Glorious God Realizations

I think one of the most glorious God realizations I have had is that God is not some Heavenly Being who hordes “goodies” and dispenses them according to our behavior.  Nope, God is a benevolent giver of all good gifts, he pours them forth abundantly upon all his children, unconditionally, irrespective of their behavior. In fact, God loves and blesses all his creations for GOD IS LOVE. Anyone who says differently simply doesn’t understand.  They must have been taught that God loves his obedient children more than his disobedient children and that he will punish the sinners and withhold blessings till they bring their lives in line with His commands. Naturally, anyone taught to believe in this punitive type of God–one who views their struggles as “sins” that make them unworthy till they repent–would feel “unlovable” and “separate” from the love of God. But we know that there is “nothing that can separate us from the love of God.” NOTHING.

We don’t have to be “obedient” to secure God’s pleasure and blessings. God loves us regardless of our behavior because God is love. There is nothing we can do that will change who he is and his character. We must rid ourselves of erroneous notions. Believe that you are loved. Believe that commandments exist to ensure happiness not to punish. I’d imagine it’s more difficult to feel Spirit moving in you and others when you are inebriated or drugged up. Just like it’s hard for the hangry to be happy when they’re hungry. It seems entirely possible that it would be hard to feel of worth when you prostitute yourself and profane. Anytime you breach your integrity you will feel dissonance. This dissonance is a result of disconnecting from your divine center. Mastering your appetites and passions–so they aren’t your masters– allows you to stay connected to Spirit. Again, it’s hard to tune into higher spiritual frequencies when we are out of sync with the divine within.

So, I guess I just want to express my gratitude for the glorious God realizations I’ve been given. God is love, always. What am I then when I am loving?

God’s Goods are Great

God’s goods are great That’s right! God is SO good and the good’s he delivers are so great! I have been thinking a lot lately about how God is the great giver of all good gifts and how he answers prayers in mysterious ways. The answers, gifts, and goods always come in incredible ways. The scriptures talk about how God answers in his own time and in his own way. I have found this to be true. I have also found that we are not left bereft of music as he orchestrates his Divine Plans. In fact, he blesses our senses with soothing symphonies all along till that climactic crescendo–the moment He opens the windows of Heaven and pours out his blessings upon us in such abundance that we don’t have room enough to receive. The bounty takes our breath away and we sit in awe, spellbound by majesty, magnificence, and beauty of it all.

There was a time when I tried to be the maestro. I thought I knew just what needed to be done to Divinely direct the symphonies of my life. I’ve learned now that I don’t know nearly as much about music and Divine Orchestration as the Master. I’ve learned to let God do the conducting and to sit back and enjoy the unfolding.

I read this quote this morning that really spoke to me:

God always gives his best to those who leave the choice to him.

To me, that means being content to allow God the time and space to answer in his way and in his time. It’s always better this way for I’ve discovered through personal experience that when God does finally deliver, he delivers big time! His gifts are so much greater than we can ever even imagine. I remember feeling this way when I met Matt. He was–and is–so much more than I ever could have even hoped for. I was praying to meet a righteous dude. Who knew that I’d not only find a righteous dude, but one I’m attracted to, who enjoys being active, working hard, playing hard, and praying hard. He is my #1 fan and inspires me to be and do better. I love him and am grateful for him. I still marvel that God brought such an incredibly perfect fit into my life in his time and his way. I’m grateful for his Divine Orchestration, his timing, his music, and his plan every single day.

Just recently, I had another instance where God answered my prayers in a remarkable, his own time, kind of way. I had been praying for the ability to simplify my life. I have been feeling for several years that my work-life balance was out of balance. I loved my work (KickFire), but it felt like it was taking over my life. I was just starting to create some sanity and sacred space when Tyler was diagnosed with brain cancer. Life, which was already crazy busy, became exceedingly worse. I honestly never thought I could get more slammed, until I did. I worked hard to get things back under wraps and I told myself that once I had things reigned back in, I was really going to be done with the insanity. The crisis was past and then, in the Lord’s perfect timing, an incredible job opportunity appeared. It was completely unexpected and totally out of nowhere. It was something that I never before would have entertained, but because of Tyler’s mishap, and work becoming even crazier, I was open to the idea.

