Friday, May 30, 2008

DeLudeD

My "Mormonism and Catholicism" blog seems to be quite the attention getter. As such, I'm a little nervous about this particular blog. I always like to think (in my head) that I play my cards close to my chest, but honestly - who am I fooling? That's not me. I wear and write my emotions and changes in life clear as a bell.

Which is why I was suddenly surprised by a very recent revelation. I recently wrote to someone that I had no vested interests in the LDS church and that my loyalities did not lie with them. However, one morning while getting up at 4 am - I realized how deluded I am. Really? My loyality is not with the LDS church? If actions speak louder than words, that's incrediably untrue. I've taken actions to remove myself from the church, but I refuse to keep my mouth shut and not defend it. I've physically removed my temple bag - but I didn't throw it away, I've entrusted it with someone. I'm always more friendly to those who are LDS and continue to accept visits and feed the missionaries. Really, my loyality isn't with the LDS church? Fooled me. :P



What is strange is that as I've walked this curious, strange, up and down, totally emotional road over the past year - my relationship with my parents have strangly and oddly improved (sure there are still awkward moments where they tell me I'm going to hell ... ;) ), I've felt more freedom in my relationship with Jesus than since I came to Him five years ago, and my appreciation for all those who call on His Holy name, has greatly improved and deepened as well.



I've been so incrediably and horribly hard on my family when it comes to God. "They skip over the cross! How dare they!" And yet, yesterday when Mamau had a very intense and scary episode with her heart, my cousin/niece quietly shared with us what we should do. "We could pray. Heavenly Father will take of us. After all, it's really in His hands." I cried the whole drive away from their house - here I was being so horribly legalistic and criticial of them, and yet when they were in need - they turn to God. Many self proclaimed Protestant Jesus Freaks don't even do that. It was so simple and humble - her complete trust in God to take care of Mamau. This simple moment reminded me of the purity of faith in our Father in heaven.

I've asked myself, "Do I believe the church is true? Was Joseph Smith a prophet? Have I been wrong this whole time? What have I been doing for a year?" And the answer is - no, I don't believe the claims of the LDS church - to be the ONE true church, to be God's restored church, or that Joseph Smith was a prophet. But, as a Christian, does God reject us based upon where we praise Him?

There is a hot debate - "once saved always saved" - as a critical thinking ex-Mormon, I've gotta say I don't believe in this doctrine. I take a firm Biblical stance based on Hebrews 6:4-6 - those who were ONCE enlighted cannot be forgiven for the unpadonable sin. It's a hotly debated Protestant issue, not one I personally care about but rather just something I have an opinion on. I also, don't believe this to be a salvation issue. For example, is Betty Baptist believes "once saved, always saved" and she's wrong, I don't think God will give her the boot because of this. In the end, I personally believe that salvation comes down to ONE thing - Jesus. Either you have a personal relationship with Him and have asked Him to be your Savior, or you haven't. I dislike that so many muddle it up with all these, "if then" doctrines. In my opinion, these are total preferences pulled from a few verses that can be read a number of different ways.

However, I am off track. What makes me nervous about this blog, is that people in real life who know me - mostly Protestants, read this blog. I am someone who hates to dissappoint or hurt or offend those around me (even if I don't mind being contraversial at times) but I feel a tug to return to my ward. I came to Christ as a Mormon, I grew up in the LDS church, and even though I don't believe all the doctrines and teachings - I feel at home, I feel close to God, and I am comfortable as a Mormon. I am not making a claim that God is tugging me to return to my ward - not at all. Rather, I own that this is totally a "me" thing. What I want, what I feel comfortable with.

I am familiar with the Protestant teaching/saying/motto - that we shouldn't be too comfortable. And I agree to a point - if I am too comfortable in my walk with God, then I am not growing, learning, and maturing. But at the same time, I also feel that there should be a level of comfort and intimacy with God, and for me, that intimacy has always been felt the best inside the comfort and calmness of the Celestial room inside the temple. And yet, I cannot return there (even with my temple recommends because I am an honest ex-Mormon) because I will not lie and say I believe something that I don't.

