Doubting Me

This morning was not a stellar faith morning for me. In fact this morning exposed aspects of my faith that truly need to be strengthened.

It all started out great. Got up with my son to help him get ready for the early morning shoot around that they have on game days. I love to iron his shirt, make sure his uniform is ready and get his lunch made. It is honestly a blessing that I am home to do this. doubting me

The breakdown of faith came when his ride didn’t show up…for a long time.

Unfortunately my truck is having some issues and there was nothing I could do to get him there. I truly felt helpless.

Backing up to last night as I was working on getting him a ride, I felt in my heart that it would all be okay and that she would be here for him. With that peace, I was able to sleep.

So when it was time for him to be there and he is still on the couch looking at me desperately to get him to the gym, my mind panicked. I wanted so desperately for a miracle to come and the truck to magically start. Not today. I wanted to do anything I could to get him there, but I felt so powerless.

The memory of the peace I felt last night struggled to find footing in my mind to calm me, however I would not listen. Doubt creates a very unfertile field in our minds and hearts, chasing out any seeds of strength, peace or calm.

When his ride came, I felt a little whisper remind me that I knew she would come. Gratitude washed over my heart, followed quickly by a heavy heart.

How many times have I done this very thing? How many times have I had His promises that everything would be okay and yet, I fear, worry and doubt? How many times has He shown me that He is in control when life is not?

Every time.

And still I doubt, because I want to be able to have the power to take action. I want to have control (at least some semblance of it) over life.

Yet, at the end of the day it is all about leaving my fear, doubt and worry at His feet, trusting that it will all work out.

Because it always does.

One day this aspect of my human nature will have conquered. One day this weakness will be a strength. One day.

Until then it is up to me to do my best, repent when I falter and look to Him to move forward.

Somedays my best is pretty good. Others? Well let’s just say today is that day and I have some work to do.

The Bridge

Towards the end of my trail run is a beautiful bridge that crosses over a little river running out of the mountains. It is one of my favorite places, because 1. it marks the final ascent on my run and 2. it has taught me many lessons about myself. thebridge

The bridge sits high up above the water. It is a very sturdy bridge made of solid wood and steel. There are no movements from the bridge as it is crossed, be it running or walking. Did I mention it is very high up?

Ever since I can remember, I have had a paralyzing fear of heights. There is no rush of happy adrenaline for me when I am high up, it is pure flight adrenaline. Some days I wish I knew what caused this intense fear, so I could overcome. For now, I will continue to live with it and learn from it.

The first time I crossed the bridge, I walked straight down the middle, my eyes focused on the other side. I counted my steps so that I knew I was making progress and would shortly be off the bridge. My fear of heights truly blinded me to the beauty that one sees and hears in that place. I could not look up to see the green trees nor see the river that was happily passing below. I simply survived that part of the hike, going and coming.

As I have thought back on that particular hike, I realized that fear truly blinds us to the amazing truths and opportunities that God has placed before us. Not trusting in the security of His love and our Savior denies us the ability to fully live up to our potential and see our incredible world.

Another lesson I learned came as I ran across the bridge the first time I conquered the trail running. On the other side of the bridge, I realized that I felt no fear. This moment was very powerful to me at this time of my life.

There have been many days that have felt heavy and very overwhelming. Uncertainty has cast a huge shadow over our lives and some days are downright scary. This fear is so acute when I feel like I do not have the ability to move, fix the situation or create what is needed to move forward. I lose sense of who I am and Whose I am.

Running across the bridge that day taught me that as long I am moving, trusting in the solid foundation of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, fear cannot overtake me. The storms of uncertainty may rage and the sanctifying fires may burn, however I know I can overcome if I keep moving along the path They have given me.

changing treesA few times I have stopped my run and carefully walked across the bridge, taking the time to see, listen and feel everything around me. I have swallowed my fear, pushing it down to a place where it has little power over me. The sounds of the birds singing and the water gurgling fill my soul with pure happiness. Watching the trees change color and prepare themselves for winter is breathtaking. Feeling the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the canyon all at once is very renewing.

