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TransformedProven Principles to Set You Free from Spiritual Worry, Guilt, and Fear
By Earlynn A Sheehan
Balboa PressCopyright © 2012 Earlynn A Sheehan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS
There are two important questions all must answer. Your answers silently affect the happiness, peace and wellbeing you experience every day of your life. The answers underlay the way we experience life. I believe the curriculum for life on earth is to come to an experiential knowledge of the answers. Our collective answers will determine our future existence on Mother Earth. My own answers have been very different from time to time. What are the two questions? "Who am I and what am I doing here"?
As a child, I would have said; "I'm Earlynn. Clarie is my daddy and Mommy is Erma". All I knew was; "I'm in a family with my brother and sisters. I must be here to make Mommy and Daddy happy 'cuz' when they're happy, I'm happy, too". At a very young age my parents taught me I was a child of God. An understanding I hold dear to this day. I was taught to bless my food and say my bedtime prayers. Kneeling with my family in prayer was part of every major event. And we never travelled far without asking Heavenly Father to protect us in our journey. When any serious illness came to a family member or friend my family would combine fasting with prayer for God's will to be done. I was taught to love and trust Heavenly Father as He always hears and answers prayers. As a little girl I couldn't quite figure out why we ended all our prayers with a salutation to farmers ("Hay Men"). I had this mental image of two tall farmers holding pitch forks in front of a towering hay stack. I must have been seven before I realized the word was amen. Prayer has always been an important part of my life.
Dad was a highly respected leader in the Church. It was not unusual for sick friends or members in need to stop by our home asking Dad for a blessing. Many said he had the gift of healing. He had a beautiful baritone voice and his demeanor seemed to demand respect. Mom was more fun loving and playful. Both Mom and Dad set an example of service in the Church. Dad simply adored Mom and made sure us kids treated her with respect. Although Dad had a stern exterior, he was a marshmallow. And although Mom had a playful exterior, she could be tough as nails. They were a good team.
I was taught to be proud of my heritage. My great grandmother as a young Welsh convert put her possessions into a handcart and pulled it across the plains to Salt Lake City. My great grandfather, a Danish convert worked as an indentured servant to repay his uncle for his passage to the United States of America. My grandmother left Iceland at the age of three with her family leaving everything behind for their love of the Church. The ancestors on both sides of my family came to America as converts.
I began attending Church regularly when I was five. I especially loved Sunday school. I got to wear my prettiest dress. My hair was curly and my shoes were shined. It was important to show Heavenly Father and Jesus I loved them enough to look my very best at Church. I loved to sing Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam. Remember the words?
"Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam, to shine for Him each day. In every way try to please Him, at home, at school, at play. A Sunbeam! A Sunbeam! Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam. A Sunbeam! A Sunbeam! I'll be a Sunbeam for Him".
That's it! I know why I am here! I am here to be a sunbeam for Jesus. I am here to please Him.
As I grew the Church became the center of my life. My Sunday routine was Sunday school in the morning, Sacrament Meeting later in the day, and a youth meeting held mid-week. I loved going to Church. My teachers and advisors were dedicated and loving and felt like extended family. I believed I was a member of the only true Church on earth. I needed to listen to the leaders and do as they advise to ensure my place in heaven. I was comfortable and content. I learned there was a lot more to being a sunbeam for Jesus than just going to Church. Being a Sunbeam for Jesus required much more. There were lots of commandments I needed to obey.
I learned when I die, I will be judged. If I keep the commandments I will live for eternity in an elite heavenly kingdom with my family. But if I fail to keep the commandments I will be sent to a lower kingdom apart from my family. They can visit me but I will never be allowed in the elite kingdom even for a visit.
I learned our Church leaders talk with God. God's faithful always follow His leaders. Our leaders are called by God to lead the Church down a straight and narrow path. There are many things I do not understand because they are God's mysteries. When I get to heaven understanding will come but for now I should not question. Until then I must follow the leaders to gain my heavenly reward. God will never allow His Church to be lead astray. God loves everyone, but He has a special fondness for members of His Church. The only way anyone will get to the elite heavenly kingdom is through baptism into the Church. Those who die without baptism will be taught in Heaven and can be baptized posthumously in God's Temples. Then they will have the opportunity to accept or reject it. Life on Earth is very brief, but this one brief life will determine my place in heaven for eternity.
I was baptized at age nine. I remember being taught baptism washes away my sins and after receiving the Spirit of the Holy Ghost I will be able to know right from wrong. If I sin after baptism, I must repent. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus paid for our sins on condition of repentance. After I was baptized I remember trying so hard to do everything the right way. More than anything I wanted to be an exemplary member of His Church. I wanted God and my parents to be proud of me.