The seed was planted and as I thought about the possibilities of leaving my own business to help build someone else’s the thought became delicious to me. I could see it all so clearly now as the perfect answer to my prayers. It wasn’t the way I would have solved my work-life balance problem, it was a solution far beyond my imagination at the time. The position, opportunity, and compensation are all incredible. God’s goods are great! And his Divine Orchestrations are music to my ears. I’m grateful for his conducting and that he didn’t leave me bereft of music while he led me toward the climactic crescendo. I’ll never tire of his soothing symphonies and the ways He leads me, guides me, and walks beside me. Thank you for your great goods God!

Squeezing an Orange

Loved the idea Dr. Dyer conveyed today about squeezing an orange. A woman called into his daily radio show all concerned about her upcoming trip home. Her parents vex her and she sought advice on how not to let them pull her strings. She was so worried that they would bring out the worst in her.

Dr. Dyer explained what I’m going to call The Parable of Squeezing Oranges.

What do you get when you squeeze an orange? It’s impossible to get grape juice. It’s impossible to get grapefruit juice. If you squeeze an orange you get orange juice.

The same is true with people. If you are a loving, kind person, when someone squeezes you, they should get loving kindness. If they get something other than orange juice when they squeeze you, you aren’t an orange.

Here this woman was worried about how her parents would bring out the worst in her and Dr. Dyer so lovingly explained that her parents were only squeezing out what she was. If she wasn’t full of craziness, her parents wouldn’t be able to squeeze that out of her.

This concept reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ teaching about rats in the cellar. If you want to know if there are rats in a cellar you won’t find them when you are in bustling about in the cellar lights on. You are going to discover rats in the cellar when you take them by surprise. You’ve got to fling open the door when they are least prepared.

If oranges are love, then I want to produce orange juice when squeezed.

Which leads me to believe that if God is love, he can’t produce anything but love when squeezed. Which means I can never do anything to produce anything but love from Him. Which means He loves me no matter what. Whew, that’s a relief. There goes a whole lot of pressure.

squeeze an orange

the juice is sweet

squeeze my God

the love runs deep

squeeze myself

what do you see?

loving-kindness?

or bitter seeds?

The title to this poem shall be God is Love

He Handed Me the Story

I feel like God has handed me the Obtineo launch story. I mean after yesterday’s post, I received this picture and audio message from Rebecca:

 

Rebecca left the room while Tyler received therapy and when she returned, she found Tyler teaching the nurse and speech therapist how to play Obtineo. He was promoting troops and Rebecca was like, “What is going on here?” to which Tyler responded, “They wanted me to teach them how to play.”

 

I also woke up this morning with another brilliant idea. The social sharing video must open with Tyler holding Obtineo and looking into the camera as he says: “I love this game!”

Again, I cannot take any credit for this incredible campaign for He handed me the story (He=God). Check out how it all turned out here on our KickStarter page.

Good God

Good God, I am speechless for God’s goodness never ceases to amaze me! He comes through for me every. single. time.

Minus our fellow crewmate T, Cory and I have borne a heavy burden. We’ve been praying for salvation and when we kept feeling drawn time and again to the resume submitted by Mr. Matt Seely, we decided it was divine guidance.

So we figured out a way we could make the numbers work. If we could consolidate our team of many part-time workers into a full-time position, we could offer him a measly start. A start, that if willing, could grow into something bigger. Just like I had to start with little and grow into bigger, as did T, then Cory, this new person would earn by sweat equity.

And so we called Matt on the phone, proposed our offering. It felt like little, but we were not ashamed for it was from whence we had come, plus we knew that if he were worth his weight in gold, his time earning meager would be but a small moment. He understood and we laid the reality of our situation before him. It didn’t dissuade him, but he did need time to consider our proposition for he had various opportunities before him, all much more lucrative than ours.

I got off the phone and told Cory I hoped he would choose us for I really liked him and felt he was just what we needed, but I also didn’t stress it for I knew that if he was the right fit he would choose us. It was this calm assurance that if he wasn’t the right one, God would supply another. I’ve never had this much confidence before. I’ve always believed God would provide and he has, but this time I KNEW it. Deep down in my bones.

With that little background between us, allow me to copy and paste our email exchange. There’s no reason for me to recount it any other way for it is the pinnacle of perfection:

Janelle and Cory,

Thanks so much for the awesome conversation on Tuesday. It was so fun to feel your passion and excitement for what you are doing.

I know I said I would email you tomorrow morning but I’m afraid we are going to be too busy getting out of town. I’ve had no sleep for 38+ hours, we’re getting down to the wire!

