Sharing the light of Christ

IG of Shining the light of Christ 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Thomas S. Monson said

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XO Wendy

 

Hustle and bustle

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

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

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

#sharethegift

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

Hard can be good

Some of the best lessons we learn in our lives, come from something that was extremely difficult to get through.  And some of those lessons seem to be ongoing.  In hisOctober 2017 talk Stanley G. Ellis said, “Hard makes us stronger, humbles us, and gives us a chance to prove ourselves.  Hard can be good!”

Hard can be good

As I studied the words from his talk this weekend, I was taken back to many experiences that were extremely difficult at the time, but that now I can look back on and see the personal growth that came through or because of those experiences.  I’m sure that you can too.  But what can we do when we are in the midst of those hard times?

One of my favorite people ever, Zandra Vranes (I got to meet her personally in October this year), gave this wise counsel. “Rely on the lord, for only He can turn a mess into a message, a test into a testimony, a trial into a triumph, and whats broken into something beautiful.”  I love that so much! And it reminded me once again of the scripture found in the Bible, Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, lean not unto thy own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Very many times in our lives we experience pain, suffering, hard trials, challenges, etc.  that threaten to break us.  But it is through our trust in the Lord that we can become strong.  I know that there are people that will argue the statement “Things happen for a reason”,  but I strongly believe that.  We don’t always see and may never see it in this lifetime.  But God does have a plan for us.  It’s important to note that He does not make or intend for bad things to happen in our lives, but He is definitely there to pick us up and carry us along the way.

I also believe the fact that there are no coincidences. It seems that whenever I feel that all is lost, the Lord finds a way to remind me that He is always there and always will be even when it feels like he is not.

I believe that God is always working behind the scenes to build us and shape us.  Are there things that happen that are horrible in this world and in our personal lives? Absolutely! And sometimes we see people go through challenges that may be completely unbearable.  But if we are always putting a negative spin on things that happen in our lives, we will never truly be able to see the lessons we have or need to learn from our experiences.  And sometimes (a lot of the time) we have those experiences so that we can empathize and have love for and help one another.

Again quoting from Stanely G. Ellis’ talk, “Do we trust His commandments to be for our good? His leaders, though imperfect, to lead us well? His promises to be sure? Do we trust that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do know us and want to help us? Even in the midst of trials, challenges, and hard times, do we still trust Him?”

Hard is part of the plan.  Think of a baby chick who has to break through the shell unassisted.  A seed that has to break through the hard soil to grow into a beautiful tall tree.  A butterfly who breaks free of the chrysalis that binds it.  All of the examples from nature are a beautiful reminder that hard can be good!

I know it’s not easy especially in the midst of something hard, to think about it in a positive light.  But if we can rely on the Lord, trust that He knows what the bigger picture is and then look to Him to help us get through the hard things, we may be able to see that there is a purpose after all.

Please know that you are never alone in your struggles.  And if you ever feel like you are, please reach out. There are angels among us that are meant to help us through hard things.  Please don’t suffer in silence.  God is always there, even when we do not understand the whys.

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

 

Live in thanksgiving daily.

…live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you. (Alma 34:38)

Thanksgiving

First of all, I want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving day.  I thought it would be appropriate to speak of gratitude on Thanksgiving day!  What other time of the year do we take one whole day to celebrate all that is good in our lives, all of our many blessings?

If you have read much of my blog, then you already know how important journals are to me.  And my favorite of all the journals that I write in, is my gratitude journal.  It doesn’t have to be a big expensive journal with a fancy cover.  It can just be a notebook that you can keep inside your purse if need be.

The important part is that you write in it.  Not just periodically, but daily.  It’s similar to being consistent that we talked about here.

“Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence.”                        Bonnie D. Parkin

A few weeks ago we talked about joy and I believe that one of the ways that we can find true joy is through living in thanksgiving daily as stated above.

