It is all about the journey….

Archive for the ‘strength’ Category

Forward Is Moving

There are days on the trail that are more educational than others. Today happened to be one of those days. Due to a series of events, I got off to a really late start to my run. Thankfully, because I waited, the sun decided to emerge and warm everything up. It is not every November 14th that I get to run in a t-shirt. I will take these days as long as I have them, because I know they are short-lived.

There is a place in the run that, no matter how many times I run it, the incline is almost too much. By the time I reach the top of the Clay Pit, my lungs are on fire and my legs feel like lead. Every day I push myself 5 to 10 steps further than the day before. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I don’t.

For a long time it would frustrate me that I didn’t seem to be making gains in my strength and endurance on this particular portion of the trail. I would think to myself so many negative thoughts that would definitely increase the incline and difficulty of the next hill to conquer.

I realized that all of this focus on gains, strength and negativity was ultimately drawing much-needed energy and enjoyment. It is this way in life too… the more I focus on gains, power and allow negative thoughts to rule my mind and spirit, the less energy and desire I have to reach outward and lift others. I have learned that where I focus my energy will determine if it is renewed or stolen.

Living in a world that has a great tendency to look for weakness and exploit it makes it easy to give space to the negative energy-sapping sources. Stepping out of this world and allowing Jesus Christ to create within us the person He knows we are meant to be is challenging, yet very rewarding. His ultimate goal is to give us the strength, path and means necessary to change and become.

On one particular place I found myself struggling to keep moving forward. It is truly a mental battle that strengthens me each time I step foot in the mountain. All of the sudden, the sound I have given to my son’s texts chimed on my phone. Normally I don’t stop to check them, but this time I did.

“Love you too!!!”

The mere fact that my beautiful 16 year-old boy would take time out of his day to tell me he loves me melted my heart. He does this often. He is a gift. Those three words boosted my energy, giving me the strength to finish the climb I was undertaking.

Another climb was daunting and challenging me…my daughter’s text chime rang through.

“Hi!!”

My sweet girl randomly will text me during the day to say Hi. She too is a gift from Heavenly Father. Our conversations are generally short (except when she doesn’t feel good), but very sweet. Once again I was given what I needed to climb.

I realized that Heavenly Father has given us so many people to give us the energy we need to make it through a rough moment in life. There can be plenty of them and these moments seem to come in bundles. Having and being the kind of person that can lift is such a gift. I do not have a lot of close friends, that is not in my nature. Yet, the ones that I am blessed with are exactly who I need. I pray daily that I am who they need.

Coming out of the canyon, it was a lesson to me that forward is moving in the right direction. Some days we have all of the energy and capacity we need to conquer the hills life throws at us. Other days it is not there. How blessed I feel to know that on those days Heaven is just a prayer away and the answers come through so many beautiful people.

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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.

 

 

Sometimes It Is Enough To Simply Believe

For the past 5 years the reality of faith within my soul has been tried, tested, refined, and strengthened…over and over again. It is one thing to read an inspiring quote that states faith will give us the strength we need to overcome and it is a completely different thing to believe and let faith take over.

believeI have determined that our lives have a unique plan and path. If we are living close to God, we can see that the path is one that is meant to shape our souls to become like Him. Sometimes it is easy to watch others on their paths and think that is where we should be. It can be so tempting to see their paths and think we should be there rather than where we are. In these moments anger, jealousy and frustration take root and create within our hearts doubt.

I have also come to realize that each of us on this path to Heavenly Father will be tried in our own crucibles that will break us down to the point that we feel like we are losing ourselves. Prayers that are uttered in our hearts or cried out in our souls will seemingly go unanswered. Every effort we give to move forward will be lost. Any step we take forward will result in a painful fall. Our hearts will break. Our spirits will yearn for relief.

Passing through these times in my life has brought every emotion imaginable, from hope to despair, faith to doubt, inexpressible joy to overwhelming sorrow, strength to weakness. The only balm I have found to soothe my weary soul is turning to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I KNOW He is there. I KNOW He knows me. I KNOW He loves me.

Yet, sometimes I doubt. Sometimes I don’t have the strength to look up and see Him. Sometimes I don’t even have the strength to call out His name.

In so many ways these times have left me feeling less than, unworthy and weak. How can I expect to have strength from faith if I doubt?

Last night as I read in the 3rd Nephi of the Book of Mormon my heart found peace. It is a time in their history when all of the signs that the Savior was to be born were being mainfest, testifying to the people He was coming. For anyone who had heard the prophecies, these signs were a renewal of hope. For those who chose not to see them for what they truly were, the signs were an opportunity to create doubt. Cunning words were spoken to destroy all joy and faith. It must have been exhausting to hold on to their faith as they were openly taunted and ridiculed. faith

As I read in verses 7-8 I looked deeper within the words:

And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass. 

But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know thath their faith had not been in vain.

Here is what I saw…

I saw a people who had held on to whatever faith they had, watching for their Savior, feel the burden of belief and doubt take hold of their souls. What if? had crept into their hearts ever so quietly, creating within them feelings of sorrow. Yet, they held onto their belief. It was all they had. It was enough.

They watched. They held on. They did their best. Their faith was rewarded.

So it is in my life. Sometimes all I have is a belief that the fire will subside. Sometimes all I have is the belief that I can take one more small step. For the longest time I didn’t think that this belief was enough to qualify for the enabling power of faith. I know now I was wrong in that belief.

Sometimes… more often than I realized…it is simply enough to believe.

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.

Changing Direction

These past few weeks have been a veritable roller-coaster of emotions, thoughts, ideas and internal fighting. As taxing as the struggle can be, it is necessary for growth and definition.