Worthy Church members pay one tenth of their earnings to the Church for tithing. At age twelve I would tend children and clean house for twenty five cents an hour. The family I tended most often had seven children. As soon as I got the children to bed, the house cleaning began..... washing dishes, sweeping floors, folding clothes, dusting and vacuuming. A dollar earned for every four hours! Tithing on that dollar was ten cents. At the end of the year I had paid twelve dollars tithing. I was so proud of that! My goodness! When I think about it now, I realize the twelve dollars represented four hundred eighty hours of babysitting and cleaning. My wages totaled $120.00...... but the actual experience was priceless!
As a teenager I didn't miss Church meetings. I had 100% attendance at all my Church meetings four years in a row. There was always something fun to do: dances, camping trips, roadshows, speech contests, hay rides, plays, pizza parties, roller skating, ice skating, sleigh ridding and many more wholesome activities were provided. I earned every award given to young women in the Church. The activities kept me busy with my friends and my leaders were caring, loving, and devoted. I was blessed to have these people in my life. Mom and Dad never forced me to go to Church, but I knew they expected me to go and were proud of me when I went. I went to Church because I loved it.
I was taught to love others, but be careful in choosing my friends. Inactive or non-member friends might be a bad influence and lead me away from the Church. I believed in God as a loving, kind, gentle, forgiving, patient, understanding, all powerful, generous, just, merciful, healing and all things good Heavenly Being. But God was sometimes jealous, angry, vengeful, unforgiving, and intolerant and definitely had his favorites. I learned that Satan was always trying to lead us astray and lead us carefully down the path of his evil ways. I prayed I would always be strong and would never displease God. I wanted to be a loving, devoted member of His Church.
After graduating from seminary and high school I got a job working in the General Church offices with Mom. I loved my job and enjoyed the wholesome atmosphere. One day a gentleman approached me at the counter and began a conversation by stating one of the Church's fundamental documents had been altered and was not as originally written. My boss asked him to leave which he did. But that conversation stirred up my "righteous indignation". When I got home I went straight to Dad. "How dare that man spread such lies? Everyone knows nothing has been changed". I expected Dad to agree with me but was shocked when he said; "How do you know that"? I couldn't believe my ears and didn't know what to say. Really, how did I know that? I knew because that is what I had been taught. A simple statement by my loving father let me know it was alright to ask questions to get to know for myself.
Dad worked for the railroad which was near the Church offices so he would drop Mom and me off on his way to work and pick us up afterward. Our commute took about 30 minutes. I sat in the back seat and listened to my parents' conversations. Often they would talk about issues in the Church and occasionally Dad expressed disapproval of actions or policies of the Church. Whenever Dad expressed displeasure Mom always took a defensive position. She made it clear she did not appreciate his criticism. But that never seemed to stop him from expressing his opinion. As I sat in the back seat, I came to understand Dad was not afraid to take issue with the Church if he felt something was not right.
I dreamt of the day I would marry 'my prince' in God's Temple for time and all eternity. When that day finally came I gave my heart to Kermit and that has been the best decision of my life. He has always been the love of my life. We're the same age and were only ten years old when we met. Deep in my heart I instinctively knew there was something very special about him long before he began looking at girls, let alone dating. In the ninth grade he asked a classmate, Judy, to a school dance. Kermit and I hardly ever talked and he certainly didn't know I thought he was anything special. But I was so jealous I could hardly stand it. We will soon celebrate our 50th anniversary. I could never have found a better friend and partner. He is my strongest supporter. He loves me and gives me freedom to express myself. For his love and support I say; "Thank you, sweetheart! I deeply appreciate your love and encouragement". As Elizabeth Barrett Browning said; "I love thee with the breath, Smiles and tears of all my life – and, if God choose, I shall love thee better after death". "You will always be the love of my life".
Kerm and I have been blessed with the five children, Troy, Kimberly, Shelly, Heidi and Jenny. We accepted the responsibility to teach them the Gospel so they would be strong and make choices worthy of the elite heavenly Kingdom. This sobering duty brought with it a sense of worry and anxiety. The thought that our children could make decisions leading them away from the Church was worrisome. We wanted to ensure they would be with us in the elite heavenly kingdom forever. Whew! That was an enormous commitment!
Dad died right after Shelly was born. His funeral was two weeks after Shelly's birth. Troy was three and a half years old and was big brother to Kimberly and Shelly. As Dad's body lay in his casket, Troy touched his grandfather and asked; "Why is Grandpa cold"? In an attempt explain so a three year old could understand, I said; "Grandpa's spirit kept his body warm just like our furnace keeps our house warm. Grandpa's spirit has gone to live in heaven so it doesn't need to keep his body warm anymore". Troy looked puzzled and said; "What if Grandpa went to heaven and forgot to turn off his furnace"? OK, back to the drawing board. Let's explain that a bit differently.
