Saturday, November 4, 2017

It isn't just stuff

Does a toaster have feelings? Well, it's not sentient. It can't make decisions or move. It can't talk. 
Have you ever dropped or bumped, say a toaster, or a lamp, or something, and said sorry to it? Like me, you probably have. You probably chalk it up to the fact that it's your thoughtless reaction because you were taught manners (I hope), and you would do the same thing when you accidentally bump into a person. 

Yet... have you ever felt very connected to a thing? Like a stuffed animal, or an heirloom, or a sweater, pillow, car, tool, maybe even a pair of shoes. 

When I was about 19 I was working in Southern Utah and went on a trip with a friend to the Grand Canyon. We parked my car away from the rim and hiked in to camp for the night. The view was rapturous, and I'll never forget how surreal it was spending the day there. The next morning we hiked back out and once my car was in view I ran to it, embracing what I could of the trunk, and said "I missed you Baby." 
When I relayed this story to my Mom I explained that I knew it was just a big metal thing, but that I really loved it, and felt like my car loved me too. "Is that weird?" I said? She took a minute then said, "Well, all matter has intelligence."

In Doctrine and Covenants (a section added to our scriptures that is a compilation of revelations given during the restoration of Christ's Gospel in the 1800's) in section 131:7-8, we read about how all things were organized in their spirit matter first, then the physical matter was added (what we see with our physical eyes). 

In many religions, such as Hinduism and others, prayers are offered to things such as a banana tree, or a locket with a picture of a saint or guru. 

Another scripture Latter-day Saints (Mormon's) believe says that "all things testify of Christ." (Moses 6:63) 
There's no time I feel more in God's presence than when I am out in nature, in the very essence of raw growth. Truly I can feel the leaves and trees telling me that God is real.

I strongly believe in all things having spirit. I don't completely understand it, but I know that I can feel it. So, when I am attached to a "thing" does it make me materialistic? No. Materialism is not loving a thing, it's loving to have things. There's a difference. When someone pours love into an object, I believe that it feels it and retains it on a spiritual level, with spiritual matter.

I have a small pillow that a youth leader gave to me when I was a teenager. It's a cute Christmas pillow that has a nativity embroidered on it. Well, in the throws of youth many tears were shed into that little pillow, and I felt that it loved me for sharing my sorrows with it, and that it was honored by it. Could it be all in my imagination? Sure. I won't deny the possibility, but I felt that it was true. If there's one thing that is hard to deny, or tell another person it's not true, it's feelings. 

Did you read that book that was trending last year, The Magic of Tidying Up? I did, and loved it. I did vary from some of her instructions, as I think it needs customizing to each person/family. One thing I found interesting is how she mentions that you need to see what things you love, and keep those around you. That each "thing" has an energy and your body will react to that energy and tell you if it should stay or go. 
Could that energy be it's spirit matter, or intelligence? Just like how we react differently to different kinds of people, we get along better with some than others, perhaps it's the same with the items around us? I have had some people in my life that were hard to get along with, roommates even, and we found common ground and ended up good friends. I've also had things be the same way. Clothing that annoyed me, until I found a way to wear it that made me happy. Or, a lamp that just didn't feel right, until I found a good place for it in the house where it felt better. I don't know, maybe. 

Also, I believe that these things retain a lot of our memories, not just that they remind us of our memories, but that they themselves retain them like sponges. Sometimes it makes it hard to get rid of things when I think of it like that, but then, like in the book (The Magic of Tidying Up), I think of it as going to bless another person or family.

So, am I materialistic? I'm sure I am to a degree, but not because of the love I put into things, only because I love to shop. 

~Crystal

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Reconciling Doctrine...

When I was a kid growing up in Mexico my Mom bought this 80's fab journal and helped me write in it for a while. It didn't last too long and then there was a spurt in the late 90's when I used it a bit. It has since been a dormant book until about two years ago when I wanted a journal to write down my thoughts and impressions about things I learned that would help me as a mother, but it quickly evolved into a kind of religious doctrine journal. It has some of my notes, questions, ideas, and discoveries.


