Choose Joy!

choose joy

As we have talked about this week, there are ways that we can bring that joy into our lives that we so crave.  We can focus on the Savior, we can serve others,  we can remember our worth and that we are so loved.  And we can make an intentional decision to have more joy in our lives.

I hope that as we have discussed joy this week that you have taken the time to record your feelings in a journal.  And if you don’t have a journal, please take the time to go out and find a cute little notebook that speaks to you. I promise it will bring you a little joy just doing that.

I have found that finding joy in daily living is totally a process.  Let’s face it, some days are just better than others.  This whole week I have been sick (head cold), all I have really wanted to do is lay down and sleep it all off.  But I have felt so strongly lately that I need to be more consistent in sharing my thoughts and feelings somewhere besides a pretty little journal.  Although I highly recommend that and I won’t stop writing in mine, it is also important to follow through on our promptings and impressions.  We are all here to help each other.

This blog is about finding hope and joy.  And while it happens to be filled with my personal experiences, I would love nothing more than to have guest writers come in and talk about experiences that they’ve had in finding joy in daily life.  If this is something that you’d be interested in please DM me.  Or I can just share your story anonymously, I can’t wait to hear from you.  Have a great weekend!  I’ll see you next week!

XO Wendy

 

Joy in Serving

Joy Blooms in ServiceWhen I was a young mother, I had just had my fourth child.  There were some complications during the birthing process.  Consequently my precious tiny boy was rushed to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.  For most of the 12 days that he spent in the NICU we wondered if he would be coming home at all.  It was heart wrenching to see that tiny little body lay lifeless in the incubator except for the machine that was helping him breath.  I remember feeling so overwhelmed with heartache, pain and anguish, blaming myself for something that I may have done during my pregnancy.  I had wished so hard for this baby to be born early and now he was, (2 weeks) and at what cost?  What Had I done. It was a terrifying experience that many young couples experience when their child is born with medical issues.  Luckily for us, his stay was brief and we were able to bring him home with just a feeding tube, which he was able to go without in just a few days of being home.

But what I really wanted to talk about today is the joy that can be had through serving others.  That experience with my little boy was hard but it was made bearable by the people who stepped up to serve us.  Bringing meals, taking care of our other children, giving phone calls of encouragement.

One particular act of service was so sweet and thoughtful that it left an impression on me to this day.  One day as I arrived home from the hospital I found a beautiful Easter Lily on my porch.  It was not in full bloom.  Just a couple of blooms were visible.  But it had many buds ready to bloom.  Inside the card that was placed so tenderly among the flowers, it read something like this:  “I know that this has been a really hard time for you.  We wanted to give you something to look forward to each day as you go through this trial.  These beautiful white lilies are precious and gentle just as your baby boy.  They take time to be nourished and to bloom fully.  Hopefully, by the time your little one recovers and is able to come home, the lilies will be in full bloom.”

What a sweet way for us to count down the days until he was able to come home.  And the lilies were in full bloom by the time he was better.

That little act of service brought so much joy into my life when the days were long and hard.

Today, look for small ways that you can reach out and serve others.  It’s the start of the holiday season and a time that we all want to spread joy.  So start today and make someone’s day a little brighter.

XO Wendy

 

The Joy of Womanhood

Hi there!  Glad to see you back.  I hope you are enjoying these little tidbits of motivation.

Today I want you to focus on you! Not in a selfish way but in a way that you begin to see yourself the way the Lord sees you.  For you are more precious than rubies. Proverbs 31

When I was a teenager in seminary, I remember hearing a story about an old janitor who was just beloved by all the students. And so one day the faculty decided to have him talk to the students.  The students were all super excited and anxious to hear what he had to say.  As the meeting opened and he was introduced he walked up to the pulpit and had to take a moment. He had his back turned to the students.  As he turned around he had tears in his eyes.  And then he spoke, “If only you could see what I see!”  He explained that for a brief moment as the teens were entering the room, he felt as though the veil had been lifted and he was able to see who they REALLY were.  Who God sees.  He said, “I felt as though I should kneel down and praise you, for you truly are royalty!”.

I have never forgotten that story.  I think it stuck with me to remind me of who I REALLY am.  A daughter of God, a child of royal birth.

In this world that is so full of deceit and filthiness.  Greed and selfishness. We would do good to take a moment at the beginning of each day to look in the mirror and see ourselves the way He sees us!  And if you’re struggling with seeing that person.  Open up Proverbs to Chapter 31 and be reminded of your divinity.

