Where do we go from here?

Breathe

As I walked back to my house one early morning this week, through the brisk cool air and heard these words it was like magic to my soul.  I was listening to a podcast that had a guest that was sharing a harrowing experience about her life (All in: Brooke Snow).  And when she said these words “Christ is the breath of life”, it stopped me in my tracks.  You might say it took my breath away for a minute.  I let it sink in and wash over me.  As I listened to her experience, thoughts of my struggle with mental illness raced through my mind.  Time after time when Christ had become the breath in whom I trusted to help me make it through another day.

This pandemic has been a hard punch in the gut for a lot of people.  It has literally taken the breath away from most of us in all different ways.  It has caused us to reflect and remember the things that should take priority in our lives.  And it has been HARD.  In so many ways it has been hard.  So where do we go from here?  How do we move forward when at times it feels so paralyzing?

All of the plans that we had for this year have been irrevocably changed and we can never go back and change what we’ve missed.  Weddings, funerals, graduations, trips, and events.   Some people said that 2020 was the year of perfect vision.  The year when all our dreams could come true.  And then boom…. in an instant our world was turned upside down.  

But one thing I have learned through all of my struggles with depressions, anxiety and bipolar is that Christ is truly where it all has to start.   We are all capable of change.  After all, even though it’s been rough, we are making it through this change, somehow. Even though the path may not be clear at this moment.

Miracles can happen when we are willing to put our trust in Christ.  Let Him breathe life into our weary souls. Because He sees the big picture.  He sees what we can not.  And like a baby being born and taking that first breath of air, we must look to the Lord to learn how to breathe when breathing seems impossible or almost like we are suffocating.

About partway through this quarantine, I realized that I needed to increase my yoga (meditation process) to stay grounded.  Otherwise I think I would lose my mind and end up moving backward instead of forward with my illness.  Normally, I do it once a week. It’s a good way to stretch and let go. Release the worries of the previous week and look ahead to the new week.  But now I have been practicing it daily and it has made such a difference in my life and my days.  I am a beginner and have a long way to go. I’m learning to understand how yoga/meditation work. 

Important note: I am not saying that you should pick up yoga. But finding time to quiet my mind helps me to take things that are bothering me or frustrating me, and just let them melt away for a little while.  It has helped me gain a new perspective on me as a person.  I have found that I  am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.  

So what I am proposing as you move forward as the quarantine is lifted, and slowly move back into a daily routine, work, school, sports, etc., remember the ways that you have changed through this experience.  Remember the experiences that have shaped you into a “new” person.  Because certainly none of  us can come out of this experience saying that we have not been changed in some way.

Find time as often as possible to sit for 5 minutes a day and just breathe.  Let Christ be the breath of life for you.  Just breathe in and out, deep breaths and let the worries of the world melt away.  Clear your mind and take just 5-10 minutes to remember this experience and how strong you have become as a person.

You are resilient, you are strong, you are in charge of your own mind and your own life.  Of course, there have been many negative things that have happened  because of this experience.  We may tend to look at it as one big negative.  But I strongly encourage you to take the time to recognize the good that can come out it.  

One thing that we can always be certain of, is that there will always be change.  

President Russell M. Nelson taught:  “We can change our behavior.  Our very desires can change.  … but true change–permanent–change can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”   Let Christ Change you.  Let him help you breathe.  Let Him help you move forward and embrace what is going to be a new normal for all of us.  Christ is the breath of life.  

In Ezekiel 36 verse 26-27 we read: A new heart also will I give you, and  a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stoney heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.  

27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

My hope is that as you move into this next phase of your life that your heart will stay soft and if  it has been hardened through this trial, allow Christ to breathe new life into you.   Allow him to heal your weary soul.  You are His.  He loves you and wants the best for you.  Breathe in and breathe out and let Christ be the sail on your boat slowly pushing you forward. 

Where do we go from here?  In my mind the only answer is fearlessly forward!

XO Wendy

 

 

A New Normal

We are living in a world that is going to have a “new normal”.  As the events of the past few months have unfolded before us, we’ve felt many emotions.  Fear, Shock, disappointment, loss, suffering, helplessness, hopelessness, and many more.  

For some that are single or live alone, loneliness and isolation have been a big part of the past month. As well as those who have had to isolate because of infection by the virus. Or people who have been otherwise hospitalized, who have had to do so without the support of loved ones by their  side.  

