The Loaves & Fishes and a Review of Unplanned

Never have I been so excited to attend a movie that I so desperately did not want to see. That’s how I felt going into see Unplanned today. I felt that this movie was important to see, I want it to do well and I thought it should be something everyone should go see – but I knew it was not going to be a fun happy experience. In fact, when I asked my husband when he wanted to go see it with me his response was that he really didn’t want to go see it – and I couldn’t blame him. But I still felt like I needed to go see it. I already knew Abby’s story but I felt compelled to go and see it played out on the big screen for myself.

So when I got my 1yo down for his afternoon nap and realized that I could make it to the next showing – that’s what I did. I quickly packed as much chocolate into my purse as I could find (stupid trying to eat healthy meant there wasn’t as much stock as I would have liked), wore my knit shawl as a socially acceptable excuse to bring a blanket into the theater, and left my husband home with the kids. I knew if I hesitated I would talk myself out of going so I just went.

This was my first R-rated movie that I’ve ever seen unedited. While I totally believe that the MPAA only gave Unplanned an R rating in an attempt to tank it – I also think it was deserved. The movie is heavy, though not dark. As someone who does not deal well with blood – particularly medical blood – it was a really hard movie to watch, and there were definitely several times when I found myself hiding under my makeshift blanket while I ugly cried. However, nothing about the bloodiness or the subject matter was gratuitous. It was real, and it told a true story, without overdramatization. But should it be a movie that kids under 18 are seeing without at least parental knowledge? Probably not. At least, I don’t think I would want my kids seeing it without me, though I think there are many lesser rated films that I would be much more opposed to them seeing.

However, while the movie dealt with things that I wished that I didn’t have to know about – there was a great deal of hope as well. Even though I left with a headache from crying so much over much of the heartbreak and horror of the movie – I did not leave feeling sad, or helpless, or overly weighed down. Instead I honestly left feeling hopeful and inspired. Definitely still saddened, but that feeling wasn’t overwhelming because of the hope and light offered in the film.

Many times throughout my becoming more entrenched in the pro-life movement I have felt like there was no hope. Yes, abortion was a terrible evil, but what could I really do about it? It’s legal, it’s not like I could turn these people into the police. Public opinion, at least as portrayed in the media has always seemed so pro-choice. How can you protect babies whose own mothers won’t even protect them? I’m a stay at home mom with 4 kids – I don’t have a fancy law degree, I don’t have deep pockets to lobby politicians. Is there really anything I could do?

I’d heard of several organizations in my own quest to find a way to fight against abortion, and among them was 40 Days for Life. To be honest when I heard what they were about I felt like their whole mission was too hokey and not action oriented enough. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the organization – they sit outside abortion clinics and pray. Their object isn’t to engage or protest, just to pray. Praying is great and all, but if I was going to get involved I wanted to do something – I could pray from home.

In our Come Follow Me discussion last week we discussed the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. I’ll give you a recap of the events. Jesus is teaching a multitude of five thousand men (plus women and children) and decides it’s time to feed everyone. The disciples look around and say “uhm, there are 5000+ people here, there’s no way we have that kind of food.” But Christ asks that they find whatever food is there. Finally a little boy comes forward with 5 loaves of bread, and two small fish. I can only imagine how I would feel bringing that kind of offering, “Oh, hey Lord, yeah I know you said you wanted to feed 5000 people but all I have is 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish – not even enough to feed 50 people really and you have 100x that here. But sure, take what I have, I’ll probably be hungry, but go ahead and see what you can make of it.” To be honest, I think I would have felt like an idiot offering that up. It’s probably why the only person who offered up anything was a young boy – he was the only one willing to offer what he had, regardless of how small it was. Then of course the Lord takes that laughably miniscule offering and not only feeds the multitude to satiation, but comes back with 12 baskets full of fragments – not only filling the boy, and the multitude but giving the boy back more than he even started with.

SPOILERS AHEAD. CONTINUE READING AT YOUR OWN RISK. (However, I don’t think the story is a surprise to most of the people seeing the movie so you can probably keep reading. I would just feel guilty not making the disclaimer ūüėČ )

As I watched Unplanned I was struck with the characters of Shawn and Marilisa. I’m sure they must have felt much like that young boy – “Well, here we are, praying outside of Planned Parenthood again. We’ve been doing this for 8 years and we watch as week after week more women come in and abort their babies. It doesn’t make any difference, but it’s what we have that we can offer up so we’ll keep doing it.” I’m sure the defeat of it all was absolutely crushing, and that they felt heartbroken that they were standing by and doing what seemed like virtually nothing.

But then, after their long years of waiting. After their patience and persistence. Because they had faith, and showed kindness and “love unfeigned” towards Abby – a miracle happened. A miracle that I’m sure they never could have dreamed of. The clinic director who they had gone toe to toe with for so many years suddenly had a change of heart and not only leaves Planned Parenthood, but goes on to create an organization to help get abortion workers out of the industry. And the clinic they’ve been praying over for so many years closes for good.

I felt chastised for my faithlessness. Is not our God a God of miracles? Haven’t I seen those miracles in my own life? I was reminded of this scripture –

Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.

And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.

