Thursday, December 28, 2023

More Than Anything

In the last 13 years I've read a fair amount of blogs about the movement of people, like you and me, who are seeing the hypocrisy of the church and the discrepancies with what the church teaches and what the scriptures say. Some of the bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, etc., have gained followings. I have watched how these voices resonate with some and not with others and how groups form. 

One thing I've noticed I don't like is the new *but improved* (former) LDS voices that let you know you're pretty much a bad person and the reason Zion isn't being brought about is because of all of your bad traits that are keeping things from progressing to a holier level. These kinds of statements aren't prophetic - they're self evident. For goodness sake - we are ALL wicked, unholy, and prone to selfishness and pride. It is natural to have discord and judgmental responses to those around us. We live in a state of entropy constantly. What amazes me are those people who miraculously transcend such tendencies and are able to manage small heroic acts of kindness or love or charity for another. Telling me I'm horrible doesn't make we want to be less horrible - it only produces more spiritual distance from the One who is Holy via shame, guilt, and grief.

I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to witness leaf cutter ants cutting leaves and taking them back to their home where they use them to sustain a white fungus that they grow in their nests to help feed them and their young. I was amazed at their precision in cutting and their exactness in marching in straight lines back to their home. The had purpose and they were not deterred. It was such a little thing that was first noticed by my children and then captivated by all of us as as we stopped to watch them in awe. I can't help but reflect back on that. It's silly - just little ants cutting leaves but it was something I'd only seen with on a nature program.

I couldn't help but see how much we are all like those ants. We get up each day, we have tasks to perform, we bust our b-hind's until the day is done - lay down, sleep, wake up and do it all again the next day. I smiled to myself as I pondered on the thought that these little ants didn't know they were being watched and filmed by us. They didn't even know what "we" were. They had a task an they were doing it and they'd go to bed later and then get up and do it all again tomorrow. Human beings aren't a thought in their little ant brains. We are just an object out there on the periphery that has no meaning or purpose to them. They didn't know that nature documentary films had been made about them and set to an awesome score of music where millions of people would watch them over the years. And yet - it was so.

How like those ant's are we in relation to God? We get up, we get stuff done all day that feels very important to us (white fungus stuff) and then we sleep and do it all again the next day. Off in the periphery is a shape we don't really understand and we've no time to delve into understanding it anyways.

I wondered if the angels had ever made a documentary about us small humans set to an epic score. They do watch over us and the song that vibrates heaven surely intensifies when we step out of the line of redundancy and wander off toward that shape of God in the distance. I wonder if we grow brighter and brighter the nearer we approach the throne - until the perfect day (D&C 50:24)

How rare is it for an ant to step off the path and seek something more? One in a million? One in a billion? How rare is it for a human to step of the proverbial path to seek Him? One in a million? One in a billion? But they do. And heaven rejoices and the musical score intensifies and to encounter Him is to become like Him. 

When you train your thoughts to always flow back to Jesus, He becomes the North Star to which your internal compass always returns. No matter which way you turn - you are continually pointing to Him and He to you. And then you are no longer afraid of the darkness for He dwells in you and His will has lead you to become Zion - of one heart and one mind...not with another human - but with Him

All the preaching of Zion won't get you to Zion. All the focus on external projects like a temple or a set of scriptures or baptisms or endowments won't get you closer to Him. They'll get you closer to the project - but not to Him. Jesus even warned about getting obsessed with projects - look!

John 5: 39-40 NLT

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 

40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.

You can substitute the word "scriptures" with anything. Allow me to demonstrate:
"You look to gathering as a group so Zion can come forth because you think that will give you eternal life. But Zion points to me! You refuse to come to me to receive this life."

"You look to going to the Temple because you think that will give you eternal life. But the Temple points to me! You refuse to come to me to receive this life."

"You look to Joseph Smith or the Davidic Servant because you think that will give you eternal life. But they point to me! You refuse to come to me to receive this life."
You get the idea. But do you believe it?

I remember my third Zone Leader Training on my mission in Tokyo over 20 years ago. It is a vivid memory because it was so disturbing. In the room sat about 8 missionaries and then the two ZL's. One particular ZL was an American full of all the worst of the American traits of pride and arrogance. He began berating the district for not baptizing more. His lecture felt like an eternity. Because I was so new I hadn't grown accustom to putting my head down and not making eye-contact as is common in Japan to show respect for those in authority above you. I sat there with my head on a swivel looking to each member of my district, heads down, all while feeling like I was on a really bad episode of "Candid Camera." 

It was when he said, "If you don't baptize each month it means you are a bad missionary and aren't keeping the rules" that I could take no more. I raised my hand and asked, "Let me see if I understand this if I taught someone in my last area and they got baptized but I was transferred before the baptism - is it *my* baptism or did I need to see it with my own eyes to have it count? And if I teach someone else today but get transferred tomorrow, do I need to be there to have it count as *my* baptism? Because I want to be righteous, right? So how, exactly, does counting baptisms work? And if the person I am teaching uses their free agency to choose not to be baptized, does that mean I'm bad too? Should my goodness override their agency and turn it into a baptism - so I know that I'm a good missionary?"

Oblivious to my mocking question he took the time to spew forth answers of which were forgettable. When he was done trying to break it down I told him I was a good missionary, no matter his opinion of what makes a good missionary, and nothing he could say about monthly baptisms would tell me otherwise. Heads in the district popped up and a discussion of logic ensued which turned the tides of guilt that day. 

