It is all about the journey….

Archive for September, 2015

Different and Strong

Our little family had a unique opportunity last night….one that required us to step waaaay out of our comfort zones.

When we first moved into our current home, we met a sweet Chinese man. He is very endearing and has a wonderful disposition. He took an interest in the fact that we are all involved in martial arts. Each time he has been in our home, he has encouraged us and brought such a sweet spirit with him.

Different and StrongA couple of weeks ago he called asking if we would be willing to perform at a Chinese Autumn festival. Performing is not something we do a lot of, because it involves stepping out of our comfort zones. We love to train and get better on our home turf, however stepping outside of this requires a lot of courage, or a sweet and persistent friend. We, reluctantly said we would.

To be completely honest, we actually tried to get out of it. However, everything we brought up (wrong country…we study a Japanese style martial art, not enough time to prepare, etc) he shot down (all martial arts came from China so what does it matter? and you are black belts so you are prepared, etc). We were committed and that was it.

It took a long time to come up with the music. Less time to come up with the demo performance.

Motivation was lacking, especially in the kids…which was a reflection of our initial emotions.

A decision had to be made.

It came down to who we truly are and how we wanted to represent ourselves, family and our karate family. Deciding to train strong and perform strong made a huge difference in our hearts. Team Smullin was going to represent!

So the evening of the performance came….

We walked into the venue and saw that we were totally different from everyone else in the room. Not only were we the only martial arts performance lined up, we were the only Americans who would be stepping on stage.

As the crowd filled in, we felt how different we were…American, English speaking, tall, dressed in gi’s and carrying weapons.

The Chinese culture is so kind. They are truly incredible people.

As the program went forward, we realized that they are not the type to yell and get all hyped up. It was a totally different environment than what we have performed in the past. After each performance they would clap and that was it. Hmmmm….I really hoped it would go well for us.

There came a point that we simply had to not care about what was going to happen, we just needed to be us…Team Smullin…and do what we do best.

Martial arts has trained us to do many things with our minds and bodies. One of the best things I have learned is confidence in what I know and the amount of time I have spent training. Walking on to the stage, we all went to that place and let our bodies do what they have been trained to do.

Did we mess up? Yep. Did I smack the overhead screen with my sword? Yep. Did I almost fall off of the stage? Yep. Was our ending a little skewed? Yep.

Did we startle the crowd with our blood-curdling yells? Yep (It was pretty fun to see some of the looks on their faces). Did the boys amaze them with their chuck skills? Yep (they are pretty filthy chuckers). Did the girls impress with their swords? Yep. Did the crowd clap throughout the performance? Why yes they did. Honestly, if there was a best in show award…we would have taken it…;)

The entire event was a reflection on who we are and where we have found strength in our family and lives.

Not one thing about us fit…Americans at a Chinese festival, Japanese martial arts at a Chinese festival, English speakers at a Chinese festival, and rocking music at a Chinese festival. However, we fit, because we were there together. We fit, because we understand that being different is nothing to shy away from, it is something that gives us strength. We fit, because we know who we are and what we can do.

It is a powerful lesson we have learned over the past few years. I am grateful that we were able to step out of our comfort zones, into a beautiful culture, to see.

 

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Peace Restored

There have been many times that we are promised that if we but call upon our Father in Heaven in prayer and turn the words of the prophets (ancient and modern), we will have peace in our lives, strength in our hearts and courage in our souls.Peace Restored

Today started off like a Monday does…waking up early with Dude to train for an hour, getting him ready, waking up Sis to get her ready, praying as a family, fixing lunches, fixing breakfasts, starting laundry, reclaiming the house from the activities of Sunday, starting my homework and so forth. In the mix of it all I did not take the time to sit and read my scriptures.

For the most part, everything ran smoothly and both children were able to make it to school with clothes on their backs, food in their tummies and lunch packed for later. I was able to get 2 of my 3 papers written. Cleaning started and, oh how I love the feeling of being productive.

