Take Courage

Take courage

You can listen to this post here

“If I may speak to you individually … may I suggest that your personal struggles — your individual sorrows, pains, tribulations, and infirmities of every kind — are all known to our Father in Heaven and to His Son. Take courage! Have faith! And believe in the promises of God!” —Evan A. Schmutz

The reason I started this blog, Pointing toward hope, was twofold.  First it was a way for me to document my journey through the trials of being diagnosed Bipolar.  But second and even more important to me was that I would be able to help someone else who might be going through similar situations.  I felt that if I could help just one person.  It would be so worth it. But what I have realized along the way is that we all take our turns on the struggle bus!  It doesn’t matter that my particular burden is not the same as yours. We can all help one another to become better, stronger, and most importantly, find hope.  So that is what I want to talk about today.  Hope! 

But first I want to share a scripture that we will talk about a little later but it’s one of my favorites.  It comes from the Doctrine and Covenants section 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up.  

When I was a young mother, I had just had my fourth child.  There were some complications during the birthing process.  Consequently my precious tiny boy was rushed to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.  For most of the 12 days that he spent in the NICU we wondered if he would be coming home at all.  It was heart wrenching to see that tiny little body lay lifeless in the incubator except for the machine that was helping him breath.  I remember feeling so overwhelmed with heartache, pain and anguish, blaming myself for something that I may have done during my pregnancy.  I had wished so hard for this baby to be born early and now he was, (2 weeks) and at what cost?  What had I done? It was a terrifying experience that many young couples experience when their child is born with medical issues.  Luckily for us, his stay was brief and we were able to bring him home with just a feeding tube, which he was able to go without, in just a few days of being home.

It wasn’t long after that experience that I started to have some serious postpartum depression.  Which eventually moved into full blown manic depression.  I had 4 young kids, all under the age of 6!  I knew that I needed help. I just wasn’t sure how to find it.  And so it went on for several months.  I’d had postpartum depression with each of my kids but it had subsided eventually and I’d been able to move forward with life.  But this time with the combination of having complications and then 3 other very young children.  It just became super overwhelming. I remember one day getting breakfast for my oldest before he would go off to kindergarten.  I grabbed a box of cheerios out of the cupboard and it slipped out of my hands and onto the floor scattering cheerios everywhere.  I was in such a state of hopelessness and despair that it was like the last straw.  I just sat in the middle of the floor and started sobbing.  I was screaming at the Lord in my head.  Why?  Why is this happening?  Why aren’t you helping me?  How do I go forward when everything just seems so out of control?

Finally after what seemed like an eternity (but was probably just a few minutes), my 4 year old daughter came into the kitchen.  She looked at the mess and then she put her hand on my shoulder, she climbed into my lap and hugged me and said “It’s ok mommy.” And at that moment I felt the Lord’s arms encircling me in His love.  In a few minutes my daughter got up and she started picking up cheerios one by one. (lol).  That was going to take a while, I thought.

Eventually I was able to get up and clean up the mess, get breakfast and take my son to school.  Which was another major chore with 3 other littles that couldn’t be left alone.  So I would have to pack up car seats and buckle them all in and just everything that goes along with that.  But it was tender mercies like that little sliver of light that came from a 4 year old that kept me going.  It was around that time period that I realized that I did have a choice.   For so long I had believed that this was something that I just had to endure.  I hadn’t been clinically diagnosed at that point, but I was familiar enough with postpartum and I believed that was what I was still dealing with.  I remember the thought coming to me as clear as a bell one day as I was feeling hopeless and lost.  You do have a choice you know?  I thought about it again.  I do have a choice.  I can sit here and live with this horrible feeling of despair and hopelessness OR I could get up and do something about it!  I don’t know where the strength came from that day.  Maybe it was angels surrounding me bearing me up.  But I do know that I realized without a shadow of a doubt in that moment I DID HAVE a CHOICE.  And despite what you may think about your own struggles and trials, you also have a choice!

