• Who Does She follow?

    Written by guest contributor, Melissa Chapman. Read by Andrea Bowers.

    Watercolor vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

    The “follower” obsession…oh how we all know it well. 

    If we’re on social media, we can speak the languages given to us by Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest. The language of likes, subscribers, followers, pins, shares, emojis, and tweets.

    If we’re not on social media, we’ve heard the language enough to get the idea, and truthfully we may not want to become fluent in it. 

    We’ve been taught about the word, “Follower”.

    As with all things there is good and bad in that word.   

    My favorite art in our home is of the Savior and is entitled “Come Follow Me”.  It’s beautiful. And truly He wants us to be a “Follower” and to follow Him to our Heavenly Father and our heavenly home.  

    Come Follow Me by Liz Lemon Swindle

    So, I am often very perplexed by what seems to be the up and coming craze of women following, influencing, wanting to follow, wanting to be followed, all by other women they may not know, really at all. 

    Women they might not like if they were to know them in person.  I’ve seen many women, my fellow sisters and saints, become obsessed with what the women of the world have to “offer”. 

    Many have begun to put these women on pedestals. These women begin to worship the women on the pedestals by simply thinking, “she’s so put together, I should follow her”, or “she’s living such an amazing life, I should follow her’, or “she’s learned how to get it all, I should follow her”.  

    Never completely understanding that the person on the pedestal lives a very real part of their life strategically doing things to get more people to like and follow them. Sure, they’re typically trying to help people, and that help is real and valid, it’s just that they’re also trying to get you to follow them. To be a “follower” of them. To put them in the center.  Whatever it is; it’s there and it’s real. The craze and craving of “Following”. 

    As I have found myself in this confusion and loud clamour for my attention I’ve thought, “Is this who I am?”, “Do I want to be one of these women?”, “Does it matter if I get invited to be a part of the women’s circle or if I’m in this group or that group?”, “Is she authentic or is that a show for the camera?” on and on the questions run through my head….then I hear a quiet voice telling me “See…he’s GOTCHA”. 

    My concern is that even the truest disciples of Christ who want to follow Him are becoming ensnared by the trap of worshipping false idols and gods.. AKA “women who I need to be more like and accepted by”. 

    If the women you follow aren’t leading you closer to the good shepherd, then you may not want to be following where they lead. There is such danger in this path.  

    Sister Eubank taught in a recent women’s conference talk* that our faith and Church is so dependent on our Sisters.  Yet, I’ve seen that even in our best efforts we may be only turning against each other, increasing competition, challenging each other’s love and trust through deceitful tactics.  

    If I had one wish it would be for women (Sisters) to turn to Him, turn to each other through Him, and seek to all come and follow Him together on one agenda-one path and that is to walk each other home.  If my wish came true, it would be evident in true Sisterhood, authentic relationships, sincere interest in each other’s successes and the most loving support in the darkest of times.  

    Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash

    *Turn on Your Light by Sharon Eubank

  • Fall Semester Starting Soon

    You know, I am really a big nerd at heart. I love to learn and I’m guessing, if you’re here too, so do you.

    I am starting a fall “semester” on September 30 for those interested in going through part 1 of my course, “Developing a Christ Centered Life.” Part One is called, Managing Your Inner World and it’s all about strengthening your relationship with yourself and Jesus Christ which spreads from there into all relationships. Relationships with your spouse, your kids, the stuff you manage in your life, your friends, and especially the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father. If you’ve wanted to be nicer, this course will help you learn how to do it by relying on the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The class teaches you how to align yourself spiritually so you can see things through the right lenses.

    It’s going to kickoff with a live call Thursday, September 26 at 8pm MST and then we’ll start class on Monday, the 30th. I’ve created a schedule for us to follow that will carry us through to the end of the year. Ok, so, maybe it’s really a fall-winter schedule, but fall has a nicer ring to it.

    If you’d like to join the class, there is a three step process (because I’m a beginner when it comes to technology and I don’t know how to automate things very well) so be patient with me and my three steps.

    Don’t worry, the three steps are not hard.

    Step One: Enroll in the Course and get the workbook.

    Step Two: Enroll in the Fall Class and Kickoff Call

    Step Three: Watch your email account for more instructions 🙂

    The dividends to this investment will make your head spin. See you in class!

  • A New Approach to Scripture Study

    Last year I found these cool Books of Mormon that were organized by event* and I bought them for my kids to study because I felt like they broke up the Book of Mormon into manageable chunks and because the sections were organized by event, it made it a little easier for them to understand what was going on.

    Well, it turns out I really wanted one but I didn’t want to admit it, and when my son decided not to use his, I snagged it and have been studying it ever since and I love it!

