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Posts tagged “Heavenly Father

Thursday A.M. – Special Essay #2 – Change

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Taking care of those who need you to be present is a huge responsibility. The Story that keeps me ever present to Heavenly Father, and the work I do in community, comes from Margaret Craven, in her finest work, “I heard the Owl Call my Name.”

It is the story of Mark Bryan. A 26 year old young Anglican priest who is sent by his bishop to the Up Coast of Vancouver British Columbia. To serve in a native village.

The story begins with a conversation between a doctor and the bishop, as the doctor informs the bishop that young Mark is very sick and is going to die. The bishop, in his wisdom, sends him to Kingcome to serve the native community there in that small village.

Mark does not know the particulars, just that the bishop has asked him to go there, because the bishop thought that, if he had a second opportunity, that that is where HE would go.

Mark has to learn the native language before he can teach them his, and that is no easy prospect. But he persists. And over time, the spiritual experiences come to him, through the interactions with the many natives he will call family. He learns about them in order to learn how to love and serve them. And they too, do the same.

The story does not have a happy ending. Suffice to say, that in Mark’s heroic death, the little village honors him with a resting place in their great ceremonial burial ground just off the village.

If I need to know why I am still on this earth is that it is the OWL who calls the man or woman who is to die. Until that owl calls me, I’m not going anywhere…

Segue into Change …

Not long ago, a shift had begun to come into my life. I am hypersensitive to my feelings, and my emotional and mental well being, and my all around looks about town. I’ve gone back to color and my stylist keeps me groomed. I’ve changed up my wardrobe considerably, due to the fact that weight is falling off me on these new meds I am on.

I want to look good, and feel good and look good doing it too. Feeling good has everything to do with looking good… And damned what all my naysayers are saying. This is my life, and life is too precious and short to surround myself with elbows and assholes.

Not Going To Do It …

My friends are of two minds on this topic.

My straight friends look at me and say kind words of encouragement and love. They see who I am and they all know my story, everybody does, who knows me.

50 is a HUGE landmark. Because I am still alive, and will cross that bridge still breathing. I never thought I would get this far. And so I’ve hit another mental and emotional shift.

The first one began when I crossed the 40 mark. Every day, change, and emotion, was documented in the thousands of posts and pages on the this blog.

My gay friends, on the other hand, are not so generous with words. Many of my gay friends, well, almost all of them, are older than me by ten and twenty years.

They are Old. Miserable.

FRUMPY …

I will not go down to Old, Miserable and FRUMPY.

No way Jose …

My critical gay friends do not spare me insults in the rooms, because they love to pick me apart in front of the other members in the room, purposely.

It saddens me that this is happening. And I don’t need to explain my decisions to them because none of them have anything to do with my personal presentation in public.

I know, I am a bit emotional. My spiritual Director is very ill and I am doing everything I can to lift him up and support him, in this very personal journey he is on.

I’ve walked this road myself.

My Elder friend reminds me always that Heavenly Father is right there with us all the way, and that the sacrifice of the cross has brought us the Atonement.

Easter is coming and our Pope Francis encourages us to go out into community and participate and love deeply and serve totally. Because Christ shows us his face, in every single person we know, love and serve.

The coming months are going to be challenging. I just needed to document this shift as it is coming to me right now.

50 is the new 30 I’ve heard.

So I will look 30, when I reach 50, I am already on that path.


Wednesday: Part 2, Covenant – All In

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Tonight’s discussion revolved around Mercy, Grace, and Covenant.

Each of the terms Mercy and Grace has an independent meaning, but the two words are often used interchangeably. Mercy refers both to an attribute of deity and to a universal law that allows a specially qualified third party to pay the penalty of justice on behalf of one who is subject to such a penalty.

Grace, on the other hand, is the means by which mercy enacts many of its miraculous effects, particularly the blessing of the atonement. Grace is a “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ” and is “Made possible by his atoning sacrifice.”

In my life, as sobriety goes, from the very beginning, I know this is true; I would hear a topic, I would listen to a share, I would get to talk about it in discussions, then, God would say, (as if He spoke this) now go home and put this topic or concept into practical use. As in, see how this applies to your life, an figure out how it works for you.

That has been the way it has always gone for me, all these years later. And from the very start, I made covenants to people, and in a way God, because, God as we understand Him, speaks to us in our group conscience.

But let me backtrack first before I explain further.

I have had a handful of “All In” moments in my life. Where I had to make a decision, to throw everything I had at God, my life, my will, and my fears and my pains.