My old CEO called me on Wednesday and presented a very enticing offer. Great base salary, full benefits, generous stock options, and a bright future as their Director of Marketing. I’d be crazy not to take their offer; so, call me crazy.

You guys got me so excited about KickFire! I have been itching to dive into this side of Marketing for a long time. Going back to my previous employers would be a repetition of skills I’ve already acquired. With KickFire, I will use the skills I’ve acquired, but also enter the University of Janelle and Cory to learn and grow, and that sounds amazing. 

I would love to be a support to you guys to get your company back to where it was and then work together to keep taking it further. I’m not sure how your conversation went with your accountant, but it would be awesome to come home to my inbox full of training emails. J

Please let me know if you need anything from me and I’ll wait to hear from you. Thanks!

 All the best,

Matt

and here is my reply:

I wish you could have heard me and Cory squealing and laughing with joy last night when at 10:30 pm we read your message! I called him on the phone and we had a celebration!

I have to tell you that we have both been praying for miracles as we navigate this time of transition and the Good Lord has kept them coming. You are another case in point. I cannot thank you, nor God, enough. 

I really am just thrilled beyond measure! The scriptures often speak of the inadequacy of words. On more than one occasion they too have failed me. Today is one of those days.

So, I’ll do my best to say what’s in my heart which is: 

Welcome aboard! I can attest that you are among good company for all of us here are probably certifiably crazy!  But ’tis the crazy ones that have the most fun! Plus, a wise man once said, “You need a little insanity to do great things!” also, “Dreams, if they are any good, are always a little bit crazy!” and finally, my favorite crazy quote:

The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do!

So BRING ON THE CRAZY!

Matt, have the most wonderful day tomorrow! Marriage ROCKS! We love your wife as much as we love you for she consented to your becoming the newest member of the KickFire Crew. Please welcome her to the crazy train on our behalf. Please send pictures and please tell us her name!

We will have a nicely organized itinerary awaiting you upon your return. I CANNOT WAIT! You have already enthused us beyond measure. Hugs, kisses and God’s greatest blessings showering down upon your priceless head!

p.s. Your email was perfectly composed. Just the right amount of suspension. My heart did a little dip when I thought it was a declination email. .. then you turned the tables and it was quite the trip. Bless your email and copywriting genius! You were born for this Crew and no doubt you have “come to the kingdom for such a time as this!”

Thank you, God, for your goodness. I don’t deserve it, but I sure appreciate you Good God. Amen and Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!

Teamwork

Today was a teamwork day that turned out pretty epic! We have all been working tirelessly to try to get Tyler home. Our flight attempts have all been thwarted and Rebecca called me in tears Wednesday morning saying they needed $80K more to get Tyler home by Sunday or else he would have to remain in Italy for the treatments. I told her I was on it and that I knew God would provide and the Universe would supply. And then I put it in God’s hand and boy did he deliver.

Bodie, our web designer, made a video that Cory and I helped fine tune before posting to all our social sites. Everyone started sharing it:

Overnight the video helped us raise an additional $15k. Today my phone started ringing and reporters from ABC and NBC were requesting interviews. I was able to connect KSL with Rebecca in Italy for a Facetime interview as well as receive channel 4 news into my home for an interview here.

Glen will be face timing Rebecca tomorrow at noon and the story will air tomorrow night. KSL’s story aired tonight already and $10k more has come in. They did an amazing job on the story:

https://www.ksl.com/?sid=45719679&nid=148&title=farmington-family-seeks-help-getting-dad-home-following-overseas-cancer-diagnosis

It has been incredible to watch it all come together. The Lord has inspired individuals to help in remarkable ways. Tyler will come home. I can’t wait to see him. I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t one of our finest marketing moments. Who knows but we came to the Kingdom but for such a time as this!

 

Meeting of the Minds

Today at quarter past noon, I meet with my Bishop for what I’m calling a meeting of the minds.

Last week, after I told the Sunday School President that I could no longer teach the Temple Class, the Bishop’s secretary texted me asking me to come meet with the Bishop.

A few days before our meeting, the Bishop emailed me two talks and asked me to read them prior to Sunday. The talks were about accepting and magnifying callings.

I re-read the talks as they were ones I was already familiar with as I had heard them both during the April 2017 General Conference of the Church. Elder Clayton and Elder Bednar both spoke about the importance of accepting and magnifying callings. The Bishop must have been under the impression that I simply didn’t like my calling and wanted a new one. That, however, was not the case. And the Bishop clearly had no idea concerning my situation.

