Courage to be yourself

Several years ago, I used to have index cards with positive quotes on them.  I was working toward a specific goal and in that goal more than even being able to achieve it, I wanted to make sure that I was not only being true to my values, but that I was being me and not trying to imitate what someone else was doing.   And so I would read these quotes every day in the hopes that they would be ingrained upon my mind.  I would post sticky notes around the house that reminded me at all times of what I was working toward and quotes that were intended to help me reach that goal of being myself.  

Today what I want to talk about is the courage to be you!  Be the person that you were meant to be with no apologies.  And make sure that you are holding true to your values and what God’s potential is for you.  

There  is a quote that I want to share with you today. It’s super short and so easy to remember so my challenge to you will be to memorize it so that you can be reminded that YOU are who you were meant to be.  

Here’s the quote… ready?  “In a world where you can be anything, be yourself!”  Super easy right?  Now I want you to repeat it along with me 3 times, only changing it to the first person with the last part being changed to I am meant to be myself.  Ready?…  In a world where I can be anything, I am meant to be myself.  Again…in a world where I can be anything, I am meant to be myself…one more time…in a world where I can be anything, I am meant to be myself.  

Now take a deep breath and visualize yourself in a way that represents you!  And if you’re struggling with that.  Maybe think of the person that you want to be.  For example, if someone was writing your obituary, what would you want it to say about YOU?  Not your credentials, and, where you lived, or places that you traveled or what you think defines you, such as she was a great mom, or he was a dog trainer. etc. etc.

What I want you to visualize is what someone would say about your character.  What traits would you want them to list about you?  So think about and ponder that for a minute. While I share some other thoughts.

There is an ancient temple in Greece, in some foothills near the ocean, that is dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Above the entrance of this temple, now referred to as the Oracle at Delphi, is the following well-known inscription: “Know thyself.” This simple yet profound invitation reflects an important step in our progression as human beings.

The Greeks believed that all humans are born with innate potential and that the purpose of life is to figure out what that potential is and to then act on it.

Guess who else believes in our potential and wants us to grow into the person that we were meant to be?  You guessed it.  Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In a talk given at BYU by DONALD L. STAHELI  he asks this question, “Is the road you are now traveling and the present conduct of your life leading you to achieve your full God-given potential?” 

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said it another way: “The Lord loves each of us too much to merely let us go on being what we now are, for He knows what we have the possibility to become!”

Pretty thought provoking right?

Our world today is fraught with people trying to tell us a better way to live our lives.  There is discouragement, distraction, and doubt at every turn.  We see videos and social media plastered with people showing their “perfect reels”.   But, the question becomes then, is what you see what you get?  Are you putting out there what you want the world to see you as?  Or are you standing up with courage and being your true self, who the Lord wants you to be, no matter the consequence?

In his talk Staheli goes on to say “I am convinced that distractions and discouragement are some of Satan’s most effective tools. He finds ways to help us make excuses as to why we can’t do this or that. He gets us involved in wasting our time and resources in things that lead us away from improving our lives and developing our talents. He blurs our focus by diverting our attention. And this can happen to the very best of us.

So as I said in the beginning, the challenge is to have the courage to be you with no apologies.  This life is just too short to try and be something you are not.  And maybe it takes you a while to figure out what that something is.  But the best way to do that is to learn to know yourself by looking inward and looking upward to the one that know’s you better than you will ever know yourself! Have a great day my friends and we’ll do it 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

I will hope in Him

This week has basically been about how we can get direct access to the Lord.  And today I wanted to focus on a section in the Bible, it’s Lamentation chapter 3.  In this Chapter the author is unknown and some believe that it is a personification of the city of Jerusalem, but others believe that it is simply referring to the author himself and his own desperation.

This man speaks about all the horrible things that are happening to him and then he says in verse 22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. 24 The Lord is my portions, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. 25 The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. 26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.

