Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Breathe. You're Going to Be Okay.

I have to tell you, I was really struggling this morning.  I came down into my studio not knowing what I was going to do and how I was going to get motivated.  There are many times I come in here, lay my head down on my desk and wonder how I'm going to get moving.  Then I'll notice something out of place and move it and then before I know it my day is done and I got so much done.  Today I was trying to write something in particular and I had no idea what I was going to write so, as my daughter says, to Pinterest!  When I opened up Pinterest, this is the very first thing I saw and it was exactly what I needed to hear so I wanted to share it with all of you!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Be Happy at Church

Isn't this bag so pretty!  My dear friend LoriAnn made it for me to use for my church bag and so that I can remember Stacey every time I use it, she is so thoughtful!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Be Fit

I know it is so cliche to make a be fit New Years resolution, but it is something that I really want to do.  My friend, Heather, and I have been encouraging each other on our weight loss for a long time now and I am down 17 lbs. from where I started, but lately both of us keep going up and down, so I thought an added measure of accountability would be helpful.  So be watching for my Be Fit Progress updates, because I'm going to do this!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Broken Things To Mend

This was a talk I gave in church a few weeks ago:

I was given the talk, Broken Things To Mend by Jeffrey R. Holland as the basis of my talk.  When I finished reading this talk, there was only one thing that clearly stood out in my mind, and that was the word “broken.”  It stuck out to me because I have experienced broken in many personal ways.  I have seen broken dishes.  I've seen a child break her arm in a gymnastics class.  I have experienced a broken heart from broken relationships.  I have felt the intense emotional pain of a broken heart from the death of a loved one.  I have experienced a broken heart through the repentance process.  As a child I watched my broken mother and as an adult I have personally experienced being broken.

In his talk, Elder Holland said, “I speak to those who are facing personal trials and family struggles, those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart, those trying to hold back floodwaters of despair that sometimes wash over us like a tsunami of the soul.  I wish to speak particularly to you who feel your lives are broken, seemingly beyond repair.”

When we think of broken, we think of smashed, shattered, fragmented, crushed, cracked, defeated, beaten and so on.  It sounds so hopeless, but I remember years ago in Relief Society Gayle Wilkinson describing the breaking of a horse as actually showing the horse a better way.  I know when I was broken, it felt so huge, bottomless and dark, but I found out that broken is not permanent, broken is not forever.

Elder Holland’s wife, Patricia, quoted Vance Havner in a speech she gave, he wrote, “It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength.  It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. . . . it is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”  She goes on to say, “Our Father in Heaven sometimes uses our pain as a megaphone for very significant instruction as he did with Joseph Smith, . . .  And as he did with Peter who, weeping bitterly, returned to greater power and service than ever.”

I thought about a survivor of the the Willie Martin Handcart company who in response to criticism of the company said, “I ask you to stop this criticism.  You are discussing a matter you know nothing about.  Cold historic facts … give no proper interpretation of the questions involved.  Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season?  Yes.  But I was in that company and my wife … too.  We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but … we became acquainted with [God] in our extrem[i]ties.

I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other.  I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me.  I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one.  I knew then that the angels of God were there.

Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart?  No.  Neither then nor any minute of my life since.  The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”

In a blog post, “The Gift of Being Broken,” by Ariel Szuch, she wrote, “ Brokenness is a gift.  Why?  Because our brokenness connects us to each other, and our brokenness brings us to Christ.  It is by bringing our broken hearts to Him that we are made whole.  Sharing our brokenness brings meaning to our experiences, and the connection we make with others when we share our stories brings healing.  I read my story to family members, and we wept, our hearts brought together through sharing our grief.  People I didn’t even know reached out to me in person and online and shared how my story had helped them with the grief they were experiencing in their own lives.  And I was grateful to God for the opportunity to see His hand touch others through my broken heart.

Being broken is a gift, because when we are broken, we recognize the need for a Savior to make us whole. There’s a reason that the sacrifice Jesus asks of us is a ‘broken heart and a contrite spirit.’  A broken heart is one that is open to Him, that lets in His grace.  He felt our pains and sorrows first, and by going through a little of what He went through, we feel His power in our lives.”

A broken heart is one that is open to Him, open to him showing us a better way, just like with Gayle’s horses.  So when we are broken, what can we do to heal, what can we do to try and see the better way that our Heavenly Father and Savior are trying to show us?

Elder Holland said, “To all such I offer the surest and sweetest remedy that I know. It is found in the clarion call the Savior of the world Himself gave. He said it in the beginning of His ministry, and He said it in the end. He said it to believers, and He said it to those who were not so sure.  He said to everyone, whatever their personal problems might be:  "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

In this promise, that introductory phrase,’come unto me,’ is crucial.  It is the key to the peace and rest we seek.  He is saying to us,’Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going,’ He says, ‘we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness,’ He promises. ‘I will give you answers to your prayers.  I will give you rest to your souls.’  [T]he soul that comes unto Christ, who knows His voice and strives to do as He did, finds a strength, . . beyond [his] own.’  The Savior reminds us that He has’graven [us] upon the palms of [His] hands.’,

My favorite part in that quote is when Elder Holland says, “Then, when you walk where I am going we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have.”  It just gives me such a visualization of having a very personal and real conversation with the Savior as you would face to face with a friend.

