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.

 

What Are You Feeding Your Soul?

My mountain. Some days it takes a little bit more determination to get there, yet every time I step foot in that sanctuary I am blessed with inspiration, healing and renewal.

Today I fought within myself to get there. I completed my lifting and thought, “I’m good. It’s a little chilly outside. I should stay home and get stuff done.” On and on the discussion went in my mind.

Finally I realized that I ALWAYS feel better when I go, even if it hurts when I am there.

Today did not disappoint at all.

I have been doing a lot of research on living a fulfilling life. A life with passion. A life with purpose. There are more times than I like to admit when I struggle with feeling life my life has purpose. These feelings are pervasive and strike frequently when I am feeling a little blue. The aftermath of these strikes leave me feeling less than. Not a place I enjoy.

As I was on the trail today, I was pondering my studies, the moments when I struggle, and the inner reflections I have been participating in.

I have found that when I am outside, in the wide expanse of the mountain, my mind is able to wander to many different places, allowing pieces to fall into place that normally struggle to find a spot.

Two questions came into my mind:

What are you feeding your soul? Are you feeding it passivity or passion?

As I thought about these questions I began to draw a connection between our soul and our bodies. What we feed our bodies largely determines how we feel, how we move, how much energy we have, and how we heal. We are a reflection of what we eat.

Our souls are not any different than our bodies. 

Passivity is like junk food. When we are passive, we are not discovering, creating, building or strengthening. Passivity gives us momentary relief from the grind of daily life or the stresses we are encountering, yet too much of it leaves our minds clouded, our bodies lethargic and are souls empty. There is little to no healing or renewal in passivity.

I have spent a lot of time in that state. I have felt like I didn’t have anything to give. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to move, let alone move forward. My mind could not think clearly. It got to the point that I didn’t know what to do if I had a free moment.

Passion, on the other hand, is manna for the soul. It is full of the nutrients we need to grow, progress, move forward and discover. It is a renewable form of nutrients that give us creativity, energy and strength. We are able to push through the discomfort of stepping out of our safe zones. We are able to problem solve and think outside of the box. Our minds and spirits are clean.

The challenge at times is finding passion within life.

It is not something that can be found by passively. Passion is discovered through movement and searching. It is a deeply personal nutrition, because my passions are mine and yours are yours. It is contagious. Sharing passions allows others to find their own and live.

So today, what are you feeding your soul?

 

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.

Submitting

Today I indulged myself a little bit by taking the time to read over my journals that I had written starting in 2012. This year will always mark the beginning of a sacred time in our lives. It is when Heavenly Father decided we needed to be taught how to fully rely on His love, mercy and guidance.

It is interesting what happens when everything that is perceived to be stable is taken from our lives. Many unimportant things and people begin to fall away and soon we see what is truly important. Our deepest desires begin to surface. The personality traits that we have buried deep begin to emerge… some good and some that need to be changed.

I learned quickly and repeatedly that man’s ways are NOT God’s ways. Man’s thoughts are NOT His thoughts. There were many things that I once thought important and vital for survival, however I realized were simply man imposed ideas.

And, I found out that giving our life over to God does not come without sacrifices at very deep levels. Submitting

These sacrifices have included pride, comfort, friendships, hobbies, time, pursuits, dreams and goals. I remember one point in our journey that I looked around and said to myself, “He has taken everything that I love to do from me. There isn’t much left of who I am and who I thought I should be.” I hate to admit, but I will, that these thoughts were not born out of humility, they were born out of frustration and impatience.

Many times during this season I have begged for the dawn to relieve our night. I have formulated plans that would propel us to the end. I have justified these thoughts and advocated our cause time and time again… yet, to no avail.

How grateful I am He didn’t shorten the growing season…even though it has been truly hard.

Submitting to His will has required faith in the little pieces of inspiration that aren’t long term solutions. Often we have had questions regarding a direction to take and the answers have given us just enough to move one more step, but no further. Once we had taken that step, we would find ourselves looking at a completely different path with a new set of questions. This type of journey has not been one of stability, only trust.