When I entered Seminary at age 19, I believed that a life serving the church, (read:God) was what I was called to do, and so did the men who got me into that seminary. At that young age, I knew that I was ALL IN. Sadly, a man made institution was not ALL IN with me.

Life went on. I would not enter another covenant for many years to come.

When we make a promise, or we speak a vow, or we find ourselves in a situation where, we must rely on another human being for our survival, (read: God) we make a covenant.

For me there are specific instances where I see, in Hindsight, that I made a covenant with someone greater than me, for my survival.

That someone would have been Todd (read: God).

The days prior, when everybody ran from the fire, when sickness came, Todd, in his wisdom ran right into that fire. The only person that walked into that fire, and said that He would care for me. The caveat was, that I would throw everything I had at him, throw my sickness up in the air, and trust that Todd, had my back, which he did.

I believe in my heart of hearts, that on that day, and the days, weeks, months and years that followed, I had made a covenant with God, that I would give Him all I had, and in return He would give me all He had to give me.

I was ALL IN.

I know what that felt like. Practical experience with Mercy, Grace, and Covenant.

God had Mercy on me, I received God’s Grace, through the vehicle of the covenant. I made a solemn declaration to Todd (read:God) that I would trust to my death, everything that I was asked to do, without fail. Neither abandoned me in my time of need.

That was the most important covenant I had ever made with Him.

I survived. I am still alive. By Heavenly Father’s Grace, Love, and Forgiveness

I also know what happened when I broke that covenant with Heavenly Father.

I made a decision, based on greed, the desires of the flesh, and what I felt was my own good. I stepped off the beam. And into the pit of hell. I was there, I know what happened.

I was unrepentant, until the day, Heavenly Father stepped back into my life, not of my own choosing, but because I needed Him, and that decision was made for me, because I did not know any better.

I began my long journey back to Heavenly Father. And it took a LONG time. I don’t know that I had begun to atone for my sins, but that was coming.

When I got to that pivotal day, that I uttered the name of God, and I got on my knees and Prayed for the first time in a long time, that covenant was renewed.

I asked Heavenly Father for help. I threw all of me on the table. I gave it all up to Him. And I swore an oath to Heavenly Father, that I would do whatever He told me to do, and to go where ever He wanted me to go.

Once again, I was ALL IN.

When that covenant was renewed, Heavenly Father opened doors for me that I never knew existed. He put people in my life who led me here. And in thanks, the first thing I did when I got here, was to go to Notre Dame Cathedral in Old Montreal and say Thank You.

When I met my then boyfriend, we knew, we were both ALL IN. Even before we hit that church on the 20th of November 2004, Heavenly Father tested us both to see how ALL IN we really were. We got married and have been ALL IN from the very first moment we spoke.

Fifteen years later, I am on my way, to making the biggest covenants with Heavenly Father I will ever make. Last week, I was given that list. And I came home with that list. And over the last week, Heavenly Father is whittling away everything I need to get rid of in preparation for when those covenants must be made, which will lead me to the day when I reach the Waters.

I told my Missionaries tonight that I was All In. I’ve been all in. And they, in turn, have said that of all the men, in my specific situation, that they have had discussions with, I have come the farthest, in the shortest amount of time.

I know Heavenly Father, (read: GOD) I have heard his voice. And I know that He exists.

I am told, after conversing about Sunday’s observations, people who have been in the church for so long, tend to forget, why they go to church on Sunday and to keep the Sabbath Holy.

They tend to forget about Mercy, Grace and their commitment to covenant.

Getting sober is an act of penitence. It is an act of rehabilitation. It is an act of, in time, of letting go and letting God.In the process of the Steps, we begin to atone for the wrongs we have done, and they people we have hurt.

Twenty two years ago, I made that first covenant that saved my life, I wasn’t so connected to healthy sober people, and I failed in that attempt.

But Heavenly Father was there, I just turned my eyes away from Him.

I began the slow journey back to health. I began to restore my spirit. I began The Work that has continued into my fifteenth year of sobriety. I wanted and prayed for a new experience.

Becoming a Latter Day Saint IS a new experience for sure.

It was Elder Sorenson, who approached me on that platform, he had thrown it all in, and struck up a conversation, which led to Elder Christianson, which led to discussions, which led to tonight.

Joseph Smith had this revelation:

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be they constant companion.”

Doctrines and Covenants 121:45-46

I read this scripture to Elder Christianson. He laughed. He told me a story about himself, and said that my reading this to him was a sign from God. That it was his favorite Scripture.