I learned that I have power over my fear. I learned that the creations of God are truly gifts to our souls, enabling us to become so much more. I learned that looking, hearing and feeling are imperative to recognizing how He works in my life. In all of our lives. I learned that He knows me, understands my fear and strengthens me as He teaches me.

This bridge has become a sacred place to me. It is a natural temple wherein I see His hand, feel His love and hear His voice.

 

His Gym

One Sunday morning this past March I awoke with a start. It was as if a force was pulling me out of my toasty bed and pushing me out the door to go for a walk. I still cannot explain what happened that morning, however I am forever grateful it did.

That day started me walking 1 and 2 miles a day down the street and back. Our street is located in the foothills of the beautiful mountains in Northern Utah. It is one of the most beautiful places to walk, jog or ride a bike. The changing seasons bring different colors, temperature, smells and creatures. I love this gym.

What began as walking has turned into running again after 18 years and retraining my running style.

mymountains

What begain as walking down the street has turned into exploring the mountains behind our home. I have a wonderful friend who has introduced me to our mountains and the beauty they offer. I love our time in the mountains.

Yet, the first time I hiked the trails on my own, I found a profound sense of peace and freedom. I began to see that I am strong enough to make that journey on my own. It has become a sacred place of meditation and communion with my Heavenly Father.

Last week I took a run through the mountains. The colors took my breath away, inspiring me to stop frequently and take pictures (which subsequently made my run take a lot longer). The beauty of God’s gym is awe-inspiring, so I wanted to share what I found.

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The beginning of the trail. I love how the leaves are scattered all over the trail!

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I looked up to the side of the trail and this tree brought a smile to my face

(which is a little energy boost when running).

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As the trail curves, it climbes into this beautiful little canyon.

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Coming around the corner out of the little canyon, this red tree was waiting for my camera.

hike6The colors on the side of this mountain stopped me in my tracks (again).

thebridge

This little bridge over a creek has taught me so much about life (more on that another time).

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The final ascent out of the canyon.

God’s gym is my favorite place to workout. In it I get to see my weaknesses, find strength I never knew I had, breathe in life and freedom, and commune with the Creator of all. This gym has been one of the greatest blessings in my life as I have seen Him daily in my life.

4 Miracles

To outsiders, the miracles in our lives can look very small. Yet, to the person seeking for the Hand of God, these miracles are evidence that He is truly, intimately involved in our lives.

This week we saw His hand….4 miracles

As I read in the Book of Ether (Book of Mormon), I came across a verse that truly stood out to my spirit. I didn’t understand why at the time, I just knew it would be significant in the week to come.

Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.

Last Sunday my son and I needed run down to my parent’s home to pick up something. As we got into the car, I noticed the level of fuel was quite low, however since they do not live very far from us I thought we could make it there and back. As we drove to their home, the gas level kept dropping faster than I thought it would so that by the time we arrived, the gauge said we had less than 15 miles left until empty. After a short visit with my parents, my son and I got back into the car and decided to pray that we would get home. You see, we do our best to not shop or purchase anything on Sunday, for it is our Sabbath. So in keeping with this commitment, we asked for help to get home.

The faith of a 14-year-old boy is powerful and his prayer was simple.

So with that in our hearts, we headed home. Because we live in the foothills of the mountains, we should have used more gas getting home than travelling to my parents. However, when we pulled into our garage, the gas gauge read that we had only travelled 3 miles and had 12 miles left until empty.

Miracle #1.

The next two miracles came a few days later when we had committed to taking a dessert to a party. Money has been more than tight for us and the option to run to the store and pick up a dozen eggs for the dessert was nonexistent. I really only needed two eggs, and thought I only had one. All week I avoided baking treats or anything that would require eggs, because there should have only been one. As I double checked the eggs, to my utter surprise there were two left in the carton. Two little, beautiful eggs. Just exactly what I needed.

After I baked the cookies, I noticed a container of frosting tucked back on the top shelf of the fridge, hiding if you will. It hadn’t been there very long and was still quite delicious, so I thought I would frost the cookies with it, hoping that there would be enough. Honestly there wasn’t a lot.

