that was very clear about the importance of not taking other people's opinions of my life path too seriously. I think that probably goes for everyone. You should obviously pray about it. But in the end, the two authorities on your life are you and God. Period.

That doesn't excuse us from looking at ourselves honestly and taking criticism objectively. But it does mean that before we take the opinions of others too seriously, we should take those opinions to God first.


1. Everyone is walking a different path. Life paths tend to not make sense even to the people whose paths they are: who are we to judge if they are walking their path appropriately or not?

2. Following the Spirit looks different for everyone. The Spirit might lead one person to do one thing, and another person to do another thing. That doesn't mean that anyone is necessarily wrong. Sometimes what looks like a series of uninspired decisions from the outside can actually be the complete opposite. God knows what we need; pretty much anyone else's opinion is imperfectly informed.

3. It's important to take criticism of our lives as honestly and objectively as possible, while remembering that the true authority on the matter is always God, and no one else.