A New Normal

We are living in a world that is going to have a “new normal”.  As the events of the past few months have unfolded before us, we’ve felt many emotions.  Fear, Shock, disappointment, loss, suffering, helplessness, hopelessness, and many more.  

For some that are single or live alone, loneliness and isolation have been a big part of the past month. As well as those who have had to isolate because of infection by the virus. Or people who have been otherwise hospitalized, who have had to do so without the support of loved ones by their  side.  

Whether for a sickness, or lingering illness, or the joyous event of delivering a baby.  Which has been bittersweet, both joyful and heartbreaking to not be able to share that experience in person with friends and family 

At the same time, as we have practiced social distancing and followed the “stay safe, stay at home”  orders that have been implemented in many states, we’ve felt a closeness to our families that may have been lost.  We’ve been comforted by the fact that we are experiencing the same feelings as people all over the world. We’ve felt joy, compassion, love, tenderness, empathy for those working on the front lines and those who are ill. We’ve mourned for those who have lost their jobs and livelyhood and those that have had to give up dreams that they’ve worked their whole life for. 

Many of us have developed a great love for our leaders.  Whether they be government, church, educators, scientists, healthcare workers, or even company owners who have come forward to help in the face of tragedy.

We’ve felt a renewed love for our Lord and Savior and his atonement and suffering for all of us.  We have realized that we can not carry this burden alone. That nobody should carry these burdens alone. And so we have become united in purpose to eliminate and eradicate this awful virus that has infected not only our bodies, but our lives.

It has been incredible to witness the heroics of so many in our communities as we have faced the pandemic and world calamities (earthquakes and tornados, etc.).  Our hearts fill with gratitude as we see a world come together through something that can’t be seen but only felt.

As someone who already suffers from mental illness and the effects of isolation that it can bring,  I feel a deep compassion for those who have never experienced those feelings who now will find themselves in deep depressions.  Whether from loss, unemployment, isolation, financial struggles or family dysfunction which may have become front and center. Or those who will suffer PTSD from witnessing the most horrible experiences one can imagine. 

But I will forever be an optimist.  I know that we CAN come together as a nation and as a world to fight this horrible disease.  We can make our world whole again by the kindness and love and the attitude with which we choose to move forward.

Will it be easy?  Absolutely not. We have all experienced something that will forever be implanted in our very souls.  Something horrendous. But out of the ashes rises the Phoenix! We can rise as a nation/world. We can rebuild our world and each other instead of tearing each other down.

We can spread love and kindness and come together in a way that no one anticipated a few short months ago. We can find that “new normal” together.  We can build a new world from the love and common ground that we’ve found through the most tragic of events.  

We have been told that it may be much longer than anyone thought that we will be in this situation.  Both fighting for our lives and fighting to stay healthy. But through this time there are still ways that we can reach out.  There are still ways that we can stay healthy and maintain a good attitude. And with the Lord’s help we will conquer this pandemic while simultaneously building stronger families, friendships and communities.

Revelation Chapter 21

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new

A new normal? Yes.  But possibly a better way of life? Most definitely!

All my love,

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

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

 

 

What being “away” from the church taught me.

praying-adult-female-619161-mobile

I never considered myself in-active or “less active”, because to me, that meant that you had left the church.  That meant that you had denounced your faith in some way, which I never felt like I did.  However, I did step “away” from the church for a few years.  I had just gotten divorced and I’ll admit that I was really struggling with a lot of what it meant to be a member of the LDS church.  How could this happen to me?  I was married in the temple.  Things seemed to be going so well.  Was it a lack of faith?  Was it a lack of desire?  Was it complacency? Was it loneliness?  What was it exactly, that made me want to distance myself from all that I had known?  I was born and raised in the church.  I did what all my friends did, and most members that I knew.   Grew up, married a returned missionary, got married in the temple, had a family, and then lived happily ever after, right?!  So what had happened to my happily ever after?

