Letting go of the ruin

 

When I was fifteen years old, my dad and I bought an old beat up 1976 Camaro from the high school auto shop.  I was going to be driving soon, and if things worked out I’d have my own wheels and freedom!  I was so excited.  

If memory serves me right, we paid about $300 for it.  It was in fair condition.  It could be driven.  But there were several things wrong with it, including it was in bad need of a paint job.  Of course I only noticed what it looked like on the outside and I wasn’t so sure that the $300 was well spent.   But it had good “bones”.  And the interior was still pretty nice, although stained a bit.  But my dad could see something in her that I couldn’t.

My dad and I spent the better part of a summer working on that Camaro, and bringing her back to life.  He on the mechanics of it, and me helping with the stains on the interior and the frame.  I remember spending hours sanding the metal down by dipping the sandpaper in water and then removing every bit of remaining paint left.  We rubbed putty (or something of the sort) in every dent and then sanded that down.  It was a grueling process that required attention to every detail.  But that was the process that was required to make her new again.  To repair the damage that had been done and make it whole once again.

Then finally… one day she was ready to paint and get the finishing touches put on.  I had saved all summer long to be able to pay for the parts and the paint job that went into her (candy apple red!).  And I couldn’t have been more proud of the work that we had done.

The day that we put “Old Red” on the road was one of the most exciting days of my life!  All of our hard work had finally garnered the result that  I craved.  She wasn’t perfect, but she was mine, and that’s all that really mattered to me.

As I reflected on that restoration process these past few months, I have been reminded of all the processes of restoration that we all have to go through during our lives on this earth.  We are all broken down, with a few stains here and there, in bad need of repair or “restoration”.  And although we may feel like we are barely getting by, the Lord sees our “good bones”.  He sees what the outcome can be with a little sanding here and a little putty there, and maybe a shiny new coat of paint.

I have spent a lot of time pondering and asking the Lord why?  Why do I have to live with a bipolar diagnosis?  Why is it that my body is broken down, stained and dented?  What good is meant to come out of this?  What’s the purpose?

And then I remembered the story of the Old Camaro and it came to me with perfect clarity.  We come to Him (our Lord Jesus Christ), broken, beaten down, full of sorrow and He “restores” us.

When I was diagnosed bipolar, my life as I knew it ended.  Everything changed.  I went from feeling like nothing could stop me.  To feeling like a broken shell of a person.  I was struggling with finding the right medications, the right Dr., the right plan for recovery.

It was only when I laid all my fears at the feet of my Savior that true restoration began.  Where I saw a broken shell, He saw the good bones. It has not been easy.  It’s a long grueling process.  From waiting for 6 weeks just to get into see the right Dr. and then ending up in the hospital again right before that appointment.  Then waiting another 6 weeks to finally get in again. Then trying different medications, behaviors and habits that work for me and my body chemistry.  A little sanding here and a little putty there.  He truly has been my source of restoration.

Elder Holland, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, once said, “I think of that night when Christ rushed to the aid of His frightened disciples, walking as He did on the water to get to them, calling out, “It is I; be not afraid.” Peter exclaimed, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Christ’s answer to him was as it always is every time: “Come,” He said. Instantly, as was his nature, Peter sprang over the vessel’s side and into the troubled waters. While his eyes were fixed upon the Lord, the wind could toss his hair and the spray could drench his robes, but all was well—he was coming to Christ. It was only when his faith wavered and fear took control, only when he removed his glance from the Master to look at the furious waves and the ominous black gulf beneath, only then did he begin to sink into the sea. In newer terror he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

Undoubtedly with some sadness, the Master over every problem and fear, He who is the solution to every discouragement and disappointment, stretched out His hand and grasped the drowning disciple with the gentle rebuke, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matthew 14:27–31

If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.” (May 2006 General Conference address).

We just need to reach out to Him and then keep our eyes fixed upon Him.  He can restore us.  He can bring us hope and peace and comfort.  If we will let him.  Because He loves us.  Because He broke the bands of death.  Because we are His!

We need not be fearful of the changes and trials that come into our lives.  We need only to believe.  Believe that He will come to us in His infinite power to restore us to our former state.  Believe that He will bring us back to a state of health, soundness and vigor.  It may not happen now, it may not happen in this lifetime.  But it will happen.  One day we will be restored in all our glory.  Just like my dad and I restored Old Red.  Our Savior will restore us, and He will take us out for a spin on the road and we will be His because that’s all that really matters to Him.