What helped me be able to have that conversation were two things: 

1. I knew my mission president. I knew he would never teach the Elders hogwash like that and 2. I knew who Father was. You can't tell me I'm bad if He's told me otherwise.

Those groups that form within and without the church form on the commonality that they, like my district, hear a voice and determine that it is unequivocally God's voice to them. Until you take time to silence all other voices but what comes to you directly from God - you will always have a second hand relationship with God. Zion won't come about because you have successfully managed to tame your jealousies or anger. It will come about because you have become so intimately acquainted with the Lord that you will naturally gravitate to all Jesus lovers everywhere. When He is your North Star you will no longer feel satisfied with more discussions on Joseph or the restoration or the Temple or General Conference or (fill in the blank). He will be the only thing that will quench your thirst and your hunger.

Do you feel it? Do you long for something More? Perhaps the Father is drawing you to Him. Perhaps you should respond...

John 6:44-51 KJV
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
A.W. Tozer said it best (I've used it before but I'll use it again here):
"We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety. This is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends (or groups, teachings, Joseph, Scriptures, Temple, Davidic Servant, the church, etc.). But we need have no such fears. Our Lord came not to destroy but to save. Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.

"The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough, old miser within us will not lie down and die in obedience to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw. He must be expelled from our soul by violence, as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple. And we shall need to steel ourselves against his piteous begging...

“Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival.... Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there."
Who or what is your North Star right now?

Ask the Lord to reveal to you what your North Star is (or what your mind runs to instead of Him)?

Why is it so hard to let go of political obsession, emergency prep., Joseph Smith history, Zion, a prophet, gathering, the Temple, the group you are a part of, or (fill in the blank) and just have Jesus as your North Star and as your guide? 

If you let your *righteous obsession go - you will get it back. But if you cling to it, it will be taken from you. To get to Jesus you can't take another god with you. He has to be your waking thought, your breath, part of your suffering, part of your joy. He has to be your everything.

What is the story you are living in?

We're all living in a story and in each story is a narrator. Who is narrating your story?

We always have a narrator of events in our lives. Always pray to bring your narration under the authority of Jesus.

What narrative has got your attention right now? Is it the story God is telling you?


Is it politics, the economy, emergency prep., Zion, the Davidic Servant, Joseph Smith, new and improved scriptures, gathering as a group, paying the bills, your job, your family, fill in the blank.

God is in charge of everything. The story of God is the story of the world!

Who is the "bad guy" in your story?

Who is the Hero?

Who or what are you looking to to save the day?

Is Jesus Christ absolutely central to the narrative you are living? Who gets to determine the narrative for you? The news? The prophet? The leader of your group?

John 8:31-32
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
It takes consistent work to make Jesus your North Star. We have other god's we have filled in His place. Our mind easily runs back to worry or to food or pleasure. Don't let this post make you feel guilty for not thinking of Him more. It's a wonder we think of Him at all! We are so like the ant's - busy and unaware of the great things God has in store for us. But today I'm putting a Stone in your path (as has been done for me many times). You can walk around it and fall back in line or you can pause, drop the leaf you are so desperately clinging to, and look around at the One who is smiling at you watching you in love and awe. Take time to answer the questions posed in this post. Often we don't slow down enough to ask ourselves what the heck we're doing.

Slow down.

And if you like this post it was inspired by Wild at Heart's 30 days to resilient pause app found here (scroll down for the link to the app). If you're looking for Jesus - for your compass to point to Him as your North Star, give it a try. We are doing it with our children morning and night and today my 11 year old came to me and said, "I really like the feeling in our home since we've started doing this together." 

Or you can go back to the grind, the leaf....fermentation.

More Than Anything
Natalie Grant

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Goodness of God

Yes, when it rains - it pours. But after the downpour - a renewal and clearer perspective. After feeling sorry for myself (see my last post) and being uplifted by those who offered encouragement (thank you, sincerely), I was reminded that God is Good and all these things shall be for my experience.

7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?

9 Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever. (D&C 122)


Who is this God?

Years ago when I was a ward missionary out visiting the "inactives" and trying to find out their beef concerns with the church, I came across a woman in her 40's who was angry at God. More specifically - she was mad at Heavenly Father. She expressed that she loved Jesus, but the Father was a whole different story. I didn't have words to offer her that day. Only a listening ear. 

Yesterday YouTube suggested a video for me to watch. It was a young mother who said she no longer believed in the church and she couldn't give her tithing to fund lavish temples when there were homeless that needed help. About half-way through her video she got to the heart of the matter. She was a mother of three and wanted a fourth baby and it had been four years and God hadn't given her a baby and now she was mad at Him. She lamented that He blessed other people with babies - others who were "unworthy" but for her - no blessing came. She expressed that she had, "faith to move a mountain" and that she knew if she asked God for a baby - He would bless her with one. But He had not. So "the Mormon God must be a jerk". Her feelings were raw and unfiltered. My heart was pained for her struggle but comforted as I prayed for her to find God. I could not criticize her thoughts. She is not unique in her view of the Father. What is unique are people that take time to analyze their view of God and Jesus. 