And yet, I am in a very interesting position in my life. I am not so freshly removed from the LDS church that I refuse to believe anything the LDS church teaches to be true. Yet at the same time, I am far enough removed from it, that I don't feel the burden, the pressure, the desire to prove all that it teaches to be true. Which, as someone who was engaged in apologetics online and in real life, was something I really did feel and battled with. Now, before returning to my ward, I can spend time reviewing the teachings of the Church and then placing it in one of three categories.

  • Is it Biblically sound?

  • Is it Biblically false?

  • Is it neither provable or unprovable? Is it simply, possible?


I was told that when someone volunteers for service at GP, their committment is a year. That means, I have until winter to find my footing on both milk and meat doctrines of the church. It is my hope, that by 2009 I can return to my ward, prepared and also having fullfilled my responsibilities within my current church home. Who knows, perhaps after reviewing these doctrines, I'll feel differently. But right now, nothing sounds more like home - than a Sacrament meeting. Regardless of how trying they can be.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Don't you have it?"

I have a more serious blog in the works, however I just couldn't resist sharing my most recent adventures in the gas industry. :)

This week I've been covering another employee's shifts while she takes a vacation. People never cease to amaze me. A few experiences that will hopefully make you smile, shake your head, and possibly even laugh in front of the computer.

- I've been learning Spanish, a phrase a shift and have been complimented on my diction. However, three times this week while speaking Spanish to customers, these same customers have turned around and told me in Spanish, "No hablos English. Hablos Espanol." I've wanted to scream at them - I AM speaking Spanish!

- The average customer at our gas station waits in line around 20 minutes, there are usually three to four cars in a line, and 8 out of 10 customers come in and start with the phrase, "You need traffic control out there." And yet, even during the busy times of the day, I get in and out within 10 minutes (this includes waiting in line, paying, pumping and getting out of the parking lot). I think this comes down to common sense.

- When I was Real Estate, I learned that the average person owns their house for about 5 years and their car 2-3 years. Yet, you couldn't tell it at a gas station. The simple question, "How much do you want to put on the pump?" seems to be a mind stumper. They have NO CLUE. C'mon people, it's not hard - if you're car usually takes $50 to fill up then make it an even $50 and come back in for the change.

- People actually ask, "If I don't pump it all, can I come back in for the change?" Does anyone actually believe we, cashiers, are going to say NO?!

- Why are credit card machines so hard for people? If you watch the screen, they give play by play instructions. Yet, whenever I am running two registers and allow a customer to run their debit/credit transaction on their own, they stand there staring at the screen - sometimes they are actually talking to the thing.

- Who on Earth actually thinks they can be three cars behind the pump, and go ahead and pay? Really now, let's use some common sense. "The car in front of me just pulled up to the pump and starting pumping, but I want to go ahead and put $30 on the pump." And when we tell them no, it's like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They go from capable adults, to screaming, tantrum throwing two year olds. Really, who are these people and why aren't they normal and why are there so many of them?

- There are FIVE signs around the store (two x-large ones on the double doors entering the store) that say, "WE DO NOT HAVE A PUBLIC RESTROOM". What part of that is misunderstood? No, if you buy a .35 cent pack of gum, you cannot use the bathroom. No, if you put a dollar in the slot machine you cannot use the restroom. No, if you buy gas you cannot use the restroom. There is no PUBLIC restroom.

- We ran out of gas a couple of days ago (we're the cheapest in the valley right now - sometimes by as much as .40 cents a gallon!) even though we get three loads a day everyday (a load is AT LEAST 3000 gallons). There was a customer in line who was behind the cut off (meaning, he couldn't buy gas). He stood there at the counter demanding gas. Are we going to pull it out of our behinds? If we are out of gas, we are out of gas.

- Last Saturday we raised our prices by .10/gallon. People have taken to calling our store to check out our prices before coming down. One customer called 10 minutes before we changed the price - only the owner knows when the price will change, arriving right after the price had changed. He then demanded that we give him the previous price. What planet are our customers FROM? Does this planet just simply LACK common sense?!


