and… I’m back

Well, sort of. Just wanted to pop in and say hello! It’s been a hot, messy minute hasn’t it? I’m grateful if you are still here, that you have stuck with me. Although this is not a full post/episode. I wanted to let you know that I am still here. Just been going through a bit of rough water in the past 6 months.

Isn’t that how it always goes? I had just reached the 50th episode of my podcast, Pointing toward Hope, and I wanted to take a few weeks off for the birth of my new granddaughter (my 6th grandchild, YAY!). And when I got home… life just hit and I’ve been going through a lot! More to come on that in the next few episodes/posts.

But for now I just wanted to pop on and say thanks for sticking around! One big announcement that I have is….drum roll please…….I have a new line of journals!!!! I have been doing so much journaling over the past six months and I was looking for a new journal. I couldn’t find one that I liked so I decided to create my own! So I did, and they can now be purchased on Amazon. More will be coming soon so keep an eye out!

I want you to know that I see you! God sees you and knows of your struggles and your challenges! Never have I known this more than I do now. Man oh man is He big God! We’ve got to stick together in these tough times and I am here for you!

XO Wendy

Let it Refine You

Well hey everyone!  It’s good to be back.  I planned on taking a little break but it just ended up being a little longer than planned.  But that’s ok, because that’s kind of how life is right?  We think we have it all figured out or we have a plan and then the Lord comes in and says, “nope, I’ve got something else prepared for you…it’s going to be hard but it’s something better.”  

And that’s kind of how I feel about this whole past year.  I was looking back recently at some of the goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year and I am nowhere near where I thought I would be because of the circumstances that I went through in the beginning months of this year.  And you know what?  I am not even unhappy about it!

 I feel like I am in such a better place than what I would have been.  I don’t know for sure, I mean my situation today would certainly look different than it does.  But I can most assuredly tell you that I see the hand of the Lord working in and over my life in so many ways as I look back and as I see things unfolding before me looking forward.

It’s a marvelous thing to have the spirit of the Lord guiding and directing you as you go.  But in that, there is a lot of ongoing work that has to take place to get to that point.

 As you may have guessed from the title I’m going to talk just a little bit about the refining process that we go through when faced with trials, challenges, adversity, etc. And how we can gain the inner strength to let them be a refining process rather than a defining process. 

It is the 50th episode!!!  YAY!!!! I felt like I should definitely lean in to what we are all about here at “pointing toward hope”.  And I feel like the pieces for this episode have kind of been collecting over the last several days as I have had mini moments of inspiration when things that I heard or read or dreamt just sunk in.  So I am going to try to collect all of those things and hopefully organize them into something that will be meaningful and impactful for you as you listen today.

I found a great talk By Ellen W. Smoot from April 2002 General Conference talk Called Developing Inner Strength.  I will be referring to that  throughout this podcast and will link it in the notes.  I loved this question she posed.  “How do you and I become so converted to the truth, so full of faith, so dependent on God that we are able to meet trials and even be strengthened by them?”

That just got me thinking about how we sometimes tend to lean into our trials more than lean into the Lord.  If that makes sense. 

For example, we might tend to say this is just who I am, this is how it’s always gonna be and there isn’t a thing that I can do about it.  So in my situation instead of saying I HAVE bipolar, it becomes I AM bipolar.  Which is a totally false statement.  

Do you see the difference? To say I AM something… is basically removing the possibility that I can change it from something that defines me. Just changing that one word or that one negative feeling, can allow me to turn it into something that refines me and grows me as a person if I let it.  

From my standpoint, having Bipolar is definitely not something I enjoy. But it’s definitely not who I AM either.  Changing my view of it has allowed me to turn something that has such a negative connotation into something of a miracle.

When YOU do this, then you can see the opportunity in the trial to make it into something miraclous. Something that will strengthen you from the inside to the outside.

Personally, I have worked really hard to take that feeling of being defined by my trial to being strengthened by and through it. I’ve tried to turn it into something positive that I can learn and grow from rather than feeling defeated by it. Which is not easy at all!  To be honest, somedays it just downright stinks and I do feel totally defeated by it. There are just so many negative feelings that surround it.  

I don’t think that I’m alone in that, when it comes to trials or adversity.  There are a lot of situations where negative feelings and thinking take place. Thinking that you are defined by your trial, can happen with a lot of different types of experiences that we go through. 

There are so many big traumatic parts of your life for sure!  I am not diminishing those experiences in any way!  

However, I feel like our tendency as human beings having an Earthly experience, we do tend to want to let those things define us or maybe we tend to look at them with negative thoughts and feelings. Like this is how other people define me or describe me.

I mean I could fall into that category very easily by letting those labels that are thrown around so lightly, be overwhelming and  defeating.  But I have gotten to the point where when someone says something like, “So and so is so dramatic and does this and this and this, they are definitely Bipolar”.  I can blow that off.  It always stings a little and sometimes I want to get defensive about it.  But I’ve learned that I can’t take things like that personally.  And you have to understand that when someone says something hurtful in a situation like that, they probably don’t have any idea that you were hurt.  So why make yourself a victim over it?

Anyway, I kind of got sidetracked there for a little bit but I want you to just take a second and think about some of the things in your life that you see as negative experiences or trials.  Maybe it’s not a sickness or illnes. Maybe it’s something that happened when you were a child, a mistake you made, or something that happened unexpectedly that has changed your life immensely.  We’ve all experienced that in the last two years haven’t we?  

The point I’m trying to get at is, can we try to see ourselves and our trials as a growing, learning, refining process? Think of it as being purified and polished just as a piece of metal when it’s being molded? And I’ll talk a bit more about that in a minute.

Recently, there was a brilliant woman that gave a talk in my church.  And I think her talk was what kind of started the ball rolling for me.  She gave so many good nuggets of wisdom.  Her topic was having gratitude through adversity.  That kind of sounds like an oxymoron, right?  I mean how do you have gratitude when you’re going through really difficult situations? 