    I love how the organizers/authors made it really easy to see who was talking (super helpful when you hit Isaiah), gave me plenty of room to write notes in the margins, used everyday paper so I didn’t feel guilty about circling, highlighting, marking, etc, and broke it into headings that give you some context before you start reading. It was only $13 or $14 and I have felt it’s been a great investment for me. The only other thing I felt like I wanted was a schedule because I can take a really long time going through the book or I can find myself leaving the Book of Mormon and reading other scriptures (lately it’s been The New Testament) which, I know, isn’t that bad, but I want to be consistently reading The Book of Mormon because I gain so much value from reading it every day. In order to feel like I was making progress (and truthfully because I think coloring is fun) I printed one of these:

    But I wasn’t studying regularly and the format of the book made it difficult for me to fill in the different sections because of the way it’s organized by event. I would read half a section and not be able to color in a piece of my chart until the next day, which truthfully bummed me out more than it should have. What can I say? I’m a kid at heart and I like to see my progress and fill in my charts.

    I decided I was taking way too long (as you can see from the photo above, I started reading the BOM on February 27, 2019 and I’m still in Second Nephi 12) so then I printed one of these because it has a timeframe attached:

    But… I was still running into the same issue, I can’t fill in the bubbles until I’ve moved through the event. 🙁 . So….dut…dut…dut…duh….I would like to present something to solve the problem…

    My own version of fill in the bubble (I used hearts because I LOVE to read the Book of Mormon-get it?) that works with the events, instead of the chapters, and guess what???!!! If I read more than one section, I can color in more than one heart in a day! Hooray!

    This is an example- The free download is below.

    Just in case you’re like me, you can download the PDF for free and enjoy coloring in the hearts and seeing your progress and growing your testimony and writing notes in your book and highlighting your favorite passages. Hooray! I hope you enjoy!

    Hugs,

    Andrea

    *The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ – A New Approach to Studying, Organized by events, emphasizing narrators, Speakers, Locations, Dates, and Quoted Passages by Lynn A. Rosenvall and David A. Rosenvall copyright 2018

  • How Gentle God’s Commands

    I just finished an online class entitled, “Path of Stone Tables.” It was awesome! It was about the Biblical Tabernacle and how it relates to the path of discipleship, as well as modern temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which I am a member. The content was beautiful and I was taught many new truths about God, the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost and as I’ve been pondering the content of today’s lesson, the song, “How Gentle God’s Commands” continues to run through my head. Jesus Christ is amazing and I know that He is the way, the only way, in which we can return to God. He is the truth, the source of all truth and righteousness. He is the life, the source of all life, and the giver of eternal life.

    When I consider the love of my Heavenly Father and his innumerable gifts to us, his children, I well up with tears. The thought that he has a plan for all of this, for all of us, and that there’s nothing we can do to destroy the plan for anyone but ourselves, floors me and amazes me. What amazing love and trust and confidence in the plan, in himself, in Jesus Christ, and in us. There really is nowhere to go, but up, toward him, if we but choose. The gift of agency, or the ability to choose our path, is founded and grounded in so much love and comprehension of our mortal limitations, that I’m astounded that the devil has any power here, but alas, he does. Repentance is real and true and available to all. Turning back to God all day, every day, is a never ending punch card, redeemable through our Savior.

    We are taught that there are only two paths to take, one toward Jesus Christ, and one toward the Devil. How can the way of the devil be so alluring? When put so simply, it’s easy to choose?

    Hmmm…. do I want to increase in light, goodness, love, peace, and joy OR do I want to increase in torment, misery, hate, anger, ugliness, unrest? That’s a tough one, what should I choose?

    Of course, in the day to day… it isn’t that simple, but something I’m slowly learning to comprehend, is that it can be. It can be easy to choose, and of course the Savior taught the way.

    In Matthew 7:15-20, he says, “Beware of false prophets (any influence that mocks the truths and values you embrace, and asks you to follow them instead), which come to you in sheep’s clothing (or which come to you and appear harmless and small), but inwardly, they are ravening wolves (seeking to destroy you, especially in spiritual ways). You shall know them by their fruits (the way to see is easy, pay attention to what they produce. Look at the consequences that result from following them).

    Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? (Can you gather grapes from a thorn bush? Can you get figs from thistles? Is it possible to get a sweet fruit from a plant that only produces caustic fruits that injure man?) Even so (listen up), every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit (A good tree brings good fruit and a corrupt tree brings evil fruit. No, you can’t get grapes from a thorn bush. You can’t get figs from thistles. It is impossible for a good tree to produce anything that is evil), neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (and it is impossible for a corrupt tree to produce anything that is good). Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down (in the end, the only thing that can be done with a corrupt tree is to bring it down and destroy it), and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits, you shall know them. (So, Jesus is warning us, look at what is being produced by the influence, and then you’ll know if you should attach your precious soul to it.)

    I think the hardest part is to be aware that there is always a choice, not actually the choosing part because most things when put into proper perspective, eternal perspective, become very easy to discern.

    The ancient Israelites fell, and we fall too, when we lose the meaning behind our daily devotions, our service, our faith, our repentance, our actions. Basically, when we forget the “Why” and perform our religious observances out of habit, convenience, obligation, and/or expectation. None of these words show that we’re intentionality choosing the right. Nor do they explain why. When our actions become rote and we do things to prove ourselves to man, we are no longer following God, we are walking the ways of the world.

    Sometimes we forfeit our choice as well by unconsciously following the influences around us. Meddling media, mixed messages of social acceptability, comparisons to others, time wasting distractions, and a constant attack on our worth and our value and it becomes easy to see why, if you’re not paying attention, the gentle commands of God can be brushed aside for another day.

    I’ve learned that my main objective, and the way that I can keep God (the Father) and Jesus Christ at my center is to learn to love them with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength, and to love others as myself and this takes intentionality. As I go through this life and make that my objective, and learn and grow in this area, I find that I’m much more intentional with the messages that are fed to me. I look for the love He has for me and I can see it everywhere.

    When I learn, “How kind His precepts are” and how to “cast my burdens at his feet and trust His constant care”, that “I’m beneath His watchful eye” and that under that eye, “I can securely dwell”, my heart swells and my spirit soars. The devil has no place in me. I feel it down to my core and I know that’s why I do what I do. That’s why I do that difficult thing of being intentional. No one accidentally dwells in the presence of God but many accidentally commit themselves to lower degrees of glory every single day.

    So I invite you to learn to trust and love, “That hand which bears all nature up” and find out for yourself, “That he guards his children well.”

  • Belief

    “He reaches my reaching”*

    I’ve been thinking a lot about belief as I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon recently. I’ve noticed the stark contrast in results between those who believe and those who dwindle in unbelief. I understand that faith is a gift of the Spirit and belief precedes faith. I wonder what causes people to disbelieve?

    I can see that Satan is at the heart of disbelief because as people dwindle in unbelief, they lose their hope and joy and become miserable. The light in their Spirit dims. I have also seen in my own life that a desire to believe is enough to create momentum to believe which is enough to generate hope that belief in something is believing in, thus giving place for belief.

    In the scriptures, those who believe see miracles, those who don’t, don’t. Those who believe, prosper in every aspect of their lives, those who don’t, don’t. Those who believe have meaningful relationships, especially with God, those who don’t, don’t. It seems to me that belief is vital to living a fulfilling, happy life, a life of growth and beauty and gratitude.

    I pray that we always believe and lead our lives with our belief in the Savior Jesus Christ’s power to overcome all things. If we do begin to doubt, we can pray for help to see what has already come about by belief and hold to that.

    *Where can I turn for Peace? Emma Lou Thayne, Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

  • Endings and Beginnings

    A little about me… Hi, I’m Andrea!

    A long time ago, about 12 years ago now, I found myself in the same situation as so many people do. I felt bad about myself, my life, and my commitment to God. I would go to church and feel guilty and like I was missing something. I felt like I never measured up and probably would never, no matter how much I tried. I felt like I’d disappointed God on every conceivable level. I couldn’t tell when he was speaking to me, I hardly spent any time in the scriptures, and when I did, I didn’t understand them. Prayer was often the last thing I thought about, literally as my eyes would shut for the night, the thought would cross my mind that I should probably pray. Sadly, the only time I consistently prayed was right after I’d yelled at my kids, I’d feel guilty and turn to God to repent and ask for help. I went about my day putting out fires and barely keeping life together, and let’s be honest, keeping life together is a relative term, and looking back, I would say that the only one I was fooling was myself.

    With that frustrating cycle day after day, I found myself getting really bogged down with low self worth. I felt so disappointed with myself and knew God must be mad at me. I thought that there was no way he could still possibly love me as I repeatedly messed up, day after day. As I yelled at my kids, wasted my time, stayed out of touch, and lived in survival mode.

    I mean, what was to love? I was gaining weight at a record pace. I knew how to take better care of myself but I couldn’t seem to do it. I was in serious debt and in a failing business. I had married outside the covenant, and though my relationship with my husband was great, I found myself feeling like God was mad at me for not being married in the temple and following the path prescribed by my leaders.

