God’s Tiers of Learning – Tier 1

When the Israelites left Egypt, they had been in living in captivity for centuries. They were not an enlightened people, they had just begun the first step on the path of recovery from all the bad habits and thought distortions that had helped them survive the worst conditions imaginable. These habits and mental justifications become ingrained so deeply, that tens of thousands of the Israelites chose to perish in the wilderness rather than accept a new, higher code of conduct.

How often do we see this pattern repeated around us? So many loved ones and friends would rather cling to the justifications for their behaviors rather than accept the work required in following Christ (or any great religious teacher at this point). Much of our current culture is bending over backwards to rationalize their desire to “do away” with religion, morality, and God in their lives.

This poisonous mindset did not work out well for the Israelites in the desert, and someday soon, it will work just as badly for the sad milllions around the world. I have not counted the number of times the Israelites were given a chance to follow a simple commandment, and chose to suffer death instead. I can only imagine the heartbreak and frustration God felt while watching this play out over and over. Whether it was looking up at the brazen serpent, or not going into Canaan after they complained that it would be too hard. Again and again, they fell by thousands and tens of thousands to the natural consequences of their disobedience.

God, in His long-suffering nature, suffered with them through this painful transition time. Recognizing their spiritual weakness, He gave them strict, but simple commandments. These commandments, the Ten overarching ones, along with the many daily and habitual ones, are commonly referred to as the Law of Moses.

The Law of Moses, especially the Ten Commandments, were designed by God to bring His people, then and now, out of slavery. How can we relate to this slavery? Slavery is the complete loss of freedom, the inability to choose for yourself any of the basic decisions like; where you will sleep, what you will eat, etc. When we allow ourselves to be led astray by temptations and addictions, we bind ourselves in a form of slavery to our carnal nature. Take a moment to envision how the following choices can limit our options and restrict our freedom to act for ourselves:

  • Alcoholism
  • Gluttony
  • Violence against others
  • Vandalism, theft
  • Drug addiction
  • Pornography
  • Insert your own ideas

The path back out of the bondage from these choices is never easy. Even the laws of man recognize the need for rehabilitation clinics and psychologists and a myriad of social services to aid people back into a state of freedom. God set out His plan for the path to recovery thousands of years ago. He guided the Israelites lovingly, patiently through the desert of rehabilitation; sometimes with harsh interventions, but always, every day, letting them know that He was present.

The lessons He taught them, the commandments He gave them, were designed to bring them out of captivity, not just their bodies, but their minds and spirits as well. The liberation of their minds and spirits was a much longer process than their bodies, but He stayed with them, guiding them as a loving parent, throughout the process. Until finally, they were a people prepared to establish a great nation in the promised land.

As we work to establish ourselves in an “American Dream” or other such vision of success, let us study the first tier of learning set out by our loving Father in Heaven. Study the Ten Commandments and the journey of the disobedient Israelites, and we can find our own Promised Land.

More on the Tiers of Learning to come.

Blessings,
Sarah

Photo by Zulmaury Saavedra on Unsplash

Dangerous Depths of Discouragement

I am not as emotionally robust as many others I know, especially when it comes to my own work.

I have researched deeply and I know that disappointment and discouragement are a normal part of any writer’s journey. But knowing something intellectually, and preparing your heart for the attack, are very different ballgames. I can prepare my mind with relative ease, but my heart is a strange mystery to me.

I have studied my heart from every angle, and most of the time I convince myself that I have it well-understood. But then I can look back at patterns of avoidance and discouragement, and I realize my heart has been steering me away from a wound and I was oblivious.

This is where I am now, I have been avoiding writing for about a year now, because I just don’t have the emotional robustness that this path needs…

Does that mean my stories and story-ideas should be abandoned?
Of course not!
But I guess I needed a break.

Perhaps I won’t ever be published, I’ll have to console myself that I had good ideas, but not the right personality type to bounce back well enough to sell them. I’m not a salesman. I’m just me.

