Blessings …

On September 23, 2016, I had walked back to the Acadie Metro Station coming home from a doctors appointment. On that day, two Mormon Elders were standing on the platform along side me, down the way.

One of them approached me and said “Bonjour..” I replied in English, “Hello.” The Elder wiped his brow and exclaimed, “Oh, Thank God you speak English.” That began a wonderful relationship with the other Elder standing with him, his companion, my best friend Elder Christensen.

Many conversations were had over hot chocolate, over the next few months before Elder Christensen returned home, for he was on the tail end of his two year mission, here in Montreal. It has been two years since the day we first met, yesterday, on the calendar.

This is Elder Christensen’s blessing, that came last night. A little late, but perfectly in God’s time to come now…

Jeremy, Your letter was a catalyst for a God moment. I read, then God spoke. I left Montreal without leaving you the blessing he had for you. I give it to you now, and I hope you can forgive me for being so consumed in myself as I was leaving that I didn’t have the frame of mind to listen to what God had for me to give you then.Today God reminded me of that duty.

You know God better than the vast majority of people, inside or outside of codified religion. You know him because he has worked in you the miracle that he has offered to all his children, but precious few have accepted. The same God that walks the halls of temples lives in the hearts of addicts, sinners, and wayward souls.

He takes those places and makes them holy. He blesses them, enables their growth, and gives meaning and life to the stories that flow from those states. He lets his children suffer so that his work can be made manifest in us.The lower we go, the higher we can one day climb. I believe no one has suffered more than God, and that is what makes him God.

I believe in a God who weeps. I believe in a God who could care less about handbooks and checklists. I believe in a God who knows from experience what it feels like to be Spencer Christensen, Jeremy Andrews, and every other person who has lived and died and will yet live and die on earth. I believe in a God who is a perfect father, who has no desire to see his children burn.

The only punishment that we face in relation to God is that one day, we will be brought back to that infinite expanse of love, truth and mercy that we existed in before this life and will continue to exist in afterwards, and for those that have denied their nature by living lives of hate and lies, and covetousness will have to exist submersed in a sea of something so fundamentally opposed to their nature that it will be pure agony.

The same light that makes heaven shine makes hell burn. We all go back to the same light, and you, Jeremy, know that light. But it does not burn you. You rejoice in it, and it will only increase in you, for many years to come until he calls you home to experience a fullness of the joy you find in him.This light changes us. It purifies and redeems and gives us strength and direction.

To people who live in the dark, that light is hell. They will run the other direction. They have become the dark, and the light is opposed to their nature. You have seen them come into the rooms. I have seen them in their houses, on their streets. They enter, God begins to shine, and they begin to burn. Then they have to choose. Will they keep walking into the light? Will they trust God enough to let him burn them, refine them, and change their desires? 

I am a human being. I fell the same as every other man has fallen. I am a sinner, and without God, I am nothing. I am subject to temptation to let the dark in, I have resisted it, and I have given into it. I have had dark in me, and I have had light. I have been on he beam, I have been off the beam. One of my favorite missionaries in the Book of Mormon wrote

” I am a man; and man in the beginning was created after the image of God, and I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people, that they may be brought to a knowledge of that which is just and true;And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.” Alma 18:34

The only man who ever walked this earth in perfection was Jesus Christ, the God who suffers,the God who weeps, the God who does not care about handbooks and checklists, the God who knows what it feels like to be me and you. His invitation to be perfect came with this help: We are to be perfect in him, not on our own. He will deal with the demands of justice. We simply have to be changed by his mercy.

Another verse from the Book of Mormon:

“Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot”. Moroni 10.


If I have attained anything spiritually, it is because for all my faults, I do love this God of mine with all my might, mind, and strength, or at least I try to. I have heard his voice. I have seen him fill my life with purpose and clarity. I have felt so loved that I could not hardly believe how beautiful it really was. His grace has been sufficient for me.

Four years ago, because of that grace, I chose to live the life of a healer and a priest. I got as close as I could to him, in his house, and I promised him all my time, talents, and everything that he has blessed me with, and which he would yet bless me, to building up the kingdom of God on the earth.

I promised to live the laws of sacrifice and obedience to the natural laws that come from the light of God. Every day since I have worn the tangible reminders of those covenants.  I have fallen short of those oaths more times than I could count, and more time than I can count, he has forgiven me and made me better with each failure. I hope you can do the same.

My mission is to give God’s children God’s messages and deliver his blessings. He has both for you, Jeremy.

His message is this: He loves you with a love that is so intense and glorious that it defies all human comprehension. He is so intimately aware of your struggles and pain, knowing you because he never at any time has let anything befall you that he hasn’t felt himself. He loves that you know him, and he wants you to know him even more. He brought you out of hell to prepare you for heavenly purposes. One day your story will change the lives of millions.

