Sunday, February 15, 2015

CHURCH CONGREGATIONS : FAMILY, FRIEND or FOE?

 
Image result for our church family





A part of me feels guilty when I hear of what many of my brothers and sisters go through in their wards. I've heard some ward members will actually snitch on others because they are not in agreement with a comment they heard in Sunday School or Relief Society or in our other meetings.
"Bishop! Sister Blamwell said we shouldn't follow the prophet!"

  Sister Blamwell said "We shouldn't follow the prophet blindly without praying for our own confirmation of what the prophet speaks about, because that's how Hitlers come to power"
    Even Nephi asked his brothers if they Prayed for understanding and truth of what Father Lehi spoke to them about.

 Sometimes I feel this is the difference growing up LDS in Utah vs Outside of Utah.

 Which brings us to our ward Families.   The beauty of our ward families is that they are compiled of members who come from different backgrounds, cultures, life experiences, countries and perceptions.    The problem with our ward families is that they are compiled of members who come from different backgrounds, cultures, life experiences, countries and perceptions.

Our church congregations and meeting houses should be considered  a neighborhood home away from home and a place of comfort. Not just for it's members but for anyone who needs a place of respite and energizing and most of all love.
I've heard and seen some horrific things at church.  Things that come of a holier than though and elitist nature. Things that  folks can leave at the country clubs and other "Society affiliates."  Things that should definitely be spoken within the walls of the House of the Lord.

It is hard to walk into a building with the purpose of learning the Word of God when those teaching it an have stewardship and fellowship over you aren't practicing what they're preaching.
Image result for our church hypocrites


 We should all be able to go to church, stand in our truth, no matter how good, bad or ugly it is and feel the  glory of God within ourselves and within others.  Sinners don't need the judging eyes and pointing fingers of those within who have overcome sins of their own. They need the encouragement and the support of love and kindness.   They don't particularly need to be reminded they smell like smoke, their clothes aren't clean, they haven't been their in years and suddenly they're here because they need help.
 I remember two distinct situations that solidified my idea of what a church congregation can and should be.

 I can remember one day when my daughter was younger I was in a depressed state for what seemed like months.  She would go to preschool and I would spend my days just sobbing.
I remember being able to turn it on and off if someone called, or came to the door or as soon as she came home. One particular Sunday I had determined I wasn't going to church. I didn't feel like it and I didn't want to.  I spent the next couple hours cleaning the house and getting ready for the next week. I had missed our  Sacrament meeting and it was halfway through Sunday school.  The last meeting of the day would be Relief Society, which is the LDS Women's Auxiliary.  So many sisters absolutely hate this meeting. I don't mind it. On this particular day I had no desire to partake of any of the services that day.  I remember ignoring that "Still Small Voice.' that said... "Karyn, you should go to church."  I shook of that voice 3 times that morning. And when it was about  10 minutes for the Women's Meeting to start I Hear a voice very audibly and powerful. "Karyn, you MUST get to church!"  It was so audible I turned around to see who had come into my house.   There was no one there that I could see.  But the power and urgency I felt in the voice unnerved me.
   I put on a Michigan Wolverine sweat shirt, jean skirt and my blue and white Reeboks as part of my Rebellion. I'll go but I'm going on my own terms.  I pulled my hair back into a pony tail and  walked across the street to the Chapel.

  I walked into the door and down the hall to the Relief Society Room. Ignored the greeter and sat in the 2nd to last seat in the 2nd to last row.  Those who came in looked at me with a smile and a wave and I  bushed them off with a  "don't you dare talk, sit or even look at me today or I'll slap you!"   Oh there was such an anger in me for having to come.     I sat by myself with my arms and legs folded as if to close myself off from everyone else.  I was clearly sending the message... "I Don't want to be here so pretend I'm not here.'      
  The sister conducting stood up, made the typical announcements an turned the time over for the opening Hymn:

Our Saviors Love.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUKrKIGkagg


 I had heard the song for years. Decades. So many times. Something in me that day was so desperate it opened me up to receive that song in a way it never had before and I would never hear that song again without choking up.

