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Without Purse or Scrip

To those hurt and confused,

So, there has been some harsh conversation about the recent "outing" of the LDS church leaders' living-expense stipend/salary (whatever you want to call it).

The tones of conversation have been harsh on both sides. Some people are angry that they were lead to believe all church leaders paid their own way during their service, like missionaries or bishops do, and some are angry at the people who are angry about feeling misled, calling them faithless or accusing them of shallow testimonies.

I'm a little shocked at how mean and condescending most people are being about this issue. Any previously unrevealed piece of information about the church, past or present, seems to quickly get under everyone's skin.

Yes, it should be discussed considering how many people didn't know. And no, it's not "gaslighting" for members who already knew to say they've known for awhile now because they probably have. I found out about this when…
Recent posts

My Sacred Grove Experience: Thoughts on Being a Mormon and believing Joseph Smith was a Prophet

This is from a journal entry that I wrote at the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York: 
I'm sitting in the Sacred Grove and a lot of thoughts are filling my mind. This whole past weekend has given me a lot to think about in terms of my religiosity and culture.
I am so grateful to be a Mormon and to have been raised with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can see what a blessing and safeguard the Gospel and its principles have proven to be.
The older I get and the more confrontations with the world's ideas/ideals of how life should be lived and what's "normal" I  experience  the more I can see what beauty, peace, and hope are offered through living the standards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
I don't bemoan or resent what I "don't have" because of what the Gospel naturally filters out. In fact, I am thankful for how much the Gospel fills up my life to the point of brimming over, leaving no room for the world's counterfeit offer…

Who I Am and Who I Want to Be

A note to myself.My name is Nicole Shepard.I am smart, savvy, and insightful. I have big dreams framed by big goals. I will work diligently to accomplish what comes my way while being sure to set in motion what needs to happen to bring my dreams into reality.I am reliable.
   I am instinctual.
      I am confident.
         I am patient.
            I am good.
               I am brave.
                  I am courageous.
                     I am thoughtful.
                        I am kind.I work to avoid the pettiness of anger and irritation. I look for the good. I try my best. I learn from failure and don't internalize it.I take up all of my own space while giving others the space they need to thrive. I reject the notion of scarcity and embrace the reality of abundance.My goal is not happiness because that is too fleeting. My goal is to flourish. I realize that flourishing often includes pain and disappointment.I take the time to ponder, read and meditate.I pause to think befo…

Six months in, six months to go

This past Monday I turned a whooping 29 and a 1/2.

I have six months until my birthday! That means I have had six months to work on my 30 Before 30 list and I have six months until my time is up.

I have completed 7 things on my list plus 4 ongoing projects. I recognized this isn't even technically half of what I have to accomplish by January, but I know how much work I've put into it and I believe that I'll make it.

I have written before about how much this list has come to mean to me and I want to kind of unpack what it is about this list that is so meaningful.

I think I had been very brave or the last 6 months, maybe braver than I have ever really been before. I have put myself out there, I have done things that I never thought I would do, and I have learned to believe in myself in a way I haven't really before.

St. Augustine said that he could only say to God, "I have love to you too late." There's something really profound in those words that is beyon…

30 before 30: Nine Months to Go

Every year I make a list of things I want to do by my next birthday. This year I tweaked the process a bit. Instead of doing 29 things I want to do as a 29-year-old, I'm doing a list of 30 things before I turn 30.  I thought it would be a fun, challenging way to approach the big 3-0 with excitement and purpose as opposed to what many do: deny and cry.

Though I'm not going to make the list public just yet (a woman of mystery am I), I am proud to say that with nine months to go, I've accomplished much more than I thought I would have. I made some seriously ambitious goals and I've actually completed some of them while whittling away at others like a champ.

There is one goal that's currently in the making that I'm particularly nervous about. I think I made the mistake of putting too much of its success on the agency of other people, and people can be fickle.

Regardless, I will make it happen, because it's too important. But it's got me thinking.

My list h…

Names of Jesus: Lord

I'm beginning a study of the various names given to Jesus throughout scripture (thanks to a study guide from theredheadhostess.com).
Here are some thoughts I've had about "The Lord"
"Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Genesis 18:14
I've long thought it's interesting to compare and contrast the religious association we have with a word versus its initial meaning.
Jesus inherited the name "lord" from its initial meaning: a person who has authority, control, or power over others.  A master, chief, or ruler.
Knowing what the word literally means makes it obvious why and how Jesus has the title. But what really makes it striking is how different calling Jesus Lord feels from calling anyone else lord.
I have to admit I've never actually called anyone lord before, but I've seen other people do it in movies and TV shows (don't act like you don't sometimes feel like half your life experience comes from TV and movies, I know I…

Thoughts on Happiness on April Fool's Day (it ain't not joke)

Utah Lake is best when no one is around. 

Well, I think it's finally happened. I am officially a bonafide adult. Not just a grown up, an adult. And no, it's not because I own a good/reliable car, or because I have health insurance, or because I have retirement savings. It's not even because I have my very own Costco card (which is what I always imagined would be the ribbon crossing moment).  I'm an adult because I've figured out that all that stuff the world tells you will make you happy is nonsense.  I can finally see the glimmer of truth through all the bullsh*t. (It's not swearing if you add an asterisk.) 
Here's where this thought came from:
This year feels like it's been speeding by. I am elated at the prospect of spring and all the colors and textures that come with it. I am unbelievably happy about warmer, more predictable weather, but a small part of me is sad to see March go. 
2016 has proven to be a great year so far and I can't remember t…