But the big question, WHO goes into a store without enough money to pay for something and then expects the cashiers to pay for it? We had one customer today who spent 10 minutes trying to convince one of my co-workers to pay for his smokes. Later, another customer came up .39 cents short for their beer and then matter of fact stated, "What, you don't have it? You don't have thirty-nine cents?" And customers do this all day long - it doesn't matter to me if you're a penny short or five dollars short, there's NOTHING in a c-store that a person needs - not even gas (which is of course entirely debatable) so no way am I shelling out money for people who don't really NEED these things. (Yes, there is a grocery store less than a block away from our c-store.)

Yesterday, during my shift just on MY register, I did over $10k. If I was short just a penny per dollar - I'd be short $100 on my shift (which of course comes out of my pocket). And on average, customers are more short than a penny/dollar of their transaction, at least at my store anyways.

Just pay at the pump people, and please use common sense.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

JJ Abrams and Imagination


Can JJ Abrams touch anything and it not be good? The creator of Felicity (okay, I've never seen more than the first season so this one's up in the air), Alias, LOST, and Cloverfield to name a few - this man is a genius! Steve and I were just talking last night - can you imagine a movie combining JJ Abrams and M. Night Shyamalan combined forces for a movie? I'd have died and gone to heaven.

Steve and I have been watching Alias on DVD and am totally fans now. We're ready for Season 5 (the last season). During season four's finale, they had a totally zombie/Resident Evil deal going on. Which I loved since I've been in a total zombie funk for almost a year now (my longest running funk to date). Although, I am in no hurry to see Zombie Strippers - really who thinks of some of these movies?

I also saw last night that JJ Abrams has a new TV series coming out in the Fall. Cannot wait to see the fall line up - hopefully the return of Heroes, Survivor, and new LOST episodes (anyone else panicking that next week is the season finale?!)

The mail should be bringing Season 5 of Alias any day now - thank you Blockbuster online. :) But until then, I'll have to suffer through the rest of this week - no Alias, no Survivor, and no LOST. And - no Office. What's a girl to do?

I checked out The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring) today. I saw it in theaters, but we went to a late showing and fell asleep during the movie. It kind of left me with a not so pleasant outlook on the movie, but after seeing some clips from the movie on YouTube (don't even know why I was watching it) I decided to check it out again. What's with this total movie funk I'm in? Now I've got to go back to the video store and check out the other two movies - even though I totally know what's going to happen (Frodo saves the day in the end and Strider/Aragon becomes king) I want to see it all over again. I'll admit - there was quite the bit of fast forwarding - I'm not a man, all those fight scenes bore me. Went to Prince Caspian with a girlfriend earlier this week. Loved it.

And of course, I balanced all these Christian inspired movies with checking out The Golden Compass - finally on DVD! For sure going on my Amazon list. Paul loved the movie too (we did of course FF through a couple of scenes that I felt were inappropriate when we viewed it in the theater). Watching the movie again, was really refreshing and reminded me of how power can corrupt people. The Christian movement is littered with bad history - from witch trials to Inquisitions. Of course, none of these things are Jesus' fault, obviously we're all fallen human beings who sin - and as such do ungodly things. But even when Christians aren't committing crimes in the name of God, even when they're just being rude, unfriendly, or exclusive to those who don't fit the Christian "mold" - whatever that is for them - it really brings to mind David Archuleta's performance of John Lennon's Imagine. I think the longer I stay in this whole religion mess, the more I dislike it. What a wonderful world it would be - if there were no religion.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Still Alive

I'm still alive! :) I'm on antibiotics and cough syrup and tons of Raspberry sorbet - it's for the cough, yeah that's it....

Steve's now officially sick too - throwing up, high fever, night and day sweats - everything I had. We've gotten a ton of movies from Blockbuster, practically bought out Smith's Progressive Chicken Noodle soup section, and living on water and Gatorade. Yay! The good life. Our poor kiddos, they've had a fever but seem to be in better shape than us and are bored out of their little minds. If only we could do something with them where our paralyzing coughing wouldn't hinder us. ;)

We have discovered the awesomeness of the bathroom though. :) Plug up the bottoms of all the doors and then run the shower on it's hottest setting and just breathe steam. Ah - I spent the early hours of the morning doing that just so I could breath again.