The below quote is one that I came across in a talk from October 2000 General Conference.  If you’d like to read the whole talk you can find it here.

I hope that today you will find joy in your divinity and peace in knowing that you are a child of God who loves you dearly.  Choose to live in joy today.

XO Wendy

Joy and Spiritual Survival

Hi there, welcome back!

Continuing our discussion on Joy.  I came across this talk given by the prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the October 2016 General Conference.  You can find the whole talk here.  Joy and spiritual survival, it’s AMMMazing.  So go read it!

The one statement that stuck out to me was this:

“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

I absolutely love that statement.  It’s so beautiful.  you see, we have the power within us to feel joy when we choose to focus on the Savior.  He is the one and only true source of light, love and true joy.  Granted, sometimes we can not change our circumstances but we can choose where our focus will be.  Even amidst the struggles and the trials of life, we can seek to feel joy in the little seemingly unnoticeable things.

I remember several times as a young mother when I was deep in the throngs of depression.  Every menial task seemed like it would overtake me.  It’s so hard to explain to someone who has never gone through depression.  But the feelings of doubt and inadequacy were so real and raw.  It was so hard just to get myself out of bed in the morning.  But I had 4 littles that needed their mama and that’s the only thing that kept me going. That, and my trust in the Lord that He had a bigger plan for me.

One morning everything seemed to be going wrong.  I felt I couldn’t even function normally.  As I reached up to grab a box of cereal, it came crashing down. Cereal scattered across the kitchen floor.  And all I could do was just sit down in the middle of the kitchen and cry.  “I can’t do this Lord”, “Please help me,” I pleaded.

As I opened my tear stained eyes and started to clean up the mess I hear pitter pattering across the floor.  “It’s ok mommy”.  All at once there it was an incredible, indescribable feeling of peace and joy that enveloped me as I scooped my daughter into my arms and just hugged her.  At that moment, I I felt the arms of the Savior around me like a warm blanket.  I know He was sending me a message that if I focused on Him and forgot the little unimportant things, in this case, cereal scattered on my floor, lol, that He would be there to pick up the pieces and help me get my life back.  That simple moment of joy, though brief, carried me through many moments as I learned how to battle my illness.

Life is not easy, all of us have things that we bear and struggle with, but if we can put our focus and trust in the Lord.  He will guide us…. always.  And we CAN have moments of joy scattered across our lives instead of cereal scattered across our floor.

Focus on the Savior.  He is the source of all joy!

XO Wendy

 

 

 

What does joy mean to you?

I am so happy to let you know that I am going to try something new with my blog.  And if all goes well with it and I can keep up, lol, it could work into even more exciting and fun things.  So starting today I will be posting daily, yes daily.  This will be your little daily dose of spiritual and/or motivational content.  Each day I will focus on various scriptures, quotes, motivational talks, etc.  It shouldn’t take you more than 3-7 minutes to read.  This one may be a bit longer because I want to explain why I am doing this.  I would love to have your feedback on things that you would like help with.  Or things that you have questions about that you would like me to study and share.  Or maybe things that I have posted in the past that you would like more of.  And then we will just walk this path together and hopefully it leads us all to somewhere great!

As you may know if you’ve followed me long enough, I LOVE journals!  I have several.  Gratitude journals, scripture journals, personal journals,  mental health journey journals, my favorite-things-I’ve-come-across-that-I-want-to-remember journals.

The funny thing is that they each have their purpose.  But right now they pile up in my home and no one gets to read them.  I really think that they can be of benefit to more than just me.

So on to today and this week’s ponderings. JOY!

JOY!

It’s so mysterious the way the Lord works.  I am continually amazed at how He threads and weaves patterns into our lives and increases our faith by the experiences that we are allowed to have. As I have been preparing my upcoming blogs this past week (because I have to be at least a few days ahead :)), and have been studying joy, I have had placed in my path too many coincidences to count as coincidences.  I have been shown, taught, or filled with joy through various avenues.  Whether it be through a quote or scripture that I have come across on social media etc., an act of service, or a talk that someone gave in church. Even in a book that was recommended  to others through a story on Instagram.  I love to see the Lord working in my life and in others.  He truly wants us to have this joy that feels our souls even in times of trial and difficulty.  I hope that you can find some of that joy today!

