Cast thy burden upon the Lord

I am going to tell you about my very first real experience with true grace in my life.  I was around 27-28 years old.  And had a growing, flourishing family.  I had 4 children that were under the age of around 8.  

I had struggled with depression for some time at this point and quite frankly,I just needed a break from all the chaos just for a little while. It was a beautiful Sunday morning  And so I did something that I really never did at that time.  I faked sick and had my husband take the children to church.  

I really didn’t fake it totally.  Depression is most definitely a sickness.  But on this particular day, I just felt like if I didn’t get a break, I wasn’t going to make it one more day.  Just to be clear, I was not suicidal, I just needed time to regroup.  And 3 glorious hours to myself, sounded heavenly!  At that time in the history of our church we spent 3 hours on the sabbath worshipping our Savior in the church building.

I  was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday saints, and so I’d had many experiences learning about repentance, forgiveness and grace.  But had only applied it to my life in a few instances.  I thought that repentance was for the really wrong things that you had done in your life, not something that I needed to do on a continual basis.  I know, pretty naive. 

Now I feel like repentance, forgiveness, and grace, are kind of like learning to ride a bike.  At first it might be difficult and you may be a little wobbly and require trainging wheels to begin with.  But once you learn, and those training wheels come off, you never forget the feeling of freedom you have,  I know that because I was a bit of a slow learner.  

I didn’t learn to ride a bike without training wheels until I was about 7 and all my friends had already learned.  It was one of my best friends in the neighborhood who taught me how on her little red bike.  I had gotten a cool shwinn with a basket for Christmas but it was a bit big for me still, which I think is why it took me longer.  My friend Shelly, was so patient. She taught me how to balance and get my footing.  She would walk with me each time we tried.  And when I fell, she would get on the bike and show me the way again.  

It wasn’t long before she was running beside me to catch me if I fell.  But I had it down now, I was so proud!  It was an exhilarating feeling, the wind in my hair and the gratitude that comes with accomplishment of something difficult.

Now let’s go back to Sunday that I faked sick.  Just to give a little context, I had been a bit of a wild teenager.  I had some rebellious years where I made a lot of stupid choices, as teenagers sometimes do.  But by this time I had already taken care of those experiences through the repentance process.  But I had a hard time forgiving myself for the stupid choices that I made during that time in my life.  It seemed it would crop up and make me feel like I didn’t take care of it properly, or that I somehow wasn’t worthy to have the grace promised by the Savior.  

Of course now I know, that all of that was just the adversary trying to keep me from moving forward and progressing.  He really does that!  He will try everything, especially when you are being obedient to the covenants that you have made with the Lord.  His greatest joy is to have power over you. 

On that Sunday morning, I happened to be feeling especially unworthy, I had just skipped church for no good reason. And made my husband take on that responsibility, knowing that it would be difficult to keep all 4 children under control and get them to where they needed to be, when it was time to go to Sunday school and primary.  That’s what we call the worship for all our little children in our faith.

The longer it went the more guilty I felt.  Even though it was a small thing, Satan began to work on me bringing up all the mistakes of the past and my mistakes and failings as a young parent.  

Finally I opened up my scriptures and in the front of it, nicely folded from age.  Was a blessing that in my church we receive at some point in our lives that we feel is given for direction and to help guide us here in our life on this side of the veil.  It is something that we hold very sacred, specifically given to us, and not to be shared lightly with others.  I hadn’t read mine in quite some time.  I picked up the worn piece of paper and began to read.  The words on the page seemed to jump out at me.  Even though I’d read it dozens of times.  Nuggets of wisdom and strength poured into my worn out mind and even my physical body.  I began to highlight specific phrases and was guided to the parts that made me realize that though I had made all of those mistakes years ago and had taken care of it with the Lord.  I never forgot about it. 

In Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18, we read, Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” 

Again, in the fifty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 42, which came with great force to my mind, we read, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”

That scripture came into my mind with such force and I knew that the Lord was telling me, it’s time to forget those things.  I have forgotten them, now it’s your turn to forgive yourself.  He promises us that through the holy ghost He will bring all things to our remembrance.  And at that time I needed to remember that his grace will always be there to catch me when I fall.

I don’t need the training wheels anymore, once I’ve taken them off and released that burden, I can fly forward and go as far and as fast as I want, as long as I remember that His grace will always be with me.  His grace is sufficient. 

Forgiving ourselves for the stupid choices that we make is one of the most glorious parts of grace that the Savior gives us. Psalm 55:22 “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Today my invitation to you is to take that thing that’s holding you back and like the training wheels, through it out.  It is of no use to you anymore.  He is yours, and you are His!

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

XO, Wendy 

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

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

Draw Near

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XO Wendy