I am privileged to be in many facebook groups and I follow a number of people online that are such an inspiration to me.  We didn’t have those back in the day.  One woman that I follow has gone through her own struggle these past several years as she lost her husband due to mental illness.  I have loved seeing how courageously she has faced this gigantic burden head on.  She has since written a book about her experiences and speaks on many podcasts and events.  She talked about choice in one of her recent posts and it went along so well with what I have been thinking about that I was to share it with you.  Her name is Kayla Steck and the book is called fear gone wild.  I haven’t read it yet but I am sure if it is anything like her page, it’s complete inspiration!  This is what she said in a recent post.  And I want you to insert whatever it is that is your particular struggle where she writes the word death.

“Death (insert struggle) sometimes steals our entire life, but when we hang on, when we push through, when we fight to rebuild again and again and again we are choosing to take back our life.”

I love that because it reminded me of that time that I realized, I do have a choice.  I don’t have to live like this.  I CAN and will take back my life!

Anyway back to my story.  The day that I had that thought about choice was the day that I picked up the phone and made my first appointment with a therapist. I pretty much counted down the days until I was able to go.  I was so in need of encouragement and strength.  I felt like my life was hanging in the balance.  I remember waiting in the lobby to be seen and having all kinds of unfamiliar feelings.  Was it going to be good?  What would they say? How long would it take?  And all the things.

She called me back and we talked about what I’d been going through.  I felt strangely comforted to just be able to unload all the pressure and worries and stress that I’d been experiencing to a total stranger who didn’t have any previous knowledge about my life.  No preconceived thoughts.  Her only job was to figure out where I would go next.  

If you have never been to therapy, I can’t recommend it enough.  It is so worth every penny!  I remember her looking me straight in the eyes and saying.  Well my dear, (she called me dear, which I so loved), if you ask me you have two choices. The first one is that you can do nothing (that is a choice BTW) and live with the struggles and challenges and stresses that you’re already well aware of.  OR, choice two.  You can take your life back!  There are medications that are designed to help you with what you are going through.  At that point I never knew that was an option.  I figured we’d just talk it through and be done with it.  Which actually works great for many, many people.  But when she described it like that to me, I knew that in order to continue to survive I needed help as quickly and as easily as possible.  And that’s when I had my first experience with anti-depressants.  Which worked out great for a long time.  It definitely helped to lift that cloud of despair and hopelessness so that I could continue to work on becoming better.

Now to be clear, I am not pushing medication at all.  It was just what I needed at the time to be able to function and work through everything.  But even more importantly than medication and what had started the ball moving for me, was screaming at God on the kitchen floor that day.  You see, God is not the typical caregiver.  We read in Psalm 147:3 He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.  That is His only objective. To heal us, to bind up our wounds.  To help us find peace amidst the struggle.  To find light in the deepest recesses of darkness. 

I know right now at this time in our lives, we are all exhausted!  We are over it.  Being stuck at home, kept away from others physically, struggling with work and businesses, just trying to survive.  Having world unrest and calamities come from every angle it seems.  But here is a thought for you. “What if you just tried on “making a choice to find hope in the hopeless, for size?  What if you just tried on “happy” for size?  What if you just tried on “seeing the little sliver of light” for size?  If you don’t like it, you can always take it back off.  I guess what I am saying is  that courage is a choice.

I love my Jesus, He always comes through for me.  When I was struggling with my littles, when I went through depression time and time again, when I went through my divorce.  And even when I walked away from Him for a while.  He never ever abandoned me.  One of my other favorite scriptures that the Lord put on my heart today is Jeremiah 29:11  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!  It hangs in a frame in our bathroom so I get to look at and be reminded multiple time a day.  

But this morning as I was studying I came upon this scripture and it definitely spoke to me as I was thinking about hope and how to help you who may be feeling hopelessness in this moment.  It is found in Alma 22:16 of the Book of Mormon:  If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God yea, if thou wilt repent of all they sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, THEN shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

So this is the way that I interpreted that scripture today.  This is the way that it spoke to me.  Basically there are 4 steps to get the hope that you desire.  1.  You have to want to find it… If thou desirest this thing.  2. bow down before God (in your closet, on your kitchen floor, in your attic, where ever it is that you go to cry unto Jesus) and incidentally I did look up the definition of bow and it said to change in character or form, change of attitude, emotion or viewpoint… so maybe try on something different for size? 3. Call upon His name (cry, kick, scream, whatever it takes.  He is not the typical caregiver.  He is not going to scold us for our tantrum… He is just going to love us harder.  And finally 4. Believe!  Just believe that He can take away your pain…. THEN shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest!