Off for another nap!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

RoLLer CoAsteR

The last few days have quite the roller coaster. Steve and I had a great weekend - the kids went out to the grandparent's house for Friday and Saturday which gave us some time to hang out with friends and for me to get pampered for Mother's Day. I'm not usually into pedicures and manicures anymore, but buckled and got one for Mother's Day (my rough feet was scratching Steve at night). I have to say, what an ultimate experience to get a pedicure AND knit at the same time. Yes I am dork, but wow - I totally loved it.




The above picture is a few days after my pedicure, but I think they still look sharp none the less. :) I wanted to try a dark color and be a little bold. I like it.

We went to go Ironman - I could totally go watch it a second time. It was so good! I cannot wait to go see Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian, hopefully this weekend.

On Sunday during service, I finally finished Anya's Ribbed Cake Icing Socks (knitting helps me focus on audios like sermons, podcasts, and even conversations). I submitted my patterns for the socks and a baby blanket I made for this contest where I could win free looms. My patterns are not up yet (voting doesn't start until May 15th) but please go over and vote for me! :)



On Monday the kids and I returned to the Springs Preserve - we were having a pretty good time and I was getting some awesome pictures of the kids.









And I got this awesome video of the Flood Demo that I love so much.




And then it happened - my blood pressure dropped. And I've spent the last two days in bed - sleeping most of the time. Thankfully Steve has a job that allows him to come home to help me out, because I don't know what I would have done if I had to be by myself that last two days. I finally buckled and went to the doctor telling her about the weekly throwing up, the drop in the blood pressure, and my new high fevers. She's run some blood work so perhaps we'll finally be able to find out what the deal is. In the six years I've been married, I've never been sick like this. Today is my first day awake so much but am still under orders to take it easy - easier said than done with two toddlers. :P

So far, I've been able to keep the kids busy with board games and playing dress up with Anya. She got a princess trunk for her birthday.




She loves her little outfits and wears them everyday. It was quite the struggle for her to not wear them to church on Sunday....

I've cast on for Paul's striped Supersocke - his socks are easier than Steve's because the gauge isn't so fine, so I don't have to focus like I do with the EFG. I thought the yarn would be thicker, but since it is so thin, the toe is taking more rows than I originally thought - I've already done 22 rows and still not ready to bring the toes onto the other side. Soon I hope.





I'm hoping this day goes smoothly - simple things like making the kids breakfast are making my fever rise - I'm living on Tylenol right now. :P

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

trying out wordpress

I've been hearing a lot of good things about Wordpress as a blogging site. So, I'm giving it a try. Feel free to check out my blog here.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Question for "Ask GP.com"

I realized today, that I had a really involved, long question for the AskGP.com website. So I've decided to write up a blog about it, and then carry it over (hopefully in a much shorter form) to the AskGP site.

On Rav, a recent story was linked to from Redford. The story was about a church that had a freestanding sign outside that advertised for the following week's sermon. The message for that particular week said, "God can save homosexuals from their sin" (you can read an article here). I decided to do a little research on the matter (from a Biblical perspective) to see if my opinions could be backed up by the Bible. So I pulled out my heavy, Systematic Theology book and went reading under "sin".

Here's my thoughts on the matter. In Ephesians 2:8 it says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God". The work was done by Jesus, on the cross - not by us. So to say a sin separates one from God and makes them ineligible for God's grace or becoming or being a Christian, totally and completely baffles me. This is what is known as putting God in a box. There are tons of sins out there - the Law lays out 613 of them. And I've hated listening to all of them three times over - it's just so boring to listen to the Law and yet so completely uplifting to know that Jesus freed us from this!

James (2:10-11) writes:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery,"[a] also said, "Do not murder."[b] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.


Further, Paul (Galatians 3:19-25) writes:

What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.

Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ[h] that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.



So we learn that if we break one letter of the law we've broken the whole law, that the whole world is in sin, and that the law was given to us to bring us to Christ. Further, we learn that we are saved by grace not by works.


But are there degrees of sin which will effect perhaps degrees of salvation? I turned to Systematic Theology for this one. For me, there is heaven and hell and there is no in between place that one spends all eternity. First, Grudem spoke about our legal standing with God, he writes, "Any one sin, even what may seem to be a very small one, makes us legally guilty before God and therefor worthy of eternal punishment." (Systematic Theology, p 501).

If just one sin - regardless of how big or small it may seem to us, eternally separates us from God, then it seems to me, in regards to salvation that if one engages in homosexual acts and one lies to their parents about stealing cookies, that both are now legally separated from God due to their own sins. Legally, it appears that sin is the same. Small or large by our understanding, they seperate us from God and are in need of a Savior.

As a Christian, salvation is very important - it's the center. Being saved from the wages of any and all sin - death, hell, eternal separation from God. However, Christian living is also important - it's what matures us in our relationship to God, it's what glorifies God, it's brings us to an intimacy with God when we are obediant or when we call out to Him. Grudem goes on to write about how there are levels of sin that displease God or that will affect our relationship with God, that will have temporal effects (ie consequences) on both ourselves and those around us. This just seems common sense to me.

But focusing on just salvation - one sin does not seem Biblically worse than another. All create separation.

Which brings me to my question - why such the strong movement against homosexuality? Sure, it's a sin - but do we see entire vocal ministries to greedy or obese Christians? Or do we only see loud, high profile ministries dedicated to hot topics of the times? If God is for all sinners, then why are we as the body of Christ, moving away from embracing them and allowing God to convict them of their own sin before Him and instead beating them to death with Bibles?

Is one who puts up a sign, "God can save homosexuals" acting Biblically? Is homosexuality a center circle or salvation issue and if so, can it be Biblically backed OR is this now a preference?

In this passage of scripture, we see the believers being told that lawsuits are wicked and that wicked people don't inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 6:1-9)

Then in verses 10-11:

Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

But what if someone came to God, knowing that they had lied, stolen, sinned against God but did not accept that their homosexuality was a sin? We know that Christ's work gave us GRACE - which means we do not earn our salvation. And even in these above verses we see that we were "justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ". It seems to me, that Paul is writing about how a Christian should act (would rather be wronged) and how they should not act (uniting with a prostitute).

I come back to Romans 14 where Paul gives the example of eating the meat that was sacrificed for idols or false gods. We know from the OT (Old Testament) that when people had eaten of the meat of the idols they were killed. Yet, now it's a matter of personal conviction and faith? If this is the case with idol sacrifices - which God has made very clear He is opposed to - then why not with homosexuality? We live in a confused world, and I am not in any manner supporting embracing sins, but certainly embracing sinners just as Jesus did regardless of what active sins they are engaging in.

For Christians - are preferences more important than embracing people (sinners)? What does it look like to embrace people as Jesus did? And when we look at Jesus' most stern words, who were they directed to? Religious leaders or sinners?

If we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, then why are condemning each other when we're all so guilty?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Bike

Tuesday was Anya's birthday. And her brother's birthday is next Thursday - they are just over a week apart. However, for the first time ever, we were going to try to give the kids one birthday present on their actual birthday and one at their joint party on Friday.

So we gave Anya her very first scooter (it's a pink wide based Radio Flyer). And her brother just flipped out. "Where's my birthday present?" We resolved to not give him his present (a bike) until the next week. All day, he whined and complained, all day he kept stealing his sister's scooter - all day it was like laughter, then screaming and crying - either Anya that her brother stole her scooter yet again or from him because he didn't have a present. It was horrible. So Steve comes home, sees what's going on and says, "C'mon, we'll go put your bike together."

Head, meet wall.

The bike was finished right in time for us to take Anya out to a birthday dinner - so of course more crying that he didn't get to ride his new bike. When we get home, we let him ride his bike for a little while before bed. He gets up on Wednesday and is all excited to ride his bike. I get his gear and helmet on him and we walk out to ride his bike and he flips out!

I was so annoyed. So I kept trying to gently encourage him on his bike, I stayed right next to him the whole time, didn't let him fall (he's got training wheels on anyways) and yet still he did nothing but whine, complain, and fuss. So finally, I took everyone back inside.

He has been asking for this bike for months, whined all the day before, finally gets it and does nothing but cry. Of course, how much are we - as adults - like this too?