Courage to be yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty thought provoking right?

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

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

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

XO Wendy 

Courage to Forgive

Today I want to talk to you about something that is really, really, difficult to do.  Especially when you feel like you’ve been wronged or betrayed in some way.  But if you can “just let that go” your life will be so much better!

President Gordan B. Hinckley once said A spirit of forgiveness and an attitude of love and compassion toward those who may have wronged us is of the very essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us has need of this spirit. The whole world has need of it. The Lord taught it. He exemplified it as none other has exemplified it.”

I’m going to be real and share a story with you about my own experience with forgiveness.  It is an experience that affected my life in a much larger way than it needed to and one that I’m not proud of.   It took me nearly 15 years to forgive someone who I felt had wronged me in a deep and personal way. And sadly, it all happened because of gossip!

It involved a very dear and loved friend of mine.  She was actually like a sister to me.  We talked everyday on the phone, we were partners in a great “adventure”, and spent time with eachother’s families.  We were nearly inseparable. She meant the world to me.  But, sadly, I chose to walk away from her over something someone told me that she had been doing behind my back for years.  

I was devastated!  I was heartsick, but most of all I just felt betrayed.  How could she do such a thing?  But at the time puzzle pieces began to fall into place of why others had treated me in such a negative way.  I was told she had twisted my words and turned them into lies so that others would think poorly of me. This person went so far as to give me specific experiences, people, places, and things that had happened.  How could I not believe them?  They had proof, or so it seemed.  I immediately confronted her with it over the phone.  She had no explanation.  She denied it all, sobbing uncontrollably that she would never do such a thing.  But it all made so much sense to me about the way I had been treated through our little joint “adventure”, that I didn’t even give her a chance.  I was so hurt and so angry. So I did the worst thing anyone can ever do to someone they love.  I walked away. 

I cried for days over our lost friendship.  And the lies grew easier to believe. Our adventure had ended and I moved on with my life.  Or so I thought. 

For years and years I would play the scene in my head.  How could she hurt me that way?  She was so dear to me.  Why would she do it?  She was my friend.  How did I not see it?  Night after night I would think of how much I missed her friendship.  Over the years the pain faded but I would think about it often and would grieve again for the loss of such a dear friend.

Then years later, when I was returning to the fold of Christ I realized that it was time. Truth is, it was way past time.  It was time for me to just let it all go.  It was the only way to move forward and be free of the pain.  So one night I mustered up all the courage in the world and I sent her a heartfelt plea to forgive me for not giving her the chance to explain.  I told her how sorry I was. And that I was wrong for behaving the way that I did.  And that I hoped someday she could forgive me for behaving in that way. It certainly was not Christlike.  I told her how much I missed our friendship and that I hoped she was doing good.  And then I pressed send, not expecting to hear anything in return.

When I hit that button I felt peace flood over me for the first time in all those years.  No matter what had really happened I was no longer going to let it hold space in my life going forward.  It is not God’s way to carry such feelings in our hearts.  The only place that comes from is the adversary.  He wants nothing more than for us to live with regrets, remorse, anger, and hurt.  Because then, he wins.  Don’t let him win!  You may not be able to control other’s agency to act in the way that they do, but you can control your agency! Have the courage to use your agency to forgive and move on with your life. There are bright things awaiting you.

Do you want to know the craziest part of this whole experience.  A couple of days later, I received a message back from my long lost friend.  I was afraid to open it.  

But I think her words are the best way to end this podcast.  (I hope she won’t mind).  The message read:

“I too am sorry for the way things ended up between us. I do apologize from the bottom of my heart for the heartache I caused you. I NEVER, EVER would have done anything to intentionally cause you harm or heartache. In fact to this day… I’m not even sure what the whole-what’s, when’s or how’s this situation all happened?!?! What I do know is we all made mistakes and then our friendship was over. It broke my heart too. 

As for forgiving you…I pray you can forgive me of the heartache I caused you?! I am so deeply sorry! All I know is… life is too short to hold on to any grudges. We need to put our arms around each other and push forward. Just so you know… I’ve always held you in high regard and have always considered you my friend. Even though we’ve had this little “hiccup” I let it go along time ago. You will always be considered a friend and my heart and door are always open to you. ….There’s no need to ask for forgiveness or worry about this anymore. You have always been good in my book.”

How’s that for Christ like behavior?!  She definitely is great women in the body of Christ! She taught me the true meaning of forgiveness that day.  It’s all about love!

So today my invitation to you is to muster up the courage to use your agency to forgive someone that has hurt you.  It may not end the way that mine did.  But I promise you that if you will just let go, and let God take the wheel.  It will bring a peace to your soul that can not be matched!

Have a great day my friends.  Talk to you all again tomorrow!

XO Wendy

Courage to overcome

Sometimes as humans on this side of Heaven we are faced with incredibly difficult challenges to overcome.  They can be physical, mental, or spiritual in nature.  And can require so much of you that at times you feel hopeless, and without joy. Your path seems bleak and you get to a point where you feel you just don’t have the strength to take one more step forward.  It can be a very lonely place to be.  

Sometimes you may even feel like you are trudging through a deep thick muddy swamp just trying to get to dry land. And with each step you sink deeper and deeper and the path gets harder and harder. Your task at this point then, is to gather the courage to overcome. But how?

That is the question for today?  How do I have the courage to move forward when it all seems so pointless?  I’m not sure who this message is for today.  But I know there is someone that is listening today that feels like everything I’ve said so far is directly for you.  Because that is how God works sometimes.  He puts someone in your path (a messenger) to let you know that you are His.  He’s got you. He wants you to know that He loves you.  He sees you.  He hears your cries.  And you are NOT alone.

