Coming back…

“…in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.

My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.” President Russell M. Nelson remarked in 2018 General Conference.

This particular passage came into my mind with such force this morning.  I don’t know why. I’ve learned not to question. But to allow things like this to marinate a little and wash over me.  What is the reason? What is the purpose for this? Maybe a reminder to not take my experiences for granted. Because there was a time when I did just that.  Took it all for granted.  

We are all a constant work in progress.  Trying to live each day in the best way we know how.  Despite the many setbacks, trials, sicknesses, and other life events that we encounter, we push forward to find a way…. Our way.  

My way is certainly not the best way, but it’s my way, my journey. And your way, is your journey.  And no matter the circumstances we face in our lives, part of living is learning to enjoy and even flourish amidst all that we face in these confusing and sometimes dark days.  

Pain is part of it. Joy is part of it.  Tears and heartache are part of it. Success and conquering are all part of this journey!

This blog is my story, my life, my journey.  I can’t change anything for you in your personal life.  Only YOU can do that. But as I have mentioned in many of the posts I have written.  You don’t have to do it alone. You are NEVER, EVER alone!

Sometimes it may feel like it.  Sometimes it may feel like Heaven’s doors are shut and locked to many of us.  We want to know and to hear and understand, but sometimes (and I’m just speaking from my own experiences here), it is not the Lord that walks away from us.  We distance ourselves from Him. Not in a completely intentional way but in an “I’m not sure this is what I want in my life right now,” sort of way. I just want to find out for myself.”  And I am here to suggest that this is EXACTLY what you need to do. Find out for yourself!  

No one can get you to feel or grow and progress spiritually except for you. And it takes work.  You can’t just expect to have all the answers laid out in a neat little package for you. But questioning is part of that work. And though it may feel as though Heaven is closed, believe me when I say, those windows and doors are wide open, waiting to pour out blessings upon you.

We do have to ask, seek, knock in order for those answers to come. And it is hard.  He never said it would be easy, only that it would be worth it! 

Several years ago (It’s been almost 8 years to be exact), I found myself in a position of questioning and struggling with things of a spiritual nature.  I would ask myself (and sometimes others) the impossible questions. Why faith? Why is everything predicated upon faith? If there is a God, why do bad things happen to good people?  Why are there starving people in the world? Why is there so much sickness and despair and natural disasters? If there is a God, why can’t I feel Him, why does He talk to others but not me?  And where is my “beyond a doubt” moment? And so many other relevant questions that many of you are asking yourselves right now.

I certainly do not have all the answers.  I am a work in progress, just like everyone else.  I only see it the way that it happened for me. As it is for all of us.

When I left the Church that I was raised in, I walked away from a culture.  I walked away from a “building”. I walked away from what I knew at the time.  I slowly moved away from my Savior, (even though I didn’t believe that at the time).

But when I came back, I came back because my Savior found me. He found ME. Though I was lost, HE went out looking for me.  He left the other sheep to find the ONE. I don’t know how or why it happened for me the way that it did. I don’t know why that passage came to me with such force this morning.  I’m still not sure. Maybe the good shepherd is out there looking for YOU.  Perhaps I am just the messenger.

I know you are struggling right now to find answers.  Your road will not be easy.

My road was NOT an easy road.  And to have it to do over again… I’m sure I would have pleaded to find another way.  A way that wasn’t as painful and full of struggles as it was. But in that same breath, I have learned and grown in ways I never could have imagined.  Ways that I never would have if my road had been different.  

He heals me every day that I allow him to.  He carries me when the days are long and hard.  He finds me when I get lost for a moment. He LOVES me without condition.  He is my strength when I feel weak. He is my hope when I feel despair. He brings me so much joy and peace.  He found ME but in HIM I find my peace, strength, love, hope, and healing. He is my Savior and redeemer.  

This is my story, it is my journey, my life.  And through it all He WAS there. Even when I thought He wasn’t.  He WAS THERE! For ME. The ONE!

And he will be there for YOU too!

XO 

Wendy

Matthew 12 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?

13 And if 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.

14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

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

 

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

 

 

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.

IMG_6662

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.

 

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