Will You Choose Me?

Have you ever had a question that you asked over and over again and the answer was never there? Yet, somehow you knew there is an answer so you keep asking the same question?

I have a lot of these types of questions, but one has been on my mind more often than the others.

With so many things in life, I have sought for a deeper, spiritual purpose and meaning. I feel that God is so intricately involved in our lives that everything has a lesson, blessing or growth attached. It is simply up to us to seek.

I also am acutely aware of the dual nature of life. That everything has its opposite. As much as I would love it all to be good influences and spiritual, I know it is not. I know that that there is an adversary whose main goal is destruction. So as much as I only want to know the beauty, I have to understand the dark too at some level.

There are mornings I wake up and I know there is something off. It has nothing to do with how I wake up and everything to do with that spiritual sense that lets me know it is going to be one of those adversarial days.

Today was one of those days.

I hate waking up and feeling this, and I appreciate it at the same time. Even if I don’t fully acknowledge it, at some point in the day I will realize what is happening.

Today it was the incessant voices whispering doubt, frustration, anger, impatience, and sadness. I wish they were quiet, but they aren’t. It seemed like whenever I was able to shut one down, 10 more came to whisper. After battling for a while I began to question my reactions, the purpose of it all, and if I am handling it in the right ways.

So there is the question I have had… When these days come, and I spend all day battling (and honestly losing some of those battles), I ask, “am I doing something wrong?”

At a lot of levels, I understand that this is part of the mortal journey. That those who are fighting the hardest to return to God have a lot of these days. That when there is something coming chaos reigns. Even knowing this I still ask if I am doing something wrong.

Tonight as I asked that question a quiet voice came into my mind and heart. It asked a question in return,

“Will you choose me?”

In that instant, I thought about the ways I have handled these situations. I thought about the prayers I have said, the moments reading His word in the scriptures and from His prophets, the workouts I have done, the moments I gave in, and many other reactions.

“I need to know if you will choose me, and this is one of the ways I can know.”

Do I choose Him or do I choose something else? Do I turn to Him in these moments or do I turn to my phone, social media, etc? Do I look to God and Jesus Christ for strength to battle or do I look to escape?

Some battles I have definitely chosen escape. Running away in my mind through mindless games, murmuring, isolation and idleness. As much as I want these things to take away the battle, they only leave me feeling empty and lost. There is usually a momentary relief, but it is very fleeting.

Then there are the days when I silently pray for strength (it comes), read His word for peace (it comes), get out and exercise for perspective (it comes), reach out to another to help (it comes) or write for cleansing (it comes).

As much as I would love any one thing to help me overcome, it is always the combination of many choices that chase these adversarial situations away.

Will I choose Him? That question is answered every moment of every day. Will He choose me? That question has already been answered. It is up to me to make the choices that will allow me to see His choice.

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.

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.

 

Beautiful Deception

Last week as I was running on the trail, I came around the corner for the first real descent. Every time I come around this corner and look up the canyon, it truly takes my breath away.

This time was no different.

The trees have begun to turn green at their own rate, creating a beautiful emerald canvas. It is truly God’s country.

As I looked on the expanse I noticed that the trees had camoflaged the next hill I run up. If I had not been so familiar with this area, I would have thought that it was one rise instead of a peak and valley. I giggled to myself as I know that this beautiful deception is actually a challenging portion of my run.

Running towards this deceptive place, I began to ponder the many beautiful deceptions in life. Things just like this little rise that are a challenge to overcome, yet incredibly beautiful at the same time.

I thought about the journey we have been on, one of discovery, setbacks, faith, hope, discouragement, love, sadness, loss, happiness and fulfillment. I thought about the countless times I have dropped to my knees pleading for direction when the path was truly obscure. I remembered the times that this darkened path was opened up, in ways that I never would have imagined.

It would be easy to focus on the hardship, pain and feelings of being lost. Yet, this focus would never yield the beauty that is the journey. These perceptions can be very deceiving in that they can blind our minds and lives to the beauty of growth and change. It is only through resistance that we can become strong. Yet, sometimes we fear the very thing that creates newness and power.

I then thought about pain. The pain I feel when I am running up the mountain. The pain I feel when my heart is about to break in response to hurt. The pain I feel when I don’t live up to my potential. The pain I feel when I am pushing through any physical, mental, or spiritual barrier.

Pain is beautifully deceptive, because it teaches us at such a visceral level. It teaches us that there is more after we push through the barriers it establishes. Pain shows us what is truly important to us. It is the great teacher of wisdom, character and power. The beauty comes when we see past the discomfort and inconvenience to witness the greatness that is within.

