It’s all about love

Today I want to share with you another way that the Savior uses His grace to influence and guide our lives.  In his recent conference talk Elder Gary E. Stevenson shares a story about a scientific experiment on bunnies.  I am not going to tell the whole story here but I encourage you to go and listen or read it. I will link that in the show notes.  It is really quite remarkable.  After sharing the story he concluded by saying, “In recent years, Dr. Kelli Harding published a book titled The Rabbit Effect that takes its name from the experiment. Her conclusion: “Take a rabbit with an unhealthy lifestyle. Talk to it. Hold it. Give it affection. … The relationship made a difference. … Ultimately,” she concludes, “what affects our health in the most meaningful ways has as much to do with how we treat one another, how we live, and how we think about what it means to be human.”

Now apply that to the way the Savior taught us.  In the New testament in John 13:34 we are commanded to “love one another as I have loved you,that ye also love one another”. 

But it seems this simple commandment is often overlooked in today’s world. Everywhere we turn we find judgement cast upon others.  Whether it be a disagreement on social media that sparks heated discussions and contentious encounters with people we may not even know, to neglect and abandoment of those who may be less fortunate or afflicted in such a way that we feel repelled by them.  And so we fear getting involved.  That is not Christ’s way!  

If we are to be true disciples of our Lord and Savior, we will do everything we can to lift up the hands that hang down to mourn with those that mourn. To love those that despitefully use you and persecute you.  None of us are any better than another.  We are all God’s children and we all deserve the love of a God that LOVES ALL of his children deeply.  

Yes, some are harder to love than others but that is not our call to make.  We are commanded to love one another as I have loved you.  It’s not optional.  We are commanded to share the grace that we have found through the Savior with everyone that we encounter.  Jesus spent his days with those who were deemed unloveable.  But he took them by the hand, picked them up, and loved them until they were whole again.

I’ve told you before that I believe a lot of what I share here is for my own benefit, so don’t think for a minute that I don’t struggle at times with this commandment. 

We are human, we are going to make mistakes and hurt people.  That’s part of how life is on this side of the veil.  But I think we owe it to our Savior who gives us so much grace, more than we could ever handle, to then turn that grace, that strength that love to someone in desperate need of the “rabbit effect”.  

Elder Stevenson goes on to say, “We have a primary responsibility to set a tone and be role models of kindness, inclusion, and civility—to teach Christlike behavior to the rising generation in what we say and how we act. It is especially important as we observe a marked societal shift toward division in politics, social class, and nearly every other man-made distinction.

The Lord expects us to teach that inclusion is a positive means toward unity and that exclusion leads to division.”

My invitation to you today, is to soften your heart.  Open your eyes to see and your ears to hear those around you that are suffering or are in need of the grace that our Lord promises.  Love them, include them, give them the “rabbit effect”.  And then watch how the Savior’s grace will not only descend upon them, but upon you as well.

Have a great day my friends.  And we’ll do it all again tomorrow!

XO Wendy

His Grace is Sufficient

Today and throughout the week we will be talking about Grace and Love!  Specifically the love our Savior and the grace that He so freely gives us.

The definition of Grace found in the bible dictionary says; divine means of help or strength given through the bounteous mercy and Love of Jesus Christ.

I think Brad Wilcox said it best in his talk given to BYU students on July 12, 2011.  He states Grace is not achieved somewhere down the road. It is received right here and right now. It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch. 

Isn’t that beautiful?

Sometimes I think we feel that we are undeserving or too weak to receive of the Savior’s Grace. But we are promised in Ether 12:27 of the Book of Mormon And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

And again in 2 Corinthians 12:9 Pauls speaks,  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul goes on to say in verse 10: Therefore I take pleasure in the infirmities, in the reproaches, in the necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake:  For when I am weak, then am I strong!

Such powerful words from two reliable sources of  scripture.  If you don’t have a copy of the Book of Mormon I would be happy to send one to you.  We believe as members of the church of Jesus Christ that it is modern day scripture which came forth by divine means and is another testament of Jesus Christ.  Having read it many times, there is power in that book, just as there is in the Bible that was written in ancient times. 

