It is all about the journey….

Archive for the ‘Moving Forward’ Category

Submitting

Today I indulged myself a little bit by taking the time to read over my journals that I had written starting in 2012. This year will always mark the beginning of a sacred time in our lives. It is when Heavenly Father decided we needed to be taught how to fully rely on His love, mercy and guidance.

It is interesting what happens when everything that is perceived to be stable is taken from our lives. Many unimportant things and people begin to fall away and soon we see what is truly important. Our deepest desires begin to surface. The personality traits that we have buried deep begin to emerge… some good and some that need to be changed.

I learned quickly and repeatedly that man’s ways are NOT God’s ways. Man’s thoughts are NOT His thoughts. There were many things that I once thought important and vital for survival, however I realized were simply man imposed ideas.

And, I found out that giving our life over to God does not come without sacrifices at very deep levels. Submitting

These sacrifices have included pride, comfort, friendships, hobbies, time, pursuits, dreams and goals. I remember one point in our journey that I looked around and said to myself, “He has taken everything that I love to do from me. There isn’t much left of who I am and who I thought I should be.” I hate to admit, but I will, that these thoughts were not born out of humility, they were born out of frustration and impatience.

Many times during this season I have begged for the dawn to relieve our night. I have formulated plans that would propel us to the end. I have justified these thoughts and advocated our cause time and time again… yet, to no avail.

How grateful I am He didn’t shorten the growing season…even though it has been truly hard.

Submitting to His will has required faith in the little pieces of inspiration that aren’t long term solutions. Often we have had questions regarding a direction to take and the answers have given us just enough to move one more step, but no further. Once we had taken that step, we would find ourselves looking at a completely different path with a new set of questions. This type of journey has not been one of stability, only trust.

We also have found ourselves time and time again making decisions and acting on feelings that DO NOT MAKE SENSE. To anyone on the outside looking in, the choices we have made could be considered very irrational and a little (okay a lot) crazy. Yet, following the will of the Lord is rarely, if ever, going to make sense. I have looked to Noah for courage many times when Heavenly Father has asked us to build a proverbial ark.

I have also learned that fear, anxiety and frustration are poisonous to our souls, especially when we are doing our best to submit. Unfortunately, there are constant forms of discouragement that surround us. They whisper in our ears and minds those words of not enough, less than, not going to make it, not strong enough, and on and on. Failure and emptiness are the gifts they bring, leaving no support or strength in their wake.

I wish I could say that I travelled this path gracefully, but I cannot. I have found parts of my heart that are not pretty. I have found places in my soul that were dark and distant from Him. I have seen things in my mind that are shameful. And I know I am not done looking.

Maybe that is the beauty of it…at least I hope it is. For we cannot clean out what we have buried, hidden or turned our backs on. To submit ourselves to Him is to allow Him access to those things that do not allow us to be in His presence. The beautiful thing is, He draws our attention to them when we are ready to overcome (it is never when we think we are ready, it is when He knows we are).

I once thought I had not gained any courage, but after reading my thoughts from 5 years ago, I see that I can do things that used to scare me. I see that I can handle things that were once so overwhelming they would knock me to my knees. I know that it is through the Grace of the Atonement that I have grown stronger. I know it is only through constantly calling upon my Heavenly Father and Savior that I am who I am.

Submitting is a constant journey…one that I am grateful for.

 

 

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The Bridge

Towards the end of my trail run is a beautiful bridge that crosses over a little river running out of the mountains. It is one of my favorite places, because 1. it marks the final ascent on my run and 2. it has taught me many lessons about myself. thebridge

The bridge sits high up above the water. It is a very sturdy bridge made of solid wood and steel. There are no movements from the bridge as it is crossed, be it running or walking. Did I mention it is very high up?

Ever since I can remember, I have had a paralyzing fear of heights. There is no rush of happy adrenaline for me when I am high up, it is pure flight adrenaline. Some days I wish I knew what caused this intense fear, so I could overcome. For now, I will continue to live with it and learn from it.

