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.

The Bridge

Towards the end of my trail run is a beautiful bridge that crosses over a little river running out of the mountains. It is one of my favorite places, because 1. it marks the final ascent on my run and 2. it has taught me many lessons about myself. thebridge

The bridge sits high up above the water. It is a very sturdy bridge made of solid wood and steel. There are no movements from the bridge as it is crossed, be it running or walking. Did I mention it is very high up?

Ever since I can remember, I have had a paralyzing fear of heights. There is no rush of happy adrenaline for me when I am high up, it is pure flight adrenaline. Some days I wish I knew what caused this intense fear, so I could overcome. For now, I will continue to live with it and learn from it.

The first time I crossed the bridge, I walked straight down the middle, my eyes focused on the other side. I counted my steps so that I knew I was making progress and would shortly be off the bridge. My fear of heights truly blinded me to the beauty that one sees and hears in that place. I could not look up to see the green trees nor see the river that was happily passing below. I simply survived that part of the hike, going and coming.

As I have thought back on that particular hike, I realized that fear truly blinds us to the amazing truths and opportunities that God has placed before us. Not trusting in the security of His love and our Savior denies us the ability to fully live up to our potential and see our incredible world.

Another lesson I learned came as I ran across the bridge the first time I conquered the trail running. On the other side of the bridge, I realized that I felt no fear. This moment was very powerful to me at this time of my life.

There have been many days that have felt heavy and very overwhelming. Uncertainty has cast a huge shadow over our lives and some days are downright scary. This fear is so acute when I feel like I do not have the ability to move, fix the situation or create what is needed to move forward. I lose sense of who I am and Whose I am.

Running across the bridge that day taught me that as long I am moving, trusting in the solid foundation of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, fear cannot overtake me. The storms of uncertainty may rage and the sanctifying fires may burn, however I know I can overcome if I keep moving along the path They have given me.

changing treesA few times I have stopped my run and carefully walked across the bridge, taking the time to see, listen and feel everything around me. I have swallowed my fear, pushing it down to a place where it has little power over me. The sounds of the birds singing and the water gurgling fill my soul with pure happiness. Watching the trees change color and prepare themselves for winter is breathtaking. Feeling the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the canyon all at once is very renewing.

I learned that I have power over my fear. I learned that the creations of God are truly gifts to our souls, enabling us to become so much more. I learned that looking, hearing and feeling are imperative to recognizing how He works in my life. In all of our lives. I learned that He knows me, understands my fear and strengthens me as He teaches me.

This bridge has become a sacred place to me. It is a natural temple wherein I see His hand, feel His love and hear His voice.

 

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.

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.

I’ve Got This

I've Got ThisThis past week has brought with it some incredible learning experiences. I wish I could say that they were all warm and fuzzy, but I can’t. I realize that often times learning comes with a certain level of discomfort.

Monday morning I woke up with the heaviness of life as we know it right now sitting on my heart and soul. As soon as I uttered a word of prayer, the darkness was there, surrounding me. I could not shake it, no matter how hard I tried. For two days it plagued me and it seemed like the harder I fought, the stronger it became.

I haven’t had many moments where I considered giving up (whatever that would look like), but there was one or two this week. I simply did not know what to do to solve the situation, rise above the darkness or where to look for the light I needed to heal my soul.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I had figured everything out. I had some pretty specific feelings and had started to act upon them. I began to dream again…something that I have not allowed myself to do for a very long time. It felt like the barriers that have been placed in our lives were beginning to fall away…it felt so good.

Yet, Monday my hope began to fade. As a result I began to doubt all of the feelings I have been receiving from my Heavenly Father. It was a dark place to wander.

As I began to pray, my heart was so scared to ask about the feelings that I had. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to receive the answer I didn’t want to hear. It took a little bit to summon the courage.

I asked if I needed to let go of the things that I had felt…the solution and new path.

My answer was not what I expected, either way.

In that brief moment I felt a peace come over my heart and soul…something that I had not felt in quite some time. The peace spoke to my heart as if to say, “I’ve got this.”

The moment was just that…a moment of peace. It came and went so quickly, but it was real.

Letting GoIt took me a few days to realize what truly happened and has been happening in my life. He has been doing His best to show me, tell me and allow me to see that He has this right now. There is nothing I can do to ‘solve’ this. We are completely in His hands.

It has taken a lot of prayer and pondering to allow myself to let go and trust Him. I am one that likes to solve the problem and move on. Yet, there are some things that take time and experiences to solve and learn from.

