What I Believe

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{I have really enjoyed sharing my heart on these personal posts, and have appreciated your feedback.  For a while, I’ve wanted to share with you something that is near and dear to my heart, and I hope this will be received kindly. To share something that encompasses who I really am, and the core basis to my joy in life….for the record…my hubby says this is too long, but I can’t shorten it!}

I grew up in a charmed, loving household back and forth between Houston and New Orleans.  I had parents who poured on the kind words and encouragement in whatever I wanted to pursue. They believed in me, trusted me, and even when my mom caught me sneaking out of my bedroom window to go to Denny’s in the middle of the night on a school night…she let me go. THAT is my one “naughty” in high school.  Can you believe that? They knew I had chosen good friends.  There were expectations, and I adhered to them.  In  younger years, if we disobeyed, we had to put our nose in a corner. I don’t remember too many punishments as a teenager, because I was a rule follower.  Except for the Denny’s incident….I digress.  I wanted to please them, I was fiercely independent and sassed I’m sure more than I should have, but they had instilled in me qualities that deep down, I chose because I knew they would make me the happiest. I assumed that all homes were such a happily painted picture.  As I’ve grown and seen the world, I realize this was not the case.  I am blessed. So many specific instances from before high school are a blur and intangible to me as an adult, but I always knew my parents loved me and most of all wanted me to be happy in life.

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I was raised to never drink alcohol (not even after age 21).   I was raised to be morally clean, to keep the Sabbath day holy,  not use the Lord’s name in vain, to dress modestly, not watch R rated movies, to live a life of service to others, to raise a family with the same standards they taught me… I was raised to continually have a prayer in my heart, and to kneel in prayer on a daily basis….to partake of scripture reading each day, and I do my best, but often fall short.  I do know that when I do…my days go better.  I am calmer, slower to anger, and more at peace….a happier person (we all know when momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy).

Our Sabbath day consists of 3 hours of church and the rest of the day spent mostly at home as family time.  No shopping, no eating out, no swimming, no playing with friends. We stayed inside playing board games or writing in our journals or baking cookies or taking naps. Oh, the blessed Sunday nap. We’d sometimes invite a family over for dinner to get to know them better, and I often do that now.

Maybe some of you hear this list and think that I grew up in a super strict household, never had any fun.  But as I said above, I was surrounded by LOVE and JOY and Happiness.  I never saw that list as “rules” but as blessings and a guide to happiness.  Sure, it was difficult to tell my friend who had a birthday party on Sunday that I couldn’t go, but I’d suggest a play date on Monday instead and still brought a present. But Monday evenings were reserved for  Family Home Evening.  This is a time set aside each week for a topic and discussion. Mostly a study from the scriptures.  A time to bond, have fun, eat a treat, sing a hymn, & feel of the Spirit of God together as a family. Each evening, we’d pray as a family and read from the scriptures together.  In high school, I attended early morning seminary.  An hour long religious study starting at 6:10 a.m. Yes, you read that right–in HIGH school!   Below is a pic of my friends in my seminary class as well as the grade younger.  We hung out a lot on the weekends, too.  This was in my parents family room.  Can you find me in the cell phone snapshot from my scrapbook?  So many stories I could tell from this pic…;) (Seriously, for years I’ve thought about writing a book about my high school years).  

Now, 3 hours of church really isn’t as long as it seems.  It’s broken up into 3 parts, and as a teenager, I was taught in the 3rd hour by other adult women in our congregation.  There, they they reinforced to myself and the girls my age, how I had been taught by my parents.  It takes a village, to raise a child.  Those teachings all came from the same source. Our lessons varied from light-hearted “show kindness to one another” to  the heavier “wait for marriage” to the reverent “Follow the Savior.” I look back fondly on those women who led me, who I wanted to pattern my life after, who gave me an alternate perspective than that of my parents, but living the same way.  I babysat for them, I went to hang out at their homes, I cried about my boyfriend to them.  They were the village that helped raise me.