While I was listening to her speak (it was a phenomenal talk btw) I kept having a thought run through my mind that I’d heard someone say on a podcast that I listen to.  “Sometimes the miracle is IN the tragedy”.  I don’t know why I was thinking that specific thought, but maybe it was because when we are going through something, anything really, if we try to look at it from a different perspective (which is what I think having gratitude in adversity means), then the whole experience can become a beautiful miracle.

At the end of this woman’s talk she said one thing that I have talked about before here on the podcast. And if you weren’t paying attention to her talk then you would have missed it.  She said, when it comes to hard things and being grateful for them, think of them as refining you, NOT defining you!  And even though I’ve said it myself many times, the way she paired it with gratitude just made me look at it from a little different perspective.  

There is a video that I have watched and I’ll try to link it if I can find it again.  About the process that a Blacksmith goes through when refining metal.  I’m not sure if you are familiar with the process but let me just explain somewhat. It is a long and grueling process that requires intense heat and repeated hammering. A refiner is really good at knowing when the fire is hot enough but not too hot!  And you also have to use fire and water, and you need to know how to use both of them together.  And the reason is because the Blacksmith (or the refiner) needs to be able to bend and mold that piece of metal into something completely different.  Free from impurities and something polished and beautiful.

Nobody wants to go through a refining process, right?  I mean it is super intense.  But in this process from what I understand the refiner is right there the whole time.  He is completely in the entire process.  The metal can not be left alone.  There are certain things that need to happen at certain times.  And you love this because in Isaiah, he teaches us about what our refiner, meaning Jesus Christ is like, when he says this in 

Chapter 43:1-3  1 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob (insert your name), and he that formed thee, O Israel (insert your name), Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

3 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour…

So He’s basically saying, Don’t you worry, I am going to be here every step of the way.  I love you and I’m not going to leave you!

Is’nt that just so cool?  He knows when the water comes and you feel like you’re drowning, He’s gonna be there!  He knows when you feel like you are walking through fire and the heat is too intense and you want to give up, He’s gonna be there!

He is our refiner.  

So I want you to remember that process as we talk about a couple of other mini moments of inspiration that I had this past week.  So I was reading the Book of Heleman, and if you are familiar with this part of the Book Mormon, it is part of the war chapters and it can be difficult chapters to get through.  But I determined when I started the war chapters back in Alma that I was going to get something to apply to my life out of these chapters.  And you guys,  I feel like the Lord answered my prayers on that so completely.  I have really had so many mini moments.  So I encourage you to really dig into those chapters and see if you can’t grab some gold nuggets out of there.  

Anyway, back to Helaman it is Chapter 3 So just a refresher this is a time when many people are dissenting from the church and persecuting members of the church.  At that time Nephi the son of Helaman is filling the judgement seat and he decides that because of the persecution they are going to leave Zarahemla and move to the land Northward.  And it says it was a great distance. And you know they didn’t have cars and carts and all that back then. So I’m sure they were traveling with everything on their backs or their donkeys.  It was probably extremely hot and they were thirsty and it was super hard.  

And it says they crossed over many waters and rivers (remember the water and the heat of the refiner’s fire?).  And when they arrived it was a land called Desolate.  Why? Because there was nothing on the land it was barron, everyone!  And so what did they do.  In verse 7 it says this: nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly aexpert…..  And then it goes on to say how they built houses and when trees grew they took care of them until they could use them.  They built cities!  So they took this trial that was upon them and they turned it into something amazing. And the Lord was with them through every step.

But then in verse 16 I believe, it was Mormon talking here.  He goes back to before they left Zarahemla to explain what was happening there and what caused them to leave.  And the following verse is what stopped me that morning.   

35 It reads  Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.

And that’s the word that caught me, everyone! Yielding.  What happens when we yield?  We give others the right of way, right?  So in this case they are yielding their hearts to the Lord!  They are turning it over to the Lord knowing that he will sanctify them and purify them.  Just like a Blacksmith does with the metal.  When it is under that intense heat it is purifying it.  Jesus is our refiner!  He sees things from a much grander perspective.  He can turn us into something beautiful.  Something so much more than we can achieve on our own.  

It just gives me chills when I think about how many times the Savior has walked with me through my trials, and turned them into a miracle.

It reminds me of when I was younger and I went through a pretty hard experience with some friends.  I won’t get into the details, but I will tell you that it was something that happened to me way back when I was barely 13.  And it concerned being bullied. 

So you can imagine at 13, you are at such an impressionable age and you’re molding your identity and just changing so much and trying to figure out who you are. 

And just at the peak of that time in my life is when this experience happened.  It was an event that happened because of something careless that I said to someone, not thinking anything of it.  Someone walking behind us heard it, and within minutes….. I’m not even kidding.  I was surrounded by a group of girls pointing and laughing and bullying me.  My friends that were with me when they surrounded me, quickly slipped out of the circle.  And I felt so alone at that moment. 

And to make matters worse, the bullying continued for several weeks.  To the point that the principal and parents got involved.  It was really quite hard as a 13 year old.  I remember days when I thought I just couldn’t go to school.  I would get stomach aches thinking about it.  It still makes me anxious to this day. 

But it was during that time that I decided to yield my heart to the Lord.  What did he want me to do?  I decided that I needed to have my patriarchal blessing. 

So we scheduled it.  And I was determined that I was going to prepare myself and be so ready for this because I really, really needed to hear from the Lord himself that everything was going to be ok.  

So I did those things from verse 35… I fasted and I prayed and I humbled myself and I had faith that the Lord would come to me. Or at least be with me during this fire that I was experiencing. I yielded my heart to Him with all that I had. 

Well the night came that we were to go to the blessing and I remember so distinctly like it was yesterday.  I was so nervous and my palms were sweating and my stomach was growling and the Patriarch seemed to talk forever before he started the blessing.  

