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

 

Somebody’s angel

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It was Camilla E. Kimball who once said, “Never suppress a generous thought.”  As I have been participating in the #lightTHEworld campaign this year, I have thought about this quote quite often.  I’m reminded that even when you may think that no one cares or that you don’t measure up to what you think you should.  When you think that you’ve exhausted your last card, or screwed things up so bad that no one could love you.  Remember this; You are always somebody’s angel.

I know this because I have so many people in my life that are my Earth Angels. They probably have no idea they helped me in great times of need. From the moms that surrounded me when my children were growing up. To the family that brought us an Easter Lily when we didn’t think our baby would survive the night. To the women and girls who sat with me as I struggled with young children during church while my husband served in the Bishopric.

To the dance teacher that listened to me when I cried my eyes out on the phone.  To the young girl that knocked on my door on my birthday with a big hug and a thoughtful gift.  To the friend who always called at just the right time when I needed it most. To the woman I call mom, that raised and supported me through all of my rough days.  To the woman in my neighborhood who saved me when I didn’t know I needed saving, and then became my second mother. To the older couple that sat by my husband and I every week at church for months, as we made our way back and to the Gospel.  The list goes on and on and I’m positive that you have a list too.

This time of year can be rough for many people for all kinds of different reasons.  It may be the loss of a loved one.  Losing a child or longing to have one.  It could be a body that doesn’t function as it should.  Or an illness that is unexpected.  It could be that this is your first year alone after a divorce.  Or one of the many spent by yourself because you haven’t found your soul mate yet.  It could be sickness or depression, or loneliness, or homelessness.  No matter your situation, I want you to remember that you are ALWAYS somebody’s angel.

If you’ve ever called someone out of the blue because you were thinking about them.  Or had a generous thought to do something for someone, just because and then followed through. Never underestimate the power that one thought can have in someones life.  You truly can be their “angel” in a time of loneliness, distress, or trial.

In honor of the many angels among us, I wanted to share this video and hope you all have an amazing week!

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

Seeing the hand of God in your life.

Recognizing and seeing the hand of God in your life can be a daunting endeavor.  Especially on regular routine days that seem nothing out of the ordinary.  Recently I read a talk given to CES students in Texas by Sister Bednar.  In it she speaks of the ability to look for and feel the hand of the Lord working in your daily life.  I loved her counsel so much!

She used a song to express 4 steps that we can use to grow closer to our Father and Heaven and our Savior.  Thus being able to recognize and understand when he is at work in our lives. 1. We must have ears to hear the word of the Lord, 2.  And eyes to see His plan, 3. Feet to follow in His path,  4. And hearts to understand. She goes on to explain each one very briefly and I feel like it is well worth the time to read it so that we can learn to recognize and feel Him close.

eyes to see

There have been many times in my life that I have felt the Lord close and recognized his hand almost immediately and other times when I felt so far away and like he wasn’t there at all for me.

In the talk, Sister Bednar offers a quote by Henry B. Eyring that is very helpful to all of us when we can’t feel him there.  He said, ““I bless you that every day, if you will ask in prayer to be shown where the hand of God intervened in your life that day, I bless you that you will see that. It will be made manifest to you. That you will see that He is leading and guiding and lifting you, and that He knows you”.

Isn’t that such a beautiful promise and blessing from an apostle of the Lord? I am definitely going to start this practice in my own evening prayers.  And maybe morning prayers as well so that I will come to know exactly what it feels like when it is happening.  The Lord wants to talk to us and he wants us to hear and feel him!

I remember one sacred time when I knelt to say my evening prayer. I was exhausted, but I had asked specific questions and then quickly ended my prayer and jumped into bed.  I had the distinct impression saying “why did you get up so quickly? I had things to say to you”.  I kind of brushed it off as my own internal dialogue and snuggled deeper into my blankets.  Then it came again more forcefully, “Get back on your knees and listen to what I have to say”.  And so I did.  And what happened next was one of the sweetest experiences that I have ever had with feeling my Savior so close to me, answering my questions and giving me the counsel that I needed at that particular time.  But it definitely took an open heart and mind to allow for this experience to happen for me.  And I promise that if you follow the counsel from Sister Bednar’s talk you can have similar and equally touching experiences in your life. And even on the daily.

