Find your light again

Today we are talking about light. And boy, don’t we all need a little light in our life these days?

The past couple of months have been super challenging.  I know that I am not the only one that feels this way.  It’s ironic because back in February before all the craziness started, I felt better physically, mentally and emotionally than I had in a very long time.  Stronger.  More equipped to fight off the adversary.  More confident, after struggling for so long to regain what I felt being diagnosed Bipolar, had taken away from me.  Courage to face the challenges that would come my way.  Little did I know what myself and others would be facing over the next several months.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you, doesn’t it?  I don’t know if there is anything that could have prepared us for what we have all been through over the past several months.   And on top of the many circumstances that each of us have faced together, many have had to face the normal day to day challenges and inevitable trials that unexpectedly would come our way in our so-called “normal” pre-Covid life.

As I have been struggling, I have been searching for ways to pull myself out of the funk that I have been in. To find the light.  Sometimes, in this ever darkening world it gets harder and harder to find the light.  We start to ask questions such as who am I?  Where am I going?  What is my mission?  Do I even have a mission?  Do I matter?  What is my purpose in this life?  These are  questions that we ask ourselves in times of darkness.  Or when we are really struggling to find the light.  The light of Christ.  The light within ourselves.  The light of others.  So how do we answer the tough questions?  How do we find the light? 

Well wouldn’t you know it as I have been pondering these questions, especially the last couple of weeks, God came through with something that I needed.  And maybe you need it too so I thought I’d share.  It’s important for me to say that it didn’t just happen.  I have been praying for days to feel better and re-gain that strength and faith and courage that I had just a few short months ago.  As I have mentioned many, many times, we can’t just wait for it, we have to look for it and ask for it.  

In Matthew 7:7-8

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

 And so I thought I would just put that to the test, as I have on many occasions.  It is such a great promise from the Lord.  And the Lord will never let us down.

And so I asked Him.  Where do I find the light?  And when I asked I realized that the first step was exactly what I was doing.  To look to the light for answers.  

In John 8:12 we read 

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Jesus Christ our Savior is the ultimate example of light and hope.  He is the giver of light, the light of the world.  So merely by looking to Him and asking Him for help will bring a measure of light that can’t be found elsewhere in this world. How reassuring is that?  He is our exemplar and our strength.  He is the “light in the darkness”.  

From the words of the Psalm 27:1 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? 

When we choose to follow him and make Him the center of our lives we are choosing to become like Him. Our fears will be replaced by courage and we will have a desire to reflect that light in our own lives.

In a talk given in October of 2015 by President Thomas S. Monson, says, “To each of you, I say that you are a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. You have come from His presence to live on this earth for a season, to reflect the Savior’s teachings, and bravely let your light shine for all to see.”

Upon reading that, immediately a quote came to mind that I used to repeat over and over when I was practicing daily affirmations (which is probably a practice I should return to.  It can be so helpful.), it goes like this  “There are two ways of spreading light, to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it!” 

How do we find the light again?  The way is simple, we can find our light again by looking to the Savior for guidance and peace and by following the path he marked for us. 

President Monson goes on to say “Life is perfect for none of us, and at times the challenges and difficulties we face may become overwhelming, causing our light to dim.  However, with help from our Heavenly Father, coupled with the support from others, we can regain that light which will illuminate our own path once again and provide the light others may need.”

So then I thought about the mirror or reflection, and I was reminded of the scripture from the sermon on the mount.  

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.

And then in 1 Timothy 4:12 … but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

So in essence we draw our strength, our light, from the Savior and then reflect that light to those around us.  And you know the crazy thing about that is that when we do that, the light comes back to us.  It’s like a boomerang effect.  The more you throw out light, love, peace, kindness, the more you are filled with it yourself.

I have thought about this phenomenon and also of the opposite which would come from the adversary.  Satan would have us remain in isolation, loneliness, and darkness.  Questioning ourselves and what our purpose is.  He would love nothing more than to have us succumb to depression, to anger, to bitterness.  But that’s not who we were meant to be.  That’s not who we were created to be.

We were created to be lovers of light.  Lovers of “The Light” our Savior who completed the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Who suffered for all the hurt, pain, and loneliness that we feel.  We were created to be givers of light!  Our purpose is unquestionable in my opinion. Our purpose as believers of our Savior is to bring that light of Christ to others.  That’s it, that’s our purpose

Now our mission or our calling is different and that’s a whole other show. So we can talk about that another time.