I would love to leave it right there.  But I have one final thought that I think is really important to note.  “It’s ok to not be ok!  It is.  Maybe that is the season that you are in right now.  Don’t let the world add more pressure if you’re already overwhelmed.  It’s ok if all you can do this week is survive.  In fact that’s the most important thing!”  And that is a quote from Bouncing Forward.  

Remember my friends, you are loved!  You are enough!  And you can do this!  Fight on my warrior friend, I love you!

XO Wendy

Look up, lean in, walk tall

You can listen to this post by clicking the link at the bottom of post.

Last week I was on my morning walk, which I have grown to love.  It’s something that I picked up since Covid started.  You know having the time at home, not having to rush to get a workout finished before work, has allowed me a little more time to really take in my surroundings in nature and it really has been so much fun.  Breathing in the fresh air has been a balm to my soul that I didn’t know I needed and I am so glad that I have taken the time to do that.  

Anyway, back to that recent morning.  I walked out my door and it was cloudy and sprinkling a bit and I considered going back in to do a streamed workout. I was a little worried because I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a TN rainstorm or not. But I grew up in the West and we do not have the “buckets of rain” downpours that are here in the south!  I remember the first time I was in a Southern downpour.  I had to get out my phone and video it  because it was so impressive! Y’all,  if I caught in a downpour, I was going to be drenched in about 1 minute. But I heard that sweet whisper that I’ve come to know say, “keep going, I’ve got something special for you today.”  So I kept going. 

And sure enough, not far into my walk I began to notice things that I don’t normally.  Now, I don’t normally wear sunglasses on my walks because my sight since I turned about 48 has been pretty bad and I just feel like sunglasses, even though made to protect, kind of impair my vision a little more.  So I don’t wear them on my walks.  I know this is going to sound contradictive to what I just said or maybe just plain stupid but that’s just what I like, haha.  So because I don’t wear sunglasses I can’t really look up because then I have to squint because of the reflection from the sidewalk and the pavement.  So I end up looking down a lot as I walk.  So anyway as I walked I noticed that because it was cloudy, I could look up no problem.  And I heard the whisper reinforce my thought “look up”!  I walked a few more feet and heard another whisper, “Lean in”.  This is one that I’d been having repeatedly over the past several weeks but now it was all coming together.  

So here I am thinking “Look up, Lean in” and pondering upon that.  I continued walking and soon the whisper came again.  “Look up, lean in, walk tall.”  By this point I am thoroughly enjoying the light sprinkling on my face and the beautiful cloud cover that has allowed me to look up and now I feel like God is giving me this message to share with you all. “Look up, lean in, walk tall.”

Now let me just say that I know this message that I’m about to share with you was impressed upon MY heart for me but I believe there is someone out there today that needs to hear this message too (maybe a handful of you).  I’m the messenger and I pray that I can do it adequately enough to be able to touch the heart of those that need it, and that God wants to hear it.

I was reminded one of my favorite scriptures, Proverbs 3:5-7 

5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.   And verse 7 that is overlooked often.

7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

I started thinking about a talk that I’d heard recently by Stanley G. Ellis in October of 2017 General Conference.

He asks the question Do we trust Him?  Meaning God.  Do we trust His commandments to be for our good?  Do we trust that the Lord does know each of us and wants to help us?  Even and especially in the midst of trials, challenges and hard times, do we still trust Him?

I recalled an event that I had several years ago at a week long girls camp that I was called to be one of the leaders of.  These camps are adventures in learning both physically and spiritually out in nature without the conveniences of everyday life.  It provides a canvas so to speak from the Lord to work with in helping these girls (and ourselves) grow closer to Him.

So there was this hike that we did every year.  It was called Mount Baldy.  I’m not sure if there is a significance to the name or not.  Maybe because it was surrounded by foliage and was flat and clear on the top, lol. It was not an easy hike though.  I remember the first mile and a half was not too terrible.  Still a hike and one that was good for the younger girls who were on their first year of camp.  Not too hard but just hard enough to learn the lessons that they needed at that time.  They stopped there in a meadow and had lunch and then would trek back down to camp. 