How does an Elder know that Heavenly Father is at work ?

There are no coincidences. But since we first met, there have been many.

So they are taking their time guiding me to the waters. Sadly Elder Christainson, will leave Montreal on the 22nd of this month. We only have one more discussion together, before a new companion enters the stage.

We are ALL IN.

When you give it all to Heavenly Father, and you do all that you can, Heavenly Father will give you all that He has in return. Mercy comes, Grace is provided, and covenants are blessed, as long as we keep up our end of the deal.

A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things …. It is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.

When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make his sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not, seek his face in vain…

 

 


Tuesday: Part 2, You Can Take a Break

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It is a new day. And it is the most important day of the year in the United States. I cast my vote by absentee ballot a few weeks ago. My ballot is sitting in the hopper in Miami, to be counted this evening. I am told that the Democrats Abroad organization has a very large number of ballots in play, and hopefully, where they are needed, may swing the vote in our favor.

Let Us Pray …

I met with my spiritual God Mother this morning to talk about life. I told her the story and told her about my spiritual journey. And she, like me, has faced adversity. Just a few weeks ago, she was recovering from quadruple bypass heart surgery.

Them are some big words … Quadruple Bypass Surgery.

She survived. Because, like me, God isn’t finished with her yet. And I am truly grateful that she survived that surgery and that she is still in my life today.

We talked program. And we are both on our respective journeys to find God,and in a way, she gave me permission to “Take a Break.” The rooms are there to help us find our Power Greater Than Ourselves. And provides a Bridge to the outside world.

If you do it right, spiritually, and you do The Work, the good way, in time, it may come to pass that one desires to move outwards into the world. Which we have both begun to do ourselves.

She told me that “If this is where I need to be right now so be it. You don’t know how long you are going to be here, and if you have the time to devote to God, then devote time to God. Pay attention, and go where God leads you.”

I know where I am going.

 


Tuesday: Part 1, Keep My Commandments

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In every life, whether we know it or not, for every choice, there will be consequences, either good or bad. To begin to Honor God, in all things, one must make the sacrificial decision to step away from all things earthly, to step away from sin, and to turn one’s faith, trust and hope to Heavenly Father.

It has been made clear to me what SACRIFICE means to me.

In this Life Pivot, I trusted that Heavenly Father would point the way to wholeness and righteousness. Trusting in the words and guidance of my Elders, and the many other Elders and Sisters who know me today, I want what they have.

Wanting what they have, is a common litany phrase used in the rooms. Because we come in broken and shattered, and we learn to love, because others showed up just that day, to love US into Existence.

There is a particular Elder who has joined our group of intrepid Latter Day Saints. In fact, there are a few Elders, who minister to the Chinese community, but they join us on Monday night’s for teaching and fellowship. I have come to love them as I love my Elders who came for me.

I am impressed with each and every young man and woman who is part of our little gang of faithful. They have talents I wish I had, they have lives, I wish I could live, and youth that I wish I still had. So every moment spent with them is blessed.

This may be the last chapter of my story. And I want that story to be Grand.

Tonight, I offered the final sacrifice I know I had to make to Heavenly Father. In order to appreciate the sweet, one must have the bitter. I know what bitter tastes like. I may not always make the right choices, but tonight, I did what I had to do to make good on Heavenly Father’s command to “Keep My Commandments.”

If you cannot sacrifice all for Heavenly Father, and turn all of you over to divinity and sacred living, then you will never inherit Eternal Life.

Whatever holds you to your former life, that which tethers you to earth, that which is of the flesh and the body, you must cut it out. Cleanly. You cannot be honest with God and keep secrets in the shadows, because You know, and Heavenly Father knows.

One cannot believe that cheating on the way to Holiness will work. You cannot half ass your way to spiritual living. Because, day by day, YOU know what choices you made, and what sins you have committed. If you approach God with sin in your heart and on your lips, what does that do for your forgiveness and redemption ?

As Nephi writes … “You did not do all you could do.”

I cannot live with the shadow of wrong choices and sin on my shoulders. Because I kn0w better, I cannot claim, ignorance. With that said …

When I get up tomorrow morning, all will be done.

A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things …. It is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God.

