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.

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.

The Process

Wow.

The past few months, but especially the last few weeks, have been insane. It is one pivot after another. If we were on a map program, it would constantly say, “recalculating”.

We back a few months ago, we felt like we needed to put our little house up for sale and move. Crazy as it is because we just celebrated our first year in this home. Yet, we could not deny the feeling and subsequent pieces of evidence that have come that tell us that we need to move on….again.

Fortunately, our lives have been such that big changes are something we have experienced. There are times when I have craved the opportunity to put roots down for longer than a few years. Then there are other times when I am ready to make a change and move on. I truly believe that these feelings are a blessing, because they keep my mind and heart open to what is around the corner.

As we have been projecting, getting the house ready to sell, we have also been looking for a house. Trying to find the next place that God needs us to be. This has proven to be a challenge that has shaped us in ways we didn’t expect.

We have put offers on three different houses. Each one we thought for sure was THE ONE. And then, it wasn’t. Leaving us confused, sad, and relieved. It is interesting to know that we were supposed to put offers on each one because there was something we needed to learn from them.

It has been a purifying process to live through. Sometimes I would wonder why God would give us this strong feeling that we needed to move, yet there was nowhere to go. Ultimately I know that to trust God is to trust the process He will guide us through.

It has been amazing that with each disappointment has come a partial understanding of why. Looking back, even at this point, I see that we may have not been totally unified on one of the properties, but we were trying to make the other one happy. I see that financially these properties would have been a constant drain on us. I see that it may not have been the best place for our family for one reason or another.

I am sure that when we finally get to our place, we will see the reasons for this process unfold clearly. Until then, I am grateful for these little nuggets that bring understanding, comfort, and a knowledge that even when I am not in control of the process…

HE IS.

This is powerful to know. It is comforting even when our house is sold and we don’t know where we are going. It is comforting when we have looked at every house that we think is a possibility and absolutely feel like it is the wrong place for us. It is comforting when the one that shouldn’t make sense, does.

This process has taught me that sometimes I need to look outside of the box I think is the answer. I have learned that unity with my husband on our feelings is ESSENTIAL for our peace and happiness. I have learned that God’s plan for us has never made sense, but has always worked out in amazing ways.

Searching for Him in the processes of life leads to greater insights into ourselves and those around us. It teaches us that we are not alone. That He is in control when we are not. That He is mindful of us on so many levels. That what is important to us is important to Him.

This knowledge of Him makes the process of life so much better. Not easier, just better.

 

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.

 

Running Too Fast

Life is seriously a process of progression and learning. It is a beautiful kaliedoscope of change. And the amazing thing is that it is specifically tailored to each person.

Sometimes I wonder if I am a little slow to learn the lessons life is trying to teach me through change and challenge. It seems like I go through different challenges and reactions over and over before I am open enough to receive direction or understanding. Yet, the older I get, the more I realize that some lessons take a lot of time and layers to learn.

For a long time I have had a tightening in my chest, making it difficult to breathe. I knew deep down that it wasn’t anything physically serious. I knew it had to do with my emotions and perceptions of life at the time. Yet, I couldnt truly nail it down to a source to gain the control I needed. These tightenings always correlate with high stress moments in my life (not a surprise there). Even knowing this….I still could not figure out the roots.

This week life presented a nice basket of stress-inducing challenges. The basket contained every element of struggle that I have been working on overcoming, with a little bit more tossed in for ‘fun’. Low and behold, I couldn’t breathe. I found that I was struggling with finding enough time to do everything I wanted to do, answer all of the questions that were looming and meet the needs of my family. I truly felt overwhelmed and less than.

Once I recognized this little oppression filled bundle and identified it for what it was, I prayed to understand.

We are taught in quiet moments.

I was in short supply of them as my mind was racing.

Yet, it was as if the answer was waiting for that brief moment when my mind and heart settled. Waiting for that little break to enter and show me what I was looking for.

When that moment came, the answer started off like this:

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that man should run faster than he has strength.   ~Mosiah 4:27

I have spent the past years trying to run faster than what my body, soul, mind and heart could handle. I was trying to receive answers to questions that I was not ready for. I was trying to fix everything that seemed broken, but really wasn’t. I was trying to bend life to my mold and not allow myself to be molded and shaped by the lessons life was teaching me.