When I write in a journal it is very real, unscripted, raw, sometimes thoughtless or forgetful, and above all human. Therefore this will be a little window into my mind. It's a very vulnerable thing to put anything on the internet, or in front of any other person really, but I felt like I should try for some reason unknown to me. I do hope that in some way it might help someone, through hope or understanding, or whatever it might be. It's likely that I'll copy down these notes in posts and save them for a good while until I feel brave/comfortable enough to publish them, but we'll see. I will not be editing them, unless there is something regarding another person's privacy that needs to be removed. There may also be grammar mistakes since that's not at the forefront of my mind when writing in my journal.
Also, just as Hugh Nibley said: I am not responsible for any ideas that are more than several years old (not a direct quote, but close). Things change. Some things I might think I understand, but later I really begin to understand them. 
Also, also, please remember that the majority of any religion (or lack of) is based on faith, so as I discover what I feel are answers please don't tear these things down because I don't have cold hard facts in hand for them, and I am not looking for answers to fill holes and make a complete picture, these are just thoughts and findings. 
Remember Alma 32:21 (Book of Mormon): "...Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."


8/27/15 - 

This has unintentionally become a doctrinal journal as well as what it was before. 

Listening to an episode on the Mormon Channel from the series Mormon Identity, Brent Top (BYU) and Robert Millet discuss the atonement. I have been struggling to understand Christ's Grace more fully. I found a talk by Elder McKonkie which blatantly says that we would be saved by His grace  with out works, but it also says we cannot be saved with out works. I have been so confused over it.

This discussion with Bro. Top and Bro. Millet, I think clarified it for me. They were reading in Jacob chapter 4 & 7 (Book of Mormon). 

They said that if there had been no atonement we would never reunite our souls with our bodies after death and we would be "lost" forever. Not just lost, but lost as in, in Satan's power, and we would become like him. That is why the atonement is a miracle. Because of the fall we had to be redeemed or else become like Satan through the eternities, but Christ's atonement and grace has allowed ALL MEN to be resurrected and redeemed from the transgression of the fall.
Now, works and belief in Christ will redeem us from our own sins in this life, it could never cover Adam's transgression. But belief, repentance, and works, and faith, will allow Christ to save us from our own portion of sin and wickedness. He forgives us freely. I believe those things are also what will "categorize" us, so to say, into our kingdoms. Not grace, but our own works. Salvation is being saved from death, "death hath no sting", that we may be resurrected. Exultation is gained by faith and works (which includes repentance). 

This makes so much more sense now!
And as Rebecca and Ben J. and I were discussing one of the education week classes they attended by Bro. Line (or Lion?), about God's time. There was repentance in the pre-mortal world the same as there is here, and I suppose after death(?). We could repent before we came here because... Well, God is not in linear time like us, his time is all at once, past, present, and future. Thus He already knew Christ would fulfill His mission, we didn't have to hope He would because God could see it as though it had already happened or was happening. Past, present, and future are all one for Him.
As well as God already knows what kingdom of exultation we will go to, BUT - it's still dependent on us to make the choices. There is no pre-destination. He can simply see everything at once. Infinitely.

How amazing! I love learning doctrine!

The other thing we talked about regarding God's time is how He is infinite, with infinite time so He literally has an infinite amount of time to spend on, and with, each of us individually to wait for us, to hear our prayers and answer them. That's how He is omnipresent! Can you imagine His sorrow when He has infinity to spend listening to us and working with us and we don't talk to Him? How sorrowful. It's almost like having a teacher who gives you a test and sits with you while you take it so He can give you the answers, or understanding, or guidance and we determine to do it alone, without even the knowledge of what the whole test encompasses. How great is our God!

- Later, after listening to Part 2 of The Atonement, Mormon Identities.-
"Infinite and eternal sacrifice."
"The son of God is infinite and eternal"
It could only work because the law required the sacrifice of a God; not human or animal.
*3 Nephi 27:17-20, enduring to the end. Verse 21 - We can become like Him because of HIS atonement for our lives.

~Crystal

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sunny Day Chats

The weather has been  BE-A-U-TIFUL! Hooray for spring!!!
I'm pretty sure I willed it here, because winter and I were just not working out (as usual).

Yesterday I took the kids down the street to see if my friend Alexis and her kids were available to hang out. Lucky for me Alexis is the kind of person who is happy to stop what she's doing and visit with whoever drops by, even for hours. Remember when it used to be like that all over? We we sat on the front porch watching the kids play and had wonderful, wonderful chats in the sunshine.

It is so lovely to have a friend that you can talk to about every topic under the sun. I've had several friends like that, and I cherish every one of them, and the conversations we've had. I love learning from each other, and our different points of view.
We happened to talk about everything from chakras, to movies, to stones, writing, and teaching, stress, and more I can't remember at the moment. I love her insights, and she is definitely helping to guide me.

I love that God puts the right people in my life right when I need them. For instance, when Ben and I got married and switched to that stage where you're not going to single's activities anymore, and our friends no longer called, and when we did see them it was sometimes awkward. We were just on different train tracks and so it was different. I prayed that God would send me a friend, a really good girl-friend. Someone I could really talk to.

