Finding Our Unique Purpose

If you were a body part, which would you be? Eyes, mouth, feet? Think for a moment and then check out this guest post I wrote around 1 Cor 12 for “That Which Brings Joy.”

Because sometimes we feel boxed, defined, and even trapped by who we are–or who people think we are.

So . . . what do you do?

Check out the post here: https://thatwhichbringsjoy.com/…/finding-our-unique-purpose/

(Based on the presentation I did for Bloomfield Hills and Westland’s Stake Relief Societies.)

“Much of the confusion we experience in this life comes from not understanding who we are.” – Uchtdorf

 

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MBM: 5 Reasons to Get (or Not Get) Your MFA by Sarah Belliston

March Book Madness hosted by Rebecca Belliston

Welcome to the second day of March Book Madness! (For a complete schedule and explanation, see below this post.)

Today I have my wonderful sister-in-law, critique partner, and friend, Sarah Belliston as a guest presenter. Sarah was one of the first people who read my first manuscript, the first to give me encouragement in writing. Seven years later, her input and suggestions on my writing are invaluable. Plus, she puts up with me in so many ways.

I love her.

Sarah has written several novels and stories and she’s a regular contributor on grammarist.com. She graduated from BYU with a degree in English, and she was recently accepted into an MFA program in Kansas. I’m very excited for her–and me, since I plan to live vicariously through her. :)

So here she is.

5 Reasons To Get Your MFA by Sarah Belliston

5 Reasons to Get (or Not Get) Your MFA by Sarah Belliston

The decision whether or not to get a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a big one. I have helpfully given you 5 reasons to get one, and, not so helpfully, 5 reasons NOT to get one.

Continue reading “MBM: 5 Reasons to Get (or Not Get) Your MFA by Sarah Belliston”

MUSE Online Writers Conference

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If you’re participating in the MUSE Online Writers Conference this week, make sure to stop by my class on VOICE.

Here is the link:

http://themuseonlinewritersconference.com/forum_new/viewforum.php?f=90

The Irony: Why Other Churches Have Endorsed Mitt Romney, But His Own Won’t

(politicizing)


Our family had dinner with some friends after church yesterday. One of my friends asked me what was said about ‘your guy’ during church services.

I wasn’t sure what she meant at first. And then I realized, “Oh. You mean Mitt Romney? Nope. I didn’t hear his name brought up even once during the four hours I was there.”

That surprised her. Considering it was two days before the election, I think it would surprise many not of my faith.

You see, other churches might tell their members to vote for a certain candidate–say, Mitt Romney. And many have. Religious Leaders down the street from me may publicly endorse Mitt, but ironically, his own church, my LDS/Mormon Church, won’t. Nor will its leaders. 

Why? Because the LDS church remains politically neutral.

Politically Neutral.

Period.

Lest, in our zealousness to have the first Mormon President, we Mormons forget that small little fact, our congregation received several letters this year from Church Headquarters reminding us that our faith remains politically neutral.

Officially, there is not and will not be any endorsement of candidates on either side of the aisle.

Period.

Not even when we have a former LDS Stake President (regional leader of around 7-12 congregations) running for President.

Now…

With that said…

The LDS Church strongly encourages their members to be active in the political process. We are asked from the pulpit to research candidates, both local and federal, and make our best informed decision. That is the case this year, as it has been every year. 

What does that mean?

Many Mormons will be voting for Mitt Romney tomorrow. In fact, I’m guessing that the majority of Mormons in America will be voting for Mitt Romney tomorrow. I’m one of them. While I might not have heard his name brought up in church yesterday, that doesn’t mean people weren’t discussing him. It was just done privately. Individually. Not over the pulpit. Officially.

Which also means there are Mormons who won’t be voting for Mitt Romney tomorrow. And that’s okay. I think. (Just kidding. That’s the Republican in me talking. The Mormon in me says it’s okay.)

In the same breath, I hope Mormons who are voting for Mitt are doing so because of his policies and political stances, not because of his religion. I think it’s safe to say Mitt Romney feels the same way, because to do so would, in a way, be violating his/our beliefs.

The LDS Church remains politically neutral.

