Not a Miserable Cow

I once read a quote….

Amazing things will happen today if you choose not to be a miserable cow.

At the time I read it I thought it was humorous and could see the truth in it, but I didn’t really apply it to myself.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about happiness and what that looks like for me. For the most part, it has been a very situational emotion in my heart. It has been attached to location, events, people or actions, which are temporary.

Today I learned that happiness is literally a commandment from God. I have always known that keeping the commandments He has given us will always bring greater happiness. BUT I never really understood that happiness is part of those commandments to follow.

As I thought about this, it became clear that it is truly a choice to keep this commandment like the rest. We truly choose our happiness. We truly choose in our hearts and souls if we are going to be happy. Once we make that choice either way, our actions follow.

Another powerful thought was God has literally called following Him and Jesus Christ the Great Plan of Happiness. For some reason, I thought that was the ultimate destination and we would experience bits of it along the way…because “this life is meant to be a test”. I have equated this to mean it is supposed to be hard, frustrating, pass/fail, trial, etc. All of these things are definitely part of life. It is part of how we learn and grow.

BUT!!!!!

Through it all He wants us to be HAPPY and live life in the manner of happiness. The opposition truly wants “all men to be miserable like unto himself”. And they are out there working hard to pull us down by whispering lies, tempting us to make choices that are contrary to God’s commandments, doing little things that pull us away by giving us a moment of pleasure (not happiness), convincing us that we are not enough, rigidity in life, closing our hearts, isolation…etc. You get the point.

Think about how often you have felt something from the list above or from the etc. portion. Even if it feels justified. It is not happiness and does not lead your heart back to God. It is the root of pessimism. So the question to ask yourself… Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Today I realized within myself that the times I have attached my happiness to things, people, situations, etc. has backfired. IT. DOESN’T. LAST. When I choose to cultivate and grow my happiness from within my heart, it is deep and lasting. It is my responsibility and mine alone.

The times when I have made the choice to reach out, to lift others, to be creative, to share time, to try new things, to see things differently, I have felt happiness in my heart. It is not always easy, but in the end it is worth it.

It is a game changer to fight for and cultivate happiness. I have found that it rewires my brain and changes how I perceive and think about things. It doesn’t change anyone but me, but I can use how I feel to help others out of a dark place.

Happiness is truly a choice. It is where we see Him, where we hear Him and where we feel Him the most. It is possible to be happy in the depths of trial and struggle. I am grateful that He loves me so much that He gave a commandment to be happy.

I love Him. I am happy. I am growing. Amazing things are happening.

What Fighting The Darkness Within Has Taught Me

Life is to be learned from constantly. There is a constant battle we wage daily against the darkness that surrounds us and lives within us. Sometimes we are witnesses to battles fought by others. More often, we are the ones fighting.

Here is where I hope my words can capture what my heart has seen.

I have learned that in order to fully heal, the wound needs to be exposed out loud. It is frightening to share things that have hurt us or the choices we have made, but it is necessary. There is a powerful catharsis that takes place when we verbalize what is in our hearts.

We CANNOT go through life alone. God places people in our lives that help us. It is their gifts and abilities that He has given them that allow them to help us…if we let them. We are all those people and have the ability to bless the lives of all around us.

As much as we pile strength and positive thoughts on top of an underlying lie we haven’t exposed, it always manifests itself one way or another. These lies limit us, holding us back from those things that we want. They need to be exposed and our hearts need to be healed.

Fear is the ultimate destructor of our ability to heal. When we are afraid of what others will think of us or we are scared of the reprocussions, we do not do what it takes to heal. FAITH is the ONLY way to heal. Faith gives us courage to open up and know that in spite of everything, we are going to be much better off on the other side.

Looking back will never allow you to move forward. In fact, it is a lot like Lot’s wife. Every time we look back and give emotion to the past, part of our hearts turn to salt. It is essential to learn from history, ours especially. It is even more vital that we take what we learn and MOVE FORWARD. Dwelling on past mistakes gives the darkness power.

