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.

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.

 

Storms

I read this quote today:

STORMS QUOTE

 

Honestly, it was the perfect way to start the day. For the past 2 months, I have felt like there have been storms on every front of our lives. Each storm has been followed by a brief moment of sun, only to have the next one roll in.

I have noticed in times like this that God has something greater for us coming. It is these times that we can feel like He is working against us because everything is seemingly going wrong when it should be going right. Yet, if we trust Him, we eventually see how He is working FOR us.

Sometimes the storms in life are spread out with a fair amount of time in between. And other times, the storms move in one right after another, with varying intensities and durations. They can be life events, battles of the mind and heart, or the effects of decisions. All of them test us, either driving our roots deeper in trust or uprooting us. It is really our choice of how we will come out of the storm.

A couple of months ago I was happily living life, you know just doing my thing, when out of nowhere… WHAM! A thought crossed my mind that made NO SENSE AT ALL but no matter how hard I tried, it would not leave. I have learned that these bolts of inspiration are not mine, but someone telling me it is time for change. A change that I never would have considered on my own. One that would affect everyone in our family to one extent or another.

As much as I tried to keep it to myself, I couldn’t. So I shared the thought with my husband. This amazing man jumped right in with scenarios and solutions. He is truly my rock.

Taking steps forward in the dark, because remember IT MADE NO SENSE AT ALL, we have accomplished some pretty incredible feats. We are blessed to be a great team.

Yet, at this moment there is no forward movement. The path is blocked.

This is when the negative influences of the adversary always begin to wreak havoc.

We all have something or a lot of things that trigger our souls, bringing storms of despair and hopelessness. For me, it is feeling overwhelmed with seemingly no resources to move forward. One moment of overwhelm gives into two and on and on. These are days when it is nearly impossible to find hope. They start off with a negative thought that perpetuates throughout the day. Some days I can fight and pull out of it, but after many days, my fight starts to give way. It takes longer to get up mentally and spiritually. How grateful I am for prayer because I know the internal dialogue with God is heard and He is there.

It is in these stormy days that the doubt tries to take over. Telling me that what I felt is no longer valid and that I was wrong. I really need to recognize this so that I can brace myself and fight. Doubt is always one of the last tools the adversary throws at us, taking away our trust in a God that ALWAYS SAVES. If we can keep moving, even if it is one step that day, then the strands of doubt weaken. These strands gain their strength when we feel paralyzed, hopeless, like we have nothing to give/offer, less than, eternally stuck, … you get the idea. Some days it feels like the best solution is to curl up in the storm and let it beat on us.

I love the song “Stand In The Rain” by Superchick. The chorus is especially powerful:

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it’s all crashing down
You stand through the pain
You won’t drown
And one day, what’s lost can be found
You stand in the rain

The storms are there to make us stronger. It is up to us how we face them. Standing up, with our faces to the heavens allows us to move forward. We will always find more strength in moving than staying in one place. Every step breaks the strands of doubt. One foot following the other.

Storms pass. Sunlight returns, even for a brief moment, and we see that we are NEVER ALONE.

 

What Are You Feeding Your Soul?

My mountain. Some days it takes a little bit more determination to get there, yet every time I step foot in that sanctuary I am blessed with inspiration, healing and renewal.

Today I fought within myself to get there. I completed my lifting and thought, “I’m good. It’s a little chilly outside. I should stay home and get stuff done.” On and on the discussion went in my mind.

Finally I realized that I ALWAYS feel better when I go, even if it hurts when I am there.

Today did not disappoint at all.

I have been doing a lot of research on living a fulfilling life. A life with passion. A life with purpose. There are more times than I like to admit when I struggle with feeling life my life has purpose. These feelings are pervasive and strike frequently when I am feeling a little blue. The aftermath of these strikes leave me feeling less than. Not a place I enjoy.

As I was on the trail today, I was pondering my studies, the moments when I struggle, and the inner reflections I have been participating in.

I have found that when I am outside, in the wide expanse of the mountain, my mind is able to wander to many different places, allowing pieces to fall into place that normally struggle to find a spot.

Two questions came into my mind:

What are you feeding your soul? Are you feeding it passivity or passion?

As I thought about these questions I began to draw a connection between our soul and our bodies. What we feed our bodies largely determines how we feel, how we move, how much energy we have, and how we heal. We are a reflection of what we eat.

Our souls are not any different than our bodies. 

Passivity is like junk food. When we are passive, we are not discovering, creating, building or strengthening. Passivity gives us momentary relief from the grind of daily life or the stresses we are encountering, yet too much of it leaves our minds clouded, our bodies lethargic and are souls empty. There is little to no healing or renewal in passivity.

I have spent a lot of time in that state. I have felt like I didn’t have anything to give. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to move, let alone move forward. My mind could not think clearly. It got to the point that I didn’t know what to do if I had a free moment.

Passion, on the other hand, is manna for the soul. It is full of the nutrients we need to grow, progress, move forward and discover. It is a renewable form of nutrients that give us creativity, energy and strength. We are able to push through the discomfort of stepping out of our safe zones. We are able to problem solve and think outside of the box. Our minds and spirits are clean.

The challenge at times is finding passion within life.