We also have found ourselves time and time again making decisions and acting on feelings that DO NOT MAKE SENSE. To anyone on the outside looking in, the choices we have made could be considered very irrational and a little (okay a lot) crazy. Yet, following the will of the Lord is rarely, if ever, going to make sense. I have looked to Noah for courage many times when Heavenly Father has asked us to build a proverbial ark.

I have also learned that fear, anxiety and frustration are poisonous to our souls, especially when we are doing our best to submit. Unfortunately, there are constant forms of discouragement that surround us. They whisper in our ears and minds those words of not enough, less than, not going to make it, not strong enough, and on and on. Failure and emptiness are the gifts they bring, leaving no support or strength in their wake.

I wish I could say that I travelled this path gracefully, but I cannot. I have found parts of my heart that are not pretty. I have found places in my soul that were dark and distant from Him. I have seen things in my mind that are shameful. And I know I am not done looking.

Maybe that is the beauty of it…at least I hope it is. For we cannot clean out what we have buried, hidden or turned our backs on. To submit ourselves to Him is to allow Him access to those things that do not allow us to be in His presence. The beautiful thing is, He draws our attention to them when we are ready to overcome (it is never when we think we are ready, it is when He knows we are).

I once thought I had not gained any courage, but after reading my thoughts from 5 years ago, I see that I can do things that used to scare me. I see that I can handle things that were once so overwhelming they would knock me to my knees. I know that it is through the Grace of the Atonement that I have grown stronger. I know it is only through constantly calling upon my Heavenly Father and Savior that I am who I am.

Submitting is a constant journey…one that I am grateful for.

 

 

Doubting Me

This morning was not a stellar faith morning for me. In fact this morning exposed aspects of my faith that truly need to be strengthened.

It all started out great. Got up with my son to help him get ready for the early morning shoot around that they have on game days. I love to iron his shirt, make sure his uniform is ready and get his lunch made. It is honestly a blessing that I am home to do this. doubting me

The breakdown of faith came when his ride didn’t show up…for a long time.

Unfortunately my truck is having some issues and there was nothing I could do to get him there. I truly felt helpless.

Backing up to last night as I was working on getting him a ride, I felt in my heart that it would all be okay and that she would be here for him. With that peace, I was able to sleep.

So when it was time for him to be there and he is still on the couch looking at me desperately to get him to the gym, my mind panicked. I wanted so desperately for a miracle to come and the truck to magically start. Not today. I wanted to do anything I could to get him there, but I felt so powerless.

The memory of the peace I felt last night struggled to find footing in my mind to calm me, however I would not listen. Doubt creates a very unfertile field in our minds and hearts, chasing out any seeds of strength, peace or calm.

When his ride came, I felt a little whisper remind me that I knew she would come. Gratitude washed over my heart, followed quickly by a heavy heart.

How many times have I done this very thing? How many times have I had His promises that everything would be okay and yet, I fear, worry and doubt? How many times has He shown me that He is in control when life is not?

Every time.

And still I doubt, because I want to be able to have the power to take action. I want to have control (at least some semblance of it) over life.

Yet, at the end of the day it is all about leaving my fear, doubt and worry at His feet, trusting that it will all work out.

Because it always does.

One day this aspect of my human nature will have conquered. One day this weakness will be a strength. One day.

Until then it is up to me to do my best, repent when I falter and look to Him to move forward.

Somedays my best is pretty good. Others? Well let’s just say today is that day and I have some work to do.

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.

 

His Gym

One Sunday morning this past March I awoke with a start. It was as if a force was pulling me out of my toasty bed and pushing me out the door to go for a walk. I still cannot explain what happened that morning, however I am forever grateful it did.

