July 2014 ~ Dear Miss Mormon

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What is the role of women in the Mormon church?

Dear Friend,
Sometimes I think people picture the typical Mormon woman looking like a 50's housewife. You know, apron on, hair done, lipstick perfectly applied, pulling out a perfect cherry pie from the oven, with not even a shine on her forehead.

Well guess what---I've never gotten the top crust just right and I don't wear lipstick.

(If that were the only role we had to play as Mormon women I'd be a terrible Mormon.)
When friends of mine have realized that some of the roles and responsibilities men and women play in the church are different, the feminist movement kicks in full gear and they feel they need to reassure me that just like Rosie the Riveter; "I can do it!"
They're ready to take up posters and pickets for life, liberty, and the pursuit of Mormon equality. Its then that I have to quickly explain that we are equal, in fact, instead of feeling depreciated and under-valued, I feel like I'm given plenty of opportunities to serve--trust me, just as many as any man in the church.
I recognize the need for equality and I love my rights just as much as the next person, but I've also found that just as important as being equals is being equally appreciated. The church allows us to serve equally but in different capacities; playing to our strengths and perfecting our weaknesses.
So this post is not meant to be an "anything you can do I can do better" montage, the way I understand it is this: When each person; male or female, is baptized they agree to "mourn with those that mourn" and "comfort those who stand in need of comfort" the expectations are the same no matter what your chromosomes are.
I watched my parents for years carry out very different assignments in the church. From an outsider's perspective it would appear that my dad worked with scouts and my mom worked with young women ages 12-18. But what people probably wouldn't see was how my parents helped and supported each other, ensuring that all persons involved were loved, attended to and cared for. You might feel we are limited by the system of delegation in place, but in reality, we don't segregate; we divide...and we conquer.

So throw away your idea of the 50's housewife along with your pickets and posters and take a look at Real Life Mormon Women.

With much love,
Miss Mormon

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What is repentance?

Dear friend,
Have you ever heard of the parable of the prodigal son?

Well meet prodigal Miss Mormon.

In this case the story is a little different, I (being the main character--the protagonist if you will) was born to "goodly parents"  both kind and dear. I was loved and taught and given all the spiritual resources necessary to be a spiritual muscleman.
Now, I have to warn you, if you're looking for or expecting this to be a dramatic, nail-biting, cliff-hanger of a story you'll be disappointed. I never did anything crazy, I never really fell away or stumbled so hard as to sleep with swine, I never so much as got kicked out.
However, there have been times when I, figuratively speaking, demanded my inheritance, left the place where I could have been happy and ventured off to squander and throw away the spiritual blessings my Father was trying to give me. So many times in life I have made mistakes, thinking foolishly that I knew best or simply not thinking at all. Too many times I forgot who I was and lashed out with a sharp tongue or turned my back on someone in need.

Sometimes I have been very, very prodigal.

But every time, without fail, when I have realized the error of my ways; when I have been worn down and hurt by my own silly choices and gathered the courage to come running back and willing to change; my Heavenly Father has always welcomed me back with open arms.
We all play the prodigal son or daughter at one point or another on the stage of life. The process we go through to change from the prodigal child to a child of God is called repentance.
With that statement, I feel the need to clear some things up:

Repentance is NOT public shaming
Repentance is NOT a guilt trip
Repentance is NOT a punishment
Repentance is the road back home, the means by which we can heal, and we can be forgiven. Repentance is the process that we go through; through prayer and a desire to change in order to reach our potential...aka to receive our inheritance. We can't be forced to repent, it has to start with us turning around to take the first step back toward the reward that we foolishly left.

 Don't be afraid of repentance; its the road headed somewhere instead of just in circles. Sometimes its longer and sometimes its shorter; but it always leads to the same destination...home.

With much love,
Miss Mormon

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Can I be forgiven?

Dear friend,
  For years I would pray asking to be forgiven but was never really sure if I was. My fear was I would die and quickly walk up to the judgement bar excited to hear my verdict only to find that I had never repented fully or correctly and therefore had never been forgiven.
This was a legitimate fear for me and I wasn't quite sure how to resolve it. I think the answer finally came when I understood repentance. That, however, is a whole other topic and one that we'll save for another day.
Today lets focus on perhaps not how we're forgiven, but why and by who. Forgiveness is something we can only ask for, there is no coercion, no bribery or trickery that can win the prize, it is up to God to decide.
I have met so many people though that become their own stumbling block; that cow in the middle of the road that creates a 3 hour wait. They get in their own way of being forgiven because they don't feel worthy of forgiveness. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like you've gone too far, screwed up too bad, fallen too low?
Dude, don't be the cow!
There's a story about a young father and his even younger son. His son had been warned multiple times but after refusing to heed the warnings he had received, the boy was sent to his room and told "to not come out until [his father] said so!" Well, the newspaper attracted the young father's attention and pretty soon  he forgot the whole thing--including his son's release time. After hours had passed he heard the door to his son's room slowly open. Realizing he had forgotten all about his son, he hit his forehead, jumped up out of his seat and ran to the hallway to meet him. There stood his young son with tear-stained cheeks, he looked up at his dad with tears still in his eyes and said: "Dad, can we ever be friends again?" The young father took his even younger son in his arms and hugged him tightly. Sometimes we do things that leave us aching for forgiveness, sometimes we too ask "Father, can we ever be friends again?" I promise His answer will always be yes. Parents are apt to forgive their children's mistakes, how can we expect our Heavenly Father to be any different? 

