A New Normal

We are living in a world that is going to have a “new normal”.  As the events of the past few months have unfolded before us, we’ve felt many emotions.  Fear, Shock, disappointment, loss, suffering, helplessness, hopelessness, and many more.  

For some that are single or live alone, loneliness and isolation have been a big part of the past month. As well as those who have had to isolate because of infection by the virus. Or people who have been otherwise hospitalized, who have had to do so without the support of loved ones by their  side.  

Whether for a sickness, or lingering illness, or the joyous event of delivering a baby.  Which has been bittersweet, both joyful and heartbreaking to not be able to share that experience in person with friends and family 

At the same time, as we have practiced social distancing and followed the “stay safe, stay at home”  orders that have been implemented in many states, we’ve felt a closeness to our families that may have been lost.  We’ve been comforted by the fact that we are experiencing the same feelings as people all over the world. We’ve felt joy, compassion, love, tenderness, empathy for those working on the front lines and those who are ill. We’ve mourned for those who have lost their jobs and livelyhood and those that have had to give up dreams that they’ve worked their whole life for. 

Many of us have developed a great love for our leaders.  Whether they be government, church, educators, scientists, healthcare workers, or even company owners who have come forward to help in the face of tragedy.

We’ve felt a renewed love for our Lord and Savior and his atonement and suffering for all of us.  We have realized that we can not carry this burden alone. That nobody should carry these burdens alone. And so we have become united in purpose to eliminate and eradicate this awful virus that has infected not only our bodies, but our lives.

It has been incredible to witness the heroics of so many in our communities as we have faced the pandemic and world calamities (earthquakes and tornados, etc.).  Our hearts fill with gratitude as we see a world come together through something that can’t be seen but only felt.

As someone who already suffers from mental illness and the effects of isolation that it can bring,  I feel a deep compassion for those who have never experienced those feelings who now will find themselves in deep depressions.  Whether from loss, unemployment, isolation, financial struggles or family dysfunction which may have become front and center. Or those who will suffer PTSD from witnessing the most horrible experiences one can imagine. 

But I will forever be an optimist.  I know that we CAN come together as a nation and as a world to fight this horrible disease.  We can make our world whole again by the kindness and love and the attitude with which we choose to move forward.

Will it be easy?  Absolutely not. We have all experienced something that will forever be implanted in our very souls.  Something horrendous. But out of the ashes rises the Phoenix! We can rise as a nation/world. We can rebuild our world and each other instead of tearing each other down.

We can spread love and kindness and come together in a way that no one anticipated a few short months ago. We can find that “new normal” together.  We can build a new world from the love and common ground that we’ve found through the most tragic of events.  

We have been told that it may be much longer than anyone thought that we will be in this situation.  Both fighting for our lives and fighting to stay healthy. But through this time there are still ways that we can reach out.  There are still ways that we can stay healthy and maintain a good attitude. And with the Lord’s help we will conquer this pandemic while simultaneously building stronger families, friendships and communities.

Revelation Chapter 21

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new

A new normal? Yes.  But possibly a better way of life? Most definitely!

All my love,

XO Wendy

 

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.

Be grateful for today.

Be thankful for how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned along the way.  We only have one life!  

Don’t waste it away worrying about what you haven’t yet been able to do.  Make today great and full of gratitude and everything else will take care of itself.

Faith, Trust, Courage

Sometimes, in fact most times, it’s difficult to have the courage to face hard things.  Everyday, I wake up and know that I have to do hard things to keep my health in check. For example, working out (which sometimes I just really don’t wanna!), making healthy food choices, (when I really want something full of sugar, like ice cream) and getting good rest (when what I really want is to stay up late and finish that book!). 

From the outside those may not seem like things that particularly take courage.  Or faith or trust. But living with mental illness (or any illness or hard thing) and knowing that every day might bring something that totally changes everything, takes courage to face.

Especially this time of year when night comes quickly and the weather is gloomy. 

I have been so impressed by Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, even more so than usual as I have begun to ponder and pray about the story of his family this year in the Come follow me manual.

Nephi was courageous this was his reply, “I will go, I will do, the things the Lord commands.  I know the Lord provides a way, He wants me to obey. (primary songbook, Nephi’s courage)

I have begun to see an overarching theme within Nephi’s personality, or maybe a spiritual gift that he’s been blessed with.

He has the most incredible FAITH in the Lord and then he TRUSTS the Lord with all his heart.  So much so that it gives him the COURAGE to follow through with whatever the Lord asks of him. No questions.

I want to follow that example of Nephi, I can say with confidence, “I will take on this illness, because I have FAITH and TRUST that the Lord will take me through it.  And the COURAGE to believe that I am going to come out on the other side of this a better person.” Even on the days when it’s really, really hard to see the light.

