Where the Wild Things Are

January 19, 2015 in Angels, Atonement, Holy Ghost, Intuition, Jesus Christ, Lani, Personal Revelation, Power of Words, Traditions, Zion

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? -Matthew 5:13

I was looking in the topical guide of the scriptures under “witness” this morning. As my eyes wandered over the page, they fell on the entry for “witch, witchcraft.” The first scripture under that heading is Exodus 22:18: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” It’s no question that the Law of Moses was intense, and I suppose this statement about witches shouldn’t have surprised me, but still I couldn’t help wincing as I read it. It took me instantly back to my childhood visit to the Salem Witch Museum and my adolescent introduction to Monty Python’s witch scene. How many innocent women have been killed through the ages because they have been labeled as witches? I was relieved to learn that Joseph Smith changed this passage in his translation of Exodus: “The JST refers not to a ‘witch,’ but to a ‘murderer’—’Thou shalt not suffer a murderer to live'” (Source).

Regardless of whether the original text referred to witches or murderers, it’s still clear in the Bible that witchcraft wasn’t kosher. What did the word “witch” mean to the Israelites? According to this commentary: “In every form of witchcraft there is an appeal to a power not acting in subordination to the divine law. From all such notions and tendencies true worship is designed to deliver us.” I think the key in that passage is “an appeal to a power not acting in subordination to the divine law.” True worship is designed to deliver us from anything that is outside of at-one-ment with God. Witchcraft, in that context, would be a form of false worship, one that draws us outside the realm of at-one-ment with God.

Personally, I don’t think God wants any of us labeling each other as witches. But I do think God wants us to draw near unto Him, and at times we need to discern whether a particular practice or person is going to help us at-one with God or take us further away from God. Discernment, not judgment. So many have been called witches or heretics simply because their actions or ideas were different. Wild people can actually be some of the grooviest in God’s eyes. I think we can use the spirit of discernment to determine what type of “wild thing” we’re dealing with.

Wild Thing #1

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This picture cracks me up. I can’t help myself. It comes from the New Testament Stories picture book. This is a wild man. Though the picture makes me laugh, his actual story is no laughing matter. He lived in a cemetery by the Sea of Galilee in mountains and caves, cried all the time, and would cut himself with stones. The people tried to restrain him with chains, but he would just break the chains. It turns out there were thousands of unclean spirits possessing his body, urging him to do wild things. After Jesus Christ cast the spirits out of the man’s body, he was in his “right mind” and wanted to follow Christ (see Mark 5).

Some wild people are much like this man. They do wild things because unclean or evil spirits are in possession of their bodies. There is a distinction between being possessed of evil spirits and being, in fact, evil. This was a good man. We don’t know why the evil spirits flooded his body. Mary called Magdalene (“tower of strength”) had seven devils cast out of her. Personally, I suspect that many who are afflicted with unclean or evil spirits are highly sensitive spiritually but not yet aware of their own power to protect themselves. Unclean spirits, seeking relief from their own torments, hang around these sensitive individuals because of their openness, spiritual awareness, and healing potential. This would include some who experience what the world calls “mental illness.”

I don’t have time to go into this subject further, but I will say that throughout Christ’s ministry he spent a lot of time casting spirits out of good people. Look past behavior and into people’s hearts. The Holy Ghost can guide us to know how to help them. Generally, chains are a bad idea, I think.

Wild Thing #2

So this guy named Korihor started preaching. What he said was kind of wild, very unconventional, anti-establishment stuff. Korihor wanted the people to leave behind their religious beliefs and practices which he called “foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads” (Alma 30). On the surface, his words seemed to be about empowerment and freedom, so lots of people liked what he had to say. Elder Faust has said, “Satan is the world’s master in the use of flattery, and he knows the great power of speech, a power his servants often employ” (Source).

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This picture cracks me up too (source).

Using the spirit of discernment, Giddonah (the high priest) saw the hardness of Korihor’s heart, refused to contend with him, and sent him to Alma. After conversing with Alma and begging for a sign, Korihor was struck dumb. In his shock and despair, Korihor explained (in writing) that he had been deceived by a devil disguised as an angel of light (vs. 53). Because of the “angel’s” words, Korihor believed that he was doing the right thing, that he was “reclaiming the people” who had “gone astray.” Deep down Korihor “always knew that there was a God,” but he allowed himself to be deceived because the words given to him by the angel of darkness were “pleasing unto the carnal mind” a.k.a. ego/natural man.

Sometimes it’s hard to discern what is right and what is wrong. Is a revelation coming from God or is it the whisperings of the devil? Being anti-establishment wasn’t Korihor’s crime. Christ himself was very anti-establishment. Christ was the supreme “wild man.” Rather, Korihor’s downfall was allowing himself to be deceived by pleasing words. If what a “wild person” says sounds empowering but comes from a place of anger and accusation and anti-Christ, the Holy Ghost will guide us to discard their words and pull away from their influence. “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 Nephi 11:29).

