Thursday, October 14, 2010


Photo credit: ?? not mine
I have to teach Sunday. Isaiah.
I haven't given it much of a chance, yet.
Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised and actually understand it.
I shouldn't procrastinate much longer.
I know -- I should pray and ask for the spirit, rejoice in this opportunity to serve, and magnify my calling.
I know.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book of Jonah

(I'm still co-teaching the Old Testament to the 14-15 yo class).

Jonah was called by God to go on a mission to Nineveh.  Nineveh was very corrupt.  Jonah didn't want to go.  He instead leaves and takes a boat trip.  The boat experiences very rough waters -- so rough that the mariners believe an evil has been brought to them.  They cast lots and decide it was Jonah.  Jonah says he should leave.  The mariners toss him into the sea (after trying to get to land but unable to due to the tempest waters).

God prepares a big fish for Jonah.  He sits there in time-out for three days until he repents.  The big fish then vomits Jonah out.  He goes on his mission.  Nineveh repents.  God forgives.

I know, in God, all things are possible.  I still don't take this literally, but I do love the symbolism.  May I present:

The Gospel According to Gina

Jonah was called to represent God and teach the good news of repentance and God's love.  He disobeyed.  He didn't want to go and had a bad attitude about it.

The boat trip is a symbol of Jonah leaving God.  Boats are a form of traveling.  He is leaving stable land.  Boats are not as stable and are vulnerable to the sea around them.  There is the risk of sinking and drowning.

The raging sea and danger to the boat and the passengers are symbols of how our choices in life affect others.  Our problems affect others.  If we make poor choices, it's not just us that suffer; those around us also suffer.

Here's an extreme example:  Drug addicts have personality changes that bring arguing, fighting, stealing, etc. into the home not to mention deterioration to health.  Sometimes families of those individuals have the tough choice to ask that person to leave.  But it has to be done for the good of the family and the good of the addict.  When the addict faces consequences, changes could be made.

In a milder example, when we go without sleep or nutrition or have had too much sugar, our personalities change.  We get grumpy, and others don't want to be around us.

The Big Fish = loss of control, a bad situation you can't get out of, rock-bottom

Many of us are in our own big fish (depression, addiction, deception, etc.) due to poor choices we have made.  We've gotten ourselves in such a mess it seems impossible to get out.  This is where we could give up or find renewed strength (often through saying we are sorry and trying to change).

Jonah prayed and repented.  He could have given up, be consumed and eliminated out the back way, but he wanted another chance.

He got his chance.  But, the fish didn't just open his mouth and have Jonah walk out.  No.  Jonah was vomited out.  That's not a pretty image.  The vomiting symbolizes the sometimes-ugly, difficult effort it takes to make things right again.  Addicts who want to get clean have the nasty battle of withdrawal ahead of them.

It would have been better for Jonah if he had just done what he was supposed to do in the first place.

What's your "big fish?"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I've Got Company

It's a relief that I'm not the only active LDS woman that has questions/ponderings about the Old Testament.  My blogging friend sent me this post:

I truly enjoyed the different comments and takes on the subject and found most of them comforting.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Article - faith and science

(using old computer with broken keys -- cutting and pasting -- and the "good" computer has been completely dead)

Danny emailed this to me today.  I liked it and wanted to keep it somewhere handy.  This Old Testament business has been discouraging.  I have no desire to sacrifice hours/days of time reading it right now.  I do the minimum that I must do for Sunday's class when it is my turn to teach.  I have too many exciting things going on in my life right now to put the OT on the front burner.  I really look forward to the NT and to some good news.

Anyway, here's the article:

No 'believing gene,' just faith and work, says LDS doctor, scientist
By Sara Israelsen-Hartley
Deseret News
Published: Monday, July 19, 2010 1:06 a.m. MDT
PARK CITY — It may not be easy to be an LDS scientist, but it can be one of the most inspiring combinations, said Dr. Anne Osborn Poelman, a renowned neuroradiologist and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"We are fortunate indeed to have the gospel of Jesus Christ to give us a foundation from which we can be free to fly, investigate and ask, because as we know, all truth is circumscribed into one great whole and there is no difference between science and religion," she said Friday at the LDS Life Science Research Symposium, sponsored by BYU.
While some want to credit a specific "believing gene," Poelman said she favors the idea of spiritual instinct, or the light of Christ, which is given to everyone.
Yet despite a desire to believe, it's not always easy, she said, referencing the Bible story in Mark, where a father brings his ill son to the Savior and asks that he be healed, then tearfully pleads, "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief."
"No matter how much we believe, how hard we believe, we still have that element of unbelief in us," she told the group of scientists.
Poelman shared a conversation that she and her husband, Emeritus General Authority Elder Ronald E. Poelman, had with a woman who was learning about the church. Eventually the woman told them, "It's wonderful what you believe. I wish that I could believe. Where's the bridge between doubt and belief, between hope and faith?"
The bridge is built step by step through our faith, Poelman said, referencing her days as a Stanford medical student being taught by LDS missionaries.
She said she prayed to know if the church was true and received a "big, cosmic zero" for an answer. But she realized she had asked the wrong question, and prayed again, this time informing the Lord she had decided to get baptized and that he should stop her if this was a mistake.
It was only after she made the leap that Poelman felt the Lord confirm her choice and her faith, she said.
There's no reason such faith cannot coexist with science, added students and professionals during a subsequent discussion.
Dixon Woodbury, a BYU professor of physiology and developmental biology, said he views the counsel to pray over his "flocks and herds" a bit differently as a scientist.
"I've come to understand there's nothing wrong, and it's actually appropriate for me to pray over my experiments, that I will have insight and wisdom in directing them appropriately and interpreting the results correctly," he said. "It's a little different, but still appropriate to ask for the Lord's help in that."
Poelman's sister, Dr. Lucy Osborn, talked about inspiration in her work as a pediatrician.
"It happens to you once, and you go, 'What a coincidence,' " she said. "It happens to you twice and you say, 'Isn't that odd.' It happens to you over and over and over again and you realize that we have a source of information that isn't something you are going to find in your textbooks, or in your laboratory or in the laboratory tests. It simply comes from the Lord, … and it happens when you're open to it and when you're willing to listen."
Yet sometimes, answers to questions may not come quickly or even in this lifetime, Poelman said.
"One of the great things in the gospel is to feel comfortable enough in our spiritual skins, to say 'I don't know,' " she said. "But I do know that the Lord is consummately fair and that in the end, as C.S. Lewis says, 'All things will be fair, and there will be wonderful surprises,' (and that is) enough for me."
It boils down to faith, said Phil Low, a renowned LDS biochemist at Purdue.
"When we were in the pre-existence, there was no opportunity to develop faith," he said. "As a consequence, this is our one and only opportunity to really take that step forward in the darkness and experience the joy that comes by seeing the promises, which we believed in faith might be fulfilled, actually come to pass."
"There isn't a bridge," Poelman concluded. "We do our homework, we pray, we use all the resources we have, at the end we simply trust and step into the dark time after time after time again. And do we do it because we inherited a believing gene? No, we do it because we have something even better, which is hope and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Well, hello, Blog.  I haven't seen you in a while.  Earlier, I had a lot I was going to share with you, it was all planned out in my head, but now that I'm here, my mind is blank.

My reading-every-page-of-the-OT goal has been unfulfilled.  I continue with the lesson plans for Sunday school but haven't caught up in between.  I think I completely skipped Joshua (that was Melody's lesson).  I skimmed, though, and the killing continues.  And there was something at the end of Judges about a guy cutting up his concubine/wife into 12 pieces (after she had been gang-raped all night) and then sending a piece to each of the tribes of Israel as a warning (?).  I'm not sure.  Like I said, I just skimmed it.  (And I wonder who wrote the following OT chapters after Moses.  I'll have to Google that.  It still seems in Moses's style like maybe "he" wrote it, too).

Today I met with a member of the Stake presidency to renew my temple recommend.  He asked if I had a testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel.  I emphatically answered yes with flashes of OT stories in my head and realizing how much better my life with the Savior in it is.  I am so thankful for the gospel.  I look forward to moving on to the NT next year.  I hope to read each page of that.  I wonder if I will still be a Sunday school teacher by then.

We read about Ruth (the Moab who converted to the covenant).  She stayed with her MIL after the both of them became widowed.  I wonder why she didn't want to go back to Moab.  Did she come from an abusive family?  She loved her MIL who must have been a great example to her.  Maybe she felt the spirit while being with her.

I'm so tired right now.  I've read another book, Women, Food, and God, by Geneen Roth.  Good stuff.  I'm finding it interesting that my binging/overeating increased drastically during the times Moses shook my testimony.  I'm sure there are other correlations to my eating behavior.  This is just one I've observed.  Briefly, Geneen says, "...our relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself...(and) God is not just in the details, god is also in the muffins, the fried sweet potatoes and the tomato vegetable soup.  God - however we define him or her - is on our plates," (p.2)

(Okay, I'm done.  I just fell asleep sitting up staring at the computer).  Ugh.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bye, Bye, Moses. It's Been...Interesting.

I finished reading Deuteronomy, and thus completes the last book of Moses. (Thus? I just wrote "thus." Thou may understandeth I read too mucheth scriptures).

Anyway, reading the last dozen chapters was much easier seeing it through the different perspective my father presented. I wasn't as frustrated and angry. I wish the world would see it differently, too, and not use the literal text of the OT as an excuse to be cruel to each other.