Here is the official statement from the LDS Newsroom.

The Church does not:

  • Endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms.
  • Allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes.
  • Attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to. This policy applies whether or not a candidate for office is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader.

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The Church does:

  • Encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections.
  • Expect its members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting the fact that members of the Church come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion in partisan political matters.
  • Request candidates for office not to imply that their candidacy or platforms are endorsed by the Church.
  • Reserve the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church.

It’s ironic. The first potential Mormon President will not be endorsed by his own church. I just hope people understand why.

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To read more about LDS political neutrality, go here.

To read my articles on Yahoo! Voices discussing religion and politics, go here.

So…

What are your thoughts on the LDS Church’s stance on political neutrality? Are you for or against it? Should more churches remain politically neutral? If your church encourages you to vote for a certain candidate, do you listen? Comment here.

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Related Articles:

Be Careful Who Your Disdain Targets–Why Romney Would Be A Great President

Mormonism 101

Are Mormons Christians

Prioritizing: It’s As Simple As Rocks and Sand

(prioritizing)

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I’ve been hit and miss on the internet recently. I’ve been hit and miss with writing, too.

Here’s why…

I love those kiddos. Every last one of them. BOY, GIRL, BOY, GIRL, BOY. Ranging from 16 to 4. That’s my five kids. 

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They are my life. (Oh, and my hubby is my life, too. I can’t forget him. ;)  )

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Recently, I gave a lesson to some teens that was as much for me as for them. 

It goes like this:

We have a thousand things vying for our time each day; things that can be categorized into three groups:

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  1. Important things.
  2. Semi-important things.
  3. Not-so-important-but-kinda-fun things...

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The important things in our life are like rocks.

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The semi-important things are like pebbles.

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The not-so-important-but-kinda-fun things are like sand.

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But our day only has so much room.

Like a bottle.

Once it’s filled, it’s filled.

Though we know what’s important to us,

we often throw things into our jar in the wrong order.

The not-so-important-but-kinda-fun things consume half our day,

and suddenly we can’t make it all fit.

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“I don’t have time!”

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But if we put the most important things in first,

schedule family, spirituality, or whatever matters most to us first,

we find time for things we used to “not have the time for.”

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The guilt dies.

The happiness grows.

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(ie: Writing books and interacting with great people on facebook, twitter, and my blog are what I do when my kids, my family, and my priorities don’t need me. NOT VICE VERSA.)

And the best part is,

when we put first things first,

suddenly we realize we can make the other stuff fit, too. 

At worst, we might lose a few grains of sand, but really,

who misses those lost seconds on facebook watching other people live their lives?

If you’re living yours, you won’t.

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So sit down.

Make a list.

Prioritize your life.

Then schedule your days and weeks accordingly.

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Coming from someone who spent a summer putting the rocks in first…(literally)…

…I promise you’ll be happier for it.

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What do you do to put first things first? Any tricks you’ve learned through the years?

Share your thoughts and comments here.

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Are Mormons Christians?

I have another article up on Yahoo! This one is based off an old post of mine that, incidentally, is my most popular post to date. Let me know what you think. And if you like it, I’m hoping you’ll share it. Mormons are Christians.

http://voices.yahoo.com/are-mormons-christians-11477528.html?cat=34

Thanks!

My Mormonism Article on Yahoo

I wrote a post awhile back for my friends and followers about my Mormon faith. It’s now on Yahoo Voices if you want to check it out. Feel free to share.

http://voices.yahoo.com/mormonism-101-11389874.html?cat=34

Third Annual LDS Writer Blogfest: Mormonism 101

(blogging)

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I’m excited to be participating in the 3rdAnnual LDS Writer Blogfest. “LDS” stands for Latter-day Saints, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most people know us as the Mormons (I use LDS/Mormon interchangeably). As part of the blogfest we were given the option of either writing about a favorite speaker from our recent LDS worldwide conference, or to write about our beliefs in general. Since I tweeted quite extensively about the conference, and since many of my friends are not of my faith—blog/twitter/facebook followers as well—I chose to write about my beliefs.

