Friday, August 20, 2010

secrets of god

"From heaven God shows how angry he is with all the wicked and evil things that sinful people do to crush the truth. They know everything that can be known about God, because God has shown it all to them. God's eternal power and character cannot be seen. But from the beginning of creation, God has shown what these are like by all he has made. That's why those people don't have any excuse." Romans 1:18-20, Contemporary English Bible

the answer to every secret of God can be found in nature. maybe if everyone knew this, they wouldn't destroy it as much as they do. if God was in the tree you were cutting, would you still cut it? maybe if the evangelicals knew this, they wouldn't deny global warming or pooh-pooh it as a "liberal" idea. god has been here since before Jesus Christ. we came here to convert the native americans, but it should have been them converting us. they were worshiping God and treating Him with the respect He deserves without even knowing it.

consider, if you will, the people who have no respect for nature and who damage it at every turn. living in Montana, i see this often. it is difficult to me to imagine any person who willfully damages nature- through littering, off-road activities, hunting, SUV-driving, etcetera- to be any kind of good Christian. prove me wrong.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

meditating on compassion

At various points in my life, I have been very into Buddhism. When I started reading the Bible again, it really struck me how Buddhist teachings and those of Jesus are similar. Emphasis on compassion, love, equality, peace of mind abound. Perhaps the closest resemblance I found was in Matthew 5:43-47:

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the even and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?"

In many Buddhist sects, practitioners undertake compassion meditations. In this meditation, the focus is not on someone they love and care for, to whom they naturally show compassion without effort; no, the focus is on someone you really can't stand, someone you feel you hate or whose actions you despise. The First Noble Truth of Buddhism states that all human beings experience suffering and desire a release from suffering. So practitioners start there.

Try it right now. Think of someone you despise, or that makes you angry. It doesn't have to be someone close to you. It could be a television star you think is gaudy, or a person you used to work with that always irritated you. Take stock of this person's actions without letting your own feelings come into it. What incomprehensible things have they done? (I say "incomprehensible" because the root of all dissonance between two people is misunderstanding. A person is not necessarily "bad" just because you don't understand their actions.) Now, imagine you were this person. Don't think of what you would do- think of yourself doing what they have done, and think of the emotions they would experience in those situations. As you can imagine, with some people this is very difficult. It is one thing to imagine why a wife would cheat on her husband, and entirely another to imagine why a man would kill another man. However, the focus is to "put yourself in their shoes" and see what it would be like to do the things they did, face the consequences they have faced.

This meditation is not an opportunity to make excuses for someone who has done something wrong. It is rather a doorway to understanding. If your child steals a CD from the store, they face the appropriate consequences. But by putting yourself in your child's place, feeling what they felt- fear, exhilaration, a desperate longing for something- then it helps you connect with them in a different way. The meditation is not meant to release people from fault. It is meant, rather, to find compassion for all your fellow men, even the ones you don't understand. Many children, for example, act out because they don't feel that anyone listens or understands them. If their parents could understand and therefore feel compassion for them, it might make a difference in their lives.

A good article to read regarding Tibetan Buddhist views of feeling compassion for enemies is here (scroll down to "How to be compassionate to enemies?")

Jesus was saying the same thing. It is infinitely more difficult to love your enemies than it is your friends. But it is by loving our enemies, treating those who have wronged us with kindness, that we become like our Father in Heaven. We take it for granted that Jesus forgives our sins without a thought. If someone killed your friend, would you forgive them without a thought? Would you show them kindness? Would you put yourself in their shoes?

Matthew, chapter 5 ends with "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Obviously, no one can be perfect. But by looking at our fellow man as God does to us, we can get closer to Him.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

reconnecting with God

i went to the methodist church today for the first time in Lord knows how long. i got there late, and for a second considered not going in, but it was the first time in a long time i had had confidence about entering a church. so i went in late. i sat, i sang, i listened to the lesson (which talked about "coveting" and wanting things you don't have). everyone who remembered me was glad to see me. i remembered why i wanted to be part of a group in church in the first place.

the Lord has heard my prayers, and i am feeling better after a week of being very depressed and questioning my whole being. the answer to part of my prayer came from a message from my friend, who revealed to me that (unbeknownst to me) she had suffered from depression for a long time. i have always envied her faith, and finding this out really hit home with me- i thought, if she can do it, so can i!

i have so much to learn. i don't think i will ever stop learning.

two good things about today:
i found beautiful yarn at the dollar store
i found out a christian band i like (Mercyme) will be playing at the fair this year :)

praise be to god.

Monday, June 7, 2010

knitting/crocheting for charities

i recently started doing knitting/crochet for charities and it's just remarkable how many people there are in need out there. the other day i was reading a book called voluntary simplicity: toward a way of life that is outwardly simple, inwardly rich. the author talked about meeting a woman who at a conference went to the buffet and took an apple, a piece of cheese, and a piece of bread. when he asked if she was feeling okay, she explained to him that she didn't want to eat more than many other people in the world were capable of eating.

my head went twang! and the first thing i thought was, i wonder how much i have that is more than most people have. here is the list i came up with:

clothes (i think we can all make a claim to this- i'm a big thrift store shopper so i usually buy way more than i "need". some can make the claim that we have the luxury of buying more than we "need" in this day and age- but my boyfriend has half the clothes i do. what gives?)
shoes (not by much, though; i wear the same few pairs faithfully with a couple of deviations)
yarn (lord help me, and i just got a garbage bag full from my mother who was de-stashing)
diet soda (i need to stop drinking this but i'm addicted)
fabric (kind of like yarn but in lesser amounts)

i'm pretty good at keeping most things to a minimum- i am a pseudohippie after all, and do not spend gobs of money on makeup, jewelry, expensive clothing, cell phone bills, cable TV, and the like- but as far as having more than i need? definitely.

