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Hi I'm Eleesha

A Wash, D.C. constitutional educator by day, a Georgetown grad student by night and a faithful Mormon all the time.

About Me

Since fifth grade, I've loved American history, especially the protection of rights and the perpetuation of freedom ensured in the Constitution. I studied history teaching at Brigham Young University and especially enjoy working with teenagers because youth is a key turning point of forming identity and purpose for the rest of life. Now I work in constitutional education in Washington, D.C. and love my American Studies program, designed for working professionals, at Georgetown University. After Georgetown, I'm planning on continuing studies in constitutional history. I try to make it back to southern Utah frequently to canyoneer, but I'm an east coast gal (I grew up in Florida). Sometimes I feel like the Grinch where his heart unexpectedly grew three sizes in one day. This process usually hurts, but because I want my heart to mirror Christ's, I'm willing submit to such treatment. I believe that within every person is something extraordinary and I am most impressed when people work to make things happen rather than allowing things to happen to them. Spirituality is both the most elusive and accessible aspect of my life. My most meaningful relationship is with the Supreme Creator and Governor of the Universe, but I just call Him Heavenly Father. He calls me Daughter

Why I am a Mormon

Preface “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you” (Matt 7:6). This scripture has frequently come to my mind as I’ve been deciding how to write blog posts. Faith, its inception and expansion, is sacred and deeply personal. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nicknamed the Mormon Church by the public, the practice is to keep sacred things sacred by not talking too casually about them in trusted company or by only sharing such things with people who will in the very least not degrade or despise them. The universal (on one side of the digital divide, anyway) reach of the Internet brings in unique dynamics in keeping sacred things sacred. Do faithful Mormons not post about anything sacred because of who may respond from this general audience? All that is a lead up for me to say I’ve thoughtfully considered how specific to be in this particular post. Perhaps my immediate detachment from personally facing a very general audience contributes to my audacity, but candor is usually my preference anyway. Therefore, I’m accepting that I am throwing my personal sacred things to some people who may act like “dogs” or “swine,” but my greater purpose is to provide a case that others can use as precedent for their own spiritual growth. “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) . What He has done for me, He is willing and anxious to do for all of His children, if they are willing to pay the price. Now, allow me to share with you candidly, but not completely, the price I have paid and that I am continuing to pay to know God (John 17:3). Perhaps you too will take first steps or be renewed in efforts to know Him better. Self Honesty Self honesty is something that has been part of my personal make up for as long as I can remember. After being honest with myself, this beneficial self-centeredness led me to honesty with the Lord and then with others. Like every strength, it has probably also been my worst weakness. As a teenager, I didn’t want people to “sugarcoat” things for me and I in turn didn’t want to sugarcoat it for others. I wanted it direct and straight in both directions. Because of this, in my immaturity, I not infrequently delivered offense. Now, as I’ve matured, I’ve often been accused of being “diplomatic,” which is my more kind approach to still being honest and not betraying myself while still being courteous of others’ feelings. I believe it was this trait that led me to early spiritual exploration and commitment. During high school, I was attending “seminary”, which was a 6:00 am hour long scripture study class before school. Also at that time, one of my favorite things to do was to have scriptural talks with my Dad; as a result, I tended to be more familiar with the scriptures than my peers. This led me to frequent religious discussions at school where I was defaulted as some kind of authority. After a while, I began to be uncomfortable. I believed the things I was saying, but I didn’t know they were true. I feared I was being dishonest with myself and misleading others by confidently sharing things that I only just believed. As if inherently, I knew there was a God and I knew His Son Jesus Christ came into the world to meet the Universe’s demand of justice and offer mercy to those who would accept Him. I believe this was the result of many many lessons in my home and at Church where I learned these truths. The Holy Spirit had confirmed this reality to me in a subtle, gradual and undetectable way. What made me so uncomfortable was the claim that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the Lord’s restored New Testament Church on the earth in our time. I was worried I believed this only because my parents had taught it to me. After some time of thinking it over, I decided I needed to investigate this for myself. I believed through prayer and “doing my homework” God would help me find His Church. I rejected the mainstream Christian belief that the “church” today is all the believers in Christ in various churches across the earth (a reference based on 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 from what I could tell). Though I by no means discounted their faith in the Savior, I didn’t believe this aligned with how Christ set up His Church during His mortal ministry. Further, it seemed contrary to God’s nature to me to have a “church” that conflicted on so many points of basic doctrine as did Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Nondenominationals and other Christian churches. I believed God must have an accurate communication of His doctrine in at least one of the many churches on earth. Hence, I believed that God’s Church was on the earth. Even if it broke my parents’ hearts I was going to find it and unite myself with it. At fifteen years old, I had to know and I was willing to do the work so that I could know. Once I knew, I intended to be true to that knowledge for the rest of my life. The Price for Personal Revelation: Doing My Homework Because I knew there was a God and His Son Jesus Christ was the Savior of the world, which all these churches taught, and they all believed the Bible, though there were many translations, I focused my efforts on the Book of Mormon because it set apart the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from all the other Christian churches. I started reading it intently and asking God to help me know if His hand was involved in bringing it to the public. I figured it was either/or. It was brought forth by the gift and power of God or it wasn’t. If it was, it was evidence that God had restored His New Testament Church to the earth and it was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If it wasn’t, it was a fraud and it would be eliminated from the possible ranks of being Christ’s Church on the earth and I would have more searching to do. If the latter was the case, I