 By the end of the first verse I felt a tear down my cheek.
By the end of the second verse I was sobbing and recognized 3 sisters had come and sat by me. two on either side and one behind me and they were crying with me, for me. Holding me so tight so I wouldn't fall apart.  I was so grateful for them in those moments.  By the end of the 3rd verse most of the sisters in the room with crying. It was a great unification of Sisterhood that day.  No body knew what was going on with me.  Nobody asked me to explain what I was going through or why such a disruption. No body needed to. All they knew was that I needed solidarity of some kind and they did what they could even if it was just crying with me. And it pulled me out of a 6 week depression.

It's literally 20+ years later and that experience lives permanently on my heart. And I share it when I can. Because it demonstrates to me the importance and difference a ward family can make in the lives of those in it.


Another tough time I had been having in a different ward. I had to see the Bishop and his counselors o guide me out of this experience. It was difficult and humbling. I could have easily not confronted the situation but know  I couldn't live one more minute in the truth of it. 
 My ward leaders gathered around me. They acknowledged my fear and my desire to run away.   They took me in and asked me to trust them, and to trust the Lord. They followed up with  please don't run from us. Please let us love you and support you and keep you strong through it.  Our purpose and the purpose of the ward is to  love you through it all.
Image result for Strength in numbers

  I was awestruck by this.  The more I share this experience I find it to be a rarity. This particular ward couldn't give a rat's tail what you look like, how you smell, what you're wearing they would welcome anyone at anytime with open arms and smiles.  And it wasn't just those who were assigned to fellowship your family it was everyone, even the children.  When the president of the Women's Auxiliary asked you for a "Fast & Testimony Bingo Card." so she could play during sacrament you KNOW you are amongst good people.


Just like any other family,  Ward/Congregation family has all kinds. Gossips. Snitches. Liars. Beggars. Feminist. Abusers. Users. Manipulators. Praisers. Encouragers. Cheerleaders,  those who strengthen. Followers. Leaders.   This is why it takes us all being close to the Lord and working toward his spirit upon us to have that inspiration of how to create a loving and inspired ward family.
  Our attitudes towards each other in the ward can have a lasting affect on a person for the whole week.  We can be so energized from our Church experience that it carries over into all areas of our lives. We can also be so traumatized by our church experience that it carries over into all areas of our lives.   When Thursday come around are you dreading looking forward to Sunday or are you excited to gather again with your ward family?   Are you the reason someone doesn't come? Are you the reason someone stays?   Even though our Lord should be the number one reason we go to worship in these buildings with these people we would not be honest with ourselves if we didn't recognize that being surrounded by certain people does have an effect on if we want to be some place.
Image result for diversity in Church
Church is not the place to air your dirty laundry with your neighbor. It is not the place to  voice or share your negative experiences with  Sister Blamwell.  It is not YOUR home and you shouldn't run it as if it is your home.    KEEP YOUR  MOUTH SHUT and accept anyone who enters into the House of the Lord.  Our job is to make sure the all who enter feel the Love of the Father in Heaven through our  interactions with each other.
 There's no better place to heal mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually than a place where people are going to be loving on you.  Church should be that place.

Ain't no love like family love.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

When You Are GoingThrough Hell..... KEEP GOING!

 
First and foremost HAPPY NEW YEAR!
 We enter the new year with promises of a new life.  We're going to get healthy.  We're going to get out of debt. We're going to forgive and forget. We're going back to school.  We're going to get organized. We're going to stop smoking. We're going to start going back to church.   We are going to make it happen.
 
 I have some of those same goals. I made them early on and had already began to incorporate them so they would already be in play when the new year arrived.
  To make a long story short, I've been ill since the 2nd week of November.
  It will continue to recycle until I can get into a specialist. Plans to be back in school this semester have been moved to summer semester. I'm not going to be out of debt anytime this year and plans for doing all the 5k's I wanted aren't looking so great either.
   So I can either pout and go into being pissed and complain about it for the rest of the year or.... I can adjust the plan OR I can make a new plan.   The point is if I sit and complain and poo poo about how the original plan is junked up and stay bitter about it then it's going to be a really bitter year.
 
