This one is for me today. For those of you who know me, I am not very quiet at all. I like to talk, I like to listen, I like to be a part of the world around me. I like to always, always interact. I think that I am afraid that if I am too quiet, I will miss something important, something big, something that I have never seen before. Actually, I know in my mind, that it is probably better if I am quiet. If I could stop and be calm, I just might observe more. I might be able to be a part of the world around me. Instead of simply watching and wondering if I am good enough, I just might find out.
There has been so much trauma in my life, so many times when I have been ignored and left alone. More often, shunned or made fun of. I just don't feel like I have the strength for that anymore. For me, being quiet is a risk. It is the risk that I might be overlooked. It is the risk that I might be ignored. It is a risk that I might become a shadow of my true self.
Being quiet, is a learned ability for me. It has been a chance of finding the joy in listening to someone else. It also means not being so quick to defend myself before I know what is really being said, or even more important, what is really meant. I somehow judge myself as not enough, no matter how hard I try. It is easy to look back and think of what I should have done. I get defensive because I really hate feeling like I have failed. I am someone who probably over-analysis life. I look hard at everything. Believe me, if I have made a mistake, I have already been hard on myself for it. I don't like being the reason why others don't participate or feel needed.
As I look and ponder on the above message, I feel the noise that surrounds me, the busyness of the day and night. I feel my heart yearn for peace.
Today, I want very much to just be still.......
It is easy to find faults in others. It is even easier to find the faults in myself. To me, part of being a light bearer is to give that gift of life to those who are around me. A favorite saying of mine, often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi reads, “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.”Implicit in this saying is the understanding that often the most powerful sermons are unspoken.
When we have integrity and live consistently by our standards, people notice. When we radiate joy and happiness, they notice even more.
Everyone wants to be happy. When we, as members of the Church, radiate the light of the gospel, people can see our happiness and sense the love of God filling and overflowing in our lives. I think that being a light bearer is reminding people that they are worth loving. Not only because of who they are, but because of whose they are. Bearing His light is acting as much as possible in the ways that He would act. It is giving the gift of light to those who wander in darkness. It is acting as His earthly angels while we are here upon the earth. It might mean buying dinner or bringing dinner to those in need. It might be treating someone with kindness when they themselves are unkind. It might mean forgiveness and understanding when people make mistakes. To be a light bearer means to keep myself worthy to have His light within me. To bring that light to others means to treat them as He would treat them. Even when we doubt that they deserve kindness, it is remembering that every single on of us really does deserve kindness in our lives. We only see people in the here and now, we don't see what has brought them to this place, but our Heavenly Father knows both the past and the present. He sees not only what we do, but why we do it. May each of us seek to bring His light to all those who fall within our sphere of influence. May we seek to heal others and not the hurt them. May we find within our hearts forgiveness and love. May we ever be light-bringers and light-bearers on this difficult journey of life.
I have discovered that this is one of those sayings that rings true for me. When I am thankful for whatever I have, I actually feel closer to my Heavenly Father, and I more often am able to feel His love for me.
I love the holidays. I love Thanksgiving and the transition into Christmas. I don't love black Friday, or Cyber Monday, although if I had to pick, I would take the cyber part of it all. I don't do well in big crowds of pushy people. Especially ones who grab things out of my cart and walk in front of me. The anxiety that I live with on a daily basis goes right through the roof. My heart rate goes up, I start shaking and I just can't hold myself together.
I have learned that there are some things, (and some deals), that just aren't worth it to me anymore. When we focus on the things that we have to be thankful for, instead of all the problems and the worries and the wants, we start to recognize how very much we are blessed. As I realize that in my own life, the troubles don't seem to hang over me quite so much. Oh, don't get me wrong, they are still very much there, but they cease to be as all consuming as they once were.
I love that thankfulness can unlock to doors of heaven. I love to serve others, and nothing feels quite as good as a sincerely given "Thank you". I can see God's hand in my own life. I know that He loves each and every one of us. I know that there are angels that help us here upon the earth. Sometimes, they might be heavenly beings, but more often than not, those angels are walking among us, just doing their best to make a difference.
I have decided, that part of heaven is found when we try to make a difference in the lives of others along the way.