Yet, in spite of it all the demons started to whisper their words of doubt and fear to my heart. As much as I worked to push them back, they insisted on joining my heart, bringing with them heaviness and hopelessness. I truly refused to let them win, however they were gaining ground. They are so quiet…to a point, then they yell and tug.

It got to a point that my heart was truly heavy from the fight….and then I remembered.

After all of the rain we have been blessed with here, it is a gorgeous day. The sun is shining, bringing it’s life-giving warmth. The mountains are showing the blazing colors of fall. The trees surrounding us are green. The birds and animals are busy. Truly beautiful.

It is in this setting that I took my Book of Mormon and words of Elder Holland to read. I prayed to have that promised peace return to my heart so that I could feel my faith in the fight. I prayed specifically for those things that I see we need at this time. I prayed for His love to manifest itself.

No sooner than I read the first 2 verses of scripture, the peace returned to my heart. It was calm, quiet and powerful. It came without answers to the questions I asked. It came without any pretense. It simply came and restored. There is no power on earth stronger than the peace that comes from the Spirit of God through words teaching about Jesus Christ.

Beautiful.

Our Path

11942303_10207229527072560_4173153203233697029_oTwo years ago our little family started a hike in a popular canyon close to our home. Unfortunately we started this hike at 1:00 p.m. on July 24th in 95 degree weather. Hiking in July was not a foreign action for us, so we didn’t think anything of it…and started up the mountain.

This hike begins with a quarter of a mile (at least) of steep switchbacks that are pure sand. This provides little or no grip for the foot and a lot of energy is expended simply taking the next step. The sand is also very light, so it reflects the heat of the sun right up to your sweat drenched, oxygen starved little body. It was a lot tougher than we thought…

We made it about a mile into the hike before we began to feel the side-effects from the heat of the day and pure exhaustion. Our son got to a point that he just couldn’t go up any more. Not wanting to put him in any danger, we abandoned the hike, promising ourselves we would get there another day…

The other day took over two years to come…I had put this particular hike on my summer bucket list (which really only had one item). So, last week my husband and I thought we would take a little jaunt up the mountain. We started early in the morning, the sun was barely peeking over the mountain and the morning air was nice and cool, making the switchbacks quite tolerable. I had been told by a few people that the hike was a little bit challenging, but nothing major. What I wasn’t told by people was that the trail is not obvious and you can end up hiking to the waterfall any way you can.

rocky pathWe took some wrong turns, scaled a couple of rock walls, did more than one double back and sat on a rock for 10 minutes to catch our breath. The mountain had our respect.

As we were hiking over some of the particularly rocky and steep areas, I watched my husband go first. I noticed his footsteps were heading in the same direction as mine, however we were not necessarily on the same path. He is very tall, so his steps were a lot farther apart than mine. He is very powerful, so he could climb over bigger rocks in one step. We were not on the same path, because we are such different people. It was the same when I led….his feet were going the same direction, however were not stepping in the same places.

There is something about the mountains that opens my heart and spirit to moments of teaching….

I learned that our paths are our own. My path to my Heavenly Father is mine and I will take the steps that fit me to reach Him. My husband and children are going the same direction as I am, however their steps will fit them.

This lesson opened up for me as I counseled my son this evening. He has been struggling with something for a very long time, and because he is struggling, he is seeking for answers. As we were chatting, the mountain came back to my mind and I realized what I needed to teach him. This is a time for him to take these struggles and questions to Heavenly Father and ask how he should move forward. As much as he wanted me to give him the answers (and I wanted to give him the answers I thought) I knew deep in my heart that these answers are for him to find. I counseled him to pray, ponder and watch, because his path is his.

God is GoodHow blessed I am to be led by Heavenly Father. I love how He quietly teaches us lessons that we can use instantly or over time to learn and bless the lives of others. I am thankful for mountains to climb, and that I get to do that every day with my family. God is good.

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