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, through it out.  It is of no use to you anymore.  He is yours, and you are His!

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

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

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

Draw Near

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

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

63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XO Wendy

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