And so he began… it was still and quiet except for when his clock chimed at the beginning.  And at that moment I got my miracle.  In the midst of my trial I recieved a miracle.  It wasn’t from the words that were said, because honestly he was very well spoken and I didn’t understand a lot of the big words he used.  Or the way he worded it.  It was like scripture.  But…. I do remember how I felt.  When his hands and my father’s hands were on my head and the patriarch called upon the priesthood power, I felt a tangible presence like I’d nver known before.  And it stayed with me until the clock chimed again and the patriarch closed the prayer.  

It was so powerful that as we were driving home I remember asking my dad if someone else had joined them in the prayer.  He was surprised at that of course and I explained what I had felt.  And my parent’s and I were all in awe at the sacredness of that moment.  He was there to let me know that He was with me every step of the way.

When I got my blessing and read it.  There was one little part that talked about the friends I would have in my life.  And some counsel on the importance of choosing good friends. 

One thing that I determined at that time, is that I would do everything in my power to never make anyone feel the way I had through that experience

It left such an impression on me that I have never doubted the power of the priesthood.  And I never hesitated to call upon it in times of great need. 

Would I have been able to have that experience if I hadn’t gone through the bullying and felt abandoned by my friends?  Maybe, but I don’t think so.  I had to go through that trial to experience the miracle.

So let’s go back to talking about finding that inner strength to keep moving forward. As we have been studying the Doctrine in Covenants, in come follow me, about all the horrible things that the early members of the church went through, it has made me think more about where that inner strength comes from.

“In sister Smoot’s talk she shares an experience from a Pioneer woman who traveled across the plains from Navoo, ILL to Utah.

She shared the following: “To demonstrate the kind of inner strength I am talking about, I would like to share the story of Susanna Stone Lloyd, who at the age of 26 left England in 1856 and traveled to Utah alone. The only member of her family to join the Church, Susanna was a member of the Willie Handcart Company. Like so many other pioneers, she endured life-threatening hunger, illness, and fatigue.

Upon arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Susanna borrowed a mirror to make herself more presentable. Despite her best efforts, she recounts: “I shall never forget how I looked. Some of my old friends did not know me.” Having sold her own mirror to an Indian for a piece of buffalo meat, she had not spent much time looking at herself. Now she did not recognize her own image. She was a different person, both inside and out. Over the course of rocky ridges and extreme hardship came a deep conviction. Her faith had been tried, and her conversion was concrete. She had been refined in ways that the very best mirror could not reflect. Susanna had prayed for strength and found it—deep within her soul.

If someone like Susannah can take a horrible situation like that and turn it into something so beautiful, can we?  I am sure that she had to dig pretty deep within her soul to find the strength that comes in and through our Savior.  Because let’s face it.  We don’t get through these experiences without divine intervention.  We can try.  But speaking from experience, it sure is a lot harder when we try to do it alone.  Without the help of our refiner.

We can walk through the fire on our own.  We can feel like we’re drowning in our adversity.  We can be hammered over and over again by the  happenings of this mortal life. But it is so much more doable when we allow our Refiner, Jesus Christ, to be a part of the process.  This proving process.  This refining and growing and polishing process.  Yes it stinks.  Yes it hurts.  But at some point we will be able to look back and see the tiny mercies.  The little miracles.  And in the end.  If we endure it well, we can come out having been molded into something beautiful that anyone who looked upon us would just say, “wow”!

Have you ever done that when you have seen something that someone made that was so intricate and detailed and beautiful that all you can say is, “wow”?  That’s the kind of miracle I’m talking about.

I promise you, everyone.  You CAN receive a miracle in the midst of your trial.  I have no doubt that the Savior is walking with you through it!  He is in the process every step of the way.  He won’t leave you.  He can’t leave you!  In order for you to be molded through the fires of life He has to remain by your side, so that the right things happen at the right time.

Lean on Him.  Trust Him.  Pray and fast often.  Be humble and YIELD your heart to him.  Let him take the lead.  And then follow Him!  I beg you to follow Him with all of your refined and purified and polished heart! 

That’s it for today my friends! If you or a friend have had an experience that you’d like to share.  Please contact me, I’d love to have you on the show. Talk to you again soon!

Hearing and Hindering Part 2

I divided this blog into 2 parts.  So if you haven’t listened or read part 1, go back and do that.  It will give you some context.  This is Episode 49 Hearing and Hindering part 2. 

Today is a subject that I approach with a little trepidation.  And the reason for that is that I really don’t want to dwell on something negative.  Or give any credit to the adversary.  However, I do believe it is incredibly crucial for us to understand how the adversary works, so that we can avoid those fiery darts (or be shielded from) as I talked about last week. And one of the things that I have learned throughout my life is that Satan is especially cunning at getting us to fall for his evil ways.

He’s been successful once or twice in getting me to walk away from the Gospel and the church that I dearly love.  I have grown up learning daily how to walk in the ways of Christ.  So you would think that would be enough to ward off all of Satan’s ploys.  But unfortunately that is not enough.  In fact I think he works even harder when we are trying to be obedient and live righteously.

I mean think about it.  We have been on this Earth for less than 80 years (most of us less) but the adversary has been around since the beginning of time.  So he has had a lot of practice honing his evil skills.  Which makes it that much more important for us to be ever vigilant in keeping ourselves prepared and aware of the way that he works on each of us individually. 

Last week we talked about specific habits, or patterns that we use to effectively learn how the Lord speaks to us and prompts us.  And this week we are going to talk a little bit about the contrast of that.  Which is how the adversary lulls and tempts with certain ways or approaches that are tailored, unfortunately, to us as individuals.  And works to get us to stop those good habits that we’ve worked so hard to create. So it’s so important that you learn how this happens for you, so you can put those habits back in place. It’s time to fight back.

