Saturday, December 31, 2011

When it's Me and God*

I used to think when it was me and God, there were two of us. The two of us joined together can do anything.

I realized this morning that I was mistaken. When it is me and God, there are actually four of us working for my good and the good of those I may touch. The Father, The Son, The Holy Ghost: Elohim, the Director, the architect; Jehovah, the Mover, the One who puts the plans into motion; The Holy Ghost (whose name I do not know – perhaps the name He will be known by is not here yet), the Testifier, the One who puts knowledge and understanding into our brains if we're willing.

It feels very good to know that there is a crowd of us working for my good, helping me overcome the obstacles and such in this life, helping me through the struggle to be a good person who helps those around me in some small way, helping me to find Jesus in this life – face to face.

*I know it is correct to put myself last. For effect, I wrote it the way I did.

Weaknesses

I find my weaknesses extremely frustrating. For example, I see how competent everyone around me seems to be when it comes to running the rat race. They seem to be able to live in this world with all of its bureaucracies with no problem. I won't go into all of the weaknesses I see that seem to brand me as incompetent in comparison to those around me.

Yesterday, as I went out to feed the chickens, I realized that these weaknesses were given to me by God so that I would reach a point of depending totally on Him – of realizing that I had to depend on Him for everything.

Were I the type of person who could fare well in life by my own efforts, I could have easily put God to the side. Because of my own incompetence, I turn to God and ask Him to do what I cannot do.

As my trust in Him improves, the miracles grow greater.

My studies have shown me that no man should stand between God and myself. Recently, I have been changing from one who searches out the advise and opinions of leaders and authors to one who goes directly to God for information and understanding. And I have learned something from that. I have learned that it feels very good to realize that everything is between God and myself. I have learned that I gain greater knowledge and I understand the scriptures better when I rely upon God for understanding and direction. I have learned that each person can only share information from their own perspective.

My life is unique. I have a unique journey to God. Yes, we all share some basics like needing certain ordinances performed, like needing to be obedient to God; but, in so many ways, we each have a unique road to travel.

My life's experiences, my wounds, my specific sins, my misunderstandings, my personality, and the things I planned to do with this life before I came are – as a whole – unique to me; therefore, no one human can advise me perfectly in all my steps. Only God knows my circumstances wholly and only God knows my needs.

Others may give good advice. The Spirit may tell me to listen to someone else. We are interconnected. We are expected to do what we can to help each other. Most of my posts on this blog are written with the intent to bring some soul to Christ. This blog is my feeble attempt to fulfill the command for "every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor." Doctrine and Covenants 88:81

If any of my words help and uplift another, it is because the Spirit has been working in both of us. You see, even if we help each other, it still boils down to a walk that is between us and God.

Friday, December 23, 2011

On Honesty and Santa Claus

This post will not be popular among those who teach their children that Santa is real.

I don't believe in lying to children. I believe that when we teach our children that something is a fact, we should either know or believe it to be true. Yet, there is an entire industry, probably several, built upon lying to children.

One of the largest lies that these industries are built around surfaces this time of year, often beginning in September.

Parents teach their children about an all-knowing god who lives in a remote area, but graces mortality with his presence once a year. Ostensibly, only the good receive his gifts (when I was a child, it was pretty obvious that the wealthy children, who were the most evil by the way, got the most gifts). Once in a while, a child may catch a glimpse of him at night, if a parent chooses to dress up while putting out presents. Of course, there are street corner Santas and department store Santas.

This god is a glutton. He dresses in garish red. He frightens children not old enough to understand that he is a god. He is allowed into houses of worship that profess to worship the one true God, and Him only.

Children who don't believe in this god are sometimes told by other children's parents that the reason the unbelieving child doesn't have Santa come is because they don't believe. Think of what this does to the child who doesn't get gifts from "Santa" only because their family is too poor to buy into the lie. Of course, we now have many kind people who give poor people gifts which then can be used to teach the lie about Santa, if so desired. Luckily, it can also be used to teach the truth that people have a kind streak.

There are movies whose main drive is to "prove" there is a Santa. I've watched them and I used to enjoy them. This year, however, I found them stupid, with gaping holes in logic and plot.

Can I stress enough what God has said about worshiping false gods, about idol worship? Could this be one of the things God has against even His own church? The fact that hundreds or thousands of LDS people would be up in arms about this post, verbally attacking me, defending their idol worship in the most definite (even angry) terms is proof enough that this false god has a deep hold on many hearts that claim to worship the one true God and Him only.

Parents go to great lengths to perpetuate the lie, to bring their children into the worship of Santa Claus. There is even a painting of the false red god kneeling next to baby Jesus, as if marrying the truth and the lie somehow makes the lie a truth – or at least okay.

