Sunday, January 31, 2016

Fired Up For The Lord

We often see our dear friends drifting from parish to parish, church to church and so on.  Many of my own associates confide that they find themselves disillusioned in their current congregations because their pastor fails to preach according to their needs.  I hear that many people change from one group to another because one pastor proves more capable of firing them up for God than another. 

I am grateful they find what they need, and I support freedom of religion.  Nevertheless, I feel it may bring all of us greater clarity that we comprehend one pertinent fact.  No pastor is responsible for how you or I feel about God.  Responsibility for feeling spiritually fed falls squarely on our own shoulders before anyone else's.  Mormonism admonishes its members to pray alone, with one's spouse, and with the family both morning and night.  We are commanded to study scriptures alone, as s couple and as a family daily.  We also include a command to hold family night once a week to teach doctrine and enjoy family time.  

This may seem bizarre, but LDS bishops rarely speak at the pulpit of a Sunday.  Who teaches the congregation?  We do.  The bishop and his counsellors pray about who should stand before a couple of hundred people and deliver a sermon.  The bishop chooses the topic but the parishioner researches, prays, prepares, and presents it before the congregation.  The hearers tend to be kind and appreciative because for all they know, they might be next.  Incidentally, I have not enjoyed an invitation to teach for over a decade, but once a month we have an open microphone for anyone to stand and bear a brief testimony of the Savior, of which I take advantage with alarming frequency.  

So let's take a step backward.  My gentle reader who may consider abandoning his preacher because sermons don't sparkle, perhaps we must recall that it isn't his responsibility to see that we are spiritually fed, but our own

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Hillary Clinton in an Orange Jumpsuit

I have heard some of my associates raise concerns that Mrs. Clinton is running for president. I say it is a free country and as a lover of freedom and America I fully and absolutely support her ability to do so.  Right after she gets out of prison.

My friends, I love this country. My mother immigrated here from poverty stricken Mexico and joined the U.S. Army so I absorbed patriotism along with baby food. I love this nation too much to remain silent on a very real concern we all ought to have regarding this presidential race. 

It proves monstrous that Bill Clinton treated the presidency, the nation, his wife, his office and his soul, to name only a few things, with such blatant disrespect and that he received barely a slap on the wrist.  Do what he will, he retained a presidency from which he by rights ought to have been ousted.  I recall clearly when he randomly bombed a factory in Israel to move the public eye away from himself, particularly since I watched the news reports from a television in Tel Aviv, where I found myself at the time. Attempting to leave the Middle East the next morning proved exceptionally difficult. 

Fast forward to the present time. Mrs. Clinton has outdone her husband in her atrocities against this beloved and beautiful nation. She has dangerously sinned against all of us and placed not only our ambassador but our homeland in terrible jeopardy.  And yet our people cheer her on.  

Tears sting at my eyes when I think how little respect this couple must have for the American people. I can only imagine their private conversations and the demonic laughter that must ensue when they recount that they can break every rule in the book and this mindless, immoral throng of trusting sheep will still gladly fight to open for them the historic and honorable doors of the White House. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Christlike Self Defense

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words "self defense"? Guns, knives, military tactics, pepper spray and jiu jitsu, right?  I think most of us immediately jump to weaponry and retaliation before they consider anything else.  But with these and other tools sharpened and at the ready, perhaps we tend to forget one of the most powerful manners of handling difficult situations each of us already has the power to employ.

When we sin, transgress or otherwise behave wrongly I am quite grateful God does not immediately strike us down with lightening.  Neither do people drop dead through means of the Black Death or other diseases as an immediate consequence of sin. In short, how does God handle us?  Is He not an example to be followed? Those who know me well enough to have merited my anger know my initial tactic in such cases, which I gleaned from studying Him.  When we engage in sin, the Spirit of God withdraws from us. We are left to ourselves until we decide we want to change and then the Lord helps us.

So it can be with us.  Withdraw. I know of few arguments in daily life that prove sufficiently important to continue. And if one half of the conflict chooses to step away and pursue happier things the other half is left to him or herself to either move on or childishly argue with the empty air.

But isn't walking away the behavior of a coward? Oh maybe, if one is an immature, teenage hothead attempting to impress a member of the opposite gender. But for a mature adult, hardly.  But then, we reason, nothing resolves itself!  I have often noted how many arguments in which humans engage really have no value in the grand scheme of things. If it is really a terribly important topic, two mature people can hopefully engage in mutually respectful conversation after both have cooled off.