32 cookies later, with 1 left, the frosting ran out. My heart was full of gratitude.

Miracles 2 & 3.

Yesterday I looked at our supplies for breakfast and lunch to begin the week. We needed 6 things to be able to have what the kids need for these two meals. I knew the $10 we had to spend would not cover it, so I checked my purse again only to find an extra $3. With a prayer in my heart I went to the store to retrieve the items we needed. I truly should have felt scared or anxious. Yet, there was peace in my spirit as I placed each item in the basket.

To my relief and joy, the total came to $13.08.

Miracle #4.

These may not seem like anything huge to those looking in from the outside. They may seem completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

However…

To hearts struggling to survive this week they were evidence of the great power that Heavenly Father manifests in our lives.

…by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…

Through 4 small miracles a greater knowledge of His deep and abiding love was brought to pass.

 

Help Thou My Unbelief

There was a man who came to the Savior pleading for Him to heal his son. The one thing Jesus asked was if the man believed. The reply was that he did, however he didn’t feel like the belief he had was enough for the size of a miracle he was pleading for. He then asked the Savior to help his unbelief. Through his belief, humility and the great love the Savior had for him and his son, the requested healing took place and his son was made whole.

Today I have found myself in a similar situation.

Over the past 7 years we have been on a sanctifying journey, oneopenheavens that has repeatedly tested our mind, body and spirit. I have often wondered if there is something we did, a choice we made that made this journey necessary in our lives. I remember when our son was born, I had a lot of pride in my heart regarding different situations and people. The circumstances that preceded and followed his birth quickly stripped me of this pride and taught me that to truly rely on my Heavenly Father, I needed to have more humility. Those 3 years were some of the most challenging, yet beautiful at the same time.

Through the grace of Heavenly Father, I have come to know that this journey is not the result of anything I have done or left undone, it is simply a time for us to draw closer to Him, each other and our family.

Yet…

Today we need a miracle. Today I have knelt before my Savior pleading for this miracle.

And still I find myself feeling like my faith and belief are not enough for what we need. I find myself hoping that I am enough and that I have done enough. I too ask, “Lord help thou my unbelief.”

I don’t know what else to do, but pray, believe, and wait….

 

 

Standing Still

The story of Moses has always fascinated me. I am in awe of his faith, strength, courage and determination to follow the path the Lord laid out for him…in spite of all of the Egyptians and children of Israel fighting him.

peaceRecently I read the passage in Exodus that teaches about the Red Sea.

I can only imagine the feelings of terror and uncertainty they all felt. They had to fight to get out of Egypt. They were leaving their lives, not knowing where they were going. They knew that they were being followed by the armies of Pharoah. And…they come to the Red Sea.

It is interesting what Moses is inspired to say as they are complaining out of fear, frustration and uncertainty…

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew unto you to day; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 

The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Fear ye not. Stand still.

I don’t know about you, but when I am in a situation that is uncertain, terrifying or scary, the last thing I want to do is stand still. Between my mind racing, my heart pumping and the nervous energy that takes over my body and soul, standing still is virtually impossible…or so I thought.

A few weeks ago our family was brought to our own Red Sea. The only way we could go was forward, however we could not see a way. Our petitions to Heavenly Father were heard, because we felt that peace that comes from Him hearing our prayers, however the answers were not given. Each step we took was done out of pure faith in His path, timing and ways. We simply had to trust Him.

I remember uttering pleading prayers with the answers I had come up with. I remember holding my breath constantly, waiting. I remember telling myself over and over again to stand still.

I have a quote hanging on my wall that says, “God did not remove the Red Sea, He opened it. He will help us find a way through our problems as well.” ~Brad Wilcox

I have often hoped that God would remove the Red Sea that we find ourselves returning to time and time again. I have often wondered how many times do we need to return to the same place. I have often prayed to be done.

However…

That is not how He would have it in our lives.

And I am grateful.

As we have been on the shores of our Red Sea, I have learned more about the love Heavenly Father has for us. I have learned to stand still, even when every fiber of my soul wants to move. I have gained a greater understanding of how important I am to Him. I have seen Him fight for me and my little family. I have experienced peace in the storm. And, most importantly….