I think of that a lot, because now…I am that adult leader.  I have the wonderful opportunity to teach the 14 and 15 year old girls at church…and echo what their parents are teaching them at home. I remember what it meant to me to have a leader that was a friend…as well as a spiritual advisor and I strive to be both for my girls now. Here is my beautiful class—not only are they super cute on the outside, but it is their strength of character and goodness that shines through and gives them a glow.  My tears well up with joy as I think of them, and concern when I hear them speak about how tough high school is, and trying hard to make good choices when not so many others around them are doing so. They have the countenance of walking in the footsteps of the Savior, something I strive for daily as well (my co-leader has on the glasses).

Oh my goodness, I love that picture.  I could stare at it for hours. I’ve only had the assignment to teach them for about 7 months.    Soon, a handful of them will turn 16 and will move up to another class, another leader, and I will miss them.  Someday in the future, I will be given another assignment to do something else.  Maybe to teach the adult women, or the nursery age children, but THIS is my favorite. Our ecclesiastical leaders through inspiration give us varying assignments at varying times. We are encouraged to accept that assignment, even if we don’t feel up to the task.  It is something that stretches us and teaches us that we are always learning and growing. Sometimes I love what I do (now) and others, I try to have a good attitude. I’ve taught the young childrens class, helped with the women’s monthly activities, led the music in the women’s class, taught the 8 year old boys life skills (scouting).  Some assignments are more time consuming than others. But it ebbs and flows.

I state the above about how my parents raised me, because it is exactly the way I aim to raise my children. I realized this “charmed” life is few and far between–even for those in my faith.  I recognize it is rare. I’ve had difficulties, disappointments, & heartache just like everyone else. My faith anchors me during those tough times. My parents teachings didn’t come from their own minds, but from our faith in what we believe.

I believe I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and wants me to be happy, and to return to Him someday. I pray to Him. I cry to Him. He knows me. I believe that His son, Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world who suffered for not only our sins, but our sadness and pain. I believe that families can be together forever, and live as a family unit–even after this life.

I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Some people call us by our knickname, Mormon.  Yes, I’m a Mormon.  Which brings me such joy….

I love that I can share my life on this blog with people all over the world of every different faith. In college, I studied World Religion and traveled to Jerusalem and have so much respect for all faiths and how they live their lives.  All searching for the good. As an adult, and being surrounded predominantly by fellow Christians, I am searching to understand how varying Christian denominations are different, and I find that for the most part, we are more similar than we think.  All looking to The Savior for strength and comfort. I enjoy the conversations I have with friends of other faiths. I find that many people have “heard things” about Mormons but are afraid to ask me about it, fearing they would offend me.  I’m an open book and I would prefer to clear something up about my faith, than have someone be misguided.  It pains me to hear that there are other churches who preach to their congregations spreading untrue statements about us, or twist what we do believe into something unkind.We know we are different because of the way we live our life.  We delight in the fact that we are a “peculiar people.” We are different, we know. Though I was raised with my faith, I have many friends who converted as a teenager, adult, even after marriage and children. We base our faith on the teachings of the Bible as well as doctrine found in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. They are companion books. We believe in modern revelation and that we have a living prophet on the earth today.  There are congregations all over the world that run the exact same way as mine here at home.  When I travel and go to church, it is just the same structure.

There are quite a few Mormon bloggers out there. A few months ago, I read a very interesting read from Design Mom. It was mostly the conversation in the comments that interested me. I know lots of the readers that come to my blog are also of my faith. I also know that there are a good majority that are not.  Mormon.org could tell you all sorts of things, and if you’d like, you can read my profile there where I’ve answered a few questions.

At some point in life, each of us has to find out if what our parents believed is true.  I have asked in sincere prayer, and I had a confirmation unique to myself, that it is true.

So tell me…do you know a Mormon?  Have you heard something that you wonder if it’s true? Do you have a question that has never been answered?  I have never felt super academic in my life, but I actually enjoy answering questions about my faith–it’s the one thing (maybe besides photography) that I feel I can explain, understand, share with ease because I have studied it all my life.  I don’t plan to discuss my faith often on my blog, but I did want to share this, just once.

Ask a question, share a thought, tell a story, but please show kindness😉 I realize religion is a hot button topic, and I hope you will respond knowing that this is dear to my heart.
{To read part II of what I believe with more thoughts on religion, CLICK HERE.}