It is all about the journey….

Posts tagged ‘Heavenly Father’

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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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.

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.

 

4 Miracles

To outsiders, the miracles in our lives can look very small. Yet, to the person seeking for the Hand of God, these miracles are evidence that He is truly, intimately involved in our lives.

This week we saw His hand….4 miracles

As I read in the Book of Ether (Book of Mormon), I came across a verse that truly stood out to my spirit. I didn’t understand why at the time, I just knew it would be significant in the week to come.

Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.

Last Sunday my son and I needed run down to my parent’s home to pick up something. As we got into the car, I noticed the level of fuel was quite low, however since they do not live very far from us I thought we could make it there and back. As we drove to their home, the gas level kept dropping faster than I thought it would so that by the time we arrived, the gauge said we had less than 15 miles left until empty. After a short visit with my parents, my son and I got back into the car and decided to pray that we would get home. You see, we do our best to not shop or purchase anything on Sunday, for it is our Sabbath. So in keeping with this commitment, we asked for help to get home.

The faith of a 14-year-old boy is powerful and his prayer was simple.

So with that in our hearts, we headed home. Because we live in the foothills of the mountains, we should have used more gas getting home than travelling to my parents. However, when we pulled into our garage, the gas gauge read that we had only travelled 3 miles and had 12 miles left until empty.

Miracle #1.

The next two miracles came a few days later when we had committed to taking a dessert to a party. Money has been more than tight for us and the option to run to the store and pick up a dozen eggs for the dessert was nonexistent. I really only needed two eggs, and thought I only had one. All week I avoided baking treats or anything that would require eggs, because there should have only been one. As I double checked the eggs, to my utter surprise there were two left in the carton. Two little, beautiful eggs. Just exactly what I needed.

After I baked the cookies, I noticed a container of frosting tucked back on the top shelf of the fridge, hiding if you will. It hadn’t been there very long and was still quite delicious, so I thought I would frost the cookies with it, hoping that there would be enough. Honestly there wasn’t a lot.

32 cookies later, with 1 left, the frosting ran out. My heart was full of gratitude.

Miracles 2 & 3.

Yesterday I looked at our supplies for breakfast and lunch to begin the week. We needed 6 things to be able to have what the kids need for these two meals. I knew the $10 we had to spend would not cover it, so I checked my purse again only to find an extra $3. With a prayer in my heart I went to the store to retrieve the items we needed. I truly should have felt scared or anxious. Yet, there was peace in my spirit as I placed each item in the basket.

To my relief and joy, the total came to $13.08.

Miracle #4.

These may not seem like anything huge to those looking in from the outside. They may seem completely insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

However…

To hearts struggling to survive this week they were evidence of the great power that Heavenly Father manifests in our lives.

…by small and simple things are great things brought to pass…

Through 4 small miracles a greater knowledge of His deep and abiding love was brought to pass.

 

Help Thou My Unbelief

There was a man who came to the Savior pleading for Him to heal his son. The one thing Jesus asked was if the man believed. The reply was that he did, however he didn’t feel like the belief he had was enough for the size of a miracle he was pleading for. He then asked the Savior to help his unbelief. Through his belief, humility and the great love the Savior had for him and his son, the requested healing took place and his son was made whole.

Today I have found myself in a similar situation.

Over the past 7 years we have been on a sanctifying journey, oneopenheavens that has repeatedly tested our mind, body and spirit. I have often wondered if there is something we did, a choice we made that made this journey necessary in our lives. I remember when our son was born, I had a lot of pride in my heart regarding different situations and people. The circumstances that preceded and followed his birth quickly stripped me of this pride and taught me that to truly rely on my Heavenly Father, I needed to have more humility. Those 3 years were some of the most challenging, yet beautiful at the same time.

Through the grace of Heavenly Father, I have come to know that this journey is not the result of anything I have done or left undone, it is simply a time for us to draw closer to Him, each other and our family.

Yet…

Today we need a miracle. Today I have knelt before my Savior pleading for this miracle.

And still I find myself feeling like my faith and belief are not enough for what we need. I find myself hoping that I am enough and that I have done enough. I too ask, “Lord help thou my unbelief.”

I don’t know what else to do, but pray, believe, and wait….

 

 

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.

 

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