Sometimes It Is Enough To Simply Believe

For the past 5 years the reality of faith within my soul has been tried, tested, refined, and strengthened…over and over again. It is one thing to read an inspiring quote that states faith will give us the strength we need to overcome and it is a completely different thing to believe and let faith take over.

believeI have determined that our lives have a unique plan and path. If we are living close to God, we can see that the path is one that is meant to shape our souls to become like Him. Sometimes it is easy to watch others on their paths and think that is where we should be. It can be so tempting to see their paths and think we should be there rather than where we are. In these moments anger, jealousy and frustration take root and create within our hearts doubt.

I have also come to realize that each of us on this path to Heavenly Father will be tried in our own crucibles that will break us down to the point that we feel like we are losing ourselves. Prayers that are uttered in our hearts or cried out in our souls will seemingly go unanswered. Every effort we give to move forward will be lost. Any step we take forward will result in a painful fall. Our hearts will break. Our spirits will yearn for relief.

Passing through these times in my life has brought every emotion imaginable, from hope to despair, faith to doubt, inexpressible joy to overwhelming sorrow, strength to weakness. The only balm I have found to soothe my weary soul is turning to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I KNOW He is there. I KNOW He knows me. I KNOW He loves me.

Yet, sometimes I doubt. Sometimes I don’t have the strength to look up and see Him. Sometimes I don’t even have the strength to call out His name.

In so many ways these times have left me feeling less than, unworthy and weak. How can I expect to have strength from faith if I doubt?

Last night as I read in the 3rd Nephi of the Book of Mormon my heart found peace. It is a time in their history when all of the signs that the Savior was to be born were being mainfest, testifying to the people He was coming. For anyone who had heard the prophecies, these signs were a renewal of hope. For those who chose not to see them for what they truly were, the signs were an opportunity to create doubt. Cunning words were spoken to destroy all joy and faith. It must have been exhausting to hold on to their faith as they were openly taunted and ridiculed. faith

As I read in verses 7-8 I looked deeper within the words:

And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass. 

But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know thath their faith had not been in vain.

Here is what I saw…

I saw a people who had held on to whatever faith they had, watching for their Savior, feel the burden of belief and doubt take hold of their souls. What if? had crept into their hearts ever so quietly, creating within them feelings of sorrow. Yet, they held onto their belief. It was all they had. It was enough.

They watched. They held on. They did their best. Their faith was rewarded.

So it is in my life. Sometimes all I have is a belief that the fire will subside. Sometimes all I have is the belief that I can take one more small step. For the longest time I didn’t think that this belief was enough to qualify for the enabling power of faith. I know now I was wrong in that belief.

Sometimes… more often than I realized…it is simply enough to believe.

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.

 

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.

Just Because

Have you ever had a tender moment and as you wanted to share it the words were simply not as powerful as what you felt?

Just BecauseToday I experienced one of those moments…..but I will do my best to share.

As I listened to the Sacrament prayers today one line sank deep into my heart…

….that they may always have his Spirit to be with them…

Pondering this I thought about something else I had read earlier this week in the Book of Mormon….

And after they had slain the Messiah, who should come, and after he had been slain he should rise from the dead, and should make himself manifest, by the Holy Ghost, unto the Gentiles.

The part of that scripture that stood out to me was that it is through the power of the Holy Ghost that we will and do know our Savior. I honestly feel like the deeper knowledge we have of this power, the greater relationship we will have with the Savior.

I imagine in Heaven, before we came here, that we looked to Him for the leadership, love and strength we needed as we fought to keep the power to choose that Heavenly Father had given us, and that the enemy wanted to take. I am sure that war was one of words.

It seems to me that when the choices were made there was no gray line that separated us….it was a clear defining line between those who would keep their power to choose and those who surrendered it. Pressing forward to the Savior would mean that we would have to walk by them as they sneered, teased, yelled and did all they could to deter us. Tears would have been coursing down my cheeks, because these were my brothers and sisters….some I would have known at an intimate level.

Yet, press forward to Him I would…because the Holy Ghost would be there showing me the way, strengthening my resolve and comforting my broken, yet undeterred heart.

It is not unlike here, on earth….pressing forward to return to Him.

I have learned that there are times when I am taught a specific lesson, like this one to prepare me for a fight to come, a trial to pass through or counsel to give. Other times we are shown beautiful truths…just because.

Today it was just because….Just because I sought Him in my heart and wanted His spirit to always be with me.

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.

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.

My Stones

There is a story in the Book of Mormon that has been on my mind a lot today. The Jaredites were a group of family and friends that lived when the Tower of Babel was being constructed. The Brother of Jared (as he is called in the Book of Mormon) prayed that their families and friends would be spared from the curse Jehovah placed on the people because of their wickedness. Through his faith they were spared and subsequently told they would be moving to a promised land.

StonesAfter wandering in the wilderness for some time, they were brought to a beautiful, plentiful beach. It was a place they could have stayed for a long time and be happy. Yet, the Lord had other plans in mind for them. He asked the Brother of Jared to construct barges to carry those in his family across the ocean….uncharted waters. These barges were very unique in their construction in that they would be sealed, air tight and able to travel on top or underneath the water. Because of their construction, there was not a source of light.

The Brother of Jared took this problem to the Lord and asked Him what he should do that they might have light and air. He was given the answer for the air…a problem he could not have solved on his own. And then he was given the charge to figure out the light situation on his own…something the Lord knew he could figure out.

And figure it out he did….he went to the mountain and found 16 clear stones. He then took these stones and stood before the Lord and asked Him to touch each stone that they might shine in the darkness for them. What happened next was a miracle…born of the Brother of Jared’s faith. He saw the Lord’s finger as He touched each stone.

