Seeking

Have you ever felt like you were destined to something more? Have you ever felt deep in your heart there is something greater you are meant to do? Have you ever felt lost, not knowing where to begin looking?

SeekingThis is where I have found myself over the past few years.

I have learned that it is very healthy to ask questions, especially when knowledge is needed but not readily available. So this is where I find myself at this time….

I remember coming out of high school I had my life pretty much mapped out…college, degree, professional career, marriage and family. It looked good on paper.

Then Heavenly Father stepped in with His plan.

His plan included a mission (wearing dresses every day:) ), marriage, PTA training, and staying home with our two amazing children. I have not regretted leaving my field of work to be with our kids. I felt early on in motherhood (with the help of my husband) that it was much more important for these two spirits that I am home for them than it was for me to work.

Yesterday as I was taking care of my daily chores I began to reflect on some things personal things I have been taught by the Spirit. I wondered how they would come about, especially with where I am at in life. I so wanted to see a glimpse of things to come, however I know it is not to be.

Then the quiet whispering came again…”I need more from you. You are meant to do so much more.”

It was unmistakably from the Spirit, because of the feelings of peace that accompanied it. Yet, I do not know what to do. I do not know where to even begin looking. I have no idea what I have to offer that He would need. Who am I and what can I do? is the question that has been occupying a good portion of my mind.

I realize my next step in life is greatly determined by how I look at the path before me. I have the choice to embrace the unknown and step in, knowing He will find me there. Or. I have the choice to sit back and wait for any light to keep me safe stepping into the unknown. Or. I have the choice to not even move.

Choice 3 is not an option, because there is no happiness in stagnation.

Choice 2 sounds safe, however I truly feel like I would miss what I am supposed to learn if I wait.

Choice 1 is a bit terrifying, because I have no idea what lies ahead. BUT it is the choice of greatest growth and therein lies joy and happiness, life and energy, learning and growth.

So I seek….for what I need to do now….for who I need to become….for Him.

It is only in the darkness of the unknown that I will find the answers to the questions in my heart.

Quiet Miracles

This Christmas season has been different for me. It has come into my heart rather slowly and very quietly.

Quiet MiraclesLife is constantly changing and that is how we learn to grow and become malleable. Sometimes changes are very positive and other times change brings growth. We have been growing.

As the season descended upon all, I found myself avoiding it. Things that would normally bring joy to me (putting up decorations, shopping, music, creating) were a bit empty. I felt a bit hollow and guilty all at the same time. I wanted to feel it, but at the same time I couldn’t.

I prayed for help to feel it. Heaven was quiet. So I figured the best thing to do was hope and search.

One day as I watched the snow fall, a thought came into my heart. What was it like for Mary? I thought about her as they were required to travel a great distance. I wondered what her heart was saying. I imagine it wasn’t talking about the amazing celebrations or gifts or anything we get wrapped up in. It must have been quiet with determination to do what she needed to do. She must have felt the great burdens of her pregnancy and who she was carrying. She must have had so many questions of how do I do this? can I be the mother He needs? will we find a place to safely bring Him here?

As I pondered that sweet, amazing woman, my heart began to understand that maybe, just maybe this Christmas for me was to see things differently.

The quiet gifts that have been given to my heart are not those that can be wrapped up, nor will they ever fade.

I have been given the sweet understanding that hope is real. It is the foundation of faith and the opening of the heart to something greater than what we see.

I have been given sweet and powerful moments of love that have brought me to tears. Looking into my daughter’s eyes and seeing the pure joy and wonder. Watching my son work through situations that make him strong. Laying in my husband’s arms by the Christmas tree. All quiet, beautiful gifts to me.

I have been given the opportunity to see that when it feels like life is falling apart, it can actually be moving forward. These are the moments that I have been able to step back, watch quietly and see His hand working, molding and creating.

I have been given the gift to feel love wrap around my heart.

I have been given the gift to be strong when I feel like I can’t hold up the load that I have been asked to carry. Seeing Him reach down and lift my heart just enough has been so healing. He never took it all, just enough that I could continue to gain strength and move forward.

This year, Christmas is about quiet miracles. How blessed I feel to know that He wants to teach my heart deeply.

Abundance

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were talking about life as it is, has been and where we want it to be. As we reviewed our past few years of specified growth, our eyes were opened as we saw things, that once allowed us to survive, that now hold us back from moving forward.abundance

I believe it is human nature to survive, however it is human choice to thrive. There are times in our lives for both actions, however to thrive we need to have open hearts and minds to the abundance that is in the world.