But, our purpose is to remember that there are two ways of spreading that light, the light of Christ.  To be the candle, OR the mirror that reflects it.  That’s the boomerang effect.  We can BE the light to others.  But, we can also REFLECT that light that is given to us through others’ light.  It’s so cool how that works!  Whatever you send out into the world be it love, kindness, peace, it is going to bounce back to you!

Unfortunately, the boomerang effect can work in the opposite way as well concerning darkness.  If we dish it out negativity, ill will, anger, and contention, we get it back. That is not God’s way.   There is only one place that all of that comes from.  And that is Satan.  He would have us believe that evil is good, and good is evil.  Isaiah warns of this when he says in Isaiah 5:20

20 ¶ Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

But let’s not dwell on this because it truly is not God’s way.

President Monson went on to say. “each of us came to earth having been given the light of Christ. As we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others.” 

Now I am going to get a little vulnerable and tell you an experience about how letting your light shine affected me in such a big, big way.

When I went through my divorce 10 yrs ago, I really struggled.  It was a terrible time trying to figure out what to do and where to go next. And I was bitter.  I’m not going to lie about that.  I had friends that I felt abandoned me when I needed them most.  But I tried really hard not to let that influence my decisions, but it truly did shake my faith.  It was one of the reasons that I walked away from my church.  I felt that if that was the way members of my faith acted when someone needed them most, then that wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of.  I felt that the people in the church should be that reflection of what we preached about each week.  Of our Savior.  And I knew that my Savior would never treat me that way.  I moved out of the area and subsequently went to a different building of the same faith.  I was welcomed there but I still felt that touch of judgement when people learned of my divorce.  But I kept going because I knew my Savior didn’t feel that way about me.  I tried so hard to stay close to my Savior.  But it got harder and harder as I felt more and more ostresized.  Looking back, it wasn’t so much their fault as it was mine.  I could have been more forgiving of the way that I was treated.  But I was hurting and sometimes when people are hurting they don’t look at things in a logical way.  

Any way, When I moved to Nashville in 2012 there was a  certain woman who truly stood out as a light for me from the Savior. She lived in my neighborhood and  every time that I did come to church (and it wasn’t that often) she made sure that I knew that she knew that I was there.   She reached out and tried to find things in common.  She was a lifeline making a mark on my life that literally saved it, when the time came.  When I went through my health problems, she was the one that I knew I could reach out to.  She was the one that I knew, no matter what she was doing, would drop everything to come to my rescue.  And she did. When I suffered through my two back to back times in the hospital she was there to help pick up the pieces.  She probably didn’t even know how much her small acts of kindness changed my heart.  Many, many times I remember her being so friendly and kind and doing her best to make me feel welcome and loved.  She was such a light in my life when I really, really needed it.

Looking back, I can’t blame those friends for not reaching out.  Sometimes we encounter awkward situations where we just don’t know how to respond or what to do.  But what I have learned through this experience is that it really doesn’t matter how small your gesture.  A phone call, a text, a smile, a hug can all go a very long way when someone is going through something difficult and just needs to see a tiny sliver of light.

I can speak from experience when I say it’s not an easy process to find your way back to the light. To trust in and look to the Savior. It takes time, it takes faith, it takes healing.  But I promise you that if you can do that, if you can put your trust in Him, He will bring the light back into your life again.  Don’t give up.  Don’t give in.  There’s always a way!

As your faith in Jesus Christ grows and you glean from his example the light can’t help but shine through you.  You will be able to help not only yourself, but others who “labour and are heavy laden” to find rest in Him and to find peace. And especially to find that light in themselves again!  Because oftentimes that is where the real struggle is. 

So…turn to the Savior!  Find your light again.  And then ask yourself, what kind of mark will I make in the lives of those around me?  What kind of light will I hold up?  What kind of reflection will I be? 

Put some real thought into those questions.  Journal about them.  Write down your journey towards finding your light.  And then, remember all of this as we approach this season of giving and of love when we remember the birth of our Savior.  When we come upon a new year and take time to re-evaluate our lives and our priorities.  What kinds of changes can you make that will help you to rekindle that light in yourself? And then how can you use that as a boomerang effect so you continue receiving more light? Because if you can do that, I promise you that you will have an endless supply of light in your lamp when the time comes that you really need it.  And you will have ample to share with others along the way!