The first time I crossed the bridge, I walked straight down the middle, my eyes focused on the other side. I counted my steps so that I knew I was making progress and would shortly be off the bridge. My fear of heights truly blinded me to the beauty that one sees and hears in that place. I could not look up to see the green trees nor see the river that was happily passing below. I simply survived that part of the hike, going and coming.

As I have thought back on that particular hike, I realized that fear truly blinds us to the amazing truths and opportunities that God has placed before us. Not trusting in the security of His love and our Savior denies us the ability to fully live up to our potential and see our incredible world.

Another lesson I learned came as I ran across the bridge the first time I conquered the trail running. On the other side of the bridge, I realized that I felt no fear. This moment was very powerful to me at this time of my life.

There have been many days that have felt heavy and very overwhelming. Uncertainty has cast a huge shadow over our lives and some days are downright scary. This fear is so acute when I feel like I do not have the ability to move, fix the situation or create what is needed to move forward. I lose sense of who I am and Whose I am.

Running across the bridge that day taught me that as long I am moving, trusting in the solid foundation of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, fear cannot overtake me. The storms of uncertainty may rage and the sanctifying fires may burn, however I know I can overcome if I keep moving along the path They have given me.

changing treesA few times I have stopped my run and carefully walked across the bridge, taking the time to see, listen and feel everything around me. I have swallowed my fear, pushing it down to a place where it has little power over me. The sounds of the birds singing and the water gurgling fill my soul with pure happiness. Watching the trees change color and prepare themselves for winter is breathtaking. Feeling the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the canyon all at once is very renewing.

I learned that I have power over my fear. I learned that the creations of God are truly gifts to our souls, enabling us to become so much more. I learned that looking, hearing and feeling are imperative to recognizing how He works in my life. In all of our lives. I learned that He knows me, understands my fear and strengthens me as He teaches me.

This bridge has become a sacred place to me. It is a natural temple wherein I see His hand, feel His love and hear His voice.

 

Standing Still

The story of Moses has always fascinated me. I am in awe of his faith, strength, courage and determination to follow the path the Lord laid out for him…in spite of all of the Egyptians and children of Israel fighting him.

peaceRecently I read the passage in Exodus that teaches about the Red Sea.

I can only imagine the feelings of terror and uncertainty they all felt. They had to fight to get out of Egypt. They were leaving their lives, not knowing where they were going. They knew that they were being followed by the armies of Pharoah. And…they come to the Red Sea.

It is interesting what Moses is inspired to say as they are complaining out of fear, frustration and uncertainty…

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew unto you to day; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 

The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Fear ye not. Stand still.

I don’t know about you, but when I am in a situation that is uncertain, terrifying or scary, the last thing I want to do is stand still. Between my mind racing, my heart pumping and the nervous energy that takes over my body and soul, standing still is virtually impossible…or so I thought.

A few weeks ago our family was brought to our own Red Sea. The only way we could go was forward, however we could not see a way. Our petitions to Heavenly Father were heard, because we felt that peace that comes from Him hearing our prayers, however the answers were not given. Each step we took was done out of pure faith in His path, timing and ways. We simply had to trust Him.

I remember uttering pleading prayers with the answers I had come up with. I remember holding my breath constantly, waiting. I remember telling myself over and over again to stand still.

I have a quote hanging on my wall that says, “God did not remove the Red Sea, He opened it. He will help us find a way through our problems as well.” ~Brad Wilcox

I have often hoped that God would remove the Red Sea that we find ourselves returning to time and time again. I have often wondered how many times do we need to return to the same place. I have often prayed to be done.

However…

That is not how He would have it in our lives.

And I am grateful.

As we have been on the shores of our Red Sea, I have learned more about the love Heavenly Father has for us. I have learned to stand still, even when every fiber of my soul wants to move. I have gained a greater understanding of how important I am to Him. I have seen Him fight for me and my little family. I have experienced peace in the storm. And, most importantly….

I have seen the Salvation of the Lord.

It is truly beautiful.

Seek Me

For the past month there has been a theme repeating in my mind, quietly doing its best to teach my heart something important. Each time I have heard it, I have taken note and continued about my way…not really changing much in my day to day life.