The Genie God

It is common to believe that if we pay tithing and go to church each Sunday and magnify our calling and attend the Temple - then God will bless us with our hearts desire. Instead of a life where God's will is our bread and His words are living water, we unconsciously believe in a Genie God that - if we rub the lamp as instructed (do certain behaviors), he will grant us our wishes. When we live life with this belief then, over time and when the blessing we desire isn't granted, the world slowly begins to appear as multitudes of the unwashed and the unclean who have the life we have religiously sacrificed for but to no avail. Through this painful lens - God becomes a Being who is holding out on us, punishing us, favors the wicked, delights in our heartaches, withholds from us because He wants more, or that He's...a jerk.

Reading the scriptures we find them to be filled with people who felt abandoned by God when their heart cried out for that which they most desired. And these stories culminate in God allowing His Chosen Son to be wounded, beaten, and nailed to a tree. God allowed His Son to suffer all things. When His Son asked His Father for another way it was not possible. So Jesus submitted His will and it was swallowed up in the Father's will. "Nevertheless, not my will - but thine be done".

How do you view the Father? 

How is he different from Jesus? 

In what ways are they different to you?

Because I am interested in the way the mind works - I've been reading psychologist Dr. M. Scott Peck's book, 'The Road Less Traveled". He brings up the importance of religion in psychology, but not in the way one would imagine. He says it best so I will write out a lot of what he has to say and my hope is that you will read this and allow it to work a work to come to know The Father more fully. 

"In supervising other psychotherapists I rather routinely find that they pay too little, if any, attention to the ways in which their patients view the world. There are several reasons for this, but among them is the notion that if patients don't consider themselves religious by virtue of their belief in God or their church membership, they are lacking in religion and the matter therefor needs no further scrutiny. But the fact of the matter is that everyone has an explicit or implicit set of ideas and beliefs as to the essential nature of the world. Do patients envision the universe as basically chaotic and without meaning so that it is only sensible for them to grab whatever little pleasure they can whenever it is available? Do they see the world as a dog-eat-dog place where ruthlessness is essential for their survival? Or do they see it as a nurturing sort of place in which something good will always turn up and in which they need not fret much about the future? Or a place that owes them a living no matter how they conduct their lives? Or a universe of rigid law in which they will be struck down and cast away if they step even slightly out of line? Et cetera. There are all manner of different world views that people have. Sooner or later in the course of psychotherapy most therapists will come to recognize how a patient views the world, but if the therapist is specifically on the lookout for it, he or she will come to this recognition sooner rather than later. And it is essential that therapists arrive at this knowledge, for the world view of patients is always an essential part of their problems, and a correction in their wold view is necessary for their cure. So I say to those I supervise: "Find out your patients' religions even if they say they don't have any."


"The most important part of our culture is our particular family. The most basic culture in which we develop is the culture of our family, and our parents are its "culture leaders." Moreover, the most significant aspect of that culture is not what our parents tell us about God and the nature of things but rather what they do - how they behave toward each other, toward our siblings and, above all, toward us. In other words, what we learn about the nature of the world when we are growing up is determined by the actual nature of our experience in the microcosm of the family. It is not so much what our parents say that determines our world view as it is the unique world they create for us by their behavior....

"I have had a number of patients with (a belief of God as the "monster-god") monster-god concepts of God and similarly bleak or terrifying notions as to the nature of existence. What is surprising is that the monster-god is not more common in the minds of humans....when we are children our parents are godlike figures to our child's eye, and the way they do things seems the way they must be done throughout the universe. Our first (and, sadly, often our only) notion of God's nature is a simple extrapolation of our parent's natures, a simple blending of the characters of our mothers and fathers or their substitutes. If we have loving, forgiving parents, we are likely to believe in a loving and forgiving God. And in our adult view the world is likely to seem as nurturing a place as our childhood was. If our parents were harsh and punitive, we are likely to mature with a concept of a harsh and punitive monster-god. And if they failed to care for us, we will likely envision the universe and similarly some extent the religion of most adults is a "product of transference" of family and parent relationships in our childhood.


"The road of spiritual growth, however, lies in the opposite direction. We begin by distrusting what we already believe, by actively seeking the threatening and unfamiliar, by deliberately challenging the validity of what we have previously been taught and hold dear. The path to holiness lies through questioning everything."

As the theologian Alan Jones has said:
"One of our problems is that very few of us have developed any distinctive personal life. Everything about us seems secondhand, even our emotions. In many cases we have to rely on secondhand information in order to function. I accept the world of a physician, a scientist, a farmer, on trust. I do not like to do this. I have to because they possess vital knowledge of living of which I am ignorant. Secondhand information concerning the state of my kidneys, the effects of cholesterol, and the raising of chickens, I can live with. But when it comes to questions of meaning, purpose, and death, secondhand information will not do. I cannot survive on a secondhand faith in a secondhand God. There has to be a personal word, a unique confrontation, if I am to come alive."
"So for mental health and spiritual growth we must develop our own personal religion and not rely on that of our parents....Many patients who have already taken this beginning say to me: "I'm not religious. I don't go to church. I no longer believe much of what the church and my parents told me. I don't have my parents' faith. I guess I'm not very spiritual." It often comes as a shock to them when I question the reality of their assumption that they are not spiritual beings. "You have a religion," I may say, "a rather profound one. You worship the truth. You believe in the possibility of your growth and betterment: the possibility of spiritual progress. In the strength of your religion you are willing to suffer then pains of challenge and the agonies of unlearning. You take the risk of therapy, an all this you do for the sake of your religion. I am not at all certain it is realistic to say that you are less spiritual than your parents; to the contrary, I suspect the reality is that you have spiritually evolved beyond your parents, that your spirituality is greater by a quantum leap than theirs, which is insufficient to provide them with even the courage to question."