One last quote to consider, Elder Bednar said “It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us—that is fundamental and foundational to the doctrine of Christ. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to live in us—not only to direct us but also to empower us”

Today, I encourage you to have ears to hear the word of the Lord, and eyes to see His plan, feet to follow in His path, and hearts to understand.

XO Wendy

 

 

Learning to Love yourself

_who she is IG

I recently went to lunch with friends and we got talking about how hard we are on ourselves.  How we constantly beat ourselves up for every little thing that we do wrong.  And yet if our children or friends were to fall, or fail at something, we are the first to come to the rescue to pick them up, console them and to build them back up.

Why is it that we are so hard ourselves? Especially us women (men too but not to the extremes we see in women)?

It’s funny because sometimes I run across the same message in several different ways when I am trying to decide what to share.  And that’s when I know that it is one that the Lord wants me to share.  Today this message seemed to be everywhere.  I listened to a podcast this morning that talked about how to give grace to ourselves for all of the short falls that we might have or mistakes we may have made in the past.  To learn to live in our feelings of not being perfect, that it’s ok, expected and normal NOT to be perfect.

When I returned from lunch and checked on social media I found this message from our Prophet, Russel M. Nelson.

Ladies (and guys), The Lord loves us and we should love us too. After all we are created in his image.

Think about how awful it makes you feel when your child is down on themselves. When they are saying how stupid they are and what a mess of things they’ve made, or how ugly they are.  It breaks your heart and all you want to do is take all that pain that they are feeling away.  So think how our Heavenly Father (and mother) feel when we are constantly filling our own minds with negative self talk and self loathing.  It must break their hearts and fill their eyes with tears.

Gratefully, this is not something we have to figure out on our own.  As in the statement above we can ask our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ and He will let us know exactly how he feels about us.  And that should make a difference in how we feel about ourselves.  If given the opportunity, I’m sure they would wrap their spirit around us in a big hug of comfort, peace and love. Can you even imagine the great love they have for us?

Oh my dear sisters, (for thats what I believe we all are), if only you could see yourself the way God sees you!  What would change in your life if you knew, really knew, how special you are?

One of my friends shared this idea for a practice that we could start that may help and I thought it was such a good idea.  I think I will get a new pretty journal just for this! 😉

So the idea is to learn to love yourself and recognize all that you do and are that is good.  So every night, you will write down 3 things that you liked about yourself that day.  Then in the morning when you wake up, you read over those three things again.  Then that night you repeat the process with 3 more things (different things) that you liked about yourself that day.  And then the next morning you read over again the things from the night before.  You continue this process daily.  As the days progress you will learn to love yourself and all that you are.  You will begin to see in yourself all of the good that everyone else and especially the Lord sees. You will remember who you are and your life will be changed!

I see you my dear sisters.  I see you.  And you are more beautiful and loved than you can imagine!

XO Wendy

Some days we thrive, somedays we survive.

thrive and survive

Yesterday was one such day for me.  Surviving.  I don’t know if it was the weather (regarding seasonal depression), or I didn’t sleep well, or if it was something that affected me in a negative way.  But it was a really rough day.

My daughter always used to say, “a good day always follows a bad one”. So I sort of clung to that idea believing that I’d wake up and I would feel better.  Maybe not significantly better, but better none the less. I also tried to really focus on my self care and tried to figure out what, if anything I’d been missing.

And that’s what got me thinking about these two very different states of the mind.  Having dealt with seasonal depression pretty much every year for my whole life, I know it never gets easier.  But we can become stronger by the habits that we intentionally develop over the course of the year leading up to this time of year.  You’d think that I’d be ready for it when it hits but not so.  It always just kind of smacks me from behind leaving me wondering what hit me.  But that doesn’t mean I have to get knocked down, or if I do, that I can’t get back up again.

I’m sure that may be the same for many of you who suffer with mental illnesses (or any hard thing for that matter).  So I thought it would be great to try to focus on thriving this year instead of just surviving.  Let’s do it together.  I have a friends who I follow on IG that are such an inspiration to me because even in the really tough times, they are very open and constantly trying to practice good self care.  One of them posted this today and I think it is a really good reminder of things that we can do when we are struggling. If we can practice these things regularly through the hard months ahead, we can thrive instead of just survive.

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And if you are barely surviving, don’t be afraid to reach out.  Please just stay.  Don’t quit! I am always here to listen and I know others are there for you too.  Don’t give up.  It will get better.

 

What being “away” from the church taught me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Doctrine and Covenants 88:63

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

XO  Wendy