Read his words, do his work, and you will live to see your life become a window through which hope will shine to those who suffer in darkness because of the weakness and foolishness of men.

He would like me to bless you. I do so as if i had my hands upon your head, as your brother and fellow son of God. 

Jeremy Andrews, by the authority of the holy priesthood which I hold, and in the name of Jesus Christ, I bless you with power, and with patience, and with strength equal to the demands that have been placed upon you, and will yet be placed upon you preparatory to your callings and responsibilities in the work of God upon the earth.

I bless you that you might advance in a fullness of the light of Christ,that he may bless you, purify you, and give you peace as you minister to his children on earth, and that if you will prove faithful in walking according to that light that you have felt, and you will continue to feel, that a merciful God will prepare the way for you, and make available to you all the blessings, privileges, and peace that come from eternal covenants with God.

These blessings will be yours according to your diligence in obeying the truth in the light that you have already received, and that you will continue to receive line upon line until your work is done. All these things I bless you with, In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

God have mercy on me for such a late blessing. I’ll never shut my ears like that again.You are loved, Jeremy. By God, by me, and by those who owe you their lives and sobriety.


Elder Christensen

Downie takes to Parliament Hill to speak out for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

image

 

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, July 2, 2017 6:57PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 2, 2017 8:23PM EDT

OTTAWA — Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie made a rare public appearance Sunday to bring attention to the ongoing plight of some of Canada’s young indigenous people, likening it to the same kind of pain young people suffered in the now defunct residential schools.

He told young people gathered at festivities surrounding “We Day,” the movement inspired by children’s rights activist brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, that they can learn a lot about the history of government-funded, church-run residential schools, where indigenous children endured widespread sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

Standing on the stage set up on Parliament Hill for Canada Day weekend, Downie said that indigenous children in parts of Canada still must travel great distances to go to school, likening it to “the pain, the torture and the death,” suffered in the residential schools.

Indigenous leaders say children regularly leave to the nearest urban centre to get education and health care services not offered in remote communities. There have been cases where the young people have died because get caught up in risky behaviour because they lack community supports.

“It is still happening even though the residential school has gone away. Kids are still having to travel great distances to live and go to school,” Downie said, with silence filling the pauses between his words.

Downie is suffering from an incurable form of brain cancer and makes few public appearances, but has used those to be a voice for the country’s indigenous peoples and the harm caused by the residential school system.

One day after the country marked 150 years, Downie used his brief time on stage to speak about the “new” country that would be born in the next 150 years.

“Yours is the first generation in the new and real Canada. I love you,” he said to applause.

“You and yours, the indigenous, together will make this a true country now, one true to your word. The new 150 years, not the old one. The new one. Exciting and true.”

The path to reconciliation was a key theme of the Canada Day weekend in the nation’s capital, which saw a group of indigenous activists erect a demonstration teepee on Parliament Hill as part of what they called a “reoccupation” to bring attention to the history of indigenous people. It was removed on Sunday.

The federal Liberals have been the focus of political heat over the party’s sweeping promises to First Nations, amid increasing pressure to comply with a human rights tribunal’s order to properly fund First Nations child welfare services.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Downie and those in attendance that Canadians and their government must accept responsibility for “our failings” as the country tries to help victims and their families heal decades-old wounds.

“Gord, your work is a powerful reminder of all that still needs to be done to acknowledge one of the darkest chapters in our history and make things right with Canada’s First Nations, Metis Nation, and Inuit peoples.”

After Trudeau spoke, a school choir performed Downie’s song “The Stranger,” the lead track off his solo album Secret Path that tells the story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack. Wenjack died in 1966 after running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ont.

Downie had previously performed the song at a “We Day” event in Toronto in October. This time, he stood to the side, appearing emotional at times, and tipping his hat to the choir when they all donned sparkling purple hats similar to the one Downie wore during the Hip’s last tour last year.

As the choir walked off the stage, Downie shook the singers’ hands and thanked them.

Thursday: Finding Her People

 

friends-become

Can I just say that it is bitterly COLD outside. My poor tootsies froze on my transit.

UGH, can we get to Spring any sooner, please ?

February is moving along, and our team tonight, was made up of all new people in all areas of the meeting. I opened and a lady friend of mine was in the chair.

Hearing fresh stories are such learning experiences. Thursday night has seen a number of “Firsts” over the last few months. Our speaker tonight, was a young lady, whom I know from other meetings.

In her own words, “throughout her life, she thought it was necessary to hide every identifying marker that defined her. That she just had to hide who she really was, because her view of the world was so skewed.”

I try to tell my Lady readers, when I hear stories like this, that there are women out here who suffer, sometimes worse than the men do. Because in the end, tonight, when she finally made it to the rooms, she was dead inside.

