A choice to make

Well hello again! I can’t believe it’s been nearly 3 months since my life began to rock a little. But I am back and happy to be here.

So let’s start this out right. Good morning! And welcome to the pointing toward hope podcast I am Wendy Bertagnolli and this is episode 32.

I have to say that sometimes when I think I’ve got it all figured out, God steps in and says, no, I have something else in store for you. And when that happens I am almost always caught a little off guard by it. As most of us usually are.

Back in April when I was posting daily, I was on a great run. I was so prepared, things seemed to be flowing freely and I was doing so well with the blog and podcast that I was able to stay a week ahead (which I thought was fabulous). Until that last week. I had completed 3 podcasts for the next week.

But for some reason they just didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel good about them and so I decided not to post them and see if something esle came to mind that felt right. Nothing ever did. But I am so glad that I didn’t delete them because now is definitely the time the Lord intended for them to be heard/read.

I have said so many times that I feel like a lot of this process of doing the podcast and writing the posts is mostly for myself. It’s very therapeutic for me. But I also want to extend the things that I learn on this journey with others.

Living with Bipolar, and really, walking this journey of life in general, is much more difficult to do alone. But in this particular case there was definitely something that I was supposed to learn.

Over the past 3 months since I stopped posting it has been quite the roller coaster. If you’d like to jump back to episode 31 and take a listen, I talked about the Lord catching you when you fall. Well I think He was giving me a little heads up. It’s time to practice what you preach! Lucky me!

To my credit, one of the reasons that I let the posts go for a while was because I was starting to become more stressed and worried about it than I would have liked to have been. I was worried about staying on schedule. I would ask myself: Was I getting the right message out? How can I market this so that more people who need it can get to it? And #1 on my mind was how do I find the right people to interview that will be willing to share their experiences with others in the hopes that it might lift and help another. Because I think that’s so important when it comes to the trials of life that we endure. When we share what we’ve overcome, it can be someone else’s survival guide.

All of that was just weighing heavy on my mind and I realized that I just needed to let it all go for a minute and focus on my health.

Stress, as you may recall from episode 6 Habits to adopt for good mental health, is a major catalyst in pushing someone with bipolar ll toward a manic episode so I have to be super careful about that. If you have’t listened to that one, I highly recommend going to check it out.

As I mentioned in episode 31 I talked about trusting the Lord enough to let Him catch you when you fall. But looking back, I may have been a little slow on the uptake of that one! Things started happening that were signals that I was slowly progressing towards the manic side of the scale.

One thing that most people might not know about Bipolar, is that when tiny little incidences occur it is easy for them to go unnoticed. Especially to the person who is experiencing them. It’s quite common that they don’t recogize these things in themselves. But hopefully, they have a good support system or caretaker in place that will likely pick up on these things long before it becomes a problem.

That’s what happened in my case. Now it’s really important to note that when confronted by your caretaker it may come as an unwelcome blow. I mean we already feel that we are “broken” and to have someone tell you that there are some cracks becoming visible, can be hard to take when you think you feel great!

It may seem like they are trying to take that good feeling away from you. And some people become somewhat argumentative, depending upon their nature of course. But, it is in these times that you need to be so full of trust with your main caretaker as well as with your Savior. You have to have so much trust that He’s got you in the palm of His hands. Always!

Having my caretaker (my husband) intervene is where the lesson began for me.

The rest of this podcast and the following 3 (which will be posted every other day) were previously recorded the week that I didn’t feel good about posting them.

The episode after that will be my experience of looking back to what came after that to see where things started to become unbalanced.

I will say that this episode may be a bit of a trigger for those of you who suffer with trauma. I think I did a pretty good job of maintaining composure enough to get the message across. But it was certainly a very down day for me, as you may pick up on.

You might also think (after listening to all 4 episodes) that everything with me seemed fine. Which for the most part it was. But after that last week things began to deteriorate slowly but steadily. And over the following few months it was clear to my husband that something was wrong and it was time to intervene.

I tell you this because, to anyone else (including myself) I would have seemed completely normal and put together. But now, being able to look back, I can see clearly the path that I was on.

I don’t want to go into too much detail here because I will get into that in episode 36. In that episode I will be as real and as raw as I can about what bipolar and the progression toward manic episodes is really like. So stay tuned for that.

With all that in mind enjoy the next few episodes. Once they are finished my posts will become a little more sporadic. 1x a week to monthly or bi monthly is my goal. Because I have most definitely learned my lesson that self care and my mental health must always be at the forefront of my mind. Ok here we go!