XO Wendy

Hands

It was barely dawn and I sat in the quiet.  I let the heat of my cup of hot chocolate warm my hands.  My heart was breaking because I was unable to use these hands to help because I am so far away.  I’m struggling with this thought as I hold the mug and let the heat of the cup burn into my useless hands.  And then as I ponder and plead and pray, the sun begins to peek up over the clouds and I am reminded that the sun always rises. It is a symbol to me, that the Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, who was put up upon the cross to die, was for the exact situation that my heart is breaking for in this very moment. 

As the tears fell, blurring my vision and the ink on my journal page.  I have another thought and I dry my eyes as I realize this is Him, my Savior sending me what I needed in this moment.  I am comforted to know that He will use another’s hands in place of mine, when I am not close enough to use my own.  

I am thinking about the pain that my friend is feeling in these moments.  How broken she must feel.  How lost alone. But God….I am reminded again, He will be there for her.

You see, as I have said many, many times, God is in the details. He meets us where we are and then takes us further than we could make it on our own.  In our broken fragile state, He heals.  He restores.  

In Mosiah 14:5-6 and also found in Isaiah 53:3-5 it reads

5 Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.  

6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.   

This scripture is also found in Isaiah 53:3-5

My mind races with the thoughts she must be feeling. And then I feel a peace come over me becauseHe will make her whole again.  But not the same. No, she will never be the same.  

She will be different…. stronger, more capable, more empathetic and compassionate because she has suffered the unimaginable, not in spite of it.  

Brene Brown said. “One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide.”

I love that so much!  We can be a source of strength for another…His hands. After and sometimes even during, our struggle.

But as with all trials, our hearts will break for a time… it will come in waves slapping us from behind with no warning at all.  Our legs will buckle and we will fall to our knees over and over to beg for relief from the seemingly endless pain.  But the Lord can pick up the pieces and make us a new heart.  It sounds cliche’ the overused statement, “there is always a silver lining”, but that IS how the Lord works.  As said by Thisweeksgrace on IG “I never would have guessed He was this good. God exceeds expectations. He always does.  He will make life better than we could have expected.  He is that good!”

And yet, as we look around and see the despair, the grief, the longing, the anger, the hate, we wonder.  Is there anyone that sees ME in this moment?  Is there anyone out there that really sees ME. 

I have come to understand that we are not so different, you and I.  We struggle, we strive.  We bleed, we heal, we cry, we laugh.  We are indifferent, we are passionate.  We feel betrayal and we feel love. 

We may be of different faiths, races, creeds or cultures.  But we are one to Him who created us. And He wants us, expects us, to be His hands.

I recently read an article by Carole M. Stephens entitled The Master Healer.   In it she says, “As we increase our understanding of the doctrine of Christ, we soon discover that we are developing a deeper understanding of “the great plan of happiness.” We also recognize that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is at the very heart of the plan.”

She continues, “When we learn how to apply the doctrine of Christ to our individual circumstances, our love for our Savior grows. And we recognize “that regardless of perceived differences, all of us are in need of the same infinite Atonement.” We realize that He is our foundation—“the rock of our Redeemer, … a sure foundation … whereon if [we] build [we] cannot fall.”

I have often thought about how God made each of us as individuals, unique in our own special and eloquent ways.  We each have our own set of behaviors, character traits, problems, talents, trials, successes and failures. Not one of us alike, and yet not so different in so many ways.   Although, sometimes we feel like we are totally alone and that there is no one that feels the way we do about what is happening in our lives. But…God gave us each other! He gave us each hands and hearts to reach out and embrace when He can not be there to embrace us physically.  We are not alone!  

He also gave us a gift that is beyond our comprehension.  He gave us his only begotten Son, the Savior of the world.  A Savior who loves, cares, and suffered for us, so that we can overcome all that this life throws at us. 

We can and should turn to Him in times of heartache and sorrow as our first line of defense.  Let us glorify Him in times of health and prosperity as well as in times of despair and grief. But then, open your heart up to be loved by those who are sent BY Him for YOU.  Their hands can come and embrace you and start to heal your broken heart.