Well, I auditioned for The King and I at the Hale Center Theater in Gilbert, AZ, and happened to get cast as one of the king's wives. Well, Laura and Bethany also were cast as wives and we all became very close. Bethany and her family ended up moving to Colorado not long after, but Laura and I have stayed the best of friends for years. I miss her so much since we're all the way in up in Utah now. She is also one of those friends who I can talk to about anything, and do.

So, here's a toast to those great friends, who listen and chat, and who drop what they're doing and indulge in those fabulous deep conversations.

~Crystal

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"Look who's back again."

^ A quote from one of my favorite movies, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Ha, I love it.

I've been inspired to come back to my blog because of my fantastic sister-in-law. She's made it a goal to write on her blog every day. Yep, every day. Sometimes it's something short and sweet, sometimes it's more, and I love it. All of it. She's very insightful, and hilarious too. Plus you can't find happily ever after like their's just anywhere. It will make your heart melt.
Check her out at rbdaily.weebly.com

I do love to write, so even if no one reads this I'm fine with that because writing is so therapeutic. My problem,  however, is that I have soooooo much going on in my mind that I tend to go on and on, and on, and on. Then it gets daunting to get ready to sit and write something because I know it'll take a while to get it all down. Well, here's to trying anyway. Hopefully I can keep them a bit shorter and write anyway if I become overwhelmed.

Lately I have been LOVING the Twilight Playlist on Spotify. I recently re-read all the books and watched all the movies (something I do every few years for nostalgia). Yes, yes, I know. So many of my friends, especially book lovers, love to knock that series, but I still love to go back to it every once in a while. So, I was trying to find a song from the second movie, and ironically I found a bunch a new favorite songs, and the one I was looking for wasn't even in there.

Top three new favorites are:

Turning Page, by Sleeping at Last



Requiem on Water, by Imperial Mammoth


- The last one is Flightless Bird, by American Mouth, but I couldn't find a good version on youtube. They all started a little lower than the actual song and it just changed the mood, so go find it on Spotify, then close your eyes and enjoy.

*And a bonus song:*

Shooting the Moon, by OK GO 
Hopefully you already know how talented OK GO is, in so many ways.
This song was so fun, especially in the movie.

It's all been very fitting to my mood as of late. For some reason I've been extra reflective. Mostly about who I am and who I'm supposed to be. How to fit the me I've been into the mold of a mother. I still don't feel like a Mom. Isn't that weird? Sometimes it's like I'm babysitting. I don't feel old enough to be a Mom, but then again, I feel so old sometimes. Especially when I talk to people younger than me. I can hardly talk with teens without cringing, unless they're especially mature. Even when I went back to school two years ago, it was so funny to me to listen and watch these kids that weren't that much younger than me. I was like "Man, I am so an adult now." 

Well, I'll leave it there for today. Until next time.

~Crystal



Sunday, October 23, 2016

Does He take a step back?

(PS, that's not Christian, or anyone I know)

Christian just learned how to walk! Yay!
After he turned one I thought he would start walking, at least a little, but nope. A month went by, two months, three months... then he would walk if someone held his hands, at least for a bit, and he would happily walk while pushing things around, like chairs or a walker toy. Then, a few weeks ago Ben stood him on the floor in the kitchen and stood about three steps away from him with his arms stretched out. I had done that a bunch of times, but he would just sit down and crawl to me. Here Ben was the incentive. Daddy was there waiting with arms wide open and hope in his eyes. Christian took his first steps while holding his father's gaze. After his first strong steps he was met with a big embrace and joyful cries! We celebrated for a minute, and then what do you think Ben did?
He put Christian back on the floor standing up and again scooted back from him to get Christian to walk again.
Why?
Because Ben knew he could do it. Christian knew he could do it too. Ben had put him back in a proper spot, standing upright, not laying down, but once again he took a few steps back and reached out for Christian. This time was different though. This time once Christian got close to him Ben did what every parent does, he scooted back a step or two more so Christian would get the hang of it and proceed to go the distance.