would view its members as very nice, but unfortunately misguided people. Over the course of several months, knowing how God felt about the Book of Mormon constantly consumed my discretionary thoughts. If I wasn’t focusing on school work or whatever sport I was playing, I was pondering what I had read in the Book of Mormon. Reading about Abinadi (A-ben-a-die) became my favorite to a point. I’d previously read how Lehi brought his family out of Jerusalem before its destruction during the time of Jeremiah and they brought with them the practice of the Law of Moses. I liked how the wicked king arrested Abinadi for preaching of Christ and that the wicked king’s court had perverted the Law of Moses, which purpose was to point the minds and hearts of the people to Christ. I liked how Abinadi’s death seemed inevitable, but he boldly taught the corrupt court about the mercy found in Jesus Christ. I felt my own faith in Christ strengthening. Other stories of faith-filled people strengthened my faith. Then ultimately, I came to the climax of the Book of Mormon where the resurrected Jesus Christ appeared to the ancient American Christians, recorded in 3 Nephi 11.They knew He would be born near Jerusalem, the land from which their forefathers had come and He finally came to them! I was rejoicing with those in the record as I read. I loved reading how He blessed the children individually (3 Nephi 17). This Christ was the same Jesus Christ who I’d come to know for myself personally, the Author and Finisher of my faith. Personal Revelation: The Process and the WOW By the time I came to the closing pages of the Book of Mormon, I believed that book was of God because of the Holy Spirit which came to stay with me as I hungrily read and pondered the content of its pages and because of the expanded faith I then enjoyed. But, could I say that I knew? Though I felt like I’d been blessed, I only believed it strongly. I still could not say that I knew. In the closing pages of the Book of Mormon, the last prophet to write in the record, Moroni, (More-ron-eye) describes a formula for receiving personal revelation. If when I “received these things” meaning the Book of Mormon, if I would 1. ask God 2. with a sincere heart 3. real intent (meaning willing to act on the answer) 4. having faith in Christ, He would “manifest the truth of it unto [me] by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4). Check, check, check and check. So what else should I do, just wait? I continued to ask God, urgently. I wanted, no I needed to know. Then WOW. One night still at fifteen years old, while I was on my knees, again praying that He could please help me to know that the Book of Mormon was sent from Him, I felt my thoughts quickly enlighten and then it was as if someone had poured a pitcher of warm water over the crown of my head flowing to every part of my body all the way down to my toes. I don’t have words to accurately represent it, but it felt like liquid love or joy filling my body completely. I’m not sure how long this went on until I suddenly became scared. I knew Satan was a great deceiver and I worried at this cross-roads moment for me, he would deceive me if he could. But this was different from a false masquerade 1 Corinthians 11:14. I had the idea come to me that Satan could pretend to be an angel of light, but he could not create peace, which is what I was feeling throughout my body. Further, I thought it was contrary to Satan’s nature and mission to strengthen me in my resolve to live for Jesus Christ and that is just what this experience was doing. It was as if my nature was changing. I no longer had a desire to sin, but I wanted to live as purely and as faithfully as I possibly could. God had made me a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) and in the process had helped me to know His New Testament Church was restored in my time. Ends up, I was already a part of it. The Book of Mormon, which He brought forth through a modern prophet was evidence of this message of a restoration. I believe this instance was what the scriptures call “baptism of fire” which follows baptism by immersion for the remission of sins by one with authority and the ordinance of laying of hands to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost. I received these ordinances when I was eight years old and seven years later my baptism of fire occurred after much petition. Many, I may dare say most, do not have a single event for their baptism of fire, but an undetectable gradual process (3 Nephi 920). I believe because God knew I would best benefit from a direct and straightforward answer and because I petitioned Him so much for it, He worked with in a way that best fit my personality and needs. He knows me so well. Also, I believe God is sparing with such blessings because it suddenly made me accountable to live according to the knowledge He gave me. That’s why, I believe, such experiences require relentless and urgent imploring. I believe that God will do the same for ANYONE who similarly seeks after Him. What spiritual experiences have you sought by the hand of the Lord? Do you want similar kinds of experiences so that you can know God? Earnest of the Spirit “[God] hath also sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:22). In legal terms, an earnest payment is a large sum a purchaser offers to demonstrate a commitment. The purchaser completes the payment with a much larger amount at a following date. I’m unsure if this is how Paul was using this term, but it fits well for my experience. I believe that God was showing me in a very personal way the kind of joy experienced while living in His presence. This “earnest of the Spirit” was only a small taste of what lies ahead for me as I am faithful to Him. Still Believing and Living as a Disciple of Christ: Life in Between Spiritual Experiences I have had other powerful spiritual experiences in my life, but none as deep and to the magnitude of this one time event. I believe these occasions are rare because my faith expands as I have the opportunity to make decisions in accordance with the knowledge God has already given me. Discipleship takes work, but work where the pay off from God (grace) is far greater than any investment on my part. I daily come to know God as I, with gratitude, remember, remember, remember and choose to live His commandments. What About You? Do you know God? Do you want to better know Him? What kind of work are you willing to do so He will pour out His grace in answer? Are you willing to seek with real intent, meaning live according to the answer He gives? Are you willing to sincerely exercise faith in Christ, even if your faith is only the desire to have faith? What sins are you willing to give up to better know Him? When I employ my self honesty, I realize that though I know He is real and His Son offers an escape from my current sins, there is much I still need to change in order to receive a greater portion of grace and know Him better. I have learned that God wants most for me to offer Him my sins, my heart and my mind. In return He is making of me something far better than I could ever do on my own. That is why I continue to trust Him as a disciple and continue to “pay the price” to increase in His confidence. Whatever it is that I am holding on to, it is worth giving up to better know God. What about you?