Deiter F. Uchtdorf once shared a story about Hands.  It reads, “A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.

Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ, a sign with these words: “You are my hands.”

Elder Uchtdorf goes on to say that the way we become His hands is to embrace, comfort and serve.  I’ll link that talk in the show notes. It’s a good one.

I remember hearing a friend talk about a similar experience that she had as a teenager.  She had a small statue of Christ sitting on her dresser in her bedroom.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember the whole story except that she was very upset as teenagers sometimes are. She had stormed into her room and slammed the door shut behind her, the statue of Christ fell to the floor as she flopped onto the bed in tears.  When she realized that the statue had fallen, she reached down to set it back in it’s place. It was then that she realized that His delicate hands had been broken in the fall. She recalled how that was a reminder that in this particular situation that she had been upset about, she was being called to be His hands. 

Marjorie Paey Hinckley once said, “never suppress a generous thought.” Maybe it’s because she understood the power of hands.  Hands that work from a distance when God can’t be there in person. 

So I guess the question is how do we get better at becoming His hands? It’s so simple really, it’s all in the follow through. Let me explain my thought.

My stepson is a wonderful soccer player.  Which ironically, is a game played without hands.  We have been to so many games and practices and learned so much about the strategy of the game.  I remember one day when he was a few years younger, walking past the coach of another team and I heard him say, there are 3 things that I want you to remember when encountering your opponent and you have possession of the ball.  Stop, change your speed, change your direction.  Oh and one more thing.  After you have shot the ball toward the goal, don’t forget the follow through.”

As I recalled that experience today I thought, it’s much like receiving  a prompting from the Lord, or receiving a generous thought as Marjorie put it.  

First we receive the thought. Now we have possesion.  Next the trick is to maintain possession and not lose it.  That’s usually where we have the most trouble.  We start to second guess the Lord.  Was that really a prompting, or was it just my thought?  Or we start to doubt, “I can’t do that.  It’s too hard. They would think I’m weird.  Or we accept the prompting and then get distracted and lose it.  Or maybe we are so busy with so many things on our minds, that we forget about it and then pass it off as just a fleeting thought. My point is that we neglect the first reccomendation of the coach, to STOP. Just STOP and receive the ball.  Or in this case receive the prompting and maintain possession.

Second, change your speed.  In soccer this would mean, if you’re running fast, slow down.  If you’re in one spot, start running. When you change your speed it throws your opponent off balance and you can quickly maneuver around them. 

Comparing this to promptings, if you have a prompting or “generous thought”, and you’re in the middle of something, slow down.  Write it down, acknowledge it so you can keep possession.  Then you can follow through when you’re finished with your current task. If you’re not doing anything or mindlessly scrolling social media, get up and get going . Chop, chop! You have hands to fill and hearts to love on.

Third, change your direction. In soccer, the simple act of changing direction can immediately slow down your opponent because they are not anticipating the change. 

Sometimes we are prompted in ways to literally change direction.  I remember a time after I had been in the hospital and had started on my road to recovery.  Things were getting better and there had been a  lot of little miracles.  However the stress of our current situation had weighed heavily on my husband and he suddenly became very ill.  He wasn’t eating or sleeping and he had lost several pounds in just a few weeks.  I was extremely worried about him.   We both had no idea what was happening.  

One night we had been visiting with the sister missionaries in our church.  They had shared somewhat of a message with us and we had talked about the stress that he was under. He was not a member of the church of Jesus Christ at the time and not fully invested in learning anything more about it.  So they left and went on their way.  

About 15 minutes later we hear a knock on the door.  And the 2 young women stood awkwardly at the door.  One of them said, “you know we were on our way home and I got the feeling that we should turn around, come back and tell you something.  Then she said I asked her, (the other young woman she’d come with) what she thought about that” and she said, “You know , I was thinking the exact same thing”.  “So here we are”, she said.  

Joe and I looked at them and then looked at each other and opened the door wide for them to come in.

They then proceeded to tell Joe that even though he was not a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that he could still receive a priesthood blessing.  Joe looked at me a bit baffled about how to respond.  He didn’t even know what a priesthood blessing was. And for those of you listening that don’t know, a priesthood blessing is given by 2 male members of our church.  They lay their hands upon your head to call up on the power of God to heal you or comfort you.  I have seen many miracles come because of priesthood blessings.

