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

Epilogue to the epilogue

Epilogue to the Epilogue Episode 46

Hi friends, and welcome to pointing toward hope. I am your host, Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to follow and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. 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. This is episode 46.

In the last episode I talked to you about doing a follow up to the end of the book, Keep up the Pace.  Since it was written back in 2002 a lot has changed in my life as you can imagine.

Since that time I went through a divorce, struggled to stay in the church, I moved to Tennesse, got married again to an amazingly good man.  I became a photographer and had a blossoming business.   And everything seemed to be going so well.  Even though after my divorce I wasn’t sure I would ever feel good again.

As I said, at this point I had left the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I was unsure if I would ever return.  Things just seemed to be better the way they were.

And then events started to happen that would change the direction of my life and my husband’s life, pretty drastically. We had moved into a new home and then soon after that, my huband’s business began to struggle financially and that was really difficult.  So many experiences happened during the next year that were just so hard for both of us, but especially for him.  

I remember him coming home from work one day, and saying “I’m just so tired of being punched.  I feel like just when I get back up, I get punched again and I’m just so tired.  It was so hard to see him going through such hard things.

At that same time my photography business seemed to be flourishing.  I was photographing out of my home, babies, family and boudoir sessions.  And was set to make more than I ever had that year.  We’d been in the new house for about a year.  I was getting pretty busy to the point that I was getting fairly stressed but I was hanging in there and really didn’t pay much attention to that at the time.  I was doing all the other things.  Working out, eating right, sleeping well, drinking lots of water, etc.

But it was at that point that I made the most stupid decision I have ever made in my life.  Because I was feeling so healthy, I made the choice to go off of my medication that I had been on for about 10 years for depression.  Not only that, I went off of it cold turkey.  And to add oil to the fire, I had started to use a patch on my arm that promised amazing energy, weight loss, clear mindedness etc.  Little did I know (I should have been better about doing my research), it was loaded with caffeine, which is one of the worst things with someone with bipolar (which I didn’t even know I did have bipolar at the time).  And on top of that I was drinking two cups of coffee every morning.  Not so smart, and not a good combination.  I had lost sight of my priorities and was looking outside of myself to find them.

Well you can imagine, my body basically went into an upward spiral of mania where I was just so euphoric and felt like I could do anything.  That week or two after I quit my medication and started the patch, I was like the energizer bunny.  I wasn’t eating, or sleeping. And I was taking on more and more and more.  And then it happened.  My body just crashed!  

Remember, at the end of the epilogue from last week where I talked about our bodies being like computers on overload? Well, that is what happened to me again.  I don’t remember much about these experiences because it really is like my body just had to be turned off and rebooted.  It’s really scary.  When I was coherent enough to understand what had happened, I found out that I had been diagnosed as having bipolar II.  And I was not happy about that at all.  You can read more about that on my blog.  I’ll link that in the show notes.

And that my friends, is what started the ball rolling for both my husband and I to find our way back to God and right the ship again.  A few years after we went through all of that, I started my blog to document all of the experiences that we had.  And what it was like to learn how to live with bipolar and reset my priorities according to my new state of being.  Soon after that I started this podcast and have been going through the ups and downs of living with bipolar for the past several years.  It will be six years this week, since I crashed 2 months in a row.  

That was the lowest time in my life…. Rock bottom.  But sometimes that is what it takes for us to be able to realize that we have to be so constantly vigilant about our health and well being, mentally, physically, and spiritually.  Because that is the way God created us to be.  

God is such a big part of my life now.  I was so surprised as I read through the book that I really only mentioned Him in the first chapter.  How very strange that is, as I look back.  I mean most of what I write about now, is how I have gotten through all of this with the help of our Savior!  

Clearly, it was all part of God’s plan for me to return to the fold. And for my husband to be baptised. The Lord doesn’t make our choices for us (like my stupid one to go off of medication).  And they will always have consequences.  But God has a way of turning something so hard and devastating into something really beautiful!  And for that I will be forever grateful.  I have re-dedicated my life to Him.  And to constantly re-evaluating my priorities so that I can stay healthy and always Keep up the PACE.  

It’s not always easy to have a positive attitude.  In fact sometimes it’s just downright the last thing I can muster.  But I have learned that if I can work to look at the good that comes from, or can come from, a negative situation I will have so much more joy in my life.  

If I can look forward with hope in Christ, He will always be there to rescue me.  And I know He will do the same for you.  All you have to do is reach out and open that door!  He’s waiting on the other side to enfold you in His arms and help you through anything!  

Again thanks for tuning in.  When I come back in a few weeks, I will return to the posts and interviews that I typically do.  

Until next time, choose Joy!  Talk to you again soon.

XO Wendy

Be who you are

These are me today (2021). And me years ago when I wrote the book , around 2001 (a very touched up old photo).

Hi friends, and welcome to pointing toward hope. I am your host, Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to follow and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. 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. This is episode 45 and Chapter 8 of my book Keep up the pace.

I am so excited that we have made it to the end. I have had such a good time sharing the way I felt years ago and the things that I was experiencing in that time. It has made me realize how far I’ve come and in some ways, habits that I need to re-adopt. At the end of today’s chapter I leave an Epilogue which was added a few years after the book was written. I would like to do an Epilogue to the Epilogue in the next few weeks where I share where I am at today and the things and ideas that have changed. So hopefully I can put that together soon!