In his talk “He Healeth the Broken in Heart”, President James E. Faust said, “For many of us, however, spiritual healing takes place not in great arenas of the world but in our sacrament meetings.  It is comforting to worship with, partake of the sacrament with, and be taught in a spirit of humility by neighbors and close friends who love the Lord and try to keep His commandments. . . .  Spiritual healing also comes from bearing and hearing humble testimonies.  A witness given in a spirit of contrition, thankfulness for divine providence, and submission to divine guidance is a powerful remedy to help relieve the anguish and concerns of our hearts.  Recent information seems to confirm that the ultimate spiritual healing comes in the forgetting of self. . . .   The Savior of the world said it very simply: ‘And whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.’  Of all that we might do to find solace, prayer is perhaps the most comforting.  We are instructed to pray to the Father, in the name of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Ghost.  The very act of praying to God is satisfying to the soul, even though God, in His wisdom, may not give what we ask for.”

In the midst of my brokenness I prayed for relief, I prayed for it to go away, I prayed to have not ever had to experience what I was going through, I did not yet see why I needed these experiences, I did not understand the Lord’s plan for me.  In my research I found this wonderful story by Carole M. Stephens:

“[T]he Master Healer can comfort and sustain us as we experience painful ‘realities of mortality,’ such as disaster, mental illness, disease, chronic pain, and death.  I have recently become acquainted with a remarkable young woman named Josie who suffers from bipolar disorder.  Here is just a little of her journey toward healing as she shared it with me:

‘The worst of the darkness occurs on what my family and I have deemed ‘floor days.’ It begins with sensory overload and acute sensitivity and resistance to any type of sound, touch, or light.  It is the apex of mental anguish.  There is one day in particular that I will never forget.  It was early in the journey, making the experience especially frightening. I can remember sobbing, tears racing down my face as I gasped for air. But even such intense suffering paled in comparison to the p
ain that followed as I observed panic overwhelm my mother, so desperate to help me.  With my broken mind came her broken heart.  But little did we know that despite the deepening darkness, we were just moments away from experiencing a mighty miracle.  As a long hour continued, my mom whispered over and over and over again, ‘I would do anything to take this from you.’  Meanwhile, the darkness intensified, and when I was convinced I could take no more, just then something marvelous occurred.  A transcendent and wonderful power suddenly overtook my body.  Then, with a ‘strength beyond my own,’ I declared to my mom with great conviction seven life-changing words in response to her repeated desire to bear my pain. I said, ‘You don’t have to; Someone already has.’  From the dark abyss of debilitating mental illness, Josie summoned the strength to testify of Jesus Christ and of His Atonement.  She was not healed completely that day, but she received the light of hope in a time of intense darkness. And today, supported by a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and refreshed daily by the Savior’s living water, Josie continues on her journey toward healing and exercises unshakable faith in the Master Healer.  She helps others along the way.  And she says,’When the darkness feels unremitting, I rely on the memory of His tender mercies. They serve as a guiding light as I navigate through hard times.’”

It's these moments of tender mercies where we find peace and moments f understanding.  In Elder Holland’s talk “Like a broken Vessel” he said, “In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember that we are living . . . in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of godliness will be tested and tried again and again. Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father who sent Him and the Son who came. 

So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend. . . .  Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being.  Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings.  Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost.  Hope is never lost.  If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.”

That line, if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, is so powerful.  It reminds me of the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3:17-18 which says, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”  Isn't it amazing, but if not . . ., if the bitter cup does not pass, if life doesn't get better, if I am not healed from my brokenness, I will still trust and have faith in my Father in Heaven.

Elder Holland goes on to say, “Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.  If you are the one afflicted or a caregiver to such, try not to be overwhelmed with the size of your task.  Don’t assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can.  If those are only small victories, be grateful for them and be patient.  Dozens of times in the scriptures, the Lord commands someone to ‘stand still’ or ‘be still’—and wait.  Patiently enduring some things is part of our mortal education.”

[Our second speaker didn't make it, so I had extra time and the Bishopric encouraged me to keep talking, and I felt inspired to share Taylor's story, I'm not going to do that here, maybe another day.]

A few weeks ago I was on the phone with someone who was feeling very down and and I was reading a section of the book, “The Power” by Rhonda Bryne to her, it says, “There is only one force in life, and that force is love.  You are either feeling good because you are full of love, or you are feeling bad because you are empty of love, but all your feelings are degrees of love.  Think of love as if it were water in a glass, and the glass is your body.  When a glass has only a little water in it, it is empty of water.  You can't change the water level in the glass by waging war on the emptiness and trying to rip out the emptiness.  The emptiness goes by filling the glass with water.  When you have bad feelings, you are empty of love, and so when you put love into yourself, the bad feelings are gone.”

Earlier in the book, the author gives the suggestion to think about everything you love, list them off nonstop in your mind until you feel better.  A week or so later, this same person sent me a text saying she was feeling really down again, and this suggestion popped into my head and I thought I would try it.  So I texted back, I love big belly laughs.  I didn't hear back from her, took so I sent another text, I love bed heads,  then just as I was about to send another one, she sent one back.  We went back and forth for a good 20 minutes of saying nothing but things we loved until she finally said she was feeling better.  It seemed too simple to work, to only express love back and forth, but it did.

In closing I would to quote Elder Holland, “Brothers and sisters, whatever your distress, please don’t give up and please don’t yield to fear. I have always been touched that as his son was departing for his mission to England, Brother Bryant S. Hinckley gave young Gordon a farewell embrace and then slipped him a handwritten note with just five words taken from the fifth chapter of Mark: “Be not afraid, only believe.”  If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened.  If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended.”

And I would add to that that you can feel loved, not only by those in your lives, but by Jesus Christ, our brother, if you ask, He will tell you, He will show you how much He loves you.  Know that all is not lost, all is not broken, all is not ended, just know that if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong.