The Blessing of Being Vulnerable

Don’t keep your heart safe... be vulnerable John Mayer

Be sure to keep yourself vulnerable…

Make sure you expose yourself emotionally…

Place yourself in situations in which you can make sure that you can be hurt…

Do people tell you these things often? Of course not! You’ve probably never had those conversations because we live in a world of minimizing hurt, damage, and exposure.

I believe that our ability to expose our hearts is an important component of being emotionally and spiritually healthy. Let me tell you why.

First, let’s do a test of opposites. I will list a word and you fill in the blank with the opposite:

  • Black     __________
  • Dark      __________
  • Day        __________
  • Love      __________

What did you fill in for the opposite of Love? Did you use the word hate? Hate is not the right answer…the right answer is apathy.

There was a time in my life when I would have said that hate was the opposite of love too. But that was before I personally witnessed my two adopted children protect themselves at the cost of everything I believe to be most important.

My youngest two children were adopted from Russia when they were 4 and 9 years old. They were not orphans – they had been removed from their birth family due to neglect and abandonment. As you might imagine, they have experienced some difficulties in their lives.

They, of course, are not the only ones who have ever been through difficult life circumstances. However, their choices and behaviors strongly reflect what they experienced in those years prior to our adoption of them.

Our adopted children spent more time in our home with our love and influence than they spent in their birth country of Russia. However, I can assure you that the influence of those initial years has heavily outweighed the influence we have been able to have. As family and friends have watched our family struggle to help our adoptive children the frequent suggestion has been that we just need to give them more love.

I was once blessed with the experience of re-visiting heaven. I saw there the preparations that were being made for each of us to come to earth. I also saw that even there where our perfect Father in Heaven reigns and where His perfect love infuses everything present there – that God and His perfect plan for this earth was rejected by a large number of his spirit children. So even where perfect love dwells – love was not enough.

My adopted children have found that guarding themselves against hurt, rejection and vulnerability is the easiest way to make sure they never are hurt, rejected or vulnerable again. What that means is that they shut out family, loving relationships, and even passions and interests they might have.

Imagine what your life would be life if you made sure, at all costs, that you were not vulnerable. There would be no truly loving relationships – only manipulative ones. You couldn’t have any goals because you might fail in reaching those goals. Excitement and passion would be taboo because those emotions would make you too open to failure or disappointment.

I am not suggesting that we deliberately set ourselves up to be hurt but I understand now how wonderful and amazing it is to be vulnerable!

By being vulnerable I can love (even when I might get hurt), I can get excited about goals and future events that I want to happen in my life and I can embrace the talents and passions that I have – even when it might mean I will experience failure and disappointment. I can imagine and what I imagine can become a reality – all because I am willing to expose myself to whatever outcome may result.

Everything that I hold dear is a result of my willingness to allow myself to be accessible, susceptible and vulnerable – my marriage, my family, my friends and everything that I am passionate about!

So while I would never suggest that we intentionally seek hurt and pain – I hope you will join me in recognizing what a gift having an open heart and being vulnerable is!

 

 

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Religious Freedom Matters: What’s at Risk

We believe in creating a space for everyone to live their conscience without infringing on the rights and safety of others. Elder Ronald A. Rasband

I have decided to share an article today that I recently re-read from an LDS magazine called the Ensign. I share it because I am concerned with the lack of understanding that so many individuals seem to have in regards to the importance of freedom – particularly religious freedom.

During my near-death experience, I witnessed that I was a part of what this article refers to as the War in Heaven. The war in heaven took place prior to this world being created and was a momentous occasion/event in heaven that we all were affected by. Some may think of this as a physical battle. Instead, what I witnessed was an incredibly important and pivotal debate that most of God’s children were a part of.  It was this debate, and our choices in regard to it, that determined our opportunity to be a part of this world.

In the United States, we are blessed to mostly take our freedoms for granted. However, our freedoms should be cherished and need protecting. We may not always agree with the beliefs of another individual or group but as long as forced coercion and physical harm are not utilized, we need to respect their ability to believe and worship as they desire.

It is because of what I witnessed in heaven and my concerns about what I now witness going on in this country and our world that I share today’s article. It includes references to scriptures and materials/individuals who are LDS (Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). However, I believe it is relevant regardless of your religious persuasion.

I hope you will read it and support efforts to protect religious freedom and freedom in general. Great sacrifices have been made by our military and their families throughout our nation’s history. I am grateful to be a beneficiary of their efforts and sacrifices. I believe that our freedom deserves their continued efforts but it also needs our efforts. If every family in America taught and practiced respect for a diversity of beliefs, not only would the freedoms of this nation continue to be uplifted and preserved, the ability for the world, as a whole, to live according to their conscience and beliefs would likewise spread and blossom.

I believe that every member of mankind inherently knows that they are meant to be free and to live according to the dictates of their conscience. If you are aligned with me in those beliefs, I hope that you will stand for and defend our right to practice freedom of religion and to live according to our beliefs and conscience. Silence will not preserve our freedoms, it will only encourage those who are intent on silencing the voices of religion and conscience.