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

Sharing the light of Christ

IG of Shining the light of Christ 

Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do… 3 Nephi 18:24

When I was a little girl, my mom had a really special friend.  She was one of those people that just cared so much about my mom.  She would show up on Valentines, birthdays, Halloween, Christmas, and many times in between with special little gifts, notes, or treats (I loved her!).  My mom loved this dear friend who was always attentive to her needs and would just sit and listen.  And then one day, her friend moved far away and I was so sad.  Not just because there would no longer be treats, but because I was just so sad for my mom because I knew how much she loved her. And how much she would miss her. But guess what?  The gifts didn’t stop and the notes and phone calls kept coming even years after she had moved.  I found out later that this incredible woman was assigned to be my mom’s ministering sister (in our church this is a way that we make sure everyone is being watched over) .  I think she really took “hold up your light that it may shine forth” to a whole new level.  And I loved her for how she ministered to mom and what a great example she was to me.

During this month, many of you may be participating in the Light the world Initiative.  It is a great way that the first presidency has given us to help us with ideas of how we can let our light shine forth.  And most of the acts are very simple easy ways that we can touch the lives of others by sharing the light of Christ.

But what I love so much is that in the scripture I shared in the beginning, Christ gives us the way of exactly how to hold up our light that it may shine into the world.  He says: Behold I am the blight which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do…

That which ye have seen me do.  So that got me thinking about all the things we see in the scriptures that tell us of the way that Christ lived and ministered to the world.  And I think an important point to make is that He did not appear to the whole entire world and try to change it all at once did he?  No, it was usually through one person at a time or small groups of people.  I love that He simply says:  do as I do… just follow me and do what you see me do.

Much like a parent models behavior for a child.  How does a child learn to walk, to talk, to laugh, to play, to love, to serve?  They learn through following what they see others do, namely their parents and family.

In Sister Sharon Eubank’s talk April 2019 conference address she said, “The New Testament shows the great efforts Jesus made to reach out to all kinds of people: lepers, tax collectors, children, Galileans, harlots, women, Pharisees, sinners, Samaritans, widows, Roman soldiers, adulterers, the ritually unclean.”  He did not forsake anyone.

Jesus cares for us, he knows us, he knows our needs, He loves us, He carries us, He lifts us, He leads and guides us,  and yes, he walks beside us.  These are the ways that He has shown us that we are to light the world.

As I was thinking about this a couple of scriptures came to mind.

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

and “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

President Thomas S. Monson said

“We become examples of the believers by living the gospel of Jesus Christ in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. As we do so, our lights will shine for others to see.

Each of us came to earth having been given the Light of Christ. As we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others.”

So the way that we can light the world would be through our good works and also by our example.

This year we have been asked to study the Come follow me curriculum individually and in our homes.  I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed studying about my Savior this year.  To be honest, I wasn’t very good at doing it in the beginning, but as the year went on I got better.  So many stories about the life of Christ have touched me this year and I have felt closer to my Savior than ever before. The great part about most of the stories that are shared about Jesus Christ’s life and ministry were shared by apostles that were with Him and got to see first hand, Him doing the things that He wanted them to learn how to do.

I believe that the more that we learn about the Savior the more we will want to become like Him.  He was just sooo good!  And loved others so much. One of the stories about Jesus that I love so much was at the last supper where he did the simple act of humbly washing the feet of each of the apostles.  When he was done He explained to them in John 13:14-15 If I then your Lord, and master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you.

Not only does Jesus show us the way to minister to others physically.  He also shows how to minister to them spiritually.  To succor the weak, lift up the hands that hang down, mourn with those who mourn, and strengthen the feeble knees. He says to us all in Matthew 28. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

How did Jesus know who needed him and what they needed? It’s simple, He paid attention to those around Him.  He looked up! Can we look up past our electronics and cell phones? Can we look upon people with Christ like eyes?  Of course we can, it may take some work to drop our judgements at the door and really see them.  But as we do, the light of Christ will burn within is and help light the way for others.

