My Faith Transition from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity (Part 8: Leaving Religion for a Relationship with Jesus Christ)

This past Sunday I went with my children to my small church (http://www.mscbc.org/) located in Brigham City, Utah. I’ve attended a few local congregations in the area, but I like this one the best due to the pure nondenominational Bible teachings found there. The first time I stepped into this church was on November 1, 2017. I walked in the front door and was greeted by the most loving people I had ever met.

Moreover, I felt overdressed, having come from Mormonism where one was expected to wear one’s best apparel on Sunday. I often remember not feeling ‘worthy’ to be among members of my own congregation, since I didn’t have good enough clothes to wear. After all, I was worried that if I weren’t dressed well enough, I wouldn’t be accepted among my people.

What I saw that Sunday fully impacted my impression of what it must’ve been like to be on the earth when Christ was here. He walked among sinners like me, undesirables, even among the lower echelons of society. This congregation was filled with people who weren’t pretentious about their appearance. There was no shunning due to how the people were dressed; there was no judgment, only love and acceptance. It seemed to strike me as a ‘come as you are or don’t come at all’ type of reunion. And as the worship team led everyone in musical praise, I looked around and saw people truly wanting to give thanks to Jesus for all His blessings. And the music was absolutely beautiful and joyful!

The most surprising thing to me was to find was this: about 50% of the congregation in that small conservative Utah town had come from Mormonism, just like me. I was warmly welcomed and started hearing the stories of how each of them had left religion for a relationship with Jesus. Wow, that was revolutionary for me! I needed to learn what that meant.

Just days before, I had been introduced to a new friend named Carolyn. Our first conversation was one that I’ll never forget. She described how she and Jesus had this absolutely fabulous relationship. She spoke as if she knew Him personally and bragged about the things He had done for her. Many years earlier, she had left Mormonism, gone through a painful divorce, then went agnostic for several years. She went on to tell me how one day she had found herself face-down on the bathroom floor and she cried out to God, asking Him to show Himself to her. He not only showed up, but became the biggest part of her life. I had never ever in my life heard someone talk about another person like Carolyn did. She actually knew Him. I wanted what she had, a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus.

I have a long ways to go before I get to the point where I have that kind of relationship with Him, but I am striving to get there. I am learning what the Gospel of Grace is and that, as Ephesians 2: 8-9 states, we are saved by His grace, and not by anything we can do. It’s about who He is, not who we are. I was taught my whole life that I needed to earn His love and my salvation. I now know differently and know that it is finished in Him: http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/2JesusChrist/AtonementItIsFinished.aspx#sthash.bbcJzriZ.dpbs

I’d like to share a collection of some of my favorite Christian songs that mean so much to me, but it seems like they won’t link to the YouTube songs here. Chris Tomlin’s “Jesus Loves Me” and “Love Ran Red” are some of my favorites. I love his music!

 

 

 

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My Faith Transition from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity (Part 7: God has a sense of humor when it comes to me)

My life has to be much different than most people I know around me. Not only has there rarely been a dull moment, but when things get to be routine, it doesn’t last very long and soon there is a new adventure to look forward to.

At this point, it’s only been about 8 months since I officially attended my first Christian congregation in the small northern town of Brigham City, Utah. After all, I’ll never forget my first Sunday, one that would normally be a “fast Sunday” in Mormonism, where we abstain from food and drink to fulfill a purpose in which we need extra help from God, along with prayer. This nondenominational congregation was different from the beginning. Instead of fasting, we would all bring something to share (potluck) on the first Sunday of the month. This was a big change to me.

But now that I’m becoming more solidified in my new faith, I’m finding that God cannot wait one more minute to call upon me to testify of Him. Frankly speaking, it never ceases to amaze me! And I’m finding that in most cases, except for extremely prideful types, I’m able to boldly declare that I’m not ashamed of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yesterday was no exception. And I’m always surprised at the outcomes and how I’m guided to bear witness in sometimes shocking ways.

My boys and I are planning on moving to Mexico soon, and since my younger son Dylan has forgotten his Spanish, I thought it would be good for us to attend a Spanish-speaking service at Alpine Church in Logan. Well, Dylan wasn’t into it as far as the sermon went, but he did enjoy the joyful music. However, Alan and I enjoyed the service. But just before we were pulling into the church parking lot, I saw that my friend Diana was trying to call me. If I took her call, we’d be even more late for the service than we already were. I would call her back as soon as the service was over.