I lay here in the dark and I think of you in a beautiful garden. Exhausted from your work here on Earth. As you kneel near the rock, under the tree, I see you open your hands to the Heavens. And the words start to pour out of your mouth. It’s as if He’s right there, your Father, knowing what has to come next.

I begin to weep as I realize that the pain you must suffer is in some small part, due to me and my choices, to the decisions that I made, that I made a clear choice to create. The tears come freely now as I begin to understand that it is not just my choices, but my pain, my life, my illness that you so clearly will experience in these moments of the most awful act anyone could ever endure. 

 I am torn…on the one hand I feel the utter disgust at the decisions, the choices, I made that are causing you pain in this moment.  Yet on the other hand, I feel the most incredible feeling of love and peace knowing that YOU love ME enough to do this for ME.  Who am I?  I am not learned, or important, or worth the pain that you are suffering at my expense. 

I watch as you begin to cry.  It’s as if I can feel your tears on my open hands.  They fall in great droplets of pain and empathy and I am taken in great waves of grief. How could this happen?  Why is this happening?  Who would allow this to happen?  And then I remember with great clarity, that this…. THIS was part of the plan.  His plan, to save us all.  

I hear the words ring in my ears that you speak aloud.

John 17:1-4

1 … Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

For a moment I am taken back to the fight.  The fight for this plan to save us all. This eternal plan.  And I remember it is in large part about our choices.  Something called agency.  Some call it “free” agency.  But it is not FREE, it comes at a cost.  A cost you so freely give

In the Book of Mormon we read in

Alma 7:11–13

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

In D. Todd Christofferson’s talk Free forever to act for themselves.

He said “It is God’s will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually, that we be free from the humiliating limitations of poverty and the bondage of sin, that we enjoy self-respect and independence, that we be prepared in all things to join Him in His celestial kingdom.”

He goes on to say,

“I am under no illusion that this can be achieved by our own efforts alone without His very substantial and constant help. “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”  And we do not need to achieve some minimum level of capacity or goodness before God will help—divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with.”

I see Him there.  Bleeding and in pain and I think of the many who suffer due to a choice that they did not choose.  For those that do, it’s comforting to know that we have a Savior, who lives, who loves us, and who suffered the unspeakable, so that we can know joy again, no matter our circumstance.

I turn away as the pain is too much to bear.  And then I am back, in my bed, laying in the dark and my pillow is wet with the tears that I wept.  And I realize that I do have a choice.  In this moment of sadness and pain.  I do have a choice, because of you, my Savior, my brother, my redeemer, my friend.  And I silently thank you, once again for allowing me to remember that I am not alone.

XO Wendy

Cast thy burden upon the Lord

I am going to tell you about my very first real experience with true grace in my life.  I was around 27-28 years old.  And had a growing, flourishing family.  I had 4 children that were under the age of around 8.  

I had struggled with depression for some time at this point and quite frankly,I just needed a break from all the chaos just for a little while. It was a beautiful Sunday morning  And so I did something that I really never did at that time.  I faked sick and had my husband take the children to church.  

I really didn’t fake it totally.  Depression is most definitely a sickness.  But on this particular day, I just felt like if I didn’t get a break, I wasn’t going to make it one more day.  Just to be clear, I was not suicidal, I just needed time to regroup.  And 3 glorious hours to myself, sounded heavenly!  At that time in the history of our church we spent 3 hours on the sabbath worshipping our Savior in the church building.

I  was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday saints, and so I’d had many experiences learning about repentance, forgiveness and grace.  But had only applied it to my life in a few instances.  I thought that repentance was for the really wrong things that you had done in your life, not something that I needed to do on a continual basis.  I know, pretty naive. 

Now I feel like repentance, forgiveness, and grace, are kind of like learning to ride a bike.  At first it might be difficult and you may be a little wobbly and require trainging wheels to begin with.  But once you learn, and those training wheels come off, you never forget the feeling of freedom you have,  I know that because I was a bit of a slow learner.  

I didn’t learn to ride a bike without training wheels until I was about 7 and all my friends had already learned.  It was one of my best friends in the neighborhood who taught me how on her little red bike.  I had gotten a cool shwinn with a basket for Christmas but it was a bit big for me still, which I think is why it took me longer.  My friend Shelly, was so patient. She taught me how to balance and get my footing.  She would walk with me each time we tried.  And when I fell, she would get on the bike and show me the way again.  

It wasn’t long before she was running beside me to catch me if I fell.  But I had it down now, I was so proud!  It was an exhilarating feeling, the wind in my hair and the gratitude that comes with accomplishment of something difficult.