Alma 37:6-7

I have decided that I want to be more like the young man in the scriptures. I want to bring my 5 loaves to the Lord and see what he can make of my meager offering. Together perhaps our small offerings can bring forth something great.

If you haven’t seen Unplanned – go see it! Whether you’re ardently pro-life, more on the fence or even if you’re pro-choice – go see it. I’m not promising an enjoyable couple of hours. You will likely have your heart broken and handed back to you. But, you will leave with hope and a new perspective on the love that our God has for each of us. The story is not one of hopelessness, but of hope.

The Old Testament vs The Book of Mormon

My son Sam was “feasting” on the words of Christ ūüôā

About a year ago I found a list of books on Facebook. ¬†There were 100 books in the list and it had some attention catching phrase like “The BBC thinks you’ll only have read 4 of these books”. ¬†I consider myself fairly well read, or at least someone who loves to read, so I decided to go through the list and see how I compared. ¬†I had out-read whatever their low-ball estimate was, and there were quite a few books on the list that I had no desire to read. ¬†However, there was one book that I felt ashamed that I couldn’t quite check off – The Bible. ¬†I’ve read *from* the Bible my entire life. ¬†I’ve attended Sunday School since I was 3, all 4 years of seminary, taken institute and religion classes at BYU – you would think I’d be able to check that book off without a problem. ¬†However, although I’ve read the New Testament front-to-back over and over and read a lot of things from the Old Testament, I’ve never actually read the Old Testament cover-to-cover. ¬†I didn’t feel good about checking off the book without having actually read every individual page of the Old Testament. ¬†So I challenged myself to read the Old Testament. ¬†I decided to read along with the CES Institute manual to help me really get something out of it but my main goal was just to start at Genesis and end with Malachi.

Well after reading the Old Testament for over a year I’ve finally made it through… Deuteronomy. ¬†As I finished that section of the Old Testament I felt like I’d reached a milestone -after all, those first 5 books of Moses are the Torah right? ¬†So completing that much should count for something! ¬†As I looked at my reading chart, and my Bible with the intention of moving on to plow through Joshua I felt exhausted. ¬†Now, it’s not like I’ve been pushing through the Old Testament at a rapid pace – in over a year I barely made it through the first 5 books – But as I considered moving on the idea was just wearying.

That’s the best way I can describe it, the Old Testament is wearying to get through. ¬†It’s written for a different time and in a language and style that isn’t exactly native for me. ¬†The culture surrounding all the stories and events is foreign to me. ¬† The Law of Moses has many correlations to the laws of the gospel that we live today, but they aren’t always clearly stated and all the symbolism just takes a lot to muddle through. ¬†It’s interesting, I’m always fascinated to see how different peoples think and process the world around them. ¬†It’s so interesting to think of the gospel as it was practiced back then and think of what the differences are to today’s world and why they did things one way, we do them another, but we’re all working to achieve the same ends. ¬†But it still takes a lot of work to get from point A to point B.

So I decided tonight that I was going to go back to reading the Book of Mormon. ¬†Our stake leaders recently challenged the members in our stake to read the Book of Mormon again. ¬†I had ignored the challenge for the time being because I really wanted to make it through the Old Testament. ¬†I felt that was a worthy goal and since I’m in the Primary and can’t attend Sunday School (where I think the current¬†curriculum¬†is the Book of Mormon this year) I didn’t feel bad about postponing. ¬†However, as I opened up my scriptures (ok, really just pulled them up on my phone) and just started reading the title page of the Book of Mormon I felt – peaceful. ¬†Like I was home again. ¬†I can’t exactly describe the feeling that came over me but it just felt so right to be back in this particular book of scripture.

I once had a friend pick up a copy of the Book of Mormon that we had in our car and she started to read it a little bit. ¬†She made the comment that it was so easy to read, and that’s how I felt. ¬†Just natural and easy, peaceful and good. ¬†I wish I had adequate words to describe the feeling, but really the feeling was “this is true.” ¬†I already knew that, I’ve known that the Book of Mormon was true for many years, based not so much on any one particular experience but many different confirmations of its truthfulness through the years. ¬†As I try and live its precepts I can feel the power that is given from so doing. ¬†I’ve taken Alma’s challenge to try an experiment upon the words, and the experiment works! ¬† As I live the gospel, I am happy, I know that the things I am doing are right and I feel at peace. ¬†When I act contrary to these teachings I can feel that state of happiness and peace taken away from me. ¬†The gospel makes everything in my life make sense and taking the gospel out makes it so nothing makes sense. ¬†But the feeling at this moment was powerful – peaceful and quiet, but powerful. ¬†I’ll make it back to the Old Testament and make my way through the rest of it, but I’m so glad to be back in the Book of Mormon again.

I just want to share my testimony that I know that the Book of Mormon is true. ¬†That, as the Prophet Joseph Smith declared,”¬†the Book of Mormon [is] the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man [or woman will] get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” ¬†There is no way a boy of as little education as Joseph Smith had could have come up with this book of his own accord. ¬†The truths it teaches are not of man, but of God. I testify this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

If you haven’t read the Book of Mormon I would encourage you to do so. ¬†You can get a free copy by going to Mormon.org, and either get a physical copy from the local missionaries, or you can listen to it or read it online from that site as well. ¬†I promise it will change your life for the better.