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are constantly fighting for us. They give us the strength to face the darkness, expose its lies, and move forward. Only they can heal us completely. And they are always ready when we reach out to them. They give us the weapons we need. They bind up our wounds and heal us. To Them WE ARE EVERYTHING.

I am grateful to learn. I am grateful for every experience in my life that has taught me these valuable lessons. I am grateful to KNOW whose I am. I am grateful to know that I can change and become.

Will You Choose Me?

Have you ever had a question that you asked over and over again and the answer was never there? Yet, somehow you knew there is an answer so you keep asking the same question?

I have a lot of these types of questions, but one has been on my mind more often than the others.

With so many things in life, I have sought for a deeper, spiritual purpose and meaning. I feel that God is so intricately involved in our lives that everything has a lesson, blessing or growth attached. It is simply up to us to seek.

I also am acutely aware of the dual nature of life. That everything has its opposite. As much as I would love it all to be good influences and spiritual, I know it is not. I know that that there is an adversary whose main goal is destruction. So as much as I only want to know the beauty, I have to understand the dark too at some level.

There are mornings I wake up and I know there is something off. It has nothing to do with how I wake up and everything to do with that spiritual sense that lets me know it is going to be one of those adversarial days.

Today was one of those days.

I hate waking up and feeling this, and I appreciate it at the same time. Even if I don’t fully acknowledge it, at some point in the day I will realize what is happening.

Today it was the incessant voices whispering doubt, frustration, anger, impatience, and sadness. I wish they were quiet, but they aren’t. It seemed like whenever I was able to shut one down, 10 more came to whisper. After battling for a while I began to question my reactions, the purpose of it all, and if I am handling it in the right ways.

So there is the question I have had… When these days come, and I spend all day battling (and honestly losing some of those battles), I ask, “am I doing something wrong?”

At a lot of levels, I understand that this is part of the mortal journey. That those who are fighting the hardest to return to God have a lot of these days. That when there is something coming chaos reigns. Even knowing this I still ask if I am doing something wrong.

Tonight as I asked that question a quiet voice came into my mind and heart. It asked a question in return,

“Will you choose me?”

In that instant, I thought about the ways I have handled these situations. I thought about the prayers I have said, the moments reading His word in the scriptures and from His prophets, the workouts I have done, the moments I gave in, and many other reactions.

“I need to know if you will choose me, and this is one of the ways I can know.”

Do I choose Him or do I choose something else? Do I turn to Him in these moments or do I turn to my phone, social media, etc? Do I look to God and Jesus Christ for strength to battle or do I look to escape?

Some battles I have definitely chosen escape. Running away in my mind through mindless games, murmuring, isolation and idleness. As much as I want these things to take away the battle, they only leave me feeling empty and lost. There is usually a momentary relief, but it is very fleeting.

Then there are the days when I silently pray for strength (it comes), read His word for peace (it comes), get out and exercise for perspective (it comes), reach out to another to help (it comes) or write for cleansing (it comes).

As much as I would love any one thing to help me overcome, it is always the combination of many choices that chase these adversarial situations away.

Will I choose Him? That question is answered every moment of every day. Will He choose me? That question has already been answered. It is up to me to make the choices that will allow me to see His choice.

Faith Over Fear

Recently my husband and I started working out at a gym called Athletic Republic. It has been a FAT minute since I worked out in a gym with a trainer. Honestly, it has been a refreshing change to work out with someone who pushes me, rather than relying on myself.

The other day our trainer had us doing box jumps. I started off on level 2. It was fairly easy, so the next round I went up to level 3. He looked at me and said, “go up to the next one (level 4). You can do it.”

Ummmm…. I am not a spring chicken, nor have I ever considered myself a springy chicken. So, I half-heartedly attempted to jump, and then fear took over. Regrettably, I stepped away…hating that fear inside of myself the entire day.

These workouts have produced a lot of moments where I find I have trust issues. Whether it is running backwards on a treadmill and letting go of the bar, doing pull-ups, plyo pushups, or box jumps, I find I lack trust within myself to accomplish them.

And I hate it. I hate feeling fear.