I did call her back and was surprised that she was inviting me to go to the temple with her next Tuesday. So far I had avoided this subject of my faith transition. However, I took a deep breath and decided that it was time to tell her the truth. This is what I posted in a Facebook group called “Ex-Mormon Christians”, consisting of mostly former Mormons who have converted to Christianity:

So, boy do I have a story to tell ya’ll tonight!

So, I grew up with the Monsons, meaning Thomas S. Monson’s brother and his wife.

His wife just called me and invited me to go with her to the temple this Tuesday. I said, “You know what? I can’t go because I don’t have a temple recommend. I’m a heathen. Well, actually, I’m not a heathen, I’m a Jane Mormon. Well, actually, I’m not a Jane Mormon either. I’m a Christian.”

And then I knew things would get super awkward…

There was a pause and she said, “You’re joking!” I told her I wasn’t and that I had left the Church and I was a Christian now and that I was much happier now and had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ now…”

A longer pause followed with, “But you’re just kidding! You went on a mission and everything!” I told her I wasn’t kidding, but that it was true and I was just returning from our Christian service in Spanish, to get us used to Spanish again.”

“Does your husband know you’ve left the Church? Did he leave too?” Me: “Yes, he knows, but he’s just inactive and hasn’t followed me over.” “Do your siblings know about this?” I replied, “Yes, they know.” She asked, “What did your sister say?” I said, “I emailed her and told her I was leaving the Church.” “What did she say?” I told her that and we haven’t spoken since I informed her I was leaving, last year.

I may have put someone in the hospital tonight, the former prophet’s sister-in-law…. She said she was so much in shock and couldn’t believe it. Then she said she’d take someone else to the temple on Tuesday and that she’d call me on Wednesday….

Then she couldn’t wait to get off the phone. Should I be calling 911 to rescue her? I think I sent her into full-out cardiac arrest… There is no easy way to tell people you love, is there?

Prayers have just been suggested by [a member of this group]. Can we all pray for the Monson family please?

 

The comments that followed in this group have been delightful, amusing and some people have simply enjoyed hearing about how the sister-in-law of our former prophet who just passed away this past year, is getting ministered to by a former Mormon turned Christian. Most of all, these people are praying for us and I KNOW THAT PRAYERS WORK!

Life is interesting, and Christian life gets even more interesting. It is never what we expect, but here it is. God most definitely has a sense of humor and He’s using me for His purposes. What an amazing ride it’s been so far!

 

Shedding my life of all things unnecessary and starting a new & exciting chapter in life…

Last night, I saw a documentary about some young guys who went to a rural village in Guatemala and tried to live on a dollar a day for eight weeks. What an eye-opener that was! They came back with a much greater understanding of how the locals live in so much uncertainty, causing the chain of poverty to keep perpetuating. They truly don’t have enough, but they seem to make due and be happy despite their circumstances. As the show went on and the locals were interviewed about their hopes and dreams and how they’d been stripped of those dreams due to their environments, the young guys came up with some ideas of how small changes can make such a difference in the lives of people. It was an amazing perspective and it got me thinking.

On the other side of the coin, here in the US we have the opposite problem. Tonight I watched a documentary about two guys who’d decided to de-clutter their lives of anything unnecessary and they’d set up a website called “The Minimalists”. It’s all about getting rid of anything not useful and just living more simply. I thought how interesting it would be to be able to do, but how?

I was raised by a female hoarder who, as her health got worse, turned from physical shopping to online purchases and everyday there would be a new package or two delivered on the porch. When she passed, I opened all those packages and sorted out her house for her estate. What a nightmare that was! Why does a single person need this much STUFF? After all, you can’t take it with you when you die.

And I got thinking about my own life and realize that I too have fallen prey to consumerism, “too much-ness” and I realize that as I’m making changes in my life, I’m wanting less and less STUFF and more and more EXPERIENCES and MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS.

Lately, I’ve been binge-watching YouTube videos about traveling families and wondering how a whole family, or even solo travelers and couples, just sell everything they have, pack light (some only take a carry-on with them) and go out to travel the world. After all, you can read about the world in a textbook, hear stories or watch TV about people who are living the lifestyle you envy, or you can figure out a way to make it happen for you.