I have reflected on many things that have been happening and seeing the peace that I have felt each time I have cried out to Him.

“I’ve got this.”

I am so thankful for every ‘no’ I have received. There have been times when I thought that would be the only answer I ever receive to my prayers. There have been other times that I have thought that it wasn’t even an answer at all. Yet, each one is another evidence that He has a plan for us and that plan is something far greater than what I can see right now.

I just have to let go, breathe and do my best to find Him each day.

Not Yet

Not YetI have to hope that there are more people out there like me…. I have to hope that there are those who are in the process of a particularly keen growth spurt that hope and pray for it to end at some point…preferably sooner than later. If not, then once again I am unique in my heart and mind.

There are mornings when I wake up and can feel the heaviness of the day already in my heart. Other mornings are filled with a sense of hope and purpose (these have been a little less common). I have fought through every day, making it to the end with a prayer in my heart.

Every day I wake up, I say a prayer. I try not to bore Heavenly Father with repetition, but sometimes my needs feel like they are the same as they were the day before. I have been working on asking for help to find others to reach out to and for ways to serve, hoping that this will help ease the heaviness that lives there. Some days I find the answers to these prayers outside of my home, and other days the opportunities are right in my home.

As the dawn has begun to manifest itself within our lives, I hate to admit that I have become quite impatient for the rest of the light to spread. I ache for the warmth of the sun light to touch my heart and to lift the weight that is there. As hard as I pray for it to come quickly, the light creeps ever so slowly towards me.

“Not yet.”

This is what has been in my heart today. There is more to learn and to understand before I will be ready for the light in my life. As much as I want it to be day, there is still darkness to pass through. I have had to still my heart and allow my soul to find the rest that Jesus Christ has promised us. This has been the most difficult thing for me to do, now that I have seen a glimmer of hope.

“Not yet.”

Heavenly Father knows when we are ready to move on from where we are. He will bring the light to me when it is time. He will show me how to live in the light once again. He will give me the strength to endure, if I believe in Him. He will bring to pass all of the promises He has made to me and my family. He will allow us to grow until that time. He will take care of us as we move towards where He needs us to go.

“Not yet.”

Knowing this I prayed today for that peace that only Jesus can bring. This is the peace that will overcome the moments when the fingers of darkness try to wrap themselves around my heart causing me to doubt what I know. This peace will allow me to be still and trust in a Father who loves me more than I can know.

“Not yet.”

It is okay.

Who He Needs

MoldingIt is interesting how life teaches us. When we put our lives in Heavenly Father’s hands, we are opening ourselves up to a teacher that gives us more than we can handle.

Some years ago, my husband and I decided we needed to do just that….allow Him to guide our lives so that He can do with us what He needs. Thinking back over the time that has passed since that decision, He has been molding us with many great and challenging experiences.

Molding is not a gentle craft….there is the stripping away of unnecessary behaviors and thoughts, there is carving of new places to hold greater emotions, there is kneading to soften the hard places within us, and let us not forget that there is constant pressure applied so that we are shaped to become who He needs us to be.

Experiencing each one of these processes has not been comfortable. There have been many moments that I have wanted to buckle under the constant pressure placed on our backs. Many days I have been driven to my knees begging for deliverance, because I didn’t think we could handle any more.

In His wisdom, He sent the power of the Atonement to bear us up. This power came in ways that I didn’t understand (mostly because I was looking for something else). I was given brief moments of clarity, days that the burden was taken completely, people who truly love me and hope when I could not see any.

Mostly I was given more to carry.

There have been decisions placed before us this past week that have required us to look deeper into this choice we have made. Looking back a few weeks ago, I would not have had an open heart to consider what He may ask us to do. Yet, through quiet whisperings, feelings and times of pondering, my heart has opened.

Underneath this load, He has taught me who is in charge.

Thankfully it is Him. Thankfully He sees me for who I truly am. Thankfully He is patient with me. Thankfully He did not answer my pleading for deliverance. Thankfully He trusts me to listen and make the decisions that are necessary.

I would not be who He needs me to be without the constant molding and the Atonement of Jesus Christ to strengthen me.

Learning From Enoch

file5571255360815I know I need to write this post, because of the incredible lesson I learned today. However, the words escape me. As I find them, I will quickly grab onto them and share.

This week I studied the story of Enoch. Here was a man journeying to another land and the Lord appears unto him and tells him to call the people to repentance. A task that would humble any man to be sure. Enoch’s response echos many of ours when called upon to do things we feel are far greater than what we feel we are capable of doing….Continue reading “Learning From Enoch”