Whether for a sickness, or lingering illness, or the joyous event of delivering a baby.  Which has been bittersweet, both joyful and heartbreaking to not be able to share that experience in person with friends and family 

At the same time, as we have practiced social distancing and followed the “stay safe, stay at home”  orders that have been implemented in many states, we’ve felt a closeness to our families that may have been lost.  We’ve been comforted by the fact that we are experiencing the same feelings as people all over the world. We’ve felt joy, compassion, love, tenderness, empathy for those working on the front lines and those who are ill. We’ve mourned for those who have lost their jobs and livelihood and those that have had to give up dreams that they’ve worked their whole life for. 

Many of us have developed a great love for our leaders.  Whether they be government, church, educators, scientists, healthcare workers, or even company owners who have come forward to help in the face of tragedy.

We’ve felt a renewed love for our Lord and Savior and his atonement and suffering for all of us.  We have realized that we can not carry this burden alone. That nobody should carry these burdens alone. And so we have become united in purpose to eliminate and eradicate this awful virus that has infected not only our bodies, but our lives.

It has been incredible to witness the heroics of so many in our communities as we have faced the pandemic and world calamities (earthquakes and tornados, etc.).  Our hearts fill with gratitude as we see a world come together through something that can’t be seen but only felt.

As someone who already suffers from mental illness and the effects of isolation that it can bring,  I feel a deep compassion for those who have never experienced those feelings who now will find themselves in deep depressions.  Whether from loss, unemployment, isolation, financial struggles or family dysfunction which may have become front and center. Or those who will suffer PTSD from witnessing the most horrible experiences one can imagine. 

But I will forever be an optimist.  I know that we CAN come together as a nation and as a world to fight this horrible disease.  We can make our world whole again by the kindness and love and the attitude with which we choose to move forward.

Will it be easy?  Absolutely not. We have all experienced something that will forever be implanted in our very souls.  Something horrendous. But out of the ashes rises the Phoenix! We can rise as a nation/world. We can rebuild our world and each other instead of tearing each other down.

We can spread love and kindness and come together in a way that no one anticipated a few short months ago. We can find that “new normal” together.  We can build a new world from the love and common ground that we’ve found through the most tragic of events.  

We have been told that it may be much longer than anyone thought that we will be in this situation.  Both fighting for our lives and fighting to stay healthy. But through this time there are still ways that we can reach out.  There are still ways that we can stay healthy and maintain a good attitude. And with the Lord’s help we will conquer this pandemic while simultaneously building stronger families, friendships and communities.

Revelation Chapter 21

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new

A new normal? Yes.  But possibly a better way of life? Most definitely!

All my love,

XO Wendy

 

All for us.

This week has been full of many different emotions.  From fear, to pain, to empathy. Love and loss, heartache and more love.  And then came a different emotion….connection. Connection to those around us who have lost so much this past week.  Connection through seeing our city torn apart and divided asunder and now the connection of working together on cleanup and rebuilding what once was.  

On March 3, 2020 in the middle of the night, a tornado ripped through the city of Nashville, Tennessee.  It was on the ground for an estimated 60 miles, destroying everything in its path. It was an ominous site to witness the destruction and loss that came in a mere matter of minutes.

As I have read and seen and been part of this experience it has been both heart wrenching and heartwarming.  But mostly heartwarming. I am amazed by our community of different faiths that have come together to clean up, repair, love and serve our neighbor.  Especially those in great need, but also those that are sacrificing their time to help in the effort. They have come from near and far. The first responders and the subsequent responders that have also been taken care of by the many volunteers that have come together in the rebuilding of a community that has suffered greatly.

As I thought about this, my mind turned to another city in another place on another night at a different time.  That of our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose blood dripped from every pore as he prayed for us that night in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Can you imagine the pleas and the struggle that he went through as he saw devastation and destruction envelop cities all over the world?  Cities like ours who were awakened with thunder and lightning so loud that it brought us to our knees with great pleas for safety and deliverance.  As He witnessed heartache and loss unimaginable? His heart was so wrenched that he cried out to the Father:

Luke 22:42  As He prayed He cried out to the Father saying; Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.  

He did it all for us. He walked the streets of Jerusalem carrying a mighty cross on his back, that was already raw with the open wounds from lashings that came from those who despised and hated him.  A crown of plaited thorns that was placed on his head while blood, sweat and tears dripped into his gentle eyes as he walked.

He carried that great cross to the hill where they would then lay him on it and drive nails through his palms, wrists, feet and side.  Then the cross was raised and planted in the ground and He suffered great pain, more than we are capable of comprehending, to complete the ultimate atonement for us.  His brothers and sisters.