Wild Thing #3

Now I’d like to head over and visit Enoch for a bit. God called Enoch to prophesy to the people. At the time, Enoch was overwhelmed, saying, “Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?” God assured Enoch, saying, “Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance” (Moses 6). This seems to be a pattern with God. He likes to pick the weathered and lowly as spokespeople.

So Enoch went among the people, stood up on high places, and spoke (loudly) the words that God gave to him. In response the people said:

“There is a strange thing in the land; a wild man hath come among us.”

The people were deeply offended by Enoch’s words.  Unlike Korihor’s, Enoch’s words were not “pleasing unto the carnal mind.” Sometimes wild people say things that make us uncomfortable. What Enoch said was true, but it made the people very uncomfortable.

If someone’s words make us uncomfortable, the answer is not to automatically discard those words but rather to dive into ourselves and determine why those words are making us uncomfortable. Are the words attempting to pull us out of our comfort zones into an opportunity for growth? God delights in provoking us to leave behind comfort when it is holding us back from our potential. We can’t always rely on our comfort level as a means of discerning Truth. Follow the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith (Galations 5:22-23).

Enoch was a wild man, but he was a wild man of God. Because some had courage to believe Enoch’s uncomfortable words and be taught by him, Zion was built!

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So, in summary, not all wild people are “witches” or “heretics.” Wild people can actually be spiritual super stars. If Enoch’s city is any indication, I’d wager that the New Jerusalem will be built by a whole lotta wild things. When we’re faced with a weird new idea, practice, or person, we can use the spirit of discernment to determine whether that person, practice, or perception is going to help us at-one with God or take us further away from God. Zion is built only by those who have learned how to at-one with our Heavenly Parents through at-one-ment with Christ. Doing what’s right is often unconventional. When in Rome, at-one with Christ regardless of what the Romans are doing. If people call you a “witch” because of it, respond, “I’m not a witch, I’m a wild woman!” And take heart that Enoch’s probably virtually/spiritually fist-bumping you.

Hearts Turning to the Children

January 13, 2015 in Abortion, Intuition, Lani, Missions, Motherhood, Pain, Personal Revelation, Prayer, Prenatal influences, Traumatic Birth

And whoso receiveth one such little one in my name receiveth me. -Matthew 18:5

When I attended Felice’s yoga and meditation retreat at the beginning of the month, it was many things I expected it to be, but there were a few things that surprised me. One of those surprises was how many people told me that they had recently discovered a “castaway” in their family. I knew that the ranks of previously-aborted children coming to earth were growing, but I was still unprepared for the outpouring of witnesses I received at the retreat.

When I began my own journey of discovery with my daughter, I had never heard of “castaways.” I didn’t know anyone who talked about them. Finding and meeting pre-birth expert Sarah Hinze in 2010-2012 was surely no coincidence. Sarah has been a sort of lone voice in the wilderness for the past few decades, sharing her growing pool of case histories about previously-aborted children. She herself was highly skeptical at first. A couple of years ago, Sarah handed me a story that had clearly been typed decades ago and said, “I think this was the first abortion story I ever received.” She shook her head, saying, “I couldn’t believe it was true.” So she had put it away in a file, feeling sure it was an anomaly among pre-birth accounts. But then she received others, and that pushed-aside file started to grow.

Part of one of my favorite paintings (Source)

Part of one of my favorite paintings (Source)

As more and more of these brave and valiant spirits try to make their way to earth again, the powers of darkness are heightening their efforts at preventing their entrance. Personally, I believe that many of these spirits are God’s strongest “warriors.” Satan doesn’t want them here, and he certainly doesn’t want people acknowledging their existence. Revelation chapter 12 takes on new meaning as we consider the vast number of previously-aborted spirits seeking entrance into mortality: “And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born” (vs. 4).

Before I met Sarah, God called me to help rescue these “castaway” children, but it hasn’t been an easy mission call. I was initially a little shell-shocked by the opposition and resistance I encountered from many sides when I joined Sarah in the work of helping these special children tell their stories. So I stepped back a bit from my advocacy efforts.

Since that time, awareness of Sarah’s research has broadened. Though the idea (of aborted souls being given second chances at life) is still far from mainstream, more and more stories are coming out of the woodwork, at least among the people I rub shoulders with. When I think about these “wounded warrior” children, I am grateful for the Spirit of Elijah. The hearts of the fathers and mothers are being turned to the children. As I wrote in our book The Gift of Giving Life:

The Spirit of Elijah will come to all of us.  The tendrils of his spirit reach far and wide—into the hearts of married couples, birth mothers, adoptive parents, foster parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  He calls on the highest and best within each of us to turn and welcome, protect, teach, and nurture the children waiting to be and those already among us.  It may not be easy, but the Lord has promised to help us.