There have been many times when I have stopped progressing at the first sign of struggle or a challenge.  I think we all have at some point. I've learned that those things are put in place to verify my strength, faith and perseverance.
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A THRILL OF HOPE

 
I'm excited for this holiday season.  The national and local media are riddled with murder and missing persons, political wrong doing, war and rumors of war.  Stepping out of our homes is like stepping into the pages of the book of Revelations. 
Sadly there are family members who will not make it back home at the end of the day due to some horrific incident.  Others will be minding their own business and be acted upon in ways that will literally make the Lord shed tears for his children. We are living in dark and difficult times.  And despite some of our best efforts it seems as if the world is not getting better.
We are a wounded world. We are a world in need of healing.

We are a world struggling to survive morally. We, as a whole, are weary. And when you are weary you do things at a point of survival, not living.

 The world is in Survival mode because we have forgotten how to live.  The days go by slow but the years are flying before us. We are less than a month away from a new year. 2015 is upon us and are we better off than we have been spiritually? Emotionally?

We've taken to blaming the President, Congress and local leaders for the weariness of our nation.  They have very little to do with common courtesy, human kindness, manners, home training and good parenting.  I truly believe the fate of our country lies within the household.  Within MY house hold and within yours, and your family's and our neighbors.  I can't control the world and it's attitudes and actions. But I can control my home.  I have a say in my home. In my home I can get a handle on education and employment. I can discuss gun control and being for or against. I can teach about diversity, different cultures and races and their contribution to the world.  I can reiterate  my moral beliefs on what the media chooses to show and how they choose to spin it.  And because I have the opportunity to parent and teach within my home, in this weary world, I have a thrill of hope! And with each new day is comes a renewal of hope!


I have come to know that if you don't have hope, you really don't have anything.
Home is where we first learn to deal in the world.  We learn manners, obedience, hygiene, responsibility and accountability.  Or that's what we should learn.  We learn it in the home and with our families, how to treat others how to share and negotiate. How to love, fight and forgive.  With a thrill of hope we take these thing from our home into the world with us and we use them properly.  And when it's time to establish our own homes we plant these things into the foundation and pass them on to those in our own house hold.   By teaching these things we cultivate that thrill of hope to our generations.  And by being strong leaders we also become a sort of "thrill of hope!"
There is nothing more hopeful then someone so motivated that their enthusiasm births a call to action! And when we put our hope into action we create change. 

 I guess for me, this holiday season I have feeling the call to create change. To be so enthusiastic about change that I can create that hope in others.

The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the most epic event to bring a call of action.  A gift from God above he sent us a little baby who would  create such a monumental change on the earth that 2,014 years later his life still motivates us to change the world for the better because his birth and death are THE ultimate thrill of hope.  It is through him and his love and grace and mercy that we are able to experience the many miracles that come throughout our lifetime.

If nothing more this holiday season I expect to experience that thrill of hope in the kindnesses we extend to each other.  It's not a requirement to be friends with everyone. But you definitely don't have to be enemies eithers.  Being able to have your differences and dislikes and still act civil brings hope that we can all get along.
I'm excited this holiday season because I have such a welling of hope in my heart that I have a desire to find it. Create it. Share it.
If you don't have hope then you've lost so much more than you'll ever realize. And as long at you wake up each day, even in our weariest state, each day brings hope for the better.



... Long lay the world in sing and error pining
'til he appeared and the soul felt it's worth....

A Thrill of Hope Subway Art





 
 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

AS SISTERS IN ZION....


