[ my faith ]

First and foremost, let me first say that my sharing thoughts about my faith here are not to try and convert you to Mormonism.  In fact, to be completely honest, so many of the "Mormon" bloggers out there drive me a little nuts.  I find so much of what they share on their blogs (or on Facebook) about our faith a bit annoying, weird and sometimes just really pushy.  But since a great deal of what I share here on my blog relates to my faith and testimony...I felt I should maybe share why I choose to live the Mormon faith and how it has blessed my life, my marriage and my family.

More often than not, when I am crafting my blog posts, I inevitably seem to tie them to my faith.  My testimony of the Savior and what He did for me is one of my most prized possessions.  And because of that, I find that the everyday "cupcake and mud puddles" moments of everyday life and how I react to them are tied closely to my faith and belief in the Savior and His Gospel.

I was raised in the Mormon church by two amazing and faithful parents in a small town in East Texas. In fact, just outside of our small town was one of the first Mormon settlements in Texas in a little community called Kelsey.  You can read more about the history of Kelsey by clicking here.  Both my grandmother and my hubby's grandfather grew up in Kelsey.  My grandparents were faithful Latter-Day Saints as well as my great-grandparents. As a kid, I never really realized my religion might set me apart from others until I was in junior high. A guy that I had my first crush on wanted to call me his "girlfriend".  But his parents didn't feel it was a good idea because I was Mormon.  I remember being so heartbroken over this and it was my first "eye-opening" experience of how my faith was so misunderstood and would in fact, set me apart from my peers.

In my late teens and early 20s, I began to make choices that were in conflict with my faith and with what my parents had taught me from a young age.  I had a tug-o-war going on in my heart with regard to my Mormon faith.  I questioned everything that I had been taught and actually resented my parents for bringing me up as a Mormon.  I pretty much turned my back on my religion for several years and my relationship with the Savior.  During these years, I became more and more bitter about a lot of things in my life.  I remember feeling so lost, unsettled, unhappy and distant from my family and the Lord. I rarely attended my church and if I did, it was purely out of obligation to my parents.  I felt guilty when they'd call and remind me to attend my church meetings on a Sunday.  I don't think there was ever a Saturday night or Sunday morning that I didn't get a sweet message from either Mom or Dad lovingly encouraging me to try and catch a Sacrament meeting at my local singles ward.  I so hated letting them down or disappointing them...so I'd usually try and attend a Sacrament meeting here and there to make them happy.  My brother, Brian, who was my roommate in college at the time would go usually go with me to church and we'd sit way at the back and usually bolt as soon as the closing prayer was said.

During this time, I explored other religions. I attended various churches of other denominations with my friends and boyfriend, but I always left feeling as if something was missing--I never left their meetings feeling fulfilled spiritually.  Soon after I graduated from college and began my teaching career, I knew I had a choice to make.  To continue to live my life without my religion and see where it took me or recommit to what I knew in my heart was true and would lead me to greater peace and happiness.  Thankfully, I chose the latter and I've never looked back or regretted it.  I'm truly grateful to my parents and my grandmother who never gave up on me...continued to lovingly encourage me to rekindle my faith and get back active in church again.  Their examples and unconditional love have always been a great blessing to me.

There is no doubt that my faith has deepened and become more important to me as I have aged.  The Mormon faith is not as weird and complicated as so many make it out to be.  Despite what others may say...we are Christians.  We are followers of Jesus Christ and He alone (not Joseph Smith) is the foundation and bedrock of our faith....plain and simple.  My personal relationship with the Savior has become increasingly important to me as I have become a wife and a mother.  While I am far from perfect, I strive daily to follow Him and His teachings... to essentially be a better daughter of God and disciple of Christ.  I find that when I do so, I am able to find greater strength and peace in my life.  I can tell you that I believe in the divinity of the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  I know them to be the word of God. They are truly inspired and when studied on a daily basis, have the potential to provide tremendous strength and direction in our lives. As I make it a priority to study the scriptures on a regular basis, I receive a greater amount of peace and understanding of what my purpose is in this life and why I am here.  And more importantly, I feel closer to my Father in Heaven and the Savior.

Often, when people ask what my faith is and when I share that I am Mormon, they inevitably have a few questions for me --or-- quite  honestly, there is often a LONG and very awkward pause.  I have come to expect  this sort of a reaction because sadly, so many have been taught so many false teachings about our faith.  I commonly respond with this...  I am a Mormon because I love the Lord Jesus Christ.   Having grown up in the South and living in the "Bible belt" most of my life, I have come to expect and am usually prepared for people  to have questions about our faith.  While I wasn't always as patient or confident in defending my faith in my younger days, I am now. I am always grateful for the opportunity to share my beliefs with others and not necessarily to convert them to Mormonism, but to hopefully clarify any misunderstandings they may have about it and to explain why it is so important to me and my family.

I have always been of the opinion that if a person wants to learn something new (particularly when it comes to learning about a religion), you should go directly to the source for the correct information you're seeking.  And so, if you are reading this and have questions about the Mormon faith, I would encourage you to go to our church's official website here.  It's a wonderful resource and will most likely answer most if not all of your questions about our faith.

Without question, my faith provides me a deeper sense of direction, it lifts my soul, strengthens me in my time of need and inspires me to be a better person.  It is what bonds my marriage and my relationships with my husband, children, parents, siblings and those closest to me.  It continues to bring amazing blessings to me personally as well as to my marriage and my family. I honestly feel that I am more optimistic, and more hopeful about my future because of my faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.... we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
~Teilhard de Chardin
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