"Is belief in God a form of psychopathology?...There is clearly a lot of dirty bath water surrounding the reality of God. Holy wars. Inquisitions. Animal sacrifice. Human sacrifice. Superstition. Stultification. Dogmatism. Ignorance. Hypocrisy. Self-righteousness. Rigidity. Cruelty. Book-burning. Witch-burning. Inhibition. Fear. Conformity. Morbid guilt. Insanity. The list is almost endless. But is all this what God has done to humans or what humans have done to God? It is abundantly evident that belief in God is often destructively dogmatic. Is the problem, then, that humans tend to believe in God, or is the problem that humans tend to be dogmatic? Anyone who has known a died-in-the-wool atheist will know that such an individual can be as dogmatic about unbelief as any believer can be about belief. Is it belief in God we need to get rid of, or is it dogmatism?...The neophyte scientist, recently come or converted to the world view of science, can be every bit as fanatical as a Christian crusader or a soldier of Allah...Is it possible that the path of spiritual growth leads first out of superstition into agnosticism and then out of agnosticism toward an accurate knowledge of God?...The God that comes before skepticism may bear little resemblance to the God that comes after."

To conclude this post I will share two experiences, though there are more. About five years ago I was reading the scriptures and became confused as to why God appeared to be so conflicting at times. I prayed and said, “Lord, You are confusing.” To my great surprise I heard, “That is because you judge me. You judge me based on your perceptions of me. Your perceptions come from listening to others construction of who they believe I am and from your life’s perspective which alters your ability to see Me clearly. Ask Me to teach you about Me. Ask Me to show you who I AM.”

Then, about three years ago, I was on a walk and I was feeling a lot of tumult over things happening in my life at the time. As I walked I listened to a Christian podcast by John Eldredge and he asked the listener to consider the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and to ask yourself which of the three you were struggling with in a relationship at that time. I had never thought about that before and surprisingly - I didn't even have to ask myself - it was the Father.

I'm the worst in so many ways I can't count them all. But to tell you the truth - I've given the Father angry lectures before about areas where, "He let me down" and - to my utter surprise - He unexpectedly met me at different parts in my valley of the shadow of death and He comforted me there.

Sadly, at this particular time in my life I had strayed from the relationship and He had become a far-away Being that seemed aloof and distant from me. As I walked through the forest that day I cried out in my heart, "Where are you? WHO are You that I should know YOU?!" And when I offered that raw and sincere cry of my heart - He gave me a small glimpse of who He was and it was something I had never before supposed. In an instant I was no longer angry and tromping through the forest but found myself on a great battlefield and the Father was in beautiful armor, sword drawn - fighting with ALL His Soul for His children. His image was unlike anything my mind could have imagined and His Glory was fierce and passionate. And my heart was amazed and my mind was in awe. A Warrior and a Protector. It gave me much to ponder. 

I have learned the hard way and through great pains and tears and through the conscious decision to continually destroy 'my will' that the Father is not the genie god. 

He is not the monster-god. 

He is not a god who is silent.

He is not a god who delights in withholding your hearts desire from you.

The Father is a patient God who won't force you to seek Him but will respond to your cries for Him when you call out. It may not be in ways you would expect or the way in which you would hope. It might be a smell, a song, an image in your mind, a word, a touch, His ways are Endless - for that is His name. And He is passionately fighting for you. But, to quote LaVar Burton, you don't have to take my word for it. 

Because a simple question led me to know the Father to a greater degree, I ask you: 

Of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost - which relationship feels the weakest to you right now? If you don't know, or even if you do know - will you pray and ask how to increase in that relationship?

My prayer today:

Father, we want to know You but our hearts fear the unknown and our pride recoils at the appearance of foolishness or rather - at the things we do not understand. Please strip from us the pride that keeps us from seeing You clearly. Take from us all those things we have worshiped or medicated or replaced You with. Help us to desire You. Please bestow on us a deep hunger that nothing but Your Presence will satisfy. We need more of You. Help us desire to come into alignment with Your will and let Your will be the manna for our souls. In Jesus Holy name.  

Here is a song that, if you don't relate to it...use it as an opportunity to pray and ask God for you to see Him in your past and your present and your future. Let these words be your Hearts desire.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Pains of the Soul

When it rains, it pours. 

In the last two weeks I've had yet another person who I love and admire greatly reach out to me to let me know they looked at my blog and felt I was being very critical of the church and would I please stop and use my talents for the Lord instead of for criticism. They said that I had left the church but didn't seem to be able to "leave it alone". I corrected them that I hadn't left the church and, after bawling sufficiently to swell my eyes to an unnatural state - responded to their opinions of me. Then today I had a conversation about the church with the person I wrote about last time and they couldn't help but shake their head and say, "you are negative" and "you are only having a narrow view (of the church)".

So, yeah. Today is a bad day. Today I'd prefer the rocks from the mountains to crush me to dust. Today, I'm mad and sad and...done. Just done! Had I only kept my mouth shut all those years ago. I'm pretty negative today so best for me to shut my mouth now (or restrain my fingers).

All I have for the post is a portion of what I emailed to one individual and said to the other person. Here you go:

Dear (Edit),

Thank you for having the courage to share your feelings. It means you care. I am sorry that my observations hurt your heart. It will be easier to love me if you don't read my blog but I understand if you choose not to do that.