I know God hears my heart. I know He understands how much I hate feeling fear. I also know He is not going to take it away from me. He is going to let me work through it, because on the other side is power, strength and courage.

One of the ways He knows He can reach me is through words. I had begun to read a book this past weekend called Think Like A Warrior by Darrin Donnelly. It talks about five inner beliefs that make one unstoppable. The last one is choosing faith over fear.

For so long I have justified my fears and allowed them to rule over me. It is easy to justify them, because it feels like they are protecting us from some inherent harm. When in all reality they are doing more harm by keeping us in the same place, not living.

The opposite of fear is faith. Faith in God. Faith in the abilities and gifts He has given us. Faith that life is full of opportunity and growth. Faith that, even if we get hurt, we will grow. Faith that we are more than we think we are. Faith that the next step is renewal. Faith that there is more than what we see right now.

Faith in God

“You see when we place our dependence on God, we no longer have to worry. This type of faith allows us to be bold, even recklessly bold, in the pursuit of our dreams. Faith in God takes confidence to a whole new level. It provides us with help along the way as well as sureness in our action. We can know with certainty that if we give our absolute best, God will take care of the rest.”

There is power in faith. Power over fear. Power over weakness. Power over the unknown. Power over anything holding us back. It is only accessible when we CHOOSE it.

Choosing faith is something that needs to be done all day, every day. It is a power that adds upon itself, giving us confidence in the next step. It is truly a gift from God.

I love that He is so aware of us. I love that He sends us the ability to be strong through faith. I love that He knows each of our fears and provides us a way through them. Knowing this helps me know I am His.

Today I choose faith over fear.

Not Broken

The other night I was scrolling through Facebook, just passing time really, when I found something that changed everything. I wasn’t searching for answers, nor was I looking for inspiration. That is why it was so impactful.

It was as if it was placed right there, right then for the purpose of answering a question that has been in my heart for a very long time.

It was a story about a family who learned how to be with their autistic son. For so long they thought that there was something broken and it needed to be fixed. Instead, they discovered that as they learned him by doing what he did, there was nothing broken. He was exactly who he was born to be.

As I read that story, it was as if a door opened up in my heart and mind. For so long, I have battled with understanding who I am and finding my unique purpose in life. I have watched people and wondered how they figured out who they are and the purpose that they live. I felt like being in my forties, I should have it figured out. I should know.

But I don’t.

I have felt for so long that I really have nothing to offer (an adversarial lie). I am not artistic. I am not business-oriented. I am not really outgoing. I am not a lot of things. This thinking has left me feeling broken.

So that led me to ask the question…What am I?

As I read the story, one thought came more powerfully than anything else…

I AM NOT BROKEN. There is nothing in me that needs to be fixed.

I am learning me. I am learning that spirit that existed long before this life on earth. I am finding my way on the journey God has placed me on. It is my journey.

On this journey, I have discovered so many things. I have seen things I do not like. I have just barely learned it is because they do not fit with who I truly am. On the other hand, I have seen and embraced things that I love, because they tap into that spirit. These are the things that light my soul on fire. They are unique to me and my journey.

A huge part of understanding and learning me is those who I surround myself with. I am drawn to people who are strong, have an inner power, and a strong desire to become more. They bring out the best in me. I truly hope that it goes both ways.

I believe that there is a great power that is unleashed as we find and accept who we truly are. It lies deep within our souls and requires us to search. It is found in those things that light our souls on fire and speak deeply to our souls. For so long I tried to push them down, thinking I needed to be something else.

Not anymore.

I am a child of God. I am who I am. I am so much more than I ever thought. My journey is far from over.

Take time and discover you… Listen, be patient, and you will learn.

Limiting God

Sometimes I truly hope I can express what is going on inside. As much as I want to be able to translate the feelings of my heart and the lessons I am learning into words, I find I am not as skilled as I would like to be. Refinement comes through action, so here we go.

