Gratitude Challenge Day 1: Intentional Appreciation

Thank you so much for joining me for our Gratitude Challenge. I’m so excited about this week! I am looking forward to sharing some things I have learned with you as well as feeling the lift that I know comes from focusing on gratitude. (Please forgive any typos I may have in these memes I created. My brain is pretty tired this morning.)

(See challenge at end of post.)

Today I want to focus on Intentional Appreciation. Our brains are such amazing things! They really do find what we are looking for, whether that is positive or negative. And if we don’t like the way we have been feeling or habits we have created our brains are capable of being retrained. We can literally change the neuropathways of our brains. These little pathways are like ruts that have been created through a field as we walk the same path over an over again. When we intentionally focus on new things, better things, we create a new pathway and eventually the old pathway will grow over and the new more positive thoughts will be as natural as the old negative ones were. So I challenge you today to be mindful of when you are thinking negatively and stop yourself in your tracks and think about something you are grateful for. Notice even the small blessings in your life, the things you typically take for granted. See if you can go the whole day without allowing a negative thought to last longer than a couple seconds before you recognize it and squash it.

Our Savior loves us so much and truly desires for us to be happy and to appreciate the many things He has blessed with. Many times in the scriptures Christ tells us to be of good cheer. I know that He desires our happiness. Not only is it something He wants for us, but we also best show our love for Him as we show gratitude for all that we have been blessed with. Neuropathways

Colossians 4:

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving

Song: Gratitude by Elevation Worship

Today’s challenge:

Day 1 Challenge Video by Oléa:

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.

Invitation to a Gratitude Challenge

On Monday I’m starting a gratitude challenge here! I love how we see what we look for in life and that we can palpably increase our happiness by focusing on what we have been blessed with! God is so good and we show our love for Him through our gratitude.

I will share scripture verses, songs, some of my thoughts and some action challenges for you to do to help you focus on gratitude for seven days.

Invite a friend and join me in Monday!

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/

Get Anchored

This morning as I was preparing to create my first podcast *eek* on overcoming the loss of hope, I had a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head. One of my thoughts came as I acknowledged a particularly bad day yesterday. I believe our fight for hope is often fought on an almost daily basis. Even when everything else in life seems to be going fairly smoothly, we can have a day that just knocks the wind out of us. We feel inadequate, useless, and just plain lousy! I have come to recognize these feelings as an absence of hope. I believe the solution to overcoming these feelings comes down to acknowledging them for what they are. Then, when we have given ourselves adequate, but not excessive, time to experience them, we know what to do to start conquering them.

At that point we do those things that help us personally anchor in Christ. For me, that looks like getting down on my knees and crying to my God a little, or a lot depending on the need. Then asking Him to free me from those feelings, to give me the confidence in Him to know that eventually everything is going to be okay. Then I have to get up off my knees and act like I’m ready to be done with the gloom and doom feelings. I immerse myself in His word for a little feast to fill my emptiness. Then I turn on some good upbeat Christian music, because a little private karaoke session is always good for my soul. Finally, I stop isolating myself (I can’t be the only one who prefers to be miserable alone) and I call a friend. If there is no friend available at the time, writing is a close second for me. Somehow when I process those feelings I’ve been having it releases me from their grasp. When I feel securely anchored, I can feel those peaceful feelings of hope returning and I know that Christ and my relationship with Him are a prize worth fighting for!

Hebrews 6:

13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.
17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Song: Prize Worth Fight For by Jamie Kimmett

Inky Johnson’s loss was much greater than a day’s dark feelings. But I love how other people’s stories of overcoming loss can really help me put my own discouragement in perspective.

What can you do today to anchor more securely in Christ?

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

 

Look Up!

About a month ago my life imploded! A little dramatic maybe, but that’s how it felt. Things were going smoothly and relatively peacefully. It seems that God allows us to have those moments before it’s time for another growth spurt.

About a year ago we decided to put our house on the market. Three months later we had fixed anything that needed fixing, listed it, sold it and signed a one year lease on a rental house. Four months later my husband got a job in Tremonton (the area we were initially wanting to move to).  He was given a company car for the commute and a year to relocate to that vicinity. All of the sudden, about a month ago I started feeling a real urgency to look for our next move.  To be honest, I wanted to just bury my head in the sand and wait until the end of our lease to start looking. I did follow the prompting though and after some time looking, a lot of stressful feelings, and a little discouragement at not finding the place that felt right, the perfect option appeared out of nowhere!  We found a builder willing to carry the loan on a newly built house and we put an offer in on the lot.  This decision is extremely exciting and equally as stressful.  There is a lot of second guessing yourself and hoping you are making the right decision. There is also a lot of waiting on other people and hoping they are doing their jobs efficiently without anyway to verify.

About this same time I was struggling to make some weighty decisions with my business. I have been selling in some consignment stores for about 5 years now.  It has been hard to watch the “mom and pop” stores decline in business as internet sales have increased.  This was really effecting my sales (both declining at my booths and increasing online).  It felt like the right time to pull out of the stores, but at the same time even though they were not consistently producing, they were kind of my safety net as some months they did do well. It took a lot of faith to send my 30 day notices to these stores and hope that investing the same money in online marketing would produce needed results.  I have spent the last month going back and forth on this decision and feeling very torn.

Finally, about a month ago I was feeling a need to start pursuing my dream of publishing a book I had started and then put on the backburner. I brushed this feeling off and then was contacted three days later by a woman who was offering a course in writing, speaking, and creating a media presence.  I have wanted to do each of these things and my business has partially nudged me into these fields, but of course fear and excuses have held be back from really pursuing them.  This invitation resonated right to my core and after some intense consideration and prayer, I decided to invest in my dream.  Along with the investment of money came a very real investment of time… time for video conferences, assignments, collaborations and a whole lot of pondering!

With all these decisions and thoughts and worries heaped on my shoulders I have found myself walking around with my head drooping and wondering how I am going to do everything that is required of me.  How will I handle the waiting?  How will I make the right decisions?  How will I manage my time well enough to balance my load?  Even though these opportunities are so exciting, they also feel so big and overwhelming!  I was sitting in a church meeting when I heard a phrase that really hit home.  “It is better to look up.”

I don’t think it was until that moment that I realized I had been looking down and worrying about how I would handle everything on my plate.  I had forgotten that I am NEVER alone, I never have to handle everything by myself.  Of course!  When we partner with God, when we allow Him to help carry our load, and validate our decisions, and direct our path the way does not seem so scary or so hard.  And even though I had consulted Him at each of these crossroads, it is easy to slip back into that aloneness of independence on a daily basis.  It must be a daily decision, this looking up, sometimes an hourly one.  There will still be times of concern and doubt, but when these come we can use them as a sort of alarm, if you will, to remind us to conscientiously and intentionally look up!

Isaiah 40

26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

Psalm 123

1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Song:

I Will Look Up

Talk:

It is Better to Look Up

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/it-is-better-to-look-up?lang=eng