Sometimes, I forget that in spite of all my trials, I still have something to be grateful for. I actually have many, many things to be grateful for. So, this morning I have been focusing on all the blessings that I am given. It fills my heart with joy to open my eyes, look around me, and realize how very blessed I am. I could make a never ending list of the blessings that God has given me, especially if I started naming them. So, so matter what is going wrong in my life, there is really a lot of things that are going right.
It is easy for me to get so lost in focusing on the end of the road, that I forget Heavenly Father wants me to enjoy the journey along the way. We are supposed to feel joy in this life. However, to do that, we have to recognize that we have much to be grateful for.
This season is a wonderful time of year for me. We have our traditions and family that keep us focused on the real meaning behind the dinner. I can also look across the table and realize how much I love everyone seated around me, and how much I miss those who are at another table this year. I feel their love even while I miss their presence.
The problem with the disease of depression is that I seem to focus more on the loss than on the love. And so I have to learn to bring my focus back to what matters most of all. I need to celebrate the joy more and feel the value of every single family member and friend.
Today, remember that there are those who love you, and need you. There are those who miss you and who wish you could be with them, both on this side of the veil and on the other. As I think of all those whom I love, I realize how close they really are. May your heart swell with gratitude and may you know always that you are loved.
This describes me to a "T". I worry about everything! I am way too good at it too.
I worry about what people think.
I worry about what people are saying.
I worry about work.
I worry about my family.
I worry about every single should have, could have, and would have that might be happening.
In other words, I worry about pretty much everything.
It is a constant daily struggle to lesson the hold that worrying has over my thoughts and actions. It is so much harder than I ever imagined to just let go and breathe.
I really am working on changing this in my life, but it just might be one of the hardest things I have ever done. I know that it isn't healthy, I know that it isn't logical, I even know that it isn't necessary, but it is so very hard to change the patterns that have been in my head for years.
We all have struggles. We all have things that we need to overcome. Some of them are visible to others, and some of them are burdens that we carry inside of our hearts and minds. So today, I am praying for extra help in overcoming the thorn in my side. I have learned that the very first step in making a change, is to recognize that you need one.
This is one of my favorite quotes. I am really working on it in my own life. I can get so caught up in living, that I forget there is supposed to be joy in the things we do.
Without going into a lot of detail, I have gone through some rough things in the past year. I had someone today tell me that I seemed happier because someone else is not around to hurt me. I think I am. I just haven't realized how very difficult it is for me to be around people who suck the happiness right out of me.
I am someone who always tries to do things for others. I put myself last. Usually only when I don't have any reserves left. Even my councilor says that he doesn't want to see the old me again. He is afraid that in spite of the amazing strides I have made this year, I will lose it as life reaches out and grips me by the throat once again. I don't want that to happen.
I am leaning that there are some things you cannot change. There are people who are always going to take advantage of me. There are people who just don't like me and aren't willing to give me a chance. If I judge myself based on what all those other people think, I will go right back into the cycle of depression and anxiety that I have worked so very hard to get out of.
I know that I focus so much on serving, I forget to serve myself. It is really a struggle for me because I end up feeling selfish when I fight for something that I want badly. I hate feeling selfish. I really want to help others. I just run out of energy when I don't do something for myself every once in a while.
So today, I am going to try harder to find joy in my own journey. It may be hard, but it is mine. It may not be exactly what I planned on, but it is beautiful in it's own way. May we all remember that the finish line is very far away, and Heavenly Father never intended for us to suffer through life without any joy. We might have to walk between sorrows to find it, but there is always, always joy in our journey.
Who knew that Mr. Rogers could be so profound! I love this. I love that we can all choose to be more Christ-like in our lives through loving and serving those around us. I love that it can be a sacred responsibility. I especially like where he says appreciation is a holy thing. How many times do we, in the very human mess that we live in, fail to appreciate the efforts of someone else? How many times do we think that we can change things tomorrow?
It is easy to think about the things that we wish we could have done, or the things we wanted to see, or even the person that we would like to become. It is easy to place blame somewhere, anywhere else. We can lose our focus and not appreciate those whom we love the most.
I have learned that it does not matter how people behave in public, I want to know how they behave in private. I want to know how the speak to their wives and children, to their families and close friends. One thing that I have observed in life, is that we tend to treat strangers better than we treat our families. We expect more from our families.
