Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sometimes a Lie

I enter the church, sit on the pew and wrestle my kids for an hour.
If I'm lucky, I can sing a hymn uninterrupted.
That doesn't happen all that often.

I walk little man to primary.
I stand at the back because he constantly stares at me, afraid I'll leave.
Sister Stewart asks me how I'm doing.
I tell her I'm good, which is sometimes a lie.
Maybe more times than not.

I meander over to Sunday School.
Sister Johansen greets me with the warmest spirit you could ever imagine.
She asks me how I'm doing, and genuinely wants to know.
But I tell her I'm good, which is sometimes a lie.
I need to be better about that, but I really don't know how.

I quickly walk to Relief Society to get seated first.
I want to avoid the awkwardness of looking for a seat among perceived cliques.
Then, when people sit next to me, it's because they want to, not because they have to.
They, too, ask me how I'm doing.
I tell them I'm good, which is sometimes a lie.

Sometimes I feel lonely at church.
Even among the hustle and bustle of leaders, neighbors and friends.
Sometimes I wish people could see me.
I wish that I felt safe to share me.
The real me.

I'm active in church and in my callings.
I look outside myself for opportunities to serve.
I have faith.
I have hope.
I know God.
I know He knows me.

Yet, still... I struggle.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Because We Are Good Samaritans

I don't pick up hitch hikers. I just don't.

See, I love serial killers. Or, rather, I love studying them. The criminal mind absolutely fascinates me. However, because of my obsession with psychopaths and sociopaths (which are now referred to as having antisocial disorders), I usually think the worst of people.

If I see you in a dark alley, you are a killer.
If you follow me for too long in a car, you are a killer.
If you are parked by yourself in a parking lot, you are a killer.

You get the idea. I just get paranoid. And for that reason, I don't pick up hitch hikers.

Until two days ago, when I broke my own rule.

My older two boys are in Texas with grandma, so Tim and I decided to pile in the car with the youngest and the dog, and take the hour and a half long trip to Arches National Park. We'd never been before and were really excited for our spontaneous adventure.

The drive was beautiful. The sun was shining, the weather was clear, and the air warm. Life was good. For us, anyway. For on the other side of the road, we passed at least three drivers stranded with bum vehicles. It was about the time we passed the third driver that I heard the nudge.

You need to help someone on the side of the road on the way back.

And before I could stop myself, I let the idea settle in and I quickly reiterated it, out loud, to Tim; "If we run into anyone on the way back that needs help, I think we should stop and help them."

He nodded and agreed.

We made it to Arches in no time, toured the park, got out, hiked a bit, took lots of pictures, ate some snacks on a giant rock, watered the dog, and got back on the road about 7:30.

We'd made it about 5 miles past Moab when we saw her.
Yes, her.
A woman.
Hitchhiking.

I...freaked...out...

"Oh my gosh!! That's a woman hitchhiking! We have to stop!"

And I started to pull over.

But see, Tim is a good man. And, because he loves me, he watches my murder shows with me sometimes, and listens to all the fascinating things I learn about the criminal mind. And, as a result, it has left him somewhat damaged and scarred  paranoid as well.

So he countered my freak out with a bit of a freak out of his own...

"No!! I don't want to pick anyone up! What if they're a murderer!"

"But she's a woman!"

Our banter went back and forth for another 15 miles or so. I wouldn't say we argued or fought about it, but I can say we were both very set in the way we felt. I do want to mention that even though I was adamant about picking her up, I still had empathy for the way Tim felt. It's his job to protect his family, and we did have the little man with us. So even though I felt strongly about stopping, there was still significant risk involved.

We drove on for a bit, tension in the air. Thoughts began to fill my mind, and so I asked, somewhat rhetorically, but mostly not; "Are we good Samaritans? Do we just pass by the person on the road that needs help, or do we stop and give aid?"

The car was quiet for a bit as the miles piled behind us, and then the silence broke; "Turn around, go pick her up."... "Are you sure?" ... "Yes, just do it."

And so I did.

Meet Hue...

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And the facebook post I published on facebook, just in case.

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(And yes I spelled her name incorrectly in the Facebook post)

But, she wasn't a killer...

In fact, The first thing she asked for was water.
She was just thirsty.
And hungry.
So we stopped and got her some food.
Because we are good Samaritans.

And then we started to think ahead, to her destination. She had been hitchhiking all the way from Arizona, and her final destination was to reach some of her cousins in Salt Lake City. We, of course, were only going as far as Price, two hours short of Salt Lake.

Which meant, of course, that she'd have to hitchhike through the canyon.
At night.
In the dark.
With the killers.

I couldn't.
I couldn't let her.
So, I didn't.

When we got to Price, we filled the gas tank, dropped Tim and little man off at home, and I drove her to Salt Lake.

Here is the truly special part. She told me that just prior to picking her up, a Sheriff's officer had stopped to talk to her. He gave her some water, but wasn't allowed to give her a ride. So she kept walking. Desparate, she began to pray; "Please God, help me. Please send someone to help me. I really need help." And it was at that very moment that we pulled up.

God knew she was going to need help.
God knew that we were going to be there to help.
God asked us to help.
So we did.
Because we are good Samaritans.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Feeling Through the Veil

Sometimes I wish I was home, with God. That this life was over and I was free from pain, temptation, impatience, physical ailments and all other infirmity.