So how do we apply these scriptures both ancient and modern to our daily lives? 

One way is that we can first recognize our weakness.  For most of us that is easy to do.  We look at all the things that we struggle with that we feel make us less than or worthless.  We may struggle with temptations of the world that would likely convince us that we don’t need a Savior that we can handle things on our own.  And for a time, that strategy may work.  But oftentimes we need to be brought low in order to rise up.

I am reminded of the old poem by Myra Brooks Welch of the worn out distressed and broken violin that was given to be bid on at an auction.  It’s a bit long but I think it really stresses the need to let the Master take precedence in our own lives which we can compare to the old violin.  It goes like this:

‘Twas battered and scarred,

And the auctioneer thought it

hardly worth his while

To waste his time on the old violin,

but he held it up with a smile.

“What am I bid, good people”, he cried,

“Who starts the bidding for me?”

“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”

“Two dollars, who makes it three?”

“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,”

But, No,

From the room far back a gray bearded man

Came forward and picked up the bow,

Then wiping the dust from the old violin

And tightening up the strings,

He played a melody, pure and sweet

As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer

With a voice that was quiet and low,

Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”

As he held it aloft with its’ bow.

“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”

“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”

“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,

Going and gone”, said he.

The audience cheered,

But some of them cried,

“We just don’t understand.”

“What changed its’ worth?”

Swift came the reply.

“The Touch of the Master’s Hand.”

“And many a man with life out of tune

All battered and bruised with hardship

Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd

Much like that old violin

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,

A game and he travels on.

He is going once, he is going twice,

He is going and almost gone.

But the Master comes,

And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,

The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought

By the Touch of the Masters’ Hand.

– Myra Brooks Welch

My invitation to you today is let the Master take hold of your bow.  Turn your weaknesses over to Him.  Though you may be low, and feel dusty and worn.  Remember that It is not a finishing touch; it is the Finisher’s touch. His grace is sufficient!  Only He can give us the strength we need to push forward and grow through our weakness so that we can be made strong.  That’s it for today friends.  Talk to you all again tomorrow!

XO Wendy

Courage to Forgive

Today I want to talk to you about something that is really, really, difficult to do.  Especially when you feel like you’ve been wronged or betrayed in some way.  But if you can “just let that go” your life will be so much better!

President Gordan B. Hinckley once said A spirit of forgiveness and an attitude of love and compassion toward those who may have wronged us is of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us has need of this spirit. The whole world has need of it. The Lord taught it. He exemplified it as none other has exemplified it.”

I’m going to be real and share a story with you about my own experience with forgiveness.  It is an experience that affected my life in a much larger way than it needed to and one that I’m not proud of.   It took me nearly 15 years to forgive someone who I felt had wronged me in a deep and personal way. And sadly, it all happened because of gossip!

It involved a very dear and loved friend of mine.  She was actually like a sister to me.  We talked everyday on the phone, we were partners in a great “adventure”, and spent time with eachother’s families.  We were nearly inseparable. She meant the world to me.  But, sadly, I chose to walk away from her over something someone told me that she had been doing behind my back for years.  

I was devastated!  I was heartsick, but most of all I just felt betrayed.  How could she do such a thing?  But at the time puzzle pieces began to fall into place of why others had treated me in such a negative way.  I was told she had twisted my words and turned them into lies so that others would think poorly of me. This person went so far as to give me specific experiences, people, places, and things that had happened.  How could I not believe them?  They had proof, or so it seemed.  I immediately confronted her with it over the phone.  She had no explanation.  She denied it all, sobbing uncontrollably that she would never do such a thing.  But it all made so much sense to me about the way I had been treated through our little joint “adventure”, that I didn’t even give her a chance.  I was so hurt and so angry. So I did the worst thing anyone can ever do to someone they love.  I walked away. 

I cried for days over our lost friendship.  And the lies grew easier to believe. Our adventure had ended and I moved on with my life.  Or so I thought. 

For years and years I would play the scene in my head.  How could she hurt me that way?  She was so dear to me.  Why would she do it?  She was my friend.  How did I not see it?  Night after night I would think of how much I missed her friendship.  Over the years the pain faded but I would think about it often and would grieve again for the loss of such a dear friend.