The following is one of the growing number of stories I have received… from a mother whose heart has turned in love to her castaway child:

My first child’s arrival was surrounded with anticipation and joy. I was so thrilled to become a mother, and my husband and I were happy to start our family. We loved our little boy so much, but we quickly discovered that he came to earth with various issues. We wanted to help our son, but struggled to know what to do. He had severe separation anxiety, was only happy in my arms, struggled to bond to his father, and seemed to have “colic” and night terrors. I intuitively knew there was a cause behind it and that he was not just crying for no reason. The list went on and on of things that were “wrong” with his physical body. 
  
We tried many elimination diets, we saw many doctors, even natural healers, but did not find answers. I prayed constantly to understand more, to receive answers, and felt disappointed when I didn’t receive those answers immediately. I tried to have faith that God would give us answers eventually, and tried to be the best mother I could be.

I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and frustration when I couldn’t comfort my child, especially in the night terrors in which my son screamed in terror. At times I felt angry that my poor little boy had to suffer for reasons I didn’t understand. As he grew from a sweet newborn to tenderhearted toddler and fun preschooler, our love for him only increased, but we also felt sorrow that we hadn’t solved all of his problems. 

When my son was four years old, I was praying one morning, and I saw, in my mind, or in a vision, my sweet little boy, in the womb of another woman. I felt the pain, the fear, the emotional distress he was in as he was aborted. Amazed, saddened, and yet grateful to have this knowledge, I asked God, “Is there anything else I need to know about this?” And again in my mind, I saw that the woman who had aborted him was my sister, much older than me, who had been raped in college. In my mind, I could feel the fear and emotional pain of both my son and my sister. I cried for both of them. 

Later that day I felt confirmation that what I had learned about my son being a “castaway” was true. As my husband and I discussed it, we suddenly understood why our baby had been scared of strangers, especially strange men, and feared separation from me, his mother. Puzzle pieces seemed to come together as our hearts were given this knowledge. We felt a new level of gratitude to have our little boy be a part of our family and a new responsibility as we begin this journey of healing. 

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The Accuser and the Advocate

January 5, 2015 in Atonement, Events, Grace, Jesus Christ, Lani, Love, Marriage, meditation, Parenting, Savior, Zion

“Cease to find fault one with another” (D&C 88:124).

IMG_1930A couple of days ago, I attended Felice’s New Year, New You Retreat at a gorgeous home in Cottonwood Canyon. We ate, prayed, did yoga, meditated, danced, sang, made new friends, took gong naps, and journeyed into guided imagery. During one of our breaks, we had discussion groups. I attended a group facilitated by Andy Rasmussen discussing how we can create Zion in our hearts. It was AWESOME. We only talked for forty minutes or so, but I learned so much during that brief discussion. Little seeds of truth entered my mind and heart, changing me, expanding inside of me, and altering my paradigm completely.

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One of those seeds of truth has been filling my thoughts ever since, continuing to teach me. As we discussed some of the obstacles holding us back from creating Zion within ourselves and our communities, Andy said:

“Satan means ‘the accuser.’ Anytime you accuse someone, you’re acting in the role of Satan.”

Whoah. This bit of truth shook my entire soul with a deafening impact that echoed for days. Before I say anything else, I want to make a distinction. For the purposes of our discussion here, when I talk about making accusations or being an accuser, I’m not referring to legal matters or matters of serious abuse. There are times when it is necessary to be “accusers” and bear witness of crimes committed. If you have needed to do this, I’m not suggesting that you are, therefore, like Satan. For the purposes of our discussion–how we can build Zion in our hearts–I’m referring to our day to day interactions with people.

Yesterday, as we took our long road trip from UT to AZ, we were listening to Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly. She talks about how destructive shame is in our lives. Shame is different from guilt. Guilt prompts us to make positive changes. Shame, on the other hand, keeps us stuck in bad behavior. Brené Brown explains it well here:

The thing to understand about shame is it’s not guilt. Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.” . . . Guilt: I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Shame: I’m sorry. I am a mistake. (Source)

Shame says: “I am not enough. I will never be enough. I cannot change.” Though she doesn’t talk about Satan, Brene Brown does refer often to the shame scripts that run through our heads as “the gremlins.” I think it’s safe to say that Satan is the author of shame, and accusations are one of his primary weapons against us. Satan is the Accuser. We read in Revelation 12 (one of my favorite chapters in the Bible):

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death (vs. 10-11).

In our discussion about Zion at the retreat, one of the participants asked a question about how we can maintain pure hearts in the face of difficult relationships or disagreements. I have continued pondering that question. Yesterday morning, as we packed up for our road trip, I asked God and myself: “If Satan would be the ‘Accuser’ in a personal conflict, who would Christ be?” Without skipping a beat, the answer came: the Advocate. Jesus Christ does not induce shame in our hearts. He believes we are worthy of love, no matter what we have done. “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). The word translated as “advocate” in this passage is translated differently in other parts of the scriptures:

The exact word is only used elsewhere by the apostle John (John 14:16,26; 15:26; 16:7), where it is rendered “Comforter” (KJV), or “Counselor” (RSV, NIV). Each of the four uses is referring to the help Father and Son provided the apostles through the holy spirit, and from which we greatly benefit in their recorded words. (Source)

Jesus is our advocate, our helper, our comforter, our counselor, and all of this He does with the Father in our behalf. They, together, help us climb out of the pit of shame and into the light of change and peace and love and hope. “The sons of Mosiah went from being ‘the very vilest of sinners’ to being men like Moroni and ‘men of God.’ This was only possible because of the Atonement and the life-changing, healing influence it has on the children of men” (Ronald E. Terry).