I have seen the Salvation of the Lord.

It is truly beautiful.

Seek Me

For the past month there has been a theme repeating in my mind, quietly doing its best to teach my heart something important. Each time I have heard it, I have taken note and continued about my way…not really changing much in my day to day life.

This morning the birds awoke me with their songs and chatter. It brought a smile to my face as I thanked Heavenly Father for these sweet creatures. I noticed today was a bit overcast and cooler. I felt a pull to be outside, waking up with the day.

Seek HimThe contrast of gray with the emerald greens on the mountains took my breath away as I stepped out onto the deck. The smell of coming rain cleansed my heart and mind, allowing me to feel content and full of gratitude for all that Heavenly Father has created.

Quietly it came again…the message He has been doing His best to teach me….

“I am here. Seek me.”

All at once each moment He has spoken this to my heart came back to me. It was the times when I sat with my scriptures open rather than looking online. It was the times I spent in the temple rather than being tied to my computer. It was the time I went out with my family and played rather than ‘doing my homework’. It was all of the times I stepped away from a screen that so easily occupies my time.

This morning was a beautiful realization that life is to be lived, not watched on a computer screen. Funny how I am writing about this lesson on a computer screen.

As I continued to allow Him to teach me, I realized how much time I lose with those I love when I am tied to a screen (computer, Kindle, phone). It seems as though there is an invisible barrier created when I am screened. I am not as aware of them, the world and those I could be serving. My ability to create takes a backseat and my mind becomes a bit stagnant. Screen time for me is the easy, less-fulfilling path.

There are conversations to be had, books to be read, walks to be taken, fresh air to be taken in, ideas to nurture, people to serve, and inspiration to be received.

It is time to step away.

It is time to live again.

How grateful I am that He takes time to teach me simple lessons that are so important to growth and staying close to Him. I realized that as much as I desire to be near to Him and be His friend, He desires the same at a deeper level. I am grateful that He teaches me in moments that will last, if I choose to let them.

This morning was a beautiful, sacred time of teaching. I will seek Him.

 

I Have To Believe

This morning as I thought about the future, it felt tremendously big. I began to look at where I am and the huge gap that separates me from where I have felt I need to be. For a brief moment, the gap started to overtake me.

And then, it was as if a whisper came into my heart, I heard, “You have to believe.” I have to believe

With these four words came a rush of the many things in my life right now that are so uncertain. The things that will define me one way or another, depending on how I respond.

Again, “You have to believe.”

A healing, strengthening power washed over my heart and spirit.

As I took a moment to look back in my life I saw the many times I gave myself an ‘exit’ by holding back part of my belief, wondering if the assured promises would indeed come. It is difficult to let go of these self-limiting thoughts and ideas, because of the perceived safety net they provide.

How is it that we doubt the One who will never, nor cannot lie to us? How is it we think we know more or have a better way? How is it that we shrink in the face of the very opposition designed to make us stronger?

Where I feel I need to be, and those things that I need to accomplish is far greater than where and who I am today. As much as I have desired to move towards this place, I find that I have not been able to as quickly as I would like. It becomes discouraging, and easy to allow the doubts to creep in. I need to remember it is a process.

I have to believe that He knows me better than I know myself.

I have to believe that He has a plan, that is more wonderful than I can imagine.

I have to believe that He sees a strength in me that I have never tapped into.

I have to believe that everything I have felt I need to accomplish, He has designed.

I have to believe that I will be defined by His love, not my imperfections.

I have to believe that I am His.

The Pit

Not really sure how it came to be tonight. An unsettling feeling has descended upon my heart and has decided to take up residence in the bottom of my stomach. I would love for it to be hunger pangs, then I could happily feed them and settle in. No such luck.The Pit

I honestly like to understand the meanings behind the emotions that I feel, then I can confront them and overcome. However when they are insidious, it is difficult to find the battle ground.

So tonight I seek the battle ground through writing…

Some days are just not the best. It doesn’t matter what you do or how hard you work, things don’t ever seem to fall into place. Then one mistake after another compounds on your heart and, soon enough, you are swimming in waves that continually push you under. It is also like a little virus that spreads throughout the family, pulling each one down in its path.

