It is all about the journey….

Archive for November, 2014

My Stones

There is a story in the Book of Mormon that has been on my mind a lot today. The Jaredites were a group of family and friends that lived when the Tower of Babel was being constructed. The Brother of Jared (as he is called in the Book of Mormon) prayed that their families and friends would be spared from the curse Jehovah placed on the people because of their wickedness. Through his faith they were spared and subsequently told they would be moving to a promised land.

StonesAfter wandering in the wilderness for some time, they were brought to a beautiful, plentiful beach. It was a place they could have stayed for a long time and be happy. Yet, the Lord had other plans in mind for them. He asked the Brother of Jared to construct barges to carry those in his family across the ocean….uncharted waters. These barges were very unique in their construction in that they would be sealed, air tight and able to travel on top or underneath the water. Because of their construction, there was not a source of light.

The Brother of Jared took this problem to the Lord and asked Him what he should do that they might have light and air. He was given the answer for the air…a problem he could not have solved on his own. And then he was given the charge to figure out the light situation on his own…something the Lord knew he could figure out.

And figure it out he did….he went to the mountain and found 16 clear stones. He then took these stones and stood before the Lord and asked Him to touch each stone that they might shine in the darkness for them. What happened next was a miracle…born of the Brother of Jared’s faith. He saw the Lord’s finger as He touched each stone.

Today I took figurative stones to the Lord.

I wish I could say that I boldly stood before Him. I wish I could say that I boldly stood before Him. I wish I could say that I felt confident in the stones I had chosen.

I wondered what would have happened if the Brother of Jared didn’t stand before the Lord so confidently. I know the miracles that are recorded would not have happened. I know that they would have been lost in the darkness as they crossed the ocean. I know that we would not have received the amazing gift of his testimony and story to strengthen us as we are faced with problems we feel under qualified to solve.

How grateful I am that he did, because it gave me hope today. There is nothing I want more in this world than for my stones to be touched by His hand, yet, I feel so inadequate taking my stones before Him. I realized today how limited my vision is. I felt so small.

Tonight I came to realize something….as small and inadequate as I felt, I took my precious stones and laid them at His feet. I know that when He touches them they will bring the light that I seek. I know that He heard my prayer, because I felt the peace only He can give. I turned to Him with those things that I worked out.

I did not see the finger of the Lord today, but that doesn’t mean I won’t see His hand as He lights the way for us.

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Keep Fighting

Every now and then I hear something that sticks in my mind, as if to say, “you will need this soon”. A few days ago I was in the middle of one of my favorite and most challenging workouts (Insanity) and Shaun T said, “Keep Fighting!!!” His words were meant to inspire me to get through that particular set…which they did. They also took hold, waiting for the moment they would be needed.

crashing wavesThere are times in our lives when waves of self-doubt, insecurity, weakness and overwhelmed crash in on our souls. Without warning they strike and they come with such fury and power that it is difficult to stand…literally. It was as though the wind had been sucked out of my lungs and any strength I had in my body was taken. As I stood, doubled over, I thought to myself, “I know there are angels to help me stand. I know they are there. I need to keep fighting.” It was all I could do to lift myself up, but I fought through.

I crumbled into my husband’s arms. With the amazing wisdom he has, he gave me the time to compose myself and share. I felt so ashamed, because for a brief moment I almost gave in to these feelings that were meant to crush my heart. All I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and let life move on. It truly scared me. He didn’t say much, but what he did gave my soul the peace and strength it needed to go on. He said, “You are such a fighter, quitting is not in your nature.” and “I don’t have much to say, but the feelings I am getting are for you to hold on, just keep holding on.”

Not much changed in the way of life, however my heart did. It found the fight that was almost swept away. There is something in my heart that loves a good fight. I love the training I have received through karate to defend and fight. I love the challenge of a good workout that forces me to fight through the next set, because I know I am getting stronger (even if I am acutely aware of the weaknesses I am working on strengthening). I love the challenge that comes with figuring out how the Savior would have me live and what I need to do. I love the fight.

I see in life that Heavenly Father has given me moments when the fight is particularly intense, when every day seems like an exercise in faith, when every decision forces me to dig deep and find the belief that all will turn out. Then there are the little respites that my heart and soul need to rest for a little bit. Each day brings an exercise of strength, be it in the thick of battle or in rest.

The key is to keep fighting. Keep your hands up. Keep throwing those punches. Keep moving, dodging. Keep training. Look for those who are in your corner holding you up when your strength seems to fail. Look to the One who knows how strong you really are…and will help you see it too.

Keep fighting….

Be Strong

Our family is a karate family. We started this journey together 3 1/2 years ago. It all began as our children started classes, followed by my husband and then I jumped in. It has been a strengthening force individually and collectively.Karategirl

As we have progressed through our journey, we have all experienced moments when we needed to dig deep and find that inner source of courage and strength to pull us through. There are unique challenges that come with a new kata, weapon or technique. Some come easy and others are more difficult to learn. Fortunately we have all done this together and where one is weak there are 3 of us who are strong.

Our sweet daughter is one belt behind my husband, son and I. We decided that we would all earn our black belts together, so she is going through the process to earn her provisional black belt on her own. It is a challenging process. It takes 5 weeks to go through the boot camps and the test. Each week is physically and mentally demanding.

I remember as she came off the mat after the first week. I asked her how she was feeling and her response spoke of the strength she has found in us. She said, “Mom, I feel so alone out there without you guys. I know you are watching me, but you are not there with me. It is hard, but I am going to do this one on my own.”

It kills me to be on the sidelines, watching. There is nothing I want more than to be out there with her, even if we aren’t training ‘together’. The mat is our home, our place of bonding, our place of release and our place of strength. Watching is hard. Yet, I know deep down she needs to do this on her own. She needs to know that she is strong enough to stand and be herself.

Last week they were going through their squats. The requirement is to perform 75 squats. It was the end of training and she was tired. I could see it in the way she was doing her best, but she was spent. I whispered, more to myself than anything, “Be strong girl.” It was as if someone had taken that message and carried it to her heart, because instantly she was stronger. Her form was better and the energy around her was rejuvenated.

I have thought a lot about that moment.

I think our Heavenly Father feels the same way about us as He watches us go through our ‘boot camp’ of life. It is designed to be physically, spiritually and mentally demanding. I wonder if it is difficult for Him to sit back and watch as we do our best to learn, practice and become, knowing it is the best thing for us.

bestrongI wonder how many times He whispers, “Be strong.” to our hearts so that we can make it one more step. I know there have been times He has done this for me, because I have felt a strength that can only come from Him enter into my heart and give me just what I need to keep moving.

There is one thing that I have been learning over and over through the past few years of our journey…true strength comes when we are ready to quit, when we are crushed under the pressures that life gives us, when we just don’t know how to go on. It comes from Him and the Atonement of His Son. This strength is just enough. The key is to watch for it and listen for the quiet assurance that He is near.

“Be strong.”

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