How would your life be different if you had that kind of faith, trust and courage in the Lord?

And on that same trend of thought; The Lord does so much for US.  I mean, sit down and make a list of all the things the Lord has done for YOU in your lifetime.  It’s a pretty long list.

Now ask yourself, what do I DO for HIM?  Do I love Him? And if so, how do I show it?

Just a few things to ponder about today.  And if you feel like it, go back and read Chapters 4 and 17.  So much wisdom to be gained.

 

XO Wendy

Please stay

I have been thinking over the weekend about what I wanted to write about this week, I felt a great need to express support for those of you who are really struggling right now with some form of mental illness. I see you! 

I have mentioned in the past few posts about how BPD (Bipolar disorder) is under control for me at this moment in time.  And that can be hard for people to accept when they are in the deep throws of it. I know for many of you, it is a constant struggle.  And I want you to know that I feel you, I see you, I have empathy for you. I DO know what you are going through because I have been there.  I know that each and every day is a struggle to merely survive.

But please, please, please don’t give up!  Just stay! Please stay! We need you, we need your experience, your knowledge, your strength, your courage.  We need to band together as warriors in this great fight against the darkness of mental illness. 

Speaking of warriors there is a great youtube channel called Polar Warriors that is incredible in it’s content.  Definitely worth taking a look at. And also very good for loved ones who have a hard time understanding what a person with mental illness goes through.  While it is mostly about BPD, it can be related to many forms of mental illness. 

In Sister Reyna Aburto’s October 2019 talk she says, when we open up about our emotional challenges, admitting we are not perfect, we give others permission to share their struggles. Together we realize there is hope and we do not have to suffer alone.”

Please don’t suffer in silence.  We need your voice to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Though our illness might be invisible to others, it is definitely not invisible to us.  And we need to acknowledge that and give ourselves grace. Open up and be a support to others and help yourself in the process.  We can do this together. I am always here to listen and share my personal experiences and hopefully help you in some small way. Please know that there is always somewhere to turn.

However, there is only one that descended below all, so that he could succor us in our weakness and afflictions. Look to Jesus Christ in times of dispair.  Open your scriptures, there is great power there. That is how he can speak to you! Know that He sees you! He loves you without condition. He suffered so that we can LIVE!

I hope you all have better days ahead.

XO Wendy

 

Trust…

Today I was thinking about adversity and trials and how hard it is sometimes to see beyond the trial.  Especially when we are the thick of it.  I know from personal experience how tough it can be to try to look past today and see a future that is bright.  Especially when you add something like postpartum depression, anxiety, seasonal or ongoing depression, bipolar or any other illness to the mix.  We tend to retreat into ourselves and fail to find purpose in what is happening in our life.  Which I tend to believe is a great amount of refining.  A little bit (or maybe a lot) of pressure and heat to form us into the masterpiece that we are.

One of my favorite scriptures comes from Proverbs 3:5 

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.

In that scripture passage there are 4 words that stand out to me.  Trust, lean, acknowledge and direct.

To me, he is saying,  “Do you trust me enough to lean on me and let me guide you?”

When we acknowledge him we are humbling ourselves enough to recognize that he is in control.  When we are humble we are teachable and moldable. We are allowing him to take the wheel (borrowing from Carrie Underwood) and steer us in the right direction.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again.  His plan for our life is much bigger and better than our plan.  And even though it’s hard when we are in the midst of something especially hard and painful, we have to learn to lean into the Master.  He will mold us and shape us into the great people that we can be.  There is always help, there is always a way.  So today I want you to have hope and thrust that things are going to get better.  Sometimes in the waiting it’s hard to imagine that it ever will.  But finding a little piece of hope is all you need to take one more step towards the end of the tunnel where the light will come shining through. You will look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come!  And if you are already in the light, continue to trust in him to keep you moving in the direction you need to go.  That’s it for today!

XO Wendy

 

What does it mean to “Be Still”?

Be StillI have found a pattern for me in writing, posting on FB or instagram, or other forms of social media.  I get really motivated and I go full steam for a while and then I fizzle out.  I really don’t mean to ghost you.  It’s just that a lot of times, life just has a way of getting in the way of some of these things.  We have moved twice in the last 6 weeks, once from our home into a hotel (all of our belongings in a storage unit) , and then again from the storage unit into our new home.  And the moves were 2 Saturdays in a row!  It was crazy.

Then, the very next Saturday we got on a plane and flew to Utah for my son’s wedding for a week (my last child to marry).  The wedding was absolutely beautiful and I got to see so many of my old friends and family!  Being in the Salt Lake City temple with all four of my children and their spouses was an experience I won’t soon forget.  The tears were flowing before the ceremony even started!  For those of you who may not know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  One of the things that we believe is that families can be together forever through temple ordinances that are performed there.  We also believe that this blessing extends to those who have passed before us.  And so we do what we call “proxy” work for the dead so that they can have the promised blessings if they so choose.  For more information about temples and what we believe you can click here.