“THE ERRAND OF ANGLES IS GIVEN TO WOMEN
AND THIS IS A GIFT, AS SISTERS, WE CLAIM
TO DO WHATSOEVER IS GENTLE AND HUMAN
TO CHEER AND TO BLESS IN HUMANITY’S NAME..”
In the history of Los Angeles is a list of diverse women
Last year I, along with a few of my other Black LDS Sister Bloggers, were asked to  express why we felt  the Struggle for being a Black Women in the church was not that of the same struggle as those who were looking to Ordain Women to the Priesthood or to petition to have more women in more visual leadership and speaking roles in the church.
  The Church has women of every kind from all walks of life, with different perspectives and working toward differing causes. However our Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints should at least bring us to the common goal of  supporting, strengthening and cheering each other on in those appropriate times.   No matter what else we do or what differing perspectives we have, if we can understand our differing struggles and  Support and Celebrate each other through them,  then we, as Sisters In Zion, will always be unified  and solid.
   A mere six months ago Myself, as well as a few other  Black LDS Female Bloggers were asked to submit Statements on our Perspective of why  we felt The Struggles of the Mormon Feminist Housewives and Ordain Women were not united with the struggles of the black sisters. Why was their not more support from Black sisters of these two organizations and causes.

    Many of us felt those groups were more geared toward the  White sister of the church because so little mention, if any, of the  racial struggle in the church and how it effects the black sisters is a taboo issue.

   By now almost everyone knows the History of the Church concerning it’s black members, and how  certain blessing on Earth and in Eternity were said to be withheld from the African/African American Race. Finding the true reasoning behind it is even more of a taboo conversation that, thank goodness, more people are now willing to have.
 My black sisters and did our best to educate our bloggers, twitter followers and Facebook fans on things like Wearing Pants to Church and Speaking out about having a Women Pray in a more Popular Session of General Conference.   Even if we didn’t do it ourselves we spread the news, educated those around us. 
  When General Conference came around last Spring and a Sister gave one of the Prayers, Social media lit up with  excitement and praise! I mean my phone, lap top, Tablet and every other gadget I own  that allows social media buzzed and beeped and sang and rang for days regarding this monumental occasion!  PROGRESS, my sisters, and we all worked together!

5 days ago  on September  27th, 2014 our General Conference Season started, as it typically does with our General Women’s session.
For the most part it started as it typically does:
  Prelude Music , Announcement of show is conducting,  which Choir would be singing for that session and so on and so forth.
 Announcements are made The Agenda presented,  The opening hymn was sung and the announcement of the who would be opening up our World Wide General Conference. 
Unbeknownst to the majority of us was a Sister from South Africa who had taken her place in the Red Velvet seats reserved for those who  would have a part I that session of conference. 



Sister  Dorah Mkhabela a member of the LDS Young Women’s General Board, is THE FIRST BLACK Sister to ever pray in a session of General Conference. Not the first Sister Of Color, but the FIRST BLACK SISTER, African Descent. She is also the first black women to be on any General Board of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 
 Given The History in this country and in the church. This is MOMENTOUS!  THIS IS AMAZING. THIS IS HUGE! And  THIS IS HISTORY!

I was reminded of a time in  1978 when I heard on the Radio that President Spencer W Kimball of the LDS Church announced that EVERY  Worthy Mail would be able to receive the priesthood! Because this meant that. 
 So that you can understand the magnitude of this let me explain a few things from my point of view:

Black families have been ripped apart since before they set foot on this land.  We have been torn away from our families in Africa and brought to this country. Then while I this country stolen away and sold from the family. And after slavery, taken away to travels hundreds of miles and states away to find work to provide for a family many would not have the luxury of living in the same home, if the family were to survive. Degraded, demeaned and belittled in a place where thought to be less than human, yet still drafted to fight for the very country that held it’s thumb on their neck while they, trying to survive. This very country partially built with the blood, sweat ,tears and flesh of so many people of color.
  When my family joined the church back in  1972… a church where black people “could never” excel to the point of the highest degree of Heaven, it was baffling.  Until “Could Never”  turned into… “in the Lord’s time.”      And while we waited for “The Lord’s” time, my family pressed on.  With the help and love of our ward family we pressed on in this church.     