It's not the only answer to difficult problems. But it weeds out the unnecessary and renders us a tremendous amount of inner peace. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Willing Surrender

I rarely discuss temptations I face, in part at least because after many years of striving with all my might to change my heart and purge my soul I rarely feel the sting and stress of overwhelming pulls toward evil. The last two days, however, have seemed rife with beckoning toward a direction I generally never turn. I speak, gentle reader, of the vice of anger.

Forgiveness proves second nature in my heart, spirit, mind and the purpose of my life. Grudges make no one happy and the Lord commands His followers to forgive. I have forgiven abuse, mistreatment, general disrespect and the like quickly and with open arms toward my aggressors. But in reference to the rumors about me  and related atrocities I myself have forgiven but for some reason have been able to feel the anger of the Lord, the righteous indignation He feels and the power He has to break those involved and bring them to their knees. As these feelings raged through me I confess the continual inclination to let these people know how wrong they were, how childish and unjustified their behavior proved, and to publicly unveil the sins they have attempted so hard to cloak.

Patience.

I believe one reason the Lord allowed me to feel such fury, so wholly uncharacteristic of my general attitude, was to allow me to understand that though I may forgive, He watches out for His children.  I believe that perhaps, should He decide to intervene, I might have the comfort of understanding that His ways are absolutely just. He wanted to keep me from openly and immediately accept them so as to render them the room to repent and make up for such behavior.  My frustrated impatience followed my unwilling psyche into church where peace began to come through no exertion of my own and in ways I could never have foreseen. The final verse of the closing song of our first meeting, regarding Joseph Smith's martyrdom, ran thus,

"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven; earth must atone for the blood of that man. Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.  Millions shall know 'Brother Joseph' again."

Tears choked me and I sat silently and listened as the chorus burst out through the chapel "hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven! Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain...."

Have patience. Surrender to the Lord and let Him repay when others injure you. Your duty and mine is to forgiveness and kindness. He loves you more than you do and His hand proves stronger by far, to say nothing of being perfect and all knowing. Surrender into patient acceptance of the trials He gives you, but when Zhe fights in your behalf, surrender also to the service of justice. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

When Your Man Cheats

A story currently virile describes how an enraged woman threw her husband's mistress off a bridge.  I am sure many ladies can relate to the emotions that drove this wife to such extremities. I have had women cry on my shoulder, weep about how they feel broken and declare that they simply cannot trust men anymore.  My heart goes out to women in such straits.  I have known women who remain inwardly possessive and jealous years after divorce and have even experienced distressing interruptions and difficulties because a clearly deranged lady felt that her long time ex might have glanced at me with an eye of favor. 

Ladies, may I offer a few suggestions that might serve to curtail the pain and raise the self respect? Firstly, a man who makes you cry that hard isn't really worth the tears, are they? Why would you honor or validate them that far? I am not suggesting we prove harsh, but recognizing you are a goddess leads you to respond with "well, he just put a massive barrier between us and that is his loss because I am amazing." I realize tears may come initially but keep your eye on doing those things that make you feel fabulous. Dance, yoga, new silk pajamas, aromatherapy lotions, meditation and always, always prayer can help you reach upward toward that pedestal you should never have to leave in your own estimation. 

And how to deal with the other woman? I heard an experience that I would love to share as an example. 

A woman had been having issues with her husband and eventually discovered that he had engaged in an extramarital affair.  Her emotions had already shattered repeatedly through this relationship and by this time she really couldn't be too surprised. Already a devout follower of Christ she prayed much about what to do and eventually the Spirit guides her to send this mistress an anonymous text. Paraphrasing, she said in essence "Your potential is divine and your worth overwhelming. I know God loves you and wants to bless you. I want Him to bless you, too. Many people are speaking badly about you for sleeping with a married man, but I won't, and refuse to let anyone insult you in my hearing. I want to help repair your reputation but I cannot while you continue to see him. God cannot bless you while you live in such sin.  I know God has a better, truer soul mate for you. I know it will hurt to give him up, but God will make it worth it to you. I believe in you and I pray for you." The mistress, completely unaware of who sent this text responded with loving gratitude and never spoke to her lover again. You may imagine the amazement which ensued after she related this story. Says she, "I was frightened and didn't want her to know who I was, but I have learned to love people as the Savior does and I truly meant every word I said."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Prepared for Emergencies

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believes that we are in the final inning before the coming of the Lord and thus teaches its members to become and remain prepared to face the cataclysmic atrocities foretold in the Bible.   Today we pray for our friends and family being hammered in the oncoming rage of severe weather, those threatened by terrorists, and all of us as our economic security continues to plummet.  Whatever our belief systems, I think we can all agree that this world grows increasingly unsafe, and certainly we ought to share whatever information we can to strengthen and protect ourselves, families, and communities, and as we progress in this conversation, my gentle reader will find several links to websites that ought to prove quite useful.