And I chose this to finish off the week because there are times that no matter how hard we try or how much we pray, or how hard we are knocking there is still no relief to our suffering.  We are asking, seeking and knocking and stretching and drawing near and learning and pondering and studying and yet, we still feel that utter desperation of, why do these things keep happening when I’m trying so hard to reach out? 

When I was first diagnosed bipolar, my husband and I were already going through some difficulties. So this diagnosis was kind of like the last straw of our desperation.  And then came the problems of trying to find a medication or recipe of medications that would work for me.  I was a photographer and while I was in the hospital my husband had to go through my calendar and cancel all of my upcoming sessions and get by business in order, take care of himself and take care of me.  His business was struggling and there were a lot of things going on there that required his attention.  Plus we have the two boys (his sons) that required a lot at that time due to their young age.  To say that there was a lot of stress was a huge understatement.  It was hard on both of us.  But especially difficult for Him. He was just trying so hard to hold it all together.  I remember him coming home from work one day after another long and less than fruitful day, and saying with utter desperation in his voice, “over this past month I feel like I am constantly getting punched in the gut and getting kicked when I’m already down.  I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I just want to quit getting punched.”  

But the punches continued to roll in as we struggled through this crisis.  The stress was weighing heavy on him. He wasn’t eating, he wasn’t sleeping well, and he was losing hope and losing weight! And I became extremely worried about him.  

One day after much stretching and reaching and asking and knocking and pleading with the Lord.  We came to the conclusion that something was physically not right with him and that he needed to seek medical attention.  This was the last thing he needed on the long list of things to take care of.  But he followed his impressions and went to see a Dr.  Turns out he had what is called a stress reaction, brought on by everything that he was dealing with.  The dr. was able to help with it and he was able to slowly get back to his normal self.  He was finally able to find the “peace” that the Savior brings to us in our hour of great need.

As we close out this week I just want you to know with a surety that our Savior is behind that door.  Even when it seems like there is not one more thing you can take.  He will find a way to bring you the peace you are searching for.  To quote Elder Holland’s words, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. Of this I can attest.”

Take hope in the Lord my friends. 

Have a beautiful weekend and I’ll talk to you again next week!

XO Wendy

Ask, Seek, Knock

When I first was given the prompting to start a podcast along with this blog, I’ll admit I was quite overwhelmed.  I didn’t have any experience in podcasting or editing or building content… other than my blog which I have struggled to stay consistent with.  So this undertaking has taken a lot of faith and trust in the Lord, even during the weeks that I am not recording.Thats when I find myself doubting my abilities and the little ripple that I am making in my little corner of the world.

One thing that I am sure of is that we all doubt ourselves and our abilities at times.  It is Satan’s way to discourage and distract us away from the things that will bring change and so much goodness into the world. 

Reading back in my journal recently, I realized that I had lost sight of what my original prompting was.  And so I felt a little chastised maybe as I read that what the intended need in the beginning, was to give daily upliftment in the form of mini snippets 5-7 min. easy to listen to recordings of the word of God.  Through scriptures, conference talks both past and present and examples of great women and men of the gospel.  Think 9th article of faith: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God. And if you don’t know what an article of faith is, click here and you can find out more about what we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe.

When looking back at the past recordings that I have done.  I have weaved that into my presentations.  But I just never felt completely at peace with what I was doing.  There was always that nagging, that I wasn’t doing it the way that the Lord intended for me to do.  

I’m not sure why I struggled with the original prompting.  Maybe because I don’t feel like a scriptorian, or a student of theology so to speak.  I tend to see my flaws as most of us do.  But one thing that I am completely sure of is that my Love for the Lord and his gospel is the most prominent  part of my life.  I LOVE the scriptures, all of them.  I love our prophets and for members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I love our heritage and history.  Are we a perfect people?  No, we are not.  But most of us strive, we STRIVE, to live the gospel in the best way we know how.  Of course we are going to fall short at times.  Of course we are human and will offend and not be liked at times.  And that’s ok.  It is ok.  After all, the church was not built for perfect people, the scriptures do not teach perfect people, nor do they teach OF perfect people. Except Jesus of course. The scriptures and church are for the imperfect, the broken, the lost and wandering.  For those who are seeking the truth.  And oh how they are given to us with such deep and abiding love from our Lord and Savior.  