Then something clicked inside me, saying, “When are you going to truly live?” Well, this year’s the year! After all, the best education for a family is travel, hands down…

I’m taking my boys on an extended travel journey and we’re starting with Mexico. I found out about this great discounted travel site, signed up for it, and within no time, found some $240 tickets (super cheap, yay!) to Mexico City. After some research, I know what city seems perfect for us and we’re going.

Before that, I’d wondered how my 12-year-old was going to go to school. I’d already lived overseas and didn’t want to enroll him in a local school. After all, he’s in the difficult “turkey age” where weirdness is at its peak and is rearing its ugly head. How could I spare him all this adaptation to new kids in yet another foreign country? I threw that concern out to the universe (and prayer) and low and behold, have found a way to school him online for free in an American school system. Solved!

I’m not kidding when I say that whenever I have a challenge I need to overcome, I simply throw it out to the universe and my God, and I wait for the solution to come. And it always does.

Am I scared to go to a country I’ve never lived in before? Of course I am! But like I’ve always done in my life, I face those Fears (False Evidences Appearing Real) and I go forward, knowing that each experience is a learning one. The prospect of creating a traveling lifestyle for my boys and I is thrilling to me. You may want to follow us on our journey. We might even create a YouTube channel and document it. We’d love to come up with a great title for our channel that describes how a middle-aged single mom takes her kids out in the world for an adventure. Any creative marketing gurus out there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh my soul (the deep yearnings of a mother for her son)

I am a mother of two very special sons who are 21 and 12. Because we were raised in the Mormon religion (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or LDS), it is customary for young men and some women to go on a mission trip for about 2 years. It is more common for males to go and my son was one who wanted to go. A Mormon mission involves a great deal of preparation and as a mother, I was prepared to support my son in whatever he chooses to do in his life. And this was something he’d decided to do. Why wouldn’t I support him in this endeavor?

A little background: Since my first husband was from Argentina, having met him on my own mission trip there, we had been living there for our whole married life. When he suddenly passed at the end of 2011, I contemplated the future of our small family and decided it would be better to bring my boys to the US which was where I had been raised.

My younger son Dylan started first grade in the US, so now being in sixth grade, he’s adjusted as well as possible to the American way of life, that is, as much as a tween could possibly be…

But my older son Alan had lived in Argentina until he turned 15, thus he had much stronger roots with his culture and family there. After finishing massage therapy school, I had promised him that once he passed his licensing exam, I would get him a ticket to visit his relatives in Argentina. When he passed the exam, I needed to live up to my end of the promise.

He decided that he would go to Argentina first and then leave for his mission from there. He made all the necessary preparations and turned in the paperwork, only waiting to receive the assignment of where he would go and when.

In the meantime, back in the states, right after he left for Argentina, I experienced a faith crisis of my own. I then made the decision I was going to leave Mormonism to follow the Jesus Christ of the Bible. This was a big decision, especially since I had been part of the faith for no less than 50 years, which was my whole life. Moreover, when someone has been part of a high-demand religion such as Mormonism that pretty much consumes one’s whole life, it is a very difficult decision and it often leaves the deserters feeling lonely and ostracized from the group. I was no exception. When I communicated my actions to my loved ones in the US, son and my former relatives in Argentina, it of course caused a big upheaval as the announcement made waves. In our community, it could be compared to renouncing one’s citizenship or allegiance to their own nationality. But it was something I knew I needed to do and there was no turning back from my decision.

Back in Argentina, my son was anticipating his mission assignment (call), but it seemed to have been taking longer than usual. He was beginning to get nervous and I could sense that his anxiety was building ,to the point where it wasn’t at a healthy level. Both my sons had suffered so many things, namely losses such as their father and both grandmothers within such a short amount of time, plus the changes I’d put them through when they changed countries. Alan had also been on anti-depressants when he’d lived with me, but he’d decided he was better off without out them, and while he was going to school, I couldn’t be on top of his medication as much as before.

I guess the stress must’ve hit it’s peak, since last Friday at around 9:30 p.m., I get a non-eventful voice message on Facebook from Alan, saying that he’d gotten his mission call (assignment) to Barcelona, Spain and that the Lord loved him so much to call him to Europe. Usually these types of announcements were announced publicly, filmed and posted on Facebook. This was not the case with Alan. I tried to call him back, but he’d put the phone on voice message mode. That was strange, since he’d called me only minutes before.