As my religion preaches emergency preparedness on a great many levels, I would prove amiss if I did not first direct my literary friends into their open arms.  Our pulpit expresses our faith in God and Jesus Christ so strongly, and believes so intensely that these are the last days that we have guidelines in everything from scripture study, to avoiding debt and save money, with commandments to plant a garden in whatever capacity possible, and a commandment to maintain adequate food storage, to learning radio communication, to always having a 72 hour kit to grab and go, general survival skills and the list continues.  We learn this on Sunday and often hold midweek activities to learn how to better protect our homes.  I myself maintain an orchard and garden in my backyard including citrus, peaches, pears, pomegranates, figs, grapes and whatever else I happen to plant as spring begins to dawn, as well as abiding by all the other suggestions aforementioned.
 
These tend to work quite well in natural disasters, and have come in handy as finances have plummeted or floods have kept me trapped in my home.  In addition, we certainly can turn to various other sources in order to keep ourselves and those around us safe.  I have said it before and will likely do so again that it is better to be a weapon than to own one.  Akka Thornydale and Liahona Warrior Arts can only too well see to helping people become masters of self defense. 
 
It may seem rather absurd, but some years ago, I found myself gazing at a billboard advertising permanent hair removal and it dawned on me that in the embrace of a long lasting, horrible, disaster I might not be able to secure myself a razor.  It seemed only logical that one might do well to prepare for such an eventuality, right?  Covered in mud, fighting for food, and protecting the weak, a woman doesn't also want to have to feel absolutely disgusting.  It takes energy to feel revolting and having perfectly shaved legs might save such energy for more important things.   I mean, can't we also prepare to have a few comforts? (Ladies, just tell your man that it's so you can look good for him under any circumstances - I'm sure he won't mind the price.) Have I dared to undergo such a frightening procedure?  Absolutely.   
 
We all recognize though, that at the end of the day after we have done all we can, the best emergency preparedness comes from living a morally clean life and coming to our knees in prayer.  Our greatest defense is always and will always be, having the Lord on our side.  It may not save us from floods and fire, and it may not even save us or our loved ones from death.  But it can give us peace in the midst of affliction and rescue us from the other plague and lethal evil of immorality that tries so desperately to sweep through our homes and streets. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Christlike...Money?

I love people. I respect religions outside my own, and I honestly wish blessings upon all of us. That driving spirit leads me to speak as I feel I must today.  My earthly father, Joseph, proves a good man but as a teenager seemed to many somewhat reckless. The parishioners surrounding him decided they oughtn't stain their holy fingers by befriending him, and he sought out acceptance and truth elsewhere. He considers their cold behaviors great blessing, because this search led him to the Mormon missionaries and the rest is history.

A dear friend and learned preacher learned of this story and proceeded to write a Sunday School lesson on the importance of treating people kindly. He related my father's experience and finished his discourse with the great climatic point that this young teenager grew into a successful millionaire and is now giving his money not to his native church but "to perpetuate the Mormon lie." This, he felt, should lead his followers to treat the wayward more kindly. I respect this dear preacher, but I have some questions for any who would think in this manner.

Is money the only consideration that moves you? Can the love of money inspire anyone to become more Christlike? Does the state of a young man's soul or his emotional injuries count for nothing? Is making cash the primary concern of your church? Is this proves the best repentance one can muster after decades?  If even now he is only but a number and a financial resource, does his original church deserve his loyalty or his money?

My friend the preacher I am sure meant well. But allow me, a mere blog writer without divine authority suggest some ideas to broaden all our horizons. Firstly, if we are to invite others to attend our church, let us do so for the right reasons. God can see our hearts and humans can sense hypocrisy. We learn from LDS pulpits to love people deeply and truly and allow that concern and genuine feeling for people to inspire our invitations to church. We repeatedly hear that human beings are neither projects nor numbers on a roster. Humans are divine beings deserving of respect and that no one is so fallen as to be beyond our genuine concern, respect and honest compassion. I see that while most Christian sects find a decline in people wanting to define themselves with any organized church, while the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints increases its international membership every year. We reach out to the injured, the black sheep, and the penniless. And you know what?  We have no reason to worry about money. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

I'm Calling a Truce

As the winter begins to glance toward the horizon of promised spring, I find myself piled with mountains of work and before I know it, I find myself heading fast for my arch nemesis without quite realizing how time managed to drag me so close to this annual meeting.  Saint Valentine and I might have been friends before his untimely demise but the last decade has discovered me at odds with the day of his celebration.  Valentine's Day has historically proven a difficult time for me, as it marks the anniversary and also echoes many of the constituents of my developing post traumatic stress.  

