Saturday, October 8, 2016
Before I married Dave, most of you know that I was inactive in my church for 11 years. During that time I committed a lot of sins by my church standards. I didn't feel like I was living up to my potential, and I knew I could do better. I was searching for a way to change my life and be happy again. Something I didn't think possible. That's when Dave came into my life.
8 years later, and I'm still so grateful that I took the opportunity to come back to the church. When I made that decision, I had to repent for many things. I had to make peace with my past, and my Heavenly Father. The only way I could do this, is by using the atonement of Jesus Christ.
I'll never forget getting on my knees for the first time in years and asking for forgiveness. It was something I had never done. I had never actually asked my Heavenly Father to forgive me of my sins. It was a very humbling, and a remorseful moment for me. It changed into something beautiful though.
A few months after getting on my knees that first time, I was getting interviewed for my temple recommend, so I could marry my eternal companion in the house of the Lord. I was sitting across from my bishop when a beautiful feeling I had never experienced before, washed over me. It brought me to tears. I didn't know what to say and I didn't know what was going on. That amazing Bishop looked at me and said, "Can you feel that? That's the Holy Ghost confirming to you that you're worthy to enter God's temple." It was one of the most amazing moments of my life. I knew right then that I wanted that feeling to continue, and that I would follow it's promptings as long as my Father allowed me to experience it.
Over the next few years I found out what the atonement truly can do. As I continued to live my life, and live the best way that I knew how, I started to realize that my past sins were washing from my mind. I could no longer recall many of the experiences that I had repented about. I didn't feel shame, or guilt, anymore. I was finding peace within myself and learning the love of my Savior. I was allowing myself to truly take advantage of the greatest gift any of us have ever been given. The atonement of our Savior.
As life progressed, I noticed more and more that my mind wasn't filled with my past sins, but it also wasn't causing me pain for the sins that had been committed against me by others. I was able to forgive them whether they asked for it or not. I was able to let go, and truly move on. The peace and comfort this brought was something I hadn't experienced. I had no idea that the atonement could heal my heart from the pain brought on by the mistakes of others. It was amazing.
The last thing the atonement did for me, was take away the pains of mortality regarding my mental illness; Bi-polar 1 disorder. I noticed over time that I was no longer feeling empty when I would be manic or depressed. Even though my moods didn't stop, and I still battled those dark days, I was learning to appreciate my illness. I was learning to be more patient with others and myself. I was more empathetic, kind, and compassionate, to those that suffer from mental illness. I was also finally able to thank my Heavenly Father for making my brain, a Bi-polar brain. It makes me the Jilly that I love. It allows me a different way of thinking and helps me to be more aware of those around me. Because of the atonement, I can finally say that I'm grateful for this disease and the power to learn how to work with it.
The atonement is the greatest gift ever given to us. It's the power that will allow us to one day return to a loving Father in Heaven. It's the only way we will get to be in his presence again, and there's nothing greater than that. Because our Savior loved us enough to give his life for us, we are able to have all the gifts that God can give. That's simply amazing to me.
I now understand a bit better what the atonement is and that it works for everyone, members and nonmembers alike. All you have to do is simply believe that your Savior can heal you. He can heal you from your own mistakes, the pains caused by others, and even the pains of mortality. Life will be easier, and more beautiful if you will make Jesus Christ apart of your life.Whether you're apart of my religion or not. Christ is for all of us.
The atonement is real. I'm living proof that your sins may be scarlet, but they can turn white as snow, and they can even be forgotten. I promise to each of you, that if you ask for his grace to come upon you and turn your heart to him, your life will change in ways you can't imagine possible. I know this, because that's exactly what happened to me. I promise it can happen to you too.
Monday, August 15, 2016
I'm not one of those people that hides their sins from the world. I live by the code that no one can use anything against me because most of the time, I've already shared it. I feel as though we need people to be real and talk about their faults, mistakes, screw ups, and fails. It's the way we relate to each other, and find that we can lean on one another. Admitting that you're not perfect all the time is one of the greatest things about being human. Let's face it, I'm a sinner and I'm proud of it.
In my religion we have a strict code of conduct. There are things you can do and things you're not supposed to do. Drinking coffee, not swearing, being nice, not being vain, etc. These are some things that are extremely difficult for me, and I'm not embarrassed to say it. I make mistakes every day and these are just a few.
I'm the girl that has an unhealthy addiction to the delicious little black drink. Coffee. From the time I was 11 years old, I would drink the stuff every day with my aunt and grandma. It was disgusting at first, but like most things, I learned to love it. Over the years as I left the church, I didn't care that I drank it. It wasn't until I came back to the church that I realized I had to try harder. I do now. I try a lot harder than I ever have. You know what though, I still have a cup of coffee 1 or 2 times a month. I go into Starbucks, smell the delicious aroma, and realize why I love this place. I'll order a cup, and know that it's okay. It's okay because I'm a sinner. I admit it, I acknowledge it, and I love it. The world is not going to tumble down because Jill had a coffee.
