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.

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.

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.

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.

Strength

There is a verse of scripture in the Book of Mormon that has provided comfort and confusion to my heart and mind:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. ” ~Ether 12:27

StrengthI know there have been so many times that I have felt the pure weakness that comes from a mortal body doing its best to live a spiritual life. In these moments I have felt frustration, thinking that there has to be a way that I can feel stronger, more powerful.

But what if what I think should be stronger and more powerful is not what Jesus Christ knows to be strength and power?

This past month has been wrought with trials, both personal and family based. It is as though any weakness or wound I have ever struggled with was opened up and shown in vivid detail. If it was not one thing, it was another. Days became very long and some nights were endless. I have spent a lot of time in prayer seeking understanding.

As I thought about all of this in regards to the scripture from Ether, I found answers…

Sometimes strength is simply standing up when the world is pressing upon us. Sometimes strength is looking up to Heaven when our hearts and minds are so heavy. Sometimes strength is listening to the quiet whisperings of the Holy Ghost telling us that we are good enough. Sometimes strength is hearing with our heart and mind the compliments and support of those who are there to help. Sometimes strength is dropping to our knees seeking understanding when the path before us has turned dark. Sometimes strength is simply taking a deep breath and saying, “I’ve got this” then taking one more step. Sometimes strength is opening the scriptures when our mind is groping blindly in the world around us. And sometimes strength is sitting quietly when the storm is raging around us.

I always thought I would feel more powerful when the grace of Jesus Christ made up the difference in my lacking.

What I learned is….peace is the strength that comes from our Savior. Peace of knowing that He has not left us alone in any storm we are called upon to weather. I can be strong.

Peace Restored

There have been many times that we are promised that if we but call upon our Father in Heaven in prayer and turn the words of the prophets (ancient and modern), we will have peace in our lives, strength in our hearts and courage in our souls.Peace Restored

Today started off like a Monday does…waking up early with Dude to train for an hour, getting him ready, waking up Sis to get her ready, praying as a family, fixing lunches, fixing breakfasts, starting laundry, reclaiming the house from the activities of Sunday, starting my homework and so forth. In the mix of it all I did not take the time to sit and read my scriptures.

For the most part, everything ran smoothly and both children were able to make it to school with clothes on their backs, food in their tummies and lunch packed for later. I was able to get 2 of my 3 papers written. Cleaning started and, oh how I love the feeling of being productive.

Yet, in spite of it all the demons started to whisper their words of doubt and fear to my heart. As much as I worked to push them back, they insisted on joining my heart, bringing with them heaviness and hopelessness. I truly refused to let them win, however they were gaining ground. They are so quiet…to a point, then they yell and tug.

It got to a point that my heart was truly heavy from the fight….and then I remembered.

After all of the rain we have been blessed with here, it is a gorgeous day. The sun is shining, bringing it’s life-giving warmth. The mountains are showing the blazing colors of fall. The trees surrounding us are green. The birds and animals are busy. Truly beautiful.

It is in this setting that I took my Book of Mormon and words of Elder Holland to read. I prayed to have that promised peace return to my heart so that I could feel my faith in the fight. I prayed specifically for those things that I see we need at this time. I prayed for His love to manifest itself.

No sooner than I read the first 2 verses of scripture, the peace returned to my heart. It was calm, quiet and powerful. It came without answers to the questions I asked. It came without any pretense. It simply came and restored. There is no power on earth stronger than the peace that comes from the Spirit of God through words teaching about Jesus Christ.

Beautiful.

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.