Last week I had a gut check of faith. Acting on inspiration from Heaven, our family has sold our home and purchased a spec home in another town. It will take a few weeks for this home to be completed, so we are staying with my kind parents in the meantime. After all of the chaos of packing and moving, we settled into their home and the stillness settled in. I am learning that I do not do well sitting still.

My mind started to race and think about why we were moving and doubts began to creep in. The adversary is quite skilled because these thoughts didn’t feel like doubts, they felt like legitimate ideas. One idea would lead to another and to another until my mind was racing and I had forgotten all of the miracles that had led us to where we were buying our home. Fear set into my heart and I could not see my way forward.

After a sleepless night, I found myself on a car ride with my husband where I shared all that was going on in my heart and soul. He patiently listened to all of my concerns and never once told me that I was wrong. Instead he took me out to the house we are buying. To be honest, I did not want to be there. I had truly convinced myself that it was not where we were supposed to be, so it was the last place I wanted to be.

He found a bucket, put his jacket on it (he is a true gentleman) and sat me down. Through inspiration from God, he reminded me of everything that had happened to bring us there. We had offers on two other homes, but neither worked out. We were NOT going to look for a home in this particular town, but it was the only one we liked. New construction/spec homes were never anything we considered, yet it was the one that felt the best. After we put an offer on it, all of the paths began to open to get us there. It truly has been one miracle after another. He told me to rejoice and let God show me why we are supposed to be there. It will always be a special moment to me.

After a good amount of sleep, my heart was healed and I began to see things as they are.

I had allowed fear to take over and hold me back from an amazing adventure and opportunity for our family. Rather than using fear to drive me forward, I had let it hold me back. We have never been able to see the whole reason for why we have moved in the past, because the experiences have shaped us one at a time. I had forgotten this.

I realized that my fears and doubts limited the power of God in my life. They had became the barriers that restrained inspiration, joy and strength that would drive me forward.

Yet, the moment I turned to Him and Jesus Christ through prayer and talking to my husband, they were right there. There wasn’t a hesitation on their part. It was as if they were waiting for me to invite them to help me take down the walls I had built.

In moments of reflection, I see how much their power was limited because of me. Rather than submit, I chose to let fear to take over. In fear, I felt defeated, overwhelmed, tired, impatient, weak, defiant, stagnant.

As soon as I let Them in, I began to feel creative, hopeful, peaceful, receptive, powerful, centered.

Which led me to the question… Are there more places in life where I limit God?

Yes.

The power comes in recognizing them to overcome. It takes courage to face the walls we have built with our fears and doubts. It takes more strength than we have to tear them down on our own. The incredible moments come when we accept help and allow His power to manifest in our lives. It is always humbling to see how much He knows us and loves us.

Living Intentionally

I have a list of things I need to do daily for my spiritual, mental, and physical health. In the grand scheme of life, they are pretty small, but to me, they are THE DIFFERENCE.

Earlier this week, my mom shared with me how she wanted to take the morning and study her scriptures, but so many little things kept popping into her head to get done. As she started to do all of these things, she stopped herself and sat down and began to read. She said, “I had to let everything else go and do what I set out to do.”

A couple of days later my husband and I were talking about exercising. He said, “I keep telling myself that I will find something, but I don’t. I just need to find it and start.”

As I have thought about these little moments with my husband and my mom, I remembered the book by John Maxwell called Intentional Living. It is a fantastic book that is worth the time. What he talks about in the book is anything we want to accomplish in life is possible if we are intentional about it.

What this means to me is I need to devote focus and energy to the areas in life that I want to improve and change. So many times we are led to believe that life will get better, just wait. Or you can change your weight and health by taking this magic pill. Or if I think it the universe will make it happen.

These are all passive solutions. They don’t work. I know, I have tried them.

What I have learned in my little journey is: LIFE IS NOT PASSIVE.

I have always struggled with goal setting. To me it has been a great idea, however, when I set down on a goal journey, I am often frustrated and disheartened. I have read books, listened to podcasts, attended seminars, etc. You name it, I have done it.

The end result?

I come away with so much energy, set my goals, and then LIFE HAPPENS. The goals get pushed to the back burner and there we are.