I will be reading from Psalm 27 today, verse 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid? 

I have heard many stories of people who have overcome great challenges as I’m sure have you.  But today I wanted to share a story that I found that had such a powerful influence on my life.  Her name is  Cambry Kaylor.  From a very young age she picked up the love of horses and gymnastics.  And began a career of Equestrian Vaulting which is dancing and gymnastics on the back of a horse.  Sounds daunting and scary doesn’t it?  She quickly grew as a master of her art.  Training for 10 years to become an international competitor. She was involved in dance as a ballerina, and in gymnastics.  And competed on her high school diving team.  Very much a talented and vibrant athlete in all aspects of athleticism.  However, while practicing a move on her horse there was a terrible accident and she ended up landing in a way that broke her neck and severed her spinal cord.  She became paralyzed from the waist down. I’ll link her story so you can get the details.  

Can you imagine what you might be feeling when you realize that everything you’d ever worked for, everything you’d ever dreamed of, could suddenly be taken from you all in an instance? You can imagine the despair she must have felt.  

She began to have horrible fear and terrible nightmares about her experience. When she woke up she would hope it was all just a bad dream and that her parents would say she just had a broken leg or something a little less severe.  She wanted anything but the truth!  She just wanted something she could wake up from.

But in all of that pain and heartache that she was experiencing, there was one thing she had in all of her fear.  And that was courage.  She had the courage to want her situation to change.  She realized after months of trying to find what she thought she needed, that what she wanted more than anything was to feel joy again.  And she didn’t have to walk to be happy.  She could create her own happiness and joy.  What an amazing example of courage that took.

Cambry went on to become very successful, taking the reins of her life back into her own hands.

It took time and a lot of patience and hard work.  And I’m sure there was a lot of waiting on Lord.  

In Psalm 27 David finishes his psalm by saying 14: Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart;  wait, I say, on the Lord.

So even though you may be in the mud and muck right now trying to put one foot in front of the other, be of courage… because the Lord WILL strengthen your heart.  Today is the day to take back the reins of your life.  Decide that with God all things are possible to Him that believes!

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

XO Wendy

Courage to go forward in faith

Throughout this week we will be talking about courage!

Today we are going to talk about the courage to go forward in faith.  Even and especially when the answers are not what you intended them to be.  What do we do when we are faced with a challenge that we did not expect and the answers we get are hard to accept and maybe even a bit scary?

I heard a quote once that I love, “ You can’t be brave if you’re not scared”!  Courage itself means the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain etc. without fear.  To act in accordance with one’s beliefs especially and in spite of criticism.  So think of tenacity, firmness, fortitude, grit, spirit, valor, audacity and bravery.

I mentioned that I would talk more about the KJV study version of the bible and I didn’t really get to it on Friday.  But today the scripture that I want to share comes from the New Testament, so I think it’s appropriate at this point to talk about why I love it and recommend it, alongside your other King James Version that we follow as Latter Day Saints.  They are really such good companions.  And help us to learn and draw more from the Bible.  I first started reading it when it was suggested by Emily Belle Freeman on her instagram feed.  If you don’t follow her, you really should.  She has a podcast called “Don’t Miss this” that is about things that you should not miss in the scriptures. It is phenomenal!  And she is also a popular speaker in Time Out For Women and a wonderful author.  I got to hear her speak in person a few years ago when I attended Time Out for women.  I even have a photo with her.  I’m a big fan.

The scripture that I want to share with you today is in 2 Timothy 1:7. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

In this book of Timothy the author introduces himself as Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ.  It is disputed though, that this letter could have been written by one of Paul’s disciples after his death. It is believed to have taken place while Paul was imprisoned in Rome and was a letter to Timothy and probaby was a reference to the last time they were together before Paul was imprisioned. See why I like the KJV study version?  I learned all of that from the study listed before and within each chapter and verse.

When I originally read this passage I noted in my Bible at the top of the page “I can learn to live with bipolar and I drew an arrow pointing to the word sound mind.  I must have been really struggling at the time that I wrote this, with my personal diagnosis, of bipolar.  It was unexpected and very hard for me to accept and move forward with.  I was in denial for a long time.  I had fear that my life was going to change so drastically and not in a positive way.  And you know what? I was right but not in the way that I thought.  Yes it did change drastically but definitely not in a negative way.  It has ended up being the source of so much strength in my life.  Believe it or not.  I actually, at this point in my life, feel grateful for it because I have grown and learned so much about myself, about others, and about how the Lord comes to us in great times of need.  

Yes I had fear.  But through that scripture I learned that God has given us the power to overcome fear.  That doesn’t mean that it won’t be scary.  But the opposite of Fear is faith.  And in order to move forward we must do so with Faith and trust in the Lord.  We need to let the love of the Lord seep into every part of our lives so that we can fight the darkness and paralization that comes with fear of the unknown.  

He gave us a sound mind. Which, knowing that bipolar is a sickness of the brain, I think that is why those particular words stood out to me. I thought my brain was broken.  I thought life would never be as good as it was before my diagnosis.  But this scripture helped me to move forward in faith believing that the Lord would keep his promise of giving me a sound mind.  It has not been easy and it has been super scary as I have struggled along the road to recovery.  But “you can’t be brave if you’re not scared”.

So my invitation to you today is to remember that God has not given you the spirit of fear.  But of POWER and of LOVE and of a SOUND MIND.   Go bravely into your challenge knowing that the Lord will be by your side.  He promises!  And His promises are always kept.

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

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