A good example of that is found in my own life. Many, many years ago, I was the person who always signed up to bring dinner to others, or make cakes for birthdays. Once, I only had one cake mix left in the cupboard and needed to make a birthday cake for a friend, so I did. One of my small children was so very disappointed that I made something for someone else and not them that he started crying, and told me that I "never did anything nice like that for them".
Now, I know that little boy was exaggerating, but something in his tone and tears hit me right in the heart. I vowed then to change so that my children would never think I saw them a second best. I can't say that I am always as successful as I want to be, but I can say that I am more successful than I used to be. Today, when I make dinner and dessert for someone else, we make the same thing for our own house. If I make brownies, or rice krispies treats, I make them for home too.
My family could never be second best to me. I am pretty sure that most people feel the same way about their own families, so, if we are supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves, our own family needs to feel and see that love first, not second or third. They should feel our love in both our words and our deeds.
As I struggle to become more Christ-like in my life, I really can't think of a better place to start than right in my own home.
We are surrounded by such an astonishing wealth of light and truth that I wonder if we truly appreciate what we have.
President Uchtdof talked about how blessed we are. How we are surrounded by so many amazing things. When we think about the medical care we have today, and the ability to find answers on the internet, the smart phones that have all the information we can imagine at our fingertips, and even the cars and televisions of today. We are literally surrounded by amazing technology that gives us access to things that were once only in a science fiction novel.
President Uchtdorf talked about going to Belfast, in Northern Ireland. While there, he noticed the Belfast Coat of Arms, which includes the motto “Pro tanto quid retribuamus,” or “What shall we give in return for so much?” What a question to ponder as we go through each day. Are we too busy to even realize our blessings? Do we not have time for our scriptures and prayers? Do we forget the great gifts God has surrounded us with every single day?
I invite each of us to consider this question. What shall we give in return for the flood of light and truth God has poured out upon us? What is it worth to us? I think that the best gift of all is to take advantage of the knowledge that we are blessed with. We can study and pray and find the answers to our questions. We can seek and learn. We can follow the commandments and seek the light that is around us.
I have learned that it is so easy to get overwhelmed with the business of every day life. It is easy to put anything that is not a hot topic on the back burner. However, I am also learning that we need to make God a priority in our lives, no matter how busy we might be. He is there. He answers our prayers and He will help us in our daily struggles.
I think the best way to show appreciation is to remember Him in all the little things that surround us. It is not just the big things that make us. We don't have to wait until we are hurting to involve Him in our lives. We just need to remember Him, to know He is there. To know that we are loved. To know that He wants us to come to Him.
gift of silence is an invitation to intentionally seek out quiet moments for
yourself. Check out the sounds that are around you right at this moment. What do you hear? Is the TV or radio on? Can you
detect the sounds of traffic outside or the hum of a computer at your desk? Are the children yelling in the background? Are the chickens clucking and the ducks quacking and the goats yelling to be milked? Oh, that would be my life! Sorry about that! We
are constantly surrounded by sounds and I am learning that the cumulative effect of noise can lead
to increased stress and overstimulation.
there can be noise on the outside and noise on the inside. While we can turn
off a TV, it is not always easy to turn down the volume of the thoughts
inside our own heads. Sometimes it is especially hard to let go of the noise of worry and concern that surrounds us. I know it is something I really have to struggle with.
The noise on the inside can keep me from finding peace. It can keep me from prayer, from scriptures, from meditation, from relaxing. I get so involved with the noise that I can't handle everything that I need to do. And so, I have learned to walk. To get up and go outside. To listen to the sounds of the birds and the squirrels. To let go of the hum of business that I am caught up in and to just take a breath and enjoy the silence of a moment. This month, I choose to give myself this amazing gift. 10 minutes or more of silence each day, so that I can get back on track. So that I can breath. So that I can find myself amongst the noise and confusion that surrounds me. So that I can find Him.
Oh, this one hit me hard today. If we could only complement each other more and find fault a little less! I used to tell my children that they needed to stick together. They would be in each others lives forever, they should be friends and not enemies. They should be kindest to each other, and not save that for only friends. It was hard when they were younger. They fought over so many little things. We all have our own opinions and ideas and ways of doing something. Just because it is different, doesn't make it wrong.
We live in a society that never wants to take the blame for anything. We live in a world that is content to pass the blame to someone else. "Mr. Nobody" lives forever in our communities. It can be so frustrating when people pass the time by criticizing or talking about others. I keep asking myself, how often am I guilty of the same thing? Or even worse, how often do I say nothing when others are speaking badly of someone? I think that we give quiet consent when we choose to allow it to go one in our presence.