i'm human, and like every human have desires. the more wealth you have, the more you desire. so luckily my desires are few. i do not have champagne tastes on a beer budget and have never lived beyond my means. still, i am a child of excess in some ways. and forcing myself to think about how i could use LESS- well, it's unpleasant, to say the least. but it also sounds kind of... liberating.

think for yourself. what do you have too many of that most people have little to none of? don't feel bad, but don't justify it to yourself either. could you cut it by 10% and still be happy? 25%? 50%?

if i got rid of all my yarn, i'd be sad that i couldn't craft anymore, because knitting and crochet are a big part of my life. but i have way more yarn than i need. i was careful when my mom gave me hers to only pick out the skeins i'd use. still, if someone crept in at night and stole 10% of my yarn, i probably would just shrug my shoulders.

since i was a little kid i have played the what-if game. at the age of 5, my biggest fear was fire. i had a list in my head of all the things i would grab if the house suddenly caught fire. now that i'm an adult, i still play the games. what if your house suddenly caught fire? imagine you could take 5 things (not counting family, pets, etc.- pretend everything living got out okay.) what would you take? why? what would you do, standing across the street in your pyjamas, looking at all of your earthly possessions reduced to rubble?

try it. okay, it's a little depressing. but it's good food for thought.

Friday, May 28, 2010

psalm 13

the other day i sat down with my bible and decided to read some psalms. the only thing i knew about psalms before i read them was that they were songs of praise to God, and i was feeling especially in need of guidance as to how to praise God. my depression has been waxing and waning, and Heavenly Father, like the sun behind the clouds, has been peeking at me, it seems, through the fog of it.

anyhow, i read a few psalms and then got to this one, psalm 13:

"How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me."

what really struck me was the first line. my bible has no indications about this psalm, but i have to assume it is David who is saying it. but the, "how long wilt thou forget me, lord?" was eye-opening, as that was what i was feeling at that time. thinking, why do i feel farthest from god when i am depressed, when bad things are happening? i thought desperately about the "footprints" poem, and tried to imagine God carrying me through my trials.

the rest of it deals with feeling oppressed in a world that seems built on the backs of the wicked. i notice that David doesn't seem to be blaming his OWN problems on the "wicked", but rather sees them plainly for who they are, and puts his faith in God. but in his psalms, he asks God, "where are you? why are you letting this happen to me? why don't you help?"

and then by the end of the psalm, his faith is reaffirmed in God, that proof of God's love of him has already been proven.

next time i come across one of these depressions, or any of my daily obstacles, i will think back to the examples of God's love that have been given me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

the lord giveth, the lord taketh away

the past few days have been extremely good. so good that i was nervous. i got the job i wanted. my fiance got his job. we got a completely unexpected check in the mail for almost $400. god is good! god is great! it is easy to pray when things are going good. but somewhere in my mind i remembered that a streak of good luck is usually followed by something bad to teach us sacrifice, humility, those things. so i didn't know what to expect.

well, it came yesterday. i chanced to glance at the notebook where my fiance writes and saw something that astounded me. i told him that i saw it. he said it was okay, he wasn't bothered. but it really messed me up. it basically said that if he were to follow his natural inclinations, he would rarely make love to me at all. it wasn't personal- he would rarely make love to any girl. but still, this was a tremendous blow. we've had issues with this for a while, but i never knew it was specifically for this reason. i left the house and went for a drive. i just lost it. i didn't know what i was going to do.

so, i prayed. it felt strange at first. one of my major issues when trying to pray is that i seem to refuse to pray when i'm having a hard time. i realized why- because i feel i don't deserve to pray, that i don't deserve support from God. i felt silly praying to God about something so trivial- and i asked, how in the world is God going to help me with this? then i realized that it's not my place to ask HOW He is going to help me. God can do anything. and most of his solutions to this issue are probably way out of my comprehension. after all, i'm not omnipotent.

today i feel a little better. the fiance and i got in a tremendous argument about it last night. i don't know what i'm going to do, but i feel stronger. i know God can help. i have to "let go and let God". but that's hard.

Friday, May 21, 2010


three days ago i asked my friend patricia for a book of mormon, in the interest of taking it home and giving it to my academically interested fiancé. it hasn't made it to him yet. i am reading it at night before bed. it smells like the woodsmoke smell from her house.

tuesday night was the first time i prayed in i don't know how long. i grew up with one christianity or another, but my family wasn't religious and i've bounced all over the place. i've been wiccan and studied buddhism and judaism. in high school, mainly for shock value, i was loudly "nonchristian". for the past few years i have been decidedly without religion and have attended church a few times, but never felt a tug in the correct direction.

i have always admired patricia for her security in her faith, but until recently didn't know anything about the LDS church until my fiancé and i watched a documentary about it and its history. i'm hesitant to say anything at this point, because i know that because of my depression i can have highs and lows of passion about things (especially religion)- but i think i am ready to follow Christ again.

i created this blog so that i can catalog my feelings and experiences learning about christianity, and also my knitting and crochet projects. :) to be honest, i've never felt the influence of the holy ghost the way i am these days. i'm smiling a lot. and if that is not His influence then i am not sure whose it is.

here's what i'm working on right now:

this is the popsicle scarf, a free pattern from shifting stitches. i have all this beautiful cascade yarn and wasn't sure what to do with it (i have that problem with nice yarn!) so i settled on a scarf pattern, and this one is pretty easy. i am notorious for not finishing projects, so let's hope this will see it through. i have promised myself more yarn once i finish. so we'll see.

god bless.