The thing is, leaving the church, or stepping “away” from the church, your faith, your testimony, all that you have ever known to be true, doesn’t happen overnight!  It is a slow process that happens seemingly, without you even noticing until one day you’ve done it.  You are “away” from the church.  You don’t attend, or study or maybe even pray anymore (although I think prayer tends to be something you continue even when you are away.  Or at least you try).  You don’t practice your religion anymore.  And members of the church who know you and hear about it, think “it’s really sad”.   You are essentially known as a “less active” or an  inactive member.  I remember referring to myself as, ” no longer practicing”.  But really what you’re saying is a veiled way to say “I no longer have a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, therefore I have stepped “away” for a while to figure things out.” I had somehow lost my way… “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13–14)

The ironic part is that at first it feels very freeing!  I remember saying on many occasions, “I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I just can’t reconcile that it coincides with my being away from the church”.  Honestly, I never thought it would happen to me.  I did everything I was supposed to do, everything that I had been taught all those years growing up.  Sure I made my share of mistakes, as does everyone.  But I had tried to be diligent in all that I had learned through the years after my temple marriage.  Holding many different callings, while raising my little family in the gospel, going to the temple, studying my scriptures and going to church.  I was keeping my covenants, and praying.  I was doing everything, wasn’t I?  Or was I?

Truthfully, I have to admit that my temple attendance wasn’t where it should have been.  I wasn’t really reading my scriptures as much as I should have.  And I probably had become redundant in my prayers…. And I am sure there were many other “little” things.  I don’t really know exactly how it happened because it all happened SO slowly.  And the scary part is, that it can happen to ANYONE! I’m hoping that by sharing my experience it can be a voice of warning.

In Matthew we read: Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat. (Matt. 7:12) It seemed so much easier to be on the path that I was now on.

But then, that is how the opposition works right? One little flaxen cord at a time.  Like a big giant fluffy, feather, gently coaxing you.  “You don’t need to read your scriptures tonight, you’ve worked so hard all day and you’re tired.  You can get to it tomorrow.”

Go ahead buy that dress that isn’t really long enough for your temple garment… it’s so cute and you’ve worked so hard to look good.”  One more little feather.

It’s ok to miss church today.  Since you got divorced, no one really cares anyway.”  One more little feather gently waving and caressing you away.  It feels so good to be free, you say!  But little do you know how hard Satan is working on you!  All of those “little tiny feathers” are turning into a very tightly woven cord, and you are being led along without even realizing it.

Joseph B. Wirthlin of the quorum of the twelve apostles stated, “We get sidetracked by submitting to temptations that divert us past the bounds of safety. Satan knows our weaknesses. He puts attractive snares on our paths at just those moments when we are most vulnerable. His intent is to lead us from the way that returns us to our Heavenly Father.”

After a while I was so comfortable with the way that I was living my life that I began to think I no longer needed religion in my life.  I no longer needed the church or a testimony or to be “bound” down by callings and church attendance. I had entered in at the wide gate and it felt good to be just like everyone else!

And then something began to happen…. I NEEDED God.  I NEEDED the church.  I NEEDED the priesthood.  I NEEDED my testimony! I NEEDED all of it! And how had that happened? Yep, you guessed it, SO SLOWLY!  Little seeds were being planted along the way until all of sudden it was unmistakeable!  You can see my post “living with bi-polar” for some of the story but I will definitely write more about all of the little experiences that happened in between in upcoming posts.  But lucky for us, one thing that God never does, is give up on his children!  No not one.

“How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

“And if it so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.” (Matt. 18:12–13.)

Luckily, God’s angels both here and on the other side are working just as hard if not harder to get you back!  And now that I am back, I am so thankful for that.  I know that there were many prayers and fasts that went out in my behalf.  Many times my name was probably written in the roles of the temple.  Many tears that were cried for my salvation, and many angels that were working from the other side to influence me.