I had requested a priesthood blessing when I was in the hospital (after leaving the church), and that had been a great source of comfort to me and had started the ball rolling toward me getting the help I needed.  But we had never considered that for him.  Looking back I knew in my heart, that in that moment, they were representing God’s hands in offering Joe something that God could not be there to do Himself.  He wanted someone to relay his message of comfort to Joe.  He wanted them to be His hands.  

And the cool thing about that experience is that those two girls didn’t hesitate on a dark winding, narrow, and hilly Tennesse road.  If you’ve ever been to Tenessee we have some really crazy roads!  But they just stopped the car and promptly changed direction and headed back our way.  He gladly accepted and it ended up being a great comfort to Him and me at that time.

And shortly thereafter he was able to receive the help he needed.

Now onto the follow through.  I remember one particular moment in a soccer game where one of our players had shot the ball toward the goal.  It looked like it was going to make it but it wasn’t rolling quite fast enough and the goalie was on the way to retrieve the ball, then out of nowhere my stepson came flying toward the ball faster than the goalie and shot it directly into the net.  A goal was scored and the team cheered.  That’s what is called a follow through.  Even when it looks like the goalie might get to it, you don’t stop, you continue forward in the hopes that you will make it before the goalie reaches it. (Link to that goal below, it’s awesome!)

https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/e7AMhwtptS/d2VuZHljYXJ0ZXIwMUBnbWFpbC5jb20=   

When considering promptings let’s review.  The 3 things to remember are Stop, change your speed, change your direction.  And finally don’t forget the follow through.  When it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ, Love… is the follow through.

This is after all the second and great commandment found in Matthew 22:39

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself

The first one being verse 37 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Sometimes we do all the right things, we receive the prompting and maintain possession, we slow down or speed up whichever is required.  We change direction if needed.  But on occasion we forget the most important part, the follow through.  What I mean by that is that sometimes we get so caught up in the steps leading up to being God’s hands for someone in need, that we forget, that in and of itself LOVE is the follow through. Our hands, His hands, they embrace,  they comfort, they serve. 

Of course, all those steps leading up to the follow through are definitely a large part of it.  That’s important! But in order to make the goal we have to follow through we have to remember it’s all about LOVE.  Check in with that person regularly from time to time.  Don’t just drop and dart for lack of a better term.  Really embrace them, love them, comfort them and serve them as our Savior would want us to.  

In his talk, Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “…let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our Master, we are called to support and heal rather than condemn.  We are commanded to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” …Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly.  When the Savior stretches out His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become greater, stronger, and better people as a result.”

So let’s take a lesson from the pages of our Savior’s life.  Let’s let our hands help others be uplifted, become greater, stronger and better people as a result of us using our hands as His to LOVE them when they so desperately need His LOVE.

God has given us so much!  Is it too much to ask that we use OUR HANDS for His?

XO Wendy

Ha! Didn’t see that coming.

I was looking back on some of my posts from this year and boy oh boy, did I NOT see all of this coming in 2020.  I’m sure that we can all say that, unfortunately.

But I am an eternal optimist, and although this year started off with a bang, I am determined to make sure that the experiences that we’ve all been through this year don’t end up without a lesson learned.

So tell me what lessons have you learned this year?  Here are a few of mine (in no particular order).