This morning the birds awoke me with their songs and chatter. It brought a smile to my face as I thanked Heavenly Father for these sweet creatures. I noticed today was a bit overcast and cooler. I felt a pull to be outside, waking up with the day.

Seek HimThe contrast of gray with the emerald greens on the mountains took my breath away as I stepped out onto the deck. The smell of coming rain cleansed my heart and mind, allowing me to feel content and full of gratitude for all that Heavenly Father has created.

Quietly it came again…the message He has been doing His best to teach me….

“I am here. Seek me.”

All at once each moment He has spoken this to my heart came back to me. It was the times when I sat with my scriptures open rather than looking online. It was the times I spent in the temple rather than being tied to my computer. It was the time I went out with my family and played rather than ‘doing my homework’. It was all of the times I stepped away from a screen that so easily occupies my time.

This morning was a beautiful realization that life is to be lived, not watched on a computer screen. Funny how I am writing about this lesson on a computer screen.

As I continued to allow Him to teach me, I realized how much time I lose with those I love when I am tied to a screen (computer, Kindle, phone). It seems as though there is an invisible barrier created when I am screened. I am not as aware of them, the world and those I could be serving. My ability to create takes a backseat and my mind becomes a bit stagnant. Screen time for me is the easy, less-fulfilling path.

There are conversations to be had, books to be read, walks to be taken, fresh air to be taken in, ideas to nurture, people to serve, and inspiration to be received.

It is time to step away.

It is time to live again.

How grateful I am that He takes time to teach me simple lessons that are so important to growth and staying close to Him. I realized that as much as I desire to be near to Him and be His friend, He desires the same at a deeper level. I am grateful that He teaches me in moments that will last, if I choose to let them.

This morning was a beautiful, sacred time of teaching. I will seek Him.

 

I Have To Believe

This morning as I thought about the future, it felt tremendously big. I began to look at where I am and the huge gap that separates me from where I have felt I need to be. For a brief moment, the gap started to overtake me.

And then, it was as if a whisper came into my heart, I heard, “You have to believe.” I have to believe

With these four words came a rush of the many things in my life right now that are so uncertain. The things that will define me one way or another, depending on how I respond.

Again, “You have to believe.”

A healing, strengthening power washed over my heart and spirit.

As I took a moment to look back in my life I saw the many times I gave myself an ‘exit’ by holding back part of my belief, wondering if the assured promises would indeed come. It is difficult to let go of these self-limiting thoughts and ideas, because of the perceived safety net they provide.

How is it that we doubt the One who will never, nor cannot lie to us? How is it we think we know more or have a better way? How is it that we shrink in the face of the very opposition designed to make us stronger?

Where I feel I need to be, and those things that I need to accomplish is far greater than where and who I am today. As much as I have desired to move towards this place, I find that I have not been able to as quickly as I would like. It becomes discouraging, and easy to allow the doubts to creep in. I need to remember it is a process.

I have to believe that He knows me better than I know myself.

I have to believe that He has a plan, that is more wonderful than I can imagine.

I have to believe that He sees a strength in me that I have never tapped into.

I have to believe that everything I have felt I need to accomplish, He has designed.

I have to believe that I will be defined by His love, not my imperfections.

I have to believe that I am His.

Uncomfortable

I have begun to notice a pattern in my life and the life of my family. I am sure I should have articulated this sooner, however sometimes it takes some repeating to help feelings and thoughts come together coherently.

UncomfortableA few months prior to our most recent move, I began to be uncomfortable where I was. I certainly could not understand why I would feel the way I did, because I loved our home, the location and many other aspects of where we were. Yet, in the midst of all of that, my heart would not settle.

Then began the little things that nudged my heart to a place of restlessness. Looking back, I can see how Heavenly Father moved me. First He took my heart far away…to Texas. We felt like we were supposed to uproot our family and move away from Utah. Truly there seemed to be many attractive things waiting for us there.

However, the longer we looked at it, the more we felt like it wasn’t right. What we thought was there, was not. For a brief moment I was upset at Heavenly Father for taking my mind there, then I began to see what He was truly doing. Next, we fell in love with a place north of us. It is a place of beauty, nestled just beyond the mountains with incredible vistas and a safe place to raise our family. Again, I began to move there.