Her junkie boyfriend once said to her, after he visited us occasionally, that “she would like us, if she was an alcoholic.” That one sentence rattled around her brain, until she was ready to come to a meeting.

People who come from small places in Canada, small towns, in far away provinces, this story is particular. Coming from dysfunction she did not know any better. By the time she hit high school, she had constructed a very fine facade to make sure she gave her friends the right image of who she thought she should be, and certainly, not who she really was.

People coming from small communities, with very little population, and moving into large city situations where many people are, can be jarring.

  • In the end, she drank fast, to get “somewhere” other than where she was.
  • She was always trying to get somewhere else.
  • Because where she was, wasn’t cutting it for her.

Bring an Atlantic Province, small town girl, to Big City Montreal, with all its distractions and situations, brought our young lady to her knees.

The part of her story that I identified with was this …

Her longest relationship was with a boy, who was a junkie. Living in a house that was falling down around them, the only thing our young lady really wanted was “really good window coverings.”

She just did not want to see the light of day at 4pm while she slept.

Holding together an abusive, junkie relationship took all she had. And barring anyone or anything else, all she could do was try each day to hold it together, until that challenge became untenable.

I’ve said before that our young people suffer greatly. And the women, more so than the men. Their stories are frightful. Some of us guys listen and compare how hard we got into trouble with our addictions, and our stories pale in comparison.

When I began my slip, I was answering the call of the Hole in My Soul. And I packed up my house and moved 1000 miles from home into the middle of the United States answering a call to be with someone, I really had no idea about in reality.

Nobody knew where I was. If I had been arrested or died in that place, nobody would have missed me or come looking for me either. Living with an active junkie is a seriously tall order. Because, to outsiders, we had to present a common front, as if to say, its really not bad, we are ok. When in reality I was dying inside, stuck somewhere I really regretted finding myself.

That eighteen months was serious hell. I did make contact with an angel in the outside world at one point, who, when the time was right, sent the cops to get me out and save my life. There is no holding together a relationship with someone who was dead set upon self destruction and my destruction as well.

I had to get out.

Our young lady, in the end, found her way out, into the rooms.

What she found turned her life around in so many ways. That finely crafted facade fell away, when she realized that there were other women like her to talk to, and identify with.

I talk about how restorative the rooms are, if you use them wisely.

In our young lady’s case, all those problems like home, house, money and life, just melted away, and turned around, as if on their own.

I do not minimize the work she had to do, in this one years time, to see the wisdom in the choice she made that fateful day when she arrived on our doorstep. She is wise. After only a year and a couple of months, her life has seriously turned around.

I see her on Friday nights. Our young women are a tight bunch and they travel in packs to meetings, which is a very good thing.

Coming out of the dark, not having to hide who she was, behind a facade was freeing in miraculous ways. Can you imagine the energy and effort it took her to construct this wall between her and the outside world ?

Now, imagine for a moment, when she frees up all that pent up energy, and points it inwards, and turns all that negativity into positive strides …

That is Miraculous Power.

I know what that power is, because I learned that lesson myself.

In the end she said that in the rooms she had “Found her people.”

She exuded Gratitude from the heart.

 

 

Friday – Our Family Has Grown – Best Night of the Week

mormon-dot-org

The weather has turned cold, and a little of the white stuff may fall over the next few days. Sadly, not enough to make a difference on the ground. The hope is for a White Christmas.

I’ve met my new Elders this week. We spent family night together, and it was their first “Family Night” because this community event was not part of where they had been prior to coming to our ward.

The Holiday Event for the LDS church began: Mormon.org Christmas Message

There are twenty five days of giving on a daily schedule. After the short film we played a crowd favorite: Werewolf … gather your folks, each has an identity, and it is a day and night game, with a narrator who guides the game. One of our local Mandarin Elders is really good at that, and our new Elders had never played before so that was a treat to watch.

Wednesday I started my Christmas shopping for home and New Foundland. I am sharing Christmas with Baby Mama, she recently moved into her new home with baby LuLu. And given recent events, and child support still up in the air, money is an issue. So I have been collecting Christmas for both of them. We have a date at a food bank Christmas Gift Program, and a lady friend of mine is going to go shopping with me, for Mama in the coming days. All that will go by Express Post as soon as we’ve collected everything that needs to go to New Foundland.

Today, I had my first “Discussion” with my new Elders. We set the stage for continuity of ministry, I shared with them what my LDS mentors in Salt Lake City have said about my circumstances. Now they are consulting the Mission President so that I can sit with him and have a discussion about me, because his no win repugnant suggestion is totally off base and disrespectful to me and my husband.

I came home with time to spare, so I got a disco nap before I had to head out. We welcomed a couple, (Who are now new parents) from Toronto. These young people have been staple members of the group for a long time. Tonight they brought their new baby.

Babies make things brighter. We are so proud of both of them.