I will be referring alot to Peter M. Johnson’s talk from October 2019, Power to Overcome Adversity, (one of my Absolute favorites talks of all time).  

One thing that I have learned to be wary of, is how slowly Satan works.  It happens SO slowly! Think of the 1% marginal gains that we talked about last week.  The fiery darts that he throws can be almost imperceptible if you aren’t paying attention.  One small act at a time.  One small thought at a time.  One small step at a time.  And before you know it, you’re doing or saying things that you never ever thought you would. Going places that you never imagined.   And worse than that is that you have accepted it and even believe that it’s the right way to do things or say things.  Or right where you need to be.

Ugggg I hate to even think about how awful he is.   I heard Marie Osmond say once that she won’t even give him a name.  She call’s him “scratch”.  Because sometimes he acts like an itch that just won’t leave you alone.

But the great thing is this!  We were being prepared long before this lifetime with all of the tools that we need to fight the battles that will come our way.  We are taught by President Nelson that  we are “choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work.”  

In Doctrine and Covenants 138:56  We read: Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.

Which means that we are all pretty skilled already.  But those skills do take some honing. 

And one of the ways that we do that is to put on the WHOLE  Armor of God on! As explained in Ephesians 6:10-18   And we’ll talk about this in a little bit. 

In The Book Of Mormon (another testament of Jesus Christ) Mormon Chapter 8  gives us insight into today’s world, Moroni says he has seen our day, and it includes wars and rumors of wars, great pollutions, murders, robbing, and people who tell us that there is no right or wrong in God’s eyes. He describes people who are filled with pride, caught up in the wearing of expensive clothing, and who make fun of religion. He is shown people who are so obsessed with worldly things that they allow “the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by”3 without being noticed.  Sounds a lot like today’s times doesn’t it?

But we should not despair, it is the Lord’s way that will lead us to life eternal!

The prophet David O. Mckay taught: Christ is the light to humanity. In that light man sees his way clearly; when it is rejected, the soul of man stumbles in darkness. No person, no group, no nation can achieve true success without following him who said:

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12.)

Are any of us exempt from the power of the adversary?  Nope, however, through it all, our Savior is with us. He is the advocate to the Father! So even if we fall prey to some of the adversaries’ lies, and make mistakes that we feel keep us from the light, there is always a way back.  I am living proof of that!

So in what ways can we learn how Satan works on us as indivduals.  Well, Elder Johnson had something to say about that.  He said, “You are elect sons and daughters of God. You have the power to overcome the adversary. The adversary, however, is aware of who you are. He knows of your divine heritage and seeks to limit your earthly and heavenly potential by using  three Ds:

  • Deception
  • Distraction
  • Discouragement”

Now it’s important to note that there are more ways than what Elder Johnson refers to that the adversary uses, like doubt, rejection, stress, etc.  But I loved how he used these 3 because I think they are probably common among most people.

Deception, This is a very sneaky way that is used.  For example, how many times have you heard commercials or seen ads promising instant weight loss?  Or here’s how you can have the body you always wanted in as little as 1 week? I don’t think these people do these things intentionally to hurt us.  But I do believe that it is a tool of deception to get us to forget who we are and where we came from.  And to focus on our physical bodies rather than our spiritual potential.

]We are sons and daughters of the most high God.  And there is no magic pill, or workout that can ever change that.  But sometimes we sure feel like we need to be more than we are don’t we? Elder Johnson says, “The adversary attempts to deceive by having us forget who we truly are. If we do not understand who we are, then it is difficult to recognize who we can become.”  

Distraction Wow!  This is a big one right?!  We have everything we could possibly think of to keep our minds busy and too distracted to realize what’s really happening.  Remember how slowly I said that the adversary works?  Just think about this for a minute. According to statisa.com As of 2019 and 2020, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 145 minutes per day!  That’s more than 2 hours, which doesn’t seem too terrible right? I mean our parents probably spent equal amounts of time watching the T.V. before the invention of the smartphone.  

But think about it this way.  145 minutes per day is 14 hours per week. 728 hours per year!  That’s roughly 30 days out of a 365 day year that we waste staring at our screens looking to be entertained or engaged in some way.  Wait what? Nearly one whole month a year? Holy moley!  That’s alot.

Now I’m not saying that there are not great things on social media that can be teaching you and helping you to learn and grow.  I mean I would consider podcasting/blogging a form of social media so there is that! Haha. 

I did my own little experiment of social media a few weeks ago when I went on a trip to visit family.  I was there for 10 days and so I thought, “you know”,  I am just going to delete all my social media apps so I can be fully present for my family while I’m there.  I don’t want any distractions making me waste my time with them.  And you know what’s crazy? I hardly missed it at all!  

I was having such a good time enjoying my “extra” time with them that I even decided to extend it another week after I returned home so I could be prepared for General Conference.  And guess what? That was really hard.  I had a little more free time.  And I think Satan works extra hard on all members of the church before General Conference.  The last thing he wants is for us to receive personal revelation from the Lord through our prophets, seers, and revelators.  He’s a sly one! 

There are a whole lot more distractions than social media.  But I just wanted to give you a peek at one of the ways the adversary uses pretty effectively.

The third D from elder Johnson’s talk is “discouragement. We may get discouraged when we compare ourselves to others or feel we are not living up to expectations, including our own.

I was watching a show the other night with my bonus son.  And I couldn’t believe it when I heard a statement that hit me hard.  Discouragement is one of the big ways that the adversary uses to get to ME personally.   

Last week I talked about how I put on a brave face or sometimes I refer to it as a mask or “the happy face”.   I do that so people will think that I’m fine and not be uncomfortable around me.  So when I heard this it really sunk in. It said, “A mask doesn’t heal the wounds.  A mask only hides them.”