For more details on how the events followed, here is the link to that blog post: https://kimthorneharper.wordpress.com/2018/01/27/my-faith-transition-from-mormonism-to-biblical-christianity-part-6-gods-got-your-back-guilt-shame/

Well, he made it back on Monday night. My husband Michael and I met him at the airport and he wasn’t the chipper son I knew him to be. He was antisocial, not even wanting to give me a hug. That hurt… But I decided to put my own thoughts aside and we went out to eat at the Olive Garden.

We made it home and brought his suitcases into the house. We all went to sleep and then the next day he spent the whole day with me. No later had my husband come home from work, that I told him I was utterly exhausted. The emotional heaviness he’d brought with him was too much for me to handle. We had had this discussion earlier in the day, in which I told him that no matter what he became or the decisions he’d make in life, I would always love him. I went on to say that if if he were in prison or gay, it wouldn’t matter to me. I was his mom and I loved him unconditionally…

Well, it so happened to be his little brother Dylan’s birthday and we had gotten him a cake and all I wanted to do was have a nice birthday dinner with my family and celebrate the fact that Dylan had just turned 12.

A business associate friend was in the area and wanted to come visit us. She texted me, saying she was in our driveway and wanted to visit us. I texted her back, saying that today wasn’t a good moment and that I was sorry. She left and then returned, insisting that I come out, since she wanted to show me a special video on YouTube and it was indeed special. Then she insisted on talking to Alan. I said I’d go get him and I brought him out to the car. After one hour or so of them talking outside, I sent the birthday boy out to tell them we were ready to blow out the candles. Shortly thereafter, Alan and my friend came in and she said goodbye to him, hugging him and telling him to remember what they had talked about.

His little brother blew out the candles and Alan just sat there, looking straight through me, as if I were an object that he just wanted to delete. It was freaking me out so much that I had a bad reaction.

The events that followed involved calling the police and making false accusations towards my friend and we ended up checking him into the psych unit at a local hospital with a possible diagnosis of a mental disorder.

My heart is hurting. As I returned home after not seeing my precious son for a day, since he wasn’t willing to sign the papers that authorize us to be informed of his medical treatments, I was yearning for some peace. Then this song came on the Christian radio. It was all I needed to release that deep pain that I had been feeling. The lyrics spoke to my soul and gave me peace, “Oh my soul, you are not alone…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Provision for Each of Us (Trust in the Lord)

One of my favorite songs that I learned while in my youth was the beautiful piece of music called “Consider the Lilies”  and I sang in different choirs while I grew up as an LDS (Mormon) girl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDFBBbhwmfk

This song is based on these verses in Luke 12: 27-32, in the King James version of the Bible:

27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.

30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

The times in my life when I have surrendered my doubts, concerns and worries to my omnipresent God who knows all things from the end to the beginnings and who provides for all of us when we trust in Him, I realize that all those cares were in vain. He stands ready and willing to provide everything we need and always knows what we are in need of before we come to Him.  But here’s the disclaimer, catch or “kicker”, however you would like to call it: He wants us to ask for what we need and want. And guess what? As it says numerous times https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Ask-And-You-Shall-Receive/ in the New Testament in the King James Version, “it shall be opened unto you. So don’t be afraid to ask.

I also believe that my favorite scripture about trust is most likely found in Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV) where it states:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

As I’ve been going through a situation with one of my sons that was especially trying for me as a mother, one of my dear Christian friends thought to send me a sermon by Tony Evans about Reversing Anxiety. I just had to share. Enjoy!

 

Trust in the Lord_Proverbs3_3-4

Can God really fix the broken?

I know someone out there needs to read this. I also struggled most of my life not knowing if I was good enough, so I can relate. Thank you for sharing your story.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit.

Psalm 34:18

I have spent my previous 21 years believing in one simple lie: that I am not enough, that I will never be enough. I asked God constantly, will I ever fully be happy with myself? Will I ever be happy in general? I write today still wondering those same questions, however with a different heart then months ago. Before, I can truly say I was lost. A naive, sad girl who claimed to know Christ but did not want to accept the truths that came along with him. How in the world could one man have taken the burdens of every man in this world and still care for each and every one of them? How could one man love ME so much, after all my faults, and choose to die for…

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My Faith Transition from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity (Part 6 – God’s got your back – guilt & shame)

Oh my! I can’t even believe the events that have transpired in my life and the lives of my family members since I’ve discovered a newfound authentic relationship with Jesus Christ.