Did I teach my children the lies that false gods are real? I did not. They have always been taught that Santa, the Easter bunny (it lays colored eggs for Pete’s sake!), and the tooth fairy are stories. Did that make their Christmases miserable? It did not. In fact, they had great fun taking turns being "Santa" each Christmas, though the youngest (the brother) got fired from the job after insisting on getting presents for himself instead of everyone two times in a row (each child's turn came around every third year – this tradition stopped last year; possibly the year before).

Did my mother teach her children the lies that these false gods are real? She did not. Did it make our Christmases miserable? It did not. Because Mom did not teach lies as truth, I believed her fanciful story that angels and God visited Joseph Smith. I never outgrew it. I never outgrew the fanciful story of our spirits living after we die. I never outgrew the fanciful story that there is such a thing as an all-powerful, all-knowing God who is involved in our lives.

Is it really that painful to consider the idea that we might be offending God when we teach children that the fat man in the red suit is just as powerful and all-knowing as He is? Is it really that painful to realize that we may be engaging in genuine, bona-fide idol worship/having another god before God? If we aren't, why are so many people enraged and/or threatened by the idea that belief in Santa just might be one of the things leading us and our children carefully away from God and salvation.

"Jesus is the reason for the season." "Let's put Christ back in Christmas." Pretty catchy, eh? Well, technically, Christ's birth and the winter solstice holiday were not originally one day. They weren't even in the same season. December 25th is when the days begin to grow longer.

If one believes in the Book of Mormon like I do, and if one believes the evidence that Jesus was crucified and resurrected in the spring, then the time of Christ's birth becomes more plain. Jesus died a few days after he turned 34 years old1, thus He was born in the spring. Since our calendar and the Jewish calendar go around the years differently (my understanding is that theirs goes by the moon's cycles), to say that every April 6th is Jesus birthday cannot be correct.

Also, if we were really celebrating the Lord's birth, we would not be teaching our children greed. We would not be giving each other presents. We would not be worshiping a fat man who gives gifts to the wealthy, while pretending only the "good" get the gifts. We would not be decorating our homes and yards with pagan decorations. (I have a friend who is pretty much pagan, but at least she is up front about it, and not pretending to be Christian.) We would speak of Christ's birth. We would speak of His atonement, of His sacrifice, of His resurrection. We would speak of His return. We would do serious soul-searching to see how we can improve so that we can be worthy to a) live in His kingdom and b) see His face in this life. We would understand that worthiness comes through the atonement, through the fact that Jesus satisfied the demands of justice in our behalf. We would repent. Our sermons would be on the great and divine mission He was sent here to perform. We would dwell on what we can do to take advantage of that great gift of love.



1And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given. Book of Mormon 3 Ne 1:19

And nine years had passed away from the time when the sign was given, which was spoken of by the prophets, that Christ should come into the world. Now the Nephites began to reckon their time from this period when the sign was given, or from the coming of Christ; therefore, nine years had passed away. Book of Mormon 3 Ne 2:7-8

And now it came to pass, if there was no mistake made by this man in the reckoning of our time, the thirty and third year had passed away; And the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land. Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 7:2-3

And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land. [The storm marked the death of Christ – it was the sign given to them of His death.] Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 8:5

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pain in Childbirth?

Scripturally speaking, is there a warrant for believing pain in childbirth is inevitable? "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children" and "in sorrow shalt thou eat [the food of the ground] all the days of thy life" [Genesis 3:16-17]. So, if it means women birth in agony, it follows that men should be in agony every time they take a bite of food and try to swallow it. Let's look at assorted versions of this scripture:

From the LDS King James Version:
16 Unto the awoman he said, I will greatly bmultiply thy csorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth dchildren; and thy desire shall be to thy ehusband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy awife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: bcursed is the ground for thy sake; in csorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Take note of the footnote: It is Adam's footnote that says "sorrow" could also be translated "travail" or "pain".
Footnote 16c - HEB increase thy discomfort and thy size (i.e., in the condition and process of pregnancy)
Footnote 17c HEB travail, pain
- - -
Genesis 3:16-17 on lds.org has no footnote for Eve's "sorrow" and the footnote for Adam's "sorrow" is - HEB travail, pain
- - -
The Pearl of Great Price, which should be the best for LDS students to go by, says the following:
Moses 4:22-23:
22 Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In asorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy bhusband, and he shall rule over thee. 23 And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying—Thou shalt not eat of it, acursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in bsorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.
The footnotes for "sorrow" only refer one to Genesis and to the Topical Guide.
- - -
Apostolic Bible Polyglot w/Strong's Numbers:
(Gen 3:16) AndG2532 to theG3588 womanG1135 he said,G2036 In multiplyingG4129 I will multiplyG4129 G3588 your distresses,G3077 G1473 andG2532 G3588 your moanings.G4726 G1473 InG1722 distressesG3077 you will bearG5088 children,G5043 andG2532 toG4314 G3588 your husbandG435 G1473 G3588 your submission,G654.1 G1473 andG2532 heG1473 will dominate you.G1473 G2961