There you have it….

I have to wonder if it is not a little bit of opposition that seems to come up when life is beginning to shift? Tomorrow marks a day that we have been waiting for, a day that we have been prepared for. I haven’t really thought a lot about details in what will happen, which may explain this pit. I have learned when I push things down they always surface carrying with them a myriad of unpleasant emotions.

A few months ago I woke up to this song by Casting Crowns playing in my mind. I have learned that when I wake up and there is music in my mind I need to pay attention to the playlist. There is always purpose to the song. Sometimes there is something I will be dealing with during that day that will require the lyrics to pull me through. Sometimes it is the weight I carry in my heart when I lay down at night and the song is there to lift me. This morning was one such song…

Just Be Held.

There is a line in the song that played over and over in my mind throughout the day:

“Your world’s not falling apart…It’s falling into place.”

It was pretty powerful that day, because it felt like our world was falling apart. Nothing we were doing to climb out of the pit we felt we were in was working, in fact it all seemed to be blowing up before our eyes. It didn’t matter how many times we knelt in prayer, pleading for answers or relief…the answers we wanted were not there.

The answer He knew we needed was.

Our world needed to fall apart to fall into place.

As we began picking up the pieces, we found the ones that were truly beautiful, the ones that worked and kept them. We discarded the ones that did not hold any value in our lives.

With the pieces we kept, we have started to create something new, powerful and a little scary. There are moments in life that define you. Our choice is which definition we choose.

So tonight the pit represents letting go of the pieces that were simply wrong. It is a little frightening, because they were a part of me and it can be difficult to let go. The unknown is both scary and exhilarating at the same time.

I will simply let go and just be held by Him who is in control of it all….

Uncomfortable

I have begun to notice a pattern in my life and the life of my family. I am sure I should have articulated this sooner, however sometimes it takes some repeating to help feelings and thoughts come together coherently.

UncomfortableA few months prior to our most recent move, I began to be uncomfortable where I was. I certainly could not understand why I would feel the way I did, because I loved our home, the location and many other aspects of where we were. Yet, in the midst of all of that, my heart would not settle.

Then began the little things that nudged my heart to a place of restlessness. Looking back, I can see how Heavenly Father moved me. First He took my heart far away…to Texas. We felt like we were supposed to uproot our family and move away from Utah. Truly there seemed to be many attractive things waiting for us there.

However, the longer we looked at it, the more we felt like it wasn’t right. What we thought was there, was not. For a brief moment I was upset at Heavenly Father for taking my mind there, then I began to see what He was truly doing. Next, we fell in love with a place north of us. It is a place of beauty, nestled just beyond the mountains with incredible vistas and a safe place to raise our family. Again, I began to move there.

With a little bit of time, those familiar feelings of ‘not right’ seeped into my heart. I remember gathering the courage to leave it in His hands and asking if we were not supposed to go. Again, it wasn’t the right place for us.

Finally, after much prayer and searching, we found a wonderful place 15 minutes from where we lived. A completely different environment, just as beautiful and right.

My point is, what led up to this move was a deep feeling of being uncomfortable where we were. It was not a place that we would have become who Heavenly Father needs us to be. He knew He had to make it uncomfortable for us  so that we would embrace change.

Looking back and seeing the present, I see many times He has done this in our lives. Each time we have moved our little family, we have had this experience. Each time a change was needed, we become uncomfortable. When we are supposed to move on from an experience or person, it is just that…uncomfortable.

I have begun to look at this…uncomfortableness…as a great blessing in our lives. These are the moments we have been blessed to make the greatest, most significant changes, bringing us into alignment with His will for us. He knows that we are rarely willing to leave this little box we call comfortable, leaving us stagnant in our growth.

In His kindness He rips us out of these places. In His love He thrusts us into new opportunities. In His love He shows us we are so much more than we see in ourselves. In His love He gives us more than we ever could imagine.

I am truly grateful for this principle He continues to teach my heart. Understanding it is because of His great love allows me to see things as they truly are.