That day started me walking 1 and 2 miles a day down the street and back. Our street is located in the foothills of the beautiful mountains in Northern Utah. It is one of the most beautiful places to walk, jog or ride a bike. The changing seasons bring different colors, temperature, smells and creatures. I love this gym.

What began as walking has turned into running again after 18 years and retraining my running style.

mymountains

What begain as walking down the street has turned into exploring the mountains behind our home. I have a wonderful friend who has introduced me to our mountains and the beauty they offer. I love our time in the mountains.

Yet, the first time I hiked the trails on my own, I found a profound sense of peace and freedom. I began to see that I am strong enough to make that journey on my own. It has become a sacred place of meditation and communion with my Heavenly Father.

Last week I took a run through the mountains. The colors took my breath away, inspiring me to stop frequently and take pictures (which subsequently made my run take a lot longer). The beauty of God’s gym is awe-inspiring, so I wanted to share what I found.

hike1

The beginning of the trail. I love how the leaves are scattered all over the trail!

hike2

I looked up to the side of the trail and this tree brought a smile to my face

(which is a little energy boost when running).

hike3

As the trail curves, it climbes into this beautiful little canyon.

hike4

Coming around the corner out of the little canyon, this red tree was waiting for my camera.

hike6The colors on the side of this mountain stopped me in my tracks (again).

thebridge

This little bridge over a creek has taught me so much about life (more on that another time).

hike8

The final ascent out of the canyon.

God’s gym is my favorite place to workout. In it I get to see my weaknesses, find strength I never knew I had, breathe in life and freedom, and commune with the Creator of all. This gym has been one of the greatest blessings in my life as I have seen Him daily in my life.

I Have To Believe

This morning as I thought about the future, it felt tremendously big. I began to look at where I am and the huge gap that separates me from where I have felt I need to be. For a brief moment, the gap started to overtake me.

And then, it was as if a whisper came into my heart, I heard, “You have to believe.” I have to believe

With these four words came a rush of the many things in my life right now that are so uncertain. The things that will define me one way or another, depending on how I respond.

Again, “You have to believe.”

A healing, strengthening power washed over my heart and spirit.

As I took a moment to look back in my life I saw the many times I gave myself an ‘exit’ by holding back part of my belief, wondering if the assured promises would indeed come. It is difficult to let go of these self-limiting thoughts and ideas, because of the perceived safety net they provide.

How is it that we doubt the One who will never, nor cannot lie to us? How is it we think we know more or have a better way? How is it that we shrink in the face of the very opposition designed to make us stronger?

Where I feel I need to be, and those things that I need to accomplish is far greater than where and who I am today. As much as I have desired to move towards this place, I find that I have not been able to as quickly as I would like. It becomes discouraging, and easy to allow the doubts to creep in. I need to remember it is a process.

I have to believe that He knows me better than I know myself.

I have to believe that He has a plan, that is more wonderful than I can imagine.

I have to believe that He sees a strength in me that I have never tapped into.

I have to believe that everything I have felt I need to accomplish, He has designed.

I have to believe that I will be defined by His love, not my imperfections.

I have to believe that I am His.

Changing Direction

These past few weeks have been a veritable roller-coaster of emotions, thoughts, ideas and internal fighting. As taxing as the struggle can be, it is necessary for growth and definition.

Changing DirectionI love quiet moments to ponder, talk to Heavenly Father and simply be. I have found in these moments more inspiration and direction than anywhere else. These educational moments continually teach me about myself and the path that I am currently on.

Recently I read a book that rocked my world. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker is the cause much of the roller-coaster I have been riding. I will be honest, most of what was the catalyst of the explosion of thoughts had nothing to do with becoming a millionaire, but more to do with the qualities and thought processes of people who are successful and live life to the fullest. I began to see how scarcity had become the ruling thought in my mind, which in turn became how I viewed the world.

As I have thought about where my mind had been living, I began to realize that life will never be lived to the fullest when scarcity rules our thoughts. God created a world of abundance. It is not difficult to see how much we have been given, however if we only focus on the path at our feet, we will miss all of it. When we are always looking down we miss the greatness of everything around us.