Something you should also know about me is that I am a thinker and a ponderer and a lover of learning, and I ask God a lot of questions.  What I know is that He always finds a way to give me the answers.  Sometimes they come soon and sometimes they take longer.  And to be honest, there are some that I am still waiting on the answers.  But here’s the thing, I KNOW that God loves me and I KNOW that He loves you too.  And if you ask, He has promised that you will receive.

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

He wants the best for us He wants us to be happy and above that He wants us to have JOY!  He wants to bless us and He will meet us where we are and show us the way.

JOY!  There is a difference between happiness and joy.  I want you to ask yourself, what makes joy different than happiness for you?

Ponder on that, and today I want to share a story that comes from the Book of Mormon.  I’m not going to share the whole story here because I want you to go and read all of Alma 26 it is SO good!

This is the story of Ammon and his brethren who went to preach to the lamanites and converted many souls to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Ammon is expressing the joy he feels.   He states in  26:8. Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever. 

Here Ammon is expressing his joy for the conversion of many of the Lamanites.  In  fact he is so bold in his joy that his brother chastises him for boasting.  Ammon explains in V.11-12

11 … I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.

12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. 

and then further down in v. 36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people. 

Yes my friends, we have an awesome God who can bring so much joy!  He is mindful of our daily struggles but if we put our focus and trust in Him we can find that kind of joy.

I also did a little research on Joy which we will get more into as the week progresses.  However, if you look joy up in the dictionary it says that it is an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.  Some synonyms for joy are; bliss, comfort, satisfaction, wonder, gladness, solace, treasure, elation, glee, delight, cheer, gaiety, gratification.  And these are just a few.

I asked my husband what he thought the difference was between joy and happiness, he explained that joy is so much more!  It envelops you, it’s encompassing, it pushes everything else away and consumes you in the most positive way.  I loved that so much!  In short, happiness is fleeting, an experience that comes and goes.  But joy is eternal, everlasting.

I have experienced that true unfiltered joy when I had each of my babies. There is just nothing like that feeling of being so joyful that you feel like you might burst!  Holding that miracle in your arms for the first time, snuggling that tiny nose.  And counting all 10 fingers and toes.  Having them snuggle into your chest and fall asleep.  And oh the smell of a newborn baby!  The feeling, that bond, is like nothing else in this world and it goes on and on as they grow, (even when they sometimes drive you crazy, haha).

There are a lot of other ways and times that joy is developed and grows and we’ll talk about it a lot more this week.   As you go about your day, ask yourself what brings me true joy, the kind that goes on and on?  And then take a minute to record it somewhere… maybe in a new pretty journal 😉 so you can read about that experience next time you are having a down day.  That’s it for today!  Make it a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow!

XO Wendy

Have you had your daily dose of water?

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that water is SO important to me!  I have to have my water every day!  It is one of the most important things I do all day is to try and drink at least half my body weight in water.

However, one day a couple of weeks ago, I tipped my head back to guzzle my morning 22 oz. water bottle and had a distinct thought pop into my head.  Call it what you will, but I call it inspiration or a prompting from the Spirit on things I need to be aware of or change.  The thought was this, “The living water (Christ) is so much more important to your day than liquid water.”  It was so powerful that it took me me by surprise for a minute.  I set my water down and began to write the thoughts that flooded my mind.

It was the first Sunday of the month, and as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints, on the first Sunday we fast for at least 2 meals.  Then we donate what we would have spent on those meals to what we call a “fast offering”.  That money provides assistance to the poor and needy.  The fast is also beneficial to us physically, and it increases humility and spirituality on the part of each individual.

As I said it was the first Sunday so I had just prayed before I broke my fast (we also end our fast with a prayer).  These are some of the thoughts that flooded my mind when I tipped my head back to break my fast with that very full water: Do I pray first thing in the morning like I chug my water down? Am I excited to to talk to God about what my plans are for the day? Do I take the time to listen to what He as to say?  Do I take the opportunity to learn from Him by listening to what His plans are for me to do during that day not only through His spirit but also through His words from the scriptures?

Am I excited to talk to Him throughout that day to let Him know how things are going?  Do I ask for forgiveness regularly for the mistakes that I made? Do I check in with Him at the end of the day to discuss how it went and to go over the accomplishments that I had or didn’t have?  Do I talk about my feelings and the strength that I may have gained that day?  Do I take the opportunity to show gratitude for the good that took place in my day?

I know these are a lot of questions to contemplate.  But they really made me think hard about what is most important.  Water for my physical body?  Or Living water for my spirit?