So why am I writing about this?  It’s not exactly an easy subject to approach.  People leave the church for all different reasons.  There is nothing special or singular about my situation or why I left.  At least that is what I thought.  But the truth is, I believe it IS similar for most people, in that it happens SO slowly.  One small act at a time.  One small thought at a time.  One small step at a time.  And before you know it, you hear yourself saying…”I’m not sure I’ve ever had a testimony”,  “I’m really not sure if the church IS true after all”.  and “I’m happier than I’ve ever been without it!”

I think what I am trying to say and what I have been prompted to write is that you have to keep The whole Armor of God on! See Ephesians 6:10-18  Not just sometimes…. ALL THE TIME.  ALL DAY, EVERY DAY!  You must do all the little things EVERY DAY!  Sometimes more than just once a day.  You MUST keep yourself unspotted from the world.  You must live IN the world but not be OF the world.  If you are like me you’ve heard that statement a million times growing up in the church! But it has never been more true or more important than it is today.  In The Book Of Mormon (another testament of Jesus Christ) Mormon Chapter 8  gives us insight into today’s world, Moroni says he has seen our day, and it includes wars and rumors of wars, great pollutions, murders, robbing, and people who tell us that there is no right or wrong in God’s eyes. He describes people who are filled with pride, caught up in the wearing of expensive clothing, and who make fun of religion. He is shown people who are so obsessed with worldly things that they allow “the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by”3 without being noticed.  

But we should not despair,  it is the Lord’s way that will lead us to life eternal!

The prophet David O. Mckay taught: Christ is the light to humanity. In that light man sees his way clearly; when it is rejected, the soul of man stumbles in darkness. No person, no group, no nation can achieve true success without following him who said:

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12.)

Has my life gotten easier since I came back to the church?  In some ways yes, and in some ways no.  In reality it has actually been a really hard road.  Quite like a roller coaster, lol.  My family and I have had to go through a lot of things physically, spiritually and mentally that I never thought we would have to go through. But that is how we grow, that is how we become stronger and better people.  We do not grow by being in a comfortable spot where there is nothing changing, no growth. However, through it all I have no doubt that my Savior is with me, that he is my advocate to the Father! I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Philippians 4:13 

I am also comforted to know that I need not fear for He is with me, I know where and how to to find the peace that only He can give.

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. Doctrine and Covenants 88:63

I am confident that as I purposefully follow the commandments that I will not be led astray again.  Elder David A. Bednar of the quorum of the twelve Apostles has been known to say, “If you read the Book of Mormon every day, you will never fall away”.  If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for reading.  And if you have learned or felt anything, I hope you will realize that my story can happen to anyone!  That you can NEVER take your membership in this gospel for granted!  It truly is a gift!  A gift that is meant to be shared with others!

XO  Wendy

 

 

I will go and do…

I LOVE the youth theme and song for 2020.  I have posted it here and I hope that you will take a few minutes to start your day off knowing that the Lord is with you to lead and guide you if you choose Him first!

That theme comes from the Book of Mormon scripture:

And it came to pass that I Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1Nephi 3:7)

There are many tasks that the Lord has given us that are hard and standing for what you believe in is not easy in the world that we live in daily.  We are constantly bombarded with negative messages and media that can dull our spirit and lead us on a path that draws us further and further away from the light of Christ.

Positivity and faith in God have always been characteristics that I value.  I find that as I move closer and closer to the light of Christ the more the world seems to melt away.

Yes life is hard and we encounter decisions that are really tough every single day.  But we can depend on our Savior to hold us up when we can no longer stand.  We can fall to our knees and plead with Him to help us find the way.

We are instructed over and over again in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, that if we keep his commandments he will prosper us.  I think that statement can mean so many different things to different people and various situations.  To me it has come to have many meanings.  Not only have I seen the monetary benefits of living and keeping the commandments, I have seen so many physical and emotional benefits.  He literally heals me every day as I listen to and follow His way.