Then years later, when I was returning to the fold of Christ I realized that it was time. Truth is, it was way past time.  It was time for me to just let it all go.  It was the only way to move forward and be free of the pain.  So one night I mustered up all the courage in the world and I sent her a heartfelt plea to forgive me for not giving her the chance to explain.  I told her how sorry I was. And that I was wrong for behaving the way that I did.  And that I hoped someday she could forgive me for behaving in that way. It certainly was not Christlike.  I told her how much I missed our friendship and that I hoped she was doing good.  And then I pressed send, not expecting to hear anything in return.

When I hit that button I felt peace flood over me for the first time in all those years.  No matter what had really happened I was no longer going to let it hold space in my life going forward.  It is not God’s way to carry such feelings in our hearts.  The only place that comes from is the adversary.  He wants nothing more than for us to live with regrets, remorse, anger, and hurt.  Because then, he wins.  Don’t let him win!  You may not be able to control other’s agency to act in the way that they do, but you can control your agency! Have the courage to use your agency to forgive and move on with your life. There are bright things awaiting you.

Do you want to know the craziest part of this whole experience.  A couple of days later, I received a message back from my long lost friend.  I was afraid to open it.  

But I think her words are the best way to end this podcast.  (I hope she won’t mind).  The message read:

“I too am sorry for the way things ended up between us. I do apologize from the bottom of my heart for the heartache I caused you. I NEVER, EVER would have done anything to intentionally cause you harm or heartache. In fact to this day… I’m not even sure what the whole-what’s, when’s or how’s this situation all happened?!?! What I do know is we all made mistakes and then our friendship was over. It broke my heart too. 

As for forgiving you…I pray you can forgive me of the heartache I caused you?! I am so deeply sorry! All I know is… life is too short to hold on to any grudges. We need to put our arms around each other and push forward. Just so you know… I’ve always held you in high regard and have always considered you my friend. Even though we’ve had this little “hiccup” I let it go along time ago. You will always be considered a friend and my heart and door are always open to you. ….There’s no need to ask for forgiveness or worry about this anymore. You have always been good in my book.”

How’s that for Christ like behavior?!  She definitely is great women in the body of Christ! She taught me the true meaning of forgiveness that day.  It’s all about love!

So today my invitation to you is to muster up the courage to use your agency to forgive someone that has hurt you.  It may not end the way that mine did.  But I promise you that if you will just let go, and let God take the wheel.  It will bring a peace to your soul that can not be matched!

Have a great day my friends.  Talk to you all again tomorrow!

XO Wendy

Courage to overcome

Sometimes as humans on this side of Heaven we are faced with incredibly difficult challenges to overcome.  They can be physical, mental, or spiritual in nature.  And can require so much of you that at times you feel hopeless, and without joy. Your path seems bleak and you get to a point where you feel you just don’t have the strength to take one more step forward.  It can be a very lonely place to be.  

Sometimes you may even feel like you are trudging through a deep thick muddy swamp just trying to get to dry land. And with each step you sink deeper and deeper and the path gets harder and harder. Your task at this point then, is to gather the courage to overcome. But how?

That is the question for today?  How do I have the courage to move forward when it all seems so pointless?  I’m not sure who this message is for today.  But I know there is someone that is listening today that feels like everything I’ve said so far is directly for you.  Because that is how God works sometimes.  He puts someone in your path (a messenger) to let you know that you are His.  He’s got you. He wants you to know that He loves you.  He sees you.  He hears your cries.  And you are NOT alone.

I will be reading from Psalm 27 today, verse 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid? 

I have heard many stories of people who have overcome great challenges as I’m sure have you.  But today I wanted to share a story that I found that had such a powerful influence on my life.  Her name is  Cambry Kaylor.  From a very young age she picked up the love of horses and gymnastics.  And began a career of Equestrian Vaulting which is dancing and gymnastics on the back of a horse.  Sounds daunting and scary doesn’t it?  She quickly grew as a master of her art.  Training for 10 years to become an international competitor. She was involved in dance as a ballerina, and in gymnastics.  And competed on her high school diving team.  Very much a talented and vibrant athlete in all aspects of athleticism.  However, while practicing a move on her horse there was a terrible accident and she ended up landing in a way that broke her neck and severed her spinal cord.  She became paralyzed from the waist down. I’ll link her story so you can get the details.  