Now let’s go back to Sunday that I faked sick.  Just to give a little context, I had been a bit of a wild teenager.  I had some rebellious years where I made a lot of stupid choices, as teenagers sometimes do.  But by this time I had already taken care of those experiences through the repentance process.  But I had a hard time forgiving myself for the stupid choices that I made during that time in my life.  It seemed it would crop up and make me feel like I didn’t take care of it properly, or that I somehow wasn’t worthy to have the grace promised by the Savior.  

Of course now I know, that all of that was just the adversary trying to keep me from moving forward and progressing.  He really does that!  He will try everything, especially when you are being obedient to the covenants that you have made with the Lord.  His greatest joy is to have power over you. 

On that Sunday morning, I happened to be feeling especially unworthy, I had just skipped church for no good reason. And made my husband take on that responsibility, knowing that it would be difficult to keep all 4 children under control and get them to where they needed to be, when it was time to go to Sunday school and primary.  That’s what we call the worship for all our little children in our faith.

The longer it went the more guilty I felt.  Even though it was a small thing, Satan began to work on me bringing up all the mistakes of the past and my mistakes and failings as a young parent.  

Finally I opened up my scriptures and in the front of it, nicely folded from age.  Was a blessing that in my church we receive at some point in our lives that we feel is given for direction and to help guide us here in our life on this side of the veil.  It is something that we hold very sacred, specifically given to us, and not to be shared lightly with others.  I hadn’t read mine in quite some time.  I picked up the worn piece of paper and began to read.  The words on the page seemed to jump out at me.  Even though I’d read it dozens of times.  Nuggets of wisdom and strength poured into my worn out mind and even my physical body.  I began to highlight specific phrases and was guided to the parts that made me realize that though I had made all of those mistakes years ago and had taken care of it with the Lord.  I never forgot about it. 

In Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18, we read, Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” 

Again, in the fifty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 42, which came with great force to my mind, we read, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”

That scripture came into my mind with such force and I knew that the Lord was telling me, it’s time to forget those things.  I have forgotten them, now it’s your turn to forgive yourself.  He promises us that through the holy ghost He will bring all things to our remembrance.  And at that time I needed to remember that his grace will always be there to catch me when I fall.

I don’t need the training wheels anymore, once I’ve taken them off and released that burden, I can fly forward and go as far and as fast as I want, as long as I remember that His grace will always be with me.  His grace is sufficient. 

Forgiving ourselves for the stupid choices that we make is one of the most glorious parts of grace that the Savior gives us. Psalm 55:22 “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Today my invitation to you is to take that thing that’s holding you back and like the training wheels, throw it out. It is of no use to you anymore. You are His, and He is yours!

Have a great weekend my friends and I will catch you all again next week!

XO, Wendy 

Give yourself the gift of grace

Have you ever felt like something you’ve done is beyond the Savior’s gift to renew?  Have you ever felt like you are just too far gone that even the Lord’s greatest gift, the one that he sealed with His blood upon the cross, is not enough to redeem the horrible things that you’ve done or the mess that you have made of your life?  If so I am here to tell you that you are wrong.  There is nothing, and I mean nothing that can keep you from exercising the gift of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice in your life. 

However, it is not an easy process to overcome the power of the flesh.  The temptations of the adversary can leave large wakes as we step into the waters of sin and unbelief.  But there is always hope. And there will always be an incomprehensible joy that will come from turning your heart, your life, your soul over to the Savior.  Let him ease the burden that is upon your back.  Let Him give you that gift.

But sometimes the problem comes when we feel that others will never accept us, no matter what we do knowing what we have done.  What we are capable of doing.

In his April 2015 conference address Deiter F. Uchtforf  shares the story of Simon found in Luke chapter 7 “Outwardly, Simon seemed to be a good and upright man. He regularly checked off his to-do list of religious obligations: he kept the law, paid his tithing, observed the Sabbath, prayed daily, and went to the synagogue.

But while Jesus was with Simon, a woman approached, washed the Savior’s feet with her tears, and anointed His feet with fine oil.

Simon was not pleased with this display of worship, for he knew that this woman was a sinner. Simon thought that if Jesus didn’t know this, He must not be a prophet or He would not have let the woman touch him.

Perceiving his thoughts, Jesus turned to Simon and asked a question. “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: … one owed five hundred pence, … the other fifty.

“And when they [both] had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”

Simon answered that it was the one who was forgiven the most.

Then Jesus taught a profound lesson: “Seest thou this woman? … Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”

The woman who thought that she was hopelessly lost because of sin.  Realized that the only way she could find peace was to exercise her faith, her love for the Savior by doing the one thing that she could.  And that was to have a broken heart, and a contrite spirit and turn her life over to the Savior to be healed from her pain and suffering.