So this week and for who knows how long,  remember I am striving.  I will be coming to you daily with a little pinch of hope, peace and joy.  I hope you like the new change and will stick around.  It might be a little bumpy at first.  But I know that what the Lord has in mind is the best direction to go.  So let’s go.   

This week’s topic comes from scriptures that can be found both in the bible Matthew 7:7-8 and from the Book of Mormon 3 Nephi 14:7-8 and D&C 88:64-65

On Monday’s we will shallow dive into the Book of mormon, and modern day scripture. We’ll call it Book of Mormon Monday.  So we will start with 3 Nephi 14:7-8 it reads: Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.  For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; And to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

And just for reference we will read D&C 88:63-64 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall recieve;  knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you.

I chose this particular scripture one because I have been using it to figure out my next steps with this podcast.  I was going back and forth about whether to keep doing the podcast or give it up all together, when I came across this passage.  And I love that it is in all of the scriptures despite a few wording differences.  I also like to use the KJV study bible version of the bible because I think it’s important to note the differences and similarities with other Christian translations of the Bible than the one Latter Day Saints normally use, when studying.  And I love that it also has a section at the bottom that gives more insight into that particular scripture passage.  We will be discussing that more on Friday.  So stay tuned for that.

So I just wanted to talk for a few minutes on how we can put this scripture passage to work in our lives.  It’s a popular scripture that many christians know by heart and for good reason.  It holds beautiful promises from our Savior that He is ALWAYS there for us.  No matter what is happening in our lives. I love the words ask, seek, knock.  

The word “ask” means to request information, to inquire of, to try and get something.  We usually do this in the form of a prayer.  We settle upon a question or struggle that we are having and then we take it to the Lord. I imagine in my mind that I am about to approach the door to which the Savior stands behind pondering what my particular request, or need is.  I think of what I am seeking in His answer as I knock.  Seeking means to go in search of, to try to find, discover, or obtain.  

So just for the sake of an example.  Imagine that you have your question or struggle and in order to get the answer you have to hike to a steep place where there is a door that you will knock on and the Savior will be there to give you the answer.  All along that path you are encountered with rocks and detours and branches of which you need to navigate.  It takes work.  Seek is an action word. It suggests that you are putting forth some effort.  So you might prepare yourself by searching for the answer on your own or coming up with some sort of plan and then as you are hiking you are thinking about that and what you might expect in return from the Savior who is beyond the door awaiting your knock.  I picture Him waiting anxiously and in anticipation.  Much like that of a mother or father who is always willing and waiting to give advice to their children.  He cares so much about you and knows that this is really important to you.

As you ascend to the top of the mountain you have done a lot of the work needed to receive your answer.  You have questioned, you have pondered, you have done the work to get there but you need to know that what you are pondering is right or maybe you have no idea and you just need to be guided in the right direction.  You knock and wait patiently.  And your patience is rewarded when the Savior is there to open the door promptly and invite you inside to sit with Him.  

I feel like when I imagine this process, I come knocking with a more humble and open heart to what the Lord has for me in return.  He promises “it shall be given…It shall be found… it shall be opened to you.”  

I can’t promise that you will find the answers to your questions immediately upon your “knock” but I do know that when you come to the Lord with an open heart and mind, that He will not let you down.  He is there to surround you in His peace, comfort and knowledge.  He will never ever turn you away.  

So today if you journal or write things down.  I want you to think of a time when you have gone through the process we talked about and what your experience was.  Write it down.  Because being able to go back to these experiences in times of need will remind you of how willing the Savior is to open that door wide when we come knocking.

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

XO Wendy