I made a decision that I do not want to live in scarcity any more.

To make a change like this, I needed to face what was holding me back, to understand it, to overcome. I am blessed to know a great guide (my husband) who is skilled at walking people through challenges such as this. In order to face scarcity I had to realize that I had become bound by fear, uncertainty, overwhelm, and darkness. Breaking through these bindings was challenging at best, but worth it as I now had the strength to let go of scarcity.

As Kevin talked me through all of this he pointed out that abundance is the weapon to fight off and hold back scarcity. It is the abundance of knowing I have never, ever been without what I need. I have always been able to do what is necessary to take care of my family and those I need to help. It is the abundance of knowing that Heavenly Father is in control and will lead me (sometimes pull me) to where He needs me to go. And right now He needs me to change direction.

There is a difference between change and changing direction. As we are presented with a new opportunity to move down a new path, one that will create newness of strength, courage and skill, we have the gift to choose whether or not we take that first step. Moving down new paths is our change of direction. The change within us comes as we take in this new path, noticing the differences in feelings, sights, thoughts and actions. Each step is a choice to continue. Each step is a demonstration of trust and courage.

As I have taken a few tentative steps down this new path, I have been able to see a few things for what they truly are…and it is liberating. Ideas that I have held onto that I have not been able to realize are now understood and filed where they need to be. For a long time I thought I wanted to have a business building/creating things… It was hard for me to grasp why this idea never had enough strength to pull me through the initial phases. Now I understand that I love to build/create for the pure love of it…not to sell, just to give. I can now leave that business path behind and move onto something else. I am not sure what that is yet, I am still seeking. Yet, I know I will be led….

Quiet Miracles

This Christmas season has been different for me. It has come into my heart rather slowly and very quietly.

Quiet MiraclesLife is constantly changing and that is how we learn to grow and become malleable. Sometimes changes are very positive and other times change brings growth. We have been growing.

As the season descended upon all, I found myself avoiding it. Things that would normally bring joy to me (putting up decorations, shopping, music, creating) were a bit empty. I felt a bit hollow and guilty all at the same time. I wanted to feel it, but at the same time I couldn’t.

I prayed for help to feel it. Heaven was quiet. So I figured the best thing to do was hope and search.

One day as I watched the snow fall, a thought came into my heart. What was it like for Mary? I thought about her as they were required to travel a great distance. I wondered what her heart was saying. I imagine it wasn’t talking about the amazing celebrations or gifts or anything we get wrapped up in. It must have been quiet with determination to do what she needed to do. She must have felt the great burdens of her pregnancy and who she was carrying. She must have had so many questions of how do I do this? can I be the mother He needs? will we find a place to safely bring Him here?

As I pondered that sweet, amazing woman, my heart began to understand that maybe, just maybe this Christmas for me was to see things differently.

The quiet gifts that have been given to my heart are not those that can be wrapped up, nor will they ever fade.

I have been given the sweet understanding that hope is real. It is the foundation of faith and the opening of the heart to something greater than what we see.

I have been given sweet and powerful moments of love that have brought me to tears. Looking into my daughter’s eyes and seeing the pure joy and wonder. Watching my son work through situations that make him strong. Laying in my husband’s arms by the Christmas tree. All quiet, beautiful gifts to me.

I have been given the opportunity to see that when it feels like life is falling apart, it can actually be moving forward. These are the moments that I have been able to step back, watch quietly and see His hand working, molding and creating.

I have been given the gift to feel love wrap around my heart.

I have been given the gift to be strong when I feel like I can’t hold up the load that I have been asked to carry. Seeing Him reach down and lift my heart just enough has been so healing. He never took it all, just enough that I could continue to gain strength and move forward.

This year, Christmas is about quiet miracles. How blessed I feel to know that He wants to teach my heart deeply.