The older girls were required  to hike to the top of Mount Baldy and it was not an easy climb.  The last leg a quarter mile or so was especially difficult.  You could choose one of two paths to get to the top.  The first wound round and round the Mountain on a steep grade eventually getting to the top.  Though hard and longer than the other, it was not as difficult as the other less chosen path.  Which was straight up the mountainside.  Well at least it felt like straight up.  All I know is that it was steep enough that you could only see the very top of the cell phone tower that was at the completion of the hike.  Some of the braver girls had already started to scurry up the side and the other leader and myself had to draw straws as to who was going to stay with which group of girls.  I drew the short straw, lol.  

I found myself hiking up the mountainside to try and catch up with the brave, courageous girls.  Within several feet I had to stop to catch my breath.  My lungs were hot and my thighs were burning.  I turned to glance down at some of the other girls behind me.  Some were slowly making their way up and others had changed their minds and chosen the other path (which I might add was still not easy).  I saw one girl really struggling but determined to keep going.  I waited for her to catch up and grabbed her hand to urge her to keep going.  

I went a few more feet and had to stop and rest again.  At this point I started to question my forethought that I was in pretty good shape, obviously, I still had some work to do in that area!  But then I heard that familiar whisper, “Do you trust me?”,  Yes I trust you Lord.  Then keep going, it will be worth it!”  So I continued to trudge my way up the mountain side.  

Now what I haven’t told you about is that particular year there was an extreme amount of rain the first day of camp and we had been in mud up to our ankles.  Our tennis shoes had been caked with mud the whole first day and our campsites were all a muddy mess.  Me not being a lover of the outdoors, I was pretty much ready to go home on this the second day and we still had 4 days to go.  But I had not yet been to the top of Mount Baldy and had volunteered to be one of the leaders to go. 

Besides that the trail down the mountain had been closed for the day anyway because of the mud and so even if I had given up, the only way out was to walk on a very muddy, very long, hike down the mountain trail.  And that would have been even more crazy than Mount Baldy, lol.  

I was second thinking that decision now.  As we got a little higher when we looked up we could barely see the top of the tower.  When we looked down, all we could see was the forest surrounding us.  So up the side we continued to go.  Of course I was highly reconsidering my ambitious volunteerism.  But I’d been told by several, including the Lord, that it would be worth it.  I heard the whisper again, “Do you trust me?” and I was thinking of course Lord of course I trust you.  But I was reminded of the many times that I hadn’t trusted him.  

I thought of how our Savior must feel as he sees us constantly struggling to overcome the challenges that we face and the struggles that beat upon us during this life.  I remember his coaxing, “Do you trust me?” 

We know that the Lord trusts us.  He gave us this life and He has faith in us.  He sees the view from above and He sees the amazing work of art that we can be.  He trusts us to make good choices and to come to Him when we inevitably make poor choices.  He trusts us with our lives, and with the lives of our children and these girls and those around us that He has asked us to watch over through His promptings.  He trusts that we will do what He can not do.  He trusts us to be His hands.

 He trusts us to continue our hike uphill through the trees the rocks, the unseen obstacles and the mud to make it back to Him.

But the question is, do we trust Him?  Do we really trust Him?  He sees us at our best and at our worst.  He sees us in our triumphs and our failures.  He sees us in sickness and in health.  He sees us today and He will see us tomorrow.  He comes to us in the messiness, the broken, the heart wrenching and He restores us.

Do we trust Him enough to look up?  To look to Him the source for our peace?

Going back to Stanley G. Ellis’ talk He says, “Hard makes us stronger, humbles us and gives us a chance to prove to ourselves….. The hard is the constant!  We all have challenges.  The variable is our reaction to the hard.”  

That brings me to the second part “Lean in”.  When I had this thought I could picture a big huge rock.  The rock, representing the Redeemer.- I remembered a scripture that I’d recently read in Heleman 5:12 from the Book of Mormon and I could picture this giant rock and just leaning into it and knowing that no matter what, that rock was solid, it wasn’t going anywhere.  The scripture comes from a story in the Book of Mormon were a father is counseling his sons and says And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

This made me think back to the Proverbs scripture, …lean not to thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him…  the rock the one we lean TO, hang on TO for support, pray TO when all feels lost and crazy.  It’s Him that we can trust. Look up TO!  Lean in TO!  