It is not something that can be found by passively. Passion is discovered through movement and searching. It is a deeply personal nutrition, because my passions are mine and yours are yours. It is contagious. Sharing passions allows others to find their own and live.

So today, what are you feeding your soul?

 

The Blessing of Change

I have found there is nothing more constant in life than change. It is the essence of life that brings with it growth, sometimes pain, and most often renewal. I find that when I fear change, I push against the very power that would create within me who I am meant to be.

This week has brought a fair amount of change, and therefore growth. The Blessing of Change

I am in the final terms of my Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Wellness. It has been a very fulfilling journey for me. My schedule for my last terms has required me to take an extra class, bringing with it a little bit extra work. I have been so blessed with a very supportive family, who gives me the time I need to accomplish all that I need to get done. Starting a new term with more to do has brought a little bit more of a load.

A few weeks ago I felt that Heavenly Father needed more from me and I questioned what would He have me do? The answer came in a random conversation with my husband about creating a website to challenge him in developing his own website (he likes competition, because it pushes him). He jumped on the idea that this is something I should do, not for the competition, but for me. His encouragement gave me the push I needed and, so this part of my life is beginning. I am excited and very overwhelmed by this, even with the extra load it has brought.

–Sidenote–the sunset here is gorgeous tonight! I love the pictures Heavenly Father paints for us!

This week also has been filled with many faith based decisions. Daily, we have been required to do things that require hope for things to come, because immediate needs seemed to be unresolved. The weight was heavy, however nothing that was too burdensome. I truly felt help surrounding me, even though I could not see it. Each day prayers were offered, hope kindled and we moved forward as best as we could.

Then yesterday came….

All week the doubts and fears had been circling my heart and in my mind, however I was able to keep them at bay. Living purposefully allowed me to have the strength to keep them from overtaking me. And then I did something unintentionally that hurt someone I truly love and the beautiful armor I had been wearing began to fail. It was as though a dam had sprung a leak, which quickly turned into a raging flood. Those doubts and fears took notice of this chink in my armor and moved in for the kill.

I gave in.

I allowed them to tell me lies and take hold of my heart, overwhelming my spirit with their darkness. It was my choice and my choice alone. I am not proud of this choice by any means.

After spending some time in isolation, sitting in the darkness that had overtaken me, praying for help, I was found by my loving family. They reached down into my heart and pulled me from this desolate place. They are truly a gift from God to me.

This morning I made a choice.

I chose to move forward again. I chose to call upon the Atonement of my Savior to change my heart through forgiveness and the enabling power only it can bring. I chose to smile and remember that I am bigger than any problem or challenge I am faced with. I chose to embrace the day and everything it held for me.

The beauty of the Atonement is change. I learned this again today.

Because He came, I can change. Because He came I can repent and forgive myself. Because He came I can smile. Because He came I can live with my blessed family forever. Because He came I am renewed. Because He came I can have a deep relationship with my Heavenly Father and call upon Him when I fall. Because He came I don’t have to live in darkness (even when in weak moments I choose it). Because He came I know love.

That is the blessing of change I came to know.

Clarity

Have you ever had a moment, so random or minute in nature, that brought more clarity than you could have imagined? These moments are treasures indeed.

clarityLast night I was blessed to find one of these little nuggets of treasure.

I have a good friend, one that I have grown to respect and value in the short time I have known her. To me, she is a powerhouse of determination, strength, humility, all wrapped up in an incredible person. The times I have been able to spend with her, I have left feeling so good both physically and mentally.

As we were chatting about life, my returning to school came up. Last summer, I felt strongly that I should finish my Bachelor’s of Science degree. I couldn’t explain the whys, just the power of the push to get it done. After much pondering and prayer, I found a degree that I would enjoy working in, because to me if I am going to spend that much amount of time I had better love what I am studying. After a bit of ‘fun’ trial and error, I found a school that would work with me as a mom (which is a full-time job 🙂 ). I settled into my Health and Wellness degree.

It has been a wonderful, difficult, challenging journey. I have learned so much in regards to nutrition, holistic healing, wellness living and exercise design. These are topics that I have always naturally loved, so increasing my knowledge therein has been fantastic.

Back to the conversation with my friend…

With a cute little smile on her face, she asked me what I want to be when I ‘grow up’.

My response: A mom. That is it. A mom. To which she completely agreed (by the way she is an amazing mom).

In that brief response came the treasure of clarity….I want to be a mom. I want to be there for my kids when they walk in the door from school. I want to cook dinner, do laundry, clean, all of the wonderful things that show we live. Mostly I want to be the one they chat with, counsel with, cry with and laugh with. They are two of the most amazing human beings I have ever met, and I want to get the most out of my time with them.

This nugget has come after many years of wondering if I was doing the right thing by staying home for them. I had always planned on working, and when things are tight, I definitely want to help. However, each time I thought about going back to work, I truly felt like vomiting. I took that as a sign from Heavenly Father that I was not supposed to (He has to be quite strong and physical with me at times). So, in that moment, He blessed me with a deeper understanding of my purpose right now.

I am truly grateful for the ‘small and simple things’ that bring deep understanding and peace.

Life is to be lived with purpose, fighting that purpose brings frustration and sadness. Embracing our purpose brings clarity and peace. How beautiful the gift.