I hope you enjoy today’s article:

Freedom to choose. That’s what the War in Heaven was all about. We couldn’t afford to lose agency then, and we can’t afford to lose it now. And that includes the freedom to “worship how, where, or what [we] may” (Articles of Faith 1:11). That’s why the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination [as for a Mormon]; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 345).

In addition to maintaining religious freedom as an eternal principle (even God will not remove the agency of any of His children), there are some potentially severe consequences if we lose the freedom to worship, speak, and live according to our beliefs.

  • You could lose your job or leadership positions for expressing religious beliefs—even outside of work. For instance, CEOs, newscasters, judges, teachers, doctors, professors, firefighters, Olympians, graduate students, and many others have been fired, pressured to resign, or intimidated for donating money or simply saying that they support the traditional view of marriage.

  • You might be required to hide your religion or perform tasks at work that go against your beliefs. Does it seem fair, for example, that a doctor who opposes abortion on a religious or moral basis be required to perform one even though numerous other doctors nearby are willing? Should you be forced to wear an immodest uniform when it’s not necessary for your job function?

  • You may be required to work on the Sabbath or religious holidays even when others are willing to take your shift and your employer accommodates other nonreligious interests.

  • Your children in public schools may be required to learn about sexual and gender theories that contradict basic Church teachings. Many public schools already teach sex education in a way that’s fundamentally contrary to Church teachings, and some have required reading lists with explicit content.

  • You may not be able to adopt children or become a foster parent because of your religious beliefs or views on the family.

  • As a business owner or professional, you might lose your license or be fined if you refuse to perform services that are contrary to your religious beliefs. You might even lose professional credentials if you don’t participate in certain activities, even if other co-workers are willing to perform them in your place.

  • You might not be able to create faith-based clubs on college campuses without being required to let people become club members—or even officers—who oppose the club’s religious beliefs.

  • Churches may be forced to employ people who disagree with or refuse to live core values of their faith, threatening their ability to carry out their religious missions.

  • Churches could lose their tax-exempt status by maintaining doctrines, policies, and standards that conflict with secular beliefs regarding marriage, family, gender, and sexuality, resulting in a huge increase in costs to build houses of worship or to purchase and provide goods for humanitarian aid.

  • You might lose tax exemptions for charitable donations like tithes and offerings if the Church loses its status as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.

  • Churches may not be able to access government lands for camps on equal terms with other groups, limiting youth conferences and camps.

  • Housing units, such as dorms, at religious colleges could be forced to abandon moral standards that protect privacy, modesty, and morality, denying people the right to room with those who uphold the same standards.

  • Religious schools that maintain honor codes may lose their accreditation and be denied research funds and even federal student loans and grants, diminishing the value of their degrees, undermining the quality of their education, and making it financially impossible for many students to attend.

There’s a lot at stake, and this is just a sampling. As society continues to move away from eternal truths and God-given commandments, we can’t predict all the consequences that may result if religious freedom and the right to act on our beliefs are taken away.

So we need to raise our voices to defend religious freedom. If we don’t raise them for the protection of religion now, vital religious freedoms will be lost.

When we join the cause together, we can make a difference that will protect religious freedom not just for Latter-day Saints but also for followers of all religions.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2017/07/religious-freedom-matters-whats-at-risk?lang=eng

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Why Our Unity is So Important and Beautiful to God

Unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything Anonymous

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” JN 17.20-21

The night before Jesus died he prayed that his disciples would be one. Why was the unity of his followers so on his heart?

In college, I majored in painting and still enjoy painting. I love color. I have around 20 tubes of different colored oil paints. I like Pthalo Blue and Cadmium Yellow and Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ocher. I like them by themselves but they’re 100 times more beautiful when mixed together and juxtaposed next to each other in a thousand surprising combinations. What makes a piece of art beautiful is the harmonies and relationships of the shapes and colors. A canvas that is all one color is boring.

In “Eyes Wide open: Enjoying God in Everything” author Steve DeWitt says that the amazing diversity in unity that we see in the creation points us to God. A stunning sunset, the glories of the Grand Canyon, the beauty of sunlight in a forest – the thousands of combinations of color and light and shape in nature, a symphony orchestra or a sports team working harmoniously – all the variations of diversity and harmony we see in the world – point us to God. Especially when we enjoy harmonious relationships.

“We enjoy holidays (the coming together of family), weddings and anniversaries (celebrations of the union of marriage), and Fourth of July parades (the unity of community and nation). Coming together feels great! Relational unity is humanity at its supreme and highest ideal. Have you ever wondered why the greatest memories of our lives or not things we bought or sites we saw or the foods we ate? Think about your greatest memories. They probably have something to do with times of closeness with a parent, a child, a spouse, or a friend. Relational unity is beautiful because all the experiential harmonies of this world whisper of the wondrous beauty of the Godhead’s relational threeness and oneness.” – Steve DeWitt

Relational unity is beautiful because all the experiential harmonies of this world whisper of the wondrous beauty of the Godhead’s relational threeness and oneness.”