I love the idea of talking about others strengths. Of focusing on what they do well, instead of what they do wrong. This month, I am going to try and be thankful for the blessings of others, no matter what they bring to the party. I am going to try to more vocally acknowledge strengths. We all have things we do well. We all have things we don't do well. But I am thinking that the more positive I can be, the more it will help others to feel good about themselves. The more they feel good about themselves, the more likely they are to be positive. I think the world can always use a little more positive.
Oh my goodness, does this bring back memories for anyone else? Or is it just me? When I was a child, these simple carts were the best toys ever. When we found one, we could make forts out of them, we could haul things in them, we could roll fast down even small hills.
If I had a nickel for every bruise and bump I got from a shopping cart.......
Besides, using them when I was a child, I will forever appreciate the store that let me use on to take home my groceries once a week. I had six children and no car. Usually I had the baby strapped to my chest, the bigger baby in a back pack on my back and at least one of the other small ones in the cart. Shopping was very difficult as the kids could only carry one bag. One day, the manager saw me struggle to get all the bags on my arms with the babies everywhere else and he introduced me to a shopping cart and told me I could use it to take my groceries home as long as I would promise to bring it back.
We lived a block away, just around the park from the store, so I would put everything and everyone that would fit in the cart, take everything home and then we would walk the cart back to the store. What a gift that man gave to me. I am sure it didn't seem like much, but I took it as an issue of trust and brought it back faithfully as soon as I was done using it. It made my life easier as I didn't have to make more than one trip a week to the store.
The kids loved riding in it. There was one place that was a small down hill and on the way back to the store, I would put them all in the cart and they would get to ride down the hill. It never got old for them. It made us all laugh. It brightened my day and made me smile every single time.
I love that life is full of small and simple joys. I love that those are the things I remember.
It can be so very hard to be forgiving. It takes a lot of effort and work and trust to do it. It takes a lot of prayer and desire to even try. I have found that it is easier to carry a grudge. But the problem is, as easy as it can be, it doesn't help me feel better. I actually makes me feel angrier and it means that I dwell on my own thoughts and feelings a lot longer. It become more difficult to put it aside and move one. I have discovered that the times I don't forgive, are some of the worst times in my life. Because I am not positive, a lot of things get me down and I struggle even more with what is going on in my world.
I am sure that forgiveness doesn't make sense to some people. I am equally sure that we justify it by thinking that some actions aren't worth forgiving, or should never be forgiven. Let me just be clear, I believe that we all need forgiveness. The Lord never quantifies sin. He doesn't talk about how some sin is worse than others. I am just grateful that I don't need to be judge and jury for anyone else's sins. I have enough of my own to worry about. I have had people do some horrible things to me and to those I love. I have been accused of things I have never done. I have been talked about, ridiculed and had more gossip involved around me than I ever cared to have. However, I do not forgive people for them. I do it for me. Only God has the power to forgive any of us. Only He can judge our hearts. Only He knows whether or not there is change and true repentance.
Since I don't know those things, I choose to forgive and not hate. I choose to let go of my anger and hurt and humiliation. I choose these things because I know that I need forgiveness in my own life. I know that I am also guilty of sin. I know that I need forgiveness and compassion just as much as anyone else.
However, saying that, does not mean that you can always trust again. There are some things that are so hurtful that you have to walk away. Forgiveness does not mean that you give anyone the chance to do abuse you again. It means, that when you think of them, you are not destroying yourself with anger and hate. It means that you trust God enough to know that He will somehow work it all out.
I honestly do not know what I would do if I didn't have that kind of faith. I believe we have a loving Father in Heaven who has walked with us every step of the journey. He knows exactly what we have been through. He knows our deepest, darkest secrets. He knows our trials and our joys. He knows our names.
God “rewards those who earnestly seek him,” so we need to keep knocking. Sisters, don’t give up. Seek God with all your heart.
Oh how I loved this talk by President Uchtdorf. He reminded me of the importance of faith. He reminded me that we might not see or know our own worth.
"Faith is a strong conviction about something we believe—a conviction so strong that it moves us to do things that we otherwise might not do. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
While this makes sense to believing people, it is often confusing to nonbelievers. They shake their heads and ask, “How can anyone be certain of what they cannot see?” To them, this is evidence of the irrationality of religion.