Generally I find myself suffering from nightmares throughout the month of January, spreading through February and finally beginning to settle near the end of March.  Flashbacks, waking into panic attacks, and even hallucinations have made this time of year a period I tend to dread.  Perhaps it was due to spending two Valentine's Days in a row in the emergency room, perhaps it was due to the roaring aggression of a semi converting my car into an accordian while my infant daughter and I spun across three lanes of oncoming freeway traffic inside of it, and certainly it found fuel from long years of abuse that devastated my mind without mercy, leaving me gasping for breath and only holding on to my life and my sanity through the grace and kindness of loving God.  

But ah!  Dear Valentine's Day!  I think we have fought against one another long enough!  Shake hands then, and we shall let the bygones remain in the past!  I choose to no longer think of your approach as a melancholy reminder of the sickening crunch of twisted metal, or a threat of continued abuse that none can abate.  I choose to think of you rather as a reminder of all those things that sought to destroy me but couldn't.  Instead of a day of infernal death, I shall remember thee gloriously as a badge of courage and a beacon of survival.   

Sometimes we feel we cannot forgive human circumstances, history, or human souls.  I understand that in spite of our best efforts, sometimes trauma and fear can keep us at bay.  But let us give our all to give an optimistic turn to all our endeavors and every aspect of our lives.  Valentine's Day has never begged my pardon, but I gain nothing by allowing pain to permeate my life.  So it is with all grudges and negativity.  Let us seek out those things, those moments, and those parts of our existences that render us the most pain and give our all to expel negativity.  Gentle reader, think on this.  If we still hold to enough life to peruse these words, we are not everlasting victims, but survivors. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Jumping off the Poetic Cliff

We as English speakers have a tendency to write and think in a way that walks hand in hand with our beautiful language.  We have the largest vocabulary on earth and as a general rule we like to use it.  We write full books in poetic verse and some of our most famous plays prove primarily poetic as well.  We speak a great deal in our native English and we find ourselves happily accustomed to using our language quite freely in length and minute in literary description.  I love English and have long felt the power and spiritual nature of it.  I think for that very reason it proves difficult to write in the simple and compelling form of a haiku.  When I began I could feel the clashing tension between the simplicity of the form and the long winded nature of my American tongue.  But for that reason and others I find this form a wonderful one for the honest seeker of calmness, strength and inner peace.  After writing three of them I am beginning to feel the calming effect.

1.
Everlasting Lord!
How I glory in Thy light
And yield to Thy will.

2.
Love reigns in nature.
I see God's hand in all things.
He brings light to earth.

3.
I rev'rence the Lord.
He is my treasure and life.
He speaks to my soul.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Killers on the Loose

I am sure you have heard the catastrophic reports on CNN of late - indeed, how could any responsible citizens miss such a flood of concern over the dangerous guns that now have killed thousands.  We see such headlines and many akin to them splashed across screens from sea to shining sea.  As we know we can rely on the media to report the honest truth, and since reporters have not generally mentioned any human beings wielding said guns, we must conclude that guns are now sprouting little mechanical legs and waddling about on their own, chasing humans down and murdering at will.  Surely, such a thing excites alarm and for good reason!  I am certain we would all be terrified at the idea of man made machines going terribly wrong and creating a blood running in the streets kind of America.
 
But CNN will cover that issue.  I have perfect confidence in them, so let's move on to another issue pervading our society.  I do not think we see nearly enough media coverage of another dangerous killer in our midst.  Cheesecake and hot dogs have been secretly working together in order to create diabetes and take over our society by inspiring heart attacks.  These murderers have plotted with Netflix to keep human beings on their couches, ingesting obscene amounts of nachos and fries.  They not only end human life, but they destroy what life a person may have by confining them to a constant stupor of immediate gratification, keeping them away from fresh air and healthful exertion.  Truly, such villains prove cause for fear.
 