Lean suggests a shift of balance but maybe the shift that He’s talking about there is the shift to Him, the Savior, shift TO the rock, our redeemer.  Look up, lean in and then walk tall! Only when one’s heart is fixed on God can a person begin to think properly.  Walking according to God’s will puts the person in a position to have God lead the way and open the doors to the life that He so desires for you.

Now back to the story, I’m sure you are dying to know if we all made it to the top of Mount Baldy.  You have guessed that we did I’m sure.  But let me tell you, it was one of the hardest ⅛ of a mile I have ever been on, lol.  It really was not long but boy did it feel like it. I took a couple of girls by the hand and pulled them the last few feet up.  

It was absolutely breathtaking!  I will never forget the beautiful sight at the top of Mount Baldy.  We could see all around the valley.  We could see our campsite far below.  We could breathe the clean fresh air in and out of our tired lungs.  Our legs burned, but our hearts and souls burned brighter because of the challenge we had just overcome.  We each shared our feelings of what our thoughts were as we climbed and what it felt like to reach our destination.  It was amazing the lessons that had been learned during a half day hike, most of which had happened in that last challenging part of the hike.

As I reflect back on this event I am reminded of the many challenges we face in our lifetimes.  Our paths are all different yet no less difficult. And though we can support and love each other through the difficult and the hard, we can not take that challenge away.  That is how we grow.  Look up, Lean in, Walk tall you are a child of God!

He is the source,  He is our rock.  We can hold our heads up high and walk tall because of not in spite of our challenges.  

I think about a chrysalis.  There is a story you may have heard about a man who found a chrysalis and saw a small opening appear at the top.  He watched the butterfly struggle for hours trying to get through the tiny hole.  But what happened was that suddenly the butterfly stopped and it appeared that it had completely given up.  The man, thinking that he was doing the butterfly a service, took a pair of scissors and carefully cut the opening so that the butterfly could become free.  So then the butterfly was able to get out easily but the man noticed that it’s body was swollen and the wings shriveled.  And he didn’t really think anything of it, he just watched and figured that the butterfly would develop and the fluid from it’s body would fill the wings and it would fly away.  What he didn’t realize was that in freeing the butterfly he had hampered the development that would have happened had the butterfly continued to struggle and push through the Chrisilys which is Nature’s way of  pushing the fluid from the body and into the wings of the butterfly.  Instead it spent the rest of it’s life walking around with a swollen body and shriveled wings, unable to fly.  

So back to Proverbs verse 7 Be not wise, in thine own eyes.   Sometimes we think that we know what’s best for us, that we have it all figured out.  And I  am not going to discount that intuition is a very large part of getting through our struggles and challenges.  But the variable is our reaction to the hard.  We can choose to embrace the hard, choose to control the things that we can control. 

Also, something that I learned when I was struggling to get some relief with my mental illness, I would have people say things like, “you just need to get out and get some fresh air,  or come go shopping with me, retail therapy will make you feel so much better.  And I often thought, “you can’t wish this problem away.  It is what it is. Don’t try to solve my problem, just give me faith to endure!  Just help me build the faith to make it through this challenge.  

Sometimes in our eagerness to take away another’s burden we hamper their growth.  I think of all the things that I would not have learned.  All the ways that I wouldn’t have grown.  The empathy that I never would have built.  The places that I wouldn’t have gone had I not suffered through this challenge.

We can support others, we can validate them, yes it’s hard, yes it’s a struggle.   Yes things are tough and look unending.  But through it all we must have the faith to look up, lean in and walk tall, trusting that He will carry us through the hardest, most challenging leg of our journey.  That He will open the doors in front of us that He will place the people in our path to help us when we don’t think we can take another step forward through the mud and the muck.  Let Him help you.  His way is always better, always better than ours!

XO Wendy

The journal prompt that I have for you today is: 

What can I change in my thought process of this current challenge, that can help me to Look up, Lean in and walk tall?