It got me thinking about all the reason’s that other people put on a “mask” Whether it be illness, identity, abuse, etc.  Sometimes I even think that as a mom with small children we can put on that brave face even though we are so stressed and so spread thin that we can barely think straight. 

But one thing that I’m sure of, is that Satan tries to get us to keep that mask on.  He feeds us with even more reasons that we should be discouraged such as, comparing ourselves to other moms or others who have gone through similar things and come out sparkling.  He tells us that people won’t believe us, or will laugh at us, or that we will feel even smaller than we already feel.  He may make us feel like we aren’t living up to other’s expectations of us, or maybe even our own expectations! 

I am inviting you today to join me and take off your mask.  Let yourself be vulnerable.  It is the only way that we will be able to heal the wounds of the darts that have already found their mark.  Most of the thoughts that we have that discourage us are truly just that!  Thoughts!  So if we can take off that mask we may find out that there are a lot of people who are waiting to support and help us walk our journey. 

Elder Johnson goes on to say “please do not let anyone steal your happiness. Do not compare yourself to others. Please remember the loving words of the Savior: John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”   

So how do we do it? How do we find this peace, remember who we are, take off our masks, and overcome the traps of the adversary?  

Ironically, alot of the same patterns and habits that we learn to apply to hear the Lord speak to us are the same as those that help us to ward off and stay safe from the adversary’s attacks. So another reason to be very vigilant in making and keeping those good habits.  And remember that it is the 1% gains (being consistent with them) each day.

What I wanted to mention today and discuss a little is what I talked about earlier today. 

Putting on the whole armor of God.  This is something that you have to do ALL THE TIME.  ALL DAY, EVERY DAY!  You must do all the little things EVERY DAY!  Sometimes more than just once a day.  You MUST strive to keep yourself unspotted from the world.  You must strive to live IN the world but not be OF the world.  Notice I added the word “ strive”, because it’s important to remember that it’s an ongoing process.  We don’t just adopt and keep habits overnight.

The adversary’s goal is to keep us focused on the distractions, the deception, the discouragement.  He wants us to have doubts, be stressed out, feel rejected and left out…all the terrible things.  

Those are all the fiery darts that he is throwing at us day in and day out.  And President Nelson has said, and it has been repeated over and over, “… in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”

So what is the armor of God.  Well, let’s just break it down.  I remember talking about this when I was in high school seminary.  My teacher had an outline of a warrior all dressed up in every piece of the armor and we were to go through and label each piece with what it was guarding.  And then we taped it to the inside of our scriptures in  Ephesians 6:10-18  with a reference to Doctrine and Covenants 27:15-18.  

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

I remember watching a movie in seminary about warriors that were watching the woods.  They had all the armor on and were super cautious.  But at one point, one of the warriors got to a waterbed and took off his helmet to get a drink of water.  The enemy was waiting for just such a moment and the arrow pierced him quickly.  Luckily we are not facing those kinds of threats in our day and time.  But the enemy is just as watchful and waiting for the moment that we let our guard down, to pounce.

However, I am comforted to know that I need not fear for He is with me, I know where and how to find the peace that only He can give.

Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Doctrine and Covenants 88:63

I am confident that as I purposefully follow the commandments that I will not be led astray again.  As I keep and maintain that 1% gains each day I am fortifying my armor. 

Elder David A. Bednar of the quorum of the twelve Apostles has been known to say, “If you read the Book of Mormon (and I might just add all scripture) every day, you will never fall away”. 

Now, after talking about all of this, I’d like to just tie this all up in a tight little bow and tell you that if you just keep your habits strong that you will be fully protected.  But you know it’s never that easy.  And it’s  funny how in each of these podcasts that I prepare, it seems like I have to go through my own little test, so to speak, of what I’m trying to share.  

So of course last week I had a few days where the adversary got in and tried to use his biggest tool, that he uses with me personally.  Which is discouragement.  I started thinking, “Is this even worth it?”  Does anyone even hear or get anything out of what I’m preparing?’  And for a while I just wanted to quit everything.  Well not everything, but you know how when it rains it pours and you tend to just sit down in the middle of the puddle and get soaked?  

But it wasn’t long before I remembered, this is Satan’s tool that he is using against me.  So I looked at some of my habits.  And quickly realized that I’d let a few things slide and that’s when he makes his  move. 

So this is where I want you to look at your life and see if you can find those patterns that seem to take you away from the good and solid habits that you’re working on daily.  Is it deception, discouragement, distraction, rejection, busyness, stress, etc.  See if there isn’t a way that you can start to fire back at the adversary using the contrast of those emotions.  It’s not easy!  The first part is recognizing that it’s even happening.  

So my invitation to you today is to just start to notice.  Just notice when things seem not quite how you’d like them to be.  And then go back and look at what you can change by just 1% to ward off those fiery darts.  I know you can do it.  You’re strong, you’re capable and you’ve got the Lord on your side!  With Him nothing is impossible.  That’s it for today my friends.  Remember,  choose hope, choose joy and choose to stay!  Talk to you all again soon!

Oh and if you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. 

Hearing and Hindering Part 1

Recently I have been reading a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear.   It has been so good to learn more about the importance of creating good and solid habits.  And I highly recommend picking it up if you are struggling with implementing good habits.  

The funny thing is that whenever you are focused on something like that, you tend to notice it or be attracted to it everywhere.  So I have had videos pop up on you tube or seen other information that seems to support what I am studying.  It even came up in a talk from last weekend’s conference (see One percent better by Elder Michael A. Dunn) So I am concluding that this is something that I need to re-evaluate in my own life.  

As I pondered upon some of my “habit stacking”, and the need to apply “the aggregation of marginal gains”. Which simply involves changing something by just 1%, thus changing the previous course that you were on. Which then ends up making a huge difference when put into action in a regular “habit based” routine. As discussed in Clear’s book as well as Elder Dunn’s talk. 