    I was yelling at my kids, losing my temper with my husband, and felt so bad about myself all of the time. My relationship with myself was poor and everyone else suffered because of it.

    I felt so unlovable, unworthy, unprepared, and truthfully, without joy. I could feel sparks of joy here and there but most of the time, I felt like I was in a perpetual state of punishing myself, because that’s what I deserved for living below my potential.

    You know what I learned twelve years ago? I learned that I was 100% wrong and if today, you feel like I did, let me assure you, you are wrong too. Hopefully that sentence does not bring you anguish but it brings you hope, because I have learned that hope, faith, and charity, are truly the way to live this life with intentionality and joy. I just needed to learn what they really meant.

    When I began this journey so many years ago, I found a tool that taught me to look at things in the gospel with a more sound, truthful and healthy paradigm. I began to practice what I was learning and I can tell you with certainty that my life and my perspective have completely changed. I am no longer the person I described above, and if you know me well, you know what I mean. I live each day on purpose, with love, hope, and faith in the future. I feel the love of God around me always. I feel strengthened in my weaknesses and the relationships I have with myself, my family, my friends, and all things feel very harmonious and peaceful. All of these opportunities come from learning about the atonement of Jesus Christ and learning to apply it in my life. The eyes of my understanding have been opened and I can truly see so much more than I could ever see before. I am blessed to have the Holy Ghost as my constant companion and I live in gratitude for the time I’ve had on this Earth and the experiences that have led me here.

    About 3 years ago I was going along practicing living the gospel and working the soil of my little life, caring for things with love, the best I could, when I had the unmistakeable prompting to share the paradigm I had learned so many years ago. I was instructed to teach people how to find hope, joy, peace, charity, and most of all faith in our darkening world. After serious talks with the Lord, I came to the understanding that he felt that as long as I had the Spirit with me, which I always strive to do, I was a suitable guide and so, I began this work. It started by ending a business I loved to embark on a new journey. A journey with twists and turns I never could have imagined. Online course creation. The journey has led me so many places and has taught me so many things. One of the most important things I’ve learned is how to listen. The past few years I’ve been collecting information, asking questions, meeting new people, and discovering new things. As I have listened and spoken with so many of you, I have found that the Lord knows what he is doing and he really will guide the willing.

    An online course, entitled Developing a Christ-Centered Life began and though the name is long and has a hyphen (not my favorite), it’s what the Lord would have it named. Though it’s concepts seem simple, they are deep and they are led by the Spirit of the Lord and they will do the trick. Though I am a convert from California just doing my best, the Lord has brought this work out of me and I know with a surety that there are great works above and beyond mine, living inside of you. I didn’t think I’d do something like this and I’m still trying to figure out how to make all of the pieces work, but I do love the Lord and trust in his perfect love and understanding. He will continue to lead me along. He’s never taken me somewhere I didn’t rightfully belong. I feel as if I’m a guide. I will mark the way but it will be up to you to look out at the vistas, to notice the beauty, to do the work to make your life what it ought to be.

    Anyway, the labor of love I’ve been working on for the Lord is finally ready after two and a half years of doing and re-doing. It is the beginning of a four part course entitled, Developing a Christ Centered Life. Part One (the part that is ready) is all about learning to manage your inner world, or those beliefs about who you are and who God is and who you’re supposed to be. President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.” Part One is all about letting Christ change your nature.

    I have loved working on this project and especially the the things I’ve learned from the Spirit about the needs of my brothers and sisters in this world today. As I talk with many of you, I am surprised at how many of you say the very things that the Spirit led me to include in the class. Some of the topics many of you struggle with from day to day are the very things I knew by the Spirit needed to be in here. So, please trust me when I say, I was an instrument in the process, and unfortunately, a very dull one for most of it. The Lord worked through me and will work through me still, as long as I stay open. 

    If you have ever felt the desire to have a deep and abiding relationship with the Savior and to see things from a different perspective. One that sets you free from obligation and teaches you how to live your life out of love for the Lord, I’d invite you to look into the course I humbly offer,

    “Developing a Christ Centered Life: Unit 1 Managing Your Inner World”.

    Your life will improve, your relationships will improve, and your commitment to the Lord will improve steadily. Day after day, here a little, there a little, you will find yourself stepping out of this world, into the life that God has in store for you.

    The class is self paced, easy to access, reasonably priced, and totally transformational.

    If you’d like to be held accountable, we also run the class during the Fall and Spring. Fall Semester begins September 7, 2019.

    Tell your friends and your family, join the class, and discover hope again.