Now we are back in Tennessee and settling into our home (but still trying to unload the storage unit, haha).  And then in about another week, we will be moving my husbands office space to a new building. Phew!  It has been a crazy summer!

Amidst all of this craziness it has become apparent to me how important it is for us to learn how to “be still”.  What do I mean when I say that?  Well, it’s more than just sitting quietly cause we all know that rarely happens (although it’s great if you can), or praying, or reading scriptures.  While all of those are good means of being still, do you think that there is more to it than that? One of the reasons that I attend the temple as much as I can, is that it is so peaceful inside.  As soon as you walk in those doors, the whole world just melts away.  It is quiet, everyone is equal, there to serve and to love.  There are no sounds from traffic or other outdoor noises.  Just a peace and a reverence that can’t be found elsewhere.  However, I’m not gonna lie, it’s been REALLY HARD this past few months to maintain my regular attendance with everything that is happening.  (Which I am positive Satan is getting ready to put a little tic on his side of the board, lol.) However, as I contemplated what I would write about, I kept just coming back to “be still”.

So again, what does it mean to “be still”?  In the Bible in Psalm 46:10 we read Be still, and know that I am God..

and in Mark 4:39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, aPeace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great bcalm.

When I ponder on those scriptures, I feel that being still is more than just the action of quieting our mind.  It also requires an action of believing that God will enlighten our minds as we do so. Faith to know that He wants us to be still so that we can be given revelation for the direction He wants us to take.  To grow and progress in ways that we can not do on our own.

Twice in the Doctrine and Covenants it mentions the words “stand still”.  first in section 5:34 Yea, for this cause I have said: Stop, and astand still until I command thee, and I will bprovide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee.

and then again in Section 123:17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us acheerfully bdo all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the csalvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

In the dictionary, one of the definitions of “stand” is to face or encounter.  And the definition of “be” is to take place, to happen or occur.  And then the word “still” in the dictionary, silence, or at this time. If we put those words together, I think that maybe God is telling us if we can BE (something is about to happen), STILL (silent), STAND (Face me, pray, ask!), He has something important to give us, tell us, or show us.  An encounter or something special to take place.   I am in awe of the greatness that those scriptures offer to us.  “Stand still, with the utmost assurance”.  “Be still and KNOW that I am God.”  There is so much that He wants to tell us that He wants to share with us that He wants to show us!  But it’s not just the act of silence or being quiet, it requires us to be willing to face or encounter what it is He is trying to share with us. And then… the most important part….believe Him!  And if your answer involves action on your part (most often it does) then you get up go and DO! Even if that answer is a calm peaceful feeling.  Go and let that resonate with you, don’t just brush it off.

I had an experience a few months back when I was stressing out about everything that was happening in my life and I was having a particularly bad day with my illness.  I was angry, frustrated, felt like it was unfair that I had to deal with this every day.  See that’s the thing with mental illness, chronic illnesses, mental health issues, diabetes and so many other illnesses.  You never just wake up and it’s all gone.  It is with you every ding dong day!  I was SO ANGRY and I knelt down and I was kind of shaking my fists at the Lord saying why? WHY do I have to deal with this every day of my life? Why did you do this to me?  And within seconds of my tantrum, I had one of the most incredible experiences.  It’s like the curtain opened for a minute and I got to see all the miracles that have taken place since my diagnosis.  All the answers to prayers, all the changes in direction (that have been so positive for us) all the experiences that have happened since then.  It was like He was saying:  “Oh my daughter, look at all the good that has come through this illness, look at all the ways that you are better, look at all the ways that you have helped others.  STAND and LOOK (FACE).  I have not forsaken you.  BE STILL!”

And then of course the reprimand, “now get up, wipe those tears and do what you need to do!

I picture a child throwing a temper tantrum and the parent becoming frustrated and just getting down to the child’s level, grabbing that child by the face saying, Look at me! Listen to me! I’m going to tell you one more time! Now, go and do what I have asked you to do (of course in the most gentle of ways ;)).

What a beautiful opportunity we have at any time of day or night, in any situation, with all that the world throws at us.  We can “be still” or “stand still” (face Him, talk to Him, be open and ready to what His plan is)  and we will receive the strength to move forward, to be stronger, to be as He would have us be.  I say it all the time, His plan for our life is a MUCH BETTER PLAN than the one that we think is going to be great!  But we have to be willing to be ready for the encounter, be silent so we can hear it and face Him.  He has all the answers.  Trust Him!  Be still, and Know…

XO Wendy