It got me thinking about the habits or techniques required to know and feel the Holy Spirit and how it works for you specifically in your own life.  Equally important is to know how Satan attempts to thwart your progression (usually by invoking the “aggregation of marginal gains” believe it or not. I talked about that in a previous post).  

You see as we have been repeatedly taught there must be opposition in all things.  So as soon as we begin improving our ability to listen to and heed the promptings of the spirit.  Satan will begin to insert his way into that process to keep us from progressing.

So those two things are what I want to discuss today and next week.  And I hope that you will be inspired to re-evaluate your life and your habits to see if you can improve your ability to listen to the guidance of the Savior, Jesus Christ through the conduit of the Holy Spirit.  While at the same time improving your ability to ward off the fiery darts of the adversary. 

So let’s just go back for a minute to “habit stacking” and the aggregation of marginal gains, as talked about in Atomic Habits.  So here is a brief rundown of what habit stacking is. A simplistic way to explain it is, that you often decide what to do next, based on what you have just finished doing.  

Think about your morning routine.  For example, this is a sample of the first things that I do and probably many of you do too upon waking.  First, the alarm goes off, and then after a few snoozes, lol, (no one is perfect right?)  I roll out of bed, pull on my socks (I hate cold feet!), which reminds me that I need to quickly make my bed, which then leads me to the restroom, which reminds me to wash my hands, which signals me to brush my teeth and run a comb through my hair.  See how that works?  One thing leads to another because of the signal that is sent from the prior action.  

Most of us practice these small habits on instinct because you have been doing them for so long that they become second nature.  So how can we apply this to the gospel and how we listen to and understand how the Lord speaks to us? 

Well for starters, we can take a look at our current habits and evaluate how they might be helping or hindering us from hearing and heeding the promptings of the Lord.

One thing that I want to quickly mention is that we are in the last 90 days of this year.  So like me, many of you may have begun new habits or set new goals at the beginning of 2021.  By now those habits or goals may be falling a bit.  Trust me when I say it happens to pretty much everyone.  

But what I am getting at is that instead of giving up and just cruising or coasting to the end of 2021, and starting over again next year. I would like to suggest that you put on your running shoes and sprint to the end of the year.  Although we have lots of holidays and distractions, that is no reason to give up on the goals or habits that you have been working on since the beginning of the year. We still have almost 3 full months. 

In fact, if you are to continue, or start back up where you left off.  You will be applying the “aggregation of marginal gains”.  Remember? improving by just 1% on a regular basis, which can significantly improve your endgame.  In this case, where you would like to be by the end of 2021. So just a little plug there for you to look at what you may have already been working to improve.

Now back to where we were. Looking at our current habits and evaluating how they might be helping or hindering us from hearing and heeding the promptings of the Lord.

So let’s start with habits that are helping us hear and heed.  It’s important to note that this will be different for each of us because we all “hear” the Lord in different ways. For some it may come through thoughts or impressions.  For others it may come through music. Some people have very vivid dreams.  What matters is that you figure out your way and then work to get it to come to the surface more often. And we can do that through implementing specific small habits.

So  just to share an example of how I have learned that the Lord speaks to me, I am going to tell you about a journey that I have been on for most of this year.  Well at least since the end of March. And I’ve talked about it briefly in previous posts.

Most of you know, if you’ve followed me for any length of time, that I have Bipolar disorder. Which is a mental illness and mood disorder.  So I can have extreme highs and extreme lows in my mental health.  However, this can be controlled through various means.  I happen to apply a variety of means or habits, to each and every day to try and stay on top of it, because it can spiral down (or up) very quickly if I’m not vigilant in this. And I’ve talked alot about the things that I do to prevent that.  

But in this example I just want to share what’s been happening this year and how I’ve learned to lean on and heed the promptings of the Lord when it comes to surviving basically a mental health crisis.  

One of the ways that I choose to control Bipolar is to use medication, which usually works quite well (once you find a good recipe).  So why on Earth, you may ask, would I switch medications when what I had been using seemed to be working pretty well?  That’s a good question and one that I reflect on almost daily.  However, I did it at the advice of my psychiatrist whom I have grown to trust with my mental health.  The reason we did this, and we’d been discussing it over several visits, is because I hadn’t been sleeping well for many months.  And that as I’ve talked about before is a strong catalyst for catapulting me into a manic episode.  And that thought just scares me to death.  I have a lot of truama from my past manic episodes. So the thought of being able to eliminate that worry was very appealing.  So in the Spring we decided it was a good time to try. 

As you may have guessed, within a few weeks we learned that it was not working as expected, in fact, funnily enough, it had the opposite effect of what we were going for.  I actually slept like a baby, which was so great!  However over time, in the waking hours, I became like the energizer bunny.  Which is a good and bad thing.  I mean I was feeling great!  But in my case, GREAT is not always a positive thing. 

Long story short, it has been a rough year to say the least!  I was able to get back on what I was previously doing well on.  But sleeping became a problem again.  Although it is slowly getting better. It’s a process, that’s what I keep telling myself.

But what I want to share is what I’ve learned through this process when it comes to hearing and heeding promptings. And it has alot to do with habits and the process of changing by just 1% each day. 

Several times over the past months I have been able to learn more fully how the Lord speaks to me.  But it has not come without work and tears, prayers and reflection. 

And now is where habit stacking comes into play.  At the beginning of the year, I decided to add scripture study to my daily morning routine. I have been reading the scriptures regularly for the past few years.  But this year I was impressed to make it more of a “study”.  So my habit stacking looks like this.  

After I do what I already mentioned in the morning, I go straight to my supplements and take my medication (taking in my first water bottle of the day), to me that is one of the most important decisions of my day and that’s why it comes first!  That then signals me to feed the cat because that is the most important thing for his day!  Plus he whines and whines if I forget, haha.  