Before I begin recounting the details of our conversation, allow me to say that I do love my Bishop. He’s a really great guy with a heart as good as gold. I’m sure there are a million other things he’d rather be doing in his spare time than being a Bishop of a Mormon congregation. What a service and what a sacrifice.

Okay, so to our meeting. It went well. Bishop began by asking me what I thought of the talks. I told him I thought they were great, but that the reason I had told the Sunday School President I could no longer teach the Temple class wasn’t because I didn’t like my calling and wanted a different one, but was because I didn’t believe what I was teaching and that I personally could not stand before others and teach something I did not believe in.

He didn’t act shocked. In fact, I was surprised at how well he handled the revelation. I told him that what I was about to summarize in 30 seconds was something I had been struggling with for quite some time and something that I felt I could no longer suppress. I told him I didn’t believe our church to be the only true church upon the earth.

I shared my vehicle analogy. The one wherein I compare institutionalized religions to vehicles making their way back to God. I explained that I believe God doesn’t much care whether you are driving a Ford or a Honda–He cares that you are moving toward Him, essentially striving to make your way back to Him and help others along the way.

In fact, He doesn’t even care if you travel the highway of life in a vehicle. If you want or need the pre-packaged, ready made meal institutionalized religion provides in order to worship and serve God–then pick the meal you feel will most please your palate and dig in.

And if ready made meals aren’t your style and you feel like footin’ it back to God rather than driving, lace up your shoes and run with it! Not everyone requires–nor desires–the scaffolding organized religion provides. Not everyone needs ready made programs, rites, and rituals in order to lead spiritual, God-like lives.

Next, I told Him how I feel about temple worship, ordinances, polygamy, gays and transgenders, and the former church policies about race and the priesthood. Honestly, I didn’t do much talking. He did. He testified and shared his beliefs with me. He confessed to a lot of “I don’t know,” and then we talked about how the men who lead the church are not perfect and make mistakes. In fact, the Bishop works for the church as a facilities manager and he shared a story about when President Monson called him up and chewed him out for not having hot water. He said he knew in that moment that Thomas S. Monson was acting as a man and not as a prophet.

The Bishop didn’t have any new insights or information I hadn’t already considered. In fact, listening to him share his beliefs and contradict himself in many ways made me realize what I already knew to be true–we all have our own beliefs. He asked me if I knew what his personal belief on polygamy was? I said no. He asked me if I knew what his personal belief on blacks and the priesthood is? I said no. He said, “See, you don’t need to know what I personally believe, but I come here and worship the same.” For me, that wasn’t a compelling argument. It just made me feel like we are all a bunch of disingenuous persons pretending to subscribe to doctrines and beliefs that we don’t really personally believe.

To me, that isn’t living with integrity. I want to worship with people that I can share my beliefs with. And when I say “share” I don’t mean that we both have to hold the same beliefs. What I mean is that I want to be able to speak freely about what I believe and not worry about whether expressing my beliefs will cause you doubt or destroy your faith. Likewise, I want others to be able to freely share what they personally believe. Yes, I would have rather heard what my Bishop personally believed about polygamy and blacks and the priesthood than to just hear him insinuate that he doesn’t agree with them either.  For me, walking around keeping my mouth shut for fear that what I say may cause someone else to doubt what their organized religion or faith culture teaches is not an option. I am a teacher. God planted that seed in my soul. Therefore, I have a burning desire to teach that which I’m studying or coming to know.

I cannot include all of our conversation simply because I want to go eat dinner. But another thing he did say that I want to mention is how he spoke of there being no church in heaven. I really liked that because I feel it supports my belief that we don’t really need one true church here either. What we really do need is more love, compassion, and service–more love for God and our fellow man. Churches can help people do that, but many times, especially when they focus on preaching that they are the only true church, it causes more division and dissension than it does love and unity.

I agree with the Dahli Llama who said if we took all children at the age of 5 years old and had them meditate for one hour on compassion, we would eliminate in just one generation all violence, hate, and injustice. Peace would prevail by simply teaching children how to love one another. Compassion meditations can be done by anyone. Man and Woman alike. Not one above the other. No need for priestly robes and vestitures, or ordinances, covenants or crusades.