Our Savior, Jesus Christ continues to succor us in our times of great need.  He loves us and watches over us. He speaks to us, if we are willing and ready to listen.  His voice is not of thunder or of lightning but of a still small voice. One that pierces our souls and spurs us to actions. We are told in

1 Kings 19:11- 12  And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquakeAnd after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

This is what I have seen this past week. This is what I want to remember.  All of those who have listened to His voice. Whether it was amidst the tempest and storm, or in the aftermath of the destruction.  I want to remember a city that came together to help their brother in great time of need. I want to remember the volunteers that came out, so many that they had to close roads to them so that the trucks hauling debris would be able to get in and out of the neighborhoods.  And then buses full of volunteers whose hearts were drenched with love for their neighbors in need, came to help in any way that they could. From manual labor of hauling and removing debris, to bringing meals, doing laundry, storing valuables that could be retrieved. And packing up homes that had been condemned because of too much damage.  Even offering free childcare to those hurting and those helping in the clean up effort.

It truly has been a sight to see and be a part of and one that I won’t soon forget.  I hope that as we approach Easter in just a few weeks that we will remember the suffering of our great redeemer.  And know that as we have all participated in this life altering event we have in some small way been his hands and his heart.  He died for us that we might live again. And we love our neighbor as he commanded so that He might live in us.

One last thought I wanted to share that happened the day after the storm.  I had been filled with a great anxiety as I am sure a lot of people have been feeling.  So I turned to the scriptures in prayer for some kind of relief. I stumbled upon, or rather was guided to, 

Helaman 5:12  And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

And again, I was reminded that He did it all for us!

XO Wendy

Does it ever get better?

Heavy laden

Does it ever get better?  Will I ever feel happy again?  Why is this burden so heavy and why was I asked to carry it?  These are just a few if the many questions that you may struggle with.  Some answers may come quickly then there are some that may never come in this lifetime.

Sometimes you may find yourself digging a deeper and deeper hole as you list off all of the negative ways that BPD (Bipolar Disorder) has affected your life. It’s so easy to throw a little pity party and blame ‘all the things’ on your illness.

But the truth is, there is so much more to you than your illness.  You are not defined by it!  There are certainly times in your life that it may seem to control your every thought and move.  And at times,  you feel like others truly define you by it (some probably do). But it is only Satan that will have you believe that you have no control.  He is the father of all lies.  He would have you believe that you can never get well, that you will continue to hurt others in your life, that your life is not worth living, that you are all ALONE.  But Satan is wrong!

You see, God will never ever leave you!  He begs you to come to Him.  He beckons you to lay all of your burdens at his feet.  To let Him Heal you!

One of my favorite songs by Sidewalk Prophets says:

To the thief, to the doubter
To the hero and the coward
To the prisoner and the soldier
To the young, to the older
All who hunger, all who thirst
All the last, all the first
All the paupers and the princes
All who fail you’ve been forgiven
All who dream, all who suffer
All who loved and lost another
All the chained, all the free
All who follow, all who lead
Anyone who’s been let down
All the lost you have been found
All who’ve been labeled right or wrong
Everyone who hears this song
Just
Come, come to the table
Listen to the song below.

I am reminded of so many times throughout scripture that the Lord pleads with us to come unto Him.  To let Him heal our broken souls.  He says in Mosiah 24:14

 “And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”

As we approach Easter this year I hope that you will put the atonement of Jesus Christ to work in your life.  He is there for you.  He loves you.  And He has sent many people into your life to be His hands.  To help you and to guide you and to help you realize that you are not alone!

I sincerely hope that your day and weekend gets better and that the sun will shine over you as you push through the hard days in your illness.  Don’t give up! The fact that you are reading this post means that He does hear your cries.

XO Wendy

BPD, a blessing or a curse?

Prosper you and give you hope

Bipolar disorder (BPD), is a big part of my life, whether I like it or not (…Not!).  However  I have to give it credit for being a catalyst for so much good and positive change in my life.  That’s right!  When it all boils down, I am grateful for the disorder for helping me to grow toward becoming a more positive, healthy, empathetic, and gratuitous person.

I still have a journey ahead of me, of course, but I am happy with how far I have come.  When I look back at the road less traveled (or maybe I should say less acknowledged), I can see the many times that BPD has been a blessing in my life.

The annual report of the state of mental health in America, came out today and while I was pleased to see that substance use disorder has dropped some, it is clear that we have a lot more work to do in bringing awareness to mental illness and suicide prevention. I hope that my posts have had some effect in bringing that awareness to others.

Here are just a few of the reasons that I have found, to see my illness as a blessing.  It is worth mentioning there is always the flip side of the coin but in this post I want to stick to the positives.