My journaling pens are right by the cat food so I am reminded that it is time to journal. But once I set my books at the table, that is a signal to pray so I take a few minutes for that.

Another thing that I started doing this year that’s a bit of a harder habit for me to remember, is after my prayer I put on my earpods and listen to some gospel music while I journal. (Earpods are charging by the pens for journaling so that should be my signal, but sometimes I miss it). This will be important to note later on.

I then begin the journaling process which usually takes about 15 minutes. I journal in the morning because I can report how I slept, record happenings from the day before and also impressions seem to come better to me in the quiet stillness of the morning. 

When I finish with that, I open up my scriptures and start where I left off.  But instead of just reading, my goal was to study.  So I am very conscientious about noticing words, phrases, or footnotes that stand out to me. It takes about an hour from start to finish after getting out of bed to complete my habit stacked routine.  

But then I am on to my day and the habit stacking starts again.  Workout, shower, work, lunch!

You get the idea.  One thing leads to another and once you do them long enough they begin to become habits and can have a significant change on the trajectory of your life.  

I shared all of that because it is through these habits that I have developed the ability to hear and understand the promptings and impressions from the Lord.  It hasn’t come all at once and it continues to develop.  But every day I am progressing toward a greater understanding of how the Lord speaks to me. Which has been very very important this year in helping to guide me through the rough waters that I have been experiencing with my mental health. 

It truly has been such a journey.  And I am one to say that there are no coincidences.  Do I regret swiching medications?  Some days the answer is absolutely!  But most days I am grateful for what I have learned about myself spiritually, mentally and physically over this past year. I believe that one of the reasons that we were so intent on changing my medication was because I had prepared myself for the learning and growing process, through the habits that I had already become good at.  There was a growing, stretching, learning that needed to take place in my life.

It all dawned on me, a few days ago, that the Lord has a very specific process or pattern that he uses when communicating directly to me.  And ironically, it involves my habits in my morning routine.

Why are morning routines so important? We are taught through Elder Dunn’s talk, in a quote from Neal a Maxwell. “Each assertion of a righteous desire, each act of service, and each act of worship, however small and incremental, adds to our spiritual momentum.” Truly, it is by small, simple, and, yes, even just 1% that great things can be brought to pass.  

We learn from Alma 37:6  but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass;…

And 2 Nephi 28:30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom;

That sounds like a lesson in habit stacking and 1% gains to me!

So I’m getting a bit side tracked but let me just get to the point about the experience that I shared above of how it dawned on me how all of this came together.

Last week I had been having an especially difficult couple of days (down days).  Those are the hard ones for me.  I tend to rather enjoy the up days… but they are harder on the people who care about me, which is a good thing.  On those few hard days, there was a point when I was crying out to the Lord to just make all the bad feelings stop… to help me to feel better, happy, content with who I am.  

During those times, I tend to beg for my illness to be taken away.  I tell Him how tired I am of carrying it.  I am sure I am not the only one that feels this way at times.  We all have heavy burdens that we carry.  

But it was during my pleading that it happened.  I was taught the pattern, or rather reminded, of the way the Lord speaks to me in a way that I can “hear”.  

As I was pleading, I got the distinct feeling that I needed to find a certain song. )Most often music tends to calm me down and allow impressions to come.)  But when I opened my phone to begin searching in my music app I noticed that the song that was next to play (of something I’d been listening to earlier) was flashing.  Well that’s weird, I was thinking, it’s never done that before.  But I continued looking for the song that I had in my mind, but for some reason that flashing made me think, hmmm, maybe I’m supposed to listen to that song.  So I clicked on it.

It is a song called “Fragile” from Hilary Weeks Live All In .  I hadn’t listened to the whole album yet and that’s the song I had left off on.  I basically just sat there in awe of how incredibly omnipotent our Father in Heaven is.  The words to that song just matched perfectly how I was feeling and somehow I just knew that the Lord knew exactly what I needed to hear.  I needed Him to speak to me and let me know that He knew me, and He was very aware of what I was going through at that very moment. 

If you are suffering, trying to put on a brave face every day for any reason, I suggest you go and listen to that song.  It really was a calming balm to my soul.

But the really crazy thing is that I was so stunned and so sure that he was speaking to me that I kept listening, hoping the next song would have a message for me.  Sure enough it did.  The last 3 songs on her album are called Fragile, Someday down the road, and More Mistakes to make. I’ll link them in the show notes.

The reason those are significant is that in my pleading I felt like I had just made so many mistakes over the past several weeks and I felt worthless and like a failure.  Which is pretty typical of someone who suffers with depression.  When those 3 songs played in that order and it was just exactly what I needed to hear, I was thinking how?  How does He know exactly what I need to hear?  Of course the communication continued.  And as I heard the words of each song I began to feel a little better, and the fog began to lift.   

Next, I had the distinct impression that I needed to go study my scriptures.  I felt an urgency that there was more for me to know at that moment.  

In my mind I asked which book?  Where should I search? And I heard the whisper, “the big book”!  I knew immediately that it was my triple combination which holds all the books of scripture.  Just a side note, I like to study from smaller versions so that I can mark up the wide margins. So I don’t typically go to “the big book”.

When this happens I almost always just randomly open my scriptures trusting that He knows where to lead me.  Well, on the first try I got nothing, so I flipped a few pages and opened up to John chapter 10:1-15.  The discourse on the good shepherd. Coincidence?  I think not.

This is the one where Jesus is talking about how he knows His sheep and they know him.  

But one passage caught me.  And that is verse 7 And then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say until you I am the door of the sheep. 

The door?  What on Earth does that mean? 

It had a footnote so I looked it up. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way the truth and the life…

It really felt like He was telling me, “look, I’ve got you!  I know that you feel lost and broken in this moment, but I know how you feel and I’ve layed down my life for you!  Don’t worry, you’re going to make more mistakes and more mistakes and it’s ok, because you are mine.  Look to me… I am the way, the door.