I like this explanation of how the blood of the Lamb overcomes Satan’s accusations against us:

There is a passage in Numbers where [Balak] tried to curse the children of Israel. [Balaam, the prophet Balak begged to curse the Israelites] said: How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed? He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob. “Can’t you see, God? Look there.” He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob. Now, why not? Well, there was a little lamb that shed his blood, and the blood was taken and spread all over the mercy seat. Underneath that mercy seat was . . . the Ten Commandments. It was a covenant of God. It came here between a holy God and the blood on the mercy seat, which looked forward to the Lamb of God. . . . Because of the blood, I do not see any iniquity behind. The blood answers all of the accusations of the Devil against us. . . . God says, “I don’t see it.” . . . When you take it to the Lord and ask for forgiveness, it is under the blood. It is gone forever. (Dr. J.B. Buffington, “The Accuser of the Brethren“)

What if we not only thought of Christ’s blood but also the blood of each and every person’s mother as the blood spilled on the altar for humanity. No spirit has come into this world without the blood of his/her mother being shed for that birth. And we all must rely on the blood of Christ for our rebirth(s). Can we remember those blood sacrifices when we are faced with someone we might wish to accuse or criticize? Can we remember the blood that was shed so that this person might live and learn and grow? Are we trying to wrench the sins of others out from under the Savior’s blood that has already been spilled for them? Are we playing the role of the Accuser, saying, “Can’t you see, God? Look there.” How do we become Christ, the Advocate, in the face of a difficult relationship problem? Let’s look at the words of Christ for guidance:

  • He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. (John 8:7)
  • Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? . . . Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:10-11)
  • Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)
  • For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17)
  • Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22)
  • Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

One of the primary reasons that the Saints were unable to establish Zion in the 1800’s is because there were “jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes . . . among them” (D&C 101:6). As M. Catherine Thomas explains, “The ‘jarrings and contentions’ point to a basic impurity in the human heart, that is, enmity, which can be defined as hostility, hatred, or contempt for another person. . . . [Christ] says that when He comes again, and the veil over the earth is taken off, the powerful glory accompanying Him will consume every corruptible thing of man or beast, that is, will consume any being that has enmity of any degree in its heart (D&C 101:26)” (Light in the Wilderness, p. 152). If we want to create Zion in our own hearts, families, homes, and communities, we have to renounce enmity and become Advocates instead of Accusers.

All of this pondering has led me to want to say/show to everyone with whom I cross paths, particularly those whom I might be tempted to call my “enemies”:

“I am your advocate with the Father.”

When angry or defensive words may enter my mind or yearn to be spoken by my mouth, I want to replace those thoughts with that: I am your advocate with the Father. I want to renounce enmity. I want to reach out to others who may hurt me, to recognize that their actions (no matter how vile) are covered in the blood of the Lamb, to remember the blood of their mothers, and to perceive that any critical words they may hurl toward me are really coming from the Accuser. I want to be an advocate, working with God, to transform contentious situations into moments of hope, healing, and peace. I am your advocate with the Father.

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P.S. I wish I had experienced this epiphany before I wrote my essays on unity in The Gift of Giving Life. Sigh.

He Is a God of Miracles and Blessings

December 21, 2014 in Angels, Book, Book reviews, Conversion, Divine nature, Guest Post, Lani, Miracles, Power of Words, Prayer

This morning I was reading a Christmas newsletter from my friend Sarah Hinze. I so loved a story she shared that I asked her permission to post it here. I hope you love it too.

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He Is a God of Miracles and Blessings

By Sarah Hinze

Actress and director Angelina Jolie is not known as a praying woman. Recently, due to a severe storm she, as director, was in danger of failing to complete the final scene of the inspiring film, Unbroken. With no relief in sight, it is reported that Angelina suddenly dropped to her knees in front of the entire crew and prayed for God’s help. Within moments the rain ceased, the clouds parted and the sun shown through providing the needed light for the cameras. Her prayer brought a divine and miraculous result.

I share this story because I had a similar experience when filming a TV show about We Lived in Heaven a few years ago. A television producer from the show Angels and Miracles called and arranged to send a crew to interview me. The director hired a local camera crew and was scheduled to arrive at 10:00 am on a Sunday morning. I was up early, getting ready when I walked into the foyer by the front door. I stopped short. There was a baby dove on the entry table sitting calmly beneath a large painting of Christ. How?

I looked around. The front door was still locked tight from the night before. Morning doves, friendly, cooing little gray and white birds, are daily visitors to our front lawn, but how did this little creature get inside?