Perhaps our excellent newscasters will pick up on that mafia organization and we will get better details in due time.  As we wait, we might as well discuss something never mentioned in the news or mentioned in most periodicals.  We find in our society a deplorable lack of responsibility, of healthful thinking, and of self control.  Indeed, we read of late that teaching children self control stands as a stain upon the loving, generous parent.  Ask children to learn responsibility?  Punish them when they do wrongly?  Teach them that there is a difference between truth and error?  Hold adults accountable for their actions?  Defend lawful rules when broken?  Recognize that there is a code of moral conduct that ought to stand firm and rule our behavior?  Advocate faith in God and tell people to tough it out and wait for the wedding night?  Encourage women to give birth rather than willfully and recklessly take their own children's lives?  Goodness!  I'd best not speak of such ideas above a whisper lest I bring a tirade of hatred against myself from the social powers that be. 
 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Get the Perfect Body!

I mean it.  No tricks.  No gimmicks.  No kidding.  Only three steps to an absolutely exquisite bod and the most perfect physique you will ever have. Step One: Eat healthily.  The doughnut is not your friend.  The whole wheat toast proves a much more loving companion overall.  Step Two:  Work out.  It doesn't have to be extreme, and in fact should not overly strain your system.  Step Three:  Appreciate yourself.

We find ourselves bombarded by messages in the media about having the perfect body.  Loving and well meaning associates will tell us that there is no perfect body.  My friends and gentle readers, they are both wrong.  God made your body.  He does not make mistakes.  He created you the way He wanted you and the way He knew you needed to look.  He wants you to take care of your body and when you do, you become the ideal of what you are supposed to be.  Your body has the capacity to be the perfect body for you.  It will not look like your neighbor's; it wasn't supposed to look like anything except you.  

I find more and more the idea that men have body insecurities.  This comes as something of a surprise to me and probably to most women.  Gentlemen, this ought to tell you something - you look fine!  If women are surprised at your insecurities, it means that to them you have no reason whatsoever to have such worries!  Women are hammered so hard by images about what they ought to be that they usually have no energy left over to also start judging you!  We are already being bombarded by the onslaught to the point that all our worries about body images are directed at ourselves, so however the guy looks, he is probably okay. 

"But I want a guy/girl to like me!"

We all do.  But truthfully, I know a great many women who will only glance at a man with bulging biceps.  I also know women who absolutely cannot stand muscles.  I know a man who is over six feet and build like a mountain who have women drooling over him.  I also know a man who is 5'7" and skinny who carries himself like a master and have women crying into their pillows that he won't glance at them.  I have a great many lady friends who have invested in implants in order to feel better about their physique.  The guys I know may smile at them to their face, but I also hear such men berating such ladies for being pathetically fake behind their backs. We all have different tastes and ideas about what we want in a significant other.  Appreciate yourself, be grateful for what God made you, and the right person will come along and appreciate you as well. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Be the Weapon

We live in frightening times.  Every day we see new horrors from terrorist attacks, madmen induced massacres, and even on an innocent child's playground we find bullying at an all time high.  How do we remain safe and secure in these ever more dangerous years?  As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I hold to the doctrine that these are the last days and that violence will only become worse before it gets better.  Add to this a government that strives daily to take our rights of owning firearms, and this life becomes a truly terrifying endeavor.  

"How many weapons do you  have?" I asked my children's sensei one day.  He smirked like he was speaking to a five year old who clearly missed something obvious, looked at his hands and began studying his well trained and lethal fingers.  

"One, two, three, four...."

"I mean those weapons not connected to you personally."

But the point proved clear.  A dear friend and martial arts master in California has reminded me through the years that it is better to be a weapon than to have a weapon.  

I wonder how all our lives might become more secure if we had three or four well trained black belts on every airplane in America.  How much safer might we prove if we had martial arts masters in every mall, stadium, and theater in the country?  How much more careful would terrorists and shooters in general become if they knew that most of our populace was armed, not necessarily with guns, but with training?  How long could bullying continue in our children's lives if our kiddos gained the confidence and inner strength that arises from solid martial arts instruction?  How much more peaceful would our society prove if a great many more of us decided to learn such techniques, precisely so that we would never have to use them?  How futile would our government's attempts to disarm its citizens seem if none of us necessarily needed a weapon in order to defend ourselves on a daily basis?  

I had not intended to send my children to a martial arts school some years ago, but the impression kept coming, stronger and stronger, until I literally could no longer ignore it.  Gratitude to God overwhelms me now as I see what a blessing it became as my autistic daughter learned self control and my son turned his whole heart and soul toward his dojo to cope with outlandish stresses placed upon him. 

Some fighting schools focus on punching and kicking.  Finding a reputable school that also teaches peace, self confidence, and the like can be a challenge so I include below links to the two schools the aforementioned masters teach.  Whether my gentle reader chooses to pursue martial arts or not, I wish one and all a safe and peaceful 2016!

Mr. Michael Keschinger in Arizona

Mr. Rocky Twitchell in California