Since I’m the first one to leave Mormonism, that kind of makes me a pioneer on this journey that may pave the way for the rest to have permission to eventually do the same. It’s just that I’ve had to do hard things in my life, oh yeah! I’ve had to do things that aren’t for beginners. The things I’ve had to do are only for people who have resilience and strength. But, I fully know where that strength comes from, and it’s not my own…

Right before I left, my 21-year old son Alan had decided to go on an LDS mission, albeit later than most young men do. He simply wasn’t ready when he was younger and he wanted to get some schooling in first. Moreover, because I let my sons make their own decisions and support them in their endeavors, I’d agreed to not only support him in what he wanted to do, but I also agreed to finance it, not knowing where the money would come from. But that’s the way I was taught. I was taught in my family and religious upbringing to trust God and things will work out. This situation was no different.

Because my boys had been born and raised in Argentina until mid-2012 when I brought them to the US, that was the only world they knew until then. Thus, Alan was in great need to reconnect with his relatives in Argentina that hadn’t seen him since he left at 15 years old. He then made the decision to go there and visit them before heading off on his Mormon mission. They were completely loving and supportive and were ecstatic to see him again. He was “home” again, back in his native land.

My dear son Alan left in September of 2017, then shortly afterwards when I turned 50, God decided to give me a gift for my 50th birthday, which was a week after Alan left. He decided to open my eyes and show me what I’d been part of and how I needed to transition over to Him and enter into a personal relationship with Him. However, I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen next…

Back to the present, it’s now the end of January and my son had been expecting his mission call to arrive and it was seemingly late. Having lived in Argentina, I just chalked it up to the slow mail system. He told me that he’d checked on the arrival and it was apparently in its way.

Then last night late at about 9:30 p.m., which was 1:30 a.m. in Argentina, I get a strange uneventful voice message on Facebook, saying, “Mom, I got my call. I don’t know if you’re there, but the Lord loves me and he got me to Europe. I’m going to Barcelona, Spain. Um, what do you think?” I tried to call him back, but there was only a voice message option to leave a message. I was frustrated in not being able to get ahold of him, when he’d just called minutes before…

But other thoughts began to come into my mind, like, ‘Where was the fanfare that is usually accompanied by the announcement of a mission call assignment?’ He’d told me that he’d set up a special group on Facebook where he’d film the opening of his call on a live video call. That wasn’t happening. I told my husband that I was disappointed with the way he’d told me where he was going.  Then I went to bed and turned off my phone.

Early this morning my husband was awakened by a Facebook call from Alan, since he couldn’t find me. He sounded like he was in the depths of despair and so I was handed the phone to keep talking to him. He told me that he’d rejected his mission call and that he just wanted to come back home. I didn’t understand any of this. What was going on?

He said he simply couldn’t go through with it and wanted to come home asap. He wanted to know if I would still love him no matter what. He asked the question no parent wants to hear, “Mom, will you still love me?” Then that question was followed by a barrage of others like, “Mom, I’ve disappointed you and the rest of my family.” and “I’ve disgraced you and dishonored you by not going on a mission.”

As soon as everyone in our home, consisting of Alan’s little almost 12-year-old brother Dylan, my stepson who just returned from his own Mormon mission in Spanish-speaking country, my husband and I informed the boys that we’d soon be welcoming Alan back into our home in 2 days and that we needed to somehow make room for him. Nothing like this to get housecleaning and organization going, right?

And as we’re all cleaning, the song “Papa, don’t preach” by Madonna came on the radio. I listened to the lyrics and heard a phrase I don’t recall ever hearing before, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. As a mom dealing with a totally different scenario, I somehow felt compelled to listen to the lyrics, because somehow a message would penetrate my heart. For those of you who know this song, you know that it’s about a young girl who’d become pregnant and feared losing her father’s love due to her actions which were, from the tone of the song, going to be judged severely by her father. ‘Papa, don’t preach, I’m in trouble deep. But I’ve made up my mind; I’m keeping my baby.’ You can only imagine a poor young girl, desperate to keep her father’s love, despite her circumstances. But what did that have to do with my son?