When Heidi, our fourth child, was a toddler, Kerm worked afternoons and could not attend Sunday meetings. I believed it was important that our kids got to Church every Sunday. One Sunday morning everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The more things went wrong, the more determined I was to get my kids to Church. The kids started playing with their breakfast and made quite a mess. I drew the bath water and began cleaning up the breakfast fiasco when Troy decided to tease Kimberly and threw her shoe in the backyard bushes. While I was looking for her shoe, one of the kids threw the bathroom towels and rugs in the fresh bath water. Oh, brother! I became even more determined. I was going to get my kids to Church no matter what! Finally everyone was ready. I loaded the kids into the car and reached to close the door when I heard the sound of my sleeve ripping leaving a gaping hole under my arm. Troy, seeing I was at my wits end, put his comforting little hand on my shoulder and said as sweetly as any angel could; "Mom, some days are meaner than others". That's for sure! Some days are meaner than others! I quickly changed my dress, re-loaded the car and off we went. Heidi was being potty trained so as soon as Troy, Kimberly, and Shelly were in their classes; I took her to the restroom. As I pulled up her panties and hit 'flush' she grabbed my keys and threw them down the toilet. Down they went! The key to Kerm's bowling bag, the house keys, the car keys.......all down the drain. All I could do is laugh. From that day on "Some days are meaner than others" is a beloved expression at the Sheehan household.
Another Sunday I got the children ready for Church without a major catastrophe. That is until we were ready to leave. Kimberly who has always had a sense of style (or a strong opinion of what she considered style) decided her hair looked awful and was embarrassed to be seen by her friends. I had braided her hair and pinned the braids up in bun-like fashion above her ears. I thought she looked adorable. She had a different idea. "I AM THE PARENT"! I thought; "She is only five years old and I cannot let her dictate how she will or will not wear her hair". So I took her by the hand and loaded her into the car with the other kids. When we arrived at Church, she refused to get out of the car. She was crying and struggling with me. No matter what I said or how I tried to cajole or bribe her, she was so unhappy about her hair she would not budge. Finally, I realized I was defeated and we all came home. I sat her in a chair, unbraided her hair and began brushing it. I was furious and I'm sure I was brushing harder than necessary. Then she began singing a song....."I am a child of God; And He has sent me here; Has given me an earthly home, with parents kind and dear". Oh, boy! That put things into perspective. I felt so sorry I decided from that time on that kids do have opinions and as long as no harm is done I need to be sensitive to them. My reason for taking the kids to Church in the first place was to help them learn to be loving and kind. My insensitivity was based on my ego and I was not teaching my children, especially Kimberly, the lessons I wanted them to learn. Out of the mouths of babes we learn some of life's greatest lessons.
Active Church membership allowed me to find many hidden talents because I was willing to serve and I knew God would help me. I discovered I could write scripts and poetry, direct roadshows, build scenery, assemble costumes, make quilts, teach, organize, lead, conduct meetings, speak in public and much more.
One of my favorite experiences is when I accepted the assignment to produce a roadshow. A roadshow is a production for teen Church members with a cast of characters and an original script. The production is a blend of music, dance, and drama with special lighting, scenery, and costumes. Competing roadshows (usually about six) travel to several sites performing at each location. Judges at each location vote to determine which roadshow had the best costumes, scenery, lighting, script, music, dance, director, etc.
I didn't have the experience needed to produce a roadshow. But I agreed to do it and knew God would help me. I found a pianist and a choreographer willing to help. I wrote words to familiar tunes and wrote the script. I couldn't find a director, so I decided to give it a try. Costumes and scenery were challenging but the whole project was incredibly fun. What a great experience! I loved it! It was a lot of work but the effort was well worth it. It was exhilarating to see the youth involved and excited about singing, dancing, performing and just being part of the roadshow! Finally, the performance day arrived. The kids had a great time and I had more fun than anyone could have imagined. The roadshow did not go perfectly, but it went well enough we felt sure we had won some awards. We anxiously awaited the judges' decision. Then came the announcement.... we had won best script, best directing, best scenery, and best roadshow! This experience taught me two valuable lessons: I can do anything with God's help and we all have hidden talents waiting to be discovered.
At this time in my life I would have answered the two questions this way; "I am a child of God. What I do in this brief life will determine my eternal place in heaven. Satan is trying to lead me away from the teachings of Jesus. I must keep God's commandments. I must teach the gospel to my family so we can live together eternally in the elite heavenly kingdom. It is also my duty to serve the Church in any way asked of me."
Excerpted from Transformed by Earlynn A Sheehan Copyright © 2012 by Earlynn A Sheehan. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Contents1. TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS....................1
2. BEGIN ATTRACTING YOUR DESIRES....................13
3. SEVEN SECRETS TO LASTING CHANGE....................21
4. TWO BOOKS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE....................29
5. THE GREATEST GIFT....................35
6. EDGE GOD OUT....................43
7. THE MASTER KEY....................51
8. AFFAIRS OF THE HEART....................59
9. YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING....................69
10. A CRITICAL CHOICE POINT....................77
11. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO TODAY....................83
12. THE REFINER'S FIRE....................89