When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make his sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not, seek his face in vain…

How It Works says …

IF YOU WANT WHAT WE HAVE AND ARE WILLING TO GO TO ANY LENGTH TO GET IT, THEN, YOU RE READY TO TAKE CERTAIN STEPS. AT SOME OF THESE WE BALKED, WE THOUGHT WE COULD FIND AN EASIER SOFTER WAY BUT WE COULD NOT. WITH ALL THE EARNESTNESS AT OUR COMMAND WE BEG YOU TO BE FEARLESS AND THOROUGH FROM THE VERY START. SOME OF TRIED TO HOLD ON TO OUR OLD IDEAS AND THE RESULT WAS NIL UNTIL WE LET GO ABSOLUTELY…

Wow … I’ve come full circle. Right now, both these reading ring so very true to this journey of faith.

I’m ready to take certain steps. I’ve taken one very huge step tonight.

Later today, I am having lunch with one of my favorite people on the earth.


Sunday: Part 3, The Many Voices

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After a great day, spent in fellowship, worship and community, I figured that the night would pass without incident.

I was WRONG.

People are concerned for my spiritual welfare, and the couple of my lady friends spent considerable amounts of time tonight, reminding me of my shortcomings and patterns they have observed, or heard me speak of, concerning my past.

When I work my Steps, when I reach Step Nine, the Amends process, I stop. Knowing that it will snow in Hell, before I can get past this step completely. And there is anger in my soul. Anger that I keep in check quite well, save for the odd moment, when the dam bursts and I speak words that I should not.

My spiritual director gave me specific counsel on these topics and I have followed his advice to the letter. I must turn my entire life over to God and allow Him to do what I cannot do for myself. The truth about anger and rage is real. I don’t think I will ever be 100% rid of it, and will probably take them to my grave with me.

Like I really need my friends to point out my shortcomings when it is expedient for them to remind me, which only stokes the fires burning in the pit of my soul. And exacerbates the utter sadness I feel about people who have hurt me terribly.

If we felt nothing, and buried the truth in a lock box, who would we be ?

I admit my truth quite openly. It is no secret, my past. But Must I be constantly reminded of it? It’s like pouring salt into the wounds in my soul ?

I told three people of my spiritual path. My best friend is standing by my side. The other two folks, not so much. I walked away from a community that I could do no more for, and it seemed that God had plans for me, because I am where I am at this very moment.

People are talking about me behind the scenes, because oddly, I got two phone calls that I was not expecting. You know how often your friends think of you, or how they don’t think of you often, when your phone does not ring for weeks and weeks. I tried my hardest to break a silent streak among my friends, to no avail. And now I have to explain why I am walking away from people, who have no concern for my welfare or me in general.

I know what silence speaks of …

So, knowing how fast the adversary comes in and tries to darken my spirits, I turned to my scriptures for advice. It did not take but a few moments to find the words I needed to read.

I did everything I was asked to do this morning, when I got home.

And I did everything I was supposed to do, to make the meeting a success again. And as usual, I locked up the church, and walked home alone. That is also a contentious issue.

I know that people think little of me, when we all walk the same direction home, or to the Metro, which is on the way home, when nobody waits to walk home with me, like they used to. Maybe the gossip I am hearing about me is true …

People have judged me and by their words, and actions or lack of either, speaks volumes.

All I know is that I must trust the Savior to care for me, and for Heavenly Father to take the lead and bring me that which will be fruitful in my life.

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen

2 Nephi 4:35

 


Sunday: Part 1, The Spirit Returned

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I had a conversation with Rafa last night. It seems that we are both running on the same steam, having both spent the better part of last week, in either anger for him, and fear for me.

It was as if, amid my week of spiritual realizations, for some reason, the spirit left me, and for an entire day, I was sunk in a pit of worthlessness, fear, and feeling devastatingly alone, and that Heavenly Father had pulled away from me.

I had not read my scriptures for Friday before I went to bed, and that may have been something I should have done when the darkness began to consume me. In any case, I did go to my scriptures before bed, and I am reading 2 Nephi.

And from Friday’s reading into last nights reading, I have kept God’s commandments, and I have kept the covenants I made with Heavenly Father. Not sure, that I needed a day in the darkness, to be able to extinguish between goodness and darkness.

In the reading Nephi talks about the Garden of Eden, and the fact that, in the garden everything was perfect and untouched, and then the fall occurred which gave contrast to a perfection that had been untouched. For if there was no evil, or no wrong, or no pain, or no struggle, we would not know what perfection and good are, because there was no opposite in existence when Adam and Eve were in the garden.

I know that Heavenly Father loves me and has my back, all the time.

Time to get ready for church.

 


Friday: Part 1, Finding the Better Me on the Other Side

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I did not get a single hit from last night’s post. I imagine that it was not the right moment, and the feeling I have been sitting with is this: I am ok. I am on the way. I know where I am headed.