Papa, don’t preach. Don’t stop loving me daddy.’ This was the outpouring of a child who was crying out to her parent for love and acceptance. I had my answer. My son needed to know if I would still accept him unconditionally for who he was and not because of the choices he had made. And don’t we all need that from our family?

I assured him that he could most certainly come home to Utah and that things would be OK. I had sent him down to Argentina with my years of accumulating precious airline mileage I’d saved. When I tried to book his flight down there, despite the advance notice, the mileage was at its peak and it would pretty much use up all I had. I called American Airlines, explaining that I needed to check into using my remaining mileage to get my son home asap who was in crisis. I said a prayer and waited for the kind reservations agent to check into flights for Alan. She kept checking and then told me that she could get him back tonight, but only if he had a long layover in Miami. That didn’t seem like the best scenario, considering the fact that I was dealing with a son who was practically suicidal. He didn’t need to be left alone for that long.

The airline agent came back to say that she’d found a flight plan for tomorrow (Sunday) night that would have better connections. All this time, I’m thinking, how much is an international flight going to cost me on a last-minute deal? She came back and informed me that not only was the lowest mileage award available, but that I could upgrade him to more comfortable seats. The fee? $200 something, and that included giving him more leg room, because he was tall.  I sighed with relief, contemplating the tender mercy that had just been laid at our feet… That was all it was going to cost me? Need I ever doubt that there is a God? Undeniably so! Not only is there a God, but He’s our personal Savior and He’s got our back. Praise God!

After I secured that airline ticket, I got a call from my niece in Argentina, stating that Alan had harmed himself and that they weren’t going to leave him alone for anything. They were extremely worried, but that they were going to be with him at all times. We had a good heart-to-heart talk and agreed that the only thing Alan needed from his family was to know that we loved him no matter what, unconditionally. We needed to love him more than ever and support him. After all, isn’t that would Jesus would do?

I know that God has our back and that He’s mindful of everything we’re going through, no matter how small or insignificant things may seem. If it’s important to us, it’s important to Him and He will see us through these times and exalt us in the end. But he first needs to bring us to where He wants us to be, so He can then bring us up to where we belong…

I’m proud of my son Alan and the person he is becoming. He’s all about being authentic and he truly wants to serve and please God. He will soon be in my care as his mother, and he has family, friends and Christians throughout the world sustaining him in prayer. And I am a thankful mom… I’m thankful for the lessons and the grace shown to me in just a matter of hours. How great is our God!

 

 

 

 

 

My Faith Transition from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity (Part 5 – A New Voice of Joy)

Link to Part 4: https://kimthorneharper.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/my-faith-transition-from-mormonism-to-biblical-christianity-part-4/

Over the New Year’s Eve holiday, we were staying in our vacation home in Logan, Utah. Due to health issues, I hadn’t been to a church service for a while. Thus, I decided to look into checking out a new location in the area. My soul longed to hear The Word and drink from the living waters of Jesus Christ. I had already heard about one congregation through one of my Facebook friends when I first inquired about local places to meet with Christians and I quickly located that info through the online support group.

As we walked into the building, we were immediately greeted by a very friendly woman called Jane. As it turns out, Jane and I had previously met in the summer at a car dealership while getting our oil changes. She remembered me and cued me in on a conversation we had had with another man who was visiting the area for the summer. Wow! Another reminder that when God is involved, nothing in our lives happens by coincidence…

Anyway, after our initial conversation, we were invited into the worship service and the pastor wished everyone a very happy new year. Then the musicians began to play and I was even more surprised and pleased to see that I actually knew some of the songs! That wasn’t a common thing for me to experience since my transition, but oh so refreshing to see some familiarity in the music.

Speaking of music and voices, something that had happened to me when I traumatically lost my husband six years ago while living in Argentina, was that I had lost my singing voice. My whole life had been a successive and uninterrupted scene of music. I had taken my first piano lessons at 8 years old and then at 11 or 12 years old when I was in 6th grade, I joined the school band and started taking private flute lessons. Those lessons went on throughout my youth.