In the Bible, when Christ meets the woman at the well He asks her for a drink.  He then explains the significance of what He had asked.  We read in  John 4:13-14

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: (meaning physical water from the well)

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (meaning The Gospel of Jesus Christ)

These things that I have mentioned are so much more important than getting in my daily ounces of water.  While that is important, our emphasis should be on getting our time with the Lord FIRST.  To have experiences or ounces if you will, with the Lord daily, multiple times per day.

I was also thinking about what getting dehydrated does to your body.  Just few of the symptoms of dehydration in the physical body are:

  • Increased thirst.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Tired or sleepy
  • Headache.
  • Dry skin.
  • Dizziness.

So I got thinking about that in a spiritual sense and how dehydration of the spirit (or lack of the spirit in our lives) would look to us.  And these are some of the things I came up with.  I’m sure there are many more but here are a few:

  •  A greater amount of contention
  • Anxiety
  • Easily provoked to anger
  • Lack of willingness to serve others (selfishness)
  • Low self -control or lack of self discipline
  • We may make unwise choices
  • Wrestless feelings or lack of peace
  • Feelings that something is missing in our lives

Since that day with the water bottle, I have actively tried to make Christ an even greater part of my day to day life. I have been amazed at the light and inspiration that seem to flow (like water) into my mind and heart.  I have been setting aside a block of time during the day to study His word.  I have been doing this most of my life.  But instead of rushing through my study just to get it done I am more intentional and dedicated to setting that block of time to ponder and meditate upon the words of the scriptures and to listen to what God has for me to learn, know, or do that day.  It has greatly enhanced my day.

Some of the benefits that I have noticed since I have been doing this are: I am less anxious and more at peace throughout the day.  I am less distracted by social media and other distractions that seem to bombard us daily.  I am happier about waking up in the morning (its easier to roll out of bed and not hit the snooze button).  I find that I have more charity towards others (I am not as easily annoyed, lol).  I’m literally filled with a joy that I have not experienced in this way.  And I find myself looking for ways to interact with others and share a little light with them.  Just brighten someones day with a smile, a text, a phone call, etc.  In John & 37

37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Kathleen H. Hughes a former member of the General Relief Society said this in a talk given in April of 2003

“Living water heals. It nourishes and sustains. It brings peace and joy.

A woman I know was struggling with anger toward someone who had hurt her and her family. Though she told her children not to become embittered and resentful, she fought those feelings herself. After weeks of entreating her Father in Heaven, she finally felt a change. She related: “One day, in the midst of my nearly constant prayers, the healing came. I felt a physical sensation spread through my body. After, I felt a sense of security and peace. I knew that regardless of what happened, my family and I would be all right. The anger left me and so did my desire for retaliation.”

The living water is the gospel of Jesus Christ; its communicator is the Holy Ghost. My friend knew what was right. She had said the appropriate words to her family. But only when she humbled herself enough to drink of the water—to feel the Holy Spirit—could she begin to heal.”

It is my hope that together we can seek greater humility in our lives so that we can each partake of the Living Water.  Christ brings healing power, He hydrates us and feels us with love.  If we immerse (I love that word!) ourselves in the Gospel of Jesus Christ we will be amazed at the light and love that flow endlessly into our daily lives.

Oh and drink your water too! 🙂

XO Wendy

 

What does it mean to “Be Still”?

Be StillI have found a pattern for me in writing, posting on FB or instagram, or other forms of social media.  I get really motivated and I go full steam for a while and then I fizzle out.  I really don’t mean to ghost you.  It’s just that a lot of times, life just has a way of getting in the way of some of these things.  We have moved twice in the last 6 weeks, once from our home into a hotel (all of our belongings in a storage unit) , and then again from the storage unit into our new home.  And the moves were 2 Saturdays in a row!  It was crazy.

Then, the very next Saturday we got on a plane and flew to Utah for my son’s wedding for a week (my last child to marry).  The wedding was absolutely beautiful and I got to see so many of my old friends and family!  Being in the Salt Lake City temple with all four of my children and their spouses was an experience I won’t soon forget.  The tears were flowing before the ceremony even started!  For those of you who may not know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  One of the things that we believe is that families can be together forever through temple ordinances that are performed there.  We also believe that this blessing extends to those who have passed before us.  And so we do what we call “proxy” work for the dead so that they can have the promised blessings if they so choose.  For more information about temples and what we believe you can click here.