The last Discussion was about the process to Baptism. But first I need to meet with the Mission President for Quebec, before that can happen.

I’ve been listening to Voices of Hope every day. And they say, in our rooms that, eventually, one day, you will hear someone tell your story. After over a dozen testimonies listened to, I heard a young man tell the story I am living at the moment.

How, being Gay turned out and where that led him. Then, in a fluke of Heavenly Father prompting, he and a friend were in an Asian grocery store, in the Bay Area, and on his way out, a Missionary was walking in.

In a moment, he was enlightened to talk to the missionary. Which led to some questioning who he was, what he was, and how he could find himself, talking with a Missionary.

One conversation led to more Missionaries, which led him to Baptism.

Like myself, he got to the other side of Gay, and is working on finding his better self, through the Atonement and the Gospel and the Savior.

I needed to hear someone talk about this specific journey. What does one do when they find, that they are on the other side of Gay.

Thinking back, if I could talk to my much younger self, I would give him other, better choices to make. More options, that I did not have at the time. There was no other option for me, so I engaged in the gay community.

As my life progressed, I found less and less attraction for the gay community. I found less and less need for the community as well. Because I’ve spent the last fifteen years, living among my straight friends in recovery.

However, I have some gay friends in the room, we don’t hang out, outside the room. And I invite one of my elderly gay friends to holiday dinners here in our home, that is a tradition we have had for several years.

I don’t desire to be with other men. And I really don’t sexualize men in public. I might think, Hey, he’s cute or has a cool haircut, and that is normal. I just don’t LUST after guys like a sick puppy would.

I’ve been married for twelve years, and for the last fifteen years, I have worked on myself and have grown spiritually and soberly. Hubby, on the other hand has not. He is not interested in personal growth beyond his job and his laptop.

So two sober people living under the same roof. One is stagnant, and the other has moved farther along the life road. And now I am here.

On the Other Side of Gay.

I believe Heavenly Father is calling me to my better self.

I want to be Baptized in the Church.

Sunday I am going to church for the first time in ages. I am hoping that will lead to something I really desire.

Connection …


Thursday – Is there anybody out There ?

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I know where I am going. I know where I have been. I know the way out, but I am not quite there yet. It’s like I am standing in front of the door of the church, and the door is closed at the moment, because it hasn’t been opened for me just yet.

There are steps I need to take, and people I need to meet and talk with, before that door is fully opened. I just need someone to talk to, someone to share with, someone who can be there and to listen.

I have heard the warning about “Disclosure,” that Heavenly Father will send the right people to us, when the time is right, and that we should not look to having conversations with people, who won’t necessarily accept or understand the finer details of the story I am living right now.

Right now, I have my sponsor who knows, I have my Elders who I have asked for help from, and for someone to talk to.

This afternoon, I had “The Discussion” with my best friend. He lives in another City, Ottawa, so he isn’t local, and if I want to see him, I have to go to him.

I had not really prepared what I was going to say to him, but I had an idea. I just was not sure that I would have the right words to explain all the details fully, or that I would be able to paint the right picture for him to look at.

He knows me, and he knows my story. We have spent months of Fridays sitting on his back patio, when he lived here, talking through a manuscript that, at one time, I thought would make a good book. I later decided that writing said book, was not a good idea, so I shelved it.

In my story outline were 5 threads. One of them is a Heavenly Father thread.

With that idea firmly sussed out between us, the story I told him made perfect sense. For over an hour we talked, and he did have valid questions, worries, concerns for my spiritual welfare, because he has seen me get burned before, and he does not want to see me get burned again.

He is walking with me. He gets it. It makes sense to him. And he supports this journey.

When I hung up the phone, I was emotionally and spiritually exhausted. In a good way though. I talked about my Testimony of Faith and The Atonement. I’ve studied the Plan for Salvation. Last night, I went over my scripture readings and I prayed.

I sent word to my Elders that I really wanted to know if there was someone who they knew who could be there to listen or to guide.

I listened to another story from Voices of Hope when I got home this evening.

I don’t have a map of the next steps. I don’t know what is going to happen. Or who is going to come into my life right now, to walk with me.

If there is anyone out there, who has time … Contact me. Please.

jeremy1350@gmail.com

You know, I sent two emails out over the past week. Neither of them have been returned.

I have an odd story, I am where I am.

I also know that if I don’t hear Heavenly Father myself, that the next step is to go and listen to someone who knows Heavenly Father, because words might come from them.

He always finds a way …