Carefully I picked up the tiny bird and stood quietly, completely bewildered. The bird was totally calm. Holding it seemed to bring peace to my anxious heart. It looked up at me with its tiny little eyes as if it were bringing me a message. Through this tiny creature, I felt the blessings of God would be with me as I worked on the day’s filming. Although I am always grateful to share my message, I typically have a bit of anxiety before filming.

I looked at the baby bird, this tiny creation of God, and allowed its calm energy to fill my heart. I finally walked out my front door and held the bird up to the branch of a tree. It hopped on and I whispered “Can you go find your mommy?” The little bird took off like a shot to the very top of a grandfather pine tree in our side yard.

At 10:00 am, the doorbell rang and I invited the director, the camera crew, and their miles and miles of electrical cords into my house. Everything that goes with sound, lighting and filming was promptly set up in my living room and I was invited to sit on a chair in front of the camera.

“Please introduce yourself. State your full name and then spell it,” the director requested.

I was familiar with this routine. “My name is Sarah Hinze.” Suddenly, POP, POP, POP! Every light in the room shut off.

“What’s going on?” the director asked.

“The sound is down, too,” the guy behind the camera said. “And my camera isn’t working.” They looked into the next room where the lights were still on.

This had happened to me before, so I was pretty sure I knew what was going on. I said, “I think I have an idea what has happened. There is energy with this work that sometimes affects electrical equipment.” I said no more, but could feel the force of spirit children present. They often show up when I speak on their behalf.

“This has never happened,” the director said. “What should we do?”

“I’ll pray. Will you join me?” I offered. When I didn’t hear any objections, I proceeded to ask God to help the equipment work and for all of those involved in any way to feel the love that was here with us as the angel children were present. I asked that the electricity be restored so we could conduct the interview.

Within a minute or so of praying, everything came back on. The crew was subdued and experienced greater feelings of reverence than normal. As they finished I thanked them and gave each one a copy of We Lived in Heaven.

A few weeks later one of the camera crew from that show called, “I am reading your book and I am so amazed at the message. Am I really a child of God?”

welivedinheavenThis simple message was a new idea to this man. I am always humbled when others learn this concept for the first time. We spoke for almost half an hour. I explained how there are spirits in heaven eager to come to earth, as was he before he was born. I reassured him, “Yes, you are absolutely a child of God, sent to this earth with a mission to love and serve your fellowman.”

He concluded, “The experience filming in your home, the prayer and reading your book has been life changing for me.”

****

Sarah’s book We Lived in Heaven has recently been republished. She is offering a special deal for the book now. Through the month of January, you can order this book directly from her at sarah@sarahhinze.com for $10 each or two copies for $18, including shipping to anywhere in the USA. If you would like it autographed, let her know. Send her an e-mail or visit her website at www.SarahHinze.com for ordering details. We Lived in Heaven is also available on Kindle at Amazon.com.

The Messenger

December 3, 2014 in Adoption, Angels, Book, Depression, Dreams, Lani

sarahandmeFor many years, I have been fascinated by pre-birth experiences (PBEs). I have also had the privilege of sharing a heaven-sent friendship with Sarah Hinze, the expert on PBEs with decades of research. Her website explains PBEs in more detail:

In a typical prebirth experience (PBE), a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, etc., receives communication from a child before she is born, or in many cases, before he was even conceived. These unborn children at times can warn, protect and enlighten us through the veil.

Most of my children appeared to me in dreams or visions before they were born. I have written about some of those experiences on my blog (see HERE, HERE). I cherish these glimpses from beyond the veil.

Last week I wrote a blogpost on my blog about an encounter with an “angel.” Angels have been on my mind a lot lately. So when I was at the dollar store today and saw a little book called Moments with Angels (by Robert Strand), I picked it up. Robert Strand is a pastor who has spent thirty years collecting inspirational stories like the ones in Moments With Angels. I’ve only read a few of the stories so far, but I’d say it was worth $1, especially after finding a pre-birth experience on p. 21. Definitely money well-spent. I instantly wanted to share the brief PBE/angel story here. Here’s an excerpt:

Yvonne (name changed) was 17, pregnant, penniless, and afraid. She was at her wits’ end not knowing what to do. . . . Nightly, she cried herself to sleep.

Then, one night an angel appeared to her in a dream. It said, “Don’t be afraid. Everything will be fine because you and your baby will be well taken care of.”

The angel pulled back the curtain and gave her a look into the future. Yvonne watched as her baby, healthy, strong, and beautiful was placed by the angel into the arms of a wonderful, caring, loving couple. The next scene showed the baby as a grown woman, mature and happy. The angel told her God was concerned about the baby and would work it all out for good for her as-yet-unborn child. Then the angel turned to Yvonne and touched her with a light that seemed to give off a warm glow that stayed with Yvonne in her heart.

As Yvonne awoke the next morning she felt wonderful, loved, and that everything would be worked out for the best. On this same day she was introduced to a lady who told her about a support group/home for unwed mothers. The next day Yvonne found herself in attendance with this support group where she found healing. . . . Her choice was to give birth and place the child with a Christian adoption agency.