I truly was running faster than what life was ready to teach me.

In that moment I began to breathe. I began to see how life truly molds us, how our paths are designed to grant us strength, knowledge and compassion. I began to understand that my path is mine. I began to slow down a little.

I have found that  it is easier for my heart to let go of the binding rules that have held it tight for so long. Slowing down has allowed me to become more by letting go.

Arrival

ArrivalToday begins the end of an incredible journey.

Five years ago I stepped onto a karate map, changing the course of my life forever. It was then I joined my family in our journey to earn our black belts. I can remember the feelings of trepidation that coursed through my heart, yet my soul felt electrified.

As I have reflected upon the path we have walked down, I have found myself feeling overwhelmed by the fact that we have done what we set out to do….as a family.

Individually each one of us has become so much more, grown in ways that we could never describe and learned very deeply that we are strong. As a family we have become cemented in the team that we are. There is a lot of peace knowing that each one of us would take or give a hit to save each other.

There have been moments of victory, defeat, learning, excitement, and contemplations of quitting…all things that create a path of worth.

We have been blessed through this journey by a loving Heavenly Father. I cannot look back and not see His hand guiding, helping and encouraging us on our way. I see how things that are important to us are important to Him. I see how He has changed the world for us.

The mat we stepped onto for the first time is not that mat we will arrive on, however we were given the basic love and knowledge of karate from those who trained with us on our first mat. We were shown the direction we needed to travel. A guide at the beginning of a journey is priceless. Thank you Leah for giving us a strong start.

As with any wonderful journey, ours took an unexpected, but marvelous turn. We left our beginnings and found ourselves welcomed into a karate family that means more to us than words can describe. Our Kona family is beautiful.

Along our path we found ourselves in one of the most difficult trials we had ever experienced. Karate became our safe-haven, our home, a refuge and somewhere we could express ourselves. As we would walk through the doors, the weights we were carrying were lifted and for a few moments we were free. Truly another gift from God. Karate has saved our lives on many levels.

As we enter the testing period tonight, I know that we have many around us who are pulling for us. I am humbled by their love and support for our little team. I cannot begin to express how this will lift us and give us strength beyond what we feel we have. I love that we can be that for our karate family too…it is all about lifting each other.

Thank you Te, Jade, Victor and Tyler for lifting us, inspiring us, believing in us and showing us the way.

We have arrived at the end of one journey….only to begin another.

 

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.

 

My Path

provisionalTomorrow is the beginning of the end. It is the final sprint before the goal is reached.

For years we have worked, as a family, to reach a common goal. We have spent many hours on and off the mat learning, refining, doubting, overcoming, falling and rising.

And here we are….

For the next 4 weeks we will train with a greater intensity to earn that which has transformed us. It has been one incredible journey.

My heart is full of anticipation for this. As I look back at who we all have become, and the path that has brought us to where we are, I see that even though our finish line looks the same…our paths have been completely different.

That is the beauty of this journey….it is different for each one of us.

The path I have traveled has shown me strengths and weaknesses, both physically and spiritually. There have been moments that, through discouragement and failure, I have wanted to walk away. These are not moments I am proud of, yet they are moments that defined my heart. As the tears threatened to roll down my face many times, I was given a choice in my heart…walk away or get up.

I got up.

There have been so many moments that I truly surprised myself by what I could do. When I would finally let go, trust myself and allow the knowledge that I had worked so hard to obtain come out…I would do things that were beyond me. The victories may have seemed small to anyone else, yet in my heart they were incredible.

Knowing that I can do things that were at first beyond my abilities has given me a greater appreciation for who I truly am. Understanding that there is more strength and knowledge within me than I realize has brought a new peace and power in my heart. I have seen it change my world.

My path has not been one of solitude, yet the lessons I have learned are my own. I am forever grateful for those who have taught me, seen within me greater things than what I could see, and pushed me to become more. They have changed me through their ability to guide, encourage and not give up. Black-belt

The beauty of this path is that it doesn’t end when I reach my goal, it continues as long as I will keep my feet on it.

 

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.