I concluded the meeting by asking if he would like me to turn in my temple recommend. He said I could keep it because he didn’t see that I was doing anything wrong. He blessed me in my quest for truth and told me that he trusted me to know whether I could or should use it. I told him it expired in Oct anyway and that at this time I didn’t feel I would be coming back in to renew it as I couldn’t pass the question about whether I believed this to be the only true church on the earth. I also told him that I was living all the other commandments as I felt they were a great way to live. I didn’t say that I may start paying 10% elsewhere simply because right now I don’t have the time to investigate other good causes to give 10% of my income to and I believe 100% in the law of tithing. So for now, I’ll continue to pay my tithing to the LDS organization.

The Bishop didn’t say whether he would release me. I think he thinks I’m going to get some answers in the next week or two. I told him I’m totally open to being wrong and having the Lord correct me. I explained that I pray every day to be led in truth and light as it’s my greatest desire. But I also confessed that the more I study other religions, the more I realize I don’t really even like the Mormon version of Heaven. I said I had no desire to be a plural wife of a man in Heaven and to birth babies to populate worlds wherein I do temple work all day. I said I’d rather be in Hell than a harem. 🙂

It was a lovely day. A weight has been lifted off my heart. I feel square before God, but now I face another conundrum. What do I tell everyone else when they ask me about my class and my calling? I left after sacrament because I cannot tell a lie. If anyone were to ask me I would simply reply, “I am no longer teaching that class because I don’t believe it.” See, that’s not good either. I don’t know what to do. And the other problem I see is that if I teach others what I believe about organized religion and start openly sharing my beliefs, I could be excommunicated. I guess I shouldn’t care if I don’t believe it, but I want to be able to sit with my family at church on Sunday. But I guess I can get over that too.

I’ll write later about the great conversations I’ve had with the kids as I explained to them my situation and why I was meeting with the Bishop. Stay tuned and later I promise to share our family meeting of the minds.

Of Minions and Men

Of Minions and Men sounded fun because it reminds me of the classic Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck. Anyhow, this will be a short post. Last week I went for my morning walk and discovered this lone minion at the park.

It made me smile because my kiddos love minions and I knew they’d love the surprise. I took it as a fun gift from God and gave it to the kids. They were only sad that there was only one. Well imagine my delight when Monday I discovered these two minions at the same park:

It was like God opening up the windows of heaven and pouring down a blessing upon my head, I barely had room to receive it as my hands were full with my book, leash and poop bags. God never ceases to amaze me. He’s involved in the details. He’s concerned with his minions. 😉

Walt Whitman | Song of Myself | Part 48

I discovered this poem today by Walt Whitman called Song of Myself Part 48:

I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his
own funeral drest in his shroud,
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of
the earth,
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod
confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young man
following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the
wheel’d universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool
and composed before a million universes.

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God
not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than
myself.

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and
each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own
face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is
sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that
wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

My favorite lines have to be :

And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of
the earth,

I hear and behold God in every object

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and
each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own
face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is
sign’d by God’s name,

For these are the ones that resonate most with me.

Happy Endings

Check out this quote about happy endings by famous author and actor Orson Welles:

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

Isn’t that so true? It reminds me of the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence which states: “change or impermanence is the essential characteristic of all phenomenal existence.” The late Buddhist Monk, Bhikkhu Ñanamoli, said it even simpler:

Whatever IS will be WAS.

Essentially,

This too shall pass.

Life is a rollercoaster. We have ups and downs, twists and turns. If the ride suddenly stopped in the middle of a loop leaving you suspended upside down, you’d most likely scream in terror. If, however, the sudden stop left you in the bottom of a trough, you’d probably feel pretty safe and serene.

When we realize that nothing in life is permanent and that “this too shall pass,” we can face our challenges with optimism knowing that better days are ahead. Likewise, when all is well, we can prepare for hard times knowing that they too surely will come.

And while I like and understand what Mr. Welles is saying, what if we could somehow control where our story ends, thereby ensuring a happy ending?

Perhaps, however, that’s not the right line of thinking. In fact, the more I ponder, the more I realize that ensuring happy endings isn’t so much about where you Stop Your Story, but how you Enjoy Your Journey.

Buckling in and being fully present as you catapult through the many loops and swirls–screaming, laughing, crying, and feeling the thrill, chills and “holy shitness” of it all–EYES FREAKING WIDE OPEN–Now what if this is what happy endings are all about?

I’m going to trust the stopping of the story to the Roller Coaster Operator while I focus on fully enjoying the ride.