I shouldn't have shared the blog all those years ago. I made a lot of mistakes sharing my journey and if I could go back I would have stayed silent. I have been told by different people I love that I am "un-Christ-like", "prideful", "desiring to lead", "lack of light in my eyes", "not led by the Spirit", and more. I guess I can, to a small degree, relate to Joseph Smith when he said, “You don't know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don't blame anyone for not believing my history."

I had a conversation with someone a few weeks ago about my family not going to church. They said that our belief in Jesus was "good" but - not enough. We needed to believe in the covenant path (which ironically is more than what the Book of Mormon outlines: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost). That broke my heart. Jesus isn't enough in the church. The sister missionaries stopped by last month and we talked in the driveway and they asked me some direct questions. I shared my heart and told them that when Jesus becomes the focus of the church, we will be back in a heartbeat. That if the baptism questions were just about Jesus, we would have the kids be baptized. If the temple questions were just about Jesus, we would be back. I expressed that I was sure I was strange to them and they'd probably not meet another person who had these issues and they said, "Actually, we have met someone who said the same thing yesterday."

So you may feel that I am critical of the church and that I'm not devoting all my energy to the Lord and I will, like the other opinions leveled at me, accept that as your view of me.

I love the members of the church and I have given a life in service of the church. I am thankful I have. I learned so much and grew so much.

May I share a glimpse of how my mind works so you can have understanding?

Reading 4 Nephi chapter 1. I compare what happened to the people of Bountiful to us in the Church today.

Bountiful: Jesus personally ministered to those at Bountiful after His Resurrection.

Us: Almost none of the Saints in Joseph's day to the present day have been ministered to by Jesus Christ. Those lay members that do claim to have seen Him are looked at as a person to avoid.

Bountiful: Jesus left 3 translated beings among them.

Us: Joseph died when the church was in its infancy and no one knew who should lead the church until a vote was taken 3 years later. Our Church continued on by a vote. There were no translated beings among them then or us today.

Bountiful: Jesus told His disciples at Bountiful that they would go on to do the works they saw Him do (3 Nephi 27:21) They went on to heal the sick, raise the dead, cause the lame to walk, be put in fire and not burned, put in dens of beasts and received no harm (4 Nephi 1: 5, 32-33).

Us: After Joseph died there have been almost none of those miracles listed above by those in leadership.

Bountiful: They were personally ministered to by Jesus Christ. They witnessed and some experienced many being raised from the dead. They witnessed and experienced profound healing, even people that couldn't walk - walked! They watched disciples be thrown into fire or in dens of beasts and come out unscathed. And lastly, they were left with three translated beings. Even with all of that, 200 years after Jesus came to Bountiful, the church fell into apostasy.

Us: Miracles nowhere near the magnitude of what they experienced. No visitation from Jesus Christ to those who testify they are Special Witnesses of Christ (and if one were to argue that maybe they have seen Jesus but it's just too sacred to share - the first chapter in 1 Nephi blows the belief of, "not sharing sacred things" out of the water. That's what they are called to do). Additionally we have no translated beings living among us. And yet - we proclaim, "We can never and will never be led astray." Translation: We will never go into apostasy.

The church, 200 years after those at Bountiful were ministered to by Jesus, fell into apostasy.

We are nearing 200 years since the Church was organized (and over 200 years since the first vision) and we are lightyears away from what the people of Bountiful experienced. To believe that they (who had Jesus as their leader) got it wrong but we never could (and never will) is vanity and pride. (2 Nephi 28:11, Moroni 7: 36-37)

My reason for where I am at today is because I don't believe I am chosen above all the rest of the world. I actually believe the Book of Mormon when it shows the amount of pride in people who believe they are chosen above all others (the LDS have so much in common with the Jews).

Moroni gave a chilling warning for the LDS church (one of the most wealthy entities on the planet):

35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

36 And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. (Moroni never mentions a special people...the LDS...he says of the church: "even every one")

37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?

39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?

40 Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?

41 Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he avengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.

I am pretty sure my blog posts are more tame than Moroni.

Moroni said we love adorning our churches. Here's something to consider. Look at the difference in temples:


Most temples the church builds are very expensive. Yes, the Lord did command Solomon to build a magnificent temple. But it was one temple. We have 335 (either announced or in some stage of remodeling, building, and operation).

What are Temples for?

To endow the living and then to redeem the dead?

If the work done inside is what matters - then why does it matter how ornate they are? Contrast Rome, Italy with the Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo temple:

If this temple, which looks more like a large stake center, is sufficient - why must the rest of the temples be so ornate with marble flown in from other countries, etc.

I guess sometimes people in scripture wrote about the corruption they saw and I don't view them as "not having enough energy for the Lord" but trying actively to tear down my idols so I only have Jesus Christ as my sure foundation. If we don't wake up to the fact that we are the people the Book of Mormon prophesied about, then all is vain. (Moroni 7)


The person responded and let me know they didn't understand why I still felt the need to blog negatively about the church. Here is my response:

I have been tame in my writings compared to Moroni's condemnation of us. Moroni said, "Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing". That is us! Do you see it? Or do you believe he painstakingly wrote that to people who will never read the Book of Mormon? Moroni said there wasn't one single church that was in the right way. He said, "your churches, even every one" are polluted because of pride."

We are in apostasy.

He condemned the apostasy.

We are living in the times Moroni saw. When I blog I am reiterating what Moroni said of the pride of the LDS leaders and people who are polluted because of pride.