What they fail to understand is that there are more ways to see than with our eyes, more ways to feel than with our hands, more ways to hear than with our ears.
It’s something like the experience of a young girl who was walking with her grandmother. The song of the birds was glorious to the little girl, and she pointed out every sound to her grandmother.
“Do you hear that?” the little girl asked again and again. But her grandmother was hard of hearing and could not make out the sounds.
Finally, the grandmother knelt down and said, “I’m sorry, dear. Grandma doesn’t hear so well.”
Exasperated, the little girl took her grandmother’s face in her hands, looked intently into her eyes, and said, “Grandma, listen harder!”
Oh, if it were only as easy as listening a little bit harder! Faith for me is something that is necessary. It is something that I feel and that I think and that I believe. It is a natural to me a breathing. It doesn't mean that I don't doubt things every once in a while. But it does mean that I trust where to get my answers.
I loved that President Uchtdorf talked about how faith will not violate the free agency of another. That was a lesson hard learned in my own life. Sometimes, what we want feels so right! And if someone else could just see what we see, they would want the same things. But I have learned to pray for my own understanding. I have learned to pray for the love and compassion I need to help them through their trials. I have learned to pray for His blessing to be upon me as I learn to accept His will. That is a hard prayer to mean.
Faith is trust. Trust that God sees what we cannot. That He knows what we do not yet know. That He will bring things to pass in His own time. Trust is that even though something we want right now doesn't work out, there will be something else in our lives that will. Faith is to believe that all things will work together for our good, no matter how we feel right this minute.
Faith is believing, that if we just keep knocking, the door WILL be answered, even if it is not quite the way we imagined.
Why is it so hard to give those around us the benefit of the doubt? Why do we compare ourselves to others? I have been thinking about that one a lot. I am pretty good about not judging those around me, but not so good about not judging myself, or even my children.
I seem to live in a place where people decide they are successful or unsuccessful based on the worthiness of their children, or their own professed worthiness. Like having kids that totally follow the straight and narrow, would make me any better of a person, or a mother.
Women talk about the things their children do. How good they are, how righteous they are, how they have done everything right in their lives. They talk about how all 12 of their children have been to the temple and hold callings. It is very hard for me to not compare my struggles with their righteousness.
I have children who have chosen different paths in their lives. They don't follow the same things that I do. They have made mistakes. They have struggled. They have cried. They have failed and some of them have overcome. Some of them are still working on that. I also have children who have chosen to live good lives, righteous lives. Who work hard to serve others and who make good choices. I am proud of every single one of them. I love each one and rejoice in the things they have accomplished and continue to accomplish.
I am grateful for the lessons they have taught me. I am also grateful to my son in laws and my daughter in law for the way they treat my children and the love they have for them. No matter what their choices have been, each and every one of them deserve love and kindness.
Sometimes, I feel like I should love the good ones more. But as a mother, I have learned that I love them all. Good choices or bad. Those young adults and teens mean the world to me. I am equally in love with the people that I know they are. The funny thing (or not so funny) is that I don't judge them for their mistakes, I judge myself. I compare myself to those families whose children have not had the struggles that mine have had. I can't help feeling like there must be something wrong with me that my children would make those decisions, or have those things happen to them in their lives. No matter how hard I have tried, bad things happen. No matter how much I pray, bad things happen. No matter what choices I make, bad things still happen. I have had to learn that Heavenly Father does not take away anyone's free agency. None of us really choose what happens to us, but we all get to choose how we react to the things that others bad decisions bring into our lives.
We are each one of us unique and loved and needed and wanted and cared for. Each one of us is a rare gift to the world around us. Let us work harder on not stealing the joy that being unique can bring into our own life as well as the lives of those around us. Don't steal joy that I know Heavenly Father takes in each one of us. We are unique for a reason. Sometimes, it is that very uniqueness that brings joy into the life of someone else.
To each one of my children and children-in-law, I love you. You are amazing!!! You are everything I could have ever hoped for and dreamed of. You are exactly who I want you to be. I love you dearly, in all your imperfections and insecurities. I admire you spunk, independence, and perseverance. You are Sons and Daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves you more than you can ever imagine.
You are mine on loan, but you are His for eternity.