Except…

There are those that I have followed through on and they have changed my world a little bit at a time.

Years ago I made a promise to God that I would spend time in the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon daily. I knew that if I did this, I would have the spiritual strength and guidance I need. I have missed only one day.

Over 200 days ago I made a goal to study French daily. Back in my 20’s, I spent 16 months in France and Switzerland serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The time there and the language have been a huge blessing to me. So I decided to recapture it.

After a few bouts of sadness a long time ago, I learned that exercise was the best anti-depressant I could ever use. I made that decision to workout at least 4 times a week. That decision has taken me down some amazing paths of earning a black belt in karate, trail running through some beautiful terrain, and pushing myself physically to a point of new strength.

Everything I have devoted focus and energy to, I have been successful. But it takes making an INTENTIONAL DECISION to get it done. I have to set aside all of the little thoughts of “do this” or “you should just rest” or “take the day off” or anything else that wants to pull me down. And more days than not, it is a fight to get these things done.

But when I do… I feel so good.

I am grateful for the inspiration I had this week to look at and see the things that I have been able to accomplish. Finding purpose in life has been something that I have struggled with. Yet, the more focus and energy I give to the things I want to accomplish, the more purpose I find.

It is a beautiful part of our journey to discover and own who we are.

 

His Answers

The quiet that comes after the chaos is some of the most insightful times. If I take the time to slow down and truly see, I am usually blessed with a deeper level of understanding that I normally would not recognize.

God is a master at how He orchestrates our lives, especially when we include Him. What I am learning time and time again is that the answers He gives to my prayers are not how I have them planned out in my mind. And I am so thankful for that.

His answers are only found and seen when we are searching and open. Sometimes they seem more like a ‘curse’ than a gift. But all of the time, they are right.

I have been praying for something. It has been in my heart prayers for a very long time. Even if I don’t utter it out loud, my heart has been speaking this desire. I have had so many ideas of how this prayer could be answered, but each time it never worked out.

So, I have kept praying.

Some days I have felt discouraged because I have wanted my way to work out. I want to be that smart and when it is quite obvious that I haven’t seen the entire picture, it is hard.

Other days I am soooo grateful that my way didn’t work because better things have fallen into place. Things I NEVER would have thought about, pieces I NEVER would have put together.

You see, answers to prayers are never just ONE thing. Answers ripple through different lives and directions in life. Each time it seems like it is a, “no” or a, “just wait” there is something else I need to learn in the process to prepare me for the next step.

I am learning that these things that are deep in our hearts, the things that we want most are put there for a reason. If I didn’t want it so badly, I wouldn’t allow God to answer through opportunities for growth and refinement. This desire has shaped my prayers, defined my faith, and allowed me to search different paths of growth.

God is truly in the details of our lives. He wants to be part of all that we do, who we want to become and the journey it takes to get there. All we need to do is trust Him.

The Process

Wow.

The past few months, but especially the last few weeks, have been insane. It is one pivot after another. If we were on a map program, it would constantly say, “recalculating”.

We back a few months ago, we felt like we needed to put our little house up for sale and move. Crazy as it is because we just celebrated our first year in this home. Yet, we could not deny the feeling and subsequent pieces of evidence that have come that tell us that we need to move on….again.

Fortunately, our lives have been such that big changes are something we have experienced. There are times when I have craved the opportunity to put roots down for longer than a few years. Then there are other times when I am ready to make a change and move on. I truly believe that these feelings are a blessing, because they keep my mind and heart open to what is around the corner.

As we have been projecting, getting the house ready to sell, we have also been looking for a house. Trying to find the next place that God needs us to be. This has proven to be a challenge that has shaped us in ways we didn’t expect.

We have put offers on three different houses. Each one we thought for sure was THE ONE. And then, it wasn’t. Leaving us confused, sad, and relieved. It is interesting to know that we were supposed to put offers on each one because there was something we needed to learn from them.

It has been a purifying process to live through. Sometimes I would wonder why God would give us this strong feeling that we needed to move, yet there was nowhere to go. Ultimately I know that to trust God is to trust the process He will guide us through.