 When it came time for my siblings in I to be baptized at the age of 8 we each, in turned, chose a brother from within the ward to guide us into the waters of baptism, while our father sat and humbling watched another man bring his children into the Gospel. He must have felt some kind of way! If I know my father, he was simply just grateful to those ward brothers for accepting the invitation and providing a way for his children, since he could not. I’m sure he felt the same way when having to call upon those men to come to his aide in blessing his family in times of illness and other hardships the family faced.  We had to go outside of he, who should have been partnered in spiritual authority in his own home, to seek out someone else and bring them into our home to partake of those blessings of the priesthood.
    The Brethren in our ward and stake Did “whatsoever is gentle and human!”

   I ask you as a member today, how willing would YOU be to bypass your husband or father to bring another man in your home to bless you and your family? How willing would YOUR husband or father be to do that? You’d probably do it, but I tell you eventually you would begin to feel some kind of way.

In  1978 that long promised day arrived! My father and brothers would then receive the priesthood!    The phone rang off the hook FOR DAYS!! Those on the other line laughed and cried and shouted for joy. They blessed us and thanked Heavenly Father.  What did they care? They already had the gift of the Priesthood in their home!    These are the moments when you know you are loved. When you know you are heard. When you know you are supported because they  “cheered and blessed in humanity’s name!”  I still don’t think that in 36 years we fulfilled all of the dinner invitation we rec’d.
5 Days ago on Saturday September 27, 2014. THIRTY-SIX YEARS after the first black man had the priesthood restored to him, a black woman opened up our General Conference Season with Opening Prayer!  How exciting to share this with my other brothers and sisters of the church!  I expected much like the celebrations of the church membership back in  1978!  Oh, what a mistake that was!  Of course the my Black LDS Sisters would be rejoicing! It is the first time we’ve seen a representation of who we are in those red velvet seats.  What a POWERFUL IMAGE to see Sister Dorah take her place among the leadership.  She not only took her place… she essentially in doing so, RSVP’d a place for the rest of us.  And to those of who have been watching those red seat decade after decade fill with every face but your own, it was an overwhelming state of grace and redemption and Heavenly Father’s love.
But wait…. My gadgets weren’t  buzzing and ringing or beeping or Singing. I went to my black Mormon blogs and they were all afire.  I went to the Ordained Women and  Mormon Feminist Housewives blog, and the places that sought us out 5 months ago to help rally their cause and there was a “woot or two.”   I think quite a few of my Black Sisters were in awe at the lack of support.  After all we had worn pants to church. We had blogged about the push to have women pray in conference.  Some are active on the Ordain Women cause.  So excuse when I ask… WHERE THE HELL ARE OUR WHITE SISTERS????
**CRICKETS**
 Where is their Conversation and Dialogue? Where is their praise and excitement? Where is their sharing and educating of  Our Moment the way we shared and educated theirs? Where is the “CHEERING IN HUMANITY’S NAME?” 
 So we pumped the breaks on our celebration to ask them.. .HEY, where are you? Where is the “go tell it on the mountain” team that came to us six months ago and asked US to “go tell it on the mountain?”  You invited us to help you host this party. And then you bailed on us after your portion of the Grandstanding was finished.   In essence it feels like the we were invited to the big house, only to be left there alone after the main party moved on to another house on the plantation and forget about us.

Having to stop the celebration to educate others about it, turns less  into a celebration and more like the usual let me explain this so you’ll “get it.”   Did it dampen our  Respect for the situation?  Absolutely not! Did it stop OUR celebrating? No, not at all. What it DID do was show us why truly why the Sister in Zion will probably  not be standing together in solidarity for a long, long time. It let us know that if we aren’t in a position to be our own champions or stand up for ourselves we just do not know that we can count on our white sisters to stand up in our behalf.

  
  Until those sisters fighting for Equality in the church begin to SEE US and be included on our Turf, the way we took up their invitation our their turf and treat us as their equals and stand with us, the same way they stand with each other, we will have a difficult time seeing ourselves and benefactors for their cause.   

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments
Hand in Hand

*sigh*

*sigh*
I earned some temporary wings!