I've been thinking about this lately as I feel that the Lord is stretching me spiritually, which is life, not just spirit. I will start to feel like I'm finally on a good spiritual plane, even the highest I've ever been on before, when after a bit it feel like I'm increasing in distance. In a sense I feel that God has taken a step or two back from me. How frustrating when I have worked hard to get where I was! But I'm not left in a bad place, unless it's from my own faults or rebellion. God has left me standing upright, and still has His arms stretched out for me with hope shining in his eyes. This time I know I can do it, and He knows I can do it (even if I doubt myself from time to time), and he wants to see me walk farther, to improve, to get the motions down and stretch myself, and once I've walked that distance then he'll embrace me with cries of joy and triumph... then I think I can expect that He'll once again put me back down, standing upright and take an extra step back, and each time I thirst more mightily for that embrace and jubilation because with each sacrifice and effort it's so much sweeter and more potent. Because He is my incentive. With all the peace, understanding, and joy that comes with it. And soon I'll be able to walk well on my own, and then even run. Oh joy!
My, oh my, the things that parenting has taught me.

~Crystal

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Forgotten Letter


While dropping off my kids at my parent's house, not long ago, my Mom handed me a folded piece of paper and said, "Something for you to read while you wait for your appointment."

Puzzled, I took it and tucked it into my purse.

I checked in to my appointment and found a seat in the waiting room, then I pulled out the paper. After unfolding it I noticed the date first and began reading. I knew it was a letter from my Mom from when I was a kid, but at first I wasn't quite sure why she had written it. After a while I realized it was a letter she had written to me to read on the plane while I was traveling, by myself, to go stay in Mexico with my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins. I was 11 at the time. I guess she found it while packing.
Hopefully she won't mind me sharing this letter with you. Because of it I have gained a Heavenly insight.

Feb. 18, 1999

Dear Daughter,

Today you are leaving on a big adventure. You have grown up so much, and we are so proud of you. I can hardly believe you are the same person as the little girl that went to Monterrey 5 1/2 years ago, that was so shy and scared to be away from her mommy. You are now quite an independent young lady, even though I know you love us a lot and will miss us.

You may have times when you will get homesick. That's O.K. and it's normal, but don't let it get out of hand. If you feel homesick, do things to take your mind off of it, don't just sit around thinking, because then it just gets worse. In any case, give us a call, or have Danny send me an e-mail telling me to call you at a certain time.

If you have problems with your cousins or your aunt or uncle, you will feel sad, and it will make you miss your family more. Just remember that you also have problems with your Mom and brothers and sister every so often. It's a normal part of life. The important thing is to learn how to solve those problems. Most of them can be solved simply by talking to the person, and sometimes by just apologizing, even if you don't think it was your fault. Talking always helps when someone hurts your feelings.

I know your Spanish will improve a lot while you are in Monterrey. That will be wonderful. It's a skill you don't want to lose. Remember to try hard to speak it as much as you can, but if you really need help with something, Danny and Norma can help you.

Remember to help Tia Norma as much as you can, at the school and at home. I'm sure you can be a big help with your cousins' homework too. When you see Tia Norma fixing dinner, offer to set the table or to help with something. That will make her feel really good about having you in their home, and it will help so there won't be any bad feelings. Remember to do your laundry too.

It's going to be hard having you away for so long. The house will be so quiet. I might have to invite your friends over to have a party, just so it won't be so quiet (just kidding) ;) :)

Have a great time! It's your only chance to be in Monterrey, away from home. Take advantage of the opportunity. Don't forget to call and to write. We want to know everything about what you're doing. 

Love,

Mom


When I first read her letter I thought it was so sweet, and I was again grateful for a thoughtful Mother who was inspired to give good advice to me before my big adventure (I was staying for a month, by the way). Into my purse the note went and then I pulled out my phone to read on the Kindle app for a bit. I've been reading a really great book called "Your Endowment," by Mark Shields, and I began where I had left off which was about how the story of Adam and Eve is taught in the temple so that we will understand that it is not only real, but also symbolic of us as mankind.

Before Adam became a human man he was with God and helped to create the earth. At that time his name was Michael, which means "Who is like God." When his spirit was put into a body on earth he was given a new name, Adam. We use this stage of his identity to symbolize mankind on earth. After he died he was taken to be with God again and he was once again Michael, which again means, "Who is like God." So...

"Michael: Who is like God
Adam: Mankind on Earth
Michael: Who is like God."

In the book Mark Shields says "Using our vocabulary terms, when Adam meets the son of God, he begins his journey back to being Michael." So are we sent from heaven to a fallen world where we strive to become like God and then return to Him.

Anyway, while I was reading all this (and there's SO MUCH, it's very deep and beautiful), I was thinking about the process of when I left my heavenly home with my Heavenly Parents, and gently I was prompted to read Mom's letter again.

I re-read it two more times. The first time I read it in the context of her writing to me as I set off on my adventure of being a wife and a mother, but I read it in a deeper light that really struck me after that.

What if my own Heavenly Father had written this letter to me, or one like it?