We are marching towards the holidays. And I’ve made some suggestions to our young people:

  • Go and find someone who might not be IN the meetings, and CALL THEM, and do something good for that person. Coffee, Meals, Meetings.
  • Go into your community and find someone, or a family, that might not have enough to make Christmas really special, and give something because you can.
  • Christmas is a time of miracles. Go Be a Miracle for someone.
  • The Holidays can be sketchy, and we have options and guides to help make things a bit easier. We introduced them this evening. (READ: Living Sober)
  • Invite a member to your Holiday Dinner if you can and are able.
  • Make sure your elderly neighbors are not alone. Check on them, make sure they are alright.
  • Meetings are OPEN on the holidays. There are very few closures and cancellations here, so there is no reason you can’t make a meeting on the holiday.

The Holiday Season is a a season of happiness and giving. But it is also a season of misery and sadness for some. And this is a fact. We see this every year. So I’ve been working tirelessly in making sure there is a room to go to and people to care for their neighbors and their fellows.

Numbers always fluctuate during the holidays. And Sobriety Looses Its Priority for some. The factor of a slip versus making it back after the new year are slim. So our job is to keep our numbers stable, because we always see numbers spike in January, so everybody needs to be on deck. Every good moment we create NOW, will carry through the Holidays.

GOOD DEEDS COUNT TWICE ON CHRISTMAS EVE …

Go Do Good Deeds.

 

Friday: Part 2, FEAR of Being Red Lighted

kneel

 

The stories of Voices of Hope are as varied as the human sharing their story. Rejection, Denial, Ostracism, Not being understood, or Validated are very very real, for many of the young men I have listened to.

And after today’s episode that I watched earlier today, where I heard MY story told by someone who walked this very same path, knowing that HE got the Green Light, and was baptized into the church, has put some real fear into my heart tonight.

I’m really afraid that for some reason or other, the man who will be charged in green lighting my baptism, will say NO. It is a logical fear, because my story is a bit complicated, but I’ve done all the work I need to do. I’ve thought this all through, I have reached my conclusion that, I am done with Gay.

I want to be baptized. I want to be part of the community that was shared with me. I have turned to Heavenly Father for wisdom, and love. I just really need to trust the men who have been ministering to me that they know the particulars of my story, and when I see them on Sunday morning at Church, I will share with them my fears.

I just need to relax and pray for peace and understanding.

I know, Heavenly Father knows what is going on with me and that He loves me for who I am, an imperfect human being who just needs to hear that I am just ok.

 

 

Friday: Part 1, Finding the Better Me on the Other Side

maybe

I did not get a single hit from last night’s post. I imagine that it was not the right moment, and the feeling I have been sitting with is this: I am ok. I am on the way. I know where I am headed.

The last Discussion was about the process to Baptism. But first I need to meet with the Mission President for Quebec, before that can happen.

I’ve been listening to Voices of Hope every day. And they say, in our rooms that, eventually, one day, you will hear someone tell your story. After over a dozen testimonies listened to, I heard a young man tell the story I am living at the moment.

How, being Gay turned out and where that led him. Then, in a fluke of Heavenly Father prompting, he and a friend were in an Asian grocery store, in the Bay Area, and on his way out, a Missionary was walking in.

In a moment, he was enlightened to talk to the missionary. Which led to some questioning who he was, what he was, and how he could find himself, talking with a Missionary.

One conversation led to more Missionaries, which led him to Baptism.

Like myself, he got to the other side of Gay, and is working on finding his better self, through the Atonement and the Gospel and the Savior.

I needed to hear someone talk about this specific journey. What does one do when they find, that they are on the other side of Gay.

Thinking back, if I could talk to my much younger self, I would give him other, better choices to make. More options, that I did not have at the time. There was no other option for me, so I engaged in the gay community.

As my life progressed, I found less and less attraction for the gay community. I found less and less need for the community as well. Because I’ve spent the last fifteen years, living among my straight friends in recovery.

However, I have some gay friends in the room, we don’t hang out, outside the room. And I invite one of my elderly gay friends to holiday dinners here in our home, that is a tradition we have had for several years.

I don’t desire to be with other men. And I really don’t sexualize men in public. I might think, Hey, he’s cute or has a cool haircut, and that is normal. I just don’t LUST after guys like a sick puppy would.

I’ve been married for twelve years, and for the last fifteen years, I have worked on myself and have grown spiritually and soberly. Hubby, on the other hand has not. He is not interested in personal growth beyond his job and his laptop.

So two sober people living under the same roof. One is stagnant, and the other has moved farther along the life road. And now I am here.

On the Other Side of Gay.

I believe Heavenly Father is calling me to my better self.

I want to be Baptized in the Church.

Sunday I am going to church for the first time in ages. I am hoping that will lead to something I really desire.

Connection …