 

  1. GET Stuff Done! While I had severe bouts with depression when my kids were little (I had four within 7 years!), I credit being able to get A LOT of stuff done to the manic side of BPD.  I remember being called the “energizer bunny” because I could accomplish so many projects in a day.  It probably wasn’t the healthiest way to get things done.  But when my kids were little and required so much time and attention I was able to give them what they needed. And as they got older and all had different schedules and activities, I was able to get them all where they needed to be when they needed to be there, keep a house of order, cook and clean and stay organized.  I often look back and wonder how I did it all!  Now I know.
  2. More Empathetic.  Not that I wasn’t always a caring person, it’s been in my nature to care for others since I was little.  I had a mother that was a great example of this.  However, being diagnosed with a mental illness, especially one as serious as the one that I have, has helped me to recognize the loneliness that people with mental illnesses experience.  We all feel like no one understands and that no one knows what we are going through.  We withdraw and retreat into ourselves because of that.  But I want you to know that you are NEVER EVER alone.  I see you!  And so do a lot of others out there who have struggled with similar disorders. And Jesus Christ KNOWS exactly what you have and will experience, because he descended below it all for you and for me!  Jesus will always have your back.
  3. I Know in Whom I trust. Speaking of Jesus Christ, I would never have come to know my Savior in the way that I now do if it hadn’t been for what I have gone through on my road to better health.  One of my favorite scriptures came to me in a time when I was most in need.  Jeremiah 29:11 says: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and  a future.  Whenever I was down or was having a particularly hard day (which there have plenty of), I looked to that scripture and remembered that my Lord is always aware of me and knows my needs and wants the best outcome for me.
  4. Live in Gratitude Daily.  That probably sounds strange to some people, especially to those who suffer with debilitating illnesses.  But I have learned that keeping a daily gratitude journal is one of the best practices that one can do for physical, spiritual and mental well being.  Sometimes I may have to dig deep to find the tender mercies of a day.  But when I do, I am always filled with a profound sense of gratitude for the life that I have blessed with, illness and all.
  5. Appreciate the Really Good Days.  I’ll be the first one to admit that there are some really, really hard days when dealing with these types of illnesses.  There are days when you feel like you can’t go on, that it is all too hard and you can’t survive another day.  Even though I am on medication and am in a better spot than I have ever been in, I still have bad days.  However, it makes me appreciate, really truly appreciate. Every. Single. Day. That I am alive. That I am here and that I can share and help others who may have similar experiences.  My good days are something to be celebrated.  And celebrate I do, with every day I live I am grateful for having been blessed with BPD.  It has made my life fuller and richer in so many ways.

Have a wonderful day and week!

XO Wendy

Questions to Ponder…

What would the Savior do?  What would He say?  How would he handle this particular circumstance?

These are the questions that I pondered this week as my social media feed filled with the opinions and thoughts of others concerning a certain large event that took place over the weekend.   I am sure you can guess what it was and I don’t feel the need to name what it was because of the controversy that has been stirred up over it.

I thought I could stay silent like the many that have.  Or I could join in with the rationalizations that are happening.  Or I could have the courage to take a stand.  “Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”, is a quote that I grew up believing in.

Nevertheless, I am just going to drop this here and you can do with it what you will.  Just like everyone that has voiced an opinion, this is merely my opinion.  You don’t have to agree with it.  That’s the great thing about opinions and discussions.  They are food for thought.  Then you get to take those thoughts and figure out where you stand and what you will do with it.

Over these past few days there has been a portion of a talk that I haven’t been able to get out of my head.  President Nelson shared this talk at the General Women’s conference last October.  I am posting it here so you don’t have to go digging for it. I had to go back and listen again because there was one statement that kept rolling around in my head.

“…my dear sisters, your ability to discern truth from error, to be society’s guardians of morality, is crucial in these latter days. And we depend upon you to teach others to do likewise. Let me be very clear about this: if the world loses the moral rectitude of its women, the world will never recover.

I remember the seriousness in his tone as he spoke those words.  He began that thought by stating the following:

“Now a little word of warning. There are those who would undermine your ability to call upon the power of God. There are some who would have you doubt yourself and minimize your stellar spiritual capacity as a righteous woman…

…Satan and his minions will constantly contrive roadblocks to prevent you from understanding the spiritual gifts with which you have been and can be blessed.”

I don’t want to say too much about my personal experience with my own thoughts and ponderings this week, because the idea of me even writing this is to get you to take a look at your own thoughts and what your heart and mind is telling you.

I personally have many mixed thoughts and could actually sit on both sides of the fence.  But what it all boils down to for me is this:

Where do we draw the line?  When do we say enough is enough?  If I am uncomfortable with something, do I have the moral fortitude to turn away from it?