Suddenly the words were popping out in such a beautiful, intimate, loving, and longing way. Perhaps it would have read more like this:

Dear Daughter,

Today you are leaving on a big adventure. You have grown up so much, and we are so proud of you. I can hardly believe you are the same person as the little girl that was so shy and scared to be away from her Heavenly Home. You are now quite an independent young lady, even though I know you love us a lot and will miss us.

You may have times when you will get homesick. That's O.K. and it's normal, but don't let it get out of hand. If you feel homesick, do things to take your mind off of it, don't just sit around thinking, because then it just gets worse. In any case, talk to me anytime in prayer.

If you have problems with your parents, or your family or friends, you will feel sad, and it will make you miss your Heavenly Home more. Just remember that you also have problems with your family here every so often. It's a normal part of growing. The important thing is to learn how to solve those problems. That's a big part of why you're going to earth! Most of them can be solved simply by talking to the person, and sometimes by just apologizing, even if you don't think it was your fault. Talking always helps when someone hurts your feelings.

I know your learning and understanding will improve a lot while you are there on earth. That will be wonderful. Those are skills you don't want to lose. Remember to try hard to learn and grow as much as you can, but if you really need help with something, your Mother and Father are there to help you.

Remember to help your Mother, family, and others as much as you can, around you and at home. I'm sure you can be a big help with the learning of those around you too. When you see someone struggling or needing help with something, offer to help. That will make them feel really good about having you around them, and it will help so there won't be any bad feelings. Remember your own responsibilities and to take care of yourself too.

It's going to be hard having you away for so long. The house will be so quiet.

Have a great time! It's your only chance to get a body and be away from home. Take advantage of the opportunity. Don't forget to talk to me often. We want to know everything about what you're doing. 

Love,

Your Heavenly Father


I shared this story in our church's sacrament meeting this month and the holy spirit was so strong as I told my ward family how I felt when I read those words. When I think of the pre-mortal life I kind of picture it as just so full of people everywhere and I suppose subconsciously I figured I kind of wouldn't be missed while I was here on earth, but I know now in my heart that He does miss me. My Heavenly Father misses me. He misses hearing my voice next to Him, asking Him questions, and learning by His side. Perhaps his house in heaven has some quiet places where he often thinks of me and misses hearing me there. I picture Him waiting my whole life to hear my voice speak to Him whenever I remember to, then He feels joy. And I know that as much as He misses me, and misses hearing from me and having me by His side, He also misses you. 

~Crystal

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our Emotional Painkillers

Everyone has pain in their life. No one is devoid of it.
Everyone also has to choose how they are going to react to that pain. Some will become apathetic to it, some will inflict pain on others in efforts to deflect it, some will turn to addictions, and some will turn to God.

There are many types of addictions. Drugs, pornography, sexual, food, etc. And it is now common knowledge that many people will "self-medicate" their problems with these things and more. It has become the most common and popular practice in response to our problems.

We know that there is no way to live pain free lives, or lives without trials and hardships of some kind. Recently I have realized that there is another point to our uphill climb in life. It is not just a test, and it is not just lessons, but it is also a way to determine which direction we will point ourselves each time we meet a boulder in our path.

What I mean to say is that the drawbacks in life give us a chance to say either "I'm going to medicate this pain with something that's not good for me," or "I'm going to give this over to God."

Recently I was on a spiritual high a couple months ago. I was learning incredible doctrine and understanding so many things, and feeling so much love! It was amazing! Then I felt like I was slowly coming down from that high, and then suddenly there were things in my life that I thought were dealt with, but they were coming back to pester and hurt me. I was still doing "everything right" and I was still trying hard to study and understand the gospel and God's word, but why couldn't I still have my spiritual high anymore? Why were hard things happening when I was turning them over to the Lord? I will tell you why. Because it's like choosing between a ladder or a slide. Chutes and Ladders if you will ;)
The ladder leads me to God, high spiritual understanding, and peace with each rung, but I can't just stay on one rung and expect to get higher at the same time. My hard times were God's push to say "Keep going, don't stop, don't get complacent."
To quote our beloved Dumbledore "We must all choose between what is right and what is easy." The slide is what is easy. Self medicating, choosing the filth that is heaped in front of us by that misery-loving serpent, Satan.
If we're not progressing we're regressing. It's that simple. God knows that and wants to help us get higher, but we can't if we stop where we're at. Hard times are a nudge and we decide which direction we will go from that nudge. Study harder, give our hearts, might, mind, and strength more wholly to the Lord and then we learn that the whole time it was exactly what we wanted from the beginning, but we couldn't see it.