I believe my first choir experience was in first grade when we sang patriotic songs and put on a program for our school and parents. To be honest, I can’t ever recall a moment in life when I wasn’t singing. I’d always had a tune in my head and was singing or relating everything in life to a song or melody. That’s how much music was a part of my life, especially the singing part. In high school, I was part of the school choirs and ended up being in the Madrigals group my last year. In Argentina, I sang on a regular basis and formed a choir there and taught others to sing harmoniously. For me, to lose my voice was not only frustrating; it was painful and devastating. No longer could I even hold a tune on the church hymns I had grown up with as a Mormon. I couldn’t even sustain the regular notes. It was as if my whole soul had been closed off to expression. There was no evidence that I had ever sung, much less with a beautiful voice.

I once saw a program on TV about the country singer Shania Twain having lost her voice and how she went on a journey to get it back. I wasn’t a professional singer like Shania, but it was so much a part of my life, that it was like clipping my wings. I needed to get my voice back. More than six years had passed since my singing voice had been hidden from me.

I’d told some close friends about the loss of my voice. One newer Christian friend Dorothy Catlin told me that I’d get it back and that I just needed to keep on trying to sing and that one day it would be restored. I listened to her encouragement, hoping that would happen soon. I needed to sing the praises of my newfound relationship with my savior Jesus Christ. And I needed no barriers put in my path.

Returning to the New Year’s Eve Sunday service, tears began to freely flow as I realized that my voice was returning to me to sing His praises! The Lord of all creation had heard my desperate cry to restore my voice. He had held my tongue and vocal chords until I could feel His love and joy.

I sang and sang and sang! His praises were freely flowing from my lips as I expressed my gratitude towards my Savior for ransoming me from the bondage of Mormonism and into the loving arms of Jesus Christ. What was I also feeling? The sadness that I had felt for too many years was now being replaced with JOY, a joy that I had never known. My youthful smile was coming back, along with my voice, and my musical gifts that I could not possibly keep to myself. I couldn’t help but share my newfound joy with anyone who was wiling to listen.

Psalm 71: 23 states “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you – I whom you have delivered.”

John 17:13 “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.”

Psalm 5:11 “But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.”

I had never felt this kind of joy and happiness before. It was new to me. I needed to feel more joy, joy that I’d never felt before. It was like I was becoming new, renewed and rejuvenated by the song of redeeming grace. I am a thankful daughter.

 

 

 

 

My Faith Transition from Mormonism to Biblical Christianity (Part 4 – Grace)

Link to Part 3: https://wordpress.com/post/kimthorneharper.wordpress.com/103

The fellowship that I have begun to experience since I became a Christian has been so much more authentic than I ever dreamed possible. I’ve always tried to be transparent in my life, genuine and simply real. The friends who know me well know that with me it’s a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of deal. And my friends mean everything to me.

There is a transformation that takes place once one decides to truly follow Jesus Christ. Even with my linguistic background of many years, I still find it difficult to put into words how my experience has continued to change my life.

I was taught in Mormonism that I needed to perform certain religious acts and ordinances that would eventually help me render myself worthy to be called into God’s presence. We were taught that God’s grace would go into effect “after all that we can do.”

I have since learned that there is nothing that I can do for myself that can make me worthy to be in God’s presence. Anything I can offer Him will be like filthy rags. Grace is a free gift that Jesus Christ has given us, based on what He has done for us, not what we could possibly do for ourselves. Once that knowledge entered into my soul, I knew that the works that I felt pressured to do to earn my worthiness were covered in Christ. That didn’t mean that I would go out and do the things that were prohibited before. To the contrary,  it now meant that I felt an urgent responsibility and duty to share this good news with my fellow men and women who didn’t understand that it was all about Him, not us…

Ephesians 2: 8-9 states: For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.

Romans 11:6 states: But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

One of the key testimonies that helped me understand Grace was the testimony of Micah Wilder from Adam’s Road. He is a former Mormon, who while on his mission trip, converted to Christianity. He has an incredible story that I’m posting here:

https://www.adamsroadministry.com/testimonies

When I heard Micah’s testimony for the first time, I knew that this was going to be my path and that I needed to embrace what grace was and come to understand it freely, as it was the gift Jesus Christ had given me. And that in Him, it was finished.

The Bible has come alive for me now and I love the Word. Many  scriptures such as these now have new meaning: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6).

This version of “Amazing Grace” by Chris Tomlin has become my favorite song, as it describes how grateful I feel towards my Savior: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbe7OruLk8I