Today you will gather with family and friends to celebrate your love and relationships and all that you have to be grateful for.  You will eat a lot of good food, watch football, play games, sleep and love on each other, build on current relationships and maybe start new ones.

I hope that you will take a few minutes at some point during your day to write down all of the many blessings you have in your life.

While everyone’s Thanksgiving might not be perfect, it can be filled with love and happiness.  That really depends on you.  Sure you could give away your control when one of your siblings or parents says or does something inappropriate.  But how much better will your memories be if you can just be filled with gratitude.

I’m not sure who, but someone shared this with me one day, and because I live far away from my family it really stuck with me.

Think about the people in your life, not those you live with daily, but those that you may only see a couple of times per year.  Now think about how many times you will get to see and be with them in their lifetime.  Usually that’s only a couple of times per year for most people.  If it’s a parent, and say they have roughly 10 years more of living, that’s only about 20 more times in YOUR life that you will get to spend with them!

So today, try to make the most of the time you get to spend with all of the important people in your life.  Because you just never know when that might be your last time.

And if you live far away from family, CALL them or FaceTime them.  It would mean so much to them.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

XO Wendy

 

 

 

 

Changes….

 

butterflies changeIt’s Monday and Mondays are always a good time to renew our promises to ourselves and maybe set some new goals for the week.  Even when things haven’t gone the way we would have hoped in the previous week, we can’t let that stand in the way of improvement.

Today I want to talk a little bit about change.  For one, it is about the only constant that we can count on in our lives.  Situations that are beyond our control can change everything in moment.  Our bodies are constantly in a state of change.  Jobs change, relationships change, and the weather changes.  Some things, like the weather change on a daily basis.  And other things like our moods for example take more time.

We are well into the Fall/Winter season and so many that suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are probably having some pretty rough days. As the days become shorter and more cold, our moods can become darker and more cold as well.

I was talking to my husband about how MY mood is doing this time around for the Fall/Winter season.  It is probably the first time in a very long time that I am still doing well at this time of year.  Of course we are only about a quarter of the way into the changing of the seasons. 🙂

Some of the reasons for this are very traceable.  I have done a lot of work on my mental health over the past 4 years.  It certainly has not been easy and it has not been quick.  It has however, been extremely worth the effort.  I am much more balanced than I have been in past years as far as the 10 habits that I talked about here and here.

But I think even more than that, I have finally come to a sort of acceptance of what bipolar IS to me and what it IS NOT.  (And this goes for other illnesses and disorders as well). It IS something that I HAVE.  It is NOT something that I AM.  It does not define me, or who I am as a person. There is so much more to me than being sick.  It IS something that changes me mentally.  It IS NOT something that I have no control over.  I DO have a choice.  There was a time that I believed that I didn’t have choice.  That this is just my cross to bear and I have no say in it.

But that’s only partially true.  It is something that I have to bear, but there is A LOT that I can do to change, not only how I view it, but also how I live with it, as illustrated in the links above that I mentioned.  But the first and most important step, is to stop being “stuck” make a choice of where you want to be and then take a step in that direction.  It doesn’t have to be a gigantic decision.  But DO something to move you forward!

I believe one of the most significant changes that I have made in the past few years that has made an incredible difference is that I have learned that there is only one person that I can turn to in my times of greatest need.  And that is my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the healer, He has transformed me in a way that I never could have managed on my own. But that didn’t just happen either.  It has taken a lot of work and continues to be  an ongoing process.  But I had to make the choice that I was going to TURN (action) toward the Lord.  That I was going to ASK (action) for help.  In the Bible it says:

7  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;  knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK are all action words.  We can not just expect things to happen for us.  It is something that we have to work toward.  And it is an ongoing work that changes every day.  But it is one that we do not have to do on our own.  We will always have the Lord there to support us and cheer us on.  He wants us to be successful and happy and feel loved.  He wants us to know that we are worth it!  And He is just waiting for us to ask.

So today, ponder the word change which means to make or become different, transform.  Then decide to make the choice that you want your life to be different… better!

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