As sister Sharon Eubanks said,  “Our individual light may be like only one light bulb on a tree. But we still shine our small light, and all together, like Temple Square  at Christmas time, we attract millions of people to the house of the Lord.” And might I add millions of people to Jesus Christ the light of the world.

I love how Christ also gives us a promise in D&C 50:24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

As we give love, and serve, and lift others.  Our light will get brighter and brighter.

I watched a video given by Elder Bednar about the light of Christ.  And he talks about the light being within us that when we see someone struggling for example, and feel a compassion and a desire to help them.  Many people would say that is just natural but Elder Bednar explains no that is the influence of God to be better and do better.  Every person ever in the world is influenced by the light of Christ for goodness.  When we yield to that influence to do good and become good, then the light of Christ increases within us.

So, as I see it,  if we are to hold up our lights and shine forth to the world…. even as we see him do.  And by following through with what we are influenced to do.  Wouldn’t we try to do all they we can to serve?  And that starts with just one person.  And then one becomes two and then three and so on.  Until your light is shining brightly before the world. We can’t light the world all at once by ourselves, but we can do it together, one person at at time, one small act at a time.

XO Wendy

 

Hustle and bustle

In the hustle and bustle of the busy world this time of year, we tend to forget the reason for the season.  It’s easy to get caught up in the gift giving and Santa Claus and party atmosphere.

But the Christmas season is a time to celebrate the priceless gift of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His birth is more than the symbol of a holiday. He is the Son of God and the Redeemer of all mankind.

I hope today you will enjoy this video that reminds us the true reason for the season.  I love my Savior with all that I am.  And I am so grateful that He was born into this world and laid down His life so that we could all live eternally.  What a gift that is!

#sharethegift

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Seeing the hand of God in your life.

Recognizing and seeing the hand of God in your life can be a daunting endeavor.  Especially on regular routine days that seem nothing out of the ordinary.  Recently I read a talk given to CES students in Texas by Sister Bednar.  In it she speaks of the ability to look for and feel the hand of the Lord working in your daily life.  I loved her counsel so much!

She used a song to express 4 steps that we can use to grow closer to our Father and Heaven and our Savior.  Thus being able to recognize and understand when he is at work in our lives. 1. We must have ears to hear the word of the Lord, 2.  And eyes to see His plan, 3. Feet to follow in His path,  4. And hearts to understand. She goes on to explain each one very briefly and I feel like it is well worth the time to read it so that we can learn to recognize and feel Him close.

eyes to see

There have been many times in my life that I have felt the Lord close and recognized his hand almost immediately and other times when I felt so far away and like he wasn’t there at all for me.

In the talk, Sister Bednar offers a quote by Henry B. Eyring that is very helpful to all of us when we can’t feel him there.  He said, ““I bless you that every day, if you will ask in prayer to be shown where the hand of God intervened in your life that day, I bless you that you will see that. It will be made manifest to you. That you will see that He is leading and guiding and lifting you, and that He knows you”.

Isn’t that such a beautiful promise and blessing from an apostle of the Lord? I am definitely going to start this practice in my own evening prayers.  And maybe morning prayers as well so that I will come to know exactly what it feels like when it is happening.  The Lord wants to talk to us and he wants us to hear and feel him!

I remember one sacred time when I knelt to say my evening prayer. I was exhausted, but I had asked specific questions and then quickly ended my prayer and jumped into bed.  I had the distinct impression saying “why did you get up so quickly? I had things to say to you”.  I kind of brushed it off as my own internal dialogue and snuggled deeper into my blankets.  Then it came again more forcefully, “Get back on your knees and listen to what I have to say”.  And so I did.  And what happened next was one of the sweetest experiences that I have ever had with feeling my Savior so close to me, answering my questions and giving me the counsel that I needed at that particular time.  But it definitely took an open heart and mind to allow for this experience to happen for me.  And I promise that if you follow the counsel from Sister Bednar’s talk you can have similar and equally touching experiences in your life. And even on the daily.

One last quote to consider, Elder Bednar said “It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us—that is fundamental and foundational to the doctrine of Christ. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to live in us—not only to direct us but also to empower us”

Today, I encourage you to have ears to hear the word of the Lord, and eyes to see His plan, feet to follow in His path, and hearts to understand.

XO Wendy