Heavenly Father is kind, because He allows us to experience these beautiful deceptions. He knows they will bring us closer to Him and develop those God-like attributes that will enable us to do so. He is kind in the ways that He strengthens us to conquer, because each time I do, I know He is there.

 

Fighting Fear and Failure

It is easy to let things that truly help and heal us get away from our lives. It is easy to justify utilizing that time elsewhere.

But in reality what does that get us? 

I have learned that it leaves me with an empty place in my heart.

Honestly I used to write all of the time in my mind. I would see or feel something and immediately create a blog post in my mind. Slowly over time that has begun to fade. Words have not come so easily for me and I miss that ability to share my heart and cleanse my soul.

Yesterday during a counseling phone call with my mom she asked me why I don’t write anymore. I didn’t have a good answer, not even a lame one. In response to this, she called me out and told me how much it would truly bless my life right now.

I have to agree with her (or else I wouldn’t be writing right now).

Over the past few months I have been facing a plethora of weaknesses and failure after failure. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I work at overcoming, they continue to rise up and try to pull me down. At first I felt strong, I felt totally capable of facing these challenges…

Now, not so much.

Each day brings a new set of challenges and failures to face.

And then there is the other thing…

There has been a shift within our life that has shown us changes on the horizon. This shift brings with it its own set of challenges that like to mix and mingle with the ones I struggle with, creating a cocktail of strengthening opportunities. 

So the battle within becomes a question of are my failures and weaknesses a result of something I am not doing or doing wrong…OR…are they are result of this shift?

I have had many chats with Heavenly Father, asking Him what my role in all of this is. What does He need me to do? How do I navigate these tumultuous seas? How do I stop letting people down, especially Him?

The only answer I could come up with came today as I visited my mountain. Because of this continual battling, I have felt a physical depletion. My capacity for exercise has decreased. Yet, I push on.

In my mountain I came across a trail that I have wanted to explore, but have never taken the time. Today I decided I had the time. The trail immediately begins to climb up the mountain, which is after a substantial climb to get to the second level. I identified a ridge I wanted to make it to and pushed toward it. It was as if there was a hand squeezing my lungs and pushing me backwards.

The goal made me push forward.

Keeping my head down, I focused on picking my feet up and putting them down in front of each other. Pushing through the screaming in my calves, the pain in my heart and lungs and the dryness in my mouth, I conquered that hill.

The view was stunning.

And then came the descent…with it came fear. Totally unusual for me, because of all of the time I have spent running trails, this should not be an issue. So I prayed. He answered.

Unfortunately, I could not outrun the fear. I was forced to face it as I climbed to my rock.

I love my rock. It is a place of inspiration, solitude and peace. Looking out from my perch one sees the vast expanse of the canyon. It makes me feel so small, yet significant.

“for God has not given me the spirit of fear….”

As I sat there I found a small level of strength. Just enough to get me through this day.

~This post is dedicated to my amazing mother who challenged me to keep writing as a way to express my heart.

 

Forward Is Moving

There are days on the trail that are more educational than others. Today happened to be one of those days. Due to a series of events, I got off to a really late start to my run. Thankfully, because I waited, the sun decided to emerge and warm everything up. It is not every November 14th that I get to run in a t-shirt. I will take these days as long as I have them, because I know they are short-lived.

There is a place in the run that, no matter how many times I run it, the incline is almost too much. By the time I reach the top of the Clay Pit, my lungs are on fire and my legs feel like lead. Every day I push myself 5 to 10 steps further than the day before. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I don’t.

For a long time it would frustrate me that I didn’t seem to be making gains in my strength and endurance on this particular portion of the trail. I would think to myself so many negative thoughts that would definitely increase the incline and difficulty of the next hill to conquer.

I realized that all of this focus on gains, strength and negativity was ultimately drawing much-needed energy and enjoyment. It is this way in life too… the more I focus on gains, power and allow negative thoughts to rule my mind and spirit, the less energy and desire I have to reach outward and lift others. I have learned that where I focus my energy will determine if it is renewed or stolen.

Living in a world that has a great tendency to look for weakness and exploit it makes it easy to give space to the negative energy-sapping sources. Stepping out of this world and allowing Jesus Christ to create within us the person He knows we are meant to be is challenging, yet very rewarding. His ultimate goal is to give us the strength, path and means necessary to change and become.

On one particular place I found myself struggling to keep moving forward. It is truly a mental battle that strengthens me each time I step foot in the mountain. All of the sudden, the sound I have given to my son’s texts chimed on my phone. Normally I don’t stop to check them, but this time I did.

“Love you too!!!”

The mere fact that my beautiful 16 year-old boy would take time out of his day to tell me he loves me melted my heart. He does this often. He is a gift. Those three words boosted my energy, giving me the strength to finish the climb I was undertaking.