(Gen 3:17) And to G3588 G1161 AdamG* he said,G2036 BecauseG3754 you hearkened toG191 theG3588 voiceG5456 G3588 of your wife,G1135 G1473 andG2532 ateG2068 fromG575 theG3588 treeG3586 of whichG3739 I gave chargeG1781 to you, saying ,G1473 ThisG3778 aloneG3441 you are notG3361 to eatG2068 fromG575 it --G1473 and you ate;G2068 accursedG1944 is theG3588 landG1093 amongG1722 G3588 your works;G2041 G1473 inG1722 distressesG3077 you will eatG2068 itG1473 allG3956 theG3588 daysG2250 G3588 of your life.G2222 G1473
G3077 Distresses – lupรจ loo'-pay – Apparently a primary word; sadness: -grief, grievous, + grudgingly, heaviness, sorrow. Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries. Same meaning for both Adam and Eve.
- - -
Brenton's English Septuagint:
Gen 3:17 And to the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy pains and thy groanings; in pain thou shalt bring forth children, and thy submission shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Gen 3:18 And to Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and eaten of the tree concerning which I charged thee of it only not to eat--of that thou hast eaten, cursed is the ground in thy labours, in pain shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.
- - -
Geneva Bible 1587:
Gen 3:16 Vnto the woman he said, I will greatly increase thy sorowes, and thy conceptions. In sorowe shalt thou bring foorth children, and thy desire shalbe subiect to thine husbande, and he shall rule ouer thee.
Gen 3:17 Also to Adam he said, Because thou hast obeyed the voyce of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, (whereof I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eate of it) cursed is the earth for thy sake: in sorowe shalt thou eate of it all the dayes of thy life.
- - -
King James Version 1611:
Gen 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorowe and thy conception. In sorow thou shalt bring forth children: and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and hee shall rule ouer thee.
Gen 3:17 And vnto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened vnto the voyce of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commaunded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eate of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake: in sorow shalt thou eate of it all the dayes of thy life.


There are newer versions. I tried to find what I thought would be closest to the original. Some newer ones say the word for Adam (sorrow) and the word for Eve (sorrow) are different; however, I believe that was changed because of the human culture's belief that childbearing should be much more painful than eating.

Question: What would our culture be like if someone had decided a few thousand years ago that it was the eating that would be painful and the childbirth that would be joyful?

Lady Cat

(When I wrote this, I was writing in a notebook.)

We have a cat, Lady, who will come up to people when they're standing and will caress her body around their ankles in the most affectionate way. If they happen to reach down to pet her, she'll usually move away. If a person manages to pet her, instead of raising her back (or back end) into the petting, she'll do an imitation of a sway-back horse and act like she can hardly get away. [You'd swear it was physically painful for her to be touched.] She'll endure face-petting and sometimes even likes it.

This cat is currently sitting on my lap driving me crazy. I let her in the house to eat (it keeps stray cats from eating our cats' food) and decided to let her stay inside a bit [it's a rainy day]. Well, she decided not only my room, but my bed was the place to be.

After I sat down (I do my studies, my computer things, etc on my bed because there is no place better in this particular house) she wandered around the bed and decided my lap was the perfect spot.

So I let her. I petted her. she ate it up. I was petting her on her face and head. When I petted her back, she loved it. When I tried to write (part of my scripture study), she wouldn't let me. She demanded that I continue petting her. Finally I asked her, "Who are you and what have you done with Lady?" She didn't answer, and as of this writing she is still on my lap. 

End of notebook entry.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Mother

My mother was awesome. When I was a teenager, "the generation gap" was a favorite phrase going around, but there was no "generation gap" in our family. My mother's children loved and appreciated her, even when they were teenagers, and she respected them and assumed they had brains and were capable of living their lives.

One day when I was a senior in high school, while waiting for a seminary class to begin (I only took one year of seminary, but that's another story), the students around me began complaining about their parents. Every single thing they brought up was a non-issue for me. I desperately wanted to add my two cents to the conversation, but I had nothing to add. I wracked my brain for a complaint about my mother and found none (my father was a non-issue for me but for a different reason). After school, I went home and told her that I was deprived because I couldn't complain about her, and I told her what had happened.

When I was about twelve, my father died. Even though he had never been part of my life, I began to be afraid that my mother would also die. I made her promise that if she died, she would tell me. I'd hear it from her before I heard it from anyone else (in our family, this was a perfectly reasonable request). When I was older (in my late teens or early twenties) we had a repeat of the conversation.

When I was a mother of three children (ages 1, 3, and 5) it was discovered that my mother had cancer. She moved to Salt Lake to live with one of my sisters, where she was exposed to deadly treatment. At the time, my husband had two part-time jobs. One was with a water company and the other was driving a bus for a small charter school.