We have lived on faith, miracles and the greatest of generosity of those who love us for the past 3-4 years. It has been a path of scarcity, creativity and, at times, painful growth from the inside out. There have been more days than not that required fighting to keep my head and heart above water, hoping that at some point Heavenly Father would deliver us from it all.

And yet, I would not change a moment.

I love how Heavenly Father teaches me. He quietly unfolds the mysteries and answers the questions that are in my mind. I have watched so many people who thrive in their lives, they live and are so open to what the world has to offer them. I have wondered if that is something that I actually could attain, or if who I am meant to be was not that person. I ask a lot of questions to be taught as I am traveling on a dark, rough path. I truly want to understand so that I can have peace knowing it is His will.

As Kevin and I talked about our mindset it became obvious to us that we have lived for so long in scarcity mode that our minds have embraced it as how life is going to be. Truthfully, there was no peace with this realization. I looked at how I have talked, thought and acted as if there would not be enough and we needed to ‘pull in’ ‘hunker down’ and ‘not live’. While these actions are appropriate for very short periods of time to get our footing in rough spots, they are not meant to be long-term.

We were not created in a world of abundance to simply survive.

At some point in our conversation the word abundance was brought up. My mind caught hold of that word and it was as if an explosion took place. Where my mind and spirit was bound down before in scarcity, those walls were literally obliterated. I felt a freedom that I had not felt in so long I had forgotten about. I felt an openness in my mind and spirit….creativity returned, the need to reach out began to peek through, and the ability to receive inspiration opened up.

Each day I have found that when my mind is focused on abundance those things that would weigh me down have no effect on me. It is as though heaven opened up and I am able to understand why things happen at a new level. I see how the hand of God is working in our lives. Things that once caused so much fear and gut wrenching anxiety are now opportunities for ideas, creativity and blessings to be given.

I have found that within abundance we have the power to reach out, the ability to let go and the strength to move forward with faith…even when the road isn’t built yet.

God created this world with abundance everywhere. It is time for us to go get it.

Our Path

11942303_10207229527072560_4173153203233697029_oTwo years ago our little family started a hike in a popular canyon close to our home. Unfortunately we started this hike at 1:00 p.m. on July 24th in 95 degree weather. Hiking in July was not a foreign action for us, so we didn’t think anything of it…and started up the mountain.

This hike begins with a quarter of a mile (at least) of steep switchbacks that are pure sand. This provides little or no grip for the foot and a lot of energy is expended simply taking the next step. The sand is also very light, so it reflects the heat of the sun right up to your sweat drenched, oxygen starved little body. It was a lot tougher than we thought…

We made it about a mile into the hike before we began to feel the side-effects from the heat of the day and pure exhaustion. Our son got to a point that he just couldn’t go up any more. Not wanting to put him in any danger, we abandoned the hike, promising ourselves we would get there another day…

The other day took over two years to come…I had put this particular hike on my summer bucket list (which really only had one item). So, last week my husband and I thought we would take a little jaunt up the mountain. We started early in the morning, the sun was barely peeking over the mountain and the morning air was nice and cool, making the switchbacks quite tolerable. I had been told by a few people that the hike was a little bit challenging, but nothing major. What I wasn’t told by people was that the trail is not obvious and you can end up hiking to the waterfall any way you can.

rocky pathWe took some wrong turns, scaled a couple of rock walls, did more than one double back and sat on a rock for 10 minutes to catch our breath. The mountain had our respect.

As we were hiking over some of the particularly rocky and steep areas, I watched my husband go first. I noticed his footsteps were heading in the same direction as mine, however we were not necessarily on the same path. He is very tall, so his steps were a lot farther apart than mine. He is very powerful, so he could climb over bigger rocks in one step. We were not on the same path, because we are such different people. It was the same when I led….his feet were going the same direction, however were not stepping in the same places.

There is something about the mountains that opens my heart and spirit to moments of teaching….

I learned that our paths are our own. My path to my Heavenly Father is mine and I will take the steps that fit me to reach Him. My husband and children are going the same direction as I am, however their steps will fit them.

This lesson opened up for me as I counseled my son this evening. He has been struggling with something for a very long time, and because he is struggling, he is seeking for answers. As we were chatting, the mountain came back to my mind and I realized what I needed to teach him. This is a time for him to take these struggles and questions to Heavenly Father and ask how he should move forward. As much as he wanted me to give him the answers (and I wanted to give him the answers I thought) I knew deep in my heart that these answers are for him to find. I counseled him to pray, ponder and watch, because his path is his.

God is GoodHow blessed I am to be led by Heavenly Father. I love how He quietly teaches us lessons that we can use instantly or over time to learn and bless the lives of others. I am thankful for mountains to climb, and that I get to do that every day with my family. God is good.