Another climb was daunting and challenging me…my daughter’s text chime rang through.

“Hi!!”

My sweet girl randomly will text me during the day to say Hi. She too is a gift from Heavenly Father. Our conversations are generally short (except when she doesn’t feel good), but very sweet. Once again I was given what I needed to climb.

I realized that Heavenly Father has given us so many people to give us the energy we need to make it through a rough moment in life. There can be plenty of them and these moments seem to come in bundles. Having and being the kind of person that can lift is such a gift. I do not have a lot of close friends, that is not in my nature. Yet, the ones that I am blessed with are exactly who I need. I pray daily that I am who they need.

Coming out of the canyon, it was a lesson to me that forward is moving in the right direction. Some days we have all of the energy and capacity we need to conquer the hills life throws at us. Other days it is not there. How blessed I feel to know that on those days Heaven is just a prayer away and the answers come through so many beautiful people.

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.

 

Help Thou My Unbelief

There was a man who came to the Savior pleading for Him to heal his son. The one thing Jesus asked was if the man believed. The reply was that he did, however he didn’t feel like the belief he had was enough for the size of a miracle he was pleading for. He then asked the Savior to help his unbelief. Through his belief, humility and the great love the Savior had for him and his son, the requested healing took place and his son was made whole.

Today I have found myself in a similar situation.

Over the past 7 years we have been on a sanctifying journey, oneopenheavens that has repeatedly tested our mind, body and spirit. I have often wondered if there is something we did, a choice we made that made this journey necessary in our lives. I remember when our son was born, I had a lot of pride in my heart regarding different situations and people. The circumstances that preceded and followed his birth quickly stripped me of this pride and taught me that to truly rely on my Heavenly Father, I needed to have more humility. Those 3 years were some of the most challenging, yet beautiful at the same time.

Through the grace of Heavenly Father, I have come to know that this journey is not the result of anything I have done or left undone, it is simply a time for us to draw closer to Him, each other and our family.

Yet…

Today we need a miracle. Today I have knelt before my Savior pleading for this miracle.

And still I find myself feeling like my faith and belief are not enough for what we need. I find myself hoping that I am enough and that I have done enough. I too ask, “Lord help thou my unbelief.”

I don’t know what else to do, but pray, believe, and wait….

 

 

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.

The Pit

Not really sure how it came to be tonight. An unsettling feeling has descended upon my heart and has decided to take up residence in the bottom of my stomach. I would love for it to be hunger pangs, then I could happily feed them and settle in. No such luck.The Pit

I honestly like to understand the meanings behind the emotions that I feel, then I can confront them and overcome. However when they are insidious, it is difficult to find the battle ground.

So tonight I seek the battle ground through writing…

Some days are just not the best. It doesn’t matter what you do or how hard you work, things don’t ever seem to fall into place. Then one mistake after another compounds on your heart and, soon enough, you are swimming in waves that continually push you under. It is also like a little virus that spreads throughout the family, pulling each one down in its path.

There you have it….

I have to wonder if it is not a little bit of opposition that seems to come up when life is beginning to shift? Tomorrow marks a day that we have been waiting for, a day that we have been prepared for. I haven’t really thought a lot about details in what will happen, which may explain this pit. I have learned when I push things down they always surface carrying with them a myriad of unpleasant emotions.

A few months ago I woke up to this song by Casting Crowns playing in my mind. I have learned that when I wake up and there is music in my mind I need to pay attention to the playlist. There is always purpose to the song. Sometimes there is something I will be dealing with during that day that will require the lyrics to pull me through. Sometimes it is the weight I carry in my heart when I lay down at night and the song is there to lift me. This morning was one such song…

Just Be Held.

There is a line in the song that played over and over in my mind throughout the day:

“Your world’s not falling apart…It’s falling into place.”

It was pretty powerful that day, because it felt like our world was falling apart. Nothing we were doing to climb out of the pit we felt we were in was working, in fact it all seemed to be blowing up before our eyes. It didn’t matter how many times we knelt in prayer, pleading for answers or relief…the answers we wanted were not there.

The answer He knew we needed was.

Our world needed to fall apart to fall into place.

As we began picking up the pieces, we found the ones that were truly beautiful, the ones that worked and kept them. We discarded the ones that did not hold any value in our lives.

With the pieces we kept, we have started to create something new, powerful and a little scary. There are moments in life that define you. Our choice is which definition we choose.

So tonight the pit represents letting go of the pieces that were simply wrong. It is a little frightening, because they were a part of me and it can be difficult to let go. The unknown is both scary and exhilarating at the same time.

I will simply let go and just be held by Him who is in control of it all….