Swearing. If you know anything about me, you know that I cuss like a sailor. It's one of my hardest habits to break. I just love to swear. You just can't empathize somethings without a good 'ol swear word. Every time I cross the line and use one a bit too harsh, I make a goal to not screw up again. Guess what though, I inevitably screw up again. I screw up because I'm a sinner. It's okay. I know I am, and it's just fine.
I'm not always nice to people. I have a bitchy attitude sometimes and I act like a brat. I'm not always on my best behavior. There are days when I'm running late and I don't want to have to put forth any extra effort. There are days when I curse people around me, get frustrated by ignorant people, and curse the ground that some people walk on. Most days I'm nice Jill, and can love the world, but sometimes I'm just not. It's okay. You're not a bad person because you're not nice all the time. You're human. Reality sucks at times but it doesn't mean God hates you, or me.
Being vain. WOW! I suck at this more than anything. Being vain is my number one greatest fault. I love to have name brand purses. I love to have expensive shoes that people know are expensive. I love the nice cars, big houses, cute expensive jeans, and the food from the best restaurants. Being vain though, I love to show it off. I love to take pictures of all my worldly goodies so that I can have people "like" it. It's awful, I know. Since we're being real though, this is real life for me. It's the number 1 sin that I work on more than any other. I have to remember what's important in this life, and remind myself that it's not money. It's incredibly hard, but it's true.
I was reading in the bible with Dave yesterday when I came across St Matthew 9:13-17. It talks about how Jesus goes to the sinners, not the saints. This is the reason I'm writing this post. Church is for sinners. Jesus is for sinners. Believing is for sinners.
When I left the church at age 14, I left because I was sinning and didn't think I was worthy of being there. Over the years I have heard the same thing from lots of people that have left. They didn't keep going because they weren't worthy to go. I wish I could go back and tell them that they're more worthy than anyone! Church is for SINNERS. If it was for perfect people, we wouldn't need to go to church. We wouldn't need to be taught about our Savior, his atonement, or his sacrifice for us. We would simply live and magically return to our Father in Heaven one day. That's not reality. If you sin, you need church. Whatever church that may be it doesn't matter, but you need to know your Father in Heaven loves you regardless if you sin or not.
I know I'm not perfect. I know people judge me all the time, and talk crap behind my back. I slip and swear in my Sunday school class, and my kids just laugh at me. I always make sure to tell them to not be like me though. It's all okay though. I know I sin. I also know my Savior loves me. If he loves me with all of my faults, all of my sins, all my mistakes, and missteps, he loves you too. He doesn't want you to feel alone or left out. He wants to show you that he loves you, and that church is for everyone. Sinners and Non-Sinners alike. We all need Christ in our lives.
So go on and sin. Don't beat yourself up about your mistakes. Simply try a little harder tomorrow, and keep going. You've got this even when you don't think you do. I promise you're not alone with your sins. We all have them, even if some are better at hiding them than others.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
I've often wondered about why there aren't any stories about faithful, and strong, women in the Book of Mormon. If there were stories, I had definitely missed them. It didn't bother me too much because the Book of Mormon is an incredible story regardless. Being a woman though, I would love to know more about the women in those days.
I got incredibly lucky in my search for these stories when a woman contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing her new book. When she told me that it was about women in the Book of Mormon, I jumped at the chance. I couldn't believe that someone had not only found these stories, but actually wrote a book about them as well. I was ecstatic! The best part about this book though, is that it's for all ages of girls, and women.
The "Girls Who Choose God" books are based on the stories of some of the most courageous women that have ever walked this earth. It helps younger girls connect with these women, that we know so little about.
Each new story begins with the most beautiful artwork you've ever seen. Even if you can't read, this book would touch your heart because of the breathtaking pictures. Little girls will love the pictures, teenagers will love the short stories, and moms will love reading their daughters these stories because they are still so relevant in today's society.
We as women will find strength, and gratitude, for the women that walked our path long before we ever came to earth. They paved the way for us, so we would know the type of women we should be. Each story is filled with courage, grace, compassion, service, and love. These women put everyone else before themselves, and because of that, God blessed them during their lives.
I would highly recommend getting this book if you have daughters, grand daughters, or nieces. Every girl/woman in your life will treasure these books. I know this because each of my nieces got them from me for Christmas. They've all told me how much they love them. I can't wait to have my own daughter to read these to one day.
When you purchase these books, you will learn all about the amazing strength of the women in the bible as well as the book of Mormon. I highly suggest getting both. You won't regret it. They have definitely become some of my most favorite books.
To purchase these books, or to simply learn a little more about them click here.
Posted by Jilly Strasburg at 11:27 AM
Monday, November 16, 2015
As most of you that read my blog know, the LDS church just came out with a new, and controversial policy. As most of you also know, I have no issue the LGBT community. My best friends in this world are gay, and I know they were born that way. God loves and accepts them as he does you and me. Now onto the policy and why I'm okay with it.
