I Am Home

I know that I’ve been less than consistent with this blog and I’m so sorry! I am hopeful that this year will bring consistency and balance to my life.

This last year and a half has been nothing less than a whirlwind!! Some of you may remember the beginning of my blog when I wrote about the decision to sell our house in Harrisville. It was not something I had been wanting to do, nor did I even want to consider it. After finally relenting to my husband’s requests to just go for a drive with him and look at some of the houses available in the next county over I consoled my daughter (and myself) that we were looking, nothing more. I had no intention to move. Not until the kids were both graduated from high school. But then…

I could not get one of the houses out of my head. I brushed it away numerous times like a pesky fly. Finally a little thought popped into my head… “Why don’t you pray about it?” At that point I began to sob, because I already knew what “pray about it” meant. It wasn’t in my plans, but it was in God’s. And so I knelt down and asked for confirmation. It came and we began the process. Within four months we had fixed up the house, listed it, sold it, packed, and moved out.

As I unpacked in the house we were renting my mind was spinning and I couldn’t help but wonder if we had done the right thing. How long were we going to be there? Where would we end up? Would it be a place I would love as much as I had loved Harrisville? As I struggled with these feelings I began to pray. And as I sought answers on my knees and in my scriptures, I was comforted with the very clear answer… Where you want to stay doesn’t even compare to where I want to take you.

Last year was a year of personal growth and learning. It was a year of moving forward in faith and trusting God’s hand to lead me. I took courses and attended meetings to help me better myself as a writer, speaker and businesswoman. I transitioned from being a mom of children to the beginning steps of being the mom of adults. I cheered my daughter on, with my heart breaking, as she moved out, knowing that the timing was right, but if it was up to my selfishness I would never let her go! I got to teach in my church and soaked up every second of the calling and opportunity. We scouted and researched, bought a lot and built a home. I learned much about my fears and anxieties. I learned to live outside my comfort zone as I pushed through those feelings and found so much magic on the other side of that circle.

Our home is beautiful! It is an open home where I can enjoy the company of my family as I cook and clean the kitchen. It is the perfect combination of all the colors I love most and every choice I made from floor, to light fixtures, to appliances, to my accent wall, and even the color of my front door make me feel joyful just to look at them. It is on a half acre of land overlooking the most beautiful wide open valley. I love to walk at night and feel the stillness and revel in the space between the sparkling stars above and the twinkling lights below. The people are warm and welcoming. And the thoughts and feelings reverberate through my whole body… Where I wanted to stay didn’t even compare to where He has taken me!


I am home.

Armor Up!

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Ephesians 6:

10Finally, my brethren, be strong in the LORD, and in the power of his might.

11Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

As I was reading these verses in Ephesians about the armor of God last night, they triggered a lot of thoughts for me. I love the imagery of the Armor of God. I designed the felt set above in 2013 after I was in charge of girls’ camp for the youth in our church. We decided to go with the theme Stand Wearing the Armor of God. It was such an incredible experience to study and prepare with the youth leaders who were helping me. Each part of this armor can do so much to protect us in our spiritual battles. And each piece must be intentionally added.

I want to share with you some of the analogies I have thought of as I have studied these verses. There may be other interpretations, this is just one what I have come up with.

Helmet of Salvation: God can help protect us from the enemy as we choose to particular about what information and images we choose to allow into our minds.  When we watch, read and listen to only uplifting things, we are putting on the helmet of salvation.

The Breastplate of Righteousness: This piece of armor protects our hearts. As we follow God’s commandments and stay strong to the standards He has helped us create for ourselves, we have the ability to determine what we will allow to control our hearts. We can choose to steer clear of distractions and temptations that would destroy our peace and happiness, when we put on the breastplate of righteousness.

Shoes of the Gospel of Peace: We put on these shoes as we study about the life of Christ and truly learn about our Savior, who He is, what He stands for, and how deeply He loves us. As this knowledge becomes a part of us, we will have a desire to follow in His path. We will be able to make better choices for our lives that bring us peace and joy. And we will have a desire to share these truths with others.

The Belt of Truth: In this day and age where morality is questioned at every turn, it is even more important for us to make a stand with God on what is right and what is wrong. He has given us the sacred power of procreation, the power to create life and many people in the world do not value this as the gift that it is, they use and abuse it for their own pleasure with no thought of the consequences and hurt they are causing. As we girt our loins with the belt of truth we are showing that we truly value virtue and will protect it at all costs.