Elder Uchtdorf shares, “Today and forevermore God’s grace is available to all whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are contrite. Jesus Christ has cleared the way for us to ascend to heights incomprehensible to mortal minds.”

“Grace is a gift of God, and our desire to be obedient to each of God’s commandments is the reaching out of our mortal hand to receive this sacred gift from our Heavenly Father.”

John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Let the Savior into your life.  Let him take away the burdens, the sins, the heartache that is holding you back from incomprehensible heights. 

This life is full of challenges, but those challenges are not meant to keep us from progressing and moving forward.  They are not weights that can’t be lifted by the Savior.  

Accept the gift that He so freely gave us.  In this your joy will be full and your heart will fill with love, not only for yourself but for everyone around you.  His grace is sufficient, always.

XO, Wendy

His Grace is Sufficient

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

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

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

Isn’t that beautiful?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Twas battered and scarred,

And the auctioneer thought it

hardly worth his while

To waste his time on the old violin,

but he held it up with a smile.

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

“Who starts the bidding for me?”

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

“Two dollars, who makes it three?”

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

But, No,

From the room far back a gray bearded man

Came forward and picked up the bow,

Then wiping the dust from the old violin

And tightening up the strings,

He played a melody, pure and sweet

As sweet as the angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer

With a voice that was quiet and low,

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

As he held it aloft with its’ bow.

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

“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”

“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,

Going and gone”, said he.

The audience cheered,

But some of them cried,

“We just don’t understand.”

“What changed its’ worth?”

Swift came the reply.

“The Touch of the Master’s Hand.”

“And many a man with life out of tune

All battered and bruised with hardship

Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd

Much like that old violin

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,

A game and he travels on.

He is going once, he is going twice,

He is going and almost gone.

But the Master comes,

And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,

The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought

By the Touch of the Masters’ Hand.

– Myra Brooks Welch

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

XO Wendy

Courage to stand for truth and rightousness

Kind of a little along the lines of what we talked about yesterday.  Today I want to talk about the courage to “stand for truth and righteousness”.

Yesterday we talked about how easy it is to get caught up in Satan’s snares of distraction, discouragement and doubt.  He would have us be miserable like himself so he will do everything within his power to discourage and distract us from the things that are most important.  He will tempt us in every way and make evil sound good, and good sound evil.  It’s his job to make us miserable.

The world and all it’s ways make us feel that when we stand for truth and righteousness that we are somehow wrong for believing the way that we do.  It can cause doubt to overwhelm us and have us question who we are, and why we are here.

When I was growing up there was a famous quote by Malcom X “Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.”  

I grew up believing that what we stood for as believers in Christ was worth standing up for.  Even though I struggled during my own crisis of faith.  I firmly believe that standing up for the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is definitely worth standing for and keeps us grounded and immovable.  Less capable of falling for anything.

Is it easy? Goodness no.  If it were, everyone would be doing it.  Christians in this day and time seem to be rare.  And many are faltering in faith.  But in Joshua 1:9 we are reminded Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed for the Lord they God is with thee withersoever thou goest.

In 1 Timothy 4:12 we are told  “…  be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

We are reminded over and over again throughout the scriptures and my living prophets and apostles that we have armies of angels all around us to help us stand for truth and righteousness.  Even when It’s scary.

In the recent April 2021 conference S. Gifford Nielson emphasizes “Heavenly Father sees us as fearless builders of His kingdom. That is why He sent us here during this most decisive time in the world’s history. This is our time!”

President Russell M. Nelson said shortly after becoming President of the Church: “Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory” 

But none of this can happen unless we, as believers of truth and righteousness are too afraid to stand up for what is right.  

Quoting again from S. Gifford Nielson’s talk “When winds blow in our lives, where is our focus? Remember, there is always one reliable source of strength and courage. The arms of Jesus extend to us, just as they extended to Peter. As we reach for Him, He will lovingly rescue us. We are His. He said, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine” (Isaiah 43:1). He will prevail in your life if you let Him. The choice is yours. (See Russell M. Nelson, “Let God Prevail,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2020, 92–95.)

My invitation to you today is that you will have the courage to stand for truth and righteousness under all circumstances.  That you will let God prevail in your life and begin to see that light that will aid you in all of your decisions, and choices in life.

That’s it for this week my friends.  If you like what you’ve heard please be sure to subscribe, leave a review and share with friends.  Let’s get the message out that it is through our Savior Jesus Christ that all things become possible. Talk to you all again on Monday!

XO, Wendy