Choose to be still and know

As you might have guessed from my post yesterday that it was kind of a hard day for me.  Sometimes dealing with a disorder like bipolar can be tricky and hard to navigate.  But so is life in general.  Sometimes we just struggle and there really isn’t an easy answer or way out.  That is when we need to be still and trust,  be still and know that our Savior sees us, that He loves us, and that there may be things going on behind the scenes that He is working out in order for things to fall into place later on and it just hasn’t been figured out yet.

I do, however, want to talk today, a little more about agency.  Because the one thing that I did learn yesterday as I struggled to understand the whys, is that there are very few times in our life that we don’t have a choice.  

Whether the choice is to give up, or keep pressing forward, or to let God help grow us in a way that will help us to progress to a higher and holier way.  Now, I know that some days it is ok and necessary to give up on something for time.  But that doesn’t mean that God is not there, nor that we can never come back to that at a later time in our progression on this side of the veil.

Agency can be a tricky thing.  On the one hand we want it to truly be free.  We want to be able to do, act, and say things, without having to answer to anyone.  I know I felt that way when I left the church for a time.  But no matter what our choice is, it can never be a matter of whether it is FREE or not.  Because there will always, always, be a consequence.  That may be a good and positive consequence or it can be a bad and negative consequence.  But there is never a situation where we make a choice and there is NO consequence.  Whether we like it or not is irrelevant.  For this reason, I believe agency is one of the greatest parts of the plan that our Heavenly Father put in place.  The plan that our Savior proposed.  So that we can develop our hearts and our minds to come to a place where we realize that in this life, it is always, always about where our hearts are centered.  Are we centered in self or are we centered in the love that our Savior so perfectly taught us.  Our choices will always come back to where your heart lies.  

When we are speaking of choices, some of you may choose to disagree.  And that is ok.  That is also part of the plan.  We were put here on this Earth to learn many things.  But I think one of the most important things that we were put here to learn, is how to get along and love even when it’s difficult.  Especially when it’s difficult.  Just because someone is making a different choice than what we would have chosen, does not mean that it is a wrong choice for them.  Unless of course in the case that it is doing harm to someone else.  

I guess what I am trying to say is that having hard days, and having to make tough choices is how we progress and press forward in this life.  It isn’t always easy.  In fact it’s almost never easy.  But it’s important to remember that every choice we make has a consequence.  Even when we choose not to make a choice, that is indeed a choice.

I am going to refer back to a talk given by Russell M. Nelson in 1990.  He suggested 3 questions to ask ourselves to help us when making tough choices or decisions.

 1. Who am I?”

2. “Why am I here?”

3. “Where am I going?”

“I won’t go into the details here, because I want you to go read it and digest what he says,  but these are important questions to ponder when making choices.  

He goes on to say “As you …face many challenging choices in life, remember, there is great protection when you know who you are, why you are here, and where you are going. Let your unique identity shape each decision you make on the path toward your eternal destiny. Accountability for your choices now will bear on all that lies ahead.

May each of us choose wisely and with faith in Him who created us…”

So my invitation to you if you are faced with a difficult challenge is to Psalm 46:10 “Be still and Know” that our Savior is very aware of the things that you are going through.  Don’t leave Him out of the equation.  Pray to Him and be believing.  And He will guide you in the direction that will be best for you and your personal situation.

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

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

It’s all about love

Today I want to share with you another way that the Savior uses His grace to influence and guide our lives. In his recent conference talk Elder Gary E. Stevenson shares a story about a scientific experiment on bunnies. I am not going to tell the whole story here but I encourage you to go and listen or read it. I will link that in the show notes. It is really quite remarkable. After sharing the story he concluded by saying, “In recent years, Dr. Kelli Harding published a book titled The Rabbit Effect that takes its name from the experiment. Her conclusion: “Take a rabbit with an unhealthy lifestyle. Talk to it. Hold it. Give it affection. … The relationship made a difference. … Ultimately,” she concludes, “what affects our health in the most meaningful ways has as much to do with how we treat one another, how we live, and how we think about what it means to be human.”

Now apply that to the way the Savior taught us.  In the New testament in John 13:34 we are commanded to “love one another as I have loved you,that ye also love one another”. 

But it seems this simple commandment is often overlooked in today’s world. Everywhere we turn we find judgement cast upon others.  Whether it be a disagreement on social media that sparks heated discussions and contentious encounters with people we may not even know, to neglect and abandoment of those who may be less fortunate or afflicted in such a way that we feel repelled by them.  And so we fear getting involved.  That is not Christ’s way!  

If we are to be true disciples of our Lord and Savior, we will do everything we can to lift up the hands that hang down to mourn with those that mourn. To love those that despitefully use you and persecute you.  None of us are any better than another.  We are all God’s children and we all deserve the love of a God that LOVES ALL of his children deeply.  

Yes, some are harder to love than others but that is not our call to make.  We are commanded to love one another as I have loved you.  It’s not optional.  We are commanded to share the grace that we have found through the Savior with everyone that we encounter.  Jesus spent his days with those who were deemed unloveable.  But he took them by the hand, picked them up, and loved them until they were whole again.

I’ve told you before that I believe a lot of what I share here is for my own benefit, so don’t think for a minute that I don’t struggle at times with this commandment. 

We are human, we are going to make mistakes and hurt people.  That’s part of how life is on this side of the veil.  But I think we owe it to our Savior who gives us so much grace, more than we could ever handle, to then turn that grace, that strength that love to someone in desperate need of the “rabbit effect”.  

Elder Stevenson goes on to say, “We have a primary responsibility to set a tone and be role models of kindness, inclusion, and civility—to teach Christlike behavior to the rising generation in what we say and how we act. It is especially important as we observe a marked societal shift toward division in politics, social class, and nearly every other man-made distinction.

The Lord expects us to teach that inclusion is a positive means toward unity and that exclusion leads to division.”

My invitation to you today, is to soften your heart.  Open your eyes to see and your ears to hear those around you that are suffering or are in need of the grace that our Lord promises.  Love them, include them, give them the “rabbit effect”.  And then watch how the Savior’s grace will not only descend upon them, but upon you as well.

Have a great day my friends.  And we’ll do it all again tomorrow!

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