It’s never easy and sometimes it seems impossible.  But the Lord keeps his promises.  He WILL NOT fail us.

I remember one specific time when my husband and I were going through a pretty rough trial.  It felt at times that we were trudging through the mud, sometimes stuck in the muck unable to get traction. One day when it seemed impossible that we would ever get through it all, I had a distinct impression come over me.  I felt in my minds eye the spirit whisper to me, “keep going, there is a light at the end of this tunnel”, and for a moment I felt so much relief.  And then, I heard the quiet whisper again “But……” (uh oh, I thought now what?).  And then ever so quietly I heard the words ” but you are not there yet.”  And I remember weeping at the thought that we had to continue on this hard path for who knew how much longer?  But I’d been given that small moment of relief to know that we were getting there. Slowly.  By our obedience and faith and our positive outlook, we were getting there.  I had hope again.

stand for something IG

Standing for what we believe and know is right, is never easy.  But it will be so worth it. The Lord WILL provide a way for us to do what he has asked us to do. And even though it seems like all hope is lost at times.  He will not forsake us (I will never leave thee or forsake thee.  Hebrews 13:5).  HE WILL provide a way.  For that we can be sure.

Please know that you are never alone.

XO Wendy

 

Come…

Last week I was able to listen to the wife of President Rhys A. Weaver, Pamela, speak. They are the Nashville Tennessee mission leaders.   I was deeply touched by the things that she talked about.  Most of her talk revolved around one word, “come”.  She talked about the sweetness of that word and how we use it so much on a daily basis.  “Come with me to lunch.”  “Come give mommy a hug.”  Come read me a story.” “Come and pray with me.” Come with me to visit grandma.”  Come and see what I have for you.”  “Come shopping with me.” Etc.

What a beautiful word that is, so inviting and so warm.  There are so many times in the scriptures that the Savior invites us to “Come”, Come follow me.  When we think of all the ways that word is used so lovingly, doesn’t it make that plea to come follow Him even more tender? In Matthew 19:21 we read: Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

We had the missionaries from our church, over for dinner not too long ago and they shared a video with us that just has such feel good message that I decided to share it here, its pretty short but I love the message.

One thing that I love about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints of which I am a member, is that we are so willing to serve.  We are a people full of faith and hope.  We are always some of the first responders whenever there is a natural disaster around the world.  And we are huge on helping refugees and the poor and needy.  It’s great to be a part of church that does it’s best to follow the Savior’s admonition to “Come follow me”.

We as members are far from perfect and are human just like everyone else.  So not everyone is as welcoming as some.  But we are trying to follow the Savior in all that we do.

As you know I share a lot of scriptures and talks here and I thought for those of you who aren’t familiar with our church, this would be a good place to share.

I would personally love to have you “come” and go to church or serve or go to an activity with me.  If you find yourself with no hope. Or if you have been away for a while like I had been. Come back! Come and Stay.

Have a good weekend everyone!

XO Wendy

Are you a hope maker or taker?

Have you ever had someone take your hope away simply by their words?  Have you ever been filled with despair because someone said something about you, or to you that was completely defeating?  Yeah, me too.  Words are very powerful! We can go from completely elated to simply defeated in the time it takes to say, “you can’t”, “you will never” or “that’s impossible for you”.

And even more important, is the way we talk to ourselves.  “It’s hopeless”,  I’m so stupid”, “I will never be….”, and my favorite, “I can’t…”  Why is it so easy for us to use words in such a negative way, especially to ourselves?  Well, I haven’t completely figured out the answer to that question.  But what I do know is that I have had my share of negative words thrown my way, spoken behind my back by others. As well as given to me through my own negative self-talk.  And I am positive that I am not so much different than anybody else.

So today I wanted to offer you some encouragement through the words of someone who had every right to lose hope, but somehow found it. This is well worth the 15 minutes out of your day to watch Nick Vujicic

Please use positive self talk and practice self love. Look for hope.  Find it. And live it!

XO Wendy