Today I took figurative stones to the Lord.

I wish I could say that I boldly stood before Him. I wish I could say that I boldly stood before Him. I wish I could say that I felt confident in the stones I had chosen.

I wondered what would have happened if the Brother of Jared didn’t stand before the Lord so confidently. I know the miracles that are recorded would not have happened. I know that they would have been lost in the darkness as they crossed the ocean. I know that we would not have received the amazing gift of his testimony and story to strengthen us as we are faced with problems we feel under qualified to solve.

How grateful I am that he did, because it gave me hope today. There is nothing I want more in this world than for my stones to be touched by His hand, yet, I feel so inadequate taking my stones before Him. I realized today how limited my vision is. I felt so small.

Tonight I came to realize something….as small and inadequate as I felt, I took my precious stones and laid them at His feet. I know that when He touches them they will bring the light that I seek. I know that He heard my prayer, because I felt the peace only He can give. I turned to Him with those things that I worked out.

I did not see the finger of the Lord today, but that doesn’t mean I won’t see His hand as He lights the way for us.

I Am His

I Am HisI read a scripture a few days ago that has penetrated my heart and brought a deeper knowledge of the love Jesus Christ has for me…

“Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine.” (Mosiah 26:18)

…they are mine….

As I read that verse, I thought about the husband and children I have been blessed with. They are mine and I love them with such a profound love that grows daily.

I thought about how that translates into the love my Savior has for me. He blesses my life daily through the power of His life, gospel and Atonement.

As I have struggled with growth for the past couple of years, it is evident how much He has been involved in feeding me the daily bread I have required. There have been days that He has had to lift my chin and feed me by hand. There have been days that He has left a little bit here and a little bit there for me to find and replenish my heart. There have been days that He has allowed me to share what I have to feed another.

I am astounded often times that I am that important to Him, and yet it makes sense. He bought me for a price…and He knows I am worth everything He gave for me. It is up to me to remember this, because as He said,

“I have engraven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49:16)

I have always loved this scripture. I has shown me that I am His…He is there to lift me, strengthen me, guide me and comfort me when I am faced with the challenges that this life throws at me. Every time I have been faced with something that felt too heavy to bear, He has lifted me….I just needed to look for Him.

On days that seem eternal, heavy and overwhelming, I will remember….

I am His.

Then I will overcome.

Wind and Rain

Wind and RainJust over a year ago I remember sitting down with our Bishop, seeking guidance. Our hearts were confused and we needed someone to help us understand.

We had felt for the longest time that our family was needed elsewhere, and we could feel that the time was drawing closer. The unknown was creating within our hearts was at times more than we could bear. It felt as though there were more questions than answers, yet answers were what we needed.

He reminded us of a story in the Book of Mormon that has always been a personal favorite of mine and related it to our lives.

In this particular story, the Brother of Jared and his entire family were brought to the edge of the known world. All that they saw before them was a vast ocean. What they had been promised was a land greater than where they were, a land where they could become a great nation. Yet, here they are….looking at nothing but rolling waves and the vastness of the unknown.

The Brother of Jared went to the mountain to pray and there he was instructed to build special boats to carry them forth. He was given the knowledge of how to construct these little ships and what to take with him. After construction he noticed two significant problems. These boats were ‘tight like a dish’ making it near impossible to breathe and there was not a source of light.

He pondered these problems and, again, went to the mountain to pray. The Lord gave him one answer…how to breathe. The second answer, He allowed the Brother of Jared to find. He brought sixteen clear stones to the Lord, so that He could touch them to provide the needed light. After this miracle (and many others) occurred, the Lord told the Brother of Jared that even though they had their boats, air to breathe and light, the journey to the Promised Land would be filled with winds, rains and floods. These would push their boats towards their goal. As they were driven forth, they never stopped praying and singing His praises.

Looking back I have been blessed to see how our journey to our new home is so similar to this story. After that meeting, the Lord gave us the solution to the many questions revolving around our departure… How would we leave? Where do we go? How will we be able to do this? Miracle after miracle showed us His hand.

Our “Promised Land” is truly incredible. Yet, there remains one question to be answered. It is a question of how. This past year has been filled with wind and rain (figuratively) in our lives. Each day we find ourselves pushing through, overcoming fear, falling down, repenting, standing back up and hoping. We have seen the sun break through the clouds, however we long for the days when it shines constantly upon us.

There have been moments I have wondered why He hasn’t just taken the storm, because I know it is within His power. I have also had moments when I have felt the enabling power of the Atonement strengthening us to learn. In a General Conference address, Elder Terrence M. Vinson answered my wonderings beautifully:

“But here is the point–rather than solve the problem Himself, the Lord wants us to develop the faith that will help us rely upon Him in solving our problems and trust Him. Then we can feel his love more constantly, more powerfully, more clearly, and more personally. We become united with Him, and we can become like Him. For us to become like Him is His goal. In fact it is His glory as well as His work (see Moses 1:39)

DSCN1969 300x225 Wind and RainI have seen that He is allowing us to work through the wind and rain so that we can do just this….become like Him. I have also seen that He has not left us alone in this endeavor. We have uttered many prayers, offered many stones for His finger to ‘light’ and been given so much more help than we could ever ask for. He has been with us, sheltering us when the storm was raging a bit too fiercely for  us. He has been there beckoning us onward, offering ideas and guidance.

The question of how remains, yet the surety that journey is coming to an end is there. The answer will come and with it the sun.

reblogged from Own Who You Are