Shield of Faith: We take up this sword as we search, ponder, and study the word of God. The more immersed we become in the Gospel and the teachings of Christ the more faith we develop in the knowledge that God lives and that He loves us. We will understand better the sacrifice made by our Savior Jesus Christ, that He truly loves us and chose to die for us, that we might live again – both physically and spiritually. As we intentionally seek to grow in faith, we fill find special ways unique to us that will give more power to our shield at the times when we need it most.

Sword of the Spirit (the word of God): God speaks to us in many ways through songs, scriptures, and whispers to our hearts. Learning to hear and act upon this takes practice. As the only defensive piece of armor, it is especially important that we take up and use this sword. We become more adept at using it as we seek to understand how the Spirit speaks to us personally. As we practice by following promptings and inspirations as they come, we will get better and better and hearing and receiving from the Spirit.

The armor is not always convenient or comfortable, it is not meant to be… it is created for our protection. A soldier during the time of Paul would not have gone even one day leaving his armor behind, because he knew that one day without it could be his last. And anytime we choose to go about without putting it on, we are in danger of spiritual harm. I have learned in my own life how important it is to daily, intentionally put on each piece of this armor. And then… pray. This final and pivotal act is vital to our spiritual strength and protection. I love a line in a book by Francine Rivers… the elderly woman in the book is advising her husband to pray because “you can’t face the enemy in your spiritual underwear.” As much as getting dressed is a daily habit for us, so should be taking the time to arm ourselves with the protective gear the Lord has provided for us. Armor up!!

Soul Searching Question: What have you done to armor up today?

Song: Spiritual Warfare – The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Armor

Casting My Net One More Time

Casting Net

I want to share with you what I have learned about casting your net when it is so empty and you are so tired.

As I have been studying in the Gospels this year I have been amazed at how many applications I can make from the lives of the apostles to my own. This last week I was thinking about how chaotic my life has been over the last year. So many changes and so quickly, like a whirlwind. Many of them have left me feeling unstable and reeling! And yet, amidst them all I have felt the peace of my Savior. This has come in surprising ways.

It seems like when I am going through the craziest most difficult times God will ask me to do just one more thing… for Him. Like the apostle Peter, He will ask me to cast my empty net into the water one more time. In my own very human mind I will say to Him, But can’t you see that I’m in the middle of a mess right now? I am so tired and worn out. My net is so empty and I don’t know if I have the energy to cast it one more time.

But because I want to be faithful, I do it anyway. I do the one more thing… for Him. And somehow, by some miracle, this one more thing ends up being the thing that saves me, the thing that actually fills my net. This thing I did for Him, ends up being the thing that draws me closer to Him and gives me added strength and energy and renewal. This thing I did for Him ends up being such a blessing from Him to me. I am so grateful that He knows how to fill my emptiness and pushes me to do just one more thing.

Let Go and Let God

The other day I was listening to the speech I recommended below and the speaker mentioned someone sharing this phrase with her, “To worry is to lack faith.” That thought snapped around my heart like a trap! This last week my 19 year old daughter decided it was time to spread her wings and move out. And though I also feel like this is the next step for her in moving forward in her life it happened quite suddenly and caught me off guard. Even though I know it is right, it is so hard as a parent not to worry about your children as they strike out on their own. I had been fretting about how she will manage, what choices she will make, what challenges will come her way, etc.

As I pondered on the phrase I realized that I truly was showing my fear and not leaning into my faith. I know our Heavenly Father loves my daughter every bit as much as I do. I know that He has a plan for her. I know that He will be watching out for her and even though there will be trials, because we all have them, she will get through them. I can continue to pray for her and be here for her if she needs someone to talk to, but I have to trust God to take care of her.
No matter what our own personal struggles are, there are times when worry sets in. And if we are not careful it can set up camp and really take over our thoughts, our motivation, and our lives. We must recognize this worry for what it is, a useless drain on our energy, especially because worry never seems to accomplish much. Faith on the other hand is the predecessor of miracles and a much better investment of energy. So I will try to use a worried thought as a trigger to remind me to pray, let it go and give it back to the Worker of miracles.

Philippians 4:

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 3:

5 ¶ Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Is there something you are worrying about that would be much better handled in the hands of God?