  1. If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.  I believe this has been a tough one for all of us to learn.  Especially if we may not have heeded the warnings over the years from our leaders. We have been exhorted to keep several months worth of food storage.  To have a 72 hour preparedness kit on hand should the need arise.  Unfortunately the need has arisen this past year.  Not only have we needed to be physically prepared, this year has given us great cause to be spiritually prepared as places of worship have been unable to operate and social distancing has precluded us from spending time with our fellowshipping communities.  We have been counseled to be spiritually prepared in probably the most often quoted passage from President Russell M. Nelson this year.  He strongly admonished us to be ready.  He said, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”  I trust that we have all learned this great lesson to be prepared both physically and spiritually.
  2. Family and friendships should be first on the priority list, ALWAYS.  We have really learned this lesson the hard way!  Around the world we were/are all asked to social distance to keep Covid-19 from spreading.  So no more hugging, shaking hands, going to lunch and just plain hanging out with friends.  We have been limited to spending time in our homes with our immediate family members with limited resources for entertainment.  With schools and entertainment venues being closed, we have had to go back to a former time when riding bikes, doing puzzles, playing games and being bored sometimes, were the norm.  I think we have realized that all of those things have great value and importance in building and strengthening our relationships as we slowly return back to a new normal.
  3. Human life is fragile and can change in the blink of an eye.  So many of us (if not all) have been forever changed by tragedy this year.  From tornadoes, earthquakes, fires and floods,  to sickness, depression, loss of life, and loss of celebration of our most precious moments.  I think it’s safe to say that we have all been affected in some way or another. Not being able to be with someone in the hospital and them having to shoulder something horrible all by themselves, has been one of the most heart wrenching experiences to witness.  The importance of being with our loved ones in hard times and in times of great joy have new meaning now.  Leaving this Earth, coming into this world, and loving while here on this Earth have hopefully been deeply ingrained as the most important elements of our life here on Earth.  That lesson has been deep and hard in so many ways.  May we be forever grateful for all the life we have been given, and not take another single minute for granted.  It can all be taken away from us without a moment’s notice.
  4. Stillness is a practice to be appreciated.  For the Bertagnolli household, all of the craziness of life, work, school, running kids to and from activities and practices, all came to a screeching halt when the tornado hit us on March 2-3rd (in the middle of the night).  The boys’ school was destroyed.  So the focus became, where and how are the boys going to have school?  The first 2 weeks of March (approximately) that was our primary focus.  Thank goodness we did not sustain damage to our home but many, many of our friends did.  Not only did they have to worry about school, but how and where they were going to return to normal life?  And then, within days of decisions being made as to where the boys would be going to school and cleanup and repairs being made to homes and businesses, BOOM, shut down the world!  And suddenly life how we knew became very still.  Most of us are not used to being still, running around crazy all the time from one activity to the next.  And suddenly we are completely compelled to “be still”.  If ever there was a time that God spoke to us, “Be still and know that I am God”- psalms 46:10,  it has been in the year 2020.  We have had to turn our hearts to God to merely survive all of the craziness that has been thrown at us this year.   And if you haven’t learned that lesson yourself, I highly encourage you to make the time to be still, to meditate, to pray and then listen.  God knows you, He hears you, and trust me when I say you are never ever alone.  Be still and know!
  5. Good health is everything. Being a self proclaimed expert in the field of mental illness (joking), I have been reminded over and over again of how important it is to stay mentally, physically and spiritually healthy.  I am so grateful that 2019 was year of  improved mental health for me.  I think had it not been, I may have been one that succumbed to the pressures and stresses of living with mental illness create. I sincerely hope not, but you just don’t know do you?  I am torn apart to hear about friends and family that have not been able to cope with the sudden changes that have taken place.  I am heartbroken to hear of illness and loss of physical health due to the effects that this year has brought on.  I am distressed by the number of people that have walked away from God during this time when we should be seeking Him for deliverance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                .                                                                                                                                                                                                 I will be forever changed (hopefully for the better) because of the events of 2020.  And I know you will too.  How can we have a year like this and not be changed for life?  Only time will tell if these lessons will be ingrained within us.  I fear that as time goes on and life returns to somewhat normal, hatred, fear, and anger will return with a vengeance (as we have already seen politically speaking).  It is Satan’s way.  But as I said in the beginning, I am and will always be an optimist and I choose to remember and retain the good lessons that I have learned.  And I will more wholey choose hope and joy every day of the week.  I hope you will too.   Let me know in the comments what lessons you have learned this year.

XO Wendy

P.S.  Pointing toward hope is now on podcast!  Just search for Pointing toward hope on most podcasting platforms. Instagram, and Facebook.  I hope you come and follow me in pointing toward hope every day.  If you or someone you know has an inspiring story to share that will lift others in meeting life’s challenges, please contact me.  I would LOVE to reach out and have them on the show for an episode.  Choose joy!

Refresh and reframe your mindset

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At the beginning of the year 2020 we had such a positive outlook on the year ahead!  After all it was the year of “perfect vision”.  Now we are 8 months in, and as I’m sure you will all agree, it has been…. well… a year of some unmet expectations. Ok maybe a lot of unmet expectations! But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the rest of year. And neither should you. Let’s finish out this year STRONG!