Now we are back in Tennessee and settling into our home (but still trying to unload the storage unit, haha).  And then in about another week, we will be moving my husbands office space to a new building. Phew!  It has been a crazy summer!

Amidst all of this craziness it has become apparent to me how important it is for us to learn how to “be still”.  What do I mean when I say that?  Well, it’s more than just sitting quietly cause we all know that rarely happens (although it’s great if you can), or praying, or reading scriptures.  While all of those are good means of being still, do you think that there is more to it than that? One of the reasons that I attend the temple as much as I can, is that it is so peaceful inside.  As soon as you walk in those doors, the whole world just melts away.  It is quiet, everyone is equal, there to serve and to love.  There are no sounds from traffic or other outdoor noises.  Just a peace and a reverence that can’t be found elsewhere.  However, I’m not gonna lie, it’s been REALLY HARD this past few months to maintain my regular attendance with everything that is happening.  (Which I am positive Satan is getting ready to put a little tic on his side of the board, lol.) However, as I contemplated what I would write about, I kept just coming back to “be still”.

So again, what does it mean to “be still”?  In the Bible in Psalm 46:10 we read Be still, and know that I am God..

and in Mark 4:39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, aPeace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great bcalm.

When I ponder on those scriptures, I feel that being still is more than just the action of quieting our mind.  It also requires an action of believing that God will enlighten our minds as we do so. Faith to know that He wants us to be still so that we can be given revelation for the direction He wants us to take.  To grow and progress in ways that we can not do on our own.

Twice in the Doctrine and Covenants it mentions the words “stand still”.  first in section 5:34 Yea, for this cause I have said: Stop, and astand still until I command thee, and I will bprovide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee.

and then again in Section 123:17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us acheerfully bdo all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the csalvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

In the dictionary, one of the definitions of “stand” is to face or encounter.  And the definition of “be” is to take place, to happen or occur.  And then the word “still” in the dictionary, silence, or at this time. If we put those words together, I think that maybe God is telling us if we can BE (something is about to happen), STILL (silent), STAND (Face me, pray, ask!), He has something important to give us, tell us, or show us.  An encounter or something special to take place.   I am in awe of the greatness that those scriptures offer to us.  “Stand still, with the utmost assurance”.  “Be still and KNOW that I am God.”  There is so much that He wants to tell us that He wants to share with us that He wants to show us!  But it’s not just the act of silence or being quiet, it requires us to be willing to face or encounter what it is He is trying to share with us. And then… the most important part….believe Him!  And if your answer involves action on your part (most often it does) then you get up go and DO! Even if that answer is a calm peaceful feeling.  Go and let that resonate with you, don’t just brush it off.

I had an experience a few months back when I was stressing out about everything that was happening in my life and I was having a particularly bad day with my illness.  I was angry, frustrated, felt like it was unfair that I had to deal with this every day.  See that’s the thing with mental illness, chronic illnesses, mental health issues, diabetes and so many other illnesses.  You never just wake up and it’s all gone.  It is with you every ding dong day!  I was SO ANGRY and I knelt down and I was kind of shaking my fists at the Lord saying why? WHY do I have to deal with this every day of my life? Why did you do this to me?  And within seconds of my tantrum, I had one of the most incredible experiences.  It’s like the curtain opened for a minute and I got to see all the miracles that have taken place since my diagnosis.  All the answers to prayers, all the changes in direction (that have been so positive for us) all the experiences that have happened since then.  It was like He was saying:  “Oh my daughter, look at all the good that has come through this illness, look at all the ways that you are better, look at all the ways that you have helped others.  STAND and LOOK (FACE).  I have not forsaken you.  BE STILL!”

And then of course the reprimand, “now get up, wipe those tears and do what you need to do!

I picture a child throwing a temper tantrum and the parent becoming frustrated and just getting down to the child’s level, grabbing that child by the face saying, Look at me! Listen to me! I’m going to tell you one more time! Now, go and do what I have asked you to do (of course in the most gentle of ways ;)).

What a beautiful opportunity we have at any time of day or night, in any situation, with all that the world throws at us.  We can “be still” or “stand still” (face Him, talk to Him, be open and ready to what His plan is)  and we will receive the strength to move forward, to be stronger, to be as He would have us be.  I say it all the time, His plan for our life is a MUCH BETTER PLAN than the one that we think is going to be great!  But we have to be willing to be ready for the encounter, be silent so we can hear it and face Him.  He has all the answers.  Trust Him!  Be still, and Know…

XO Wendy