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Mother, Another Name for Creators

When our Prophet talks about us “all being mothers,” what I feel him saying is that we are all creators.

Are not we all mothers? We ARE all creators. Whether we choose to partner with our Heavenly Parents and create human bodies to be populated with souls to come to earth or we partner with them to create technology, books, music or other artwork or perhaps we create a cure for a previously incurable disease; we are ALL creators. We are ALL mothers.

I have belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for six years coming up next month. During this time, no matter what Ward or Branch I have attended, each and every year I have joined in the singing the one hymn in the hymnal that recognizes our Mother in Heaven every year on Mother’s Day.

In 1845, Eliza R. Snow (Relief Society President 1867-1887) wrote the hymn, “O My Father,” penning the most well-known reference to Mother God.  Written only months after Prophet Jospeph Smith Jr.’s death, it has been speculated that the Prophet may have taught of a Mother in Heaven either implicitly or to limited audiences.

It didn’t surprise me to listen to Sheri Dew, a righteous woman who has never given birth to a child, say “Aren’t We All Mothers,” or President Nelson in his address to the October 2018 General Conference profess that he became a doctor, “Because [he] could not choose to be a mother.”

President Nelson went on to say last October, “Every woman is a mother by virtue of her eternal divine destiny.”

When I listen to childless women and their frustration with some of these quotes and standpoints, I contemplate if they were to substitute the word creator for mother if there would still be offense taken?

What the Mother Taught Me Creation is more than procreation. It is snow, birds, trees, moon, and song. ~Rachel Hunt Steenblik
By Rachel Hunt Steenblik in Mother’s Milk

Our society, and in particular some of our cultures, tend to pass judgment on what types of parents we are, how many children we produce and how we choose to raise them. How we judge one another trickles down into how we feel about ourselves. When we internalize external judgments, we diminish our own divinity.

Our role as creators is divine. Our Mother in Heaven is just as important as our Father in Heaven.

Elder Erastus Snow stated, “There can be no God except that he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, or ever will be a God in any other way,” a statement, according to the Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven, that has been reaffirmed by several General Authorities.

Thank you, Mother and Father, for the gift of creation…for the gift of motherhood.

Twin Falls Idaho Temple
Twin Falls Idaho Temple

 

Loving My Friends as They Are

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Sister Lloyd, me & Sister Johnson

I remember the nervousness that overcame me not long after I felt the impression to seek out and listen to the Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They talk a lot about “being in the world, but not of the world,” but all of my friends were “of the world,” none of my family were members of The Church (except my granddaughters) and most of my friends had “alternative lifestyles.” When I decided I wanted and needed to be Baptized, I prayed constantly about the situation with my friends. How could I tell my friends I was now a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would they want to be my friends anymore? Did that matter?

During my repentance process in the weeks before my Baptism, I was relatively quiet on Facebook, a social media outlet where I had spent an inordinate amount of time during the previous 5 years accumulating an audience for my writing. At times I had been known to make a spectacle out of myself, becoming rather dramatic about loves and losses and pain and pleasures. I had been known for “letting it all hang out.” How could I reconcile my previous behavior with the life I wanted, no, needed to create and begin to live? I prayed more.

The answers came gradually, but they came. I was impressed to read “The Articles of Faith.” They all rang so true in my heart that not only did my “bosom begin to burn” but I also wept with joy several times. Then I came to the 11th:

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

The second part of that statement, “and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may [emphasis added]” caused me to completely lose my cool. I broke down and cried loudly; I bawled. Why? Because it was an answer to my prayers. There was NOTHING in the church Doctrine that said I had to exclude those who worshiped differently from myself from my life, ABSOLUTELY the opposite!!!

Articles of Faith Library Copy

Relief filled my soul. But what about all of the people who followed my social media? Now that I no longer practiced alternative beliefs, should I even be “out there” in the public? What about all of my photos and the things I posted?

As I began to hint about my baptism on social media some people I thought were my friends were quick to delete me from their connections, I cried but continued to pray about it. I didn’t want to lose friends, but those people who had “unfriended” me weren’t acting like friends. My prayers to my Heavenly Father continued, so did my tears.

I deleted hundreds of photos of myself that embarrassed me from my social media accounts and  I prayed to know if I should continue with an online presence. After all, it would have been easier just to delete the accounts.

The impression I felt from the Holy Ghost was persistent: I needed to be LOUDER about my conversion than I was my sins.

I was at a loss how to accomplish that. The year before my Baptism was quite humiliating as I looked back upon my own inequity to others in addition to myself. I continued to pray and study my scriptures.

Then came the answer: Start a blog about your conversion to The Church. Share your feelings about God and your faith and be honest with those who follow you. 