Song: Let Go by Matt Hammitt

Talk: Be Still and Know God

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/erin-d-maughan_still-know-god/

He Knows You and He Loves You

Have you ever had one of those days (or maybe even weeks) when you just don’t feel like you’re enough?  Like you aren’t measuring up to the expectations those around you have for you? Like no matter how much you do there just isn’t enough time to do all that is required?  Maybe you just feel lonely and unappreciated?

I think we all have those times!  Even those of us who normally feel cheerful, optimistic and blessed beyond measure… This post is for one of those days.

There is always one who loves you.  He knows you completely –  the best of you and the worst of you – and He still adores you! He knows your strengths and your weaknesses.  He knows you intentions and your desires. He knows how hard you try.  And He admires  you for all of those things.  In His eyes, there is no disappointment, only love. If you are feeling weak and weary…  If you are feeling broken and discarded… If you are feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated… He is there.  Go to Him.  Ask Him if He loves you.  You can find peace and comfort in His heavenly embrace. To Him, you are always enough!

Zephaniah 3:

17 Thy Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Song: I Am Loved

Favorite Find: God’s Love letter for you…

Talk: Living the Gospel Joyfully

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/living-the-gospel-joyful?lang=eng

Talk: Trust in the Lord

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/10/trust-in-the-lord?lang=eng

 

Seeking the One

This picture is called “Seeking the One”and it was created by Liz Lemon Swindle. My son and I put together a big puzzle of it and until we sold our house recently it hung above the stairs in our home. I looked at it every day. And every day I felt deep gratitude for the Man who would leave the ninety and nine to find the one, because I have been that sheep, the one He seeks.

I honestly don’t know where I would be without my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I can’t imagine having to live out my life with the shame and regret of my mistakes and bad choices! I am so grateful for His love for me and willingness to sacrifice on my behalf so that I can shed the pain of my past and try again.

He loves each of us like that! He reaches out to us one by one and desires for us to come. He wants to heal us, help us, and walk us home.

Jesus Christ suffered in the garden, died on the cross, and rose again on the third day. Because of His willingness to do these things we have the opportunity to recognize our wrongs, repent and move forward becoming a little bit better day by day.

Courage to Be Vulnerable

I have thought a lot about ministering in the Savior’s way over the last year and one of the things that struck me as very relevant is that being vulnerable enough to allow others to serve us is just as important as reaching out to serve those around us.

I think that in a general sense, we are all great at serving, especially when we are specifically asked to. However, I know that many of us struggle with being vulnerable enough to actually accept service from others, even when we need it.

There is a quote by Rick Warren, in his book The Purpose Driven Life, that says, “Vulnerability is an endearing quality. We are drawn to humble people. Pretentiousness repels but authenticity attracts.”

Our brokenness is part of our perfect journey and God will ask us to share our vulnerabilities to bless the lives of others! How will you consecrate your suffering to God’s purposes?

Ministering as the Savior Did

We are taught our whole lives to love one another, to get outside ourselves and serve, that we are God’s hands on the earth. I have been the recipient if service enough times to realize how important these things are, but for the longest time I felt guilty because I never felt like I was serving because I wasn’t organizing or being involved in big organized projects. It wasn’t until recently that I finally realized what it meant to follow Christ’s example in the way we minister.

I’m not sure what it was that brought the epiphany I had. It was probably a combination of reading about His life in the gospels again combined with other articles on service, but suddenly a lightbulb came on for me. Our Savior was never involved in big organized projects, He served as He went. He saw a need and He filled it. And generally these opportunities came as He was on His way to somewhere else. With this understanding also came a realization that there have probably been many opportunities to serve in my life that I have bypassed because I was too focused on the next place I was going or the next project I was wrapped up in.

Understanding that the little things we do to make another’s life easier are the essence of service has really been a game changer for me. It has created a desire in me to be more aware of those opportunities throughout the day. It has made me want to slow down a little and pay more attention to the whispers that come showing me the needs around me. It has helped me feel validated in the little things I do to show love to those around me. Now I feel great when I take an hour to listen to a friend vent, or go out of my way to write a note and create a special treat for one of my kids who is having a hard week, or take the afternoon and spend some quality time with my husband. I have begun to see the time I invest in facilitating my scripture study or writing for my blog as opportunities to serve as I share God’s word and love with those who read my testimony. I never really saw these as service before, and as good as it is to be part of big organized service projects, better understanding Christ’s way of ministering helps me to recognize that maybe service in the little things along our daily path are just as important, if not more so.

Serving in the Savior’s way means keeping our eyes and our hearts open to see a need and fill it, just like He did.