We believe we are a chosen people and can never and will never be led astray. There simply isn't a single scripture that can back up that belief. Believing such pollutes the Holy church of God (Mormon 8:38).

People are leaving the church in greater numbers. Access to more church documents from the Joseph Smith papers has opened a floodgate for people to see, for themselves, documents that have been withheld. I literally thank the Lord that as my heart broke, it was divinely caught by a random simple Christian preacher's message and they pointed me right to Jesus.

If my writings can turn one person who is already on their way out not to leave Jesus too, I will.

If my writings can turn one person who is in the church and pridefully believes they are saved just by, "staying in the boat", to Jesus -then I will.

My blog has a purpose: 1. Acknowledge the areas of hypocrisy and pride of the church 2. Acknowledge the members desire (and the leadership's allowance) to place leadership next to or an inch lower than Jesus Himself SO that I can 3. Point the reader back to Jesus Christ.

Why can't I just do #3 ?

Why did Moroni write of the corruption of the Holy church of God? Was he someone who "couldn't leave it alone" too? Or was he trying to strip away false idols and point people to Jesus? He was talking to us. Why do we insist he was talking to everyone but us? Pride.

Who do I think I am that I know more than the church leaders, one may ask? Am I not filled with pride in doing this?

I don't think I'm anyone other than a total loser. Truly. I'm not saying this and hoping you'll say something nice about me when I say that. I don't think I'm smarter than or better than anyone else. That's how I got here - on this path. I knew my sins were great and that I wasn't fit for heaven so I pleaded with God and wrestled with Him in prayer until He answered me. But already knowing I am a loser...that's why these emails or criticism are so hard to receive and leave me bawling every time. I can agree with every accusation leveled at me. I know I am a loser or a jerk or prideful or an idiot or un-Christlike. I have nothing to defend myself with since I see all my flaws. Perhaps my only redeeming quality is that I love Jesus and I want others to know Him and love Him too. And if it means I have to tear down the idols of pride, I will.

How can you point an idolatrous people to Jesus if they believe they are chosen and can't be led astray by an arm of flesh (2 Nephi 4:34)? I can not express how many people I have seen **leave the church and leave God too.** That cuts to my soul and that is why I write.


Sunday, November 5, 2023

Darkness Comprehending the Light

Lot's of feelings this week. I had a conversation with someone that I hold in the highest esteem. They asked me if I go to church and when I told them I did not, they were visibly heartbroken. I detest letting people down. It broke my heart to break theirs. We talked for some time about a few of the concerns I have and my inability to teach my kids the perspective of the church - that Joseph Smith is a liar...and that lying about fidelity is okay. I don't believe he was a liar and the fruit he produced (the Book of Mormon) draws me closer to Jesus (along with the Bible).

They let me know that my belief in Jesus was "good" but...not enough for exaltation. They expressed that they had the spirit, which led them to believe in the church. They lamented that because I did not believe in everything the church teaches I was being influenced by a different spirit. I wanted to share my heart, my journey, my experiences with the spirit and the Lord but the spirit restrained. I left that conversation deeply downcast and depressed. I felt like a failure to that person. They would never really know me in this life. I dislike not being fully understood and known. I hurt to see that someone I love didn't want to fully know me or understand me. I think the Lord knows what that feels like. Meet me here, Lord.

As I drove on the freeway I poured my heart out to the Lord. "I'll go back to church Lord. Is that what You want me to do? I'll do whatever You ask. Please tell me what to do." I then heard, "Ask the Lord if He could give you a sign." I reasoned to myself that sign seeking wasn't wise because a wicked generation seeks a sign (Matt 16:4) has never been my go-to to ask for a sign. But again, the thought came to ask for a sign. So I said, "Lord, could you give me a sign?" And literally - I mean literally the moment I said "sign" my eyes glanced to the right to a flashing construction sign on the side of the road. The words flashed, "Use Alternate Route".

I laughed. Out loud.

The depression still lingers. The longing to please those I love still persists. But the longing for Jesus wins out. His will is my Bread. His Presence is my Drink. So I wait upon Him and seek Him.

One of my children said to me today, "Mom - I don't remember when I learned what words meant. Now I look at words and I know what they mean but I know at some point I looked at them and they were just a jumbled mess. But I don't remember when they were messy and meaningless."

And so it is with Jesus and the Lord.

Watch as He 
majestically describes, in His own words, who God is:

40 For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.

41 He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.

42 And again, verily I say unto you, he hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and their seasons;

43 And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets.

44 And they give light to each other in their times and in their seasons, in their minutes, in their hours, in their days, in their weeks, in their months, in their years—all these are one year with God, but not with man.

45 The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.

46 Unto what shall I liken these kingdoms, that ye may understand?

47 Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power.

48 I say unto you, he hath seen him; nevertheless, he who came unto his own was not comprehended.

49 The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.

50 Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound.

I love verse 48 and how it talks about He came to His own and wasn't comprehended! Then verse 49 He talks about us not comprehending Him at first. The light shines in darkenss (words being a jumbled mess) and the darkness comprehendeth it not (you before you learned how to read).

And then - if you diligently seek Him and hunger for His Bread and His Living Water - then the day will come that those jumbled words on a page will begin to form a word. And from a word - a sentence and from a sentence - a paragraph. And from a paragraph to poetry. From poetry to a mystery to a tragedy to a triumph. You will know Him so intimately that you won't remember what it was like when you didn't comprehend Him or when you didn't see Him above you, beneath you, in you, and all around you.