Mitt Romney

With Mitt Romney’s run for US President this year (he’s LDS/Mormon if you didn’t know), it’s been an interesting year for my religion. I live in Michigan where there aren’t an abundance of Mormons. That means I get ample opportunity to talk about who and what we are—as well as who and what we are not. With Mitt Romney as the probable GOP nominee, it’s been great to see how many people have a better and more accurate understanding of Mormons. I love that. However…there are still a lot of misunderstandings and even blatant lies. While I don’t claim to be an expert on the LDS Church, I have been an active, participating member my whole life, so I thought I’d just give a quick overview, in case you’re curious.




Statistics:

1) There are approximately 14 million LDS/Mormons around the world.
2) The LDS church is one of the fastest growing religions in the US and worldwide.
3) It is the fourth largest religious body in the US.
4) Around 55,000 full-time missionaries around the world share our message and serve the community for 18-24 months out of their own pockets.
(There’s a quick list of famous Mormons at the bottom of another post here.)
LDS Scriptures


Beliefs:

The LDS Church is not a Protestant church in the traditional sense, nor is it a break-off of the Catholic Church. Rather it is considered a restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ in New Testament times through a man named Joseph Smith. That means our leadership today is like it was at the time of Christ, with a modern-day prophet, 12 apostles, and local priesthood leaders. 

We have temples throughout the world, we believe in miracles and that the heavens are still open. In fact, we have an open canon of scripture, including the Old and New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and others. Very cool.
Before I run away with myself in excitement, I’ll just quote a few of our official Articles of Faith. (There are 13 total. The full list is here.)

Article of Faith #1) “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” 

We believe they are three separate beings functioning as one unit, the Godhead. This is slightly different than the concept of the Trinity.


Article of Faith #3) “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

I’ve had many people ask me if Mormons are Christians. (I actually wrote a post on this awhile back, read it here.) I will just say a resounding, YES!!! Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and our only way to salvation. We, however, do not believe in the concept of grace alone. Like this Article of Faith states, our salvation comes in part through obedience to his commandments. Like it states in the Book of Mormon, “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Ne 25:23) Or like James said in the New Testament, “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:20)

Are Mormons Christian? YES!


AofF #6) “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

The current prophet and president of the Church is Thomas S. Monson. He has been head of the church since 2008. He, along with two counselors and twelve apostles, lead the Church today.
Thomas S. Monson, Prophet and President of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2008


AofF #9) “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.



AofF #13) “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.


Mormons are known for being family-oriented people. That is in part because we believe the family is more than just an earthly relation. We believe that families can live together as families into the eternities. In other words, when my husband and I were married, we were not wed “until death do us part” but “for time and all eternity.” I love that he’s mine forever. I love that I am not just a mother now, but I will be a mother forever.

LDS Temple in Salt Lake City where couples are married for time and all eternity



Mormons also have a strict chastity law, meaning no sexual relations before marriage, and only complete fidelity after. And if you’re curious about the polygamy thing, it was outlawed in 1890. Groups practicing polygamy are NOT part of the LDS Church. In fact, members are excommunicated if found practicing polygamy. Polygamists belong to their own church, sometimes referred to as Fundamentalist Mormons, but please don’t link us together. It’s not accurate.


Mormons are also well known for our Word of Wisdom law that asks us to avoid alcohol, coffee, tea, drugs, and tobacco in all forms. While that may seem very restrictive, I actually love this law. It means my mind is always my own, if that makes sense.
Anything else? Yeah. About 40,000 pages worth, but that’s a snapshot of my religion according to me. You can read more from our two official church websites: lds.org and mormon.org. Mormon.orgis geared for people who are curious about our religion, where lds.org is geared more for members, but you’re welcome to visit either. You’re also more than welcome to ask me or another Mormon any question you might have. Mormons love talking about our religion and dispelling the myths. As long as you’re not purposely trying to offend us, you won’t. And even then, chances are, we’ve heard it all anyway, so no worries. Ask away.


Anything you want to add? Any questions you have for me?


related articles: Are Mormons Christian?
                           Mitt for Mormonism?


PS: To read more from the LDS Blogfest, here’s the list of participants. I have a lot of reading to do today. :)