All the relational diversity and harmony we see on earth – in nature, music, sports, art, in family celebrations– points us to the love and harmony of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, three distinct persons in one God.

That’s why it is so important for us to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4.3). That’s why we should seek to be reconciled to one another and work out our differences as quickly as possible. To forgive one another and bear with one another. Because our unity in diversity in our families and churches reflects and points to God.

Do you have strained relationships with fellow believers? What can you do to promote love and unity in that relationship? Are you unreconciled with anyone? What can you do to seek reconciliation?

I know that relationships even among Christians can be messy. We often sin against one another and hurt each other. We have misunderstandings and offenses. But as much as it is up to us we should forgive, love and pursue the unity of the Spirit with every brother and sister.

Remember, when we love one another it is a reflection of the beautiful love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for one another and for us. O Lord God, grant us unity, love, and harmony in our families and churches!


Today’s article was written by Pastor Mark Altrogge and is shared from the following website: https://www.biblestudytools.com/blogs/mark-altrogge/why-our-unity-is-so-important-and-beautiful-to-god.html

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7 Ways to Deal with Challenges

Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path Unknown

We are all faced with challenges constantly in every area of our lives. Most people have a hard time accepting and dealing with these challenges that arise. The truth is that you will have to deal with difficult problems throughout your life, whether it is in your personal life or career. Most of us get really afraid and run away from problems because we don’t want to accept reality the way it is. Running away from your problems is the worst thing you can do to deal with the challenges you are faced with. I have some tips for you below on learning how to deal with everyday challenges. Start now and develop the self-discipline to practice the below points.

1. Don’t overreact- Overreacting to a problem will cause you to make bad decisions. When we are not in control of our emotions, we will make decisions that we will regret later. Next time you are faced with a challenge, become the watcher of your thoughts and stay calm so you can make smarter decisions.

2. Accept present moment reality- Accept the way things are and the way people are. You have to understand that not everything is going to be the way you want it to be. If you cannot accept reality you will feel very frustrated with your life. Many people will try to change someone or something that they cannot control, and when it doesn’t work out for them they feel miserable. Once you can accept reality (including the challenges that you are faced with), you will be able to be more calm and think more clearly about how to get a step further towards your goals every day.

3. Don’t blame others- Many people make a habit of blaming others for all their problems. They fail to take full responsibility for the decisions they have made in life. The more you blame others with the challenges you are faced with, the more you will make people dislike you and not want to be around you. The first thing you want to do when faced with a personal challenge is not to start pointing fingers at others.

4. Practice detachment- Make a habit of detaching yourself from any outcome. Detachment means that you are not attached to any given result in life.  I remember in the past when I did public speaking and got really nervous. The reason I was fearful of public speaking was because I was too caught up thinking about what the audience was thinking of me. The fact is that there are some people that are not going to like what you say and others who may like what you have to say, therefore your job is to accept the way people are and not get worked up emotionally and mentally over someone not liking you. When you start practicing detachment, many of your fears and insecurities will disappear.

5. Don’t overanalyze- When you think too much about a situation or event that occurred, you will start to judge everything and everyone. When you think too much you will have a very tough time accepting reality and you will think that something is not right. Overanalyzing can also cause you to not take action on your goal, which can make you really frustrated in the long run.

6. Accept “changes’ in your life- You will have to deal with changes in life all the time. Many people don’t like change and they resist it because it gets them outside of their comfort zone.  You may be unhappy or happy at certain times; however, you have to realize that those two states are not permanent. You have to train your mind to be at peace at all times regardless of the emotional state you experiencing.

7. Don’t compare your lifestyle with others- I know it is really difficult not to compare ourselves with other people, however, the more often we do that, the more frustrated we will feel. There will be people that may have accomplished more than you. The key thing to remember is that you create your own story and success in life.

Today’s article was written by Nabil Gulamani and is shared from the following website: https://www.lifeoptimizer.org/2011/10/24/ways-to-deal-with-challenges/

 

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Our Savior Knows our Pains

I belong to a special Facebook group for mothers of adopted and foster children. The children of these mothers come from traumatized backgrounds. As a result, these mothers experience more than their fair share of pain and agony – it very difficult to raise angry, traumatized children. On an almost daily basis, they seek to deliberately hurt (both physically and emotionally) their mothers or primary caregivers. One of these mother’s, in an attempt to help those in our group, shared this recently. It is a quote by Chieko N. Okazaki and it is profound! We all have our burdens to bear and our difficulties to endure. I hope it will provide you with comfort as it has me!:

“It’s our faith that He experienced everything- absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually.

That means He knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer — how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced Napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced … that He does not also know and recognize. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten when a bully picks on your fifth-grader when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down Syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that. He’s not waiting for us to be perfect. Perfect people don’t need a Savior. He came to save his people in their imperfections. He is the Lord of the living, and the living make mistakes. He’s not embarrassed by us, angry at us, or shocked. He wants us in our brokenness, in our unhappiness, in our guilt and our grief.” Chieko N. Okazaki

Today’s image was shared from the gospel library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (lds.org)

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