Thanks so much my friends for tuning in and supporting me. It really means the world to me! Without any further ado, let’s jump into the last chapter!

Chapter 8

Be Who You Are 

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson 

When my daughter, Mckayla, was in Chicago competing for the National title of Miss Teen International she met some really amazing young women. One of the girls that she became close friends with, taught her some really great lessons throughout the week of the competition. It was funny that these two were able to bond as they did because McKayla was the youngest competitor and her friend, Kim, was the oldest competitor.

Having experienced more than McKayla, Kim became the source of much inspiration. McKayla learned first hand what it means to surround yourself with positive energy. But one statement in particular really stuck with McKayla and helped her to be more confident even though she was the youngest competitor and lacked the experience some of the other contestants had. Kim told her, “Always be the best version of yourself, not the second best version of someone else.” I was so impressed that at the age of 19, Kim already had a firm hold on who she was and she wasn’t going to compromise that for anyone or anything.

One of the greatest Challenges that the youth of America face today is the struggle to find out who they are and what their place is in this world. Not only do the youth struggle with this concept, adults do too, especially adult women. I have found through my own experiences of working with youth, that the most noticeable changes in self-acceptance for girls, happens between the ages of 12 -15. And unfortunately the opinion that we form about ourselves when we are that age sometimes continues on through adulthood. So how do we as adults learn to accept and celebrate who we are and teach our children to do the same? That is the million dollar question.

I have a couple of suggestions that seem to be working for my family. Most of these stem from personal experiences, and the journey towards self-acceptance that others have made. I am still learning and I am sure there are many things that could be added, but here are just a few to get you started.

First of all, learn to celebrate your uniqueness. Isn’t it just incredible that out of the billions of people on this Earth, there is not one single person who is exactly like you? Sure we can have a lot in common with others and there are certain people that we just seem to bond with easily from the start. But, there is not one person who has your eyes, your smile, your personality, your zest for life!

It is unfortunate that most of us will never live up to the great potential within us. However, we can start striving toward that potential by understanding that you have just as much right to be great as the next person. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, or how thick or thin you are. It doesn’t matter what circumstances you were born under, or the cards that you have been dealt in this life. You still have a choice, you still “drive your own car.”

You can choose to change the way you view life! Is the glass half empty or half full? If you don’t like what is going on in your life right now, only you have the power to change it. If you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see or the person that you have become, make the choice to change.

Realize that along with change comes fear, and taking risks is never easy, but only you have the power to change you! Celebrate that fact! Joy in knowing that no one else has your little turned up nose, or your ability to see the good in others. Be grateful that God made you. . .you!

Second, just because there isn’t another person just like you, doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from others. In fact, the only way that we can achieve our full potential, is to learn and grow from our experiences with all the people in our lives. Some of my very best friends are the ones that are very different from me. I have grown to love them despite our differences and they have helped me accept myself for who I am.

If we can forgo the instant stereotyping and really try to give others a chance to make an impression in our lives, we will all be better and stronger for it. I believe that God places us in the path of others so that we, in some small way, can help them along their way and vice versa. We will never know what joys we could have had or what great qualities we could learn from, if we never give anyone a chance.

Next, be fiercely loyal to yourself, your family, and your friends. Dishonesty and deceitfulness are on a rampage in our world. Don’t buy into it! Nothing can do more damage to a family, a business, a friendship or your character. Lying, backbiting and gossiping, and sharing confidences that were not meant to be shared, will become a heavy burden in your life that will only serve to bring you and others down.

When my husband was in college he had roommates that liked to drink and get a little crazy. Although that is not my husband’s lifestyle, he would go with them so that he could be the designated driver and make sure that they all made it home safe and sound. He never once belittled them for how they lived their life and he was always there for them when they needed someone to talk to.

We have bumped into some of them over the years and they always comment on how much they respected him for sticking to his values and standards but never making them feel inferior because they didn’t have that same value system.

Finally, when you are wrong about something don’t be afraid to own up to your mistake. When you are quick to admit your wrong doing your mind and soul will be free from unneeded baggage and guilt. You will be able to move forward with a clear conscious and renewed motivation. People will think more of you, for your honesty and forthrightness and your unfailing dedication to your own personal values and standards.

As you continue on your path in your life, I hope that some of the experiences that I have shared with you have made you laugh or cry. . I hope that you have seen yourself in some of the stories that I related. But most of all, I trust that you have become motivated to set a new PACE for your future and that you have gained a greater understanding of how important it is to set that PACE in your life.

Whenever you are feeling down, or circumstances just aren’t what you hoped they would be, remember Positive Attitude Changes Everything!

Your Assignment: Never stop setting the PACE! 

EPILOGUE Shortly after the completion of this book, I was hospitalized for a short period of time. My priorities had become hazy. I was not eating well, and I was spending many sleepless nights worrying needlessly over events that were beyond my control. I was operating on over load with nowhere to go but down.

Our bodies and brains are complex entities and just like a computer if you overload it, it will crash. If you don’t learn how to slow down, your body will do it for you. Crisis such as this can be avoided.

I share this experience with you to help you understand how critically important it is to constantly re-evaluate your priorities and where you are at in your life. You may think you have it all under control but if you haven’t been diligent in keeping balance in your life, sooner or later it will catch up to you.

At the same time, don’t let fear keep you from moving forward. Keep setting goals, dreaming big, and reaching for the stars! I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and as always remember Positive Attitude changes everything!

XO Wendy

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