So cool right?!  

So what does this have to do with habit stacking and the 1%?  Well, here’s my little interpretation or lesson that I learned.  Take it for what you will but I do believe that the Lord was telling me, “here is how YOU receive my word.”  

  1. Pray
  2. Music
  3. Scripture
  4. Write down your impressions

I think that my habit stacking or my morning routine of Praying, listening to music, reading my scriptures and journaling my thoughts and impressions is the exact pattern that He uses to speak to me personally.

Now I don’t know why Hilary Weeks wrote those exact words in those songs and then put them in that specific order on her album.  I’m sure there are millions of people that her songs have touched.  But I do know that for me, it was just what I needed in the exact order that I needed it, from the exact source that I needed to hear it from. Jesus!

As I have looked back after having this particular experience, there have been so many times when I have received answers to specific deep questions or trials have been eased.  

Do they always come that way?  No, sometimes it is just an impression or just through the words of a song.  But I did find that through my 1% change of developing a habit stacking routine has significantly improved my ability to #HearHim.

He is the way, the truth and the life my friends!  And I encourage you to take a look at your own morning routine.  Or an evening routine if that works better for you. It’s going to look a lot different than mine. Look at what you can do to change by 1%.  And then work to be consistent with it.  Pray to the Lord and ask Him how He speaks to you.  He will find a way to show you.

As I said earlier, this routine has been in the making for several years.  It didn’t just happen overnight.  It happened in the right place, and at the right time for me to learn what I needed to learn.  Line upon line, precept upon precept.  1% will indeed change your life!

Be sure and tune in next week my friends.  I will be talking about how Satan, unfortunately, uses the 1% as well.  

Choose hope, choose joy and choose to stay! Have a great week my friends! Talk to you all again soon!

XO Wendy

You are the ONE

Today’s message is short, but sweet.  And I hope one that will resonate with you as you hear these words. “You are the ONE”. 

These past several weeks I have had so many things weighing heavy on my mind.  It all started with an experience that I had a few months ago that will forever leave an impression on my mind and caused me to go into deep research mode in all of the scriptures from the Old Testement in the Bible to the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price.  As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ we believe that we have many scriptures that have been given to us in these latter days.  And we continue to be blessed with counsel and guidance from living prophets, seers, and revelators. 

As I have struggled through this trial of faith, I have been so grateful that my Heavenly Father and mother and my brother Jesus Christ, see ME!  Who am I, I have asked myself many times,  to receive such love, compassion and understanding? And the answer is always quick and unfailing, “you are mine”.  And you are “one” of my children whom we dearly love.  It almost never comes in the same way.  Most often it comes in the form of others lifting me and sharing their love with me.  Messages that they have no idea, come directly from the Lord through them, to little ole me.  But I see it and I recognize it and give praise for it.  Because without it, I would be like a fish floundering out of the water, struggling for breath.  

You see there are moments in this life, many moments when we need to be reminded that we are the “one”.  The one that He sees and He loves, and He wants the best for.  But it doesn’t come without work.  It doesn’t come without asking, seeking and knocking.  Sometimes we fall to our knees in anguish because it seems so impossible to get through what we’ve been asked to endure. 

But I promise you, that if you will turn yourself over the Lord, if you will let faith lead you, if you will put your trust in the arm of the Lord and not in the arm of flesh, He will find you, the “one” that He has been waiting for to come follow Him.

Today I will be sharing some thoughts from Elder Ronald A. Rasband’s talk from General Conference, October 2000. Incidently, the General Conference will be held this weekend on October 2nd and 3rd.  You can stream from the https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/ and I encourage all to watch, take notes, pray for personal revelation and then watch how the Lord caters to YOU, the “one” amongst many.

In His talk, Elder Rasband shares the following, “Throughout my life, I have come to know through my own experiences that Heavenly Father hears and answers our personal prayers. I know that Jesus is the living Christ and that He knows each of us individually, or as the scriptures express it, “one by one.”

This sacred assurance is taught compassionately by the Savior Himself in His appearance to the people of Nephi. We read of this in 3 Nephi, chapter 11, verse 15:

“And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth” (3 Ne. 11:15; emphasis added).

To further illustrate the “one by one” nature of our Savior’s ministry, we read in 3 Nephi, chapter 17, verse 9:

“And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him” (3 Ne. 17:9; emphasis added).

We then read of the special blessing given to the precious children in verse 21: “And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them” (3 Ne. 17:21; emphasis added).

This was not a small gathering. In verse 25 we read: “And they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children.”

Certainly, there is a very profound and tender personal message here. Jesus Christ ministers to, and loves us all, one by one.”

I know that was a large portion of his talk to share but I felt like it so perfectly illustrated how Christ caters to the “one”.  Even in the midst of a sea of people that number the grains of sand on the shores, He sees us each.  He reminds us each that we are important and that He is very aware of the details of our lives that can be distressing for us.

As I said before, these last 2 months have been a struggle, but so many good and precious events have taken place that have reminded me that He sees me.  It did not come without pleading and prayer and fasting.  I was prompted to give up social media for a time. To clear my mind of clutter and unnecessary stress.  I have been guided to the correct people, places and passages of scripture that have guided me on this continuing journey.  

I have not found all the answers.  Far from it.  But I have learned a very important lesson.  That the Lord works in “ones”.  He does not forsake us.  He never has and He never will.  

So if you are having a similar struggle with something in your life.  And you’re just not sure how you will go on or how it’s all going to work out.  I want you to know that you are that “one”.  He sees you, He hears you, and He will come to your rescue.  It might not happen quickly.  It might not happen in the way that you had hoped it would.  But, it will come!  Of that you can be sure!

Thanks for listening/reading.  I hope that you will watch General Conference this weekend and let the Lord speak to you through his anointed ones.  Until next time, my friends, choose to stay!

XO Wendy

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