When the new church policy of not allowing children from Gay couples, to be baptized, I was extremely irritated. I was hurt, frustrated, and extremely confused. Many of my friends posted on Facebook a meme that was Jesus with the Children and basically said that he loves them, but they're not allowed to be with him. In part I completely agreed. That is why I went to my Heavenly Father for counsel.
As I knelt to pray, and ask God to explain this to me, and ease my pain, I didn't received an answer. He didn't tell me why or why not. He simply allowed the holy spirit to comfort my aching heart. Through that Holy Ghost, I was told that there is a specific reason that this policy has been put into place. The church's first and foremost task is to ALWAYS protect the little children. Now, that being said, I don't know how this is supposed to "Protect the Children" but I know it's supposed to.
If you read in 3 Nephi, you'll read about Christ coming to the Nephites. While he is there, he calls the little children to him. He blesses them, loves them, and explains to everyone that the only thing that matters in this world are those sweet, little, innocent children. It's a beautiful story and I'd recommend it to those of my faith, and those not of my faith. You can read it on lds.org
I don't know what the Elders of our church were thinking, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that I don't know "Why?" The reason it doesn't matter is because God knows why. God is in control. He allows us comfort, and peace. He doesn't always allow me to understand everything, but he provides me with the Holy Ghost that brings that peace to my heart that it's okay. This is good. You don't know why, but you don't have to. "Be still, and Know that I am God."
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
I've often been asked how I can believe in a man that lied, misguided, used people, stole, had many wives, and on and on. My answer to that is always the same. It makes me believe in him more. Let me explain.
When I was growing up I was taught that Joseph Smith was basically "Christ incarnate". That always puzzled me because I thought he was just a man that was doing the will of God. Making him the 2nd Christ led me, and so many others to believe he was something different than a man called of God. It led me to believe that he did nothing wrong. That never sat well with me because that meant I couldn't relate to him whatsoever.
At the age of 14 when I left the church I started to read all about the founder of my church. I started to hate him even more. I started to hate him more not because of the things he did, but because of the way I was taught to believe in him in my youth. Joseph Smith wasn't perfect. That's something I've come to love about him now. As a 14 year old girl though, that went against everything I had been taught and everything I believed. What a found out later in life is that to truly know if something is true, you have to discover it for yourself.
I'm having a difficult time with people these days who leave the church in their later years and say they were lied to. It bothers me because I think, "How did you ever say you believed in something when you knew nothing about it in the first place?" The reason I was gone from the church for 10 years was because I had to do my research. I had to know the good and the bad. I had to know it all, because then and only then could I decide if I believed. At the age of 14 I knew that I couldn't tell people I believed in a church I knew nothing about.
As I grew up and studied more and more about Joseph Smith, the more I hated him. The more his lies, secrets, and actual history, came to me; I despised him. I thought he was a liar, cheat, and a thief. If we're being realistic, he kind of was. The thing that occurred to me though, is that I had never read the Book of Mormon. I had never read the keystone of the religion that I was raised in. If I didn't read their book, how on earth could I know if I believed it or not?
As I started the Book of Mormon, and all the way through, I knew for a fact it was true. I knew these people existed, and that this incredible story was true. What did that change about my feelings towards Old Joe Smith? Not very much. The thing it changed though, is that I knew that he was inspired by God. I know God lead him to that Book, and that it was translated correctly. Nothing else mattered to me. If the Book was true, than Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and I believed the rest would work itself out, and it has.
After I accepted that the Book of Mormon was true, I started reading every history book about my church that I could. I know I believed the Book of Mormon, but to say I believed in the church meant I had to know about my church. The more I read and learned the more I saw and believed that the church and it's teachings were true.
Let's just say for fun that I didn't believe in my church. I'm still a better person living within the guidelines of my church than I was when I wasn't living them. My church teaches incredible morals, family values, respect, honor, and all the things that I want for my future family. Even if it isn't true, I'm better being part of it than I am being not part of it.
As I've learned more and more (and by no means am I a scholar), I learned how much I appreciate and truly love Joseph Smith. I love him for his imperfections. They're a testament to me that the church isn't made of perfect people that I can't relate to. The church is made up of imperfect women and men that are trying to do their best. What a beautiful way of life. Each of us make mistakes, but we're each trying to do better. I respect Joseph Smith for that. I respect him because he was a MAN, not a God. He was just trying to do the best he could with what he was given.
Our church may not be perfect, but it's the most perfect for me. Our leaders make mistakes, say things that offend, and even make us sound crazy, but we're better being part of this church than we are not being part of it. I'm grateful for those imperfect people because they made me feel a little closer to my Father in Heaven.
I know my church is true. I believe it. I'm grateful for it's teachings, and values. I'm grateful for the men and women that make up this church, and all they teach me. My only hope is that each of us has something that brings us as much joy as my church brings me. If it's not my church that brings you joy, I hope whatever you love brings you peace, happiness, and joy. I'll respect your choice, and I appreciate you respecting mine. What it all comes down to is the 2nd greatest commandment ever given. "Love one another, as I have loved You."