 

 

Refresh and reframe your mindset

Quote Pointing Toward Hope pod graphic_2

At the beginning of the year 2020 we had such a positive outlook on the year ahead!  After all it was the year of “perfect vision”.  Now we are 8 months in, and as I’m sure you will all agree, it has been…. well… a year of some unmet expectations. Ok maybe a lot of unmet expectations! But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the rest of year. And neither should you. Let’s finish out this year STRONG!

So that all sounds great right? But it’s not so easy to do. Especially in our ever changing world filled with uncertainty and fear for what the third quarter of 2020 might bring. I mean I have started and stopped my goal of recreating my relationship with food (hello Covid-19), every time I read something else in the media that produces anxiety.  Maybe it’s time to step away from social media for a while (that’s why I’ve been missing in action for a hot minute, lol).

I’m not suggesting giving it up completely (thats just crazy talk), I mean we have to stay informed. Just choose wisely what you choose to fill your brain with.

Here are a five ways other than going easy on social media, that I have found to deal with the anxiety and hopelessness of the future. And to reframe thinking in a positive and productive way.

  1. Brain Dump Sometimes feelings and emotions can really become too much to bear. A practice that I have found helpful is to get out a journal (you know how I love journals!) and just “dump” all of your thoughts, feelings, emotions and scenarios that you are creating in your mind on to a blank page. You don’t even have to keep it if you don’t want to. I find that just releasing all of that emotion from your head and your heart is truly cathartic. It can be a form of therapy to just let your heart and soul out in words. Words that you’ve been tossing around and around inside your brain, creating all kinds of awful scenarios. Just get it out so you can let your brain rest.
  2. Breathe There are moments when I’m working on something whether it be at work or at home even hanging out at soccer game (yes we just started back up again, yay!), when I notice that I have been holding my breath.  It’s really a common practice to tense up when we are deeply engrossed in something. You may even be doing it at this very moment.  So stop right now and do it with me.  Close your eyes and take a big inhale through your nose (really fill up your lungs).  Now let it out slowly through your mouth.  Now do that 2 more times as you let your body just relax.  Hopefully that will help you feel a little less anxious.  Just breathe.
  3. Kill the ants automatic negative thoughts (thank youJim Kwik). Negative thoughts rob us of joy and kill our hope and steal our happiness. We’ve all heard the quote by Henry Ford,  “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”  Our thoughts are so powerful!  As Jillian Michaels from biggest loser always says, “If you fight for your limiting beliefs you get to keep them. ”  Don’t get caught in the trap of telling yourself that you are not (smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, motivated enough, old enough, young enough etc).  What you tell yourself you are, is what you will become.  Practice self love on a daily basis by being kind to yourself.  Don’t let the “ants” keep you from thriving
  4. Drink yo’ water!!!! I know this might seem like a crazy thing to add in this post. And I will harp on this forever (see more here). There are so many benefits to getting your water in daily (at least half of your body weight in ounces).  And so many negatives to not drinking water.  Being properly hydrated is so important.  Here are just a few benefits:  Weight loss and good skin elasticity.  Muscle efficiency, mood balancer (yes!), temperature control, memory function, and joint lubrication.  It flushes out the toxins that build up in our bodies creating good bowel function.  It aids digestion and creates better immune health.  When we become dehydrated it can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, weakened muscles and lack of motivation.  Do yourself a favor and fill up your cup!
  5. Get out of your space Sometimes we get so caught up doing things in our own little world that we forget how much of a breath of fresh air it is to get out and see others.  Being with people who love us and support us and laugh with us, might be the most useful and important activity we can do for us and for them!  I can’t wait to be able to hug big again!  Granted this has been especially hard during 2020 with Corona.  But it is not going to last forever and for the time being, we can still get out and walk our neighborhood and wave at others as they drive by, or talk and laugh 6 feet apart.  And sometimes playing games and visiting with your own family in your own home can be such a ray of sunshine. 
  1. I hope that these ideas will help you to find some ways to destress and decompress and refresh and reframe your mindset with everything that is going on in our world.  If you are struggling, please know that you are NEVER alone! 

Isaiah 52:12  For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.

The Lord is always by your side with His angels to assist you.  I know this because he has been there for me over and over again.  Love to you all, have a wonderful weekend.

XO Wendy

P.S.   Big News!  Something fun coming soon!!!

Make sure to enter your email above to be alerted!  I promise you won’t want to miss it!