With a little bit of time, those familiar feelings of ‘not right’ seeped into my heart. I remember gathering the courage to leave it in His hands and asking if we were not supposed to go. Again, it wasn’t the right place for us.

Finally, after much prayer and searching, we found a wonderful place 15 minutes from where we lived. A completely different environment, just as beautiful and right.

My point is, what led up to this move was a deep feeling of being uncomfortable where we were. It was not a place that we would have become who Heavenly Father needs us to be. He knew He had to make it uncomfortable for us  so that we would embrace change.

Looking back and seeing the present, I see many times He has done this in our lives. Each time we have moved our little family, we have had this experience. Each time a change was needed, we become uncomfortable. When we are supposed to move on from an experience or person, it is just that…uncomfortable.

I have begun to look at this…uncomfortableness…as a great blessing in our lives. These are the moments we have been blessed to make the greatest, most significant changes, bringing us into alignment with His will for us. He knows that we are rarely willing to leave this little box we call comfortable, leaving us stagnant in our growth.

In His kindness He rips us out of these places. In His love He thrusts us into new opportunities. In His love He shows us we are so much more than we see in ourselves. In His love He gives us more than we ever could imagine.

I am truly grateful for this principle He continues to teach my heart. Understanding it is because of His great love allows me to see things as they truly are.

The Blessing of Change

I have found there is nothing more constant in life than change. It is the essence of life that brings with it growth, sometimes pain, and most often renewal. I find that when I fear change, I push against the very power that would create within me who I am meant to be.

This week has brought a fair amount of change, and therefore growth. The Blessing of Change

I am in the final terms of my Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Wellness. It has been a very fulfilling journey for me. My schedule for my last terms has required me to take an extra class, bringing with it a little bit extra work. I have been so blessed with a very supportive family, who gives me the time I need to accomplish all that I need to get done. Starting a new term with more to do has brought a little bit more of a load.

A few weeks ago I felt that Heavenly Father needed more from me and I questioned what would He have me do? The answer came in a random conversation with my husband about creating a website to challenge him in developing his own website (he likes competition, because it pushes him). He jumped on the idea that this is something I should do, not for the competition, but for me. His encouragement gave me the push I needed and, so this part of my life is beginning. I am excited and very overwhelmed by this, even with the extra load it has brought.

–Sidenote–the sunset here is gorgeous tonight! I love the pictures Heavenly Father paints for us!

This week also has been filled with many faith based decisions. Daily, we have been required to do things that require hope for things to come, because immediate needs seemed to be unresolved. The weight was heavy, however nothing that was too burdensome. I truly felt help surrounding me, even though I could not see it. Each day prayers were offered, hope kindled and we moved forward as best as we could.

Then yesterday came….

All week the doubts and fears had been circling my heart and in my mind, however I was able to keep them at bay. Living purposefully allowed me to have the strength to keep them from overtaking me. And then I did something unintentionally that hurt someone I truly love and the beautiful armor I had been wearing began to fail. It was as though a dam had sprung a leak, which quickly turned into a raging flood. Those doubts and fears took notice of this chink in my armor and moved in for the kill.

I gave in.

I allowed them to tell me lies and take hold of my heart, overwhelming my spirit with their darkness. It was my choice and my choice alone. I am not proud of this choice by any means.

After spending some time in isolation, sitting in the darkness that had overtaken me, praying for help, I was found by my loving family. They reached down into my heart and pulled me from this desolate place. They are truly a gift from God to me.

This morning I made a choice.

I chose to move forward again. I chose to call upon the Atonement of my Savior to change my heart through forgiveness and the enabling power only it can bring. I chose to smile and remember that I am bigger than any problem or challenge I am faced with. I chose to embrace the day and everything it held for me.

The beauty of the Atonement is change. I learned this again today.

Because He came, I can change. Because He came I can repent and forgive myself. Because He came I can smile. Because He came I can live with my blessed family forever. Because He came I am renewed. Because He came I can have a deep relationship with my Heavenly Father and call upon Him when I fall. Because He came I don’t have to live in darkness (even when in weak moments I choose it). Because He came I know love.

That is the blessing of change I came to know.

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