"If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things* to them that ask him?" (Matt 7:11) *emphasis added

There is a reason why the scriptures describe Christ's sacrifice as an "infinite Atonement", there is no point of no return, we can all be forgiven and live with God again because He loves us. If you have fears like those I voiced before about not being forgiven, rest assured you're on the right track because you have a desire to be forgiven, now keep going, get off the road... the grass is greener on the other side.

With much love,
Miss Mormon

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Do Mormons pray? And if so, how do you pray?

Dear friend,
One of my favorite explanations of prayer is: "as soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part...Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought in to correspondence with each other." The more I travel around meeting people, the more I notice how people today seem to lack an understanding of prayer and revelation. So today I want to present to you "Miss Mormon's 10 steps closer to God" these are the things I do when I want to have a conversation with my Heavenly Father and trust me it works!
Miss Mormon's 10 steps closer to God
1.) go somewhere quiet
2.) kneel to pray
3.) think about what you're going to say before you begin
4.) say your prayer out loud...its ok, no one but God can hear you :)
5.) start your prayer by addressing God "Heavenly Father..."
6.) thank Him first for the things you're grateful for
7.) then ask Him your question(s)
8.) express any and all feelings you're having, talk to Him like you would your best friend
9.) close in the name of Jesus Christ "...I say all this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen"
10.) and then--and this is really important--sit there and just listen to the thoughts and feelings you get, don't doubt them, just listen.

I went through this process with a young friend of mine. She wasn't familiar with prayer when I first met her, but we explained these steps to her and then asked her about it every week. In one of our visits I asked her a few questions about her most recent experience, she smiled shyly and said: "every time I pray I get this warm, tingly feeling in my heart and it feels so good." as she continued to pray more and more, the feeling began to replace her old, bad feelings and she developed her very own relationship with Heavenly Father.
I have written so many responses to questions that revolve around prayer. Prayer is an essential part of overcoming trials, receiving blessings and removing doubt. Prayer is how we come to know God. Some of my favorite, most sacred experiences have occurred on my knees in humble prayer. I love to answer questions, I love to share what I've come to find out through my own experiences, but in the end I want all my friends to know where they can turn for any and all questions--and its definitely not Miss Mormon

With much love,
Miss Mormon

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5)

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Do Mormons believe in Hell?

Dear Friend,
  Time and time again people have tried, with sincere concern, to save me. As we talk they recognize me to be a nice mormon girl, but nonetheless...a mormon. They see my future to be that of vast fiery lakes, putrid smoke, and raining brimstone.

Good thing the nice mormon girl knows better :)

  I've met so many people concerned with Hell. More than being focused on God's love and desiring to return to live with Him, they seem driven by a fear of the eternal pit of despair. They admittedly don't know much about it but what they do know makes them resolved not to go there. It seems the people I talk to are convinced that a very small number of us will make it to Heaven and the majority will head straight to Hades. Do not pass go... do not collect $200. This is false.
  Who plans a trip so expensive that only 2 of the 20 people invited can actually go? Why would God create a plan so impossible almost none of His children can succeed? Our Heavenly Father is a very just God, fair and equal in all things, but we can't forget one thing...that He LOVES us! When Christ came to earth He tried to explain: "In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you" (John 14:2).
  We all lead lives of varying degrees of righteousness, like shades on a spectrum its not as simple as black and white. Based upon what we do here on earth we will inherit some degree of glory, or reward from our Heavenly Father. The scriptures compare it to the brightness of the sun, the moon, and the stars (1 Cor 15:41). Each gives off some light, but clearly the sun is the brightest--thats the one we're striving for. No where does it list the brightness of coal as an option. Coal isn't listed because God's plan is perfect and He sent His son to be our Savior, to save us from our mistakes and to keep us progressing back to live with Him. In other words, does some state of existence match the description of Hell? Yes. But none of us have reservations being held for us there. Our Heavenly Father's plan is designed and set up with success in mind, not failure. I don't know about you but this nice mormon girl feels pretty good about that!

With Much Love,
Miss Mormon

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