Beyond My Reach

There are times in my life as a wife and mother… I do not have the answers. These times leave such an emptiness in my heart, because it is my nature to heal.

lookupOver the past week I have been asked some pretty difficult questions by each member of my sweet family. These questions have come after a lot of prodding, quietness, more prodding and more quietness. I get it, I am not so good at sharing my deepest thoughts either.

I think it is the pleading in their eyes that sinks into my soul. The pleading that says, “I can’t do this anymore…I don’t know the answers….I need you to answer.”

The emptiness that comes over my heart is so quiet and heavy when their questions are beyond my reach. My heart wants so badly to have the answers, say the magic words that are so often scripted for others, or have the ability to simply heal their hearts with my arms wrapped around them.

Yet, it is not meant to be…..

Today was particularly difficult, because one of my children was hurting at a deep level. It is something that has been lying under the surface for a couple of years, and today the wound opened just enough to expose the rawness of pain. I sat and prodded, waited and listened as the hurt came out. It was not anything silly or dumb…it was real. I simply did not know what to say…words seemed completely useless.

I began to pray in my heart….”Please give me the words. Please let me know what to say to help. Please.”

None came….again this was beyond my reach.

I did the only thing I could think of….I knelt in prayer with my child. I prayed for the words to speak so that this one would know that there is someone watching over them. As I spoke the words of my prayer, they really didn’t seem to flow as easily as I would have hoped, but they were not really mine. I felt the love of a Heavenly Father who knows that this child is deeply hurting. I felt the knowledge that He is watching over and has a greater plan than what we can see today. I felt like it would all be okay….even if not how I thought it could work out.

In that sweet moment, I learned (again) that when their hurts and questions are beyond my reach, I know where to look for help.

Thanks be to my Savior for giving me the gift of prayer, so I can communicate with my Father.

 

What I Found

I think I have started and erased the beginning of this particular post at least 10 times. I know what I want to share, yet the task of introducing it seems pretty huge right now….maybe it means that there is someone who needs this, like I did when I found it.

What I FoundAs I have studied the Book of Mormon over the years, I have grown to love the section that is referred to as ‘the war chapters’. It is a time when the Nephites and Lamanites are engaged in a long, grueling war. I have grown to admire and love the righteous men who were chosen to lead the Nephite armies.

Growing up we played a lot of war games in our backyard and the fields beyond. The outcome of who won was always determined by who had the best leaders on their team. These were the ones who could quickly figure out what tactics were the best, communicate and were willing to ‘go to battle’ with the team.

One particular day not too long ago I picked up my Book of Mormon to study for the day and noticed I had arrived at a war chapter (Alma 2). On the surface I couldn’t imagine what it would teach me that day, yet I asked in my heart…What will I find in this chapter?

In this chapter a wicked man wanted to overthrow the inspired government and become king. He had convinced others that they needed to support him and by so doing they would become rulers as well. When the voice of the people voted against his plan, he took his followers, joined with the enemies and engaged the free people in a war. What could I possibly learn from this to help me in my daily life?

I learned about confronting an enemy.  The Nephites did not want their freedoms taken from them. They understood that if they allowed this man and his desires to take control, they would lose all that they cherished. I realized that the enemies we confront do not carry physical weapons, they carry the weapons of doubt, fear, pride and lies. Their weapons are insidious and they are wielded with amazing skill.

As they stepped onto the battlefield, the Nephites looked to their leader, one who was inspired and with them. Faced with an enemy that outnumbered them, I am sure their hearts could have melted in fear. Yet, instead of surrendering, they prayed. I love the how they were blessed:

Nevertheless, the Nephites being strengthened by the hand of the Lord, having prayed mightily to him that he would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies, therefore the Lord did hear their cries, and did strengthen them, and the Lamanites and Amlicites did fall before them.

I pray that I live so that I can call upon God at any time in my life, whether I am fighting the enemy or I just simply need Him…knowing I have paid the price to have Him there. I watch my son pay this price daily as he spends time in his scriptures and on his knees in prayer….he is a mighty warrior in my eyes. I have seen how he has been strengthened time and time again by the Lord in situations that have come up at school.

I found in this chapter of scripture that I need to be ready to confront the enemy that would destroy me and my family. I found that there is One who will be there to fight the battle with me when I call upon Him. I found that I will have the strength and knowledge given me to wield the weapons of faith.

I found that no matter where I am in life, I am not alone.

Too Great

Recently I have been studying 1 Kings in the Old Testament. The stories of Elijah the prophet intrigue me. I marvel at his bold courage as he taught truth to those who would not believe.