Decisions For Which I’ve Been Grateful by Clayton M. Christensen

I learned so much from this talk, especially on the topic of real intent. After listening to it a few years ago I was able to look back on my life and recognize the truth of what He was saying. God does want to answer or prayers and share great knowledge with us but He first wants to see that we really do intend to do something with the answers, that we aren’t just asking out of mere curiosity. The most profound answers and insights I have gotten in my life were during times I really needed them! Times I desperately plead for them! Times I intended to use them to take the next step in my life! God knows our hearts and our intentions matter to Him!

https://video.byui.edu/media/Clayton+M.+Christensen+%22Decisions+For+Which+I%27ve+Been+Grateful%22/0_tdb0a80p/14336742

Ask God How He Feels About You

I never imagined that just the prospect of the transition into empty nesting would hit me so hard! From the time I was a young girl playing house with my sisters, the only thing I ever wanted to do was to be a mother. I loved school and I have enjoyed eacg job I have had, but the dream of my heart was motherhood. And though it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, caused me the most anxiety, and had me in tears many times, I’ve never been disappointed in the thrill of it. I love being a mom! I love nurturing, teaching and connecting with my children. I love creating memories and traditions with them. I love learning from them and realizing that they truly push me to be a better me. So it was crushing when a few years ago I suddenly realized that I only had a handful of years left of this being my full time, all encompassing, day consuming job. I felt like I abruptly hit a brick wall. What was I going to do with my life? Did I have another purpose? Something that would give me as much joy and fulfillment? Or at least a portion of that?

This realization came amidst some other really hard hitting trials and in the blink of an eye I felt like I was drowning. I know that most of my feelings of worthlessness and self doubt came from the other things happening in my life, but this sudden realization did not help. In fact, it just compounded all the other feelings I was having. I have always been a cheerful person, an optimist by nature. But this time in my life was devastating. I felt hopeless and helpless. I spent most of my days crying and trying to figure out how I was ever going to be happy again. As I said, their were many contributing factors to these feelings at that time and this was just a part of it, but it was the first time in my life I sincerely wanted to know who I really was and what my life’s purpose was. It was the first time that I realized that my children would not be my purpose forever and that there must be something more.

And then something beautiful happened. I started to feel prompted about what to pray about. And one of those things was, “Ask God how He feels about you.” Oh man! When you are feeling lower than dirt and can’t see anything good in yourself the last thing you want to do is ask God who sees all and knows all and is purity itself how He feels about you. But to my credit, I was obedient. I cannot put into words the sacred answers that came in that powerful communion with my Maker. I can only tell you that I cried harder than ever when the feelings of pure love came into my heart. I can tell you that He does know us perfectly and likewise He loves us perfectly. He knows the worst about us and loves us anyway. He cheers for us in our successes and He aches with us in our failures. He is for us and NEVER against us.

From that point on I was led to people, articles, and activities that strengthened my understanding of my diving identity. I was prompted to write a list of my good qualities. That was so hard! But again I obeyed and I know I did not make that list myself. Now one of my greatest treasures is a tangible list made by me and my loving Heavenly Father of my redeeming qualities. I was also led to create a list of my weaknesses. And in that list I found help in acknowledging them and the source to which I could go for help in creating healthy boundaries for myself to overcome those weaknesses. Aside from the personal divine assignments I was given, I had conversations with people who did not know my struggles that validated the positive things I was starting to feel. I got random texts that affirmed the heavenly love I had felt. I was led to groups that had scriptures and conference talks that taught me more and led me into deeper understanding of who I really was and how God really feels about me. And then along this journey I started to get very concise promptings and answers to my bigger purpose and how I would fulfill that.

This journey is very personal and maybe people would question how I came to be so sure of the things I am absolutely positive about now, but that is fine with me. Every one of us is entitled to the same journey of finding their true identity and purpose. In fact, I believe we are each accountable to seek out these answers. I can’t tell you what yours will look like. I can tell you it will not be an easy journey. To be honest, the vulnerability required will feel like a high price to pay. At times you may wonder if it is worth it. I promise it is! As you seek your divine identity and purpose with sincerity and diligence, if you will keep your mind and heart open and create a space for God to communicate with you, He will lead you to find your answers little by little. It will change your heart and it will change your life! As I said, I can’t tell you what your journey will look like or the specific answers you will find, but I can tell you how to start… Ask God how He feels about you.