 

 

Letting go of the ruin

 

When I was fifteen years old, my dad and I bought an old beat up 1976 Camaro from the high school auto shop.  I was going to be driving soon, and if things worked out I’d have my own wheels and freedom!  I was so excited.  

If memory serves me right, we paid about $300 for it.  It was in fair condition.  It could be driven.  But there were several things wrong with it, including it was in bad need of a paint job.  Of course I only noticed what it looked like on the outside and I wasn’t so sure that the $300 was well spent.   But it had good “bones”.  And the interior was still pretty nice, although stained a bit.  But my dad could see something in her that I couldn’t.

My dad and I spent the better part of a summer working on that Camaro, and bringing her back to life.  He on the mechanics of it, and me helping with the stains on the interior and the frame.  I remember spending hours sanding the metal down by dipping the sandpaper in water and then removing every bit of remaining paint left.  We rubbed putty (or something of the sort) in every dent and then sanded that down.  It was a grueling process that required attention to every detail.  But that was the process that was required to make her new again.  To repair the damage that had been done and make it whole once again.

Then finally… one day she was ready to paint and get the finishing touches put on.  I had saved all summer long to be able to pay for the parts and the paint job that went into her (candy apple red!).  And I couldn’t have been more proud of the work that we had done.

The day that we put “Old Red” on the road was one of the most exciting days of my life!  All of our hard work had finally garnered the result that  I craved.  She wasn’t perfect, but she was mine, and that’s all that really mattered to me.

As I reflected on that restoration process these past few months, I have been reminded of all the processes of restoration that we all have to go through during our lives on this earth.  We are all broken down, with a few stains here and there, in bad need of repair or “restoration”.  And although we may feel like we are barely getting by, the Lord sees our “good bones”.  He sees what the outcome can be with a little sanding here and a little putty there, and maybe a shiny new coat of paint.

I have spent a lot of time pondering and asking the Lord why?  Why do I have to live with a bipolar diagnosis?  Why is it that my body is broken down, stained and dented?  What good is meant to come out of this?  What’s the purpose?

And then I remembered the story of the Old Camaro and it came to me with perfect clarity.  We come to Him (our Lord Jesus Christ), broken, beaten down, full of sorrow and He “restores” us.

When I was diagnosed bipolar, my life as I knew it ended.  Everything changed.  I went from feeling like nothing could stop me.  To feeling like a broken shell of a person.  I was struggling with finding the right medications, the right Dr., the right plan for recovery.

It was only when I laid all my fears at the feet of my Savior that true restoration began.  Where I saw a broken shell, He saw the good bones. It has not been easy.  It’s a long grueling process.  From waiting for 6 weeks just to get into see the right Dr. and then ending up in the hospital again right before that appointment.  Then waiting another 6 weeks to finally get in again. Then trying different medications, behaviors and habits that work for me and my body chemistry.  A little sanding here and a little putty there.  He truly has been my source of restoration.

Elder Holland, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, once said, “I think of that night when Christ rushed to the aid of His frightened disciples, walking as He did on the water to get to them, calling out, “It is I; be not afraid.” Peter exclaimed, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Christ’s answer to him was as it always is every time: “Come,” He said. Instantly, as was his nature, Peter sprang over the vessel’s side and into the troubled waters. While his eyes were fixed upon the Lord, the wind could toss his hair and the spray could drench his robes, but all was well—he was coming to Christ. It was only when his faith wavered and fear took control, only when he removed his glance from the Master to look at the furious waves and the ominous black gulf beneath, only then did he begin to sink into the sea. In newer terror he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

Undoubtedly with some sadness, the Master over every problem and fear, He who is the solution to every discouragement and disappointment, stretched out His hand and grasped the drowning disciple with the gentle rebuke, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matthew 14:27–31

If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.” (May 2006 General Conference address).

We just need to reach out to Him and then keep our eyes fixed upon Him.  He can restore us.  He can bring us hope and peace and comfort.  If we will let him.  Because He loves us.  Because He broke the bands of death.  Because we are His!