Maybe I’ll grow stronger in the future (this is always my hope)…

Blessings and Hopes that you are stronger,
Sarah

Coming to Terms With Big Changes

Hi there!

I haven’t posted for awhile because life happened and it’s taken me awhile to process it. Basically, my husband and I sat down with our family budget and realized that we couldn’t wait any longer for my books, blog, etc. to generate income. So, to do the responsible thing, we would have to sacrifice Homeschooling so that I could go back to work.

I can’t express how much this decision has pained me, but I still have faith that the Lord has a plan for us. Thankfully, my kids have wonderful teachers who care deeply about their education.

This site may end up back on the free WordPress site, but that decision won’t need to come until January. Until I am able to focus on this blog and my books again, you are welcome to follow my activity on Pinterest, where I am still actively pinning.

Thank you for reading this and Blessings!
Sarah

That Love-Hate Relationship With Our Tech

computer, tablet, smartphone

Our personal technology gives us more information and less wisdom. We have endless, instant access to information. But we do not allow ourselves the off-grid time to process that information into anything more than knowledge. Leaving us knowledgeable fools, lacking wisdom and depth.

We are allowing others to think for us, groupthink was the term from 1984, if I remember. When was the last time you used a meme to chose or reinforce your position in an issue. A meme is not wisdom, it is almost a clear opposite to wisdom. Usually memes are emotional sound bites, made to stir up our heart into taking an ideological stance. But our heart was not designed for reasoning!

If we were to debate all the pros and cons of an issue, we would come to a logical conclusion that would be somewhat near the middle ground. But allowing our heart to be swayed by guttural sound bites throws our belief system to the extremes. We have chosen a path without engaging our own reasoning. Instead, we are relying on the fully formed opinions of others. These others clearly do not have our own best interests in mind, after all many of them are proven to come from other countries. They have their own agenda, in which they want your blind support. Why are we letting them think for us?

Part of it is laziness, but only because we are so busy and stressed with our own everyday problems, that we “farm out” the thinking, debating, reasoning, and reflecting of national or global issues to other sources. And though I could go on about how we become too busy and stressed to do our own thinking, I think I’ll save that for another day. (I should mention that both the problems of being too busy, and succumbing to groupthink are among my struggles, which is why I write about them.)

The brunt of it is, I know that each of us are highly intelligent creatures. To be clear, I’m not talking about IQ as it’s measurement of comparison with each other. I am referring to our God-given gifts of thought, logic, and reasoning which were reserved for man alone upon this earth. We need to take back our own individual thought processes. Cease from allowing our beliefs to be based on someone else’s fully formed opinions. And grant ourselves the down, or off-grid, or unplugged time to come to our own conclusions.

And forget not that “if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” James 1:5

Blessings,
Sarah

Small Steps Can Heal the World

boy climbing stairs

Hi there,

Do you struggle, like me, to know if you’ve helped heal the world at all today?

There are great and terrible evils afflicting us in these days, and I wonder often if I have done anything to help. And even more, I wonder if my small deeds and small prayers have made anything better.

These are troubling times we live in, the world around us is seeming to go mad, even our own loved ones in some cases (like mine). The attacks of our adversary are hitting closer and closer to home.

I don’t know about you, but visiting with my loved ones over the holidays was a discouraging experience. I have family who used to be my closest allies, who now throw nasty little jabs into our conversations. Worst yet, I worry that I am guilty of the same. After all, can’t they see that their position is just plain crazy?! But of course they can’t see it, in fact, they think the same thing about me.

The fundamental divide that is wedging itself between us, encompasses every aspect of life. Once upon a time, not that long ago, you could have a civil conversion with anyone about anything as long as you steered clear of politics and religion. But now nothing is safe, not sports, not the weather, not what you had for supper, and not your little girl’s favorite color.

The constant debate is exhausting. I’m worn out. I want to reach across the divide and draw my estranged family members closer to me, but I also want to run away to a quiet farm in the middle of nowhere and not emerge till the Savior comes.