How I live my faith

I'm all or nothing about most everything in life. About 80% of my discretionary thoughts involve something about spirituality. I worship the Lord as best I can with my heart, soul and mind and find great fulfillment when I recognize my capacity to do this increases. He's done so much for me, I prioritize my life so I can be an instrument in His hands for Him.

Mormons believe Jesus Christ is their Savior. Why do we need a Savior?

“What’s the big deal about Jesus? I’m a good person.” Could I pose a more loaded question? Have you ever wondered it yourself? Have you ever been surfing through late night television and caught a phrase from a TV evangelist with slicked back hair wearing an awful suit? He says something like if you don’t accept Jesus you’ll burn in hell forever. Disinterested, you keep flipping until you find a great episode of “Saved by the Bell.” But the money-grubbing TV evangelist doesn’t seem to be the only one with the Jesus-or-hell message. What’s the big deal about Jesus? If you’re a good person, why does Jesus matter? Burning in hell forever seems a little harsh, don’t you think? Isn’t God a God of love? That doesn’t seem very loving. Jesus matters because of the tension between mercy and justice. God is our loving Heavenly Father. He loves us in the best way a Father could love a child, only exponentially compounded by His infinite capacity to love. He wants all of His children to both live with Him and reach their eternal potential. He is anxious to look past our weakness and encourage our growth. However, justice requires payment for every sin and on our own we don’t have the capital to pay off our debt of sin to live in God’s presence. Not sure if you’ve sinned? Sin is falling short of living God’s commandments. Christ taught that the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and the next greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). http://scriptures.lds.org/en/search?type=references&last=3+Nephi+27:19-21&help=&ro=checked&search=Matthew+22:36-40%0D%0A&do=Search&show= Have you ever fallen short of these two commandments? Then you have sinned and because of justice’s demands you cannot dwell in God’s presence, but God wants you to live with Him. So Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly paid the price for all sin. And unique to Mormon doctrine, He also took upon Himself the pains and sicknesses of the world in addition to sin, so He would know how to comfort us in our dark places (Alma 7:11-12). http://scriptures.lds.org/en/search?type=references&last=matthew+22:36-40&help=&ro=checked&search=Alma+7:11-12%0D%0A&do=Search&show= Jesus took upon Himself all that came into the world because of the Fall of Adam. It is through Jesus Christ that God is fair, though life rarely seems fair. It is through Jesus Christ that Heavenly Father is both merciful and just. How do we gain access to Jesus’ payment and receive mercy? After His resurrection, Jesus visited people in America and taught, “And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel…” (3 Nephi 27:19-21). http://scriptures.lds.org/en/search?type=references&last=Alma+7:11-12&help=&ro=checked&search=3+Nephi+27:19-21%0D%0A&do=Search&show= In short, without Jesus, we are exposed to the demands of justice. We can be good people, but even the best people fall short of the two greatest commandments. Though many things exist in our lives by the grace of God, we activate Christ’s protection from justice’s demands by living His gospel (as He taught above). Once I accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ, it opened a whole new world of spiritual development for me. Instead of worrying about what will happen after this life, I’m more concerned with spiritually understanding and growing to acquire more of His attributes. Nothing that I left behind is worth more than a relationship with Someone willing to pay for my sins and experience my pains so I can receive comfort, nothing. Show more Show less