Too GreatAfter he calls upon the Lord to slay the priests of Baal, he finds himself alone and hunted. It must have felt so overwhelming to have to continue his ministry in this manner. The scriptures paint us a picture of his heavy heart:

But he himself went a day’s journey unto the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. 19:4

I marveled at this, because of the immense faith he had to have to call down fire from heaven…and yet, he was tired, alone and heavy.

After he uttered this prayer, he laid down and went to sleep.

Like all of our prayers, his was answered…but not how he thought he wanted it to be answered.

Twice an angel of the Lord awoke him and told him to eat a cake that had been miraculously baked and drink of water placed by his head. As the angel woke him the second time, the angel said, “Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” 19:7-8

As I read, “the journey is too great for thee” my heart was profoundly touched. Rather than taking him, the Lord sent him strength in the form that Elijah needed the most. He gave him food for his soul and, a short time later, a friend who would sustain him.

There have been times in my life that I have asked that the path that I am on be changed and my burdens be taken from me. I have begged for relief and the dawn of peace to come. I too, have laid down to sleep when I have felt my strength spent.

Like Elijah, the Lord has answered my prayers, not in the way that I thought I wanted them answered.

There have been countless blessings of “food” and “drink” for my soul that have miraculously come when I had nothing left to give, when the journey was too great for me.

As I have worked on softening my heart through repentance and gratitude, He has blessed me with ‘eyes to see’ the things that He has done for us. He has given my heart a deeper understanding of the growth that He needed us to experience. He has shown me that He is in every aspect of our lives. His miracles are real.

I can honestly say that I am truly grateful for a path that has been too great for me, because it has allowed me to see His hand in my life. I am thankful for all of the struggles, because I now see that He delivers us every time. I am thankful for the ‘night’ that has allowed me to see the little bits of light that I would have overlooked before.

 

Stronger Not Easier

For the past month our family has been doing our final training to earn our black belts. It has been challenging both physically and mentally. I would not have expected anything less or different, because to earn a black belt one must be able to rise above these types of challenges.Stronger Not Easier

The beauty of martial arts is the individual nature of the journey. My test will not be like anyone else’s, because I have my strengths and weaknesses. Recently I have seen each of them as if through a microscope.

It does not take a microscope to see that push-ups and pull-ups are two things that challenge me. As they are both required for our test, I have needed to place extra emphasis on my ability to do them.

I have been looking forward to the time when they would get easier. I have envisioned myself pounding out my reps with ease and actually loving it.

No matter how many times I have done them, daily, I have not found that blessed place of ease.

As I sat outside this morning thinking about all of this, I was given some realizations. There is a lot of clarity that comes when I have a quiet moment, outside, in the sun, listening to the beautiful song of nature.

These tasks are never going to become ‘easy’ for me, however as I have worked at them, I have become stronger. As I thought about this, my heart filled with gratitude for this principle in my life. For if these things became easy for me, I would not work so hard to develop the strength I need to perform them.

This is something I have been thinking about for a long time. We have been on a personal journey that has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done. There have been times when each day was a struggle to get through with enough faith to wake up the next morning. The daily fight has been grueling at times.

Yet, I would not trade it for anything.

We have become stronger. We have overcome. We have seen what we can do. We have seen prayers answered. We have seen the hand of God touch our lives daily. We have felt the power of our Savior pick us up. We have been given a gift of clarity.

Before all of this, our journey and the black belt experience, I feared things that made me stretch, grow and hurt. I would, at times, pray that life would get easier or that the challenges would be taken.

Now I see that this is all necessary for me to become stronger.

 

Uncharted Waters

In the Book of Mormon there is a story that involves a nation relocating to a promised land. These people were spared the cursing that came to those who built the tower of Babel. Through the faith of their prophet and his brother, they were blessed to keep their language and families intact.

Uncharted WatersAs the Jaredites wandered, gathered and learned in a wilderness, they were prepared to build a new nation. Their leaders were given the instructions they needed to move forward a little bit at a time. Eventually they reached a beautiful beach that symbolized rest and abundance for them. After a time, they were commanded to move on. It was required of them to construct boats that would carry them across waters that had never been charted.

Following the directions given them from  on high, they build these boats that were air-tight, water-tight and very light. They must have been quite curious as to why and what purpose this type of construction would serve them, inspite of this they did all that they were commanded to do.

As the boats were completed, they prepared themselves, their animals and food for a journey that they had no idea how long would last or how comfortable would be. In faith, they moved forward. The verses in Ether chapter 6 say it beautifully:

And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them—and it came to pass that when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.

And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters,towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.

And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.

And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.

WavesAnd it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.