Sometimes I think about how much longer I have to go. That if I live to the ripe old age of 80, I'm only half way there.

Sometimes, that seems like FOR-EV-ER.

But then, sometimes, God stills my heart by allowing me to feel through the veil.

I had such an experience tonight as I read through the Healing Through Christ step on the true nature of God. As I read the step, God literally allowed me to feel His nature.

It was as if time didn't exist and I felt as if I was going to be with Him tomorrow. That's not to say that I will actually pass through the veil tomorrow, but I felt His promise; "This shall be but a small moment."

I felt the Lord reach for me, and instill in me the knowledge that He desires me home with Him, just as much, or more, as I want to be with home with Him.

I felt Him wrap around me.
And I let Him.

Monday, April 27, 2015

By the Light of Grace - GoFundMe Book Fund

Hey all!

I'm working to raise funds to publish my Kindle book, By the Light of Grace, in hardcopy format. Your donation, however small, is significant to me, for it is a simple way to help wage this war on addiction. All donations $50 or over will receive a free autographed copy of the book. Thank you so much in advance!

Click here to donate!! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Father

I was struck by something very profound by a friend of mine as she shared her testimony from the pulpit this month.

She said...

Heavenly Father is magnificent.
He is alpha and omega.
He is royalty.

He could choose many different titles to reflect His position...

King
Highness
Majesty

(to name only a few)

But the title He most often chooses is that of 'Father.'

He is tender, loving, kind, and compassionate because we are his children.

He loves us, each one. Wholeheartedly and unabashedly.

Because, He is our Father.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just Pray


I was recently privy to a conversation that took place in which a number of people were discussing the proper way to pray. I heard many a 'thee' 'thus' and 'thou' in the conversation, as well as instruction that we should not speak to Heavenly Father as we speak to our peers because He is royalty.

I don't quite agree...

Yes, I believe that there is a time and a place for proper prayer etiquette; family prayer, sacrament prayer, and really any public prayer in which we are not only praying on behalf of ourselves, but others as well. However, I truly believe that such level of propriety is not required in our personal prayer.

Here is what I know about my God...

He wants to hear me.
That's it.
He simply wants to hear me.

I don't pray as if He is on a giant throne and I am bowing in front of Him, ten steps below.
No, I pray as if He is sitting right next to me.
His big burly loving arm around me.
My head resting on His shoulder.
My tears falling on His robe.

I don't worry about propriety or etiquette.
I don't worry about sounding or looking pretty.

I just pray; raw and vulnerable, much like this song by Kelly Clarkson:

Irvine


Whether we confidently pray to Him out loud, whisper silent prayers to Him deep within our hearts, or write Him letters and read them out loud to Him... It is no matter.

He cherishes all of it, for He loves us, and simply wants to hear us.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Same Sex Attraction is Not 'Wrong'

I had an experience today that really offended me, and I'm struggling to release the resulting anger.

It happened in the second hour of my church block; Sunday School. We were discussing the beatitudes, as well as the new laws the Savior delivered to replace the law of Moses, when we came to the following verse:

Matthew 5:28:
But I say unto you, That whosever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 
Knowing that so many struggle with the concept of lust, and what it really means, I raised my hand andreferring to the text of the scripturestated (and I quote); "Being triggered or tempted by a woman is not a sin, and does not lust make. It is what we do with that trigger or temptation that can lead to lust."

At the end of my comment I heard a man (who I will henceforth refer to as 'The Man') on the other side of the room half whisper under his breath; "Wow Sister Agla, are you into women?"

And then came the laughter.

Even though it was only a handful of people, who were also within hearing distance of his comment, it was deafening to me.

I flushed a deep hot red as my countenance darkened.
I wanted to run.

My struggle.
My shame.
I thought I was over it.
I thought I'd let it all go.

But his one little comment, followed by the laughter of the crowd, struck incredibly deep.

I wasn't sure if my husband had heard, even though he was sitting right next to me, so as to not call attention to myself I reached inside my purse and quickly sent him a text asking such. He confirmed that he'd heard it and mouthed the words, "I'm sorry."

It felt good to be validated.

When the meeting ended, I rushed out to avoid facing The Man. He'd repeated "I was just kidding" a few times after his comment, in what I assume was an effort to minimize what he'd said, and I wasn't about to satiate his desire to get me to agree with, or even applaud that effort.

Obviously, I was in a very rough, sensitive and vulnerable place.

After church, my husband let me know that he felt he needed to talk to The Man, so he stopped him in the hall after church. He didn't get mad or blame, but simply desired to shed some light on my perspective. He said; "there is no way you could know this, but my wife works with many women who struggle with same sex attraction, so she is very sensitive to the topic." The Man responded positively at first, stating; "Oh I didn't know that. I didn't mean anything by it," but then quickly rationalized by saying; "but it is wrong."

My husband's efforts were valiant, and I thank him. Not only did he defend me, but he also kept my confidentiality, for I don't just work with people who struggle with same sex attraction, but I myself struggle with it as well. I wrote about it once before, here.

The fact is, same sex attraction is not wrong.
How we respond to it can lead to wrong doing, but the innate temptation is not wrong.

I am not wrong.
I am not wrong.
I, am not wrong.

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"