Can you imagine what you might be feeling when you realize that everything you’d ever worked for, everything you’d ever dreamed of, could suddenly be taken from you all in an instance? You can imagine the despair she must have felt.  

She began to have horrible fear and terrible nightmares about her experience. When she woke up she would hope it was all just a bad dream and that her parents would say she just had a broken leg or something a little less severe.  She wanted anything but the truth!  She just wanted something she could wake up from.

But in all of that pain and heartache that she was experiencing, there was one thing she had in all of her fear.  And that was courage.  She had the courage to want her situation to change.  She realized after months of trying to find what she thought she needed, that what she wanted more than anything was to feel joy again.  And she didn’t have to walk to be happy.  She could create her own happiness and joy.  What an amazing example of courage that took.

Cambry went on to become very successful, taking the reins of her life back into her own hands.

It took time and a lot of patience and hard work.  And I’m sure there was a lot of waiting on Lord.  

In Psalm 27 David finishes his psalm by saying 14: Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart;  wait, I say, on the Lord.

So even though you may be in the mud and muck right now trying to put one foot in front of the other, be of courage… because the Lord WILL strengthen your heart.  Today is the day to take back the reins of your life.  Decide that with God all things are possible to Him that believes!

Have a great day my friends.  I’ll talk to you again tomorrow!

XO Wendy

Draw Near

Staying on our topic for this week, I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about how we can grow closer to Christ through our efforts of preparing to receive answers to our questions, to our trials, to our struggles.  

And I wanted to start by sharing a couple of verses from my favorite sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, section 88.  And I think that the reason that it’s my favorite is BECAUSE when it was given to the prophet Joseph Smith he said that it was given as the Lord’s message of peace  to us.  And I just truly feel that peace in several verses of this section.  But today I just want to read verses 63-64.  It says:

63 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.

64 Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you;

So in these verses what stands out to me is  the words DRAW NEAR”.

What does it mean to draw near? Well if  I were to break this down let’s look at the word Draw.  First it is an action word.  The Lord is asking us to make an effort to do something to come closer to Him.  The definition that I believe is being used here is : To cause to move in a particular direction by or as if by a pulling force;  to bring toward oneself, as if by inherent force or influence. 

And I just thought that definition was so interesting because it really expresses a need or a force to be pulled toward.  It makes me think of a big windstorm where you have your back to the wind and it is actually pushing you in a direction.  So we draw near to Him and then He will draw near to us.  So it’s as if the force from the wind at our backs is pushing us toward the Savior.  He’s asking us to let that force move us to come closer to Him.

I came across another talk by President Nelson from april 2017  He describes several ways that we can draw near to the Savior.  But this is the one that stood out to me 

“An element in drawing the Savior’s power into our lives is to reach up to Him in faith. Such reaching requires diligent, focused effort.

Do you remember the biblical story of the woman who suffered for 12 years with a debilitating problem? She exercised great faith in the Savior, exclaiming, “If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.”

This faithful, focused woman needed to stretch as far as she could to access His power. Her physical stretching was symbolic of her spiritual stretching.”  He goes on to say.

“Many of us have cried out from the depths of our hearts a variation of this woman’s words: “If I could spiritually stretch enough to draw the Savior’s power into my life, I would know how to handle my heart-wrenching situation. I would know what to do. And I would have the power to do it.

When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do.

When you spiritually stretch beyond anything you have ever done before, then His power will flow into you.”

And so today as you think about that word and how it is like a force, almost an urgency to get to the Savior.  Think about what we talked about on Monday about the hike to see the Savior.  Imagine that the last stretch is the most difficult of the entire journey, it takes everything you have to get to the door where He awaits.  But then there will  be peace.  I promise you that He longs for you to draw near to Him with such force that He has no choice but to enfold you in his waiting arms.   

Guys, have a great day and remember that He loves you and you can do this! We’ll wrap up this topic tomorrow! Talk to you then.

XO Wendy