And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.

10 And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.

This story has taken on a new meaning in my life. We spent two amazing years in an area that was like this beach to me. We were surrounded by beauty, love. learning and hope. Yet, somehow we knew it was not the end of our journey. We were asked to build ‘boats’ that we didn’t understand, gather strength for a journey we didn’t know how long or where it would take us and learn how to stand strong against storms that swirled around us.

As we cast our boats into the seas, we did as this Jaredite nation did…we commended ourselves unto the Lord our God. There is more comfort that words can express in knowing we have done everything He has asked us to do, even when we didn’t understand why and it didn’t make sense to our mortal minds. We have found that there is greater strength and guidance in the enabling power of the Atonement. This act by our Savior has kept our boat above water and safe from the monsters that would destroy us.

We know as we are tossed on the waves of these waters, we will always rise. We know that as we are buffeted by the storms that come, we will always stand strong. We know that there are no depths that can swallow us, because we have the power of Him to bring us up. We know that no matter what, our family is in this boat together and here we will stay.

I am grateful for uncharted waters. I am grateful that He trusts us enough to teach us how to build our boats. I am grateful to know deep in my heart that everything we do to obey and become who He needs us to be pushes us closer to that promised land. I am grateful for a Savior who has reached down so many times and lifted me through His grace.

Time

It has been just over a week in our new home, new area and new adventures. I am often amazed at how much learning Heavenly Father can fit into one week….one day.

Last week was filled with adapting and change. It became apparent quickly that there would be more change necessary for our son as we navigated his schooling. More than anything he wanted to stay where he was, because there were so many good friends and (I hate to say this as a Mom, but I will) girls. It was a good school.

I had the feeling near the beginning of the week that it would be his last week there. In my normal way, I wanted to just tell him that it was time to change and be done with it. ITimet is just ‘easier’ if we make the decision and move on it. Yet, that is not how he needed to learn.

Each day I pray for guidance with my children…how to help them, what to say, what not to say and what I should and should not do for them. Some days these prayers remain as an open ended conversation, because I just need His wisdom. He knows these children so much deeper than I ever will.

As I thought about what I had felt, the impression came to me that I needed to step back and allow my son to learn this one. I received this feeling and prayed for strength to do so.

During our commutes, we were able to have good conversations about everything. I love the relationship I have with my son…he is wise beyond his years and also 13 in his thinking. It is an interesting, never dull combination. As we talked about him transferring schools, he rejected the idea at first. Then, as he saw the sacrifices we all were making for him, he took another look at what he wanted.

He asked for advice on how to make the best choice. “What do I do mom? I asked Heavenly Father to tell me what to do, but I didn’t get an answer.”

I talked to him about the gift we received before we came….our agency. This is one of the greatest learning tools we have. It gives us the opportunity to weigh decisions in our minds and make a choice based on what we know and feel. The best part is Heavenly Father wants us to use this agency, make choices and then come to Him with our decision. The key is being ready for His answer, because there are times when we think we have it all figured out with our limited scope and yet, with His eternal view, it is not what we need.

He was quite agitated in the spirit for a few days. Fortunately for us this kid is pretty transparent with his feelings. As with all teenagers, it takes some prodding, but he will eventually share what is in his heart. Watching him weigh this choice was difficutly beautiful. It is never easy to see our children struggle, however this is when they grow to be who they are meant to be.

Once he made his decision, he prayed and felt okay. He said it was the most peace he felt in a long time, because he had at least made a choice. His answer wasn’t quite what he thought it should be, so he did what most of us do…he did his best to create an atmosphere that would get the answer he wanted.

Heavenly Father knows better.

With the deadline of transferring coming up, he spent some time counselling with his Dad. My husband has a gift to help our children see things from different perspectives. This was vital to understanding why his prayers were answered the way that they were. He knew that staying in school where he was was not an option. So he returned to his knees and found the answer that brought true peace.

The change was made.

Standing back and giving him time was a gift to me. I saw the slightest of glimpses of how Heavenly Father works in our lives at times. Time…. He sees that we need to have the opportunity to weigh the options, learn what is important to us and then take it before Him. He is always ready to counsel with us and give us the next bit of knowledge.

The first few days of the new school have not been easy. He has mentioned more than a few times how he wants to go back to the familiar. Yet, because he received the answer from Heavenly Father, he knows he is where he is supposed to be. It doesn’t erase the adversity that comes when we are being strengthened. It does give us a certain level of peace, knowing that there is something greater than what we can see.

As  time moves forward, he will understand the wisdom of what took place at this point in his life. Time….

I am grateful for the time I have to be his mom. He is one amazing boy.