God is good.

I love Maggie’s Place, a local support home for pregnant women in need. I hope to be more involved in their mission as my children get older.

More stories like this one:

Saved from Suicide
Caleb-Colton
Ready to Receive
More stories collected by Sarah
Sarah’s soon-to-be-released book

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Gift Babies: Hollie’s First Birth

December 1, 2014 in Birth Stories, Book, Fear, hospital birth, Lani, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

We love hearing uplifting birth stories from our readers! Do you have a gift baby? A “gift baby” was born under the influence of The Gift of Giving Life. Please send us your gift baby stories! Here’s one from Hollie:

It took three pregnancy tests to convince me this was really happening. We were married only a month and a half and now a baby was coming. My initial feelings were absolute fear. How on earth could I do this? I was in my second year at university and we were living off of Marks part-time job. This was not the time for having a baby (or so I had thought). If I’m being totally honest, my feelings went a lot deeper and lot more personal than this. All I knew was that I was very much pregnant, and I very much didn’t want to be. I think what was most difficult about dealing with this situation was the guilt that came with it. How could I not want a perfect little son or daughter? I had spent my entire teenaged life dreaming of having a family and now faced with the reality I just wanted a way out.

I felt awful. I kept imagining the beautiful child inside me and thinking ‘How can I not want you?’ I spent a lot of time on my knees and shed an awful lot of tears. A trip to the states and a browse in one of my favourite book shops solved everything. As I stared at the cover of The Gift of Giving Life I felt a little sense of excitement about being able to feel the spirit about being pregnant and giving birth. After reading the contents and seeing the sort of discussions that I would be able to partake of, I knew I had to take this book home. And I was right. This book calmed all of my fears and totally blew my mind. I read the whole thing slowly, and over the course of the nine months. I managed to finish it the week before I gave birth.

One of my favourite parts was reading the thoughts and feelings of a woman who seemed to have been able to put into words the way I had felt when I found out I was pregnant. I remember thinking ‘It’s okay. I’m not the only one. It’s okay to feel like that.’ And that’s all I needed. To know that it was okay to be pregnant and not want to be. After I came to terms with that, I could accept it, take time to heal and figure out that this was the best time for a baby and that although it wasn’t part of our plan, it was definitely a part of Gods plan.

So there I was – five days overdue and at 4 am the contractions woke me up. They were hard, fast and very painful. I was hurting, but I wasn’t afraid and I wasn’t panicked. I was very calm and very focused. I had a firm belief that this was my purpose and what I was designed to do. I knew I could do it and I knew there was no need to worry. I had learned from reading my book that women who have a great fear of giving birth actually tend to have longer labours or complications in childbirth compared with women who are not afraid and keep calm. I even researched this by asking women that I knew, and it seemed to be true. I had great faith that if I stayed calm and had courage that I could do this.

I listened to the sound of rainfall and did my breathing exercises whilst sitting on the bathroom floor trying to figure out when was the right time to call my husband home and when we should go to the hospital. I was so confused – my sister had given birth three days prior and she had been in labour for 40 hours but this was happening so fast. The contractions were almost over-lapping and they were extremely painful. This was difficult for me to deal with without getting panicked, but I just kept telling myself that I could do it and that it would be over soon. This wasn’t going to go on forever, and when it was over I’d have a beautiful little girl to spend everyday with.

At 8.45 am Mark came home, and we called the hospital. It was quite far away so I was reluctant to go in and be assessed because I knew if I wasn’t at least 4 cm dilated they would send us back home. But the contractions were so fast and we felt we should go. We arrived at 10.20 am and after assessment I was told I was 5cm – wow! This was happening quickly. I had always imagined lying on a bed to give birth but sitting down just wasn’t an option in reality. I could feel so much pressure like the baby was coming already so I just had to stand. And I was right – she was coming, and I couldn’t control the urges to push. With my husband there to witness the most incredible moment of our lives and my mother there to hold my hand and motivate me to push that little bit harder, my little Lillie was born at 12.31 pm. It was quick and painful, but I loved every single second. I have never felt anything so exciting and exhilarating. Giving birth to my little girl was the best experience I’ve ever had. It was so positive and so within my capacity. I felt wonderful and so happy to finally have this beautiful, perfect girl.

I truly believe that I owe my birth experience to the things I learned and kept with me from The Gift of Giving Life. I will always treasure the special things I read in it and shared with my husband. I will always treasure calling my sister who was also pregnant with her first and discussing the things we read in this wonderful book. And I will always read this book throughout my pregnancies. It is one of the best books I have ever read and I urge every woman, mother, mother-to be to take in its words and let their hearts be touched.
holliebirth
holliesleeping
holliehusband

P.S. We’ve discounted The Gift of Giving Life for the holidays! Click HERE to snag this super deal!