God allows us to misunderstand Him, to misinterpret Him. He allows us to seek after the pleasures of our minds and hearts. He asks for our hearts but He doesn't force the relationship. To seek after Him and His will is the greatest challenge and the greatest gift of a lifetime...and few be there that find it. It will cost you the things you cling most tightly to that aren't Him. To step out of the boat of safety onto choppy waters is terrifying. What is the boat that you are clinging to? A seemingly likeminded group of believers? A particular leader? Your family? Your intellect? Your doubts? There are a myriad of jumbled words we can cling to that keep us from comprehending the Alphabet.

A prayer. Lord, I ask You to bless this reader and me with a deeper hunger for Your Bread and Your Water. And the Bread we seek after is Your Will and we pray Your Living Water to flow in us and through us and surround us until that perfect day when our thirst is quenched by Your Grace and Your Majesty. We ask for more of You. We seek for Your Presence and we knock for You to open unto us all that You are. We don't comprehend You - but we do come to You. You are the source of all Truth and we seek after You, the giver of further light and knowledge. In your name, Jesus, we pray.


Friday, October 13, 2023

Stumbling Upward

I've mentioned in other posts that being on this journey we have met some unsavory folks who, when I met them at the time, I told myself that this path requires you to feel uncomfortable and break down barriers that come from being a "safe" and "faithful Mormon". I was deceived, or rather I was hurt by the actions of people more than once and each time I vowed never to let it happen again.

I strongly dislike being duped. I strongly dislike being deceived. I strongly dislike "getting it wrong". I hate getting hurt.

I'm pretty sure you do too. 

I tried hard to make sure I wouldn't "get deceived" again. I took body language classes and tried to learn the scriptures better to shore up any loose ends that would cause me to "get it wrong" in the future. I would look into peoples eyes in an attempt to see what I could see and I prayed for discernment and still..."bad things" seemed to come my way as a result of allowing this person into my life.

As I wrote in another post about Tim Ballard - I encouraged you to, "use discernment!!!" (and basically I wanted you come to the same conclusion that I did). I'll share something about my personality which is a major failing: I don't hide what I'm thinking - good or bad thoughts. I reveal almost everything about myself most of the time. With those I love I share everything and withhold nothing. It gives much for people to pick on. I have been hurt deeply by some who were closest to me because of this. It also means I may say something that is wrong because I think out loud.

When the church came out against Tim Ballard, I jumped on board in my typical personality of defending those I care about. Tim and his wife Katherine showed my family incredible kindness that went above and beyond. And so - if I care about you - I will fight for you. I put myself out there in a blog post and then as the weeks have gone on and the evidence against Tim has piled higher and higher I was in denial of it all. Today - I still don't know the answer of what is true and what isn't (update 11/5/23 - I read the court filings. It's very clear Tim Ballard was deceiving the masses. You can read it here but I don't advise it as it is disgusting in every way). I told you to use discernment when it came to Tim and I found I didn't entirely know all that discernment entails. I still don't. But I'm asking the Lord to teach me and I'm trusting in Him. 

For the last few years I have asked the Lord to give me a word for the year. This year He gave me the word: Discernment. I was SO jazzed. I naively thought that meant the Lord would likely bless me with the gift and I wouldn't be deceived again (or greatly lessen the chance of it happening). Side note: I've learned (and keep forgetting) that it is so important to ask the Lord questions when you hear something. Don't ever assume you know who it came from and that you know what it I did. 

Well, one thing after another led me to lay awake at nights asking myself, "What IS discernment? How do I keep getting it wrong? What am I to do?!"

On my quest for greater understanding I've asked the Lord to teach me and I've felt Him encouraging me to ask a few people to share their thoughts. I have done so and I hope what I write helps you in some way. Thank you for reading my thoughts, by the way. Your attention is precious so the fact that you would come here is amazing. 


1. People are messy. What a person was five years, two years ago, a month ago doesn't mean they are the same person today. Is not the act of laying down each night a symbol of death and each morning a resurrection? Can a person not change from day to day, for good or for ill?

2. Sometimes when we see another person we actually see our own hearts reflected back at us. This can be good and bad. Sometimes our biases and past experiences cause us to mis-judge or mis-discern the situation. It is important to ask the Lord to help you remove your desires and emotions so that you can know His will.

3. Jesus called Judas into the 12 apostles. And Jesus washed Judas' feet along with the other 11. As He washed Judas' feet - He knew Judas would betray Him. So Jesus had discernment, but it didn't mean He never had to bring someone who would betray him into His inner circle. 

4. Discernment and being deceived are two different things.  

I always thought that if I had discernment I would stop making "mistakes". I'd finally, "get it right!" And I would be leveling up in my journey towards sainthood. 

Or something like that. 

I imagined that discernment meant I would always have holy people in my life and I would never make a bad investment spiritually or materially. I had grandiose imaginings and I never bothered to slow down and ask the Lord to teach me what discernment really means...until now. And maybe that was His plan for me all along. 

Ruth's pillar of salt moment: Discernment, in my opinion, is so much easier when you're "on the covenant path" i.e. paying tithing and checking all the Mormon boxes. You just go to church a couple hours a week and you pay your dues and you do what you're asked in your callings and then you're guaranteed a Celestial life. Once you step off that path, or rather, once you step ON the path back to the Tree of Life (Jesus) there are mists of darkness that rise up to make you doubt everything and anything to get you to let go of the iron rod (direct connection to the Spirit of the Lord). It was so much easier when I was asleep. My children's path was "secure" (I know, I know, just let me vent already). It didn't require me to stretch myself to discern and to pray and to discern again and to pray again. 