So I do what I can, I ignore and forgive the snide comments. I overcome the urge to avoid my relatives. I attempt to walk with Grace. I try to help us heal, even if it’s only a little bit. Maybe if we all do a little bit, we can close the divide a lot. After all, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

How Quickly We Fall Prey to the Spirit of Contention…

frida-bredesen-390244-vert-w-title

Hi there,

My heart is heavy today. I have fallen prey to the spirit of contention. This article is a personal spiritual chastisement for allowing my self to get upset over something so trivial.

I have a dear sister in volunteer work that, unintentionally, has made it very inconvenient for myself and a couple dozen other volunteers to complete our latest project. My reaction initially grew into outrage and contention. I was so angry at her for making it so difficult for us to do our job, and for slowing down the service we were trying to do. Grrrr!

And then a small voice whispered that perhaps she was doing the best she knew how. Which, of course, is the truth. And then I started thinking of ways that I could help her to eliminate the inconvenience for the other volunteers. And though I’m still working past the emotional flooding that comes from all that anger, I’m working in the right direction now. This scripture runs through my head:

For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. 3 Ne. 11:29

And I realize that if the father of contention can stir me up, it means I have the power to overcome it and reach for the Prince of Peace. I am grateful for the power I have to turn away from our adversary, and I am grateful for the whisperings of the Spirit that remind me of that power.

Repent means to turn towards Christ, which also means turning away from sin. I can turn towards Christ and humbly ask for his help to reject contention and seek after peace. I know that this is a small matter, but we know that through “small and simple means” can hearts be changed and nations be saved.

One of the vices that comes with building a public following is that I spend more time on social media than I had previously. I am trying reach out to and get to know people of all walks. Sadly, digging through the media sites, I run across terrible happenings, wildly biased reportings of current events, and attacks on anybody and everybody who doesn’t agree. I am brought down in sorrow reading all the contention in these public forums.

My hope and prayer is that each of us, individually, can be strengthened to forgive, repent, turn from contention, and seek diligently after peace. As we do so, I know that our nation and our world can be healed.

Blessings!
Sarah

 

I Can Learn From the Trees – How to Bend, How to Sway

brandon-kawamura-222056_with title

There’s an old song by Ani DiFranco that runs through my head when I think about my parent’s mistakes. My parents separated when I was 4, and we stayed with my mom. My mom and dad were very bitter toward each other, and my sister and brother and I often felt that we had to pick sides in the war. I was the oldest, so I felt responsible for my younger siblings and my mom. I sided with her on everything and sadly grew up hating my dad. So here are the lyrics that repeat in my head:

growing up it was just me and my mom against the world
and all my sympathies were with her when I was a little girl
now I’ve seen both my parents play out the hands that they were dealt
as each year goes by I wonder how my father must’ve felt
and I just want you to understand
that I know what all the fighting was for
and I just want you to understand
that I’m not angry anymore
no I’m not angry anymore

every time we fight a cold wind blows our way,
but we learn like the trees
how to bend, how to sway and say
I, I think I understand
what all this fighting is for
And I just want you to understand
that I’m not angry anymore
no I’m not angry anymore

This song has taught me over the years to recognize the valuable lessons that both of my parents had for me. And I’m happy to say that in seeking to understand my father better, we have developed a very strong relationship. I love both my parents dearly and am so grateful for the attributes and lessons I have learned from them through the years.

Now as I sing this song, I hope that my oldest son, who lives with his father, can forgive me for my mistakes as a mother and noncustodial parent. I hope one day that he can see me as the strong tree, who did not fall when the rains and snows came, who did not break when the winds of the hurricane howled around me. Though I did have to bend nearly to the ground, and I had to sway and give up much. But I hope that he can see that I worked constantly to stay rooted in his life, to show him my love; to shade him, when he was near, from the heat of the world on his little shoulders.

One day I hope that he can be like the tree, as I imagine Our Savior to be, standing firmly rooted in what is right, and when necessary, turning the other cheek.

Do you struggle to remain Christlike in the storms of life? What have you found that works for you?

Blessings,
Sarah