Born Again

November 13, 2014 in Atonement, Depression, Divine nature, Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ, joy, Lani, Rebirth, Savior

This morning I was rereading some of my favorite book, Light in the Wilderness by M. Catherine Thomas. Chapter ten is about being transformed and born again, swallowed up in Christ. For some, like Alma the Younger, this transformation happens in a dramatic and instantaneous way. For most of us, however, “we are born again by degrees,” as Elder Bruce R. McConkie has said (p. 217). The latter has definitely been true for me.

Looking back, I can recognize pivotal times of transition throughout my life when I moved from a lower to a higher plane… when I was baptized, the first time I felt God’s love wash away my heartache as a teenager, starting college, receiving my endowment, giving birth to each of my children, starting my blog, moving to Arizona, writing The Gift of Giving Life, grieving my grandmother’s death, learning to meditate, surviving this year. Sometimes the process was relatively painless, but other times it was steep and intense. The end result was always the same, however. Joy. Every time we are born again, our capacity for joy is heightened.

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This past Sunday I had a taste of the heightened joy that is my reward for my most recent transformative rebirth. I have sat through thousands of Sacrament meetings in my thirty-four years. I have felt the Spirit thousands of times while sitting in those Sacrament meetings. Feeling the Spirit was as familiar to me as feeling hungry or cold. But for most of the past six months, my ability to feel and recognize the Holy Spirit was virtually gone. I felt cut off from heaven, truth, light. This is a byproduct of mental illness for some of us. And it’s absolutely horrific. I think it’s fair to say that this inability to feel the Spirit has been a small glimpse of the bitterness of hell. These words describing hell from Life Everlasting by Duane S. Crowther brought this point home to me a few days ago:

What is the darkness in which these spirits dwell? It appears that it is a complete absence of the light, guidance, truth, and inspiration of Christ.(p. 160).

I was grateful to be reminded by Truman G. Madsen recently that Christ has personally seen and felt that horrifically dark place. “He was ‘in all points tempted like as we are’ (Paul), with ‘temptations of every kind’ (Alma). How low then can we go in our thoughts? Not as low as he in the contemplation of evil. He was tempted through ‘the darkest abyss’ and ‘descended below all things'” (Christ and the Inner Life, p. 35). It was quite an epiphany to realize that if I had been tempted to end my own life, Christ himself was also tempted to do so.

So having spent six months inhabiting a body that no longer felt the Spirit in the ways I was used to, seeing a dark and hellish abyss, sitting through Sacrament meetings devoid of any “warm fuzzies” or “burning in the bosoms,” you can imagine my surprise and delight when I felt something last Sunday in Sacrament meeting. And I didn’t just feel a little something, my entire body was on fire. And I cried and cried and cried. And I felt the Spirit burning away months of ache, jump-starting my spiritual instruments, blazing them to life again. And I cried and cried and cried. Bliss. That. That is what bliss feels like. And I think it’s fair to say that I have now had a small taste of what heaven feels like.

I adore this passage from F. Enzio Busche’s amazing talk, “Truth Is the Issue“:

This is that place where the conversion and the rebirth of the soul are happening. This is the place where the prophets were before they were called to serve. . . . This is the place where sanctifications and rededications and renewal of covenants are happening. This is the place where suddenly the atonement of Christ is understood and embraced. This is the place where suddenly, when commitments have solemnly been established, the soul begins to “sing the song of redeeming love” and indestructible faith in Christ is born (Alma 5:26). This is the place where we suddenly see the heavens open as we feel the full impact of the love of our Heavenly Father, which fills us with indescribable joy. With this fulfillment of love in our hearts, we will never be happy anymore just by being ourselves or living our own lives. We will not be satisfied until we have surrendered our lives into the arms of the loving Christ, and until He has become the doer of all our deeds and He has become the speaker of all our words.

I clap my hands for joy and exclaim with King Benjamin’s people: “This is the desire of my heart!” I want to be changed from this carnal and fallen state, become a new creature in Christ, a branch on His vine, the hands and voice that do and speak His will in every circumstance. My brother reminded me (when I was feeling hopeless) a couple of weeks ago that it’s my choice, that I can achieve the future I yearn for simply by choosing it every day. I choose to believe that I will get there someday.

my phoenix shirt

my phoenix shirt

God Keeps His Promises, part 2

October 15, 2014 in Adversity, Depression, Fear, Lani, Personal Revelation, Priesthood blessings, Waiting

Back in March I wrote a post called “God Keeps His Promises.” Feel free to click over and read it. The main part I want to draw your attention to is this:

I wondered, “Will I need to take this medicine for the rest of my life?” . . .

In another priesthood blessing, God answered my question: “You will be able to be happy without medication.” He didn’t tell me how long it would take, but I was satisfied with just knowing that someday I’d get there. And so I went on, taking my medication, feeling grateful for my rescue from the darkness. . . .

About a year ago, I started cutting back on my dose, little by little, very slowly, adding in supplements recommended by readers and friends to ease the withdrawal. I took a dose last Tuesday, but when I was due for another dose I felt restrained from taking it. The next day I felt restrained, and the next, and the next. I didn’t hear a voice, but I felt a message in my gut: “You’re ready. It’s time.” . . .