My unease continued even after I started the FIRST iteration of Slightely Mormon on Blogger. Then, in June 2013, came a directive in video conference form to ALL the Missionaries and the Missionary Members of The Church. This was the answer I had been awaiting. It was a confirmation of the personal revelation I had received from the Holy Spirit.

In a few weeks, it will have been 4 years since I sought out Missionaries to receive the lessons leading to my Baptism. In the subsequent years I have “cleaned up my act” on Facebook and other social media outlets, but I am louder than ever! I want the world (including my friends) to know HOW being a Mormon has changed my life!

In the last six years, I have worked hard not to alienate my friends and family. It’s difficult to convey to them how much I love ALL of them and I respect what they chose to believe in, all of that is part of them and I love them. img_20170204_093448_445.jpg

I had an opportunity to travel with a very dear friend of mine recently. Cub, as he likes to be called, is a professional photographer and acted as my assistant on a recent trip. In our travels across the country, we incurred our number of odd looks at us, but he helped me to see my world through different eyes. I saw judgment from my fellow church members when they watched him light a cigarette, I felt their stares and disapproval in both of our directions. That made me incredibly sad.

We visited the Ft. Lauderdale Temple towards the end of our time together. I asked Cub to take some photos of me when I was done with my session; he enthusiastically complied. When we were finished with our pictures another temple patron asked him to take her photo. Cub graciously agreed to do so.

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The first share on Instagram

While he was doing that act of service, I took a few snapshots myself for social media. I shared it first on Instagram as “Cubby doing service at the Temple,” then, after talking it over with Cub, I shared it again on my Facebook page and to a group called Facebook group focusing on members of The Church with an additional introduction:

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The second photo, captioned for Facebook

For a while, I almost felt like I was exploiting my friend and his service. Although he had given his consent for both photos to be shared on the internet inclusive of my comment about his lifestyle, he had not asked for the photo to be taken.

While Cub probably wished I had allowed him to continue his nap in the car, I felt it was important. There was a lesson here for not only me. I am not ashamed of my friends. I love each and every one of them. Not in spite of their beliefs or their actions, but as WHOLE people with different ideas about life and different understandings of the universe.

We read in John 13:34 that Jesus Christ himself told us:

 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

I believe that His love is unconditional. That is something I try to work towards each and
every day.  I am so grateful to ALL of my diverse friends, like Cub, who help me to remember what my Heavenly Father commanded me to do.

(This article was previously published on Sister Maggie)

 

Powerful Message from a Friend at Church

Powerful Message from a Friend at Church

I saw this on the front page of the Church website this morning and I remembered our conversation and how this is your opportunity as you are called to speak to others – to bear witness of God’s love, His goodness and mercy to you in your life experiences.

This is the scripture that came to my mind so powerfully that I felt was for you:

Mosiah 18-And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life-

I have tried to hold myself to this standard.  All too often for me, I have fallen short to fully express and acknowledge God’s greatness and goodness–His love–in my testimonies.  It is a skill I am still. working on to improve.

May I share with you some tools I am using to become more accomplished in this goal.

As  I study the Book of Mormon, I examine how the great prophets testify of Jesus Christ. They are great examples who bear great witness of God’s love.  We can learn much from them in this endeavor.

Consider Lehi and his dream [I Nephi 8] wherein he goes from a place of darkness to the tree of life.  There he partakes of the fruit of the tree which we understand represents the love of God.  After experiencing this love he states in verse 12 – “And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy;” This is Lehi’s witness of God’s love.   He then turns to his family and invites them to come and experience this great joy which he described as desirable above all other fruit.

I like to think this represents all missionary work.  First we each must come to the tree and experience God’s love (baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost). Then we turn and invite others to come to the tree (Come unto Christ) and receive this continuing gift of His love in always having his spirit to be with us.

I have made a detailed study of the Book of Mormon prophets of how they each in their own way have testified of this fruit and how it has brought them great joy.

Another tool I have used is to do a personal evaluation after I have shared my testimony – asking questions such as Did I acknowledge His hand in all the goodness I have experienced? Did I convey the joy that I experienced as I partook of the fruit?  Did I invite others to partake as Lehi did?

After this personal evaluation revealing my weaknesses (which have been too many- to my dismay),  I then reviewed what I desired to have said.  That was followed by a prayer that the Lord would make my weak things become strong. There have been occasions when my prayer has been answered. I have been able to give a witness that exceeded my highest expectations, and yes my joy was great in that blessing.

Dennis, I know the Lord loves you greatly and has called you to serve in the building of His Kingdom.  Thank you for asking me to share.

~ A Friend From Church