We need not be fearful of the changes and trials that come into our lives.  We need only to believe.  Believe that He will come to us in His infinite power to restore us to our former state.  Believe that He will bring us back to a state of health, soundness and vigor.  It may not happen now, it may not happen in this lifetime.  But it will happen.  One day we will be restored in all our glory.  Just like my dad and I restored Old Red.  Our Savior will restore us, and He will take us out for a spin on the road and we will be His because that’s all that really matters to Him.

XO Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

Where do we go from here?

Breathe

As I walked back to my house one early morning this week, through the brisk cool air and heard these words it was like magic to my soul.  I was listening to a podcast that had a guest that was sharing a harrowing experience about her life (All in: Brooke Snow).  And when she said these words “Christ is the breath of life”, it stopped me in my tracks.  You might say it took my breath away for a minute.  I let it sink in and wash over me.  As I listened to her experience, thoughts of my struggle with mental illness raced through my mind.  Time after time when Christ had become the breath in whom I trusted to help me make it through another day.

This pandemic has been a hard punch in the gut for a lot of people.  It has literally taken the breath away from most of us in all different ways.  It has caused us to reflect and remember the things that should take priority in our lives.  And it has been HARD.  In so many ways it has been hard.  So where do we go from here?  How do we move forward when at times it feels so paralyzing?

All of the plans that we had for this year have been irrevocably changed and we can never go back and change what we’ve missed.  Weddings, funerals, graduations, trips, and events.   Some people said that 2020 was the year of perfect vision.  The year when all our dreams could come true.  And then boom…. in an instant our world was turned upside down.  

But one thing I have learned through all of my struggles with depressions, anxiety and bipolar is that Christ is truly where it all has to start.   We are all capable of change.  After all, even though it’s been rough, we are making it through this change, somehow. Even though the path may not be clear at this moment.

Miracles can happen when we are willing to put our trust in Christ.  Let Him breathe life into our weary souls. Because He sees the big picture.  He sees what we can not.  And like a baby being born and taking that first breath of air, we must look to the Lord to learn how to breathe when breathing seems impossible or almost like we are suffocating.

About partway through this quarantine, I realized that I needed to increase my yoga (meditation process) to stay grounded.  Otherwise I think I would lose my mind and end up moving backward instead of forward with my illness.  Normally, I do it once a week. It’s a good way to stretch and let go. Release the worries of the previous week and look ahead to the new week.  But now I have been practicing it daily and it has made such a difference in my life and my days.  I am a beginner and have a long way to go. I’m learning to understand how yoga/meditation work. 

Important note: I am not saying that you should pick up yoga. But finding time to quiet my mind helps me to take things that are bothering me or frustrating me, and just let them melt away for a little while.  It has helped me gain a new perspective on me as a person.  I have found that I  am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.  

So what I am proposing as you move forward as the quarantine is lifted, and slowly move back into a daily routine, work, school, sports, etc., remember the ways that you have changed through this experience.  Remember the experiences that have shaped you into a “new” person.  Because certainly none of  us can come out of this experience saying that we have not been changed in some way.

Find time as often as possible to sit for 5 minutes a day and just breathe.  Let Christ be the breath of life for you.  Just breathe in and out, deep breaths and let the worries of the world melt away.  Clear your mind and take just 5-10 minutes to remember this experience and how strong you have become as a person.

You are resilient, you are strong, you are in charge of your own mind and your own life.  Of course, there have been many negative things that have happened  because of this experience.  We may tend to look at it as one big negative.  But I strongly encourage you to take the time to recognize the good that can come out it.  

One thing that we can always be certain of, is that there will always be change.  

President Russell M. Nelson taught:  “We can change our behavior.  Our very desires can change.  … but true change–permanent–change can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”   Let Christ Change you.  Let him help you breathe.  Let Him help you move forward and embrace what is going to be a new normal for all of us.  Christ is the breath of life.  

In Ezekiel 36 verse 26-27 we read: A new heart also will I give you, and  a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stoney heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.  

27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

My hope is that as you move into this next phase of your life that your heart will stay soft and if  it has been hardened through this trial, allow Christ to breathe new life into you.   Allow him to heal your weary soul.  You are His.  He loves you and wants the best for you.  Breathe in and breathe out and let Christ be the sail on your boat slowly pushing you forward. 

Where do we go from here?  In my mind the only answer is fearlessly forward!

XO Wendy