So that all sounds great right? But it’s not so easy to do. Especially in our ever changing world filled with uncertainty and fear for what the third quarter of 2020 might bring. I mean I have started and stopped my goal of recreating my relationship with food (hello Covid-19), every time I read something else in the media that produces anxiety.  Maybe it’s time to step away from social media for a while (that’s why I’ve been missing in action for a hot minute, lol).

I’m not suggesting giving it up completely (thats just crazy talk), I mean we have to stay informed. Just choose wisely what you choose to fill your brain with.

Here are a five ways other than going easy on social media, that I have found to deal with the anxiety and hopelessness of the future. And to reframe thinking in a positive and productive way.

  1. Brain Dump Sometimes feelings and emotions can really become too much to bear. A practice that I have found helpful is to get out a journal (you know how I love journals!) and just “dump” all of your thoughts, feelings, emotions and scenarios that you are creating in your mind on to a blank page. You don’t even have to keep it if you don’t want to. I find that just releasing all of that emotion from your head and your heart is truly cathartic. It can be a form of therapy to just let your heart and soul out in words. Words that you’ve been tossing around and around inside your brain, creating all kinds of awful scenarios. Just get it out so you can let your brain rest.
  2. Breathe There are moments when I’m working on something whether it be at work or at home even hanging out at soccer game (yes we just started back up again, yay!), when I notice that I have been holding my breath.  It’s really a common practice to tense up when we are deeply engrossed in something. You may even be doing it at this very moment.  So stop right now and do it with me.  Close your eyes and take a big inhale through your nose (really fill up your lungs).  Now let it out slowly through your mouth.  Now do that 2 more times as you let your body just relax.  Hopefully that will help you feel a little less anxious.  Just breathe.
  3. Kill the ants automatic negative thoughts (thank youJim Kwik). Negative thoughts rob us of joy and kill our hope and steal our happiness. We’ve all heard the quote by Henry Ford,  “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”  Our thoughts are so powerful!  As Jillian Michaels from biggest loser always says, “If you fight for your limiting beliefs you get to keep them. ”  Don’t get caught in the trap of telling yourself that you are not (smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, motivated enough, old enough, young enough etc).  What you tell yourself you are, is what you will become.  Practice self love on a daily basis by being kind to yourself.  Don’t let the “ants” keep you from thriving
  4. Drink yo’ water!!!! I know this might seem like a crazy thing to add in this post. And I will harp on this forever (see more here). There are so many benefits to getting your water in daily (at least half of your body weight in ounces).  And so many negatives to not drinking water.  Being properly hydrated is so important.  Here are just a few benefits:  Weight loss and good skin elasticity.  Muscle efficiency, mood balancer (yes!), temperature control, memory function, and joint lubrication.  It flushes out the toxins that build up in our bodies creating good bowel function.  It aids digestion and creates better immune health.  When we become dehydrated it can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, weakened muscles and lack of motivation.  Do yourself a favor and fill up your cup!
  5. Get out of your space Sometimes we get so caught up doing things in our own little world that we forget how much of a breath of fresh air it is to get out and see others.  Being with people who love us and support us and laugh with us, might be the most useful and important activity we can do for us and for them!  I can’t wait to be able to hug big again!  Granted this has been especially hard during 2020 with Corona.  But it is not going to last forever and for the time being, we can still get out and walk our neighborhood and wave at others as they drive by, or talk and laugh 6 feet apart.  And sometimes playing games and visiting with your own family in your own home can be such a ray of sunshine. 
  1. I hope that these ideas will help you to find some ways to destress and decompress and refresh and reframe your mindset with everything that is going on in our world.  If you are struggling, please know that you are NEVER alone! 

Isaiah 52:12  For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.

The Lord is always by your side with His angels to assist you.  I know this because he has been there for me over and over again.  Love to you all, have a wonderful weekend.

XO Wendy

P.S.   Big News!  Something fun coming soon!!!

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Stronger than you think.