Speaking of being cruel to each other, I read an interesting article yesterday about a loving woman, Becky Douglas, who began Rising Star Outreach, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving leprosy victims in India and their children, who live with them in the leprosy colonies (LDSLiving, May/June 2010, p. 20-21). Those with leprosy are treated as "untouchables" and shunned, "disowned by family members, and cast out of society because of the cultural stigma associated with the disease."

That caught my attention because the Old Testament {what I've read so far (or thus far)} talks about shunning people with leprosy and how it's used as a sign, a warning, or as a punishment from God. I just wonder how much of the ancient culture of different societies have been influenced by what Moses wrote.

Did you know that leprosy is a curable disease? I didn't know that. I figured societies had "leper colonies" because it wasn't curable. Anyway, Rising Star Outreach is an inspiring group. Here's their website:

I gave my Sunday school lesson today. It was about not forgetting God. When times are good, we tend to let our good spiritual habits slack. We don't read the scriptures as much nor pray as much. This makes it easier for negative influences to sway us. Prayer, attending church, Family Home Evening, gratitude, Word of Wisdom, and scripture reading are among many things we can do to protect ourselves.

Today is Mother's Day. I was given some blogging moments to myself. Time to trade in the computer for my kids and spend the rest of the day together.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Moses? Moses Who?

This post is from my first guest blogger, my father. He didn't know he was going to be a guest blogger, but I liked his letter so much I asked if I could keep it here on my blog. (This is in response to my last post, click here).

Hi Gina. Dad here.
Okay if I share some reactions to your frustration with, particularly, the Old Testament? I've read the entire Bible a couple of times, the NT several times, and various portions of both OT and NT many, many times; and I generally dislike reading in the OT. A lot of it has to do with your reaction to the way God is portrayed and even moreso with how stupid the Israelites come across. That's especially if you take it at face value.

Many, many people share your horror at the murders and genocide that apparently was not only condoned, but ordered by God! A quick Google search reveals that. And many people come to your conclusion (or at least your preferred conclusion) that Moses was at fault, not God.

Lots of people question whether there was really such a person as Moses since there is really no extra-biblical proof that he did. But Moses was referred to many times in the New Testament, often even by Jesus himself. And of course, Moses appeared to Joseph Smith just a few decades ago. So, I suppose it's safe to assume he really existed.

Assuming that, what kind of guy was he? Apparently he had a speech impediment; certainly something that can make it difficult to be in public. He was born a slave, but raised as an Egyptian prince. That could certainly lead to a conflicted set of values. He murdered an Egyptian supervisor for abusing a Jewish slave and went into hiding. Not sure how it was that he was able to reappear and not have to face the murder charge. Anyway, he apparently had a temper; and as I say, the Israelites come across as really stupid people, which no doubt could cause Moses to lose it now and then.

So, why God chose Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, etc., I can only assume is God's way of showing that He can use an imperfect instrument to achieve His perfect plan. I guess we like to think that back then killing whole tribes of people (including women and children) was a common thing, and we've gotten over that. To think that means we have to ignore Rwanda and the K'mer Rouge and the Tutsis and Hutus, as well as the killing going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.. Should I mention the countless acts of violence that go on on an individual basis throughout the world?

Just like now, I think all that violence back then was simply the way humans chose to deal with things they were faced with; although it's hard to understand when the Bible says that God told them to go in and kill all the inhabitants.

That's why I mentioned before that I view the Bible and especially the OT as allegorical in nature because even if it is a literal recitation of history (and perhaps especially so), it has the effect of driving people away from God rather than drawing them to Him. On the other hand, if those stories are to be of any value to present-day people, the lessons have to be applicable on a personal level in a positive way. So, I believe the story of the Israelites in slavery, Moses' leading them out of Egypt, wandering around in the desert, and eventualy entering the promised land, is all allegorical to the progression of the human soul.

Before a person becomes aware of the presence of God in his or her life, he/she exists in ignorance and slavery to sin (separation from God). Anyone or anything which leads the person out of that slavery is their Moses. In the process of learning to survive without the structure of slavery and enjoying the liberties and responsibilities of freedom, a person encounters many obstacles which must be faced and dealt with in faith and action. And even when one enters the "promised land" of a consistent relationship with God, there is further development to be had and dangers of slipping back into slavery. So, the ruthless slaughter of men, women, and children is an allegorical reference to the strictness and severity with which we must each deal with whatever it is in our nature which prevents us from having a complete relationship with God. Since God, to be God, must be pure in nature, He cannot coexist with impurity; just as light cannot coexist with darkness. One drives the other out. So, to the extent we have impurities within our nature, we cannot have a full and complete relationship with Him until we exterminate those impurities. (Emphases by Gina...good stuff!)

(Emphases added by Gina).

Now, I don't know that any of this is true; but it seems to fit better with Jesus' description of God as being Love than the vengeful, sadistic God portrayed in the OT.

Well, those are a few thoughts your reaction triggered.
Love you,