Changing DirectionI love quiet moments to ponder, talk to Heavenly Father and simply be. I have found in these moments more inspiration and direction than anywhere else. These educational moments continually teach me about myself and the path that I am currently on.

Recently I read a book that rocked my world. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker is the cause much of the roller-coaster I have been riding. I will be honest, most of what was the catalyst of the explosion of thoughts had nothing to do with becoming a millionaire, but more to do with the qualities and thought processes of people who are successful and live life to the fullest. I began to see how scarcity had become the ruling thought in my mind, which in turn became how I viewed the world.

As I have thought about where my mind had been living, I began to realize that life will never be lived to the fullest when scarcity rules our thoughts. God created a world of abundance. It is not difficult to see how much we have been given, however if we only focus on the path at our feet, we will miss all of it. When we are always looking down we miss the greatness of everything around us.

I made a decision that I do not want to live in scarcity any more.

To make a change like this, I needed to face what was holding me back, to understand it, to overcome. I am blessed to know a great guide (my husband) who is skilled at walking people through challenges such as this. In order to face scarcity I had to realize that I had become bound by fear, uncertainty, overwhelm, and darkness. Breaking through these bindings was challenging at best, but worth it as I now had the strength to let go of scarcity.

As Kevin talked me through all of this he pointed out that abundance is the weapon to fight off and hold back scarcity. It is the abundance of knowing I have never, ever been without what I need. I have always been able to do what is necessary to take care of my family and those I need to help. It is the abundance of knowing that Heavenly Father is in control and will lead me (sometimes pull me) to where He needs me to go. And right now He needs me to change direction.

There is a difference between change and changing direction. As we are presented with a new opportunity to move down a new path, one that will create newness of strength, courage and skill, we have the gift to choose whether or not we take that first step. Moving down new paths is our change of direction. The change within us comes as we take in this new path, noticing the differences in feelings, sights, thoughts and actions. Each step is a choice to continue. Each step is a demonstration of trust and courage.

As I have taken a few tentative steps down this new path, I have been able to see a few things for what they truly are…and it is liberating. Ideas that I have held onto that I have not been able to realize are now understood and filed where they need to be. For a long time I thought I wanted to have a business building/creating things… It was hard for me to grasp why this idea never had enough strength to pull me through the initial phases. Now I understand that I love to build/create for the pure love of it…not to sell, just to give. I can now leave that business path behind and move onto something else. I am not sure what that is yet, I am still seeking. Yet, I know I will be led….

What If?

As I spent time alone this morning, I found myself thinking about my amazing children. As a Mom I have the tendency to want their lives to be free of tribulations and hard times. As a Mom who is trying her best to look at life through the eyes of Heavenly Father, I see that their tribulations and hard times shape them.WhatIf?

My son has been working through some pretty tough things in his heart lately. He is a leader. He is different. He is strong. He has vision. All qualities that do not always lead him down the easiest of paths in Junior High. I know this time of his life is full of wanting to fit in, have friends, be noticed by the ‘cute’ girls in the hall. However, it is hard to be a sheep when you were born to be a warrior.

My husband and I have such a huge responsibility to our children. As parents, we have been blessed to see who these amazing spirits are meant to be, we know truly how strong and important they are. Unfortunately, someone else does too. I have felt the challenge in my heart to become the mother they need to battle this other influence and have spent many hours in prayer for the ability and strength to be the protector, teacher, example and safety they need.

A question came into my heart as a response to these prayers….What if?

What if all that I have passed through in my life was tailored not only for my growth, but theirs too? What if all of the times I have been pushed to the end of my faith and strength were meant to teach my heart what they need to know? What if every time I was driven to my knees because I didn’t have strength to stand under all of the pressures I felt were times that brought me closer to Heaven so that I could see His face and KNOW? What if all of those things that I sacrificed were gifts that they needed to stand strong? What if every tear that has fallen has been counted for moments when they truly need a shoulder, heart and an understanding ear? What if every moment of joy and laughter were times that they could see heaven too?

What if?

I would do it all again in an instant for them so that they would KNOW. I would do it so that they can have strength to be the warriors they truly are meant to be…not the sheep that follow the crowd.

They are my What if….

They are my Gift from Heaven….

They are my Why….

Strength

There is a verse of scripture in the Book of Mormon that has provided comfort and confusion to my heart and mind:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. ” ~Ether 12:27

StrengthI know there have been so many times that I have felt the pure weakness that comes from a mortal body doing its best to live a spiritual life. In these moments I have felt frustration, thinking that there has to be a way that I can feel stronger, more powerful.

But what if what I think should be stronger and more powerful is not what Jesus Christ knows to be strength and power?

This past month has been wrought with trials, both personal and family based. It is as though any weakness or wound I have ever struggled with was opened up and shown in vivid detail. If it was not one thing, it was another. Days became very long and some nights were endless. I have spent a lot of time in prayer seeking understanding.

As I thought about all of this in regards to the scripture from Ether, I found answers…

Sometimes strength is simply standing up when the world is pressing upon us. Sometimes strength is looking up to Heaven when our hearts and minds are so heavy. Sometimes strength is listening to the quiet whisperings of the Holy Ghost telling us that we are good enough. Sometimes strength is hearing with our heart and mind the compliments and support of those who are there to help. Sometimes strength is dropping to our knees seeking understanding when the path before us has turned dark. Sometimes strength is simply taking a deep breath and saying, “I’ve got this” then taking one more step. Sometimes strength is opening the scriptures when our mind is groping blindly in the world around us. And sometimes strength is sitting quietly when the storm is raging around us.

I always thought I would feel more powerful when the grace of Jesus Christ made up the difference in my lacking.

What I learned is….peace is the strength that comes from our Savior. Peace of knowing that He has not left us alone in any storm we are called upon to weather. I can be strong.

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