So yes, I personally was completely offended by what I saw and witnessed and feel awful that I didn’t walk away.  I have learned the lesson that I personally was meant to learn.  That in the future when something like this happens, I just have to be strong enough to  “say no to some things, even though they may seem harmless.” (President Nelson).

I’m not naive, I know that this is a completely different world than the one I grew up in or even the one that I raised my children in.  However, when something happens that causes so much controversy and so many opinions, you have to check yourself and where you stand!  Even if it’s not popular and even if it’s a little uncomfortable.

Just a side note, for those of you that have a different opinion.  I completely respect you for having the courage to stand for what you believe in.

XO Wendy

Here is the talk:  the quotes I spoke of come around the the 6:10 mark.

 

 

Coming back…

“…in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.

My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.” President Russell M. Nelson remarked in 2018 General Conference.

This particular passage came into my mind with such force this morning.  I don’t know why. I’ve learned not to question. But to allow things like this to marinate a little and wash over me.  What is the reason? What is the purpose for this? Maybe a reminder to not take my experiences for granted. Because there was a time when I did just that.  Took it all for granted.  

We are all a constant work in progress.  Trying to live each day in the best way we know how.  Despite the many setbacks, trials, sicknesses, and other life events that we encounter, we push forward to find a way…. Our way.  

My way is certainly not the best way, but it’s my way, my journey. And your way, is your journey.  And no matter the circumstances we face in our lives, part of living is learning to enjoy and even flourish amidst all that we face in these confusing and sometimes dark days.  

Pain is part of it. Joy is part of it.  Tears and heartache are part of it. Success and conquering are all part of this journey!

This blog is my story, my life, my journey.  I can’t change anything for you in your personal life.  Only YOU can do that. But as I have mentioned in many of the posts I have written.  You don’t have to do it alone. You are NEVER, EVER alone!

Sometimes it may feel like it.  Sometimes it may feel like Heaven’s doors are shut and locked to many of us.  We want to know and to hear and understand, but sometimes (and I’m just speaking from my own experiences here), it is not the Lord that walks away from us.  We distance ourselves from Him. Not in a completely intentional way but in an “I’m not sure this is what I want in my life right now,” sort of way. I just want to find out for myself.”  And I am here to suggest that this is EXACTLY what you need to do. Find out for yourself!  

No one can get you to feel or grow and progress spiritually except for you. And it takes work.  You can’t just expect to have all the answers laid out in a neat little package for you. But questioning is part of that work. And though it may feel as though Heaven is closed, believe me when I say, those windows and doors are wide open, waiting to pour out blessings upon you.

We do have to ask, seek, knock in order for those answers to come. And it is hard.  He never said it would be easy, only that it would be worth it! 

Several years ago (It’s been almost 8 years to be exact), I found myself in a position of questioning and struggling with things of a spiritual nature.  I would ask myself (and sometimes others) the impossible questions. Why faith? Why is everything predicated upon faith? If there is a God, why do bad things happen to good people?  Why are there starving people in the world? Why is there so much sickness and despair and natural disasters? If there is a God, why can’t I feel Him, why does He talk to others but not me?  And where is my “beyond a doubt” moment? And so many other relevant questions that many of you are asking yourselves right now.

I certainly do not have all the answers.  I am a work in progress, just like everyone else.  I only see it the way that it happened for me. As it is for all of us.

When I left the Church that I was raised in, I walked away from a culture.  I walked away from a “building”. I walked away from what I knew at the time.  I slowly moved away from my Savior, (even though I didn’t believe that at the time).

But when I came back, I came back because my Savior found me. He found ME. Though I was lost, HE went out looking for me.  He left the other sheep to find the ONE. I don’t know how or why it happened for me the way that it did. I don’t know why that passage came to me with such force this morning.  I’m still not sure. Maybe the good shepherd is out there looking for YOU.  Perhaps I am just the messenger.

I know you are struggling right now to find answers.  Your road will not be easy.

My road was NOT an easy road.  And to have it to do over again… I’m sure I would have pleaded to find another way.  A way that wasn’t as painful and full of struggles as it was. But in that same breath, I have learned and grown in ways I never could have imagined.  Ways that I never would have if my road had been different.  

He heals me every day that I allow him to.  He carries me when the days are long and hard.  He finds me when I get lost for a moment. He LOVES me without condition.  He is my strength when I feel weak. He is my hope when I feel despair. He brings me so much joy and peace.  He found ME but in HIM I find my peace, strength, love, hope, and healing. He is my Savior and redeemer.  

This is my story, it is my journey, my life.  And through it all He WAS there. Even when I thought He wasn’t.  He WAS THERE! For ME. The ONE!

And he will be there for YOU too!

XO 

Wendy

Matthew 12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.