It has been amazing that with each disappointment has come a partial understanding of why. Looking back, even at this point, I see that we may have not been totally unified on one of the properties, but we were trying to make the other one happy. I see that financially these properties would have been a constant drain on us. I see that it may not have been the best place for our family for one reason or another.

I am sure that when we finally get to our place, we will see the reasons for this process unfold clearly. Until then, I am grateful for these little nuggets that bring understanding, comfort, and a knowledge that even when I am not in control of the process…

HE IS.

This is powerful to know. It is comforting even when our house is sold and we don’t know where we are going. It is comforting when we have looked at every house that we think is a possibility and absolutely feel like it is the wrong place for us. It is comforting when the one that shouldn’t make sense, does.

This process has taught me that sometimes I need to look outside of the box I think is the answer. I have learned that unity with my husband on our feelings is ESSENTIAL for our peace and happiness. I have learned that God’s plan for us has never made sense, but has always worked out in amazing ways.

Searching for Him in the processes of life leads to greater insights into ourselves and those around us. It teaches us that we are not alone. That He is in control when we are not. That He is mindful of us on so many levels. That what is important to us is important to Him.

This knowledge of Him makes the process of life so much better. Not easier, just better.

 

Who Am I Feeding?

I remember reading the tale of the two wolves that live inside us. One wolf is all that is negative. He is the one that engenders anger, greed, fear, jealousy, inferiority, and resentment. The other wolf is all that is GOOD. It is joy, confidence, strength, love, humility, truth, compassion, and peace. The wolves constantly battle. As in all battles, the stronger one prevails. Which one is victorious?

It is the one we feed.

The battles within us are greater than anything we see in the world. Our souls are constantly bombarded with thoughts, ideas, and reflections of those things that are meant to pull us down and forget WHO WE TRULY ARE. Some days the bad wolf wins a lot of ground. And other days the good wolf is triumphant and powerful.

There is so much power in finding and knowing who we are.

Like most teenagers, I didn’t know who I was. I fed the wolves inside me whatever was in front of me. Never being intentional, just what was there…good or bad. As a result, I struggled with confidence, friends (not really having very many), treating my body as I should instead of using it as a tool, sadness, feeling unworthy to have good things and real love, and the list goes on and on. I had moments of good things, but they came when I was surrounded by good people, reading a good book, and serving others. I am grateful for these brief moments of light.

With the wisdom that comes with age, I see that my lack of intention and focus on the good, truly left me in a place that I COULD NOT SEE THAT I AM A CHILD OF GOD. I could not see that because I AM HIS, I am worthy of all the good in life, I am a powerful beast, I am beautiful (even those days, you know what I mean), I am everything I want to be.

The more I focused my eyes and heart on God and Jesus Christ, the more my heart began to heal.

They are the only ones who could heal me. No amount of therapy could. No amount of well-intended words could change the internal dialogue. No amount of doing things that ‘made me happy’ could.

I had to open the door to them. I had to put myself in those places that allowed their love to pierce my stony heart. It had to be me.

It still has to be me.

There is truly a battle that goes on EVERY DAY. Some days I feed the bad wolf. I know it because sadness, frustration, loneliness, negative self-talk, emptiness and despair all take over my thoughts and actions.

But the days I feed the good wolf through creativity, work, exercise, reading uplifting words, serving, and productivity, I gain a greater understanding of who I am.

In that understanding is power, peace, knowledge, hope, strength, love, a hunger for more, energy, and so much more.

I believe that all of our souls crave this. They thrive on all of the good that comes from knowing we are here for a higher purpose. The only way for this purpose to unfold is by tapping into the goodness of God and Jesus Christ. It is turning away from those things that leave us uncomfortably numb, that don’t provide anything but escape, that causes us to turn inward.

It takes a lot of effort to do this and turn towards the goodness. Yet, every time I have done this, my efforts have been greatly rewarded.

I am sure the battle between the wolves will continue.

It is who I choose to feed that will determine who wins today… and every day.