Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Open Letter to My Truth Seeking Friend

An open letter to my truth seeking friend:

I know you are lost. I know you are confused. I know your eyes are closed. Your posture, expression, and words tell me some of this. Your sighs, attitude, and reluctance share the story as well. Your hands fidget, your gaze adverts, and you cross and uncross your legs as you feel the truth and then let it slip through your fingers just as
quickly as it grazed your heart. You believe. You don't believe. You trust, and then you don't. You desire; you always desire. Through all the conflicting silent thoughts your betraying face screams, I know a desire and yearning for the truth is the single constant in your clouded mind of variables.

Your ceaseless desire to align your will with God's is the beginning seed of faith. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma wrote, "...yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." (Alma 32:27). Your desire can crowd out doubt and carve a small enough space in the fertile soil of your soul for a seed of faith to flourish. Focus on your desire when instinct tells you to zero in on the ever present possibility that your small seed will never grow into something self-sustaining, let alone something large and beautiful. Let your desire fuel you as you dedicate yourself to tending the seed of faith you planted. Doubt will hail down and annihilate your faith, so keep it out of your forecast. Shower your seed with desire, fertilize it with diligence, and nurture it with time. A crop doesn't sprout over night, and your faith won't either. Don't let go of your desire.

I know, I know. I know you are lost, but I also know you are found. Heavenly Father desires for you to learn the truth more than you desire it for yourself. In this respect, you are found. As you wander, He watches. As you struggle through the maze, he places people at pivotal points in your path to guide and help you. You may feel that you're lost, but He is aware of where you are. Trust in those who are there to help you. In Matthew 7:20, Jesus said, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." If your Heaven sent helpers are inviting you to do good things then their fruits are good. If they aren't inviting you to do good things then they're not Heaven sent and you don't need to pay them heed. This can be confusing if you let it, so don't. Judge every fruit and then cast away or keep the tree the fruit is coming from. And remember, you desire to know the truth.

Still more, I know. I know you are confused, but I also know you have all the answers. Answers come in a variety of ways. If you pray with sincerity to know something, you will be provided with an answer. It probably won't come in a strike of lightning or as a grand vision. Heavenly Father answers our pleas through scripture, prophets, other
people, and personal revelation. You can't say you haven't heard God speak to you if you haven't explored all possible avenues. Read the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon. These books both testify of Christ and are inspired accounts by real prophets. Within the universal messages these books proclaim are tiny treasures tailored just for you. Beyond personal studying, many answers can be found through religious peers and leaders. Go to church to be edified by others. I am here for you and others are too. Reach for them. Let them grab you and take you in. Meditate on all that you've learned and pray some more. Through a faithful regiment of studying, praying, discussing, and listening without doubt and cynicism, you WILL receive answers. I promise you this. You do desire answers after all, they will come.

I know, and He knows too. I know your eyes are closed, but I also know that you are seeking. Though your heart remains hard at times, it is softening. As you tentatively begin to earnestly seek for answers, your eyes will open. It will take work. As long as you're not willing to work, your eyes will remain blind to the truth just in front of
you. Until you are ready to read from holy scripture (not shady websites and un-sourced blogs), worship with supportive believers, and open your heart to the possibility that your perception may be wrong, your eyes will remain closed and I will genuinely pity you. I desire that you will stop desiring and start working.

I've yet to meet a farmer that yields success without sacrifice, but I've also never met a farmer that doesn't love his crops. Sacrifice time. Sacrifice old habits. Sacrifice pride, pre-conceived notions, and fear. Sacrifice it all and I promise your heart will swell as you survey your spirit and find vast fields of faith ready to cultivate and harvest. It is time to let your desire grow.

With love and the utmost sincerity,

Your friend who holds the truth

Thursday, August 14, 2014

#sharkweek and addictions

This is Bruce. Bruce is addicted to fish; particularly tropical fish. Take your eyes off of his bared teeth for a moment and focus on his eyes. What are his eyes telling you? To me, they're saying, "I don't care that I have consciously promised myself--and my fish abstaining sharky pals--that I will not eat another fish. Fish are definitely food, not friends and I AM TIRED OF SEAWEED. #angryshark #carnivore #iwanttoeatalltheseafoodintheworldbecauseiamashark." That is a lot for a pair of undersized eyes to relay, but I am confident they are shouting those words. Bruce's eyes aren't the only ones that have said that. The eyes of addicts everywhere glaze over and are laced with the same amount of crazy drive each day.  Like Bruce, countless individuals vow to not take another drink, never pop another pill, or quit their pornography habit cold turkey. In a less dramatic, but more realistic way, others swear off chocolate, say they'll never play Candy Crush again after they reach level 500, and fast from online shopping. Addictions come in a variety of boxes and not all are life threatening, but all are spiritually threatening.

As a missionary, I am frequently asked why members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abstain from alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, coffee, and tea. While there are inherent health benefits in not partaking of certain substances, the potential for addiction is a large reason why Mormons don't consume specific items. We are counseled to steer clear of any thing that may be personally addicting because the moment we become enslaved to something, we lose our agency and our ability to make clear decisions. Is Bruce choosing to hunt fish, or are his insatiable senses driving him to do something mad? Is your Words with Friends habit just a fun hobby, or does it get in the way of your homework, chores, scripture study, and other duties? Bruce has such a fish problem, that when he sees Dory and Nemo he doesn't have control at all. In his haste to satisfy his enormous cravings, he inadvertently sets off a host of old WWII bombs and creates an inferno in the Benthic Zone. Addictions change us into someone we are not. Anything is able to be overcome, even problems that you have struggled with for years, even decades. Genetic dispositions are no excuse either; all is possible with diligence and a firm dependence on Christ. Look into support groups, ask friends for help, and remove addictive substances, habits, and tendencies from your life.  Most of all though, rely on the savior, Jesus Christ to help you overcome addictive obstacles. It won't be easy, but it will be doable. 

***Here are a few good talks about addictions! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Boiling Frogs

From the Kitchen of: Sister Poppe
Recipe: Boiled Frog

First, you fill a pot with lukewarm tap water. After this is completed, you lovingly set your frog in the temperate H2O. Next, you place the pot on your stove top burner and gently increase the heat over time. You must be careful to not increase the heat too quickly, as the frog will catch on to what you are doing and hop out of the pot. As you incrementally increase the heat, you will subsequently cook the frog. When the frog is cooked through, remove the pot from the heat and enjoy with your favorite condiment and a sprinkling of sea salt.                                                                                                                                                     
*Note, you can also cook a frog over a campfire, though this should only be done by experienced frog boilers.