The past couple of months have been super challenging.  I know that I am not the only one that feels this way.  It’s ironic because back in February before all the craziness started, I felt better physically, mentally and emotionally than I had in a very long time.  Stronger.  More equipped to fight off the adversary.  More confident, after struggling for so long to regain what I felt being diagnosed Bipolar, had taken away from me.  Courage to face the challenges that would come my way.  Little did I know what myself and others would be facing over the next several months.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you, doesn’t it?  I don’t know if there is anything that could have prepared us for what we have all been through over the past several months.   And on top of the many circumstances that each of has faced together, many have had to face the normal day to day challenges and inevitable trials that unexpectedly come our way in our so-called “normal” pre-Covid life.

So as I have been struggling, I have been searching for ways to pull myself out of the funk that I have been in.  And wouldn’t you know it, God always comes through with something that I need.  It didn’t just happen.  I have been praying for days to feel better and re-gain that strength and faith and courage that I had just a few short months ago.  As I have mentioned many, many times, we can’t just wait for it, we have to look for it and ask for it.

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Today, I just wanted to share a little bit of what I have been thinking and pondering over and what I feel like God has been guiding me towards this past month.

You may have noticed that after my last post, I’ve been pretty scarce with social media.  I feel like I have had to shield my spirit away from so much of the negativity that has been going on, just as I would to my children.  Maybe I am different than most mothers, but looking back I don’t think that I would have allowed my children to see a lot of what is blasted over social media.

I was pretty careful about what I allowed my kids to see and be a part of when they were little.  Though the internet wasn’t as prevalent as it is today, the T. V. was a big influence.  So I instituted what we called “No T.V. week” once a month.  We used that time to read books, spend time together as a family, to go outside and enjoy nature and to find other sources of entertainment.

We also had many shows that were off limits, that the kids were not allowed to view.  I just didn’t appreciate the influence and ideas of disrespect, negativity, and irresponsibility, etc. that some of those shows portrayed.  And I think it has only gotten worse as the years have gone on (especially with all the venues that are available today for viewing).

The point that I am getting to is that maybe…. maybe we need to treat ourselves and our spirits exactly how we would our children.  We are given stewardship over our children.  They are not ours.  They are His, just as we are His.

And just as tenderly as we treat and love our children, is how we should treat and love ourselves.  We need to give ourselves the grace that God gives us and that we give our children.  Even if that means taking the internet away from ourselves for a week ;).

How awful would it be if the first time our child tried to walk, we chastised them when they fell and discouraged from trying again?  But we don’t do that.. we encourage them over and over and over again until they can do it on their own.  And then we continue to do that with everything that they come across throughout their lives, even as they grow older and have their own children.  We never stop loving and encouraging and allowing them to grow and become better than they were before.

We only have this one body…. it is a gift from the Father.  Ours to take care of, to have “stewardship” over.  And even though our bodies come to us with many different challenges, our spirits that are housed by those bodies are precious and so loved by the Father.

I remember many times, rushing to my child’s side as they fell down. Tenderly lifting them onto a counter, kissing “ouchies”  better and gently placing bandaids on the scrapes and bruises.  Giving them a hug and holding them as long as they needed until they felt strong enough to get back to what they were doing when they fell.  And most often, with that boost of love and care, they were able to try again pretty quickly without even a negative thought.

Maybe I’m not so alone in the fact that I don’t treat myself the way I would my child, my family members, or my friends.  I don’t give myself grace when I make mistakes.  I have a hard time picking myself up when I fall.  Instead of wiping away the tears as I would my child when they fall and scrape their knees, and encouraging them to get back up.  I tend to chastise and beat myself up for falling in the first place. That is not what the Lord would want for us.  There is only one place that negativity, self doubt, fear, and discouragement come from and that is from the adversary!

So as I move forward (and I hope you’ll join me) through this unchartered territory that we are all exposed to at this time, I am going to do my best to remember that this body is given to me to house my beautiful, tender, and loving spirit.  I am going to show up for myself just as I do for my children and friends and family. I am going to wrap myself in a big giant hug and tell myself that everything is going to be ok.  Because it will be.

I am going to let God cradle me in His grace when I fall.  I’m going to get back up and try again when I make mistakes or fail.  Because one thing is for sure, we can not move forward when we are always looking back.  We can not look ahead when we are always looking back.  We can not become better when we are always telling ourselves how bad we are.

Falling is not the problem.  Making the choice to get back up when we fall is where the real victory begins!

XO Wendy