The other night, I asked for another priesthood blessing. He said, “God wants to remind you of the promises He has made to you. He will keep those promises.”

It has been seven months. Five of those were excruciating on many levels. Once again I’m taking medication… the same medication God prompted me to stop taking in March. Once again I’m depending upon a pill to remain calm and happy. Needless to say this has been a confusing year.

For much of May and June, as I battled severe anxiety and depression and finally surrendered to the necessity of re-medicating myself, I wondered, “Why would God tell me to stop taking my medication if I was going to crash without it?” Then I stumbled on a video that brought me a lot of peace. It shares a story told by Jeffrey R. Holland…

I took a dead end. Clearly the wrong road. Retraced my steps and got back on the right road. Why did I feel that the dead end was the proper road to take if it wasn’t? When I saw this video, my heart flared with the Spirit and I felt like Jeffrey R. Holland was speaking right to me. Now I can know with a certainty that I’m on the right road for me. I also know that my dead-end detour this summer served many purposes, many of them probably unknown to me, but some of them made clear to me many times over. It was not a waste. Many lives were blessed by it, including my own.

But what about God’s promise that I would be healed and be happy without medication? When I told my (Mormon) psychiatrist about those promises, he encouraged me to re-read a couple of talks. One of them I have adored since I first heard it spoken: “Like a Broken Vessel,” also from Jeffrey R. Holland. He urges:

If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.

This message from a friend also helped me come to peace:

Through prayer, meditation and personal revelation I’ve learned that it’s possible for me to have bipolar and be perfect/whole/complete. And it’s part of God’s plan for me to be medicated. . . . That was God’s answer for me. Not to be healed. For now or for this life? I don’t know. I know I will come forward in the Resurrection whole and perfect and I cling to that hope.

We live in a fallen world. For some of our brains and bodies, the world’s fallen nature has a deeper impact. My pure immortal spirit wanted to flee my fallen body so desperately this year. Enduring the darkness was excruciating. But, for now, medication is God’s compensation to me for the disparities between my spirit and my body. For now, a pill is what is making my brain and body bearable for my spirit. For now, the healing power of God has not removed my body’s weaknesses but enabled me to thrive in spite of them. It is not the healing I wanted or expected, but it is a healing of sorts. But mortality is brief. I will spend most of my existence free of medication. Someday I will be happy without medication. Until then, I’m OK with it.

Giveaway Winners!

May 11, 2014 in Giveaways, Lani, Virtual Book Tour

We hope you enjoyed our Virtual Book Tour 2014! And we want to tell all of you this Mother’s Day… You Are Beautiful! You Are Powerful!

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A big thank you to everyone who contributed blogposts for our Virtual Book Tour! A big thank you to everyone who participated in various ways through the giveaway entries! An extra-big thank you to those who donated prizes! And congratulations to our prize winners!

Our randomly selected Rafflecopter prize winners are….

Prize #1: Wrap-style baby carrier with tree panel…. April L.

Prize #2: Blood-Water-Spirit charm bracelet…. Jennifer H.

Prize #3: Mini-maternity portrait session…. Janice M.

Prize #4: Tree of life pendant necklace…. Brittany H.

Prize #5: Early-bird access to our spiritual childbirth education webinar series….

Melissa G.

Accalia H.

Shelly L.

Watch for an email from me so we can arrange to have your prizes delivered to you!

Healing Heartbreak

May 8, 2014 in Adversity, Book reviews, Fertility, Grief, Lani, Loss, miscarriage, Pregnancy, Virtual Book Tour

Today’s Virtual Book Tour post comes from Brittney at Notes from a Been-There Mom. Brittney has shared some of her journey on our blog before–the birth story of her fourth baby, born with a cleft palate. Since that birth, she has experienced multiple heart-breaking miscarriages. Those losses have inspired her to partner with me in creating a book for moms mourning miscarriages: Light in the Mourning. You can read more about that project and how to submit stories HERE.

Three weeks before Brittney's first miscarriage

Three weeks before Brittney’s first miscarriage

Here’s an excerpt from Brittney’s beautiful post today:

Day after day, I walked past a copy of The Gift of Giving Life on my dresser. I felt a pull toward it. The book felt like a warm spot it a cold world. But I couldn’t pick it up. The last thing I wanted to read about was the joy of all those moms with beautiful round bellies birthing their healthy babies. (Clearly it had been a while since I’d visited those pages.)

Finally the book won. I decided I’d read all the ribbon stories I’d always skipped but that was it. (Stories mentioning loss are marked with a ribbon to protect the faint of heart like me.) My heart broke as I read stories of mothers suffering; mothers who endured trials I would have thought unendurable. I felt the greatness, strength and beauty of the authors through their words and suddenly found myself in the best of company. I wanted to change their stories, breathe life into their babies and hold them up. Instead, in their respective times of darkness, these women found peace. They found light. I kept reading.

Brittney’s post brought me to tears. I so appreciate her willingness to share her courageous journey. You can read the rest of her post HERE.