While I am still learning from the Lord what discernment means, I understand now that if I have discernment it does not mean that I won't suffer because of the actions and choices of another. I may have to suffer because of what I need to learn so I can progress to where I want to be. What if I drew these people into my life for my growth? Or what if I allowed them to draw me into their life so I could bless them in some way or teach them something? Or a little of both...

When I look back at the unsavory characters I brought into the deepest parts of my heart, and was betrayed, I also see the unfathomable connections or lessons or gifts I obtained as a result of that person coming into my life. And, when no gift or lesson has yet revealed itself -  I wonder if that person perhaps needed me or my family in their life to show them something they needed to know or learn. And though it came at the cost of my heart and mind and sometimes with sums of money or the offering of my home or property for extended periods of time, it was frequently something my husband and I prayed about and felt to move forward with. And maybe I didn't "get it wrong" after all.

Now look, I don't want to re-write my past and be all like, "Wow! I never made a mistake! It was all meant to be for my growth!" and thereby cognitive dissonance myself into perfection. 


When you do your very best to keep the Spirit of the Lord with you and when you Seek His Will above ALL else and you pray to not be deceived it doesn't mean you will always interact with the holiest of people. I have this image in my mind that often pops up. It presents itself as a video game that I've never seen and I am not skilled at video games so it's interesting this is what I see. But I see the character of the video game on a quest and they get "off course" by a series of events. Being off course they find themselves in the forest and, not knowing which way to go, end up wandering for hours which eventually causes them to contemplate just giving up on the game. As they contemplate the absurdity of the game - they have a chance meeting with a scary old woman who shows a way out and also offers them a piece of knowledge that later comes to save their life when they are in a perilous situation down the road. Had they not met that unsavory old woman, they would have surely perished. But it was the very thing they needed to do to progress and "level up".

I was reading a blog post recently, also about discernment, that wrote a Joseph Smith quote in a new way (spacing it differently) and so it caught my eye. Here is the quote:

The things of God
   are of deep import; and

(1) time, and

(2) experience, and

 (3) careful and
(4) ponderous and

(5) solemn thoughts

   can only find them out.
   Thy mind, O man!
   if thou wilt lead a soul
   unto salvation, must

(6) stretch as high
     as the utmost heavens, and

(7) search into and

 (8) contemplate the darkest abyss,
     and the broad expanse of eternity.

(Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:295–96)

What caught my eye were the words: time and experience. 

I have had a fair amount of time and experience these last 13 years. And the Lord, for the last two years, until this one, told me to: REST.

Matthew 11:
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Taking His yolk...learning of Him i.e.: careful, solemn, and ponderous thoughts about what just happened. 

If we are to have discernment then a big factor will be time...and experience

And after that? 

Careful, solemn, and ponderous thoughts. Stretch high, search into, and contemplate things you never imagined and some things you never wanted to know. 

D&C 52:
14 And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations—

15 Wherefore he that prayeth, whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances.

16 He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances.

17 And again, he that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you.

What does it mean to obey the Lord's ordinances? In the church we are taught that ordinances are rituals we need to do to get to heaven. But the word ordinance means: Order or process. In the Bible it means, "anything declared right". 

Ordinance, broken down means: 

Obtaining and doing the Lords will! 

(For more discussion on ordinances you can refer to this blog, here.)

The Lord has given us a pattern that we won't be deceived (D&C 52). But it doesn't mean you won't avoid, "time and experience" with things. Yes, some people are actively choosing to do things that they believe are "the Lord's will" and they are mistaking their own voice, or the voice of a familiar spirit, for His voice. But only time and experience and careful, solemn, and ponderous thought will find it out for them. And for you. And for me. 

D&C 46:
26 And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.

27 And...unto such as God shall appoint ...are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.

33 And ye must practice virtue and holiness before me continually. Even so. Amen. 

1 Kings 3:

9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

10 And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.

11 And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;

12 Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.

The Lord has promised me that those who seek Him with all their hearts, shall find Him. May I ever find Him again and again as I, to quote Jordan Peterson, stumble upward toward the Light.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

A New Temple Rising


The LDS Temples are a fascinating thing. It is difficult to find evidence that Joseph taught what is now in the endowment. Brigham said that he recorded as much as he could remember from what Joseph taught him, but still - almost nothing is known as to what was accurate and what wasn't. There is little to no historical evidence Joseph ever sealed anyone to himself or otherwise. So much to wonder about. 

Still, there are many who love the temple and attend as often as they can. I have had special experiences in the temple *because I believed it was the only place I could get answers to my really big questions. I have met people who have a strong dislike of the temple and I have met people who believe the temple to be satanic (both types frequently holding a recommend so they can go to their family members weddings....*scratching head*). 

Wherever you stand on the Temple is up to you. For me I believe that Satan takes good things and twists them and I can either pray for discernment to understand what was of God and what was not. Or I can declare it all corrupt, chuck it and move on. I don't blame people for not wanting to unpick a knotted ball of yarn. 

If you are wanting a greater understanding of the Temple, this blog linked below can help. What I do know for sure is that we are the Temple of God and temple work was always about us being dead and spiritually separated from God. The temple, to me, is one of many tools the Lord can use to point that out. 

Happy conference weekend.... :D

Temple Endowment Blog: