Thursday, October 13, 2011

I AM a Christian



Religion & Politics.  Two subjects a lot of people simply don't like to bring up, or join in any conversation about.  Why is that?  Is it because so many people differ on so many different levels?  Is it because we think we may, heaven forbid, offend someone?  I feel an obligation, this very moment in time, to speak about MY religion, because there has been, currently is, and always will be, some misconceptions about the religion to which I belong, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  More commonly known as, Mormons.  I was raised in this church, married a Mormon, and am raising my children in the same faith, and wouldn't have it any other way.  Let me make it clear too, that Mormon, is kind of like a nick name for our church, and we are not associated in any way, shape or form with the FLDS church, or any other church that practices Polygamy.  Our church DID practice that in the 1800's, but later banned it, and if anyone in our church does practice it, they are excommunicated.  Again, we have NOTHING to do with Polygamy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Not too long ago, a Baptist minister accused our church of being a cult, claiming we are not a Christian religion, yet our very name holds the name of Jesus Christ in the title.  He couldn't be further from the truth.  What is a cult anyway?  Webster's dictionary explains it in this manner:

1  formal religious veneration : worship
2  a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
4  a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator <health cults>
a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b : the object of such devotion c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion 

I'll leave it to the reader to determine whether or not the religion to which I belong is a cult.  But I have discovered the best way to find the answer to such questions, is simply this.  Ask a member OF our church!  Let me say this... we are not a cult.  Our church, yes, was founded by a man, named Joseph Smith, in the 1800's, and he restored The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints back on the earth.  The events that took place to bring about this restoration include a visit to him by our Heavenly Father AND His son, Jesus Christ, who then instructed him to translate ancient records to what is known as The Book of Mormon.  There are many who find the LDS church (abbreviated) to be a wonderful religion, all good and well, but cannot accept the "Joseph Smith" story.  That is for each and every one of us to determine for ourselves, upon reading The Book of Mormon, after thoughtful and sincere prayer.  The confirmation that all this has happened, that I believe and know to be true, has happened to me, as it has for 14 million others all around the world.  The Bible, in several different places, says there will be additional scripture, and The Book of Mormon is an account of the people in the Americas whom our Savior visited.... John 10:16  "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:  them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."


My intent is not to preach my religion, yet I feel a need to defend my faith, that we are, undoubtedly, a Christian religion.  If you enter any one of our church buildings scattered throughout the world, you will find artwork of Jesus Christ adorning the walls.  If you have even been inside one of our temples, during an open house right after it has been built, you will discover the same thing, pictures of the Savior everywhere.  

What does it mean, to be a Christian?  Does it mean we help our fellow man when they are in need?  If so, I am proud to be a member of a church that does exactly that.  You can name any natural disaster that has happened in the past, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is front and center flying in donations to help the poor and needy, and those in distress.  Those items include, but are not limited to: food, hygiene kits, clothing, school supplies, blankets for babies in the neo-natal units, water filter systems, vaccines for immunizations.  The list goes on and on.  You will often find hundreds of people of our faith donning yellow "Mormon Helping Hands" shirts giving of their time to help clean up after a hurricane, earthquake, whatever the need is, they are there.  Is that NOT a Christian thing to be doing?  


So yes, it does hurt me, when I hear of such preachers that say we are not a Christian religion, but rather a cult.  I would invite this minister, and anyone else who makes such claims, to just ask a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints what we are really about, instead of making assumptions.  I don't find my religion to be a threatening one, I find it to be one in which you can find happiness, joy and peace, all things that encompass someone, in my opinion, as a Christian because they devote much of their life in service to others.


We live in a time when we can have, at our fingertips, answers to just about any question we might have.  That is one reason why our church has multiple websites where you CAN find out about who we are.  Yes, there is plenty of wrong information out there on the internet about us, but you will find the right information first and foremost by speaking WITH a member of our church, or going to www.mormon.org.  


I am proud to say that I do belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  And along with that, I AM a Christian.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Fall"ing in love with Fall

I sure do enjoy this time of year.  It seems as if each season brings on its own particular gratitude for the many things it produces. Yet, near the end of each season comes a sense of longing for the next and a feeling of, "I'm so ready for summer, now that the spring rain has lasted for months on end."  Each season has it's own beauty, but none compare to the magnificent colors of fall, or, autumn, as some people like to define this enchanting time of year.  These are just some of many things I love about fall.

1) The colorsRed, yellow, orange.... the beauty that glows from the trees that hold leaves is spectacular to me.  I have never seen them more vivid as I have in the canyons of Salt Lake City.  I hear they are most beautiful back east.  But seeing as the Pacific Northwest is where I reside, there is beauty here too, and I soak it all in when it comes, for the colors don't last long, and if you're not looking, you will miss it before the leaves take their flight to the ground.


2) The smells & taste.  I love to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies. Make them every year.  I'm no cook or baker, that is FOR SURE, but these are a specialty of mine, and there's just something about the pumpkin that I love combined with the chocolate chips... a very moist cookie that lasts for days.  The many spices that are brought from our cupboard, having been hidden behind all the others that take precedence after the holidays;  they are glorious scents when combined with cider and the like.  I almost prefer the smell to the taste, for just the smell can satisfy the comfort and warmth that is often needed more at this time of year from the chilly mornings that accompany the beautiful fog.


I don't have many traditions, but one I do enjoy takes place every April and October when our family has the opportunity to listen to our prophet and leaders speak to us.  I pull out the mixer, yeast, and oranges and whip up some yummy Orange Rolls. It's about the only thing I can make that tastes pretty darn good if I say so myself. Just last week I made them yet again.  Took a few hours to make, but only a few minutes for 8 people to digest.  To me, there is nothing quite like the taste of a warm fresh Orange Roll.  And I can't forget the many yummy smells of my Scentsy Candles.  Right now, Pumpkin Marshmallow is my favorite.  And who can forget the smell of a freshly carved pumpkin awaiting it's kill as children take knives to it and turn it into what was once food, to a scary face?


3)  The Sounds.  It is during this time I hear more vividly the crunch of fallen leaves that have taken to frost, the squish of fresh mud after an Oregon rainfall, usually demonstrated by one or all of my children, because it is much more fun to play in the pouring down rain. 


And speaking of rainfall, the sounds OF the rain as it either gently, or angrily meets the ground for which it was destined.


4)  The feelings.  For me, fall is a bit of a renewal as the season of Spring is to many of us.  It's the beginning of another school year. For me, it's a round of birthdays which brings another new year for my children, myself and my husband.  I treasure this time of year because I celebrate the birth of McKenna, who entered this life a very sick baby.  Her birthday brings a mixture of sadness and joy. Sadness that I am not able to raise her in this life, but joy that I will in the next.  


I also get to celebrate my wedding anniversary to my best friend, in October.  What a beautiful fall day it was as the clouds parted after days of pouring down rain, the sun shone and the ground was dry, just for us.



It's knowing that after Halloween (my LEAST favorite holiday), my thoughts are automatically directed to the next holiday.... Thanksgiving, which means a time to reflect on the many wonderful blessings I have in my life.  A time to feel gratitude for everything I have been blessed with, a time to, once again, try to make the upcoming holidays more meaningful for me and for my children.


It's feeling warmth by the fireplace as the temperatures start to drop. The feeling of being wrapped up in my fleece blanket, losing myself in a book for just a little while.  The feeling of cider or hot chocolate finding it's way to my stomach and warming me up in no time.  It's also a feeling of anticipation for another approaching holiday, the birth of our Savior.

Fall is a beautiful time of year. Although I long for sunny days, especially here in Oregon, I feel like our fall, winter and spring make me appreciate my summers all the more, and for that I am grateful.  Fall is the "runner up" to the "first place" of winter which brings about even more feelings of love, charity and beauty. But that's for another blog.  I am grateful for this time of year that God has blessed us with; with beautiful leaves, fresh rain, and wonderful scents and feelings to fill our lives with even more joy, something summer couldn't satisfy.  And that is why... I. Love. Fall.