The following May (my children were 6, 4, and barely 2 by this time) said spouse wanted me to come with him to work because he was reading meters. He could cut his walking time in half if I dropped him off at the beginning of a meter route then picked him up at the end of it. We stopped doing that when it was time for him to go to the school.

He took the two-year-old with him on the bus. The six-year-old child was playing on the playground. The four-year-old was asleep in the van. I was sitting in the van devouring some books I had recently gotten in the mail.

I don't know how it got my attention because I was pretty voraciously reading, but I became aware that my mother was standing in front of me as if the van wasn't even there (when I see things like this, I see them in my mind's eye). I looked at her. She asked me (in my mind), "Will you be okay if I leave?" I knew exactly what she was talking about. Aloud, I said, "Yes. I'll miss you, but I'll be okay." (The strange thing is, my aunt asked me the same thing later – in Salt Lake before Mom died.). I started to say something else, but she was gone.

That same day, while we were driving (I cannot remember if it was before or after the experience) around reading meters, my brother-in-law called my husband's pager to tell me to call him. We stopped off at a pay phone and I called. My brother-in-law didn't know whether to tell me to come up or not. It was a long way from southeastern Arizona to Salt Lake City. She had always rallied and come out of the hospital before. She was in a coma at this time.

To make the story way shorter, my sister who lived in Arizona and her husband came and got me. We drove straight through to Salt Lake, leaving my house Saturday morning and reaching Salt Lake Sunday morning. After briefly stopping at our sister's we went to the hospital. Mom roused briefly when my Arizona sister loudly announced that we were there.

The hospital put a cot in Mom's room so I could sleep there. I told her that my brother from Texas (another brother lived in Salt Lake) was planning to come and that his plane would be there at 9:20 p.m. Monday. That's when she died. (I don't know what the "official" document says, but I was there and I saw the time. They unplugged her, then came back and plugged her back in because they had been commanded to – Mom wasn't officially dead until some authority pronounced her so.)

As soon as Mom died, she was gone. Zip. She was outta that hospital. She always hated hospitals, so I don't blame her, but I think she went to meet my brother's plane. It was about an hour late, though, so I don't know what she did in the interim.

My Arizona sister came back with my brother – too late for him to say goodbye. As we rode in the elevator down to the main floor, Mom was with us. I wonder if my siblings had a clue that she was there.

It was a day or two later, after all of us had gathered (including my spouse and children), that we had a family dinner in my sister's back yard. Mom was there, enjoying herself immensely, laughing at the jokes our family makes when we are under severe stress (unfortunately, this didn't pass down – when my 17-year-old daughter was suffering the results of a legal attack from her step-father, she didn't appreciate all of the puns etc that came to my mind). Several times I had to stop myself from saying, "Make sure Mom has a plate."

Later, I wanted to verify that I wasn't making up the fact that she was there. I talked to my Salt Lake City sister, who is sensitive to spiritual things. Her response was that she didn't think about offering Mom a plate because it had been so long since Mom had been able to eat. At a later time, I wanted to verify again, more plainly. She said, yes, Mom was there at the family dinner.

Mom came around to help me deal with the stress of her death. When my Texas brother showed up at Mom's hospital room, I asked him if I could move into Mom's trailer (he owned it) and when I got back home, I moved out (it still took two years before I was courageous enough to divorce – the same brother gave me the money to begin the divorce and an attorney helped me fill out the paperwork – God prevented the man from grinding me to powder).

Anyway, Mom came into my dreams a few times. I knew when it was really her (as opposed to a dream processing her death) because I would feel so guilty for giving away her stuff. I would apologize and she would let me know she didn't care. She rarely spoke to me. She just hung out with me while I went about the business of dreaming. She also was there sometimes when I was awake.

One night, she came to me in a dream and there was no other dream of my own going on. We sat in swings in a deserted school yard (it was night). She told me that she had come to say goodbye. "I have to go deeper into the spirit world," she said. That was the last time she visited me in my dreams. She also left my waking sphere.

Cats

Cats are not allowed in my room. I’ve been letting Tommy in because his shoulder got hurt and I don't want him outside until it heals. Orion pretty much has the run of the house when he's inside. There are cat fights when Lady or Tommy are around him (I think Orion is usually the instigator). So, to keep Tommy from freaking out while inside, I put him on my bed when he isn't in the travel trailer (we keep him there at night).

Anyway, so I come home from church and go in my room. After several minutes, Orion comes out from under my bed. In a few more minutes, my son brings Tommy to me from the travel trailer, so I put Tommy on my bed.

I've changed my clothes. I've rearranged pillows so I can get on my bed, and I finally notice Lady has been on my bed all along, mostly hidden under a sleeping bag.

Um – This is a cat-free zone?

It Speaks For Itself